March has come. February is gone. Time to show my work. A day late is indicative of the kind of month February was. I don’t think there was a single day I got everything done. Everything feels overdue and somewhat undone. But this is a practice and not a performance.
Intellectual and Creative Wellness
There was one thing not only done but overdone. When was the last time I read four books in a month? Maybe never. I did in February. Finished Alias Grace (novel about a historical event). Started and finished A River In Darkness (non-fiction story). Started and finished Tips For Living (contemporary fiction). Started The Blind Assassin (more Margaret Atwood).
In addition to the other images you saw in February posts, I made these:
Considered writing a short story about The Cult of Coffee Cups on Instagram. Have you seen this? Let me go ahead and say that I like it — I’m not casting dispersion here. But there is a cadre of Instagram users who habitually post (as in nearly daily) photos of themselves or their muses holding steaming mugs of hot liquid. They are lovely and mysterious; artfully rendered as opposed to cheesy snapshots. I liked one of them, so of course Instagram now thinks that’s ALL I want to see and keeps suggesting them to me. This is how I discovered how many of them there are out there, every day, cup after cup after cup. But not just photos of the cups; headless, faceless humans cradling the cups. The cult reference is playful, truly, but it occurred to me that the idea of a Cult of Coffee Cups in which international members post to either communicate with each other in cup code or to conjure their culty workings is something I would read.
I’ve even got a couple of character names for CCC (Cult of Coffee Cups). I’m amused when people misplace commas and it creates the name of a character I want to develop. Remember Java Seriously? She’s a female character. She came along when I was participating in an online chat ages ago with other writers. Someone was incredulous that a friend had named her new baby Java. She meant to exclaim, “Java, seriously!?” but of course she left out the comma. Java Seriously was born. I tried to put her in my first novel. My long-time readers probably remember her. With a name like Java she’d have to be queen of the cult.
It happened again this month. I was reading an article in which a fellow blogger was being interviewed. When asked about the writer’s passions, hobbies, etc., he meant to answer, “Writing, obviously …” but he left out the comma. Writing Obviously was born. I think this would be a male character. Perhaps I shall keep this short list going until I’ve got enough to name my fictional cult members and then bring the CCC to life as well. Who will be next to join?
No changes here. Running, hiking, and yoga as usual. Still vegan. Somewhere along the way I guess I lost count of the months because I believe I claimed my seventh month early by mistake. It was seven months in the middle of February. Still rising early and early to bed. The only difference in my physical practice this month is that I ran a couple of 5k races. A friend asked me and The Chef to run one with him and I jumped into a local charity race because it was right in my own neighborhood. In neither case did I care about my time. I covered the distance comfortably and enjoyed the company of other runners.
We’ve also been stopping by the neighbor’s house to pick up his dog when we walk our own. The neighbor dog doesn’t get much exercise so she wants to run whenever we hit the road with her. Bonus work for all.
Still meditating. Still observing Morning Prayers. As you know from yesterday’s post, I tried to shake things up a bit and go to gay church with a friend. It didn’t work out but the attempt is new work for the month. I gave my outdoor altar a Spring clean and hung some outdoor lanterns out there in advance of mosquito control, which is right around the corner in Mercyburg.
Nothing much new in these practices this month. Still working with the Spending Fast. Still cooking and dining at home. Still settling in to my new job (four months now) and working on the side gig for extra dough when I have extra time. After nursing my old ones along until they were unfit for casual Fridays, I did decide I needed a couple of pairs of jeans. I went for secondhand and scored two pairs, nearly new, fancy-branded, for $5 each. Probably would have paid $100 new. A quick trip through the wash and a $90 savings.
Most women don’t keep their jeans until they wear out. They keep them until they gain or lose weight and then donate them. Since the style these days is to wear them unreasonably tight (skinny), a gain or loss of five pounds can make or break the pair. This makes for a fast turnaround in ownership and results in secondhand racks full of jeans that might have only been worn a handful of times. I’ll take them. I’ve gotten feedback before that this is gross. I think wasting money is gross, and since most brand-new jeans get tried-on by many shoppers before you buy them, it’s all the same difference. Wash and wear, honeybunch.
I went out to meet friends for quality time more this month. Some of those friends were relatives. The death of my cousin prompted opportunities to reconnect by phone as well. The return of baseball season always brings an uptick in my social work and I’m already receiving offers. I’m saying yes. I continue to work on bonding with my new coworkers. As I mentioned before, I’d really love it if this was my last job change, so fostering good healthy relationships on the job is a supporting practice.
This month I also volunteered for a community fundraiser in advance of local elections. We’ve got some open seats to fill in local government. I decided to do more than type. I put in some time on my feet and helped create a gracious little event to help get my chosen candidate elected. This is new for me. I haven’t done anything like this in so long I can’t remember; a decade, at least. It was satisfying work but oh my glob, exhausting work. I forgot how daunting all the glad-handing can be even when it is completely sincere.
This was without my question my toughest work of the month. February wore me down emotionally and then there was the sucker punch of a death in the family. Co-mourning. And then there is our national mourning. My work in this aspect of wellness was to cry. And be very tired. And be glum. There was also one episode of screaming, followed by a period of silence. I decided not to be sorry about it. I wrote in my journal:
I screamed to make it stop. I thought about it for one, maybe two seconds before I released the scream. I released the scream. It felt like fighting back. I did not apologize even though I felt upset about all day. I was upset because it triggered the release of latent fears over what I think will happen to me if I fight back.
My journal entries have big blocks of all caps scattered throughout the text this month. That’s new. Screaming is new too; I don’t do that much. My screams are powerful. I’m not kidding. They saved my life once. A man with a gun once loosened his grip because I screamed so violently — so primal-ly — and I survived his assault with only bruises. I don’t play around with screaming. If I release a scream I have basically weaponized an emotion (or more than one emotion).
I felt smothered this month. I felt trapped by a predatory personality this month. I felt stormed and stalked by emotional mercenaries this month. I generally respond in all the ways you read about month after month, with methods of wellness and a working arsenal of peace and compassion. Be cool. Be smart. Be sarcastic yet forgiving. This month I guess I reconnected with the warrior spirit of my younger years. I fought back, even to the point of releasing a scream, which represents a serious escalation. I realize some people scream and yell all the time and it’s just a routine form of communication for them. If I do it, it’s a full-on cataclysm.
So that’s it for February. What’s done is done. I release what was undone as well. I”m not keeping score, I’m practicing. I start again today.