January 2017: My Bear Month

One recurring desire came to me over and over again last fall: the desire to surrender to the rhythms of the earth. In our modern day society, we seem to have gotten away from allowing the natural world to set tone and rhythm to our lives.  We have access to pretty much any kind of food year round. We no longer rely upon the sun to set the beginning and end of the work day thanks to electricity. And thanks to central heating and air, it doesn’t matter what Mother Nature presents to us in the form of weather, as we can be a comfortable 68 degrees pretty much every day.

As I’ve gotten older, though, I am seeing that I need the cycle of nature. I need breathtaking spring blossoms and the brilliant colors of fall trees. Beyond the cycle of nature, I find that I connect best to the age-old earth customs of the Celtics and the following of the Wheel of the Year. It feels logical, like coming home in a way. Maybe because I see the logic in tying festivals and holy days to the earth’s cycle. Maybe it feels like home to me because when I got the results of my DNA tests, my ancestral ties are Irish, British, Scandinavia (70%+).

My Intention and How It Played Out

Most of my autumn was spent focusing on the harvest, taking some of my best work as a coach and turning it into real books. All I could think about as I neared the completion of the project was that I was going to burrow into the season of winter by doing what ancient cultures used to do: rest.

My timetable for the season of rest was from Christmas/Yule until Candlemas/Imbolic. The symbol of the return to working the agricultural cycle begins with Imbolic with Brigid as the Patron Saint / Goddess.  The general idea was to not begin any new work towards my body of work until it was time to plant new seeds (February 2nd). To not worry about building my list or SEO writing. To not worry about when I would publish my next book. To maybe not even write a single line of coaching advice.

I had set aside the week before Christmas to write as much “consumable content” for my coaching practice as possible, but frankly that didn’t work out exactly as I had planned. What I did before Christmas, though, was to create a plan for the first quarter of 2017 and also choose the art for each piece. Even though I didn’t get it all pre-written, having the list of topics and the art ready to roll did allow me to have a sense of rest instead of hustle.

As to the actual resting part? I suck at resting. Rest feels…idle. Yet, in looking back, I didn’t entirely fail.

About the Bear

One of the items I purchased for 2017 was Briana Saussy’s Book of Hours. It’s a lovely tool to serve me in the coming year, with a series of writing prompts based on the stage of the moon and the location of the planets. Bri recommended one of her colleagues, Sara Magnuson, who was offering a Year Ahead 12 Card Animal Reading.

Now, let me preface this by saying I don’t get just any old reading from anyone. A spiritual reading of any kind – Tarot, Goddess, Medium, Etc. – is an invitation into your very soul.  There are few I trust with this kind of access. I go by gut, but sometimes, you have to trust those you trust to make recommendations.  I trust Briana, so I gave Sara a chance.

I know she was perfect for me because the card she drew for January was The Bear. A creature that hibernates to represent the month when my number one spiritual intention was to rest.

But did you know that bears also process new life while they are hibernating? Papa bear impregnates Mama Bear before it’s time to hibernate, but all the goods just float around waiting until winter to unite and create new life. Then, while Mama Bear rests, her baby (or babies) develop and then are born come spring.

“In the psyche, the bear can be understood as the ability to regulate one’s life, especially one’s feeling life. Bearish power is the ability to move in cycles, be fully alert, or quiet down into a hibernative sleep that renews one’s energy for the next cycle. The bear image teaches that it is possible to maintain a kind of pressure gauge for one’s emotional life, and most especially that one can be fierce and generous at the same time. One can be reticent and valuable. One can protect one’s territory, make one’s boundaries clear, shake the sky if need be, yet be available, accessible, engendering all the same.”
― Clarissa Pinkola Estés (from Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype)

I may not have rested in a literal sense of sleeping more or not working at all. But I did step back to renew my energy for the next cycle of my life. The bear is both gentle and protective, and that’s what I did with my own soul this pat month. I treated myself kindly. I protected my heart and soul. I set firmer boundaries, especially in the realm of social media.

The month of the bear was a good one for me. I made solid choices and decisions for the good of myself, my home life, and my business life.

What I’m Reading

One of the ways I dealt with not wanting to be idle yet rest was by reading. My body rested while my mind savored. I finished fourteen books this month.

  • Nine Books were fiction, mostly mysteries. I enjoyed everything fiction I read, especially The Dollhouse and A Study in Scarlett Woman. Oh, and Stalking Jack the Ripper.
  • One book was poetry. One was inspirational/non-fiction. One was creative non-fiction.
  • I read two biographies: The Magnolia Story about Chip and Joanna Gaines and Lauren Graham’s I’m Talking As Fast as I Can.

I’m still reading Carrie Fisher’s last book (The Princess Diarist) as well as a couple of other books I’m rotating out as morning reads.

Turning the Microscope on Myself

As I mentioned earlier, the number one act of self-care this month was to go back to eating meals that don’t contain soy, gluten, or dairy. I would say I’ve been 99% true to that intention. I had an order of polenta for lunch yesterday that had a dash of cheese in it (and trust me, I could tell about thirty minutes later). Weight wise, I lost three or four pounds. My joints feel better and I’ve only had a couple of twinges in my hands and hips.

My intention for February is movement. I can’t deny that I sit too much. I can’t deny that I need to get back into shape. Aging and gravity is not always kind to our bodies, so as part of movement, I also need to get back into my weight routine. I know that over-doing a goal and saying “I’ll work out every day” is setting myself up for failure, so my commitment is simply to work out more often (which will mean at least three days a week to be “more”).

When It Comes to My Creative Life

I made the decision to join InCoWriMo, which is a commitment to write a letter a day for the month of February. Letter writing is a good thing for my creative / writing life. I wrote more about it for Modern Creative Life. I’ll be writing to friends, officials, and strangers.

I spent some time on both of my Works in Progress this past month, but I wouldn’t say I was devoted to either one. Writing hasn’t come easy to me this month, yet I keep reminding myself that the intention of the month was to rest and only write when I had the urge…

My friend, Jen Lee, is working on a new project and I’ll be managing some of the logistics for the project. It is an honor to be a part and it will be fun. It also gives me an opportunity to study story-telling from another aspect of film instead of ink and paper.

Today is Imbolic and the time to begin planting seeds for the next harvest.

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