New Year and Sustainable Resolution by Sara Frykenberg

I am writing this blog on New Year’s Day, so Happy New Year! Today I say these words as both a statement of hope and as invocation. Happy New Year: may it be! My twin sister told me that our horoscope said that 2017 would be a party: we should throw our energies into anything and everything we want to see happen in our worlds because it can and will happen this year—may it be! Because it certainly doesn’t feel like a time for flourishing. I echo the introductory sentiments of Kate’s blog last Friday:

I am fried. These last two years proved personally & professionally exhausting. And yet, another year looms ahead unavoidably — another incredibly demanding year which will require more than I can fathom I actually have to give at this moment.”

Yes Kate. Oh my god/dess yes. This is exactly how I feel… and sitting down to write this blog this morning, I felt overcome with a wave of anxiety and stress, focused on all the things I have to do, the lack of time I have to do them, and the lack of energy I feel. Lurking beneath this stress is real pain and fear. What should we expect this year, in light of what’s already happening, in light of the hate already ignited? I think I have been locked in this pain and this fear.

My right foot has been hurting, hurting a lot. Hurting just to walk or stand up. So about a month ago, I went for my first acupuncture treatment since the birth of my daughter. It had been over a year. After our session, my healer asked what came up for me. I told her: “I feel so closed.” “Yes,” she said, and she explained her strong sense that my inner most vulnerable self was very, very afraid.

I find the symbolic language of our bodies very interesting. In 2013, I coughed for an entire year in which I felt choked with suffocating rage. At the end of 2016, my foot hurt—my body telling me: it is painful to move forward as you have been. You have to walk differently. Yow have to walk with more support, and sometimes, carrying less weight. So in the interest of making this a happy new-year, I want to plan for the self-care necessary to walk the paths I must.

I want to make the time to know my body again. As I wrote about in my last blog, I am trying to re-member my strength. But I also want to remember myself as woman, not just a mother. My body has radically changed in the last two years. I have gone through three different bra sizes or more. My clothes fit differently, and I’m not sure what to wear. I think I look different, so I am not sure how I am beautiful anymore. In 2017, I want to (re)discover the beauty of my physical body.

In light of this goal, I need to return to my practices of physical care, not just physical discipline. This means reincorporating things like yoga and/or meditation, acupuncture, and sleep. Last year, I will admit that unless it happened in the five minutes after a shower over the sink (and sometimes even then), I saw cutting my nails as a luxury and optional waste of time. And I am not talking about going for a manicure here. I am literally talking about just cutting my nails with nail clippers at home. It struck me this morning that ‘perhaps,’ this was indicative of a larger disregard for my body that is not serving me and definitely doesn’t lend itself to a party, flourishing or even effectiveness in 2017.

Finally, I need to incorporate more mental and emotional care, instead of mental or even, intellectual discipline. As a professor, I have often been able to fall back on my ability to think critically and in particular, to synthesize information when I have been stressed or over-whelmed, so perhaps, less prepared than I would have liked. This past semester, I watched this ability falter again and again. I was simply too tired. I find myself crying when writing this: even now, this is painful because it felt like a loss and added to my fear and worry. But to compensate for my inability to make connections like I had been able to before, I didn’t rest—I didn’t practice mental care. I would over-prepare, compounding the exhaustion that was causing the problem in the first place.

I have done so little real talking that I find myself without anything to say: I need real talk. I need real writing. And I need down time, silly time and creative time.

Addressing my fear, my acupuncturist and dear friend, suggested that I start with building up the love and safety I felt within my smallest circle and expanding from there. She reminded me that if I let my love spill out around me, leaking out from every crack and hole, then I would have what I needed to draw upon to do the work I needed to do. So this morning, I started by building a crystal shield in my home (if you are curious about what this is, comment, and I will tell you all about it!). Then, I sat down with more power than I’ve felt in weeks to write this blog—real writing where I am encountering myself, and sharing her with all of you.

So thank you for reading this small act of self-care and Happy New Year: may it be. May you move forward in ways that allow you to walk the paths you must with joy, love, courage, or sustainable resolution.


Sara Frykenberg, Ph.D.: Sara is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles, CA. She earned her Ph.D. in Religion from Claremont Graduate University in 2011, emphasizing Women’s Studies in Religion, and Theology, Ethics and Culture. Her research interests include the formation of counter-abusive community, relational and feminist theo/alogy, feminism and gaming, and embodiment issues in technology. 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.

Categories: Embodiment, fear, General, Herstory, thriving

Tags: , , , , ,

17 replies

  1. And don’t be too hard on yourself. A new baby is a lot of work, and teaching is too. You will find your way. But of course it is important to recognize the ways in which you have lost it. Bright blessings in the New Year. It promises to be hard on all of our souls! PS You look radiant in your recent pictures. If that is not beautiful, I don’t know what is!


  2. Happy new year! What’s a crystal shield?


    • Ok! Crystal Shield!

      A friend recommended I do this when I used to live with someone I loved, but who struggled with some very difficult problems. The issue I was having: I would come home to find him sleeping in or relaxing in my bed ALL THE TIME. I wanted this to stop.
      She recommended I use a crystal shield. Choose four stones/ crystals (could be more, less, anything that makes the shape shield you desire) and place them in ‘corners’ of the space you want to shield while setting very clear intentions or goals related to basically the ‘force shield’ you are setting up. And then, just leave them in those corners– clean them occasionally and reset as needed.
      I was skeptical when my friend recommended this to me, but I will tell you that the first time I did it, in the case of the individual I mentioned above, he didn’t even come into my room for months unless I clearly invited him to do so. And then, all of the sudden, one day I found him in my bed again. (???!!!) Well, later I discovered that my cat had dislodged one of my crystals, so basically, my shield was down.

      I now set this shield with different intentions in every home in which I live.

      Let me know if you try this or have any other questions!


  3. What a wonderful invitation you have given us. I have not much thought about resolutions, but one focused on self-care and “love spilling out” is certainly one I can get on board with. The connection between emotional pain and anger and physical effects of our body is very real, something at least real in my experience. I remember one time going to the gym in a fit of anger. On the treadmill, for other reason than my emotional state, my knee started paining me, I had a stomach cramp; in short, my body was crying out that I just couldn’t brush it off. Don’t eat when angry or upset, I’ve heard. I suppose the same goes for most activities, unless, that is, we determine to breathe into it. But I still think a prior calming down is helpful. I send lots of good, warm, nurturing streams of water and energy your way. Or cooling waters if that is what you’d rather have. Thank you for your healing post. Be well.


  4. Thank you for sharing this part of your journey Sara. Our bodies are so knowing – I’m glad you have a healer who recognizes this.
    And I think you are very beautiful

    PS: If I was god, I’d have made our nails so they didn’t need to be cut back. Not my favourite task.


  5. Finding time to find our own words is crucial for restoring ourselves. I hope even writing your post helped! It helped me in reading it to know I’m not alone in the journey of caring for myself while caring for others.


  6. Hi Sara —

    I realized a while back that I needed to protect myself from many interactions, because I’m a sensitive person. So every morning I imagine myself surrounded by an energy shield that allows in what is good for me and keeps out what would hurt me. It has helped a lot.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Sara, Your words were exactly what I needed for my heart this morning. Bless you. How do you “crystal shield”?


  8. I can so relate to this exhaustion from pushing, pushing forward, and the physical costs of doing so. Trying to ease up! even though there is much to be done… Blessings.


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