Things are continuing to move forward, outward and expanding all around me and this year continues to feel so much lighter and brighter than the last one. Things are still shifting around in nearly every aspect of my life and the feeling from Yule persists.
I've made some progress already with my freshly begun journey in SouLodge as we hunker down with Bear and her medicine and work with the restorative, introspective magic of Winter. This month, for me, is all about self-loving, self-healing and taking the time to feel restive and restored which may sound a little counterproductive to the things I have planned for this year. But, I'm going to go with it and ride the flow of the season and trust that even with slowing down and going inwards, I will ultimately be moving forward. After all, if I can't heal and love myself, if I can't tend to my own needs then how am I ever going to do so for anyone or anything else? If I can't understand and converse with myself, I can't possibly expect to be any good at doing so with other people (or critters).
So, I've been doing a lot of journaling and a good bit of drawing as I take my time with this journey. When I journal, I don't try to phrase the answers like an essay (something my perpetual student and annoyingly perfectionist note-taking personality aspects aren't too fond of) and just let the thoughts slip from my mind, through my hand and on to the page. I haven't gone back to read anything over again, but I'm sure that when I do in a few weeks, months or years time I'll notice how very far I've come since those initial pages.
I've also tried my hand at following the guided meditations and journeywork in the course with varying levels of success. In the past, I've touched on my difficulties with meditation and how I have a hard time focusing and visualizing things - something people seem to find odd, given my creative nature. But, I assure you that when I do these things, I don't see movies on the back of my eye lids, I'm not transported to another plane of existence or being and I don't smell things. And for as long as I've been attempting these exercises in my spiritual practice I've felt like an abject failure for not having things go that way. My time with bear and my sharing with others in the SouLodge has helped me be kind to myself about that, to understand firmly that it isn't always that way for everyone and that what happens for me is just as valid as if those things DID happen for me.
And it's been a tremendous eye opener for me. To know that the sensations, wisps of thoughts, emotions and flickers of images that I see are valid, that these are simply how my mind and heart process the experience. I'm learning to relax and let my intuition and imagination work together to present the wisdom I seek in the best possible way for me to digest it. I've also given up on jumping from position to grab a book and take exact notes because I feel that sort of shoos everything away. Oh, that note taking habit is so damn hard to break.
And all of this has helped rekindle my other spiritual practices after they took a bit of a nap during the past few months. My eye has been skyward more often, toes in the wet grass, really relishing the sensations of the outdoors and the oncoming spring energy that I can feel buzzing -literally with the bees already being out and about- around me. These times of resting and inward travel have opened up new conversations with myself about the irrational guilt I sometimes feel for taking time to veg and do my own thing rather than caring for the plethora of things that I feel need to be taken care of instead (housework, work-work, arbitrary bullshit on the internet). I'm learning to be kinder and gentler with myself and to allow myself guilt free time for self nourishing, friends, family, fur babes and fun. And while there are still times that I fall into old habits and beat myself up over things, it's getting lighter and better. The road out from the darkness isn't a short straight path, but it does lead outwards and is worth getting up after a stumble, brushing myself off and continuing onwards - bravely.
And if these are the only lessons I take from SouLodge, then the money will have been well worth it. But as there are still 11 1/2 months to go, well, we'll see what other lessons and growth await.
P.S. A few people in my offline circle have complained that I'm 'too much of a hippie sometimes.' To those folks I'd like to say, before we go any further in our relationships, don't let the door hit you where the good lord split you! Life is far too short to waste time on people who want to change you for the wrong reasons. Either you like me or you don't, I'm not going to expend energy trying to sway you either way.