#17: A year of seasonal living
Plus Quit Like a Woman, men on the internet and first time tattoos
You’re reading This Might Resonate, a monthly newsletter from me, Emily.
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You’re receiving this post on 30th January 2022, ready for Imbolc on 1st February, the first day of spring in the Celtic calendar. 30th January also marks a year of This Might Resonate. 354 days ago, I wrote:
One of my intentions for 2021 (which, as everyone knows, starts on 1st February) is to observe these patterns and cycles over the rest of the year. What is the pace and quality of my springs, summers and autumns? How can I structure my year to work with my energy, not against it?
What have I learned from this seasonal living enquiry?
Last year, I lost spring. Side-effects from the first vaccine in March mean that I can’t remember much of March until early June. I like to think I was a buried bulb for those months, in stasis, waiting for something to trigger my arrival above-ground. In my case, that was the second vaccine and the warm June days, both of which restored me.
I noticed that I needed to slow down again, work-wise, in late summer, to accommodate the burst of socialising energy I get around that time. I needed slack in my life to allow for spontaneity: taking off to Stroud to camp and swim in the ponds at midsummer in June, dating in London, soaking up the sun on the beaches of Devon.
I also noticed that around summertime, I found it hard to commit to communities, events or courses. As I wrote to someone who invited me to a group I had really wanted to join:
I can't make it this time around. I find myself chafing at structure at the moment. I'm currently part of a learning circle with the same two weekly, 90 minute rhythm and I'm struggling! I’m feeling called to create as much spaciousness in my diary and commit to as little as possible over the summer.
And, as soon as autumnal September rolled around (back to school), I returned to welcoming in plans and commtiment.
I noticed that, like many people with ME/CFS, I find deep winter challenging. The cold seeps into my cells, turning down the dial on energy production even further. Perhaps I am more dormouse than human (see below), more closely attuned to the seasons, requiring a hibernation to close off the year. Hibernation for me means taking December completely off from work, which allows me to arrive calmly to the winter solstice, able to settle and do deep reflection ahead of my intentions-setting in January 2022.
I noticed that the cold of January in England makes my skin itchy, and my whole being fidgety and uncomfortable, no matter how much I moisturise. I cannot settle and being outside feels like an endurance course. Energy, finances and pandemic allowing, I intend to spend a few weeks of January 2023 in the southern hemisphere.
I loved my year of seasonal living and observation. I’m starting my 2022 on 1st February with far greater knowledge about how to work with my energy seasons and cycles. A few books that helped me navigate the year:
The Almanac: A seasonal guide to 2021. You can buy the 2022 guide here
The Earth’s Cycles of Celebration, by Glennie Kindred. Invaluable for connecting to the old rituals of the British Isles, and creating your own moments of celebration as the seasons turn
A Still Life: A Memoir, by Josie George. A beautiful memoir about slow-living and connecting with nature
Katherine May’s book Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times.
Finanlly, my word for 2021 was “surrender”. Surrender to the seasons, surrender to my body’s wisdom. My word for 2022 is “vitality”, an intention to bring aliveness and joy and pleasure to every day of the coming year; to experience spring again.
What’s your word for this year?
Watching + reading + listening
This beautiful episode about Long Covid on the White Pube’s podcast. I cannot get enough of genius writers and artists talking about chronic illness.
Intimacies (compelling, well-drawn). To Paradise (disappointing — I gave up after 100 pages or so). First, we make the beast beautiful: A new conversation about anxiety. Quit Like a Woman: The Radical Choice to Not Drink in a Culture Obsessed with Alcohol. I’m lucky not to have experienced addiction, but I think there are many parallels between addiction recovery and finding your way to living well with chronic illness. I’m inspired by Whitaker’s rejection of the dominant, patriarchal recovery paradigm to forge her own path. Many of us with chronic illness have done the same.
I am craving small, simple, personal narratives. This article about people in their ‘60s getting their first tattoo is perfect.
Another lovely personal story, an essay, beautifully written. “One Saturday morning, my brother and I were watching TV when Mum came downstairs and said, "Boys, I've met a man."… "He's a man on the internet."… Today, there are many men on the internet. (The internet thrums, surges with men, to the point where good people often decide there are, if anything, too many, and take a break.) But it was 2002, and the idea of meeting a man on the internet was about as plausible as, say, buying a book on the internet.”
Toni Morrison’s memo on Angela Davies: “Angela is the fiercest woman I have ever met and I come from a long line of fierce women. And I mean fierce literally not academically. Her hatreds are monumental and she has no sense of danger… How nice it would be if Angela were really Jane Fonda and not Jean d’Arc”.
Agency/ satisfaction: “I’m serious about this: never take life advice from people who don’t know what they care about and don’t understand what makes them happy. These people have no agency. They have never in their life exercised their will to actually obtain something that gives them joy and pride. They’ve relentlessly exercised their will to obtain things that they like the idea of, that they think they “need.” They always think pleasure is a sin… Some of the most talented, intelligent, hard-working people I know are the ones with the least agency”.
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