I’m on Paul Jarvis’ newsletter list, and, inspired by his State of the Union, 2018, I decided to do my own.
It felt quite good to review and summarize my previous year and look towards the next one (without any lofty new year’s resolutions).
Hopefully it will also offer you a sense of how your intentions towards healing, creative expression and growth can intersect with my offerings and services.
What went well in 2017
Moving: I spent most of the winter and spring preparing to leave Vancouver Island, after 5 years living in Duncan in the Cowichan Valley. My daughter finished grade 9 at the Sunrise Waldorf School, and it was time for a change. We focused on paring down our belongings and decided to move to the Okanagan Valley. I was longing to return to the Yukon, which is my born and raised hearthome, but everytime I tried to convince myself to return my gut told me ‘no, not yet.’
Since my daughter wants to pursue an acting on film career we have to be close-ish to Vancouver, so we settled on the town of Vernon, a 5 hour drive from Vancouver, where we have some lovely family members. I’m a white single mom raising a visibly mixed race child, and I’ve always wanted her to be around family that are also mixed. Since she’s had a lifetime of being the different-looking one in the small mostly white Canadian towns we’ve lived in, it was time to make that a priority so that she can have the experience of seeing her experiences and appearance reflected in others.
Adventures: I planned for us to have a lot of adventures during the summer months of July and August. It was fun and it was stressful. I juggled client work with camping, exploring and roaming around visiting people (my absolute favourite week was spent with our tent pitched right on Sombrio Beach, falling asleep to the roar of the Pacific Ocean, sheltered from other campers’ noise, with no cell service or wifi, reading a ton of books.)
I think I liked our transient summer more than my daughter did, but now we’re settled in a tiny cosy little apartment that’s walking distance from everything I want to be close to, including my daughter’s school. It was a good decision to come to Vernon.
Creating and offering Personal Mythmaking School: although this transformational memoir writing process has been brewing in my work and in my bodypsyche for a few years, 2017 marked the first time I started offering it as an online ecourse/circle, and it was also the first time I realized this healing work had a process that created a pretty awesome product – the rough draft of your memoir.
I’ve offered the Personal Mythmaking process twice in 2017 and I feel like I’m not the creator so much as the facilitator of a process that keeps appearing in front of me. I’m interested in continuing to refine the process and broaden the reach of it.
Offerings/Audience: Slowly, slowly, people have been signing up for my newsletter, mostly via my free ecourse offerings, such as Honouring Your Grief, Honouring Your Anger, Honouring the Darkness, Not Sweet, and Outline Your Memoir. I love all of this work, but it’s exhausting to keep creating and launching it, so in 2017 I stepped away from promoting it.
However, I did decide to offer Honouring The Darkness as a winter solstice gift for the second time, and it was, again, beautifully well received. I’ll keep doing this every year.
Wild Elixir Podcast. The interview format and subject matter I chose includes some of the things that interest me most (traditional territory acknowledgements, ancient stories, relationships with creativity and to the body) and the conversations that arose with the women who said yes to my invitation are so deep, honest and uplifting.
I absolutely love creating and offering this podcast. I published 28 episodes in 2017 and it felt so good. I have a fairly devoted listenership, and I get feedback that tells me I’m offering something of value so I’m going to keep going.
Writing: I continued to write regularly to you in my newsletter. Some of that material shows up on this blog but most of it stays exclusive to the newsletter. I like the twice monthly pace of it, and will continue.
Painting: I’ve had a 100 portrait painting project on the go for 2 years (I’ve got about 18 more before I finish it.) I had a chance to work on it during a 1 week artist residency experience at The Ou Gallery in July, and it felt soooooo good to settle into an art-making creative space.
Dance/performance: I offered a very short improvisational performance combined with an art show of my portraits, combined with a goodbye party at The Ou Gallery in July. It was terrifying and good.
Parenting: I feel so blessed to have a magnificent daughter. She’s 15, and all of the work I’ve put into developing her skills in resilience, critical thinking, kindness and creativity are blossoming. Of course we have our teenager/mother moments, but for the most part I feel I can trust that she will be fine, and I can keep letting go of what I’ve felt the need to control and watch her make her way in the world with support, but no helicoptering.
Family: Moving to Vernon has brought a lot more family connection into my life. I visit my 94 year old Gramma about once every 2 months (she lives 1 hour away), and I get to see my 2 local cousins and their extended loved ones often. In particular, I love getting to spend time with my little nephews (technically my first cousins once removed) – age 3.5 and 5 – who are so sweet. It’s so good to have young children in my life again. They’re fun little people; they really lift my spirits and remind me that the world is a mysterious magical wonderful place to explore.
My 34 year old youngest brother was dramatically diagnosed with a kidney disease and relocated to Vancouver for treatment in early December, and although that’s scary, it’s also brought him more into my life as well.
What didn’t go well in 2017
Revenue/Money: I spent the year trying to increase my income by juggling jobs – one was supposed to be a steady 4 days a week in carpentry as an employee (but ended up being much more haphazard than I’d hoped for), the rest was self-employed: working part-time with my Hellerwork clients and teaching Personal Mythmaking School. I also committed to supporting my daughter’s efforts to land an acting gig, which is an expensive process (acting coach, headshots, trips to Vancouver for auditions, etcetera.)
The ups and downs were dramatic, as I took too much on, got exhausted, spent the summer trying to rest (but worrying too much about money to relax), moved, and then spent the autumn trying to establish myself in my new town. This included taking on a temporary 8 week job on an assembly line stacking and wrapping tree seedlings for the treeplanting industry and although the job was filled with nice people it was painful hard work in a noisy environment, and not enough money to feel it’s worth it to do again. However, I now have a deeper sympathy for people doing assembly line work full-time year-round. It’s brutal.
In the end, I didn’t make any more, or any less, than the year before, which was the exact situation situation I had been trying to shift out of.
Discouragement and Excessive Worry: I’m definitely prone to it. In part because I’m a single solo mother and I’m self-employed, and thus juggle many things, and in part because it’s my nature, I easily plunge into feelings of deep discouragement and isolation, particularly when I’m working really hard yet can’t seem to shift things on my own.
Health: chronic stress started taking it’s toll on me physically (see money/single motherhood challenges). I know my dysregulated nervous system and high sensitivity are exacerbating my health, and it’s reflected in some uncomfortable symptoms.
Love/Joy/Pleasure: Because of the discouragement and worry I haven’t allowed myself enough play or fun. I definitely didn’t tried dating in 2017, even though I’d like to meet someone kind and caring. The process of trying to meet someone simply feels too daunting and decidedly not fun.
Focus: It may seem obvious, but it’s taken me a while to discover than when things feel stressful in the money, love, pleasure and worry departments, my focus suffers. I’ve had a lot of overwhelm and distraction over this past year, which has led to huge wastes of the preciously spare uninterrupted time I use to create and craft what I want to do and be in the world.
However, I’ve had a few experiences of really letting myself indulge (most recently by going cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the magical wonderland of Sovereign Lake and, surprise, surprise, when I make room for fun everything else comes together with so much more ease, focus and joy.
Book: I’ve had a book brewing inside of me for over 5 years. I continued to resist it this year, which is actually kind of tiring. I can always sense it’s presence, pushing and asking to be released.
Community loss: although my move is 100% positive, I am sad to have left behind some very very dear friends and loosely knit communities that I enjoyed participating in. Being new to town, I’m in the process of finding and making friends, and searching out community, and that just takes time. So, I miss my friends.
Coming up in 2018
Singularity of focus: I need to focus on being more focused. Diminishing distractions.
What this means is I need to schedule in more activities that have no other purpose than fun and being in my body. For the next 3 months that will definitely be cross country skiing. Then, hiking and possibly some biking too. Dancing is on the list too, once I find a place that has dancing available 🙂
Less screen time: Coming along with the them of focus, I’ve noticed that I’m wasting far more time on the internet.
I have a huge desire to get rid of the data on my smartphone and the internet at home. At this point, it’s not a practical decision as I need the internet for most of my work and there isn’t a convenient co-work space here in town (nor do I want to take on that expense.)
However, although I really love the tools and creativity apps my smartphone offers me, I’m noticing that my daughter and I are too easily sucked into our screens at home, and all of the pleasurable things creative things we used to do together in the evening don’t happen as much because time seems to just warp by when screens are so readily available.
Plus my eyes and brain literally feel scrambled with too much time on the internet.
For now I’ll focus on diminishing internet/social media time, use self control apps more often, whilst also increasing my efficiency and at some point see if it’s practical and possible to eliminate home internet and phone data (fingers crossed).
Getting more straightforward in my offerings: I intend to stick with Personal Mythmaking School and work on spreading the work about this healing and transformational memoir-writing process as well as my one-on-one services in memoir writing. I really need to resist the temptation to panic-create and get distracted by all the ideas.
My courses: Besides focusing on Personal Mythmaking, I want integrate all of my other work and smaller ecourses into simple straightforward in-person writing circles. That’s all.
My newsletter: Just keep writing. I get a lot of pleasure out of this twice monthly deadline, and in sharing as honestly and clearly as possible.
My painting: I plan on finishing my 100 portrait series. Doing the paintings actually makes me incredibly happy; my soul feels nourished. Additionally, these portraits are sourced from the StyleLikeU’s What’s Underneath interview series, and those interviews are so inspiring it feels like a delicious treat to watch the 10 minute videos then paint them. Yay!
Artist residencies: I’ve had a hunger in my heart to go do artist residencies and focus on my art for so many years. I’m not at the point of being able to pursue that lifestyle (my goal is 3 years in the future, when my daughter is out of high school and at university) but I can see about finding one small affordable one somewhere and just doing one this year.
More Love/Joy/Pleasure: It might be nice to start dating again? We’ll see….. Although I would love to invite love and a partner back into my heart, I get discouraged with the online dating world (and I encounter very few single eligible men in my ‘real’ life). We’ll see. I’m circling around this one.
Health: more activities that involve receiving are part of my plan (see love/joy/pleasure, home and beauty, and art-making) as well as finding a way to access more therapeutic services, massages and time in nature. And mastering the art of worrying less. I know as I focus on these goals the rest will sort itself out and my system will calm down.
Home environment: I’ve set up a cosy little apartment home with my daughter, mostly by thrifting things, and it feels sooooooo good to make my space beautiful. We’ve got a little ways to go before it feels fully homey and established, but I’m enjoying the fun of thifting and treasure-hunting and plan to keep doing that.
Things on my wishlist to treasurehunt for: some gorgeous wool rugs. A really nice bedframe. 2 more bookshelves. More candle holders. Beeswax candles. No more wool blankets (my collection is getting ridiculous, I love them so much!)
Beauty: I have so many pretty jewelry and adornments and clothes that I love and never wear. This is the year for just dressing as I please, even if it’s over the top or different. Because I can, and I want to, clearly, or I wouldn’t have collected so much pretty in my closet. So this year is about dressing and feeling aesthetically satisfied.
Raising and supporting my daughter: I’m hoping my daughter books an acting gig this year, and I’ll continue supporting her efforts for at least another year, then we’ll re-evaluate.
Paying down my student loans: Yes, I still have them. I had wanted to pay them off by the age of 40 but that may not happen. However, my goal to make more money is in part propelled by my desire to pay off those student loans. It’s really time.
What’s to come?
My newsletter, Sunday Morning Pleasures, twice a month.
Personal Mythmaking School, twice a year. Next round – February 19th. Right now the price is $997 Canadian, payment plans are available, as are scholarships, and it’s now a lifetime membership. Start writing your memoir with me, and healing your lifestories, with a little myth and creativity injected in, all at the same time!
Writing Through Grief writing circles – one in-person version in Vernon, starting February 6th. Another one on-line, starting in 2 weeks (if you’d like to join this circle, we have room for about 5 more people – let me know by contacting me here.
Podcast I love the conversations I have with women on the Wild Elixir Podcast so I’ll keep going and commit to another year of it. It’s a lot of work to self-produce though, and I’d rather hire professionals for some of it, so I’ve created a Patreon to cover those costs. If you’ve enjoyed the podcast please do support it with a donation of some sort here.
Time reading and camping on wild Sombrio Beach in the summer.
The essential conclusions
This has been a fantastic audit of myself.
My conclusions are that I worry too much and take too much on, get overwhelmed as a result, but that deep down I know exactly what I need to do to thrive. Which is:
- Pare down to the essentials
- Remember that what I offer helps people and has value
- Commit to doing the work
- Keep going
- Make plenty of time for soulwork (my artmaking/writing/painting) and physical pleasure and play (skiing, walking in forests, dancing)
I’m excited. 2018 feels alive with possibility. I feel buoyed up in a different way than I ever have – more resolved, more committed, more aligned and focused.
PS: I’m curious, as always. If you write your own State of the Bodypsyche/Union for your website/blog, reply to this email so I can read yours. Oh, and do read Paul’s, since his writing and invitation to write one catalyzed my version.