Bone-weary

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,   
But I have promises to keep,   
And miles to go before I sleep,   
And miles to go before I sleep.

-“Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” by Robert Frost

“I think you need a break,” my therapist said to me, after a half hour of my language and posture becoming more and more aggressive, my words harshening, growing more rapid as I tried to voice everything inside me.

She was speaking specifically about work, but my entire life has felt to be in free fall for quite some time.

I work a lot. On Tuesday, I pulled in over 14 hours. I finished this week well beyond 40 hours, and I’ve done the same the last several weeks as well. In 2016, I’ve had more weeks over 40 hours than at it.

I’ve let myself become taken for granted, and while most of my team is appreciative of my efforts and hard work, the one person in charge of my salary and raise is not impressed, from what I gather. Despite my hard work and my crosstraining on three separate positions, in addition to my own; my dedication to the quality of my work, which is why I regularly work late and often watch the sun set through the windows of my fifth-floor cube; and my constant requests for more work, leading my supervisor to think long and hard on various projects I can attend to during my downtime,  I have been informed that I am “not working hard enough.”

Color me furious.

But that anger has disappated, as I have so many other responsibilities on top of those with work: I am a partner to my boyfriend, a mother to my two dogs, a friend who wishes to maintain my relationships with those close to me, a leader in my own small community, a writer and blogger, a researcher, and oath bound to my gods. There is so much work to be done, yet every day passes and feels shorter than the last. I sleep too late, my body trying to tell me to hold back and take a breath. I have so much to do, yet the hours and minutes pass like so much sand between fingers that have lost the will to grip tight.

I am bone-weary.

As I came to reflect on the focus of my April shadow work, I examined the the card fate had dealt me: Protect–a stone lock enveloped with moss in its cracks, open with vines entwined around the mechanism, a long black feather deep in the keyhole.

I need to take better care of myself, protect myself from that which might rend me. I must find this balance between my outside responsibilities and those I owe myself, for I have allowed myself to sacrifice for other for so long, yet been unwilling to hold out for myself. To help myself, before I help others. And that has begun to break me.

I am tired. I am so very, very tired. And while I have miles to go before I sleep, I can see where I may lay my head down for a while, and it is not yet so far.

March Reflections on Time

wp-1459910902668Each month, I am lucky to have had a friend do a clarifying reading for me regarding the focus of my shadow work for that month. For March, Brooke was kind enough to do a clarifying bibliomancy reading for my shadow work focus, clarifying the card of the Earthbound Oracle I originally drew for March: Time.

Brooke reads from The Lord of the Rings series for her bibliomancy readings, and she received the “Song of Beren and Lúthien,” which you can read here.

 

We, as the readers, are supposed to recognize the parallels [between the “Song of Beren and Lúthien” and the tale of Aragorn and Arwen]: the love story of Aragorn and Arwen, another mortal man and Elven princess, is said to be “Beren and Lúthien come again”, the two being compared to their ancient ancestors of old. A huge theme of Lord of the Rings as a whole is this idea of rebirth (And destiny): Aragorn shedding his Strider persona and accepting his role as King, Frodo inheriting the Ring from Bilbo, Gandalf’s transformation (through which he literally dies and is reborn) from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White; Gollum being the one to destroy the ring even though he was the one who started all this; etc. Second chances, new life from old death, things coming full circle. Transformation and rebirth.

The reading you did for yourself spoke of Time. Remember that one of the key quotes form Lord of the Rings is Gandalf’s famous sentiment to Frodo that “all we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” I think that is relevant here, as well. If Aragorn and Arwen are the rebirths of Beren and Lúthien, what can you learn from that? Is there not hope in that? Is there not a beauty in that? While some things pass into memory and story, others live on; and it is through those stories that we are able to see the connections. We must turn our eyes forward, towards the horizon, and see the “big picture” – I think getting lost in detail is not what you need right now. You need to focus on the threads that weave everything together, not the differences that set things apart, if that makes sense. And through that, you need to make your own transformation(s).

I believe your Shadow Work for March should focus on time as it relates to rebirth – what do you need to transform right now, in your life, in the time you have left (because accepting your own mortality is a big part of all this)? Who do you need to transform into – what do you want to become (physically and metaphorically)? Are there aspects of your life you know you need to change, but up until now, you have been too unwilling/stubborn/lazy/half-hearted (either consciously or subconsciously) to make those changes? What connections can you see between your own life and the lives of those who came before you? What Gods do you feel can help you with become wiser, and able to see the big picture?

I’ve spent most of March, and even the beginning of April, mulling on this: What do I want in my life, and how can I get there?

This is a question that I’ve been posed before, and I can never quite answer it. When my previous therapist asked me what I wanted in life, I just shrugged and told her a dog. That was apparently not a good enough answer for her, neither was me expressing my desire to travel. But truly, my desires are quite simple.

As a freshman in high school, one of my peers asked me what I was most afraid of. I told them that I did not wish to die ignorant, that I wanted to learn as much as possible. In many ways, this is still my intent behind everything I do: I wish to learn, and I wish to experience new things. I have a very active mind, and the idea of it going stagnant or of not having mental stimulation (or at least not having the opportunity for mental stimulation) is terribly frightening to me.  So I must develop a road map to learning what I wish and come to terms that I will not be able to accomplish everything I desire—and this, too, is terrifying. I have so much I wish to do.


 

Late last year, I came to a decision, which I haven’t shared outside of one or two close friends, but I am making it public now. It’s a long-term goal, and one that I have an intense desire to one day achieve: I would like to be ordained, to become a Pagan minister or other clergy.

I’ve started doing what I can now, at the age of 26: researching opportunities for training, reading a variety of Pagan literature and philosophy, even that which I disagree with; and working on developing the Fellowship Beyond the Star, the interfaith Pagan group I founded with Chase two years ago.

It is a lot of work, and I think overall this is what the intent is behind my 2016 focus on shadow work: working towards becoming a stronger person, developing the strengths and skills I would need to one day be a Pagan minister, and strengthening my ties to my communities.


 

In a lot of ways, the reading Brooke did for me confirms this: the idea of rebirth, of not just growth but transformation and development. I am now at the stage of a chrysalis in many ways—and not just on this journey but on my life’s journey overall. I am a mere 26 years of age, and hopefully have many more years to go before this journey ends. And there is so very much more to be done.