A lot of us are very aware of the difference between our insides and our outsides when dealing with community.
A lot of us have unwittingly let others write our priority list for us.
A lot of us have defined our “sacred” from other times and places in our lives, with different demands on our time and energy.
One of the beauties of the reflective time of year – when you can grab those moments or, better yet, create them! – is that we can update ourselves.
Where are we able to shrug off the demands of other people or other versions of ourselves? When we’re able to make choices based on who we are at this time and place, we can reconcile some of those interior/exterior differences. And when we’re able to live the coherence of integrity, we can eventually be much more comfortable in our own skin out in the world.
The transition of the calendar is a magical time to let ourselves transition from our worn-out identities to our fresh, alive selves. Yes, there may be rough edges and moments where we don’t really know how to interact with folks who are used to their definition of us. But there are also opportunities to expand into new ways of relating or new communities over the holidays.
As you grow more comfortable with your sense of who you are now – your integrity – where do you want to be? Who do you want to be with? Is your community expanding and growing at the end of this year? Or is it contracting and deepening? As you look over the horizon to 2023, how do you best relate to your group, gathering each other into the hugs of responsibility, accepting each other and your differing values and priorities? How do you include as much of yourself as possible here and now, while allowing others to do the same?
May you find your answers with peace and joy throughout the holiday season.
After observing yourself for almost a year, what have you noticed that you consistently prioritize? (Haven’t been observant? That’s okay; look back over 2022 for a few minutes and draw conclusions from your memories.)
Are there lots of opportunities to act on your sacred beliefs, or does it seem like all the forces of the Universe are aligned against you?
Are there leadership or individual opportunities you can make or take to be more of who you believe you are?
Can you accept the beauty of who you are as you appear in your behaviour?
This can be a sobering point where we realize we haven’t made the progress we wanted. Or worse, we discover we’re not really who we thought we were. You’ve done the reassessing; now you’re in a position to begin again, this time with conscious awareness.
It’s a powerful point that you don’t want to underestimate. You can reach deeper levels and clear ground for more life with integrity.
ps You still don’t have my permission to beat yourself up for anything
One of my teachers told me once that responsibility isn’t about burdens, it’s about hugs. It’s about who we want to gather into our space with big, warm arms.
That seems a terrific guideline for defining community of choice. We may still have to figure out cooperation and sharing, but we’re doing it because we want to be there, not because we have to. It’s a relationship that makes reasonable demands and is based on inclusivity. It’s more like the star-struck group projects where there are no ride-alongs or bulldozers.
If only community were always by choice. Mostly, we’re in communities that came from other choices – employment, location, activities.
So how can we keep boundaries and balance in communities that may ask for unreasonable sacrifice or where we can hardly stand the idea of being within arm’s length? That’s the million dollar question, isn’t it? Particularly with intractable neighbours or when our livelihood is at stake.
Clearly, there’s no one answer for all situations. But there are perspective shifts that help us find our own personal solution. What is the big picture in your life that community is part of? How can your community serve that big picture? Where is your line for being a doormat? Or your line for welcoming hugs? And where is the ring-touch-not that means you’re leaving the community completely? (And is that even possible?)
Hopefully, you have a community where you can experience that sense of group hug – a tribe. If not, can you keep your big vision for your life and the idea of welcoming community in mind as you make your decisions, large and small? After all, part of what needs to be included in community is your own dreams for your life – the real you.
Many of you who’ve met me think I’m remarkably patient and chill. But that’s who I’ve learnt to be when I’m working.
The real story is different. Any of you have cats who have taken “feed me neow!” to an elevated art form? Or kids in the back seat whose timing on “are we there yet?” is impeccable. Yeah, that’s the inside me.
Those of us who like to move fast and operate on impulse find things that take time to be frustrating. Which, honestly, means most of life.
Even those of you who are naturally patient and cooperative must have times when you find yourself drumming fingers or tapping toes or cutting into traffic. Please, tell us you do!
When things are in transition – and if you haven’t yet noticed that they are these days, welcome back from your cave – we’d really like them to settle back into a normal rhythm quickly.
Part of what we’re all dealing with is that pervasive element of community and relationship within community. Cooperation takes time. We often do a bogus version called compromise, where nobody really wins. Competition gives us winners and losers. Cooperation brings us win/win situations. And that kind of sustainable solution takes time. And patience. And learning to take in others’ points of view.
Getting to that stable level of solution isn’t going to happen in a month’s time – or even a year, or a decade. Sometimes we have to find a compromise just to keep peace. But sustainable peace requires that we continue to learn to cooperate with each other. (As always, I am not talking about condoning abuse in any of its forms.)
The more we can keep in mind that we are all truly very different just as much as we are all, at some level, the same, the more realistic we can be in our expectations. If we can treat these differences as adventures, we can move in and out of each other’s viewpoints to return to homebase for processing and integration.
So, if you’re feeling unsettled, perhaps you need more homebase processing time. If you’re feeling frustrated, perhaps you can let go of expectations and let yourself ask more questions. These are not stable times, but a temporary level up in comfort and stability can come out of cooperation. Meanwhile, I’ll send you back to a couple of calming strategy videos for when you need self-care.
Now that you have a sense of what’s sacred to you, what happens in your relationships when you meet up with someone whose sacred doesn’t match up with yours? Is it meltdown, or flee or freeze or some other form of hiding?
What if we enlarge our horizons? Expand possibilities without giving up the sacred?
One enlargement we can make is to include things we don’t really want to in our perspective. That can range from acknowledging all the non-love and light we usually avoid because we don’t like suffering to growing beyond our stubborn pessimism that doesn’t allow for solutions. Sometimes, it means setting boundaries with people we were once willing to be vulnerable with, or who we managed by hiding important parts of ourselves. And sometimes, it means being willing to finish up where we are so we can move into a bigger picture.
Another enlargement is a nuanced strategy. Shift from the focus on our relationship as individual to individual, to our relationship as individuals within a community. Not everyone in a community is close, or even close to agreement. We can acknowledge our connection within community without having to pretend to an individual connection.
This year, 2022, is going to be all about community, relationships, and our emotional response to circumstances. I’ll talk more about that throughout the year.
As with all stories, our full understanding of the year is going to unfold in chapters or episodes, all with a different focus. We can think of each month in the year as a new chapter.
Look back over your January so far to get a sense of what pulls you forward. How much of your life is a bunch of obligations that you’d ditch if you could, and how much is the stuff that you really value in life? How are you feeling about the ratio of garbage demands to heart inspiration? If you feel like screaming about now, I feel your pain. Breathe deeply into your abdomen with long, slow exhalations while you feel whatever emotions come up. If you’re on the feeling good side of things, woohoo!, and take note so that you can keep your spirit/life match throughout the year.
There may not be much to be done – yet – about getting your life closer to the track you’d like to be on. This month is more for taking stock – the awareness part of the year. There are small actions you can take. Think 5-minute – or less – slices of your days. What can you do today that feeds what you consider sacred? That small slice may be about getting in touch with what you consider sacred, rather than doing something about it. That’s okay. We’re just being where we are and going from there.
At the moment, we’re gaining a new understanding that we’ll eventually take into our relationships and into our community. We don’t have to know how we’ll do it, or even believe that we can do it. We just want to stay open to the idea of a higher purpose to our life, one that makes us feel inspired or fulfilled.
I love the VII Chariot of the Universal Celtic Tarot. It’s a great illustration of the chaotic moments of managing conflicting demands in our lives. It can seem impossible to take the reins against steeds as powerful as these, but the message of the year is that “It can be done and it can be taken in very small increments, if need be”. Hold the willingness to let that possibility unfold throughout the year and explore your interior landscape when you can.
Numerologically, 2021 is a 5 year, which means lots of change. Last year, we had a 4 year with a lot of limitation. We should see some loosening of the limitations, but not all at once and not in anything like a linear way. 5 is a transition year, so it is a bridge. Usually it’s not a very stable bridge. It’s more like hopscotching from one partial span to another and then changing direction because the other shore isn’t where you thought it was going to be.
When 5 is being used well, the energy is of constructive freedom. We can change what we want, explore where our curiosity takes us and then bring useful information back to what we’re transitioning. When 5 is being over or under-used, we’re likely to scatter our energies and waste what hindsight shows to be opportunities.
Remember that yearly energies don’t clang into place at the changing of the calendar. We’ll see the instability and, hopefully, freedom of the year crest and recede, as the energy shifts from 2021 to the responsible, stable, community-minded 6 energy of 2022.
In Tarot, we have V The Heirophant (Greek, “interpreter of the sacred”) corresponding to the energies of 2021. It points to the central importance of our communal traditions and beliefs. Education and the sacred figure in this year. In the positive, V The Heirophant guards what societies or tribes – or countries or cultures or families or religions – value. It sets up institutions to put those values into action and to educate members of the society in its values. I love the connection to old traditions in the Enchanted Forest Old One. There are rings within rings of these traditions for all of us, from our personal lives out through family traditions to our local culture, our country and, perhaps, our global connections. Used as a positive, it gives us landmarks and guideposts in our lives. Used as a negative, it leads to theocratic intolerance and bigotry.
V The Heirophant can be a huge help in the transition of 5 times. When we’re betwixt and between, it’s helpful to have markers to keep us from falling completely off the beam. Institutions that keep us tethered to our values can be that beam.
It can also exacerbate one of the negative tendencies when people don’t recognize the landscape: clinging to beliefs out of fear, which can lead to refusal to make changes or to allow others their own beliefs. It’s a very big deal to have beliefs questioned at any point in time – rather like pulling the carpet out from under one’s entire life – but especially so in uncertain times, which is definitely the case in our 5 year.
Looking deeper into the numbers, the 5 is built from 2 2s, a 0, and a 1. We’ll need to proceed through those numbers in reverse order: 1, then 2, then 0, then 2 again, at a deeper level of understanding.
1 speaks to the individual, as always, for better and worse. With a healthy sense of ourselves, we set boundaries, know our strengths – and weaknesses – and can lead from those strengths when called on. If we’re refusing to use our one-ness, we are passive/aggressive babies who are most effective at creating change through temper tantrums (cringing as I imagine it!). If we get so into being number one that we can’t see others, we’re selfish despots steamrolling over everyone else as we bully them into submission.
The healthy 2 is sensitive to others and seeks to bond, based on emotional connections. The unhealthy 2 is either co-dependent and hyper-sensitive or on lockdown, refusing to open up to others.
0 is the “God” number. 0 indicates Divine intervention – opportunities and challenges over which we have little control. We can either be responsive or reactive. Big events like pandemics or global recessions, even if there are traceable human causes, are considered to be “0” events.
So, as we meet events this year, we’ll need to make sure that we’re owning up to our own part and to our own responsibilities first. Then, we need to make the important first step toward cooperation: connecting to others as individuals. When the unexpected shows up, as it will with the 0, we need to move most strongly toward cooperative energies. The ultimate responsibility is to connection, to intuition, to respect of other individuals, without sacrificing our own individuality.
Since we’re still early in the 2000s, we’re very young learners as a species when it comes to cooperation and sensitivity. It will take time for all of us to get over the individualism as ultimate lesson that was part of our evolution through the last millennium. This decade is actually a big boost in our education since the 2 repeats throughout the 2020s. None of us will see the next opportunity, which comes in the 2200s, for an entire 100 years.
We can all up our one-on-one relationship skills through this year. Our biggest strength through the changes this year will be in our connections to others, both as members of an institution, faith or tradition, and as individuals connecting with other individuals.
For many of us, yay!, spring is thinking about springing! For some of us, it’s the fall into more temperate weather but less daylight. Either way, the weather is moderate enough to make outdoor activities more comfortable.
One of my favourite ways to be outdoors – other than walking on bare feet – is on my bicycle. This month’s temporarily-free video is a warm-up for riding. Next month I’ll post a video of after-ride stretches.
We tend to jump right into activities without any preparation or processing time. A gentle pre-ride stretch gets us ready for the main activity, making us more comfortable as we ride, and less prone to injury. Until next month, notice what parts of your body want a stretch after your ride and find ways to gently loosen and stretch them. That restores areas of the body that have been worked.
And you might want to take note of what other activities in your life – physical or otherwise – could use a warm-up prep and a cool-down processing. Happy riding!
I swear my cats choose exactly the part of the floor/carpet/house that needs cleaning most to have their pukitosis episodes. Same applies to my subconscious when my rational mind goes completely unfocused and I shake the open container of almond milk in the messiest corner of the kitchen.
That’s my view on the optimistic days. When the glass is not only half empty but full of something I didn’t want anyway, the cats find the carpet I just cleaned and I spill sticky stuff all over the new shirt.
On the optimistic days, if I’ve got a clear head, I can move on to lesson learned and make time to clean for improvement. On pessimistic days, there’s the extra step of temper fit, a whole lot of bad language while cleaning and, eventually, lesson learned, when my head clears.
With a stiff neck and hunched shoulders, it’s hard to get a deep breath to feed the brain or enjoy the benefits of adequate circulation and nervous system communication. The head is under siege. Last month’s temporarily free video gave you a chance to loosen up your shoulders and re-align. This month’s video – free through February – takes it to the next level. Enjoy it in entirety or in bits and pieces. If you miss the free version, it will still be available for sale.
And may all your messes be on the floor that’s easy to clean.