2019 will be an excellent time to swim in unpolluted rivers, utter sacred oaths near beautiful fountains, and enjoy leisurely saunas that help purify your mind and body. You are also likely to attract cosmic favor if you cry more than usual, seek experiences that enhance your emotional intelligence, and ensure that your head respectfully consults with your heart before making decisions. Here’s another way to get on life’s good side: cultivate duties that consistently encourage you to act out of love and joy rather than out of guilt and obligation.
Of the character Vera in SAVING FISH FROM DROWNING, Amy Tan writes:
“Since turning 50 ten years ago, she had decided that her usual garb should be no less comfortable than what she wore to bed.”
YES! I thought when I read that. Exactly! But I wasn’t necessarily thinking about clothing…
Nor was St. Francis of Assisi when he suggested we “Wear the world as a loose garment, which touches us in a few places and there lightly.”
I’ve decided that this should be my modus operandi for the coming year: to move about in the world more freely, as if in loose garb.
More breath. And ease of movement.
Fewer expectations. Less fear.
Less rabid dog on a bone it’s time to put down.
More laughter. More play.
As if to support this resolution-in-the-making, Rob Brezsny’s ASTROLOGY NEWSLETTER arrived promptly on January 1st. In his treatise for 2019, he writes:
You don’t have to be anything you don’t want to be. You don’t have to live up to anyone’s expectations. There’s no need to strive for a kind of perfection that’s not very interesting to you. You don’t have to believe in ideas that make you sad or tormented, and you don’t have to feel emotions that others try to manipulate you into feeling.
In my dreams, I am obliterating delusions that keep you moored to false idols. I am setting fire to the unnecessary burdens you lug around. And I am tearing you away from the galling compromises you made once upon a time to please people who don’t deserve it.
But it’s actually a good thing I can’t just wave a magic wand. Here’s a much better solution: YOU will clarify your analysis of the binds you’re in, supercharge your willpower, and set yourself free.
And you WILL purchase brightly-colored, flowy kaftans to wear around the house.
Ok, no, Rob did not write that part, but…perhaps a brightly-colored, flowy kaftan is exactly what is called for as we step lithely into the new year.
HAPPY NEW YEAR, my friends—may it be loose, light, and comfortable.
BONUS: Also from Rob Brezsny, consider these questions yourself:
- What outlandish urges and controversial tendencies do you promise to cultivate in the coming months?
- What nagging irritations will you ignore and avoid with even greater ingenuity?
- What problems do you promise to exploit in order to have even more fun as you make the status quo accountable for its corruption?
- What boring rules and traditions will you thumb your nose at, paving the way for exciting encounters with strange attractors?
1. Essay ©2019, Jen Payne. 2. Image: Small Odalisque in Purple Robe, by Henri Matisse. 3. Saving Fish from Drowning by Amy Tan should be on your To Read list. 4. Rob Brezsny is a genius and you should subscribe to his Astrology Newsletter. 5. Click here for more about Loose Garments.
Do what is difficult
Ignore the skeptics
Know you are loved
Nourish body and soul
Plant a seed
Try something new
Express your gratitude
Say yes to adventure
Get enough zzzzzzzzs
This thoughtful print was created by artist Lori Roberts of Little Truths Studio. “For me, painting is a way of celebrating all the little truths this world has to offer, everyday miracles worthy of celebration: the immense potentiality held within a tiny acorn, the cycle of the moon, the subtle meaning expressed in a poem or a simple act of kindness that changes someone’s outlook,” Lori explains on her website. “I seek deeper truths and understanding about ourselves — what it means to be human, finding happiness, the importance of interconnectedness, our intrinsic need for nature.”
Artwork ©Lori Roberts of Little Truths Studio and posted here with permission.
Back in the day, we looked to Cosmo to gauge our place in the world. Remember those one-page quizzes toward the back of Cosmopolitan magazine that quantified how successful, how sexy, how happy we would make our mates? The internet blew that out of the bathwater with its interactive quizzes now featured prominently on sites like BuzzFeed and PopSugar. Today, you can find out the name of your soulmate, your Disney princess doppelganger, and where you should take your next vacation — all by checking a few advertiser-sponsored check boxes.
It’s fun and harmless — although I am pretty sure each quiz is a personality test that feeds some giant Big Brother algorithm destined to come back to haunt you. Nursing Home Intake: We see here you are a Lucky Charms/Gryffindor/Snow White/Cat Lover? Third Floor!
But recently, I came upon a much more relevant quiz than Are you more Winnie the Pooh or Paddington Bear? This one was titled If You’ve Done Any Of These Things Today, You’re Actually Doing Better Than You Think, written by Patrice Peck (Buzzfeed).
Call this Candy Corn curious!
“If you’ve done any of these things today, you’re actually doing better than you think,” Peck writes, “because life is really, really hard.”
And there it was — right in the middle of a little mindless time out — a BIG reminder about self-care. You know, those things we know we should do for ourselves much more often than we actually do? Like:
- You hit snooze this morning to give your body and mind some extra TLC.
- You haven’t given up on your professional dreams.
- And you haven’t given up on your personal dreams.
- You remembered to drink water throughout the day.
- You have community, including work family, a MeetUp group, your neighborhood.
- You went to the gym.
- You’ve read a book that made you feel something.
- You called a friend or family member.
- You laughed at something funny.
- You thanked someone.
- You checked off at least ONE thing on your to do list.
- You listened to some damn good music.
- You wrote in your journal.
- You flossed.
- You got through the day in one piece, physically and mentally.
Now as much as we might guffaw at these quizzes — What kind of Sandwich are you? or Are you More Cake or Pie? — they are, in themselves, a little bit of self-care, aren’t they?
Silly. Nonsensical. Irrelevant. Unproductive. Immature.
And who, in the middle of this really, really hard stuff, doesn’t need a little of that?
Essay ©2018 Jen Payne. QUIZ: “If You’ve Done Any Of These Things Today, You’re Actually Doing Better Than You Think” by Patrice Peck, September 14, 2018, ©2018 BuzzFeed/As Is. IMAGE: Woman in Bath,
Roy Lichtenstein. SOME ANSWERS: Isaac, Snow White, Amalfi Coast, Winnie the Pooh, PB&J, Cake.
1. If it feels wrong, don’t do it.
2. Say exactly what you mean.
3. Don’t be a people pleaser.
4. Trust your instincts.
5. Never speak poorly about yourself.
6. Never give up on your dreams.
7. Don’t be afraid to say No.
8. Don’t be afraid to say Yes.
9. Be KIND to yourself.
10. Let go of what you can’t control.
11. Stay away from Drama & Negativity.