As the year winds down I think it’s pretty standard to start reflecting on the last 12 months, though the demarcation is relatively arbitrary. December often seems to be a month of change for me, or at least preparing for change.
A lot has changed in the last year and change is on the horizon for the next year. If I had expected my 30s to be more settled relative to my 20s then I misunderstood the nature of life and of my approach to it. It’s odd – I tend to have very absolutist thinking on the surface (a habit I’m trying to diminish) while constantly shifting in my interests, habits and ideas. Change and nuance are all around, while I seem to have a monochrome filter over things that I think and say.
This year has been hard for pretty much everyone I know for a variety of reasons. My own disappointment and setbacks with physiotherapy and impostor syndrome pale in comparison to the hardships friends and strangers around the world have been through. There has also been defiance, however, and unalloyed happiness this year (my dear friends welcomed a new baby after a lot of uncertainty, SOME people in positions of power are being held accountable for their abusive behaviour). There has been adventure (my partner and I did our first multi-day backpacking trip on the South West Coast Path), reunions (visiting my brother and sister-in-law in Salem was both wonderful in and of itself and one of the things that pushed me back to magic) and deep lessons in patience and self-acceptance. I’ve learned a lot but I’ve also abandoned a lot of former ideas I had about myself, or at least I’m in the process of doing so.
Taken as a whole, 2017 felt like a year of stripping away in order to start again, not with a clean slate, but perhaps with a new relationship to the problems we’re facing. Therefore, I have relatively few prior expectations for December. I want to take care of my physical and mental health better than I have been doing before and to approach 2018 with the energy to make the world a better place, not in any big way but in small, consistent ways that are based in care for others as well as myself.
Sorry, this is a pretty boring post. That’s what comes of having very few expectations about the road ahead, I guess!
Happy November! 2017 has been a strange year that seems barely to have started for me and collectively we’ve been stumbling from outrage to outrage until the year has almost gone.
Personally, I came into this Halloween wanting to step into more social engagement and external work for the greater good. I wanted to manifest balance of my rather scattered energy that would allow me to be more focused on others than myself. But over the last week I’ve been inundated with messages that for right now I need to do internal work of recentring, letting go and shining light into dark corners in order to engage more effectively.
The tarot spread I did for the new year on Samhain was unequivocal. I even laughed out loud when I turned over The Hanged Man; it couldn’t be much clearer that I need to get comfortable doing deep work that won’t feel like forward progress to me. The Hanged Man means really sinking into things we tend to squirm away from and learning to be content there. The Two of Wands says to me that I frequently feel like I need to make a decision about what I want to devote my energy to, but both of my options will always be there. There will always be work to do in the world and there will always be work to do on myself; the journey outward and the journey inward each have their season.
Practically speaking, all of this makes perfect sense as I’m anticipating a few months of big changes ending a year of big changes and I think the work of November is to see what I can let go of in order to make room, pausing the forward progress to reflect, centre myself and set things down that are no longer serving me. However, I do think the choice between social justice work and inner work is a false dichotomy; why can’t I do both at the same time? What if the things I let go of come from the less compassionate, more consumerist aspects of my personality as shaped by culture? In No is Not Enough, author Naomi Klein put it as killing her ‘inner Trump’. So in this period of reflection, what can I let go of within myself that’s Trumpish?
- Where am I egotistical and competitive in my life instead of empathetic and collaborative?
- In what areas am I waiting for someone external to come along and ‘fix’ things?
- Where do I judge people based on external features?
- What am I bad at letting go?
- Where am I not listening to the experiences of others?
- Can I let go of needing external validation for my decisions and actions? (Oh my god can this please happen?!)
So, this is what’s arising in November for me. I hope you are taking good care of yourself and listening to what’s coming up for you. Have a wonderful week!