Good morning & Happy New Year’s Eve!
What a tremendous, educational year 2010 has been! Lots of lessons offered and learned (or, learning). What did 2010 offer you? What will you bring forward with you into 2011 from this year just passing?
Writing Ourselves Whole can still use your support! There’s this one more day in 2010 to make a tax-deductible financial gift that will support the transformative writing in your communities — thank you immensely to all who have already invested in our work!
I’ve spent the last several days wrangling with a cold, so I’ve been sleeping a lot and, when awake, watching movies or reading. I’m making my slow way through Rob Brezny’s Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia. This book is reminding me of how I used to aspire to be in the world: full of curiosity, wide-eyed and also skeptical, lots of questions and few answers, aching for beauty and connection with everyone and everything, engaged with my complexities and contradictions, positively uncertain and joyfully observant.
I was writing in my notebook yesterday about how I’ve gotten more connected to having answers. The Knowledge/Information Economy tells us to become an expert on something, to become the go-to person on FB or Twitter or elsewhere about the wingspan of bats or why people collect seashells or how to frame digital photographs or what sex positions most suburban folks struggle with these days — that’s how you Make It. That’s how you’ll Succeed. And so I’ve been trying to figure out how to become an expert on surviving sexual trauma or writing about trauma or writing about sex or an expert on sexuality, period. And then when I run into personal struggles with any of these things (which I do on a regular basis), I feel like a completely failed Expert. How can I claim to teach something, or midwife folks through an experience, that I’m not 100% perfect at myself?
Of course, you can see the perfectionism, the self-sabotage, the voices that say, if you’re not perfect, you’re nothing. (Which means (doesn’t it?) that if you’re just human, you’re worthless.)
I’ve been actively engaged with this, one of my most entrenched inside-editor voices, for quite a few years — tangling with my just-humanness. Just human means stunningly imperfect, means scarred and scared, means I don’t have all the answers, about myself or anyone else. Means I’m a practice: this life is a practice. Every day is a practice.
So this week, with the blessing of a cold that left me with body aches and sore throat, I’ve been on the couch with Rob Brezny, remembering what it’s like to delight in not knowing. Remembering what it’s like to be present with the joy of our imperfections, to be grateful for everything that seems wrong, to take some tremendous comfort in the sheen of fog that covers the windows of our little house in the mornings. Who cares if I need to wear 4 layers, a scarf and hat inside my house? I’ve got all day to make Irish soda bread to feed the cold monster in my belly, have time and a stove with which to whip up a batch of cayenne-cheddar biscuits, will put the stove on low so that my specially-requested french bread will rise.
2010 taught me much about self-care, about receiving help, about saying no and about saying yes, about trusting visions and dreams, about slowing down in order to stretch and grow.
In 2011, I am looking forward to more delight in confusion, more surprising myself with everyday magic, more attention to/with serendipity — what happens when I simply become an expert at asking questions, or noticing what is? Isn’t that a life-long practice?
What about a prompt here, beginning with where we started: What are you bringing forward with you from 2010? What lessons will come with you even if there are habits, practices, relationships that you are laying to rest? What visions and wishes do you have for this coming year? Let yourself describe them in great, intricate detail.
A fun writing exercise can be to write yourself a letter from Dec 31, 2011 — describe what happened in the year, how you felt about it, what surprised you! Use as much sensory detail as you can: explain how something smelled or sounded, what it felt like, how it tasted, what it looked like. If you want, you can seal up the letter and set it aside to open at the end of next year: then compare and contrast!
Thank you for being with me this year — I’m so grateful for this regular opportunity to connect with you! Thank you for all of your powerful, engaged, vulnerable work. Thank you, always, for your words.