Patterns for the New Year by Sara Frykenberg

Sara FrykenbergLife last year continually pushed me to figure out how I should care for those close to me while also caring for myself.  I have been pushed to see the difference between myself and other people: their choices and my own.  This is perhaps, the most difficult challenge I faced in the first year of the Age of Aquarius… and life has been an unrelenting teacher. 

Happy 2013!  Or a statement more accurate to my feelings: Happy end of 2012!  Last year around this time, I wrote a post entitled: Celebrating the Beginning of the Aquarian Age.  The push to evolve was and is very exciting to me.  This shifting astrological paradigm challenges us to break away from those habits and patterns that no longer serve us.  But excited as I am, I have to admit that the first year of the Age of Aquarius really kicked my butt.

Did last year feel exceptionally difficult for anyone else out there?  I really felt like I couldn’t catch a break for the entirety of 2012.  This is not to say that my year was simply filled with loss and grief, though I am dealing with loss and a great deal of grief.  But some really great things happened last year too, which I celebrated, but also found extremely difficult to manage.  Many of my roles and relationships radically changed in ways that were more difficult than I expected or wanted.  Riding the Aquarian tides, I felt tossed about and was often confused.  I kept telling myself: just hang on.  Just hang on, because you are not alone riding these cosmic waves.  Hang on, because you will learn how to swim in these new waters.

Therefore, in honor of the New Year, I would like to take this opportunity to evaluate and strategize for my how.

I am not usually one for making new years’ resolutions.  The cultural rhetoric surrounding resolutions either presupposes failure or relates success to the amount of money you spend to achieve a goal.  Yet today I find myself considering how I approached last years’ challenges, successfully and unsuccessfully.  I have concluded that I need to create more life giving patterns and habits in 2013.  Many things I am doing now, my coping mechanisms and my defenses, can no longer meet my needs.  So, I guess I am making resolutions.  I, however, prefer to say that I am actively hope-ing to evolve my praxis of living. ;) Thus, I set the following intentions for 2013:

1. Create a healthier relationship to food in at least one way.

My mother took a dive off a five-foot high wall while carrying my nephew last year.  She fell on her head and broke her arm.  This accident, which could have killed her, put her back in the hospital less than one year after a previous hospitalization, which itself, was one year after she spent a week in the ICU because of a perforation in her intestine.  My response to my mother’s fall was to put on nearly 10 pounds in one month.  I have gained 15 pounds this year.  I tend to use food to cope with my fear, stress and worry.  The problem with this coping mechanism is that is just that: it is for “dealing” or struggling with something hard.  My overeating does not help me to thrive even if it did help me to survive this year.

I am not trying to be hard on myself—nor do I look back at my relationship to food this year with shame.  I made it through the year, which was a very, very hard year.  I am not “bad” because I am 15 pounds heavier.  I am also not “bad” because racist and abusive hetero-patriarchy judges my scale’s number, 195, unbeautiful.  I am beautiful.  I don’t always know it, but I am.  What I find myself asking today is if this kind of survival, for me, is really sustainable?  Am I ready to be more of myself, in a way that is more than creating physically, more of myself?

I believe I know that I am.

2.  Drink Less

Recently, a good friend of mine and myself had a conversation about the fact that we’ve both been drinking too much.  We’ve also both watched people in our lives self-destruct this year because of their drug use.  It’s easy to pour some wine to unwind in the evening after a long, hard day.  It’s easy to escape into inebriation; particularly, when you are struggling.  But it is also unsustainable.  It can undermine survival—as meth use has for someone very close to me this year.  I want to create habits that are compatible with the person I am becoming, so I am changing my relationship to this drug.

My friend and I made a pact to give up all alcohol for three months and then to check in again, knowing that we are facing some serious struggles.  We are working together to prevent abuse.

3. Close my doors! (Make and Keep appropriate boundaries!)

2012 was a year filled with broken boundaries for me.  My house, my metaphorical self, has been wide open.  Other people crossed my boundaries.   I crossed my boundaries, and theirs.  Life last year continually pushed me to figure out how I should care for those close to me while also caring for myself.  I have been pushed to see the difference between myself and other people: their choices and my own.  This is perhaps, the most difficult challenge I faced in the first year of the Age of Aquarius… and life has been an unrelenting teacher.

Powerfully, two women whom I trust, from very different parts of my life, told me that I need to close my doors.  One woman literally had a dream about my house and saw all my broken locks.  The other woman prayed over me at the AAR national conference after speaking with me.  She put her hand on my back, shut all my doors for me and said that those people I would want to welcome into my home are the same people who will respect me when I say no.

Both of these were very powerful experiences for me.  I did an extensive and extremely vivid meditation where I literally repaired my home, giving broken windows and doors ornate, Celtic locks that glowed green with power from my heart chakra.  Now that I have fixed my locks, however, I need to learn how to use them… I am starting to do this.

I check in with my aura to see if it is like a glittering membrane or if it is dull and faded.  I have also recognized that I need some help, which brings me to my final intention:

4. Start Seeing a Therapist (Again)

I saw a therapist for about a year after I graduated from college.  I found the experience lifesaving.  I mourned with my therapist.  I felt love grow in that healing space.  And importantly, I learned what it looks like for me when I am surviving, not thriving.

I am ready to thrive again in 2013—or at least, to create the patterns for unfolding greater liveliness.  The confusion that accompanied my Aquarian journey last year taught me some questions: very practical questions and questions I was not ready before to ask.

I am ready now.  I am ready for 2013.

Are you also actively hope-ing to evolve your praxis of living (aka. making resolutions)?  If so, how?  I would love to hear your story.

Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D. is an adjunct professor of religion at Mount Saint Mary’s College in Los Angles and a graduate of the women studies in religion program at Claremont Graduate University. Her research considers feminist analysis of embodiment and technology, as well as the ways in which process feminist theo/alogies help to challenge and refract abusive paradigms.  In addition to her feminist, theo/alogical and pedagogical pursuits, Sara is also an avid fan of science fiction and fantasy literature, and a level one Kundalini yoga teacher.

14 thoughts on “Patterns for the New Year by Sara Frykenberg”

    1. Hi John,
      Thanks for your input. Exercise is extremely helpful for everyone. There are many things I want to create this year beyond my list above– I only chose to share a few with everyone here.
      Is exercise a part of your own plan?
      I ask because this is the question I pose in the blog: what is your story?


      1. Since January, 2011 I have been fighting prostate cancer (Stage 2, Gleason score 9) and depression. I bike and lift regularly and then take a few weeks off after I have peaked. Years ago I completed the Marine Corps Marathon and would like to do it again.


  1. Thank you for your honesty. I do hope that the therapist that you choose understands addiction or filling the hole in the soul with such things as alcohol and food.


    1. Thank you for the positive hopes– I very much appreciate them. I have to admit, I had such a great therapist before, I am both apprehensive about who I will meet but also feel positive about doing this because of this past experience. What’s nice about that kind of intentional relationship is the ability to choose and change the choice if need be– I appreciate your comment, because it reminds me that I have this power as I move forward.


  2. We do solstice goals in our family rather than New Year’s resolutions. They feel different and more enriching to me than resolutions, perhaps because they’re not usually self-improvement focused, but are more tangible. Then, each year on the following solstice, we review our goals in front of the whole family and discuss how they came to pass and what we’re proud of from the past year–it doesn’t have to be related to the original goal. It is amazing how often we’ve achieved the goals we set the year before even though usually we have no clue when we re-open the papers what it is that we’d written down!


    1. Thanks talkbirth! Happy New Year to you too!
      I really love the solstice ritual you talk about; that is a great tradition! I love that it has a tangible/ practical sense to it.
      It is exactly because “resolutions” don’t usually feel tangible that I don’t usually set any. This year though, I was watching something (I can’t remember what) that seemed discouraging,,and I found myself asking said to myself: why can’t these things happen? What about our way of thinking, culture or whatever, makes us believe that we can’t accomplish what we set out to do? And then I realized that I already had a number of goals (that I am trying to implement in practical ways) that I want to see happen–which inspired the post.
      Thank you for your comment and sharing your ritual!


  3. That was very honest and raw, I think writing about about ourselves in this manner is part of our therapy too. I too do not set up new years resolutions bur rather journal about visions or things I would like to manifest in my life, currently they centre around study goals and completing a series of art works dedicated to the re-awakening of the Divine Feminine. I am holding a vision board workshop on the ChInese New Year – its a great way to manifest things you would like in your life and by putting the completed board in a place in your home where you see it daily only reinforces your goals, it is easy to get off track. I have personal goals too like exercising again…by starting yoga and getting back to belly dancing. I believe exercise should be enjoyable – not a task that you feel you HAVE to do. I garden a lot and it’s great for mind, body and soul – its exercise without even thinking about it being so. Starting a garden is something I would recommend to everyone. Thank you for sharing Sara.


    1. I really like the imagining this vision board and what it might look like! Two summers ago I made (with the help of a good friend) a “do-able list,” that I hung on my wall. I talked with her at length about all of my big goals and visions (mostly career oriented–wanting to teach, etc.) and then, we talked about the little things I could do day to day that would help me find things like, “supportive co-workers who care about the justice issues that I do.” It was an amazing tool for me. Actually, it is because of an item on that list that I started writing for this blog. :)
      I imagine this vision board would also be a powerful tool.
      I too want to get back in touch with my yoga! I have had great meditations this year, but not very physical ones. I miss this physical dimension of my spiritual practice.
      Thank you for sharing your goals/ plans here with me!


  4. Thank you so much for this post. 2012 was packed with change and learning for me too and your words were comforting and inspiring to me. The new year for me is a lot about developing a healthier relationship with self and reaching outward toward community, in love. I am feeling in a different, new way the boundaries that cause us to contract into ourselves and my goal is to learn what that contraction is about for me and to challenge myself to move through it toward openness. Thank you again for sharing your reflections and best wishes for your journey!


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