Oh Right, December Happened

December’s card was Bond. December has, interestingly enough, been a month where I spent a lot of time in bed recovering from the semester, and what little time out of bed was spent with friends and family. I still feel disconnected from people around me, and that’s something I want to work on in the next year.

The hardest part is trying to balance my genuine need for some solitude against my general desire to avoid stimulus at all costs (which keeps me inside far more often than I would like). I often can’t tell until I’m in the middle of something whether I actually don’t want to do it or I’m just being chicken.

I catch myself looking ahead all the time, planning and worrying about stuff I’m not doing right now and failing to enjoy the moments I have, so that’s something I’m trying to avoid doing in the future as well.

Overall, I think this yearly spread did a pretty good job of helping me focus my energies this year. I’ll be doing another one today and posting about it tomorrow, so look for that!

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November has no chill.

Today is December 1st and the weather has fluctuated between mid-thirties to mid-seventies for the past week or so. It’s been a wild ride all over the place.

My card for November was Transformation, and hoo boy did it deliver. In the final hours of October, I received the gift of identity: art kid. I’d spent the first thirty years of my life with only the slightest idea of who I was, independent of the people around me. As a result, I’ve lived as any number of chameleon shades, fitting in with conservative Christians, anime nerds, goths, military folks, and now pagans. It wasn’t until this past Halloween that I finally took off my masks and looked at the person underneath.

November has been a month of digging through this new treasure trove of information: I’ve started writing poetry and obsessing over the concept of Art and where it fits into society. We also had a disastrous presidential election that helped my husband and I really settle on where we wanted to go and what kind of home we wanted to build in the world. I am absolutely not the same person I was coming into November, and I am thrilled with the changes.

December’s card, the final card for 2016, is Bond. Now that I’m starting to understand who I am, it’s time to take an honest look at where I fit into the web of relationships around me. I’m starting to make friends with a lot of really excellent people, but I’m also making plans to leave the state and establish myself in a new location where I don’t know anyone at all. Finding ways to strengthen bonds I want to keep and letting go of those that don’t need to be stretched that far will be the theme of the last month of this year.

I will be drawing a new set of cards on January 1st, to see what 2017 will look like. See you then!

Approaching the End

Fallow times are really hard for me, I say as I continue through my first and (so far) only fallow time. I’m always hunting for what I’m “supposed to be doing” and fallow times leave me with less guidance than I’m used to. I feel weirdly harried today, like there’s something I’m supposed to be doing but I’m not, but there are so many loose threads in my life that it’s hard to pick out which one is being tugged at.

Overall, it’s a strange note to end October on, as this was the #MonthOfGift. The physical gifts I was looking forward to arrived (some of them), but nothing immediately springs to mind as The Gift significant enough to warrant the card. Rumblings have come around with regards to my husband’s job prospects, so there may be some seeds planted on that front.

In my shadow work, I feel like an amateur archaeologist unearthing bits and bobs and having no idea what’s valuable and what’s been dumped by campers several years ago. If I’ve found something significant, it hasn’t registered yet.

Right on time, though, is November’s card: Transformation. I’ve been working hard this year to understand myself, my role in the world, and what my goals should be. I’m really hoping that November will bring the sudden revelation. I don’t mind hard work, but I need to know that I’m moving in the right direction or else I lose my sense of purpose.

The thing about a transformation is you can’t really know what’s on the other side of it, so I won’t try to predict what this transformation will look like. I just know that I’ll welcome it as forward progress on my path. I will also try to see all of my choices and developments as steps forward, instead of worrying about whether they actually are or not.

It’s colder, and I like it?

For the first time in my life, I find myself looking forward to the chill of fall. I’ve been eyeing my sweaters and leggings desperately for the last three weeks, and my time has finally come! One could speculate on whether that has to do with my newfound appreciation for the cycles of life and death, or with me finally putting enough meat on my bones to keep myself decently warm, but the end result is the same.

My card for September was Permanence, and I thought I knew what it meant. However, this month has been so busy that I’d completely forgotten about it. Even my paganism has tapered off considerably despite the amount of pagan work I’ve been doing. It’s possible that some event happened this month that I will look back and be able to pinpoint as a turning point in my future, or perhaps one of my many writing ideas or urges will finally gain some traction.

October’s card is Gift. October’s weather certainly feels like a gift. My birthday gift from my husband should be arriving sometime in October, my next clothing box will be arriving, as will multiple Kickstarters, I think. I’ve begun several promising friendships this month that may bear fruit as early as next month, possibly.

Either way, it’s promising and I look forward to what October has to offer.

Summer is ending

As we approach the end of August, I breathe a deep sigh of relief. Summer was supposed to be the gasping collapse after I crossed the finish line, but instead I found myself puking out my guts and being carried off the track. Kind of a graphic metaphor, I suppose, but apt.

My card for August was Message. I had drawn three clarifying cards: Travel, Voice, and Guide. Message and Voice are two cards I know well, but Travel and Guide are less familiar.

Over the course of August, I quit my organic chemistry class in order to focus on my own sanity. I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and got swept away by the whole concept. I spent two weeks turning my household upside down in pursuit of inner peace, and it turns out I found it. Getting rid of years’ worth of stuff that had been demanding my attention subconsciously really cut down on the amount of noise in my life. Without all that psychic noise, I no longer feel the need to play music constantly or wander around the house in distress, unsure of why I feel like I can’t relax.

Having completed this process, I can’t seem to shut up about it whenever anyone asks (and sometimes when they don’t!). I’ve signed up for the consultants mailing list, so I can become a Konmari consultant and teach other people how to free themselves from stuff they don’t love.

I could see Konmari as the message, with the implication that my desire to teach it to others represented by Voice and Guide. I’d be willing to Travel for Konmari, absolutely, so there’s that.

September’s card is Permanence. I always connect it to writing specifically, or leaving a visible mark on the world more generally. Lately I’ve had this idea rolling around in my head for a research series of posts on traditional household skills, female roles in society, kind of in general what was expected of women in a pre-industrial setting. I’d like that to be my project for the month, but I need to really get my thoughts in order and also come up with a catchy title. I’m taking suggestions!

Pagan’s Progress: Episode 03 – Konmari, the Closet Story, and Arianrhod

Listen to the episode here.

Here’s episode three! Penny edited this one, which is why it sounds professional and polished. Here are links to the books we mentioned:

Find us here or in iTunes under “Pagan’s Progress”. If you have any topics you’d like to discuss, please email us or comment here.

Shout out to Kai Engel from the Free Music Archive for their song “Walking Barefoot on Grass”, which we have used for our intro and exit music.

Find the hosts:
Sionnan WP Tumblr
Penelope WP Tumblr

Taking Control By Letting Go

About a week ago, I stumbled onto the description for a mental illness called Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. Despite the near-identical name, this disorders shares only a small amount of overlap with its more famous cousin, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

When I described the various  symptoms to my sister, she confirmed that it was basically a bullet-list accounting of my personality. Near slavish devotion to order, systems, and rules; obsessive, unreasonable thought patterns; uncompromising need for control in one’s life, to the point that every action was an attempt at maintaining one’s defenses against the utter chaos that is life.

A book was recommended on one of the websites about OCPD, Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control, which laid out in excruciating detail all the types of obsessive thought patterns people with OCPD would use constantly and their underlying causes. I gave up highlighting relevant passages, because I was highlighting more than I wasn’t.

The biggest breakthrough for me were the descriptions of Demand Sensitivity and Demand Resistance. Demand Sensitivity is the tendency for obsessive thinkers to take any kind of request as a demand, even implied ones. I live with the constant assumption that things are expected of me, that everyone has made a legitimate demand of me and that I have to meet them even when I don’t know what they are. Demand Resistance is the automatic, gut-level aversion that obsessive thinkers feel when something is asked of them.This means that basically everything that is presented to me as a demand becomes something I don’t want to do; even knitting and reading become onerous if I tell myself I “should” work on this project or finish that novel.

 

In response to this revelation, I decided to reframe every action I took as a “want”. I began by figuring out what exactly it was that I wanted, and not in a long-term kind of way. What did I want, from minute to minute? What were my basic desires? I committed to examining myself whenever any small decision needed to be made, to get some idea of what my own preferences actually were. I found that this approach led to each decision feeling as fully within my control as possible, and it was the best thing I could have ever done for myself. The relief was immediately palpable. I felt like I had been skidding over ice but suddenly found traction again.

Oddly, this discovery of low-level control coincided with the realization that there is no way for me to maintain long-term control of my life. I realized I was trying to maintain ultimate control of my destiny– a feat impossible for any human.It turned out that the most control I can achieve is by being in charge of my day-to-day details, leaving the overall plan for this road trip in more capable hands.

The gods drive the Winnebago, and I just need to sit back and enjoy the scenery, get a snack, and let Them know if I need to stop (metaphorically). Sometimes They have to swerve to miss a pothole and I’m going to go flying if I’m not paying attention. Until now I’ve been buckled in to the passenger seat, refusing to let Them have the map and counting mile markers.

[To expand on this metaphor: bringing Them a snack from the back, offerings; hanging out near the front and singing road trip songs, hymns]