Month: January 2022

Some Loose Thoughts

Somehow the beginning of the new year has become the middle of January. Logically I know that this particular transformation only takes about two weeks, but this time the newness only lasted about three days, which feels like an unfairly short lifespan for new year’s optimism. The good news is that I seem to be emerging from the week-long discouragement. Better news is that I was still able to inch some necessary work forward even while feeling discouraged about it all. Always good to remember that the discouragement/optimistic energy pole doesn’t have as much effect on getting work done, nor on the quality of the work done, as it feels like it does in the moment.

This week we successfully accomplished the medical appointment which has been looming on the calendar for five months and for which I carried a fear that Covid would cause it to be postponed or canceled. So that is a huge relief and I can ride out the rest of the current Covid surge with less anxiety. Less anxiety, not no anxiety, because this surge is very surgey indeed. I keep thinking the rates can’t keep going up, and then they do. Last winter’s mountain has started looking hill-ish by comparison. I don’t like that. I also don’t like witnessing the societal Great Surrender, where 18 schools in Utah reach the threshold where “Test To Stay” is required, but because there are only three Test To Stay teams, the state just shrugs and tells everyone to use their own judgement. All of the language and information isn’t saying “help us flatten the curve” it is saying “Don’t worry, this will be over soon.” Which isn’t the same thing at all. I keep hearing that the Omicron Covid variant is more mild. I wonder if it will still seem mild when the deaths happen in three to four weeks.

I can’t control the world. I can’t stop Omicron. My ability to influence legislation is minimal. So for now I’m focused on things where I do have significant influence. I’m finally working my way through re-drafting House in the Hollow. I’m working through XDM2e copy edits. I’m teaching kids to drive. I’m practicing a homebrew yoga in the mornings. I’m making sure we don’t run out of groceries. And I’m trying to stay on top of dishes and laundry. If I keep doing these things, eventually I’ll find myself in spring.

Moving Forward in the New Year

On January 3rd my New Year optimism met my To Do list. This was an expected collision, but I don’t like that it dropped me into a low-level discouraged state. So I wrote a little Twitter Fiction that captures my current state of mind:

The discouragement sat like a lump in the middle of the path she needed to take, so she hefted it to her shoulder and lugged it along with her as she trudged forward toward her goal. Sometimes she gave it a pat when it whimpered as she walked. #TwitFic

@SandraTayler 2:09 PM · Jan 5, 2022·Twitter Web App

That is me right now, trudging along shoving my daily tasks along the road in front of me, carrying a load of discouragement, but still shuffling my way forward. The good news is that I’ve (so far) managed to integrate my new goals and focus into the pre-existing To Do list. My cocoon realizations have helped me alter the trajectory of the path I’m shuffling along. I wish I could trundle along that path with the same joy and optimism that filled me on New Year’s Day. But since that joy and optimism has declined to show up for work, I’ll keep inching my way forward because the best way to get somewhere else is to keep moving.

Exiting the Cocoon

I woke up and the world feels new. The year feels full of potential. I want to pause and really center those feelings as I mark the change from one calendar year to the next. It is nice to have this feeling on New Year’s Day when so many of my recent years have featured some flavor of dread about the year to come. (2020 2019 2018 2017) Some years I wanted to hide from the coming year, others I was girding up to meet it as a battle. So to receive this one as a gift is an unexpected blessing that I want to hold in reverence for a while, before the inevitable challenges of living have a chance to wear at me.

As I mentioned yesterday, one of the words I grabbed when describing 2021 (and also 2020, they were the same year really) was cocoon. I’m thinking about those tiny containers of metamorphosis today. The protective shell contains so much transformative work which can’t be observed from the outside. From the outside nothing is happening until one day the butterfly or moth bursts free. The phrasing of “burst free” downplays how much work there is in extricating oneself from a cocoon. I’ve seen videos of butterflies working themselves free, slowly unfurling their wings, and orienting themselves to being something new. Exiting a cocoon is work, and is as much a part of the transformation as what happens inside that cocoon.

If 2020-21 were a cocoon and today is the day it cracks open, I have work to do in order to finally be free. This image makes sense to me, because the worst pandemic surge is about to hit. I’m going to need to hunker down. I’ve still got the XDM2e project to steer to completion. There are family and friendship tending tasks which continue. Yet mixed in with these continuations, I’m also glimpsing what this year could be. For the first time in decades, my morning schedule isn’t dictated by the needs or schedules of others. I’m experimenting with claiming that time for me to lay in bed and let my mind wander. Then climb from bed and wake up my body with a yoga practice. Then flop back into bed to write. All before emerging from my room to where other priorities start claiming pieces of me.

The yoga practice has been a particularly useful addition. For the few in-person classes I attended (before Omicron necessitated staying home again), I found a teacher who constantly emphasized accepting our bodies for where they are at. Reach for your toes. It is okay if you can’t grab them, because the reaching is what matters. I discovered that sitting in that reach, breathing in and out, slowly the reach extends farther. By repeating this practice gently day after day, in an unexpectedly short amount of time I can touch the toes I’ve been reaching for. Patience, breath, and acceptance has led to far more progress than I thought possible. Yet I’m not reaching for progress, I’m reaching for the sake of reaching, progress is just the inevitable result. There are so many lessons in this physical practice that I can use in all the other aspects of my life.

Casting my thoughts on the year ahead, January through March are “exiting the cocoon” months. During them I will work, breathe, and reach. I will finish things off to release into the world. I will focus on inward growth and writing rather than on outward expenditures of energy in community efforts. When I get to March things will shift again. I’m not sure how or in what direction I’ll launch, but at some point between now and then my next direction will become clear.

Happy New Year everybody. I hope that you have been gifted with hope in the year to come. If you carry some other emotion today, that is okay too. Let your emotions be what they are. Sit with them and pick some small reach you can do in the direction you’d like to travel. Reach and breathe and accept. Progress and hope will come to you.