Issue No. 1
Hope of a solstice sunset
Hope of a solstice sunset
“We have turned another year,” writes Katherine May in her book, Wintering. In a chapter titled Midwinter, she talks about the winter solstice, how the sun rising on the shortest day is the sign of the turn of a year for some. I love this image, the start of winter, the darkest day of the year, marking what is the end of the past. The days afterward begin to grow longer, we begin something new and uncharted.
“More than any other season, winter requires a kind of metronome that rocks away its darkest beats, giving us a melody to follow into spring,” May writes. “The year will move on no matter what, but by paying attention to it, feeling its beats, and noticing the moments of transition—perhaps even taking time to think about what we want from the next phase in the year, we can get the measure of it.”
I typically celebrate the turn of the year on New Year’s Eve by watching the ball drop on TV, perhaps with a glass of San Pellegrino in my hand. This year was no different, but I also acknowledged the solstices as a new beginning. Because new beginnings don’t have to happen on the first of a new year, the first of a month, or even the start of a new week. They can happen right now.
Instead of the sunrise, I watched the sunset of the solstices from my bedroom window. It wasn’t cloudy in Indianapolis that day, the sky was clear and the setting sun scattered gold across the sky. It fell softly, not asking much from anyone. It closed the shortest day and left a message that it would be back tomorrow, staying out for a bit longer. I fell anew. I felt that this was an ending and a beginning was to come, not promising anything would be easy but offering a gift of redemption from the past. I already had hope, but it is was battered and bruise. That night it renewed itself. I was filled with a hope that doesn’t shed lightly. Even though the gold faded, it had made its way into my heart, where it continues to linger.
On January 1, 2021, I curled up with my love and watched a movie about hope despite struggles. We didn’t pick the movie acknowledging it was about this, but looking at it now, I see it was fitting. We ate lots of meat and cheese with a side of Welches white sparkling grape juice. It was quiet and necessary, because a lot has happened since the solstice, and even more happened since New Year’s Day. We needed that time just to be.
Within these few first days of newness, there have been so many challenges. Hurdles to cross and mountains to scale and descend. Emotions to feel and process. The weather outside changes daily. It hasn’t been easy. This is what the land does, it gradually sways us from cold to lukewarm to freezing in the winter months where we find ourselves bundled up in layers, ready for anything to happen. I’ve prepared myself for anything to happen, from the tough to the breezy. But through it all, I’m holding onto hope. Hope that no matter what happens this year, the sun is still going to set tonight, and love can continue to grow stronger.
Whatever today brings, I know it will come and go, leaving behind only what we make of it.
What did 2020 teach me? It taught me this: nothing is a guarantee, absolutely nothing. I can get through more than I think possible. Grace exists for a reason and it’s okay to give it to yourself sometimes. Love and joy exist within hard times. I don’t have to please everyone, in fact, I can’t even when I try. It is possible to be so many things at once. Walks are therapeutic. Things as simple as folding laundry can be spiritual.
There are probably more things that 2020 taught me that I have yet to reflect on. I know 2021 will contain even more lessons.
For this year, these are my intentions: staying grounded despite the swaying changes, rooted in this place I’m making a home in, growing stronger (dare I say wiser?), surrendering to the process of creativity, finding joy and love despite the adversaries.
I want to sit with the whispers of a story, of hope in the darkness. I want to plunge into it and understand the length of this journey, how non-linear it is, and how I am not for everyone. That is okay, in fact, it’s necessary. For these are the days we are becoming.
This year, I chose to move forward this year with a renewed hope that started in me on the sunset of the winter solstice.
Stuff I’m into right now
No-knead (but need) dutch oven bread — When you’re craving carbs, let this be your go-to recipe. I made this bread over the holidays and I’ve absolutely fallen in love with its simplicity and deliciousness. Just a tip: make sure you have 8-18 hours to let it rise. I mix the ingredients before I go to bed, let it sit overnight on a heating pad (my house is cold at night), then throw it in the oven the next morning.
Wintering by Katherine May — This book has been an inspiration this winter if you couldn’t tell from the quote in my essay. If I didn’t have any responsibilities, I could sit down and read it within a day. Not only does she write beautifully about her experiences with the winter solstice, but the way of carrying herself through winter and difficult times is admiring and beautiful. Find your copy, here.
Ahava Mineral Hand Cream — A bottle of this hand cream is sitting on my desk as I write this. I received it for Christmas this year and I’ve got to say, it is by far the best hand cream I’ve ever used. It’s silky without being oily and it leaves your hands ultra-soft. After frequent hand washings and trips out in the cold, this is the only product that has been keeping my hands from getting dried and cracked.
Artifact Uprising’s Instagram Friendly Photo Book — If you’ve been spending a lot of time making your year-in-review on Instagram, I suggest you make a print copy of it as well. I love to make albums with the help of Artifact Uprising. They have an assortment of books that come in hardback and soft covers. I’m creating mine and ordering it this week. With this link, you can get $20 off your order.
Welcome to The Mixtape. Every month I’ll be curating a list of music that I love in a Spotify playlist for you. This month’s mixtape is something you can put on in the background while commuting, folding laundry, cooking dinner, or working on homework. It’s soft and easy, as the gray skies outside on a cold winter’s day.
If you’re here, that means your read to the very end, or at least scrolled all the way to the bottom of this first email newsletter of mine. And I want to thank you greatly. Thank you for taking the time to be here and reading these words. I hope they inspired you in some way to practice telling the narratives in your own story. I hope they point you to hope.