Monthly Archives: December 2020

Something Good

Image by Eric

1. How to Work with the Winter Blues on Lion’s Roar. “Perhaps,” says Sylvia Boorstein, “these days of less sunlight are opportunities for more contemplative time, more looking deeply to see what can only be seen in the dark.” Elsewhere, in related news, You Can Get through This Dark Pandemic Winter Using Tips from Disaster Psychology, and A Scandinavian local explains how to make it through winter.

2. Lily Diamond and Rebecca Walker: Your Creative Power to Write a New Story. “In this episode of Insights at the Edge [Podcast], Tami speaks with Lily and Rebecca about the power of the right question to move us in the direction of claiming our narratives and using the power of our imagination to create our future. They discuss the importance of telling our own stories in the ways only we can. They also explore how rewriting the stories we tell about ourselves and our world can ignite the alchemical process of everyday evolution, moving us in the direction of healing society, the Earth, and our own spirits.”

3. 5 Things 2020 Taught Me About Being a Highly Sensitive Person. “Let’s not pretend we’ll all emerge stronger, but there are five key lessons highly sensitive people can carry forward.”

4. On Being Krista Tippett. “For almost two decades, Krista Tippett has been asking questions about faith, grief, hope, and the human condition. 2020 has given her a lot to talk about.”

5. Recipe I want to try: chilaquiles brunch casserole.

6. Future Gazing: What If Care Was the Organizing Principle of Our Society? “With a challenging year soon to be behind us, we asked community members to share their vision of what they hope becomes of our city post-pandemic.”

7. Dear HSP With a Bad Childhood: There Is Hope.

8. For Ijeoma Oluo, Books and Bedtime Are a Perfect Combination on The New York Times.

9. TikTok discovered a Netflix movie hack — and it’s a game-changer.

10. How to Be a Dog, a poem by Andrew Kane.

11. ‘Solidarity, Not Charity’: A Visual History of Mutual Aid. “Tens of thousands of mutual aid networks and projects emerged around the world in 2020. They have long been a tool for marginalized groups.”

12. The Best Reviewed Essay Collections of 2020.

13. COVID-19 related news: Doctor Who Recorded Final Days Battling COVID-19 Said She Had To Beg For Proper Treatment: ‘This Is How Black People Get Killed’, and Cause of Life on The New York Times (“The more than 300,000 people we lost to the pandemic in 2020 form a portrait of America. For this series of short films, we asked five people to celebrate the life of someone close to them”), and ‘My Bank Account Has $4’: Pandemic Has Left Millions Of Livelihoods In Limbo.

14. Cleo Wade’s “It is okay (a poem of validation for the year 2020)”. “The poet and bestselling author sends out a year unlike any other with the promise that it’s okay if your banana bread never came out right— and it’s okay if you’re not okay.”

15. The Best New Podcasts of 2020 on The New York Times.

16. Giant Fabric Butterfly and Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita.

17. A Woolen Menagerie of Miniature Creatures by Natasya Shuljak Exudes Joy and Whimsy. Something you might not know about me: I love all things small and felted.

18. 25 Modern Love Essays to Read if You Want to Laugh, Cringe and Cry on The New York Times. “The popular column, which began in 2004, has become a podcast, a book and an Amazon Prime streaming series. Here are some of its greatest hits.”

19. ‘An absolute powerhouse’: Short film tells the incredible survival tale of Ada Blackjack. “A new Alaska short film tells the story of Ada Blackjack, an Iñupiat woman who survived alone on a remote island after an expedition gone wrong in 1921.”

20. The Art of Activism: Hard Conversations Book Club 2021 hosted by Patti Digh.

Give Yourself a Break

This morning, in my Facebook memories, there was a link to a post I wrote three years ago, today. It was a Three Truths and One Wish post. The first truth was “this year was a fallow year.” As I went on to explain, fallow is a farming term that means “plowed and harrowed but left unsown for a period in order to restore its fertility.” I’ve been thinking a lot lately about burnout, about the brutality of it, how it still lingers for me, that “fixing” this is going to take much longer than I’d like, and how so many of the efforts I make to “heal” myself only seem to lead to more of the same.

One thing I’ve realized is that it wasn’t just the final few years at CSU that I was burnt out, but almost the entire 19. There were different seasons and variations, times when it was much worse and moments where it wasn’t so bad, but it was a through line, a thread that ran the entire length of the thing, an ongoing theme. If I mastered anything in those 19 years, it was how to burn myself out. I cycled through manic phases of output only to crash and burn, so badly I couldn’t do anything but rest and wait.

This week between Christmas and New Years, this liminal space where we linger, maybe loosen up and let go a little, is also partially focused on looking towards the year ahead and considering what that might look like, making plans and gearing up. I am bracing myself for the calls to action that are already coming, to reinvent myself and my life, to “level up,” to “go big.”

I am deep in hibernation, like the goo inside a chrysalis. So many seem to have used this time, the limited access and restricted movement of a global pandemic, to do things, to connect more, offer more, be more. They learned an instrument or a language, baked bread, created new offerings, connected in the ways they were able. I, on the other hand, was one of those just trying to survive it. As much as I don’t want it to be true, try to pretend as if it isn’t, I am still in the weeds. And it makes total sense: you don’t burn yourself out for that many years and then just stop, get a good night’s sleep and wake up refreshed and ready to go. And yet, I did think that if the ongoing stress of my work at CSU were removed, I’d have a real chance, but I couldn’t have predicted what was coming next. I am trying my best to be patient, to honor where I’m at and what I need, but it’s so hard when there’s so much I want.

When we got in bed last night, I told Eric I was sad because I thought maybe I would never be ready to get another dog. Ringo had overindulged in sampling what we were cooking for Christmas dinner and is overtired from a series of days without enough rest, so he needed some special attention last night, some help settling down. The effort of that made me think, as I have so many times in the months since we lost Sam, that I don’t know if I can do this all again, the investment of so much love and attention only to have it all go so horribly wrong. And I have no illusions about how to tweak the situation so it works out to my advantage, because it never does, for any of us. Every relationship we ever have in our lives will end badly, no matter the specific circumstances.

Eric’s response was perfect. “We need to give ourselves a break. This has been a really hard year.” That and the wish I shared at the end of the post that showed up in my Facebook memories today seem like a good place to start, to stay, to settle: “May we remember that our worth isn’t always about our doing. May our practice and effort be about being more present and authentic, which also means being more vulnerable. May we cultivate a strong foundation of sanity and compassion in the ways that feel right to us, thus encouraging wisdom and love in others.”

Give yourself a break, kind and gentle reader. We are all doing the best we can and it has been a really hard year.