Jan 9, 2014

When You Need to Tackle Your Frost Giants

The new year has come in like a...well, like a Polar Vortex, really. 

January is its own special kind of vortex for me - it always has been.  I get completely drawn in to the idea that we have an entirely fresh start, but then get looking at the list of things that did not get accomplished last year or how I'm not where I thought I might be, and I start to spin. Add to that, the perpetual, deep cloud cover here in the south end of the valley, the low fog, the long hours of low light, even with the growing sun, and things begin to slide sideways in my happy little existence.

This is when I'm glad that I have more than just small bottles of booze in my toolbox.

In the old days, before magic found me, I spent long hours hiding in my house, cursing the weather beyond my window.  I used to sniffle my way through really bad romantic comedies, all the while telling myself that if that girl could change her life (in two hours, with an amazing make-up crew, and the super-cute boy next door, who we're supposed to believe she never noticed before,) then so could I, dammit!  

The thing is, there is rarely a Mark Darcy standing around waiting to tell you that he likes you "just as you are." Instead, in January, there are multitudes of people telling you "here's how you can change everything about yourself so people will like you - for just $49.99 a month!"  In this first week of the year, I've stopped counting at 30 emails from people/companies wanting to sell me some way to make my life better.

For the record, I'm not opposed to self-improvement via courses, gym memberships, weight-loss programs, or salsa lessons.  If you are the type of person that wants/needs structure, accountability, group or partnered plans of attack to work toward your goals, then I'd say absolutely - check out some classes/memberships and see what fits. What I'm opposed to, is the timing and volume of the ads, and the general feeling running through many of them that you aren't okay unless you sign up for their version of improvement, and that 2014 might just be the 9th circle of hell for you if you don't sign up immediately.  

What I'm looking for this time of year is not another reminder of how I don't measure up, but a good scrubbing of everything that isn't making me feel good - including the "only we can help you like yourself more" emails.

The first thing I do is hit "delete" - repeatedly. 

After that, I turn to my own body and check in.  Your body can tell you everything you need to know.  Unless you've been ignoring it for years and then, you've got some catching up to do. Your body will tell you what it wants more of (chocolate seems like the right answer, but in this case it's probably not.)  Water, sleep, meditation, movement, protein, laughter, sex - the answers are there.  Personal trainers are great, but you have the capacity and the know-how to design your own destiny.  

I trace back any uneasy feelings to their source, by continuing to ask "where is this coming from?"  Then I pull out my toolkit. I take baths, annoint myself with oils, meditate, speak with my ancestors/gods/guides, do some sympathetic magic for what I'm after (even if it's simply to feel better or lessen my winter blues,) and then decide on a practical plan of attack.  It's not a quick fix.  The meditation, bath and some good digging into what is going on in my mad little brain, can be pretty instant relief.  But for a longer than an evening session of anxiety-easing or life-changing, you've got to follow up with some action.

Kick the winter blues to the curb.*  Burn the weight-loss program ads in the fireplace.  Ask your body what it wants, and listen.  Then do the work yourself, kindly and introspectively at first, then with a good handful of magic, then bust some actual ass - on your terms.

- Some info on  spiritual cleansing from the fabulous Bri Sassy: "So Fresh and So Clean.."
- An in-depth post on candle work from Candlesmoke Chapel: "Putting The Work In..."
- A wonderful list of items you can use for magical aid, right in your cupboard, by Sarah Anne Lawless:  "Pantry Folk Magic..."

*I am, of course, speaking of low-level "blues" here and not suggesting that those with serious depression or anxiety can just wash it away with a bath.  Please see a health care professional for any severe issues.


Linda Wildenstein said...

This time of year is notorious for the horrendous flood of self doubt institution of "self improvement". Years ago, I would do as you said, read the mail or watch tv and be overwhelmed. The delete button is a good thing. So is a trash can outside your door to put the "trash" that comes in the mail. Not allowing the negative in really helps. I don't watch a lot of TV but I always mute during commercials. Again closing the door to the negative.
Some would call me a hermit from the hype. I would call myself my own best friend. I have learned to be much kinder to me. I made it this far and I deserve it.
Wishing you lots of smile inducing moments this year. Oma Linda

Sarah said...

Yup... I don't even have "join a gym" on my 2014 plan till August. That's the timing that works for me. That said, a good friend found (cheap!) belly-dancing classes, and I think that would be fun, regardless of the potential that it could be considered exercise. :)

Happy New Beginnings!

Rue said...

I think there's real health and joy to be found in hermit-ing away from the hype. It's rarely where your heart is, anyway. I think you're brilliant. Being your own best friend is exactly it!

Rue said...

Belly dancing is great fun! And that's the thing, discovering what really moves you, and not being dragged along with the "resolutions" masses. You'll have a blast and feel good.

And I'm totally inspired by your planning for the gym in August!

Anonymous said...

Great post. My answer is similar to yours...fire up the altars, break out the beads or the meditation timer so I cant short myself- and then crank up the Fu Manchu and get to work.

The Fu Manchu is the critical element, and I suggest KIng of the Road. Songs about driving and skating...top notch Winter warmer...

Rue said...

I've not been introduced to King of the Road. I'm tracking it down right now - thanks - it sounds perfect!

Holly said...

I got off the resolution-go-round a few years ago. I always felt like a failure if I couldn't stick with my resolutions & I wound up with a lot of joint damage from hitting the gym like I was still a teenager. So, before the holiday period began, I decided that what I needed in my life was to say "no" nicely to things I won't enjoy (sadly, there are still a few things I can't avoid) and to honor my own spiritual path more & say "yes" to those things & people that honor & support it. I do seem to be a "hermit" to some people, but my life is more serene this way & I am loving it! And the "mute" button on the tv & the "delete" button on the computer are my frineds! ;)

brandi said...

~never been one to follow the adds of to do...how tos and what we need kind of fixes...january for me has always been of embracing the cold...the quietness of the days after such a wild season of flurry from the holiday...time to ease back into the things that make us feel good and spark new thoughts and ideas and wants for the days ahead...cleansing our spirit and nourishing our minds...a wonderfully written post this day...much love light and blessings...

Birgit said...

You are so right -- I also found a couple of gym leaflets in my mailbox lately. (So yes -- that kind of pressure exists also in Germany.)

It's so much better to take action oneself and find what's best for oneself.

Have a great January, Jen -- you rock!


sandra hagan said...

O Rue, this is delightfully refreshing, useful, good news.

Going through a tough spell myself, nothing to do with winter, nonetheless I was happy to read your post.

Thank you so much.

Velva said...

Happy New Year! May 2014 be everything you hope for- Looking forward to your posts.