November, where did you go? (Sigh) I always wish we could trade in the month of August for two Novembers. It is the rushest month. The rushiest month. We rush it the most.
It’s time to release the wellness work done in November; the good, the bad, the undone. Time to show and tell.
I didn’t turn Jewish but I did intentionally unpack the menorah before the tree. The boss suggested our receptionist decorate the lobby before we closed for Thanksgiving. I helped. It made me happy that more than one faith is represented in my workplace for the first time in a very long time. One of our bosses is Jewish. The rest of the office is Christian, and then there’s me, the Other.
I had one other Jewish boss, half a lifetime ago when I lived in Kentucky. In Maryland I had a Muslim boss who emigrated from Turkey. In California I had a Buddhist boss who emigrated from Korea. I learned everything I could from each of them, including how overblown Christmas felt to them because so little of it is spiritual. They pointed out to me that only a small fraction of American Christmas observances are spiritual; the rest are mostly social. I considered myself Christian back then and I couldn’t disagree.
These days I try to either glean every bit of spirituality I can from seasonal observances or impregnate them with every bit of spirituality I can. This is often facilitated by reverence for spiritual practices other than my own, simply because I want there to be more spiritual-ness in everything we all do. So the menorah was a big deal. I made it a big deal. After it was installed I willingly and cheerfully helped with the wreaths and tree, which are ancient pagan traditions associated with Yule and the solstice. This was important work for me, considering my typical disgust and disdain and blathering on about consumerism and waste and debt and yada yada yada.
Ask any of my longtime readers — I’m Scrooge. I’m Grinch. I’m a perennial holiday hater and complainer. Last year on this blog I published a series of postcards like this:
In November I resolved to do better work this season.
This year my spiritual work is to cultivate the seeds planted by the Three Wise Men who were placed in my path all those years ago; the Jew, the Muslim, and the Buddhist. I will make it all more spiritual this year, instead of simply going through the motions to make my loved ones happy. My participation won’t be obligatory this year. I will find a way to make it all meaningful and devotional, which will no doubt make me feel more grateful and celebratory. I will be the change I want to see in the season (world); wise words from a Hindu.
Nothing new here. Yoga and hiking were the mainstays, though I did run a bit more this month. My morning workout partner is still injured so I’ve been running with The Chef (and the dog). Cleaning up the grounds of my queendom has been cross-training. Winterizing the flora always feels like more work than the Spring digging and planting, but that may be because it comes at the end of the year when I’m ready to be done with it. Neighbors and friends admire my scratches and scrapes and keep recommending gardeners and yard/tree workers for hire. I keep saying No. Doing it myself is part of my practice.
I made it through my first vegan Thanksgiving without much ado. There were 15 people at dinner, including a new baby, so there was too much general hubbub going on for my food choices to be a spectacle. My sister-in-law made a salad. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ate it. I presented potato vindaloo to share. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who ate it. One person approached to ask me the Why Vegan? question but she rushed away to rescue something from the oven before I could finish my answer. It was mostly a non-issue. And no, I didn’t miss or crave anything I didn’t eat. I truly didn’t want it; not even the pie.
I’ve already mentioned that picked up some freelance work on the side this month. I do it when I have time, choosing projects I can manage. In total I made an extra $100 in November, which I applied to defraying the costs associated with breaking my Spending Fast in October. (New office wear for new office job in October.)
The Chef will have new holiday obligations this year associated with new employment as well, and they all come with the mandatory gift exchange. I also have a new situation with new expectations. We established a spending limit for this and a one small gift limit for ourselves (each other). Other than that, it’s back on the Spending Fast wagon.
Why so strict? There is an old debt scheduled to be repaid in December 2018. I’m going to try to kill it by April 2018 by doubling down and applying end-of-year bonuses, dividends, and refunds. The prospect of this freedom feels far more satisfying than holiday shopping. Who’s got two thumbs and spends her holiday bonus on freedom? This chick.
Social work was light this month, limited mostly to bonding with my new colleagues. It’s going well. We’ve only had a little over a month to work on it though, in moments between learning the ropes and performing my duties. I’ll post more on this when there is more to say. The bulk of my work on social wellness this month was blogging here on social issues, as you’ve already seen or read.
This aspect of wellness work suffered some neglect in November. With the exception of a couple of documentaries and some photography, I don’t have highlights to report. My cat threw up on the kitchen floor in a triangle pattern. I tried to make some art out of it. I don’t mind if you laugh. I don’t mind if you throw up too.
The docs were Miss Representation and One of Us. I also read a novel written in Chinese and translated into English, in which I learned about the ritual of ghost money. In short, it is imitation currency and/or goods burned in a fire after loved ones die to ensure they have sufficient provisions in the afterlife. This is done in earnest. Neglecting to do this is the equivalent of depriving the departed of goodness and plenty in the hereafter. Ironically, one must purchase the fake money. Google it; it’s fairly fascinating.
I did publish the post called Eve last week, which included a tiny piece of poetry. I also learned a bit on topics like dermatology, the music industry, art, and environmental science through my new freelance work. I did not work on my novel. I did not play much or create anything other than space and laughter. It was a lean month in these respects. This is why the review process is important though — to note the deficiencies as much as the abundance. If I feel creatively stale moving into December, I’ll know why.
Cat barf art is a thing though. Seriously, it is. Google this too. And think of me.