January concludes; time to show our wellness work for the month. I keeping typing our as if this is a group exercise. Obviously it’s just me, unless I have readers out there participating on the stealth. Time to show my work. This is how I practiced wellness in January:
I work with vegetables. Vegan for seven months! In January I made my first salad. That’s a small joke. Folks assume vegans live on salad. I didn’t make a salad until I’d been vegan for seven months. And it wasn’t a giant bowl of iceberg lettuce, which is the definition of salad in Mercyburg. Salad in the South — ugh, don’t get me started.
I work in mile increments. Yes, I am still running. I lost my partner to injury and scheduling but The Chef has rogered up become my new old running partner, often with Doggo along. In January I logged winter miles, most in the dark with twinkly lights on feet, torso, and rear end. All cold, some wet, but all splendid.
I work on a rubber mat. Yes, still a yogi. All styles, all teachers, all inclusive. In January I breathed and bent on the yoga mat (and sometimes on the grass), because supple is a delicious way to feel.
I work with oil. Bathing with essential oils, because it is the season of dry skin. But oh my glob, aren’t we grateful for forced air heating? A few drops in the bathwater softens all of me at once, even the places I can’t reach. This represents something of a breakthrough for me since I didn’t think my skin (legs) could tolerate nature’s pure juices. How do we reach the breakthroughs? Practice. The oils weren’t the problem. Shaving with essential oils in the water was the problem. Shaving breaks the skin. Broken skin is irritated by fragrance oil no matter how natural it may be. So on shaving days, no oils in the bath. I switched to an electric shaver mid-month so I don’t have to compromise. More on that below.
Although there are lots of popular brands out there, my favorite oils still come from Mountain Rose Herbs.
Speaking of skincare breakthroughs, I am not not allergic coconut oil after all. Care to join me in a mid-winter Whoo hoo? This one was huge. By that I mean a huge relief. I’m so glad to be proven so wrong on this one! I remain sensitive to whatever chemical flim-flam takes place when people jack around with coconut oil and put coco-derivative compounds into skincare products. But pure organic coconut oil? It’s A-okay; so much so that it has replaced all of my go-to goo, even my homemade stuff. I’m using it right out of the jar, twice a day until the spring equinox, and all is well.
I work with compensation. This month I created Pay Day rituals, an indulgence every Friday to honor a week of wellness work. January had four Fridays. Week One I paid myself in a mood-changing hairstyle (completely free and DIY), Week Two I paid myself in a foot massage (completely free and DIY), Week Three I indulged in day-time novel reading (more on that below), Week Four I paid myself in vegan French toast.
I work with intuition. I know it sounds batty; so much so that I am almost too inhibited to write it. It feels like a secret because it only makes sense to me. But I’ve given it enough time and consideration and I know I’m right. Long-time readers and friends in the real world are aware I’ve been rocking short and super-short hair for so long it’s become a signature. Last year I got tired of forking out salon fees so I let it grow long enough to learn how to cut it myself. It wasn’t intended to become any kind of emotional practice. But it is. Somehow it is. The longer the hair gets, the more emotional integration I feel to the past; to the person I was when most of my emotional wounds were accumulated.
Not long ago I touched on this in a blog about “I don’t have to be that girl anymore.” The longer my hair gets, the stronger this feeling gets. It’s all woo-woo and deep and I fully acknowledge how it sounds. But it’s real to me. Every half inch is another length of reintegration with the original me, the person I was before I adopted my persona. Before I honed my character. Before I perfected the show. The hair is some kind of emotional conduit back to her and to the point at which her development was arrested. I’m reaching back through time for her. The hair was the missing link. I’ve got more brewing on this; there’s a big sex post cooking within but it’s not ready yet. Stand by on that.
I work with Woo. Each month this year I will study a classic feminine archetype for woo purposes. In January she was The Wise Woman archetype. Some traditions call her The Crone but she’s not necessarily old. We are conditioned to believe that we must be old to be wise because we need to have lived that long to accumulate significant wisdom. Nope. The alternative conditioning is that we become wise (while young by comparison) through the accumulation of a significant amount of experience. Many well-meaning and firm-believing teachers tried to drill this into me over the years. Those same teachers tried to hold me back from teaching because it was deemed too dangerous and irresponsible to let me loose in the world without a proper spiritual resume. Nope.
Nope, nope, nope.
Wisdom doesn’t work that way. Or I should way, wisdom doesn’t work ONLY that way. Wisdom has come to me unconventionally, unpredictably, stunningly, as often as it has come through repetitive practice, experience, and study. No one arbitrates or regulates wisdom, not even those who have gone to great lengths to become learned, experienced, and credentialed. Wisdom comes to me when I listen. When I watch. When I’m quiet. When I write. When I drive. Anywhere, all the time, in many ways, the wisdom of the Universe is available and accessible and audible and visible. To everyone. All beings. Everywhere. You want Woo? Say so and wait. That’s all you have to do, loves.
I work with Meditation. I listen. I like the maxim that prayer is asking or telling but meditation is listening. My practice continues.
Intellectual & Creative Wellness
I work with words. I finished The Honest Spy (and wrote about this earlier in the month). I started Alias Grace. After I saw the series on Netflix I knew I had to read the book. Margaret Atwood taps The Deep.
I work with song. Caught some local live theatre this month, an adaptation of a Broadway play produced by college kids. All that young energy in a crumbling old theatre the town is trying desperately to preserve. The stage is so small the actors often use the aisles among the seats to modify their scenes. This was of particular significance for this performance because the room was filled with hazy air, the house lights extinguished, and then enthusiastic young actors holding tiny tea light candles leaned down to whisper tales into my ear in the flickering darkness. Spooky and yum.
I work behind a camera. In addition to the stills sprinkled throughout this post, I created these images this month:
I work with fingertip magic. Look how much I blogged this month! This is part of the practice. Did you notice the uptick in weekly posts? Feels good. It’s good work.
I work with modified magic. This month I deconstructed my Amity Dolls. Do you remember the Amity Dolls? I may have written about them back on my old diary-style blog. These were the good-witch versions of voodoo dolls. Handmade, button eyes, fabric hair, the real deal. Instead of effigy dolls for malicious purposes, I acquired effigy dolls for peaceful purposes. I’d bless them and devote good energy and good intentions to them. There were three of them. They represented three problematic relationships with three people who hated my guts. Despised me, resented me, judged me harshly, slandered me, and actively worked to harm and hinder me.
I withdrew from conflict with all three of them but dedicated a doll for each of them, upon which I lavished feelings of good will, well wishes, and positive vibes. I don’t know if it worked or not because I’ve lost contact with all three of the real humans. But the New Year felt like a good time to close those chapters and discontinue the practice. I removed the identifying features of each doll to return them back to blanks, and then took them apart and burned them. All those good intentions lifted with the smoke. Bye bye, old foes. Old conflicts. Old badly managed problems set free.
Financial & Occupational Wellness
I work with money. I’m still working the Spending Fast. ← I try to always include the link for those of you who’ve forgotten what a Spending Fast is, or you just arrived. It doesn’t mean I spend no money. It means I spend money on only essentials for a specified period of time. Housing, food, healthcare, insurance; all essential. Gasoline and maintenance for the car is essential. I needed new wiper blades in January — that’s an example of essential spending. I wanted new boots in January but I don’t need them. My old ones work just fine — that would be non-essential spending. I want to reach my financial goals more than I want new boots. Or more pets. Or new hiking skirt. Or a trip to Florida.
Earlier in the month I mentioned that I paid off an old debt TWELVE MONTHS early. My goal was to pay it off nine months early but I zeroed that balance even earlier. A full year earlier. The Spending Fast works. Now I devote all those saved payments to my next goal. It’s like giving myself a raise. I think about this feeling every time I’m tempted to stray.
I crunched the numbers and said goodbye to disposable razors and blades in favor of an electric shaver. The lump sum outlay of cash for an electric shaver is less than the money I throw away on blades and shaving goo over a year’s time, so I sprung. Bonus: they always go on sale right after the holidays; best time to buy. We can argue about whether or not shaven legs qualify as essential spending if you like but I’ll remind you that I tried it last summer. I grew out my leg hair and tried to live with it. I tried to embrace it. IN THE SUMMER. Remember? The posts about the Big Fat Hairy Deal? Even if it is non-essential by definition it is an allowance. Those weeks I walked around with fully exposed hairy legs earned me an allowance.
Those are January’s wellness highlights. Work shown. Woo confessed. January done. Tomorrow is the day of my most recent earthly birth. Got me a Super Blue Moon for it, which is an incredible gift. Step outside and check out my birthday candle, ya’ll. It’s also the ancient Gaelic holy day of Imbolc, or Candlemas, marking the halfway point between the Winter Equinox and the Spring Solstice. Feels extra special this year, as if there is more of me awake than before. More of me alive. More wholeness. More wellness. Which is the point of it all.