Rituals to End the Year

I have a few end-of-year rituals that I’m looking forward to doing over the next few days. They include:

1. Rereading all of my notebooks from 2018 and discovering the unfinished poems, orphan lines, essays in progress, new workshop ideas, and passages from my reading that deserve further attention.

2. Reviewing the projects I completed and the ones still in progress as a way of celebrating what is underway and in the world already. I tend to forget so much of what I’ve done unless I pause to take stock, often by making lists.

3. Detoxing my digital habits. I took four days away from email and social media during the Christmas holiday and have just decluttered both my inbox and Instagram feed. Last year I stopped keeping my phone in my bedroom overnight and I’m recommitting to not looking at it after 8pm and before 9 am. That has been my usual practice for the last three years, but I slip up sometimes. Getting away for a proper break reminds me how much calmer I feel when I’m not under the constant (and usually erroneous) impression that something somewhere else requires my attention, even after hours.

4. Thank you notes. Yes, I do this because I was taught their importance by my mother, but I’ve also found that staying connected to the ways others are supporting and caring for me, helps me feel less isolated and more knitted into the fabric of the larger ecosystem. I’ve also discovered that gratitude really is an antidote to feelings of discouragement and spiritual fatigue, when they arise.

5. Burning what I want to leave behind, which we will do under the winter sky on New Years Eve.

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I also enjoy making lists of the high points from the preceding year:

Most pleasurable and immersive reading experiences: The Neopolitan Quartet by Elena Ferrante and Memorial: A Version of Homer’s Iliad by Alice Oswald.

Most affecting movies: Call Me by Your Name, Moonlight, Won’t You Be My Neighbor.

Favorite gig out in the world: Beargrass Writers Retreat, Greenough, Montana. Fire, mountains, fields, electric green moss, horses, and some of the best writers in the west were all present.

Best meal: My three day reunion on the coast of Maine with three other writers, with whom I went to the same fine arts high school. We are still here, still writing, still finding a way to make our art despite many formidable obstacles! Thank you Brit, Melissa and Laura for being my companions on this path.

Musical experience that most deeply restored my past to me: Dancing to my friend Michael Franti and his band Spearhead at the Green River Festival. Michael and I were involved in many of the same causes and protests, back in the late 90’s and early aughts. It had been over ten years since we had seen one another and it was profound to reflect on what had changed in the intervening years, but more potently, what remained the same in terms of our spirits, devotions, and characters. Plus: dancing under a summer night sky is something I need to do more of.

Deep and ongoing conversation and connections with other women who are self-employed, and support their families this way, continued to be essential to me this year. Our solidarity and mutual aid; our sharing of skills and insights about how to make our work as sustainable as possible, while always striving to be better at our art; our tender friendships as we become more candid about our actual experiences, all matter so much to me. Thank you Katey, Kate, Sejal, Sara, Astra, Suzi, Laura, Sarah, Robin, Sarah, Mary Kay, Amanda, and Melanie.

 

Happy New Year!

 

Still. Here. I’ve known these incredible writers since our days at the Interlochen Arts Academy together.

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