Until the dawn of my twenties I attended a Sunday School and then church that had its foundation in Boston, Massachusetts in the eastern USA. So I became familiar with Thanksgiving Thursday from an early age. As an occasion for reflecting on the positives – rather like the “gratefuls” (appreciation practice) that I’ve been offering towards the end of each session of writing our way whole: at home.
So, a few days early this week, here’s an opportunity for us to reflect on anything from 2020 which – in the long term – you may look back at with appreciation.
That’s not to deny that for many, this year has been hellish. It’s not to diminish the reality of suffering, grief, frustration, anger, fear, despair, confusion or plain, ordinary boredom. (I can identify with most of these, and more.)
Yet, just for a moment, let’s focus on doing our regular BrainDump, by filling in any,, many, or all of these:
Something that’s helped you laugh …
A film you enjoyed
Something that helped you to shed a tender tear …
A book author who you’d like to read more from …
A food, or meal, you’ve enjoyed recently – and why …
A good habit/ practice/ activity you want more of …
A habit/practice/activity you’ve been relieved to let go …
A “guilty pleasure” you’ve had a chance to indulge …
A secret that makes you chuckle …
An unexpected friendship that’s evolving …
A challenge that you have “risen to” …
Up to three global things that give you a sense of hope …
Up to three personal things that give you a sense of hope …
Why stop at three?
One of my own challenges has been to return to being almost completely vegetarian, with a few concessions for wellbeing.
(After all, I’ve heard that the Dalai Lama was advised by his doctors that he should eat some meat for health reasons.)
Earlier this week, on the drive to meet a life-writing companion for a distanced face-to-face session, I was amused to find the narrow lane blocked by four fine turkeys, until their owner shoo’ed them back into their field. They were “fattening up nicely for Christmas” she commented proudly.
And so am I, breathing in to zip up my walking trousers, having accrued a little extra fat to see me through the winter – mainly from nuts, local cheese, seeds, and olives. What about you?
And I am aiming towards a December as devoid of Christmas razzamattaz as I dare.
I am planning to spend time in writing-retreat mode, walking, musing and dreaming, drawing, and hibernating like a torpid toad. And gazing at candles and stars at night.
Which is why I intend to reduce my commitment to my regular blogging (though I shan’t stop, just to a more leisurely timescale and maybe with a different twist).
This frees me to concentrate on birthing some poetry collections, which have been pulling at my sleeve for attention for a long while now.
And on expanding my one-to-one sessions locally and online.
And on spending more time outside, especially in the middle of the day when I can bathe in sunlight, oblique and obscured though it often be.
Greetings to you all as we enter into the mystery of the time around the winter solstice, and of the four weeks of Advent, and – for some of you – the remembered excitement of the build-up to Christmas
Next week I shall be meeting (online) with my friends at The Way of the Buzzard and using the occasion of November’s Full Moon to resource ourselves insights from nature. As I mentioned in writing our way whole: 32 at home facing the shadow some of us are welcoming in a time of letting go of old habits and patterns that no longer serve, and gestating the seeds of new possibilities, new intentions, towards 2021 and beyond.
I’ll continue to reflect upon a year that ‘s held – for me – much letting go, living more lightly, and reaching outwards. I’ve also had my share of turning gently (and grumpily) towards my shadows, and also setting boundaries around what I hold dear – the better to protect my vulnerabilities and to allow myself to withhold my energy from projects that no longer resonate.
So here are some golden threads for reflection on this turning of The Wheel of the Year.
Read through what you might have written in your ThoughtBook so far today, or what I have shared in this or previous blogs (some listed below) and jot down [in a blue-sky box] any positive feelings that have been prompted
Run into the starlight of imagination with the chosen phrase and/or ideas, and beneath the constellations and planets above your dwelling – and the Moon that ebbs and flows like the tides that she draws out – expand them into a piece of free-flow writing that sparkles like frost or is veiled in mist.
Just a random selection of sessions offered during Lockdown. Does your favourite feature here?
Today I am grateful for:
Today I am grateful for:
~ forgetting to take either my camera or my binoculars to the beach, so that I could use just my eyes to enjoy a raft of eider duck, far out – the first of this winter;
~ the feel of slightly damp soft sand beneath my feet – with just the right amount of “give” – as I ran parallel to the waves;
~ the dashing contrast of a magpie’s plumage, and that of an oyster-catcher – both black and white, and so different;
~ the red stalks (“petioles” of fallen sycamore leaves;
~ laughter, which is good exercise for the lungs and for the soul.
Perhaps you have enjoyed this 2020 Lockdown series of writingpresence posts, and want to make a one-off contribution to Wikipedia, which I often use as a (usually fairly reliable) “handbook” when I am online. I invite you to follow this link to leave a small donation to The Wikipedia Foundation on my behalf. If you prefer, you could support The Guardian newspaper, a bastion of independent investigative journalism in the UK since 1821, and paid for by its readers.
And thank you, anonymous readers and/or donors. See you again soon.