Wednesday, January 30, 2008


I seem to be in a kind of creative hibernation. It could be my return to school, which always has a tendency to make me tired and sapped of energy to pursue my own projects. It could be that there have been lots of things to do, not least of which was celebrate my birthday this week. Or it could simply be the time of year, with the short days and blustery, cold nights. I just want to curl up with a book (or if I am feeling especially slow - a good tv show), a mug of hot chocolate and a cozy blanket. Although I do have ideas simmering away in the crock pot of my brain (ideas for my prayer project, my book(s), some paintings or drawings I'd like to try out, letters to friends, photography to explore, and writing for this space) they are staying put inside, for now. I do not seem to be alone in this trend, a few of the blogs I read regularly have also gone into hibernation for a little while. I have no plans to stay away, but I have also been pretty remiss about posting so I thought I would at least drop in to make excuses.

A "Little Dee" strip by Chris Baldwin from December 2004

Friday, January 18, 2008

Earth (or The Year of the Gnome)

So, as promised, I want to spend some time meditating on the element of Earth, what it means for me and why it is going to be what I focus on in 2008.
Earth. Solid. Practical. Living soil. Decay (transformation). Bacteria. Roots. Fungal networks. Caves. Stalagmites and tites. Secret passageways. Mountains. Rocks. Precious stones. Silver and Gold. Wood. The Forest. Tree giants. Ents. Seedlings. Vegetables. Worms. Mice. Moles. Bears. Hibernation. Dreams. Midnight. Full Moon. Snails. Home. Goddess figures. Winter. North. Burrows. Tombs. Temples. Bones. Statues. Crawling insects (beetles, ants, centipedes). Snakes. Hobbits. Gnomes.
Those are a few of the things that immediately come to mind when I think of Earth. I mentioned my book quartet a while back (at least I think I did), and although part of me is bursting to talk about all of my ideas (Adrien gets the brunt of my idea-overflow valve) I also feel the need to keep the story quiet. Afterall it is still germinating and feels tiny and fragile (even though it probably isn't).
The way I want to tell the story and the story outline have changed almost daily in the last two (no - almost three!!) years, since I first got the idea to write something. At first it was going to be an eight-volume monster, with each book being about a different pagan holiday (though not necessarily overtly) but I eventually let go of that plan, (though it still rears up now and then in different guises). I have settled fairly firmly on the notion of four books, each one associated with a different season/element. The first book would be the Earth book, and would take place in winter. That is one of the big reasons that I am loving the Earth theme right now, since I really want to get this literary project going and the place I have assigned myself to start is Earth.
Earth seems to be the best place to start, if only for the fact that it is the most pragmatic of all the elements and lends itself most to hard work. The problem is that I am an airy-faerie aquarius (for what it's worth) and so I am more of a planner than a do-er. I love to plan. I am an expert planner. When I was little I spent way more time planning games and adventures for my dolls, designing their homes and towns and the landscapes where they lived than I ever did actually playing with them. Well, that was playing, in a manner of speaking. Planning is best friends with imagination, or so I like to think. Which means that I have been kind of trapped in the planning stage since this whole wild idea struck me and have been fairly happy there. It is a natural place for me to be. Which is not to say I haven't written anything, I have written quite a bit actually. A lot of what I have written (over and over) are idea-maps or just outlines/notes on story ideas. I have taken a few stabs at writing the books, but so far none of it is keep-able... especially since I know nothing about writing (ie the early efforts are pretty bad, and I need a lot more practice) and since the storyline has transmorgified so many times. But if I ever want this set of books to materialize, and I know that I do, then I have to get started. The longer I hang out in limbo planning it, the bigger and scarier it becomes in my head. So 2008, being the year of the Earth Rat, and being for me The Year of the Gnome, will be the year I finally get the project out of my head and into the physical realm. Images: Tree with roots by Don Tremain (Getty); Forest path at night by Photodisc (Getty - ok the photographer's name is obviously not Photodisc.. I wish Getty would give you their actual name instead of the company that owns their stuff); Ta Prohm Temple in Angkor Wat Cambodia by Angelo Cavalli (Getty); Snowy forest in Finland by Fred Bjorksten (Getty); Thumbalina and Mouse in winter forest house by Wayne Anderson (Bridgeman Art Library).

Monday, January 14, 2008

Mondo Beyondo *Part Two: Welcome 2008!*

Right away there are lots of things to like about 2008. For one thing, it has the number 8 in it, which is the infinity symbol standing upright, and also 8 is the number of holidays that I celebrate (sort of). And 8 happens to be Adrien's favorite number. It has a nice, round, juicy feel to it too... two-thousand-and-eight. Lots of Os and o-sounds. Lots of feminine curves.

Continuing with the Mondo Beyondo tradition, I am supposed to name a few of my wildest, most fantastic dreams. I am also supposed to be quick and dirty about it (see entry for jan 6) so here it goes:

Dreamy things I would like to draw towards myself:

* Travel to new and unexpected places, especially Mongolia, Peru and Scandinavia

* Becoming a published author and holding my words in print, outside my head, where others can see them

* A cozy hobbit-hole of a home in BC where I can really dig my roots down deep (or maybe a tree~house! Ooooh or a vividly colourful gypsy caravan...)

* Creating that home in a place where I can build my own River Cottage-esque smallholding

* Work that allows me to expand, challenge myself, learn, be creative, feel like a contributing member of my community and participate in creating a healthier world (maybe as a librarian? or maybe something I haven't thought of yet?)

* Cultivation of the feeling that there really is ENOUGH of everything (especially money)

* One day becoming a parent

* Meet (create?) a whole pantheon of spirit-gods who are wild and fun and free

* Strenghthening connections to those I already know and love, as well as making new connections with as yet unknown kindred spirits

* Paint another mural, this time EVEN BIGGER

Particularly for 2008 I want to:

* Finish my undergrad (it really is about time)

* Start making plans for moving back to BC

* Read a book en français (I am so lazy about this and it would be so good for my vocabulary)

* Drink more water

* Despite the earthiness of 2008 (see below) I want to continue being lighter in my life, easier on myself (and others), getting rid of excess *stuff* clogging up my living space, and letting go of all kinds of "over-weighty-ness" in my life/mind/body

And so begins 2008...

It is the year of the Earth Rat. When I first started thinking about this whole Mondo Beyondo stuff I was going to maybe declare 2008 the year of WATER. But then I started poking around and discovered that it is already a decidedly Earthy year. Hey, who am I to argue with the Universe? And so I will go with the earthiness flow and declare 2008 The year of the Gnome. Gnomes are sturdy, earth-bound creatures. They are generally good-natured, cheerfull folk and they know how to appreciate the little things (um, no pun intended). They are pragmatic and un-hurried and I think they will make good role-models, especially since they do not over-complicate things which I have a detrimental tendency to do. When I encounter problems in 2008 I will simply ask myself, What Would Gnomes Do?

This is good actually. I had no idea that 2007 was a fiery year and Fire is an element that totally baffles me so it is no wonder that I felt baffled for a lot of it. Earth, that I get, so 2008 is already off to a wonderful start. Perhaps I will save all the reasons why Earth is so fitting for me in another post, but for now I will say that it feels right. In keeping with that theme 2008 is also the International Year of Planet Earth, as well as the Year of the Potato and the Year of Sanitation (check it out!). 2008 is so dirty! I mean earthy. Soil-related. Hearty. Healthy. Organic! 2008 is big and full, and grounded and earth*full. Let us all welcome a voluptious 2008!

Pictures: Rat stamp from Canada Post, the Gnome with the mouse is by Wayne Anderson and the cute earth-mouse is from Ursula Vernon's site.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Mondo Beyondo *Part One: Farewell 2007*

Although I quite enjoy transitions, I have never found New Years to be a wholy satisfactory ritual. Yes, I do like the sparkly parties, the noise-makers, the cocktails, Dick Clark's New Years Rockin' Eve, the ball falling in Times Square, Harry finally declaring his love for Sally, and I get a lump in my throat when I hear Auld Lang Syne. But I am no party-animal and so I tend to enjoy those well-known New Years symbols from a comfortable couch with a small group of friends. (This year that small group of friends was enjoying an evening of playing Wii games, only stopping for the countdown!)
This is all good fun, however, I do tend to suffer from the post-Christmas blues (*sigh* 354 more days until next Christmas) and New Years does little to assuage the grief. I like the idea of creating/participating in rituals that help to add a little shine to the every-day, as well as marking passages of time in a meaningful way. So for that reason I am going to jump on Andrea Scher's Mondo Beyondo bandwagon.

1. What do you want to acknowledge yourself for in regard to 2007?
I would like to aknowledge that I faced a new decade of life with cheerful enthusiasm and eagerness, rather than clinging to the past. I am so excited to be in my 30s! : )
After a few years focused on a particular dream (to be a midwife), I have been re-discovering all those other parts of myself, things I didn't have a lot of time for in that phase of life. Stuff like painting, making jewelry, reading, writing, creating a blog. One of the bravest choices I made in 2007 was one of self-acceptance. Meaning that I have been making a conscious (and somewhat successful) attempt to not be so damn hard on myself. This came through mostly in the fall (although had been brewing for... um ever I guess) as I faced yet another semester of school and faced it imperfectly despite my insanely high expectations. As usual even when it felt like all was lost, and like I was the least prepared person in the entire university, everything wound up being totally fine. I keep finding more and more evidence to support trusting myself regardless of how it looks to the judgemental harpie who lives in my brain, and this is good news.

2. What is there to grieve about 2007?
2007 sure had its ups and downs. As I said, I celebrated my 30th birthday, so I think it quite reasonable that I grieved the end of my 20s (well "grieved" is only partly true, I was glad to see them go, those tumultuous and hectic 20s). I continued to grieve my parting of ways with a life of midwifery... that was harder than many a break up, and just as necessary. I grieved a lot for a family member (well members) who are struggling, and for the waves of grief and saddness that this struggle has sent rippling through all of us who so love them. I grieved for certain perfectionist ideals I have held for so long, both consciously and unconsciously, about my life, my partner, my "career" (whatever that is) and especially my self. I forgive myself for putting myself (and sometimes the person closest to me) under so much pressure to perform a certain way. I forgive myself for all the straining against reality and the huge expectations. I forgive myself for all the judging and defensiveness. I forgive myself for the seemingly endless procrastination and the imperfect (but complete!) work I have done. I forgive myself for not living up to the impossible!

3. What else do you need to say about the year to declare it complete?
Oh 2007, you tricky monkey. Actually, it was (and still is) the year of the Fire Pig. Maybe it would have been good to know that at the time. Apparently it was also both the International Polar Year and the Year of Rumi.
There are so many things I did not know about you 2007!!
But now you are over and it is time to welcome a whole new year of possiblity ...

And so... "I officially declare 2007 complete!"

Coming soon:
*Part Two*
The final step is to consider your primary focus for the year to come. What is your primary intention or theme for 2008? Is it the year of joy? the year of self-care? the year of partnership? Stand up and say it proud, "2008 is my year of...."

Picture: Pig stamp from Canada Post website.