We have a pre-lit artificial Christmas tree and every year for the past 4, we've put it up in our foyer to reflect the beauty that shines through our beveled glass door. It is a reminder of my grandmother's house, her tree in the door of a warm and cozy home. We keep the tree up through the Christmas season which officially ends on January 6, at least for us that is the twelfth night of the holiday. Yesterday, we took the tree down and as I type, I see the many tiny cuts and scratches on the backs of my hands, due to the need to cut out the lights that no longer work. In the end, I will be happy next year when I will be able to put my own lights on the tree without worry of outages and where they may be or how to solve such problems.
The holidays are a particular time in our home. We gather with most of the family, follow rituals and traditions, and keep alive memories. Just a day after the out-of-town children left, I was in the basement working on a project to clear an accumulation of 25 years of stuff carried from house to house, knowing that I am finally willing to let go and make 2023 the year of the clean slate.
A few boxes of shredding, 9 boxes of recycled paper, 4 trips to Goodwill, 3 trips to a store that takes architectural pieces that we don't need, and 1 trip to the Habitat for Humanity store, our basement is clean and orderly. I have boxes of Christmas decorations coded in a place together so they are easy to bring out. Boxes of pictures are stacked in an area where I can spread them out to see what to keep and what to dispose. I guess I don't need a hundred pictures of mountains that I am clueless as to where they are, right?
The Meaning of Connection
The picture below was taken at our fifth child's wedding in June. While it isn't a particularly astonishing photograph, there is something so poignant about it. My husband and I are surrounded by family and friends who shared this celebration with us. We are listening to my son's new father-in-law give his speech. But the greater impact of the moment this was taken was that family and friends had traveled a long way, survived a few harrowing experiences and express such love for us, for our children.
Goal Setting: 2023
By this time last year, I had done a vision board, made a list of goals, both professional and personal, focused on the idea that nothing out of the ordinary would happen along the way in 2022. And for the most part, that remained true.
Professionally, I saw my business grow. One client published a book we'd worked on together since 2019. A past client has published his fifth work of poetry and sent a copy with accolades that I sometimes don't think that I deserve, but nonetheless accept. I took my first trip the Association of Writing Professionals conference in Philadelphia only to discover that the trade show nature of the event felt very much like the first time I went to Vegas with my husband for World of Concrete, (picture acres of booths, everyone selling something).
My goals for 2022 included publication and while the completion of writing, rewriting, and revision of my two larger works are an ongoing process, I celebrate the publication of a piece that I submitted to NPR's Songs of Remembrance https://www.npr.org/sections/songs-of-remembrance/2022/08/14/1098498948/jeffrey-whitaker-67-adeles-hello . I also published a piece at the online blog of Humans of the World in which I have composed a letter to a nurse in light of the work nurses do with Covid patients. https://www.howblog.org/post/letter-to-a-nurse
The cap to the year professionally was our latest pilgrimage to Italy. Having two months to reflect on it, while the challenge of Covid haunted our journey, the spiritual aspect of people's lives seem to have been impacted greatly. We can never know how or if lives will change as a result of our work with them in the birthplace of Saints Francis and Clare. The email exchanges since our arrival back in the states seem to give an indication that work was fruitful.
Whose Crystal Ball is it Anyway?
What does 2023 hold for me? Perhaps most important is the number of hours in the day that I am present to my surroundings, be it in writing, working with clients, time with family, ushering in new members to the family (a new baby is on the way in July), another pilgrimage, writing circles, or listening to what calls from deep inside; it feels as if the new year is saying, stop counting so much and let life unfold.
While the only planned programs I am leading as of this writing are a workshop for book-length project from rough draft through revision process in conjunction with Roebling Point Books in Newport, Ky and Women Writing for (a) Change. If this fits where you are with your work, please consider signing up. https://www.womenwriting.org/home/programs/craft_of_writing_classes/rewrite_revise_repeat_a_three-part_revision_workshop_for_writers-in-person_1200.html
Yesterday, while taking down our outside decorations, something swooped in the periphery of my field of vision. When I followed the direction of it, a scattershot of pigeons and sparrows flew up from a hedge across the street. There in the vacant greenery was a Cooper hawk winging off into the sky.
The Cooper's hawk is my spirit animal. They are a messenger of the spirit world. The hawk uses the power of focus. Takes the lead when the time is right, has the power to see with clear vision. They harken to a strong connection with spirit for an increased spiritual awareness.
May your new year begin with the same attributes we see in the Cooper's hawk.