Happy New Year!
Ring out wild bells to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light:
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.
Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.
~ Alfred, Lord Tennyson
My last post about the upcoming new year was a bit premature, but I couldn’t help it! I was looking forward, and gratefully so. Christmas always leaves me ragged emotionally and financially, but the holiday is bookended by two points of calm. First, we celebrate the winter solstice, which occurs several days prior to Christmas. Then Christmas comes, with all of its familial, consumer, secular, and religious complexity. After, we celebrate the New Year, which brings our winter solstice intentions full circle.
I have been celebrating the winter solstice for many years, and I love the quiet simplicity and mindfulness of the holiday. There are many different ways that people celebrate the solstice in modern times. In my life, I’ve mostly shared this holiday with children. As an elementary school teacher, I’ve introduced and celebrated the winter solstice through science, math, art, and reading/writing activities. (For example, in one class, we charted the time of the sunrise and the sunset every day over the course of several weeks. This was a lot of fun for the kids, and clearly showed the gradual change in distance between the earth and the sun.) As a parent, the way I’ve celebrated has changed slightly each year, changing as my children have grown older. In the past, we’ve celebrated by creating homemade bells and drums, bird-feeders (from pine cones), and sun-masks (with paper plates, tissue paper, paint, and glitter). We also share a quiet candle ritual where we talk about our personal moments of darkness and light over the past year, and share our intentions for the coming year – for ourselves, our family, and the world.
The new year is a calendar based holiday, rooted in the winter solstice. In the past, the winter solstice signified an end, as well as a beginning. After the solstice, there is a definite change, but it is barely perceptible. Each day after the solstice, we are turning towards the sun, and in two months, we will welcome the return of Spring. Like the new year, the winter solstice is a culmination point, a yearly revisiting for both the earth and its inhabitants. After the long dark night, the sun returns. After the old year, a new one is born. The year is refreshed, renewed, a metaphorical blank slate. We are given the same opportunity as the earth to move from dark to light, death to rebirth, past to future. It is the world reminding us that it is not only important, but necessary, to end. Then: begin again.
After I posted my preemptive new years greeting in December, I began making some changes to this website – little things, just updating some of the sections to reflect how I’ve grown over the past year. One of the things I am trying to work on in 2015 is increasing my confidence and self-esteem, and I think going through my website and taking stock of my accomplishments was a great start. I am happy with the work I have done so far, and I am so excited with all the ideas I have for future projects.
Right now, I’m working on completing and publishing a poetry chapbook that has been floating for a while. I’ve had a few different ideas in the past on how to present it, and I am very excited about the present incarnation. If all goes according to plan, I will be making an announcement in just a few months! Besides the poetry chapbook, I have many ideas for stories which are in varied stages of completion. I actually got my first rejection of 2015 recently. First story out, and I kind of suspected that it wouldn’t fly, but I had to take a chance because it would have fit the theme. I know that the story is good, but it is also very disturbing, and I knew that the editor would have to be bold to accept it. With so much of my work, my challenge isn’t in the writing or the ideas, but in finding places my work fits … that’s always been a problem for me. But luckily for me, I really don’t care about fitting in. I just keep writing.
Another way that I’ve been trying to increase my self-confidence is by taking care of myself, mind/body/soul. I’ve been actively pursuing what I love, reconnecting with friends, and doing things that I neglected while I was coupled in a relationship with someone who wasn’t interested in doing things I liked to do. There is a multitude of art galleries, museums, clubs, nature preserves and parks, cemeteries, bookstores, readings, and book related events that I need to catch up on! After being part of a couple for several years, I’m entering 2015 as a single person again. The dizzying, terrifying freedom I felt initially after the breakup has mellowed, and I’m enjoying the quiet simplicity of my life. I love that there are so many paths open, so many opportunities waiting. I’m enjoying the exploration of sex as a single person again, going to different clubs, parties, events, and classes, meeting men and women who also share my sexual interests, negotiating the weird world of dating, and having fun in the process.
Recently, I was tested when a friend wrote me to let me know that there was a rumor going around about me, started by my narcissist ex and his harem. This is the same ex who lied to me throughout our relationship, then lied about me to all his friends after we broke up – at least he’s consistent, right? At first, I got upset and wondered how I should respond to the news. Then, I realized that it has been months since No Contact, and this was just another way of trying to draw me back into his toxicity. I realized that anyone who knows me and, quite frankly, anyone who knows him, wouldn’t believe any of his lies about me. He is the one with a long string of broken relationships caused by his lying, cheating, and abusive behaviors. He is the one still trying to bring me down so that he can build himself up. And I’m just so over it; I’m light years away. I have nothing to defend, nothing to prove, and nothing to hide. I am getting stronger, each and every day. I’ve turned towards the sun.
First month of the new year! By December, we’ve had a full year of living; we’ve been beaten down by life. Then January comes, and it seems as if we have another chance, another opportunity to change, to learn from our past mistakes, to start again, anew.
I’m going to end here with some quotes:
“The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul and a new nose; new feet, a new backbone, new ears, and new eyes.”
~ G.K. Chesterton
“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives…not looking for flaws, but for potential.”
~ Ellen Goodman
“I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes. Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world. You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly, you’re Doing Something. So that’s my wish for you, and all of us, and my wish for myself. Make New Mistakes. Make glorious, amazing mistakes. Make mistakes nobody’s ever made before. Don’t freeze, don’t stop, don’t worry that it isn’t good enough, or it isn’t perfect, whatever it is: art, or love, or work or family or life. Whatever it is you’re scared of doing, Do it. Make your mistakes, next year and forever.”
~ Neil Gaiman
“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
And next year’s words await another voice.”
~ T.S. Eliot
~ Samuel Beckett