Winter Solstice 2010

This one is a doozy. Present tense. Felt it coming on for a long time this year. Some pretty rocky weather for a while, with moments of pure bliss along the way. Singing = good. Baby = good. Recovery time = good. The rest of it is shaking down.

Lunar eclipse. Heavy duty one. On top of a full moon. The rarity equivalent to the diamonds and rubies that poured from Princess Saralinda’s eyes as she cried for the suitors who were eaten by the Todal (James Thurber, I adore you for blowing a six-year old’s mind with The Thirteen Clocks). Oh, yes, felt that moon a whole gazillion. My body knew that was coming all year long. Craters on the moon. Approaching hagdom.

And it keeps going. O Fortuna really cranks me up this time of year, and lasts way into the new year.

On December 22, 1986, my dad, a minister and educator, took his life. We buried him on Christmas Eve. I’ve spent nearly a quarter of a century with that, and it’s OK now. Remembering daddy = good. He would appreciate that we have kids to celebrate with this season.

This year, an old friend came to visit. Coincidentally, or so it seemed, this is the friend in whose company I was the day my dad died. We will see this friend again, soon, in celebration, which is the = good = cheery side of the season. Nice circle.

For several decades, I’ve celebrated my birthday (Capricorn = right next door to solstice) as a movable feast. Birthday goodness is already simmering on a galactic stove somewhere on the edge of the universe. Somehow I seem to know loads of Capricorns, and although we’re not especially known as gregarious party peeps, I can do group festive. Winter? Stone? Saturn? INFP? Fun? Well, yeah!

Retirement celebration. The tree topper this year is surviving the retirement process. Body slamming the bureaucracy/paper-cyberwork retirement beast was the most intense thing I’ve done in such a short period of time since the forty-eight hour home labor and delivery of my darling daughter. The phenomenal gift of a child from that effort = the rising phoenix of the newer, annealed edition of Me having delivered myself of a straight day gig. Big thanks to Ronni Bennett for urging me to acknowledge this huge milestone. I'm glad I listened...


Stepping aside

When the best-laid plans gang astray, sometimes it makes more sense to come at a major change in a different way, rather than repeatedly and futilely bashing your head into the wall. That wall just might be impervious, no matter what you do. No sense in all that bloodshed.

Sometimes you need to just step aside. Not ignore the problem, not run away, simply allow the obstacle (and your concussed head) space to change on a different time table. We are conditioned to believe that we have only a few specific choices: keep on plugging ("never give up"), hammer on another side ("think outside the box"), get wacky ("creative problem-solving"), or (insert your choice of redefining the wall here).

Strange and wonderful things can happen when you just step aside. Sometimes you discover a new plane of existence in which new paths open up. Or the wall loses relevance. Or a bigger, badder wall blows it out of the universe. Or you allow space for another being to enter the equation (nothing like a baby to blow some clarity into your thinking).

Then there's my all-time favorite: paradigm-shift. "Perception" is the first step, then self-scanning for any cognitive dissonance. Questioning deeply-held beliefs helps verify those that are sensible, or the need to rework those that are no longer true or useful. Fold in a little self-compassion, attention to health, and acceptance, and if the problem is not completely resolved, at least you tapped into alternative resources.

Some paradigm shifts are cataclysmic, some are like rain wearing away stone. Change is inevitable. No sense buying into outmoded cliches or modes of behavior. Slip sideways every once in a while. Rest your brain. Or put it to work on something that nourishes and satisfies. Have faith. Lose faith. Find reason. Lose reason. Practice mindfulness. Lose your mind. If all else fails, at least life isn't boring.


Retirement: Month Three

Financial challenges continue to abound. Evidently, the US does not value its older and poorer citizens, judging from the efforts of Congress to ignore the economic imbalance and quash any reasonable effort to provide for anyone making less than $1 million/year. Bernie Sanders says it best:

You'd think that the folks with the big money are trying to kill off a significant portion of the population. Is this truly all that capitalism is about? Greediness with murderous impunity? Do these people truly believe they are performing Christian acts? If the Bible is to be taken literally, did not Christ ALWAYS reach out a helping hand to less fortunate folks? I am blown away by the attitudes and actions of people who lack compassion for humanity while steadfastly maintaining that they are the embodiment of Christianity.

And don't get me started on how a simple phrase--Happy Holidays--is taking Christ out of Christmas. Rampant support of buying tons of "stuff" mostly made in China, fer crissakes (literally) belies that knee-jerk gem of hypocrisy. Be honest--do you decry outsourcing (by those very same obscenely rich US companies) on the one hand while gobbling up thousands of tons of plastic crap that does nothing to enrich the true Christmas spirit on the other?

The same thing is at work here. We seem to be denying our collective responsibility to individuals who have worked long and hard AND PAID INTO SOCIAL SECURITY and our insistence that $$ = right = the One True American Way.

Folks, you can't have it both ways. Either you follow Christ's principles, or you cede power to filthy lucre. Either you practice what you preach, or you doom yourself to whatever hell you subscribe to. Good luck with that!

Back to retirement. November saw some health scares (clean lab results, thank goodness!), lots of research on internet business, learning new networking tricks, meeting new friends and reconnecting with old, singing a fabulous concert (go AVAE). Baby face time, gratitude for what I do have, despair over back pain limiting physical activity, resulting in jillions of boxes left to unpack and resistance to any chores whatsoever, raccoons ripping off siding, life is NEVER dull.

So December will find me still trying to make sense of a wildly disruptive employment situation and readjusting plans and goals to stay afloat. According to Linus Pawling, retirement is Paradise: he gets all the benefits and none of the angst.

(Note the very full belly)
All clean and fluffy, ready for the next nap.