the aftershocks of 2016

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I’m still feeling physically a little meh. The US führer-elect is still tweeting.

I have composed, per usual, in my head a couple dozen various summaries of the year that tried to break us all in some way or another. Not that it’s not mostly documented on Instagram or whatnot. But I need to review before I revise here in the new year . . .

So I may get to the reflection, but mostly I want to say that I spent a chunk of this year working on genealogy projects. Mostly my own or ones I am studying for fun, but sometimes others. And I am developing a way to do more of this work in the world. But in 2016, I finally tested my DNA. And consequently discovered my maternal grandfather’s parentage. He was adopted. And based on what I know now, we would never have discovered the truth via traditional paper documents. It’s been a journey. But the story is long and for another day. As a collector and a completionist of sorts, I want to celebrate 2016 as the year I know the likeness of each and all of my great grandparents, which given the outrageously epic tales of at least three of those couples, is pretty impressive.

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While I am here and typing, let’s see the year as I recall it:

My parents visited us in Virginia before we went on vacation with Hayden and Jordan. Disney trip #1. Highlights included seeing Illuminations from a private balcony and taking a side journey to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The drag was then hearing about the death of Alan Rickman while in the throes of food poisoning or whatever that was.

When we got home it SNOWED. A LOT. It was pretty and peaceful being totally homebound actually. I directed a children’s production that I loved working on. I did some really fun research with some of the archives at the museum. I had fun costume changes in a production of Dog Sees God. I took photos at baptism and weddings, for headshots and baby shoots and recitals. I got to work at the one room schoolhouse in my great grandma’s dress she made in the 60s.

I saw so many shows and so many more than once. I saw a friend in Fun Home and saw Do I Hear a Waltz with John and Frank. I saw She Loves Me. And Dear Evan Hansen before and after it transferred to Broadway. I saw The Color Purple on a whim and then had to take Kevin back before it closed. I saw Finding Neverland, which I didn’t love but was mesmerized when I saw it. I saw Hamilton. Again. (ducks) And met a friend to lead me backstage. That may have been the same day I went to the live Ham4Ham when it was INSANE but totally worth it because PATTI LUPONE. I saw Bright Star with Mason. I saw my first shows at 54 Below. A double bill with Jo Ann. On Halloween I saw The Shining parody. I saw CATS with Keith from the front row. Waitress, too and then again because I wanted to go with Jo Ann and knew Kevin would love it. And I saw Falsettos. With all the right people.

In fact. I see so many shows alone. And when people are with me, it isn’t always as important as it was this year. I think most of my experiences were better because they were so well shared.

Back in the real world ALL THE PEOPLE, or at least my best gays, got married or engaged. Jordan and Hayden’s wedding dominated Spring into June.
Then I went on vacation. To Disney. AGAIN. This time with mom and dad and Kevin and Chris and Monna. Tarpan Springs on the way. Fourth of July in St. Augustine on the way home.

I did so many things TWICE in 2016. I got super ill pukey twice and ugly colds twice. hahaha.  I went to Disney and St. Augustine twice. I saw a bunch of shows twice.

But I also went to the Morgan Library and its fabulous Bronte exhibit twice. I saw Becky twice in two months. And Rachelle twice after not meeting for so very long. I saw my friend Rachel twice, once with a baby inside and once outside!!!

I went to the Wild Goose Festival.

I went to Chicago! I soaked in the museums and spent a few days with a college friend I hadn’t seen in way too many years.

I got a tattoo.
I ate at Shift a ton and ran the one-act play festival.
I ate pears and fig and goat cheese and danced cooking with friends on the Autumnal Equinox.

I spent my birthday in NYC. Andy sang me the best Happy Birthday.
If I had a video, you’d be watching it.

I had an amazing brunch with my friend Trisha.

I did a murder mystery with the greatest cast.

(There was an election.)

I finally had that awesome slumber party with Leigh. Well worth the wait.
I got to help decorate the Stone House for Christmas
and took Kevin to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
And I slept at my parents on Christmas night.
Can anything be more magical than that?

Enough.

This year so was. In good ways, and some trying.

I almost forgot to mention half way through the year, I became unemployed.
And it is okay.

My word for 2016 was LET.

It made it easier to ride the waves.

Dear Almost-Autumn

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Your sister Summer, she is like a sprint—fast, feet hitting hard hot pavement, heart racing. Your time is the last slow heavy steps and the thud in my chest and ears of the blood pumping slower and slower to return to resting.

In the morning I stumble to the crisper drawer and then pad around the house with a pair of ripe plums . . . sometimes in the afternoon, too. (And maybe once, even past midnight.)

Some folks tidy in the Spring, but for me the clearing is most natural now, as the evening light fades faster and the days become more frequently overcast and breezy. My new year begs to begin with the harvest, with the early decay of summers fruits, with school days, with readying to celebrate my own birthday and the holy days where the veil is thin. The season’s wheel may have no beginning or end, but this is where my year premieres.

So far, this preparation looks like 13 full to bursting lawn bags of items going to thrift. It’s a still messy studio desk waiting patiently for me to start over, to ready my art space for the coming months and envision the year ahead.

Today is the day for wishing, but also for what manifested these past dozen moons. Today Luna is pregnant and laboring for the equinox. There is an eclipse. She is full, and whole and nurturing future possibilities.

I am pressing pause on the urges fueled by guilt and necessity.
— the piles of dishes in the kitchen and cat hair in the already dusty corners
— the immensely cluttered coffee table with half finished coloring pages, a thrice ripped out knitting project, two pairs of glasses, q-tips, a holiday potholder and two remotes with dying batteries
— even the plants who could really use a drink will have to wait one more day

This day is being written and lived in ways that don’t include sweeping the porch or doing the laundry. I will rest, because Almost-Autumn, I love you, but you make my sleep fit-full. And your mosquito friends are desperate in their imminent undoing and have made my blood their wine for their farewell celebration.

I will catch up with friends, eat good food and study the lunar wonder when the sun sets.

Until tomorrow
when I return to the sacred mundane.

Gathering. Cleansing. Stories. Blessings

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When we were at the Wild Goose Festival and in Rachelle‘s session, we were telling stories to one another and the listener reflected back the key words to the speaker, words that might reveal core values.

20160709_171632I went to hear the story of a woman who did not have a partner in the exercise. I won’t share her story, as it isn’t mine to tell, but I can give you an important summary. The lesson. A timely one.

She was worried if the story was unsettling that it wouldn’t work– but of course, we are who we are in good times and bad. And we sometimes learn the most from the darkest moments.

The story was one of a situation where her partner’s race put them both at risk.

At the end, he said, "You can leave, I can’t expect you to stay through this."

And her response was, "I would never leave you alone in this."

The word I heard and reflected back to her was "Togetherness"
and little did I know but, as she said, "Unity is kinda [her] thing!"
We found a core value.

She chose "Togetherness" on day long ago, and then again when I wrote the word on her arm and when she spoke it aloud to the gathered community.

Sometimes togetherness is best when we don’t choose it at all, but when our love is so strong that we are compelled to cling tightly to the ones we love in the face of fear.

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Reading? Not really . . .

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More like workbooking. And drawing. And thinking.
But with the help of a book.

Design the Life You Love was the best kid of commitment.
It is a catalyst for your creativity and really can aid you in bringing an intentional quality to the way you think about your life.
Better yet, it provides exercises for determining what it is you really want and inspired me to seek it out.
As someone who binge-reads and consumes books with fury– this was one that I had to take my time with in order to soak in all the potential both in the book and in my life!

I’m reading again. Can you tell? More importantly, I am back on the review train!
Blogging for Books!

“Normally”

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Welcome to Winter Solstice 2015.

HOWL. SEEK.
WANDER. NEST.
CHERISH. BURN.
GATHER. LOVE.
REFLECT. SING.
SURRENDER. BE.
RELEASE. GUIDE.
NURTURE. HELP.
FORGIVE. HOPE.

(This super awesome shirt came from skylinefever on Etsy.)

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Every sentence that has passed through my head has begun with “normally”…
which indicates that my way of celebrating and reflecting is usually different.

“Normally” I am just as busy—maybe moreso. And yet, I “normally” feel like I have more time to reflect.

What I am realizing is that I have had the same amount of time—very little.
But “normally” I have less to process.

“Normally” my year is not so full as this one was.
A year ago today there was no indication that we would move this year.

I have continued through this year, in addition to all the events that don’t “normally “ happen, to continue to choose activity when I could choose otherwise. I have insisted on still living my life. Being with friends. Traveling. Partying. Even when I haven’t had time to put all the pieces together emotionally. It will come in time. Perhaps that is what next year will be.
Letting it all settle slowly, instead of trying to tie up all the loose ends here in a single short day.

I give you my reflection for the moment, the day—the shortest one.
I don’t have words yet. But see, so much living. Just in these last weeks!'300' Effect Sepiaannuncunicornmonkfriendsnycnightpplcalowlsylvtomrrceiling

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I am reading this book.

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I am reviewing this book.
It is one of the ways I am practicing a new way of conscious reading and retaining information. And I also get free books. So that’s what’s up.
Thanks to Hay House for the opportunity to read this pretty one.

First, I am a sucker for a pretty cover. The description of this book focuses on light working—which is normally too high on the floof factor, even for me. But guess what, I love her description of light working. And the suggestions are practical and grounded in everyday life.

As I was reading early on, I was disappointed by the way the book was divided into short sections, but as I continued I grew to love the format and found it really versatile for digesting the information. It would also really make it easy doing a read along or book group with others. All of the prompts give it a workbook feel that is casual and great food for thought.

The personal stories that the author shares are less memoir, more sharing life with a friend in a café. I have to admit, I am reading it again already. That’s a good sign for me.

The Time Garden is as enchanting as the title suggests!

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Hey everyone—I have been reading a ton of Advanced Reader Copies of new books these days—mostly digital. But this week I receive one of the old fashioned kind . . . and it is perfect.

It’s listed for middle grades and up, but for me, I am considering this my first grown up coloring book. They are all the rage at the moment and I had been resisting the trend.
How lucky I am to have had this be my introductory experience to such a serene meditative concept.
Anyone can see by the cover and sample images that Daria Song is a fine artist and illustrator, filling a book almost entirely of image with detail after meticulous detail. What puts this publication over the top as a standout in a market flooded with designs to color is a truly charming story that guides you deeper into the visual story. Add to that the quality of this book is absolutely luxurious. It has a heavy silky dust jacket, another beautiful hidden cover underneath. The weight and texture of the paper is perfect for the purpose. I promise you, it is thick enough that you can color with scrapbooking markers and not see a hint of it bleeding or fading through to the other side of the page.
This book made me feel special just handling it. Working in it transported me beyond any mundane daily task and into a world of whimsy and creativity. I cannot thank Blogging for Books and Penguin Random House/Watson-Guptill enough for the opportunity to preview this title.
I recommend getting a copy 100%– then have a cup of tea, choose your pens or pens and enjoy!