I don’t know about you, but by mid-February, I am done with winter. I’m done with the PNW gray skies and drizzle and cool, damp air. The other day, in an attempt to work with my lethargic energy that had anxiety at the fringes, I forced myself on a walk (inertia is strong this time of year for me!) and headed down to Bellingham’s Marine Park for some “sea therapy” and I found my inner pilot light.
I noticed art in a cockle shell and he became the subject of some spontaneous nature art.
And he developed quite the personality!
And then I saw art everywhere!
And then I felt better. I felt productive, active, creative, connected. I saw beauty in this “barren” time of year — and I even noticed the million shades of gray in that sky and water. Inertia is strong, but lesson learned. Art disrupts downward spirals. Nature is a canvas. Time to go for another walk.
My December Reflections project has come to an end and here are my final photographs and reflections. Happy New Year!
December 25: LOVE IS…
LOVE IS… a moment on a beach at sunset accepting imperfection, embracing compassion.
December 26: REAL LIFE
I do a lot of this. I have stacks of essays and assignments. I read. I comment. I grade. If it’s a nice day, I’ll even do it outside.
December 27: 2015 TAUGHT ME…
Yes, this. Even if things don’t turn out the way I want them, even if there are tornados in my heart and earthquakes in my legs, there is an everlasting okayness that will prevail.
December 28: A SECRET WISH FOR 2016
After four decades of life, I still struggle with confidence. I believe in confidence and have small moments of grounded self-acceptance, but often I feel like an impostor. Here’s to a new year of feeling that I am strong, capable, smart, creative, beautiful, and loved.
December 29: HOME
When I can touch the earth, I feel more at home. Here’s to more trees, more water, more grassy fields, more dirt.
December 30: THANK YOU FOR…
I thank my body for her self-healing abilities. She is always trying to create harmony and equilibrium for me.
December 31: MY WORD FOR 2016
Here’s to an abundant new year of manifestation! Create! Produce! Manifest!
My next December Reflections cover the last nine days/prompts! Here I go:
December 16: I SAID HELLO TO…
In 2015, I said hello to a new home. We moved to Bellingham this September because my husband got a job as a Dean at Bellingham Technical College. We learned of his job acceptance on September 1, he was at his new job by September 14, and we officially moved the following week. It was quite the feat since we had been at our Seattle townhouse for 10 years! Our search for a place to live was a challenge since we were looking for a rental home at the same time as a gazillion college students at Western. Luckily, we found a very special condo that suits us just fine!
December 17: MY SMILE
This isn’t quite a smile, but this goofy look represents my playful side — a side I never want to lose. I turned 40 this year, which makes me a major grown-up, but I often feel like a kid.
December 18: CIRCLES
I tried to organize and purge as a packed to move to Bellingham. I did a pretty good job and one of my techniques for letting go involved taking photos of items that brought me joy. Do any of you remember letter books from Kindergarten? I found a handful of my letter books and was quite taken with the “O” book.
December 19: I SAID GOODBYE TO…
This series of photographs is sure turning into a documentary our move and this photo fits right in. I indeed said goodbye to our home in Seattle. I have lived in the Seattle area all of my life and in Seattle proper for almost two decades. The townhouse we left was a safe haven for us and a place for my massage business to thrive.
December 20: WARMTH
This summer was so warm in the PNW that I almost didn’t miss the sun directly on my skin (due to my skin cancer risk). The air was like a hug from the sun without the harmful rays.
December 21: NUMBERS
THREE. That’s the number I remember from 2015. My husband Walter and I have a very dear chosen sibling named Robyn and on the day of the above photograph we had spa pedicures together. I miss our (almost) daily sibling time.
December 22: SOLSTICE SUNSET
This Winter Solstice sunset was a bit subdued, but quite lovely and serene. I took this photo after having a massage and before going to a lovely new friend’s house for an all-women solstice intention-setting gathering. This photo overlooks Bellingham Bay.
December 23: DELICIOUS
The very best taste of 2015 has to be this cluster of fruits & veggies we purchased on the boardwalk of Venice Beach, CA during the holidays last year. The bouquet of cucumber, mango, and watermelon was vibrant, refreshing, and uplifting!
December 24: ONE YEAR AGO
One year ago today (well, one year ago tomorrow) we were in Palm Springs, CA in search of a blue sky holiday. On Christmas Day, we traveled to Joshua Tree State Park for a hike in the sunshine. The sky was so blue, the earth so solid, trees so crocked, our shadows so clear. (We’re trying to make an “M” and “C” for “Merry Christmas.”
Today I bring you my next eight December Reflections via photographs!
December 8: 5 THINGS ABOUT ME
- I am slightly far-sighted and as the years progress I notice that I need my glasses more and more for computer work and reading — especially when grading my students’ assignments.
- My hair is naturally light brown. Well, my hair is naturally light brown with lots of silver and gray.
- As far as I know, my cultural background is Irish-English-Scottish-German-Swedish and Prussian. My paternal grandmother told me that we’re related to Prussian royalty, but I’m not sure I believe her since she also told my brother that he was 1% Hawaiian. I’m also (apparently) related to Rufus Putnam, an American Revolutionary War general, so I guess that makes me a “DAR,” but I have no interest in that label or association. My favorite label is HUMAN and my favorite cause is PEACE.
- I have green eyes with a little bit of gold around the edges. These eyes are sensitive to light and this sensitivity sometimes causes ocular migraines.
- I have four tattoos on my body, including six birds and two Sanskrit symbols.
December 9: FAVE PHOTO OF 2015
It’s often so challenging for me to pick a “favorite” anything, so I have many favorite photos from this year. I will say that this photo of my cat Selkie delights me to no end. Last winter he sat with me in front my full-spectrum S.A.D. light absorbing the warmth and light with me as we traversed the dark months together.
December 10: SHADOWS
This last summer in Seattle was unusually hot. For the first time, my husband and I were considering getting an air conditioning unit. Instead, we cooled off in the kiddie pool and hid in the shadows of the sun.
December 11: GOLD
This sky! I took this photo on a walk home from the grocery store one evening this summer. The clouds were littered with gold and the sky was so softly blue. I dropped all my grocery bags and stared and stared. Remembering this moment reinforces my intention to stop and really look at the world with my whole body.
December 12: BEST DECISION OF 2015
So many good decisions this year, but I am going to focus on one that is constant: my decision to keep connecting, learning, and growing with my partner in this life.
December 13, 2015: A is FOR…
ART! And making artful messes! And reminding myself how the process of making art invigorates me like nothing else quite does. Here’s to a 2016 of setting up my art space in our new home in Bellingham and creating!
December 14: THE SPACE IN BETWEEN
Speaking of old and new spaces, this is a photo of our cat Selkie scoping out our empty bedroom right before our move. I think he found a few ghosts in that room … in that space in between.
December 15: SOUNDTRACK of 2015
My new (longer) commute from Bellingham to Bothell twice a week to teach at Cascadia College has certainly been an adjustment, but it has been made much more lively with some riot grrrl tunes. I’ve been listening to a lot of Ani Difranco on my drives and her strong energy, provoking lyrics, and social consciousness have me rockin’ and singing along with her up and down I-5.
December 4: RED
Red is one of my favorite colors, mostly because of its potency and boldness. There is no mistaking red. Red knows that she’s powerful. I created this art piece above our mantle over a year ago, and I am still struck by how people see different things in it. Some see a moon on the water as the surf froths up and some seem rain falling down. What do you see?
December 5: SACRED SPACE
When we moved into our new place in Bellingham this fall, it took me a while, but I did my usual space clearing and energizing ritual. This year, my cat Selkie wanted to be involved and he was very curious by the smells, sounds, and shifts in energy.
December 6: BEST BOOK OF 2015
I am quite biased, but I am also a very good judge of a powerful piece of writing. My mom’s memoir Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye was published in paperback this year after a run in hardback with a different press. This memoir explores my mom’s journey with loss in a lyrical and transcendent way. I am moved each time I read it, not only because this book is about my mom and my family, but because, through writing, my mother is able to let the light shine gently on grief and loss. For more on her book, please visit her website, where there are excerpts, beautiful reviews, photographs, and more.
December 7: BRANCHES
It is very dark in the PNW this year. Our resident weather expert Cliff Mass posted an article about how yesterday was the darkest December day in over nine years in our area! Instead of sharing a photo of branches from this time of year (though barren branches and dark skies can be quite beautiful, too), I am going to share a photo from this past April. These pink puffs of love delight me to know end. And set against a hopeful blue sky, I can almost smell the fragrant joy bursts.
My first photographs for Susannah Conway’s December Reflections 2015 challenge come in a set of there here:
December 1: SPARKLE
I purchased this crystal when my cat Mountie was the process of dying about four years ago. I placed it near him to provide comfort and clarity for his transition. In retrospect, this crystal was more of a comfort to me, since it is hard to know what to do when someone you love is dying. At least I was able to set an intention with this crystal and create some beauty.
Now I hang this crystal in my office. It dangles from a lamp so that it can sparkle any time I turn on the light to remind me of all the passages I have endured — my animal companions, my grandparents, friends, and my father. This crystal reminds me of the light that can be found around the edges of loss when we illuminate it with healing intention.
December 2, 2015: HOT DRINK
I see this view quite a lot in my life — my husband’s hand holding a chocolate brown mug filled with coffee. This is another view of Walter’s groundedness. Even holding his mug, he is geologic. When the winds of anxiety, worry, and sadness surround me, Walter’s steady sip brings be back to the earth.
December 3, 2015: BEST DAY OF 2015
I don’t know how I can possibly choose just ONE best day of 2015, for there were many good days sprinkled about. I will say, though, that learning that my book/card deck BODY CARDS: Insight from the Body, Wisdom for the Soul is going to be released in June of 2016 makes it to the top of my list. The tiny kernels of inspiration for this writing & art project began over 13 years ago in my living room with my best writing buddy Kristen during one of our weekly writing groups. Almost three years ago, Schiffer Publishing accepted my book proposal and now it’s an actual book that’s going to be released next year! This whole process reminds me to stick with my creative projects, but to also give them breathing room. I can’t crowd them or force them to be something too soon. I must nurture them and let them be what they want to be.