November Work Release–Almost Done

December rises with music and lights. Before the concert reaches its crescendo, we show our work for November. Or I do. Am I still the only one doing this? Talking it about, I mean? Wellness is work. It doesn’t just happen. It takes the constancy of practice known as a lifestyle. At the end of the month I show my work. These are the highlights from November. 

Physical Wellness

img_9057The physical practice was still very much a practice of the classics in November. Yoga, running, some weights, hiking — the usual. The only difference this month is that near the end of the month I switched to running on my lunch hour again. But this is a typical seasonal shift so it is not outside the realm of usual. 

Despite the mildness of Mercyburg winters the middle of the day is the sunniest part of the day as well as the warmest, and it’s especially merciful and well to get that critical exposure to the sunlight. I go to work in the dark and come home in the dark. A brief run under natural light at midday is tonic for body and mind alike. No time for photos though. 

This self-portrait was yoga in the garden over the Thanksgiving weekend. It’s such a glorious fail that I had to keep it. The squat in silhouette coupled with my fluffy sweatshirt made my torso disappear.  I loved the image small and dark because the light was so magical but in a more realistic size I look like a stuff animal sewed together at the bra line. Or a bendy doll compacted during assembly. But otherwise it is so lovely. Wellness is funny, y’all. 

Spiritual Wellness


I gave my big heathen speech on alternative spirituality, as you read earlier this month. What a spiritual lift for me just to do it, regardless of the feedback. But the feedback continues to come in. People still stop me to comment. 

An added bonus was an invitation to get to know some kindred weirdos who don’t follow a mainstream spiritual path. I’m not the only one in Mercyburg. There are other seekers out there. All I had to do was work up the courage to speak up.  I believe at a cellular level that when we are speaking to each other we are speaking to the Divine. So when I express my desires to you, the Divine within you hears me and begins to conspire in my favor and to our mutual benefit. We call it helping each other but this compassion and desire to help each other grow and thrive is evidence of the divinity in our humanity. 

And I adore the way I am given opportunities to give and serve and comfort and teach in kind. People who need what I have to offer are placed in my path or I am placed in theirs (and vice versa). Folks confess they felt lightbulbs switched on from my podium speech but happens in smaller everyday ways as well.  Twice this month people sought me out to ask me for help in transitioning to plant-based living. Helping each other be well; every chance to do this in any aspect of wellness is spiritually fulfilling to me. 

Intellectual Wellness & Creativity

Photo Nov 28, 5 36 42 PM
Vintage toys which predate elves on shelves.

As mentioned above, most of my creative energy when into my speech, but I also created all these photos and the merry magic you will read below under Social Wellness. For intellectual growth I also dove headfirst into studying genetics in order to fully appreciate my LivingDNA results. So many undiscovered cultures to explore. Obviously that’s all going to take longer than a month but I worked on it this month and this is where I show the work.

I also watched the Netflix documentary Stink!  Wellness in chemical manufacturing and government regulation. Click the link to explore in greater detail.

And the film Vegan 2018 was released in the UK this month, available to us all on YouTube.  If you are interested you can click the link to watch. 

Financial/Occupational Wellnesshipstamaticphoto-564721956.945041-3

The Chef got a new job this month. We gave up a week night to complete the arduous task of crunching the numbers associated with health insurance. The new employer offers health insurance as a benefit. Mine does not. The previous employer did not. We’ve been trying to get by with barebones coverage in the ACA Marketplace and out-of-pocket costs. Could we get better coverage and/or save money on premiums? We could, but it is incredibly tedious and frustrating to dissect and compare information of this kind. My cynical nature thinks this is by design; the idea being that most people will just get overwhelmed and pick something whether it is right for their needs or not. No joke, it took us five hours to sift through it all reach a decision and I’d consider us both to be of above-average intelligence. For folks we don’t have the privileges or tools or resources or faculties we do, who advocates for them? It shouldn’t be this hard to take care of ourselves. But that’s another post. 

Better coverage which suits our specific needs and doesn’t have an astronomically high deductible we will likely never satisfy costs how much more than we’ve been paying for the last two years?  Any guesses?  Anyone?  Exactly the same. Almost to the penny, the same amount of money we’ve been spending on health insurance so bad we can’t even use (and that was WITH a federal subsidy) gets us a substantially better option with dental and vision. Incredible, isn’t it? I wish my government was interested in my wellness. That’s also another post.

But we did this work this month. To nutshell it with a real time example, I was going to have to pay out of pocket for some oral surgery to the tune of $3000.00. Now I will only pay $600.00. So yeah, it was totally worth it. And everything glittery and gaudy in the next section was completely free to me, so read on for lighter and brighter fare.

Social Wellness

Photo Nov 27, 3 42 02 PM

This is probably going to sound like a stretch but it helps to remember the context. I work in an office. As is typical of most offices, I work with people who want the money they earn by being there but they don’t enjoy being there. You know the drill, right? Grateful to have their jobs but don’t like their jobs? So except for the few seconds each week when paychecks are distributed, it’s pretty much wall-to-wall complaining. 

I accidentally changed all that. Or at least, provided a brief respite from all that. I wrote in my last post that my work wife gave me the big ass holiday tree you saw in that same post. She later went home and climbed up in her attic and cleaned out years’ worth of holiday storage boxes, including two more trees and a metric ton of ornaments. These were smaller trees than the Big Old-Fashioned now taking up half of my living room. But since BOF is indeed taking up half my living room, when she brought them to me at work I decided to keep them at work. 

I erected them both in my office. One on a corner counter at eye level, one right on the end of my desk at eye level. One was black, the other silver, with every color of ornament available in the Chinese marketplace. I named them Black Swan (pictured above) and Hi Ho Silver (see below). With these cast-offs I transformed my office into a holiday wonderland of light and color and whimsy and festivity. The same folks who are usually grouchy and bitchy keep walking in to tell me how much they love it and I quote, “This just makes me feel so happy,” and “Every time I walk by here I smile.” Stress relief. Lifting of the spirits. Relaxation of nervous system. Wellness in the office just climbed to (ahem) tree-top levels.  

Photo Nov 27, 3 40 09 PM

Photo Nov 27, 12 30 56 PMI didn’t get the idea to put the birds on top of Hi Ho Silver until I found them in the bottom of the box. Now that I’ve seen them perched there they make so much more sense to me than an angel or a star. 

Photo Nov 29, 8 03 53 AM






Black swan is crowned with bright blue glittery poinsettia leaves because they were also buried in the bottom of the box and were therefore all I had for a finishing touch. When Work Wife fished them out of the box mid-project she said, “Some of this stuff just needs to be thrown away.”

Nope. Not yet. Almost all of this is cheap dollar-store crap destined for the landfill the moment it was produced (and purchased). But this free-to-me box of plastic delights the weary plight of everyone who comes near me, making a strong case for doing this next year and maybe every year. 

Photo Nov 27, 12 31 33 PM

Photo Nov 27, 12 31 12 PM

Under the companion task of environmental wellness, I’m going to try to keep this out of the landfill as long as I can. I would bet there are innumerable attics full of this stuff all over the world. Work Wife swears there is still more up there from mom and grandma and everyone else who overbuys every year during the holidays and never brings down the previous year’s stuff because it’s more fun to buy new (or the old stuff is out of style). Please, for the love of underground space and oceans filling with plastic, stop buying more, people! We don’t need a new theme every year. Reuse it, please. Or give it away to someone who will. Or at the very least, recycle it. 

Emotional Wellness

If you’ve known me longer than the time it takes to read this post, you know that all of this holiday-oriented beautification is not normal behavior for me. I usually pull out The Chef’s vintage toys and toss the family heirlooms on a naked stick or some shit and call it done. Minimalism and all. Fiercely non-traditional and all. Look at me this season. What the hell? 

Photo Nov 28, 5 34 58 PM

Folks are saying it’s the grandmother effect. Maybe, but the baby isn’t here yet. He’s still cooking. I don’t know why I’m having fun with it this year but I am. Maybe it was the long break. A protracted holiday detox (as in five or six years) worked wonders, I suppose. Pictured above is a handmade ornament crafted by The Chef over 40 years ago. Every time I gaze upon it adoringly I muse the tree exists for this ornament and not the other way around. Which means the effort is given to honor the art, which ironically does work the other way around. Perhaps that’s all the overthinking I need to do on the topic. 

And I’m out of time anyway. November is done. It’s already December and I’ve got new work to do. Raking leaves, mostly.  While I’m doing it I’ll be fantasizing about how to make an official nomination for new holiday music. Starting with this:


— Mercy

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