Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Year of the Snail

Heavy loaded snail by Bartosz Makara, on Flickr. Used Via Creative Commons.

As 2016 was drawing to a close, I was searching, as I do every year, for my One Little Word for 2017.  And I was not having very much success at finding it. 

The last 6 weeks of the year were some of the most difficult weeks I've endured. They were ruled by survival mode as I struggled through illnesses and injuries from 2 rounds of strep throat, a re-flaring up of my occular herpes, a cough that still hasn't entirely quit, to a fall that left me unable to walk for several days while all the tendons and muscles in my right foot recovered. They were further marred by grief, sleeplessness, fear, and anger. 

I was basically in survival mode, but I was railing against it.  I was making insurmountable to-do lists in my head for when I was better. I was beating myself up for the amount of television Orion was watching while I was laid up on the couch so often and so completely. I was berating myself for the take out, for the money I was costing. I was reading and watching far too much news and growing increasingly afraid and hopeless and angry as I went down the rabbit hole of "what ifs" and "what's the points" and "for fuck's sake, whys". 

And so, the initial, knee jerk reactionary word I chose for 2017 was "Survive". A harsh word that I knew folks would misunderstand, that I wasn't really 100% happy with myself. But, my body had knocked me cleanly on to my ass in a big way and was letting me know that I needed to pump the gods damned breaks. I wanted to wrap the word around the lessons and feelings that I knew I needed to embrace to get well. And I was in the midst of a gigantic, depressing, pity party.

But. It was too harsh. It was a snarky, sarcastic snapping back at the situation and current world. And I brainstormed with a beautiful friend of mine over the feelings and lessons that I wanted to wrap a word around, she giving me some softer synonyms and suggesting I pick 3 words (3 is the magic number, after all.) And I thought and thought and the word prevail stood out to me as a juicy, softer, synonym. And so, I tried it on for a few days.

It still didn't fit. There was still too much fight in it, and fighting is not what I need right now. I tried on "surrender", "prevailing surrender", "prevailing presence", and a whole slew of other words. But none. of. them. fit.

So frustrating.

Which was a lesson in and of itself. The acknowledging how crazy I make myself, how wrapped up I get in the doing, and how bad that constant frustration is for me. So, I opted to let go of the idea of One Little Word and wrote out a list of what I needed to call in to me this year. 

My body is telling me in no uncertain terms that I need to slow the hell down. To learn how to not be constantly doing, to embrace the pause. To be steadfast against my urge to be negative about how much I've accomplished or am currently doing. To hit the breaks on the constant expanding, healing, digging, growing, and searching I've been doing for the past 3 years and bring it back in for a bit. It's been a hard scrabble fight against PPD, Anxiety, to find my own authentic voice and methods in the noise of modern motherhood, to try to make art as a job work. But now, it's time to hit the huge red cosmic pause button that's flashing 3 inches from my face.

It's time to truly allow the old selves to die off and fall away. To call my tribe in closer and shelter closer to my proverbial home, bring it back to what I know. To unplug and be present in my own ordinary life and truly experience the magical every day. 

And once I stopped actively looking, Snail found me. My guiding totem and teacher for this year. Who embodies the brilliant cosmos in the spirals of her shell, who is of the humble holy bones of Earth. I need to surrender to the slow. To embrace presence. To invite in steadfast patience, to get close to the minutiae and therefore, truly inside of this imperfectly ordinary life. To pull myself in to my shell when needed, and pause. No shame, no guilt, no pressure. 


  1. What a beautifully written account of finding your spirit totem and learning to listen to your body and mind. Wishing you a return of health and harmony in the new year. Blessed be.

    1. Thank you, Sarah! I wish the same for you this coming year. <3

  2. I love every word if this, of how you opened a portal for your intention to find you ( for it is all about intention whether wrapped up in one word, three words, or a fucking manifesto) love you sister!

    1. Love you too! Thank you for always being a safe ear.

  3. I had one of those years and I couldn't think of a word that didn't have a negative feel. I ended up choosing flourish.... To counteract the word I first thought of which was "survive.