Looking At Reflections

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I am getting excited about this whole solstice thing, that’s happening December 21st. The solstice always gets me worked up, the equinox too.

I remember the first time I learned about the equinox. I was seven and it was a few weeks away from Easter. My sister and I were well known card makers in our family, or atleast we would have been if our small family ever remembered to send them out to the extended bunch (for any of the fam reading this, we were making them.. it’s the thought that counts, anyway). We made cards for every occasion,  appropriate or not. Cards for Christmas, Halloween, Fourth of July, Weddings, anniversaries, birthdays. We once made a card for our new baby cousin whose name we had misinterpreted. A lovely picture of a baby with a full head of black hair greased back was drawn with color crayon and the name ‘Elvis’ written in neat handwriting across the top. It was handed to Dad who hung it on the fridge, where it stayed for months. Ruby and I assumed it was just awaiting an envelope, but when we finally asked why It was still hanging he was confused. Upon further explanation from his card making daughters Dad finally gave us the correct pronunciation and spelling of our newest relation, Aldous. That is an example of one of the inappropriate cards we produced.

To get on with the equinox story, though, Dad wasn’t known for a huge amount of holiday spirit. He supported our interest in celebrating all of the holidays our school friends liked regardless, but he was more than willing to share his knowledge of all the other holidays he knew to be celebrated throughout the world. A suggestion was made when I presented him with the question of what should be written on the Easter card I was working on. Dad thought for a minute and looked down at this younger, shorter, version of me, and went on to tell about the equinox. That’s the first I’d heard of it. He said that I would impress the grandparents if I were to write ‘Happy Equinox’ on the card, and I was all about impressing, so that’s what I did. I made happy equinox cards. One in particular that I remember had a picture of an elephant drawn upon it, because both ‘equinox’ and ‘elephant’ were both big words that began with ‘E.’

Since that first time I learned of the equinox it has fascinated me. And now, being a grown woman who doesn’t much enjoy holidays myself, I find that I appreciate the yearly markers more and more. They are scientific celebrations to appreciate while the rest of my friends of family are enjoying this time of year for other reasons; it provides me with a way to relate. Anyway, I’m excited for the 21st, expect some love from Little Wing and I on that day –we both celebrate. I’m thinking a midnight dance under the moon here in tropical Cali, we shall see.

I recieved a bit of ‘holiday cheer’ yesterday, or at least that’s what Andrea dubbed it. While running errands with Andrea I had to stop at the post office. I had three postcards to send off so Andrea decide to wait and read in the truck while I ran in. I had hoped to make it snappy, but the office was flush with costumers, as Andrea had predicted. Nothing I could do about it, so I decided to adopt a smile and wait at the end of the line, which was hanging out the door a bit. It was about three minutes of waiting befor a woman, who had been writing at the counter, approached me. She was in her thirties and a customer, not an employee. “You need a stamp?” She asked.

I held up my postcards, “I need three.”

“Here you go,” she said as she shoved her sheet of stamps into my hand. It had seven stamps still intact.

“Are you sure?!”

“Yeah, take them.” She could almost have been mistaken for being rough and rude if she hadn’t been being so kind. Her tone was gruff and she didn’t even have a hint of a smile.

“Thank you!” I called after her as shs dissappeared out the door. I assume she was a woman who waited in line for too long and was frustrated, andooking to get rid of these pesky extra stamps. She was considerate and probably wanted to save someone else the same frustration. Whatever the story, no matter the motive, it was nice. And it saved me about fifteen minutes. Plus, I now have four shiny stamps in my wallet. Merry Solstice!

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Yesterday morning in rainy SoCal.

This is one of the reasons I like this time of year, everyone is filled with their own holiday cheer, which they spread like strawberry jam. This was actually the same reason I disliked this time of year in the past. I was (and still am) of the opinion that people are nice ALL the time if given the chance, it isn’t just the holiday season.. unless we expect it to be. However I think we notice it more around the solstice, because we have to for sanity’s sake.

The solstice is great for keeping sanity (and requiring we do so). It can be used in one of the greatest, trickiest, tricks to avoiding SAD when the winter months come along. Seasonal Affective Disorder is something that most everyone gets as the days get shorter, and the weather colder. It made an appearance on the show Northern Exposure, and that’s how many people (including myself) first learned how to identify it. The characters in Northern Exposure were seen toting atound sun lamps throughout the episode, and that isn’t to far from the mark. In Minnesota I knew a fair amount of sun lamp users, but the I found another method, this solstice trick thing. Sometimes  being poor and host to little space is the mother of invention. Necessity provides many comforts that might not be comfortable otherwise. What I’m trying to say is tge solstice can be used like a bandaid to cure the woos of  SAD; I’ll tell you how. The solstice marks the end to short days and the start to longer days, it is all a process that takes time, but if one starts at the fall equinox and starts counting the days until the night they get to dance under the moon it makes it seem a lot cheerier. When the solstice hits one can start counting days til the spring equinox, and before anyone even knows it the sun is staying for longer, the cold is melting away, and the solstice-counter has forgot about the winter solstice for another few months.

You know, it might not be as effective against the Affective Disorder as I think it is. Maybe I shouldn’t start marketing just yet, but you know, it works for me.

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A winter night in SoCal.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to do my first barefoot winter solstice dance. I’m also looking forward the the new year, another important part of the solstice season. 2014 is going to give way to 2015, no complaints here. Im looking for a place to dance on that evening too (this season is a great excuse to excersise the toes.. and feet, and soul). 2015 is the year I turn 22. A birthday on the road. Last year at solstice time I was helping my wonderful roommate and her amazing family set up a Christmas tree. This year I’m in SoCal helping my wonderful host and her family decorate the B&B for Christmas. How amazing. I wouldn’t have ever thought.

I think this time is the time for self reflection. I think the holiday and solstice spirit is really just a time to look back and see our family and friends. The time when we all think about how long the winter months are and consider what it is the most important people in our life could benefit from in this cold season; what could aid them in their hibernation process. Regardless of what it is people choose to celebrate this time of year, I think we all know the effects of less sun, and we wish to show our affection for those who have Seasonal Affective Disorder (which, we shouldn’t kid ourselves, is almost everybody. Even here in SoCal it is apparent). I dislike consumerism and gift exchanges, but even I am known to send out postcards to those I love. I somehow just happen to crochet a hat, which I don’t need, and then manage to pass it on to ten year old who I have found a new friendship with. Giving is still one of the things that happens regardless of the disdain for consumerism.

Getting is also unavoidable. Here I am, surrounded by fantastic people. Lots of intelligence, and kindness, and love, and I have to say,  I am more than willing to pocket some of it. Then I look outwards. I am hearing all these wonderful things from all of the people surrounding me. People who are hundreds of miles away, and are still sending me the love they have. It is a wonderful thing to be a party too.

I have to admit, this years SAD has hit me, despite my tricky tricks. It started with the shorter days. It is hard ride comfortably when one knows that they are battling time. The thought process takes hold and reminds me it will be a chilly ride if I start any earlier than 10:00 am and I need to have tent set up by 5:00 pm. Under those conditions, so far away from home, it feels as though the world is no longer in one’s favor. It was easy enough to shake off. I found that if I just adopted a positive attitude it was fine, but the thought was still there, like a gopher in a pasture. It was unwanted and knew it, so it tunneled deeper to hide under ground. Making holes in my thought process, that I had to avoid stepping into for fear of breaking a leg. The only thing that could get the gopher was a bunch of firecrackers down its tunnel (this long metaphor is going somewhere, I promise). I found that the kind words of friends were like those firecrackers. Being openly welcomed into this home and expected to spend the holidays was a big firecracker.

I left Minnesota to avoid the winter. Last year was hard. I spent the winter months driving to and from my weekend job at a coffee shop, and my weekdays to and from my art teaching gig, that was right across the street from the free city studio space I had the honor of helping pilot. I worked with coffee and art, that’s what I did. It was like a dream. Still, somehow, the SAD managed to creep in. I kept it at bay. I had a 22 that I aimed at that gopher and I got a few good shots in, but it was still there. I didn’t know why. I managed to get over it though. Solstice time, dancing, New Years, dancing, my birthday, dancing, and a new motorcycle in the spring (right around the equinox). It was all good. My goal was to avoid it entirely this year. Well, that didn’t happen, but I do think I’ve managed to make some peace with it.

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This picture isn't exactly relevant, it is just lovely. I wanted to share it with you. It s a lamp from a place called Fez in Morocco. Pretty ain't it?

Many things are both delightful and horrendous at the same time. The solstice is a time of joy for me, but the unavoidable SAD is not. I tried riding away from it and I found that it still found me. That’s not the end of the story though. I rode away from all the comforts of home to take on my first big adventure, and I did. I rode away from all the people I loved to find more, and I did. I have found so many. I rode away from my art supplies and found that I love to write. I rode away from old truck and found that I really like having a vehicle that starts all year long, with no dependance on season. I rode a little farther into my life and found there was much more that I hadn’t known yet. I’m so happy to learn.

The yang has yin, or that yin has a yang, or something. It is all about adding more, not subtracting from. More life is a good thing. And solstice is a great time to come to that conclusion, that’s what I’m saying. I’m saying that the solution to SAD is to surround yourself with love, both giving and getting. Thinking of others when it feels like the world is cold is great way to feel warmer. Remembering that others in the same boat is a great way to make them feel warmer.

I very much dislike consumerism and STUFF, but that’s not at all the same as the giving and getting I’m talking about. To quote my idol “Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store, Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!” Well whatever, insert the words ‘holiday season’ in for the word ‘Christmas’ and you have my point completely. Self reflection may be as effective for you as it is for me in burying the gopher.

Self reflection and dancing. Whatever. Ones the burying of the burrowing gopher, the other is the firecracker.

On a different note, I am currently working on a solstice card for friends family, and you faithful readers. It won’t have elephants, because that just doesn’t make sense. Elephants are inappropriate for the celebration.

Three more days til the Solstice!

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