The Turning of the Year

Happy New Year!

When did yours begin? When did the last end?

One of the things I have been reflecting on the last few weeks has been how following the Wheel of the Year, the eight seasonal festivals recognizing different shifts through the year, has changed my perspective on the seasons and time. Rarely do these festivals come on a specific day, and even then traditionally begin on sundown the day before, such as Samhain on October 31, and extend to the sundown of the next day. Yet, while we may recognize Samhain, or the solstices or equinoxes happening on one day, the energy and feeling of time of year extend for several days or weeks adjacent.

So it has been for me this year, perhaps more than any before. While the Gregorian calendar has us considering the end of the year on December 31, for me it began approaching the Winter Solstice, or Alban Arthan. I had been quarantined with COVID the week before. The days had already become incredibly short. The nights so very long. Our son was out of school for the year. Christmas and holiday presents were in and under the tree. Friends were celebrating Hanukah. We were already preparing for the events of celebration that would last from December 21st through January 1.

This shift in perspective allowed me to slow down, to the point of getting a true feeling of closing out the year.

Along with it, a couple of other things happened.

The Oakheart Seed Group held its first ritual event, an auspicious milestone given the season. We met and celebrated the end of the year and the beginning of a new one, the first spark of light returning to the land. It was a beautiful first group event, and I look forward to more.

I also got to share my story on OBOD Chosen Chief Eimear Burke’s Fireside Chats on the OBOD YouTube channel. Eimear had originally asked me to do it a couple of years ago, but I didn’t feel ready. I didn’t feel I was at a point where I could snap a line and tell something that felt whole. I still felt like I was under serious renovation. She invited me again a couple of months ago, and with the move and all that happened in 2022, I finally felt ready.

What happened was just over two hours of talking about my life, Druidry, then sharing poetry and a short writing I had published on this blog. Eimear was a wonderful and gracious host, and talking with her was natural. It’s one thing to be open and vulnerable with a couple of people, another to a group, and another still to be with anyone who may watch a video online. So far, I have received complete support from viewers, family, and friends. It has been a kind and gentle validation of my path. I may be back for another episode in about six months to talk about other topics!

This interview kind of snaps the line at the end of 2022, and even this period of transition after moving to Portland. My career break is over, I return to work Monday at a new company. It’s a new year by almost all calendars (I don’t really follow the Lunar calendar, but a significant population of the world does, so it’s on my radar), and slowly, we will be leaving the darkness back into another season of light. I have accomplished a lot this year, and a lot of growth came with it, another step taken.

With that, the new year this year means starting another step. Many things are lined up, and the path ahead as far as I can tell is clear. I know there are going to be challenges, but I believe I’m on the right track. I couldn’t ask for a better beginning for a new year.

If you’re reading this, I hope your new year is lined up well. If it isn’t, that’s ok. The seasons keep turning, and there is always ample opportunity to begin to set things in order. May you find your path, and may you find the right people to walk along with you.

When I get quiet…

This blog is about personal reflections and whatever I feel writing publicly about in the moment. It’s not about personal growth. It’s not about politics. It’s not about building a brand, personal or professional. So there are times I have nothing to say here.

It doesn’t mean I’m silent. It means I’m working on something, most often several things.

A couple of months ago, a partner and I broke up. I did it in a horrible way, and I said things in the process I regret. I don’t say that lightly, because I don’t regret things very often. Usually there is something to learn or take from an experience, but everything I could have learned from it I knew going through it. I just didn’t do better, to my own expectations or any reasonably kind vision of how a breakup should go. So that’s regret.

Part of the last couple of months have been spent processing it, grieving it, and thinking about how I can do better in the future. Apologies, even immediately offered, don’t reconcile pain already caused from cruel things said meant to hurt in the moment. We deserved a better ending than the one I gave us.

The rest of life has come together well in Portland. I have a solid social circle forming. I’m in a regular DnD group. Partnering with others, I’m starting a Druidry seed group. I’m in the hiring process with a couple of different professional opportunities, and hope to have something to announce soon. My son has lost his first tooth, and he’s doing well in school. I’ve explored, hiked, read books, completed another journal, and still doing some other writing as well, thinking about my book project and if I want to pivot it to another format. I’ve written more poetry I need to organize, and heaven help me, maybe get a little more serious about it.

As summer turned to fall, and fall has already begun shifting to winter, I’ve updated my wardrobe for the first time in years with warmer clothes. No more California winters in shorts.

We made it through the election season, all kinds of other turmoil, and I closed my twitter account like many others.

I was worried about moving here, nervous about meeting people and starting a new life. I’m glad I did.

The Last Month of Venturing…

The Chinese Garden at Huntington Library and Gardens

It has been a month since my last post. Here is what I’ve been doing:

The last month I spent much time retracted and journaling. Writing for myself is a little different than writing here on my personal blog, and very different than writing for others. I get a lot of emotional processing done by journaling, and it’s something I suggest for anyone. Personal writing is healing, and the last month I’ve realized how far I’ve come on my journey recovering from past trauma, PTSD, and the negative pressure I placed on myself to counter undiagnosed ADHD.

I spent a week in LA with my partner, enjoying visits to Huntington Library and Gardens, the LA Opera to see Aida on opening night, and the much lauded and admittedly awesome Alamo Drafthouse for The Northman and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. Our transition to a long distance relationship has been challenging, but this visit really paid off with relaxed enjoyment and connection.

Huntington Library and Gardens is incredible, and well worth the visit! It takes more than a day to see it all. The Chinese and Japanese Gardens are incredible, and the Herb and Rose Gardens were fascinating. The Mapping Fiction exhibition was superb, and the Library Exhibition Hall with a Gutenberg Bible and the Ellesmere Chaucer were uniquely enjoyable. We did not get to see the Australian and Desert Gardens, sadly, nor many of the art exhibits. Notably enjoyable in the Chinese and Japanese Gardens were the Penjing and Bonsai displays.

Chinese Penjing display, a miniature forest landscape

We also visited the last day of the Renaissance Pleasure Faire, my first time there, and I purchased an epic hat from Bat Hatter Dude.

At Renaissance Pleasure Faire with my new hat by Bad Hatter Dude

Coming back to San Jose, my wife and I notified our landlord of our intent to move out by July 31, kicking off the official move. We’re working on cleaning out the house and looking for a place in the Portland, OR, area. It just needs to be somewhere temporary, not a forever home, but cheap enough to get us started and in a location we can enjoy both the city and the surrounding natural beauty.

I’ve started looking at work, thinking about what a return to work looks like. I’m landing on freelance and contract work, maybe some consultant work. Like many, I want more freedom and flexibility from the workplace, and it will be nice to have the flexibility to work from anywhere. I have range from data center hardware consulting, technical writing and communication, to various other content work, so I’m not going to lock myself down to the old niche just yet. However, if anyone needs consulting expertise on data center hardware serviceability or procurement, I’ll be available soon.

I am also catching up with friends before we leave, especially now that I’m out of this shorter period of isolation. It is bittersweet to leave now, especially as I’ve made friends and found community during COVID, in unlikely times. If you’re in the Bay Area and would like to get some outdoor coffee before mid-July, please reach out.

I continue to walk near daily, and I enjoy walking meditation particularly. Walking meditation is a great skill to develop. It provides feelings of harmony with your own little area, seeing the changes from day to day, week to week, particularly in the spring to summer. Summer solstice, what we refer to as Alban Hefin in Druidry, is just around the corner, and it is nice to enjoy the longer days and cool fade to night.

Sometimes my 5 year old joins me on walks, and he is quite the director of photography.

My son asking me to zoom in on this ball from a tree

I usually place pictures from my walks on my Instagram account. Please like and follow there for more.

Thank you for reading these words. Bookmark, and come back again soon. I have plans for this space as I return to work, and it will continue to be the area for personal insights and musings. My book is still in development, and more poetry will be coming.

Until then, may you find and share peace, harmony, and love in your life.

Getting sick while travelling in the time of COVID

It started in my chest. First a tickle. Then a little pain.

Was that my heart? Nope, all looks good there…

A cough. Uh oh.

That night, I wheeze going to sleep.

I wake up to a full chest cold. These are rare. Usually my colds start in my head and go down. Rarely do they start in my chest and go up…

Do I have COVID?

I think over the preceding days travelling with my partner. Flights. A wedding. Venturing on the LA Metro for the first time. Plenty of opportunity to get it. My partner seems ok though.

My son back home gets sick and starts throwing up. My wife is worried. I am too. Should I go home if I have COVID?

My cough gets worse. My son gets better. I take a COVID test… negative.

That evening my nose starts running and doesn’t stop. Cold chills bring shivers and I’m afraid to move under my blankets. I’m supposed to fly home tomorrow.

I wake up and can barely breathe. I’m supposed to pack, but still have chills and fatigue. I talk with my wife and reschedule my flight.

I’m on a medication regimen now… something for the mucus, something for allergies, something for fever… I spend most of the day sleeping. My partner takes care of me, making sure I’m covered with blankets and checking in.

I take a second COVID test… negative again. I feel thankful at least it’s not that I might take home with me.

My wife gets sick, the same bug our son had. She’s throwing up, which she hates more than anything else. She wants me back home. I want to be back home, but I’m not feeling well either, and I’d either take what I have there or get what they had too.

The sleeping through the day helps. By evening I’m not shivering. I go to sleep feeling a bit better and breathing well.

This morning I wake up. I cough a bit to clear out my lungs, but my wheezing isn’t so bad. My sniffles are waning. A round of meds should help. I feel well enough to pack and get ready to head home.

The flight leaves in a few hours. It’s a short one, less than a couple of hours. My partner is going to drive me to LAX.

My wife feels much better. My son has to stay home from day care though, and she’ll be with him today.

Looking back, I think this is allergies. The mucus meds helped the symptoms, but the med that helped the most was the allergy medication. It seems to make me more sleepy when it’s really doing something.

Time to pack. Time to fly. Time to say goodbye to my partner for another month. Long distance goodbyes are sad.

I’m just thankful it wasn’t COVID.