Sas Petherick, a woman whose work has been circling round the edges of my explorations over the past few months, posted six questions for the Solstice. Thought I’d give them a shot.
Here in Vancouver, the Summer Solstice is a strange thing. Because, even though the days are officially getting shorter from now on, summer hasn’t really started yet. It’s warmer but still lots of rain and you definitely need a sweater in the mornings. We don’t really get summer here until early July. Which kind of always leaves me feeling like everyone else has long started the summer race and I’m still at the start line, tying my shoes.
But it is true that we are halfway through the calendar year. Seems like a good time to stop and reflect on where I am. Which is what Sas prompted with her Six Solstice questions –
1. Did you have a word for this year? How has it manifested itself? If you didn’t have a word, what is the theme that has played out in your life so far this year?
My word for this year is joy. The joy of waking up excited, of singing and running, joy that fills the top and bottom of my heart. Of feeling like I could fly. At this point, I have to be honest, this had not manifested. If fact, I feel farther from feelings of pure joy than I can ever remember. Mostly, this year has just felt like hard work.
What does seem to be manifesting is fire. The fire of lava and volcanoes in Hawaii. Finally getting to the Beltaine Fire Festival in Edinburgh. Being at a shamanic conference and breathing fire. Well, spitting 80 proof alcohol into the fire and having it breathe back (there was no way I was drinking that stuff). Campfires outdoors, teaching little ones about putting cedar on the fire for the “sizzle”. The fire of determination that it takes to get out of bed and keep fighting.
Maybe the fire will ignite the joy. Maybe the joy is hidden in the fire. I don’t know. Maybe I’ll know more in another six months.
2. What are you most proud of?
I am most proud that I get up each day and keep trying. That I allow myself to be seen and to be authentic even when it’s scary and I’d rather hide behind my walls. That I have the most amazing friends. And that at night when I go to bed, there is peace in my heart.
3. What have you chosen to let go of?
Scheduling and reliability. I have always been someone who had an intricately planned schedule. I liked it that way so I could fit in all the things I wanted to do. It was very controlled and organized.
But, two things started to happen. First, when others didn’t schedule like me, I often took it personally that they didn’t want to set a date to get together even if it was two weeks away. And, second, I would get really annoyed when people changed plans (i.e. bailed on me). Somehow it felt like a rejection because I had chosen to make that person a priority in my schedule but they didn’t reciprocate.
I didn’t realize that lots of people don’t actually schedule like I was! And, I don’t know whether its just that I’m getting older but I can’t keep up that kind of schedule anymore. I need more down time. I need unscheduled time. I need time for myself. If I’m doing creative things – like writing or glass beading – I need time to do that when the creative muse is flowing. It can’t be forced into a schedule. I need free time to have unexpected tea with friends, to go for a walk, talk/text with loved ones. To go to bed early.
And, I am learning to be okay with what feels to me like unreliability. With “bailing” on other people and on events. Even at the last minute. Because in battling depression, I need to listen and respect my body and my spirit. There are times when it is not the best thing for me to fake my participation at an event. Especially if it means using alcohol or food as a crutch.
So, I’ve cracked open my schedule and accepted that people might see me as unreliable. It’s opened up a lot more room. For unexpected blessings and just for myself.
4. What has been your greatest joy or surprise?
My greatest joy was seeing live flowing lava. My biggest surprise is how much I now enjoy the time I spend by myself. Knowing that I like my own company has taken away so much of my anxiety. I really notice it when I travel. I can let go of control and just accept each day. I feel like my own best friend. It’s kind of cool.
5. What book, movie, exhibition, tv programme, play, concert, article, photograph, or website has been your favourite find?
The book Quiet by Susan Cain has been my favourite find. Susan’s book is about introverts and how our society rewards extroverts even though we really need introverts, too! I have always been an extrovert. And, I wouldn’t call myself an introvert even now. But, a whole new introverted part of me has definitely emerged. I think I’m half and half now. Quiet helped me process the difference between my aloneness and my loneliness. Turns out, the emergence of my introverted half has brought with it a lot of creativity and calmness. Susan has a great TED Talk, too!
6. What three things do you want for yourself by the next Solstice – 21st December 2013?
I want to have healthy eating habits. I want to expand my photographic creativity into post-photo techniques (i.e. digital manipulation). I want to be able to set aside more money for my travel budget.
Well, that’s my halfway mark. Now, if the sun actually starts to shine here in Vancouver, I can enjoy the warm, if not so long, days of summer.