One of my favourite mental models is the adaptive cycle. Its double-looped, infinity symbol reflects the continuous evolution of life on both the micro and macro scales.
While its simplicity renders it useful as an overlay on any developmental journey, there is something missing: the liminal space between each step in the cycle, the tentative tendrils that snake past one step and move ahead into the next, the fluid, dynamic push-and-pull of the in-between places that we experience in our feeling bodies.
While some liminal spaces call for a short pause to reflect or make a decision before moving along the cycle, other in-between moments stretch out and extend their reach, clouding our very sense of being and permeating every aspect of our daily lives. In particular, the space between conservation (homeostasis) and release can be particularly uncomfortable to navigate through, as described in a recent newsletter by Executive Coach Starla Sireno**: "I could feel the pull of an emerging future that doesn’t yet exist - the plans, the ideas, the next steps that are unfolding, but haven’t yet come to fruition. And with the excitement, there is a grieving for what will have to change to make room for that new reality. But for now, there isn’t much I can do except live with the restlessness of nothing being wrong, yet having a deep desire for resolution."
Confinement of the body can breed expansion of the mind, a powerful engine that moves forward at the speed of thought, breaking barriers and reaching beyond the physical. This is the space, the loop many of us find ourselves living through, a state of internal flux where our minds are free to explore and expand while our bodies are, for the most part, stuck within the confines dictated by the COVID-19 pandemic safety protocols.
We then find ourselves living in a time of uncertainty, waiting for our physical realities to catch up to the etherial plane, there is no comfort in plans and strategies. Instead, we can find solace in the certainty of uncertainty - the ever-changing seasons, the rhythm of nature's cycles, and the stillness of simply be-ing, letting the mind and body settle in and rest in a cozy nook of our own creativity, mirroring the deep freeze of February in the mountains. But that is a story for another time...
The start of the holiday break from work signals the start of my year-in-review and next year's planning process. Since 2012 I've been tweaking and adapting the steps, creating a hybrid model to reflect my own evolution.
Throughout 2020 I have added a new layer to this - astrology. Not your run-of-the-mill, back-of-magazines horoscopes, but the real, deep archetypal psychology of the celestial bodies in our solar system. In August 2019, an email popped into my inbox inviting me a full moon webinar. A few months later, I took a course, and at the turn of the year, my first consultation. Several courses in, I find myself learning to speak a new language, decrypting the symbolic cyphers of this ancient art and science.
The journey has been one reminiscent of my studies - taking time to study; learn the lessons and assimilate the energies; seek out guides and guidesses, books and resources; making connections that make sense only to me as they gestate and take shape.
In this "time-out-of-time" holiday period beginning on the Winter Solstice, I'll be surrounded by journals and agendas and photos and notebooks, revisiting the year that was and selecting the best of the lessons of 2020 to bring forward into the new year.
Do you take any time to review your year? Do you have a favourite ritual to release the past?
We've been flirting with the Laurentians for four years, spending weekends and holidays tucked away in the mountains. Two months into the lockdown, we finally committed. We picked a date and packed up our belongings, trading the brown brick apartment buildings and Montreal potholes for forests and lakes and country road potholes (we are still in Quebec after all).
With only a quarter year as rural mountain dwellers, I still feel like the autumn season, in transition. Navigating from #CottageLife to actual country living, with all its gifts and challenges. Sorting through what to keep and carry over into this next chapter and what to finally, finally, finally let go of. This life beckons simplicity in the home and a slowing down to echo the cycles of nature. I feel the tug of some ancestral knowing passed down through my mother's lineage, of living in the mountains, an ocean and a lifetime away, faded from a decade in the city, slowly emerging intuitively the more I reconnect with the land. So much knowledge was lost or discarded in the last few generations in favour of ease and convenience. Maybe the entire point of living is in fact to slow down, to let our bodies engage all our senses and our minds become fully immersed in each experience. Nowadays, we call it mindfulness.
Winter is just around the corner and with it another set of challenges and delights. Although I've been here before for winter weekends, I suspect it may be a different experience living through a full hibernal season in the mountains. We have had a few rounds of snow that has melted away but you can smell it in the air - the cold is here to stay and soon the snow will drape the land in silence.
on the journey to