January, to me, is a beginning of something that cannot be denied, avoided, or skirted along. It feels both expansive for the year ahead, but also a slowly accumulating and manageable checklist that progresses forward like an incoming tide, either walk within or it will catch up to you, but in a comforting, welcoming way. Let’s sit down, let’s catch up, let’s allow the caffeine to catch up with us like a slowly incoming tide, and let’s chat about how we have been, and how we are going to be.
Wrapping my hands around the warm mug, I would ask about your transition into the new. Do you feel different with a new year, or a new moon, or in a new place? If so, how do you welcome that transition and process its either slow, or quick, arrival? Do you notice things differently, like brighter colors or colder snow, like recently falling in love? Or do you catch your breath, and hold it in, letting the new oxygen hit your system and power you forward? If those are not your identified transitions, what is it that causes you to pause, and what happened recently that brought you to notice your breath? And how do you allow that into yourself, or let it go?
Taking a deep breath, I would admit that I finished 2014 by avoiding pretty much all life communication: I ignored email, did not answer calls or voicemail, text messages went unanswered, and I retreated into self care and reflection. I did not write about it, as I found myself needing space from even that. I have entered into 2015 with new intention and attention, and look forward to what that brings. (Though the 2014 to-do list reaches its tendrils in, I am trying to identify each task with 2015 energy.) So, if you reached out, if you sought solace, if you requested support, I do apologize that you were left in the dust of my retreat. I am now among the land of my own life, and will get back to you with new breath, and brighter spirit, and love. (I am also working on taking care of myself, as Chicago winter tries to take a hold of me if I’m not paying attention!)
Inhaling the remaining steam and looking out into the falling slow, I’d share that in 2014, my partner and I decided to no longer do New Year Resolutions, but rather a theme that we would incorporate into many aspects of our lives. Last year’s theme was “strength”: in our relationship, professionally, physically, financially… We both feel that we succeeded in not only feeling stronger throughout the year, but also in accomplishing the goal of continuing a resolution-style approach to our actions year-round. This year our theme is “focus.” In yoga, focus (drishti) is discussed throughout the practice: focus on intention brought to the mat, focus on a non-moving object in balanced poses, focus on breathing. In this year, not only do I plan to do more yoga and work on my focus in the micro-mat sense, but also in a broader sense. What is my focus in my life: long-term goals, home-grounding practice, nomadic travels? What is my focus in midwifery: writing, leadership, mentorship, full spectrum care, academics, professional growth? So much to think about, but all in rib-expanding and mind-growing ways. Thank goodness there are some awesome feminists putting their own intentions out there to help us all focus our own.
Pausing to consider another transition, and taking a deep sip of chai, I would reflect on turning thirty. This birthday was a big one for me, though championed by friends in their 20s and patronized by those in decades above, it feels like a certain middle ground. Too many life lessons to ponder, usually in the bathtub with music blaring and candles calming, but all worthy thoughts.
Realizing I have been drinking too quickly and pondering too much, I would distract us both with the fun stuff. Music really has a hold on me this year. Hozier, Ben Gibbard and Vance Joy have felt mind- and heart-muscle wrenching, and I am awaiting Brandi Carlile’s new album with baited breath. And, something about this song and this song (or this version) have me totally hooked. My book list is an awesome thing to look at: focusing will require actually reading it! I have others to add thanks to Bustle and a challenge to read books written by authors of color. If someone stopped by our table, I would employ my new favorite way to introduce friends, and describe you to someone by way of your life rather than your work. And, now that Serial is over, I am looking forward to what Invisibilia brings to my acknowledgement of my surroundings.
Here’s what I have my hands in professionally lately, other than meeting you for chai and trying to catch up on email:
- Nursing Students for Choice Board of Directors
- Running for Secretary of the American College of Nurse Midwives
- Planning ACNM 2017 to be held in Chicago (most time-pressing, though, I’ll see you at ACNM 2015 in DC, right?!)
- Recertifying through the AMCB modules (and putting together a study schedule – anyone in Chicago want to join in!?)
- Joining Instagram (@FeministMidwife) and learning all the cool ways people express themselves on that new media platform (I know I’m late to this game, but join me!)
And on the personal side of things, my hands are:
- Enjoying the condo that EC and I purchased last year, and taking my time finding places for all of our amazing art, both from my mother and from my former global health work and from Chicago itself (photo at the bottom of the post of our main living space)
- Restructuring our finances via Mint to maximize all payments toward students loans or mortgage – sigh/yay!
- Considering going back to school, and my broader life focus on obstetrical violence… YES.
- Running and yoga and CrossFit. For those who follow me personally on Facebook (Stephanie Tllmn), I would apologize for the incessantness, but I just can’t help enjoying my own self care
Finishing the last bits of our date and the last dregs of our caffeine, I would re-focus and reflect on the was and is, the done and to be done, the breath in and out. What has caught your attention, in focus and in intention? What books or music or words are your earworms? What is in your stack of reading or to-doing, and what reaches to you from the past that you allow in or aggressively excuse back into the depths? And where do you find your hands lately: in what projects or fun or study or activity do you find your fingers and palms and fingertips and knuckles and prints? Each part of your hand, I’d bet, has been doing something a bit different, and making transitions of their own. How have your hands been a reflection of your work and your intention, and how are they going to be? Think about that, and get back to me.
Happy January, y’all.
(the view of the living room, from the dining room, complete with Bo, who would like me to type just a little bit more quietly)