Janus is the Roman god with two faces. He represents doorways, transitions, beginnings and endings. One of his faces looks at the past, and the other looks at the future. As I sit here on the couch on New Year’s Eve while the fireworks are going bonkers outside, it seems appropriate to follow his example on this transition to the next cycle around our sun, and to take a look at the past and the future.
The past year has been quite interesting. Looking back, what comes to mind most is my inner journey, as opposed to external events. Of course, many things happened, and I have had some great times and some lows, like we all do. But overall, I look back with a positive feeling.
At work, things were a bit turbulent. My team of three broke up (one colleague left, the other was sick for half a year), and I felt the weight of keeping things going solely on my shoulders. In the summer, I was getting overworked because of that, and fortunately, I recognised the warning signals. I retreated from the world a bit to save energy, and managed to hold on until my vacation in October, which was wonderful. I’m not entirely fit yet, but I manage, and I’m happily surprised by my newly found boundary protection skills. Even though I still feel bad when I have to disappoint people I care about, it’s better than becoming burnt out or depressed.
This year we also finally pulled the plug of my music ensemble project ÆroDynamic. The group has not played concerts since 2016, because we’re all focusing on other things, but we had never formally decided to end the collaboration. We do keep the door open a little bit, so if someone asks us to play a concert, we may do it. However, we won’t be actively acquiring concert opportunities anymore. It’s a bit sad, because this was the last professional musical activity that I had going on. I do however appreciate the clarity of the decision, and I will start afresh, if and when I decide to pursue some kind of musical adventure again. That is inspiring in its own way. And my voice is working again, still without problems, so I’m feeling blessed.
Another loved pastime of mine got a new injection of inspiration. In March, I exchanged my beloved Canon 5D2 camera for a new Fujifilm system camera, the X-T20. The small size and portability of this new system encouraged me to bring my camera with me much more often, and for months, I went out for a photo walk through the neighbourhood almost every day. I discovered the fun of using vintage manual lenses and I tried to develop my photographic eye. Lately, the weather has been preventing me from going outside. I don’t go when it rains, and this year I hate the cold. I also hate the heat. I’m basically a room temperature or a bit cooler type of person. But I’m looking forward to spring, to the new life being born outside, and witnessing it through my lens.
My inner work is continuing. Last year, I went on a diet because I wanted to feel more healthy, and managing what I ate played a large role in how I felt. In the process, I also lost more than 20 kilograms. This year, I managed to keep the weight off and remain stable, and I focused on befriending my body and my physical sensations.
You see, I discovered that I’m in my head way too often, and I was not aware of what me/my body was feeling most of the time. I already knew that, but I finally decided that it was time to do something about it. One of the things I did to improve my physical awareness was joining a yoga studio. I love the fact that they offer many different classes, and for now, I prefer the slower classes that give me time to fully experience the sensations and to lean into discomfort. Yin yoga is great, and I also love Tibetan yoga. It’s both a mental and a physical adventure, and it connects really well to my daily mindfulness practice (using the Calm app).
I’m already feeling the benefits in the way that I breathe, and in the fact that I can more easily observe my habits instead of getting caught up in them. I have also started to notice more positive things in my life, and I enjoy them. I have slowed down a bit.
On the other hand, my inner work has uncovered some deeply buried old pains. Fear of abandonment, lack of self-esteem, a strong inner critic, fear of emotions, and little self-compassion, all because of CEN and bullying in my childhood (which resulted in C-ptsd symptoms). Finding out what’s really going on was quite confronting, but I’m also relieved that I now know what I can do to get better. I’m working through it slowly, and with some help. Focusing on the never-processed emotions and events from childhood has uncovered a kind of anxiety that was hidden by my freeze/fawn reactions to what happened to me. I’m more aware of my fears right now, but also of love and happiness.
In my experience it is true that you cannot dampen only some (the negative) emotions without impacting them all. Doing Richard Grannon’s Emotional Literacy Course has helped me to better identify what I’m feeling, and to find patterns. I’m also sharing my struggles with mental, physical and emotional health on this blog now, for the first time in my life. It still feels scary to show this side of me to the world, but I think it’s a subject that needs to have its shame and taboo removed.
And, of course, I have been crafting a lot! It’s really my way to deal with all the stress of living inside my body/mind, to get away from all the noise and to just enjoy shapes and colours and textures without fear or pressure. I usually spin, sometimes knit or weave, and, since October, sew, but I’m not very adventurous in what I do. For spinning, I usually pick out some fibres in colours that speak to me in the moment, combine and turn them into rolags, and spin those on my supported spindles, with my default thickness (somewhere between light fingering and sport weight). I did spin a bit thicker a couple of times, which was fun, but I do really enjoy spinning relatively thin and then chain plying the singles into a round 3-ply on my spinning wheel.
Then, I usually knit shawls, because I’m lazy. I’d love to have a wardrobe full of hand knitted sweaters and cardigans, and more, but figuring out sizing and shaping (I’m quite critical, it has to look good) is often too much of an effort. It makes the knitting feel like work. I also hate deadlines, or making things for people when they’re aware of it because of that. So I just keep on knitting my shawls in my own tempo, and I already have too many to wear.
Perhaps I should frog some next year, and re-knit them into something else? Or bite the bullet and start knitting sweaters and cardigans? Nah, I’m too lazy for that. I will keep knitting my handspun yarns into shawls instead. I love knitting with those and wearing the results.
The brioche shawl in this picture may be my favourite knitting project of the year. I knitted it during my holiday in the UK, where I also did a clutch bag sewing workshop, visited the nicest LYS I know, and attended a Star Trek convention! So many happy moments and memories went into this shawl. It also has an interesting pattern, it’s just the right size, very soft, and it’s GREEN. Oh my, I love me some green, lately!
I have also thoroughly enjoyed spending time with a small group of family and close friends, and, of course, with my wonderful tortie Freya. She’s 14 now, 15 in April, so she’s an old lady, but she’s still young at heart. This year she taught me to lift her up unto the counter and open the faucet, she stole my yoga pillow, she blocked my knitting projects, and she followed me around like a shadow generally, chatting about life. Whenever I walk to the study and sit down at my desk, she will hop up and curl up into my arms in front of my keyboard. Who needs to work, anyway? And when I’m on the couch, she either lies down next to me, or she snuggles up on my lap, grabbing my hand and directing it to her chin to give her her well-deserved skritches. She calls me to bed in the evenings. I love my sweet Freya!
I’m very grateful for the way my life is at the moment. I have the sweetest husband in the world, a couple of wonderful friends, an awesome cat, and I’m really lucky with whom I may call my family. And there are so many beautiful and interesting moments and things going on every day. I try to keep my senses open, especially when I’m having a bad day. I don’t always remember to do this, but if I do, it usually helps me.
That’s something that I want to keep up in the new year. In a few hours, this year will be in the past, but my life is moving on with the same inertia. There is a direction that I’ve taken in the past few years that I like, and I’m curious what I will find on that path in the future. I want to be aware, to be mindful, of what life offers me. To judge less, to accept, to yield, and to start feeling what I really want, deep inside, and use that as a compass on my path.
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunriseWilliam Blake, “Eternity”
It’s already bubbling inside, I can feel it. I know that I want to do something with my music again. How could I not? It’s so strongly intertwined with my life force. However, it will be in another way than before. Ideas are coming up in my mind and they are new and exciting and a bit scary. I won’t share them with you until they have ripened more, to not constrict or stagnate their growth. 2019 may be too soon, but it’s coming.
The sewing bug has bitten me too, so I bet that you’ll see some more sewing posts here. I’m not sure if I’m daring enough to create my own clothes yet, but a bag or two should be possible… Perhaps I will just be a shawl knitter and bag sewist. Doesn’t sound that bad!
I’m starting to find out what I want to do with my life, and what I need to be able to do that. I would love to do work that is more social, more interactive, more meaningful to people, and preferably involving lots of cats, but until now, I have not been able to do that well because I get drained too easily. Building up healthy boundaries is my top priority in that regard. Then, we’ll see what’s really possible. It may be a while, but I’m going there.
This coming year, though, I’ll be continuing what I started this year. I’ll become my best body-buddy, I’ll respect my own boundaries, I’ll let go of my perfectionist tendencies even more and I’ll take time for the good things in life. My husband. Friends. Family. Freya. Hobbies. Doing nothing without shame. Reading good books. Being kind instead of nice. Spending time in nature. Being grateful and aware. Music. Art. Laughing. Connecting.
Yes, I’m aiming for the stars. It may sound as if I’m expecting the year to be perfect. But that’s not what I mean. I’m stating my intentions on how to deal with life’s inevitable trouble and difficulties. And I will try to be mild and kind to myself if I cannot do it yet. At least then I’ll have something to write about next year!
For now, I’m spinning into the new year with this flashy, glittery spindle. That’s enough firework for me! And I’ll probably be in bed by 10pm, if I’m honest.
I hope that you have had a good year, and I wish you all a happy and healthy 2019! Thank you for being here and for reading my blog. I really appreciate it.