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  • Betsy Grace

Running Into A New Year (Week 7-8)

Updated: 2 days ago

With gratitude to Lucille Clifton - whose poem always sings through my mind on repeat during this season:


i am running into a new year

and the old years blow back

like a wind

that i catch in my hair

like strong fingers like

all my old promises and

it will be hard to let go

of what i said to myself

about myself

when i was sixteen and

twentysix and thirtysix

even thirtysix but

i am running into a new year

and i beg what i love and

what i leave to forgive me


The end-of-year winter holidays were a jumble of joyful gatherings, quiet pajama days, extreme weather, getting sick, exchanging gifts, dressing up, eating (and drinking) too much, and generally feeling overwhelmed and disoriented. But we made it, we've landed in 2023. Welcome.


Making


After I finished and sent off the last batch of mini-quilt ornaments for my Stitchcraft loves, I started another batch - this time, Friendship Stars. I'm going to try putting together a tutorial for these - so have been taking some process photos along the way too.





This is what the choosing fabric part looks like:



Writing


My journal generated a bunch of new questions - juicy stuff to sort through in the coming days - including:

  • Which of my needs do I want to meet with work?

  • What role do I want work to play in my life?

  • What does the word "work" mean in this context? Is it just whatever tasks I get paid to do? Or does it refer to a specific set of activities I engage in (meetings, emails, facilitation)? Activities that contribute to a specific purpose?

  • Could I create a simpler way to organize my thinking about the relationship between my time and my needs (including financial sustainability)?

  • What ideas are calling to me right now? What ideas excite me most?

  • What worries or fears are dogging my footsteps? Do I understand them, and where they're coming from?

 

I have also been writing to myself (a practice I learned from Valarie Kaur's "wise woman" journaling practice) about my ongoing struggle to inhabit my body...


"Your body is deserving of respect and kindness and care. Tending to your body's health will support you in every area of your life - managing stress/anxiety, having clear thoughts, getting good rest, tending to your energy. Before you throw your mind and heart into new challenges, turn your love and attention toward your own body, your skin and muscles and bones and the tissues that make up you. How well are you feeding your body? Are you getting the nutrients you need to thrive? How are you tending to your body's strength and flexibility? How might you do more to keep your blood flowing, to keep yourself strong?

I know you have fear around this - fear that you will fixate/obsess about your softness - about the curves of your stomach and the way you look in clothes. That you will make up a measuring stick that you'll use to beat yourself with self-judgment and criticism. That you will fail or be weak or that, in beginning, you will feel shame about how challenging it is to begin again, and what that means about the state you've been in for the last couple years.

Move toward that fear. Let that discomfort all the way in. Ask it questions. What is it protecting? That is also part of the process of healing your relationship with yourself, and with your body. I know you fear that discipline around eating and exercise stems from self-hatred, or feeds into self-hatred once you get going. It gets so easily distorted. Perhaps you could start by beginning and ending each step with love. What might a loving, compassionate next (first?) step look like? What loving, compassionate step can you take today?"


 

And of course, because New Years, I spent time reflecting on 2022 and looking forward to 2023. The year past organized itself into three big themes: big swings, cherishing friendship, and letting go. On letting go:


"Letting go sounds like a process of relaxing and releasing - but how I've experienced it is more like exerting significant effort to maintain internal steadiness through constant spasms of anxiety and self-doubt. Choosing, again and again, to trust myself, even when I'm afraid and can't see what will be next."


And looking forward:


"Looking ahead, there is so much still unknown. I know I want to keep going on this journey of integrating the various threads of my life together - integration feels like an important guiding theme. I want to experiment with bringing Holy Time, my thinking work, my making work, and my fun stuff all together into one big pot and see what true things emerge from that messy process. I think experimentation will be important - taking an attitude of 'try it and see how it goes, see what I learn' to all the new things coming, rather than trying to see the finish from the starting line. And I want to continue to lean in to trusting myself and my instincts, to staying true to myself, to being authentic. I want to bring what is true and authentic in me to the world, and trust that that will lead me down the right path. I am going to need some new metrics to guide me in this - I know that when I get unsure, I tend to look to others for validation, and this year is going to be an important test in seeking validation from within, of measuring the success of my experiments by how true they felt to me, by how they helped me learn as I develop new patterns and a new way of showing up in the world."



Watching


The Menu (2022) - Ralph Fiennes leads a blackly comedic service industry revenge fantasy come to life - which doubles as a mournful song, a kamikaze war cry for art and beauty to triumph just for a moment over the black hole of commodification. It's pretty fucked up, very funny and deeply committed to its particular thing - I loved it.






 

The Banshees of Inisherin (2022) - Gorgeous as a renaissance painting, set in an enchanted place in the moment just before the world was destroyed, two (former) friends struggle to define the parameters of their shared future. The dilemma they play out is surprisingly psychologically/emotionally complex, often funny, sometimes shocking. The combination of elements is haunting.




 

Glass Onion (2022) - A delightfully unpredictable and very funny skewer the rich whodunit mystery. Janelle Monae lights it up.






 

Prey (2022) - A pretty fucking awesome Predator movie. Beautifully shot, good action - and a fantastic protagonist in clever and tough AF 18th century Comanche warrior, Naru.



 

Also on-screen at our place:





Reading


This exchange from "The Red Hand Files," Nick Cave's Q&A catalogue, really moved me. A quote:

Perhaps the song attempts to present the idea that the everyday human gesture is always a heartbeat away from the miraculous – that ultimately we make things happen through our actions, way beyond our understanding or intention; that our seemingly small ordinary human acts have untold consequences; that what we do in this world means something; that we are not nothing; and that our most quotidian human actions by their nature burst the seams of our intent and spill meaningfully and radically through time and space, changing everything. Night Raid tells us that our deeds, no matter how insignificant they may feel, are replete with meaning, and of vast consequence, and that they constantly impact upon the unfolding story of the world, whether we know it or not.
 

I'm savoring Ross Gay's Inciting Joy - I just read the 2nd chapter yesterday and had to stop to cry for 10 minutes. I'm also reading my way, slowly, through Ada Limon's poetry collection, The Carrying and read another short story from Ted Chiang's collection, Stories of Your Life and Others, called "Seventy Two Characters." I'm still deciding whether I think it was really cool or kind of goofy. The premise is fascinating - that the energy of life is animated by language, by assigning the right name - so the field of nomenclature in this version of the world is the center of science, religion, commerce, etc. It's set in a very white men masters of the universe moment in late 19th-century Europe somewhere, probably England (maybe it's specified, I don't remember) - and though the protagonist is a Marxist type who wants to use the powers of nomenclature to open up new opportunities for people trapped in poverty, he finds himself tangled up in a plot to save the human race (because they figure out that humanity's capacity to reproduce has a rapidly expiring shelf life...) that is led and funded by some real "maintain social order/everyone in their place" types. There is a surprising amount of focus on sperm and ovum and I found it hard to envision the partially-living functional beings that are littered throughout the story. I don't know. I guess it was not my favorite.


Also


It snowed 15" in two days this week. The girls and Justin all had a snow day on Wednesday and we spent a good portion of the afternoon just goofing off in the snow like puppies:




Holy Time - Heartbeats Away From Miraculous


This week's experience--with words from Mario Benedetti, Nick Cave, Hayan Charara, Hagit Grossman and Kate Baer; dance from J'Em (Jakub Jakoubek and Emeline Rochefeuille) and music from Arthur Russell--is available here.


I have developed a small obsession with J'Em in the last week or so - and there is a second dance of theirs I really love that very nearly toppled the Bohemian Rhapsody dance to be featured. If you're hungry for more, check it out here.



Holy Time is a weekly online gathering - Thursdays, 8:45pm CT on zoom (https://zoom.us/j/94849428936).

All are welcome.


Contact me at bgmatheson@gmail.com with questions or for more information.


Soundtrack



 

Love,

Betsy

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