The month isn’t quite over yet, but I wanted to share, while I have a moment, my posts for December Reflections. It’s hosted by Susannah Conway, as a “chance to weave some mindfulness and calm into our days in the run up to 2018.” She posts a set of prompts, and participants post responses — mostly on Instagram but also on their blogs. It’s a lovely way to end the year. If you don’t follow me on Instagram, or even use it, here’s what you missed.
December 1: Early. Not as early as usual. I slept in while Eric walked the dogs, skipped yoga for a bit more sleep, but still made it up in time to see the sunrise and the twinkle lights and hang out with these two, Sweet Sam and Ringo Blue.
December 2: Red.
December 3: Best day of 2017. It’s a four-way tie: the first hike I took after having a wonky knee all winter, the whole day I got to hang out with Mikalina, my 50th birthday, and any day I got in the pool.
December 4: Circles. Sure, clementines are the picture because they were on the counter right next to me when I checked today’s prompt, but when I think of circles the first thing that comes to mind are the earrings Laurie Wagner has been wearing lately – – large but delicate shiny orbs that dangle down, almost brushing against her shoulders. I’m obsessed with them, so in love with her. Each week I circle back to sit and write with her, and some weeks it’s the only thing that makes sense.
December 5: Best book of 2017. It’s a tie. There’s just no way for me to pick between the two. It’s not a secret that memoir is my favorite genre, and these are two that as soon as I was done, I wanted to immediately start over and read again, and even though I didn’t (even though I will), they’ve stayed with me, and from time to time, I find myself thinking about a particular passage again. I learned something from them, but also my heart got bigger. So grateful that these are authors of my time, this time in particular.
December 6: I was challenged by… For the past ten years, I’ve had injuries and chronic tendinitis in my knees, after decades of chronic back pain. This year, I was finally diagnosed with arthritis, only to find out most of the women in my family have the same – knees, elbows, shoulders, feet, hips, back, and hands. I had to give up most of the ways I used to move my body – running, elliptical and treadmill machines, aerobic and dance classes, hard lifting – things unkind to my knees. Walking and hiking can hurt too, but I won’t stop. I found new ways to move – yoga, Pilates, aqua aerobics. I also found workable healing modalities – massage on the regular, physical therapy when I need it, shots for my knees, some drugs, CBD oil, the sauna and hot tub, and now an infrared heating pad, (that’s what’s on me in the picture). It’s a constant process figuring it all out, a challenge.
December 7: Favorite photo of 2017. This one’s pretty recent, an accidental shot – I was taking a picture of the amazing sunrise over their heads when I looked down and saw how sweet they were, so knelt down and got one with them in it.
December 8: Green. It’s always been his favorite color. When we got married 24 years ago, I wore a green dress and he wore a green silk shirt and green cowboy boots.
December 9: Biggest change in 2017. Because of an arthritis diagnosis and pain in my knees, I had to find new ways to move my body. I tried aqua aerobics, first in the summer with classes at the Senior Center, then joining a new gym with a pool. I took swimming lessons as a kid, but a fear of the water (or more specifically, a fear of drowning and death) combined with impatient teachers meant it didn’t stick. Later as a woman I felt super awkward in a swimming suit. Turns out, I love being in the water and it feels fantastic, so now I’m in the pool every day if I can make it, class or no class, and I always smell faintly of chlorine. Next step: adult swimming lessons.
December 10: Softness. Baby Sam, back when his name was Jerry and he lived with his foster mom and his brother Jimmy, a few other dogs and some ducks. He wasn’t there long, barely a week before we brought him home. Today he turns 8 years old, the birthday we gave him, our best guess. He’s such a tenderhearted, sensitive pup, and I’ve had to always be softer with him.
December 11: I discovered… Pilates. More specifically, Perk! Pilates with the amazing Ashley. I’d known her for years and always wanted to try, and when I was diagnosed with arthritis and had to rethink how I moved my body, it was the right time. I love it so much. It makes me strong, but also feels amazing, a little like you are training for Cirque de Solei. I did it for my knees, but an added bonus is my back pain is more manageable than it’s been for 30 years.
December 12: Reflection. Me, heading into the building where my office and department are located on campus. This job and I (and even this building) have shifted shapes together over the years, and sometimes it doesn’t feel like a good fit. Sometimes I want to break up, can’t stand it for another second, but so far I keep coming back, (18 years and counting). One thing is for sure – this is where I work, not who I am.
December 13: Five things about me. 1. I haven’t had my hair cut in over a year. 2. You can contact me for advice when your dog is diagnosed with cancer, cause I’ve been there. 3. It took me 12 years and three different schools to finish my undergraduate degree. 4. I chose writing and my own healing over being a mom. 5. I’ve been married twice.
December 14: Ten years ago. This is me today. Ten years ago, I’d just turned 40 and had only just begun this journey – had a book recommended to me which led to my first meditation retreat and the beginnings of my now decade of practice. I had no idea then where it would lead, this journey that goes nowhere, that is simply a return to myself, a softening, a spaciousness, a particular sanity that makes me feel more in the world at the same time I’m less of it. This morning I feel tender, sad, lonely, lost, found, and so grateful.
December 15: Best decision of 2017. Staying with this guy, choosing him again and again.
December 16: Sparkle. Lotus globe on the Rigden shrine, represents awakened mind.
December 17: I let go of… Sweet Lianore was born 12-17. When I first found out my niece was pregnant, one of my thoughts in those first hours was, “why does she get to have a baby and I don’t?” You see, I chose to not be a mom, but that doesn’t mean it was an easy choice. When she was being born, I was getting texts and then at 6:09 am, there she was, and my mom sent an email to tell me a few more details, (they are all in Oregon). I was writing this morning and realized I didn’t feel jealous, not even that someone else had an experience with my mom I never would. So, I let go of regret, jealousy, anxiety, and confusion around my choice, at least in small part because how can you feel anything but squishy and tender when you see that sweet tiny new face, who belongs to me even though she’s not mine. Welcome to the world, baby. I’m doing my best to make it a tiny bit less shitty for you.
December 18: Favorite photo of me…that I never posted anywhere. I texted this to Eric on his birthday, when I was gone on retreat at Shambhala Mountain Center. We do this a lot, send a picture of ourselves wherever we are, no words, a conversation in selfies. This one makes me smile because I’m such a dork but he also loves these photos most, when I just woke up, my face softer and eyes brighter.
December 19: Brings me joy. At first, I saw my Christmas tree all lit up with presents underneath and thought about how all that sparkle makes me happy. I took the picture, then saw this boy on the couch, watching me, and I realized he needed to be included in this too.
December 20: Sweetness. The sweetest love note from this morning.
December 21: This year was…hard, confusing, painful, busy, too much too fast, and it was also super educational. I am better equipped now for another year like this one, and also ready to slow down for a bit, get some rest and find some comfort, joy, ease.
December 22: Skyline. The view from my front porch, morning after we got a bit more snow, only about 3 degrees out there.
December 23: Secret. I’ve taken vows, been certified to teach, have available time and accessible space, experience a longing, know the benefits, have even had my life saved by it, and yet practice is still hard for me sometimes. I resist, don’t want to, get lazy, forget, am too busy, find myself distracted. The ordinary magic is that no matter where you are or how long it’s been, you can always begin again.
December 24: Stillness. Early morning, Christmas eve. Eric just left with Sam and Ringo to attempt a run in the cold, (it’s anywhere from 0 to 6 degrees, depending on who you believe). I turn the radio off so it’s quiet except for the washing machine and the hum of the furnace. *sigh*
Merry Everything and a Happy Always, kind and gentle reader.