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.