Springtime

Photo by Gariele Wright on Unsplash

A big part of my continued healing journey is syncing my lifestyle with the seasons.

I really do love winter, in ways I haven’t come to love until recently. My birthday is in January, so is Christmas. I love staying inside, watching shows and reading. I do a vast amount of my reading for the year in the winter. And the energy that I preserve in the winter, I draw upon for the rest of the year.

My body knows when springtime is coming, not just because of the warmer weather. My body feels the dampness, the humidity, the pollen in the air, the invisible mold particles in ways other bodies do not.

Spring is the season of newness and renewal, and also the toughest season on my body. There’s a lot of practices that I adopt, particularly in the spring–whether it’s showering at night, taking quercetin to help with my histamine reactions to food, eating lower histamine foods, using a netti pot, more epsom salt baths to help clear my brain, more walks in parks and by creeks.

Spring means rest too, although the rest looks differently than winter. I take time out of my schedule to recover from environmental reactions–whether it be perfume, humid weather, a damp building. I have less reactions than I used to, and for this I’m very thankful. And I’m also glad for the shifts in belief as I heal. I love my body much more than a year ago.

I really don’t need to be more productive. So I’m going at my own pace. I finish my training in spiritual direction in just 6 weeks and I’m preparing now to launch a new website sometime this summer. These feel like big moments for my body, because setting up times to have new pictures done and having people help me with my website is very welcome help–and yet, it’s more appointments to fit in, and depending on the day, my body may or may not have energy for those.

Some days I come home from work, eat dinner and get in bed. That’s all I can do.

I’ve been haunted in a good way from the question, “What does it mean to get well, to be healed?” When that question is posed by doctors, it’s like my answer should fit into this ableist world –something to the effect of, “I can work a 60 hour/week job, run around after work with friends or family, thrive on 5 hours of sleep, and drink lots of coffee without having it affect my work or health.” That’s not my reality–and it’s not a reality I want.

Even though I have more energy than 5 years ago–I’m still tired. A lot. I still have work days that I barely get through. A lot of my free time is still spent resting, recovering, saving up energy to go to bigger events. I have free time that is spent at the doctor, at the chiropractor, in spiritual direction myself.

My tired body has asked me to make really clear what I have energy for and what I don’t. What I prioritize making time for, and what I don’t. My body lets me know when my actions are out of step with my values because extra fatigue will surface.

I still spent a lot of time in my bed. This can surprise people, because I can show up to more things than I used to. But so much writing, so much reading, listening to podcasts & music, watching movies and shows happens in bed. And these are all things I really enjoy. My bed feels like home. And the solitude that I exist in & have helped create feels beautiful.

Last weekend, I spent a lot of time by myself. I needed to rest. I needed to be in a really low-stimulation environment in order to gain some equilibrium back. And I read Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice-the entire book in less than 24 hours. Time slowed down, I breathed deeper. I’ve been longing to learn about the history and origin story of disability justice for awhile, and it was a joy to learn, to be. I will be writing more in later posts!

For now I’m returning to the quiet, when I need it, because as astrologer Shaunga Tagore said in my birth chart reading, “There’s so much life in the quiet.”

I need the quiet as I embrace what is unfolding this springtime, even as I rest. Even as I undo the belief that “Warmer weather means that I need to be busier.” Even as I anticipate the change that is coming.

Who I’ve Been Reading/Listening To in Bed Regarding Disability Justice!

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Agender

My healing journey has taken me back to my younger self, to ask for wisdom.  To see what I was like, to see how I’ve distanced from aspects of myself that I want to reunite again.  To remember and to ask new questions. 

I loved being alone.

I loved to be in nature.

I loved to create and be in imaginary worlds.

I loved the stars.

I loved walks.

I loved to be reflective, to listen to my mind’s inner workings. 

I was shy. 

I’m returning to this wisdom.  Through returning, I keep learning to access this intuitive wisdom, my empathic nature. 

This fundamental draw towards friendship with humans, with the earth, with animals speaks to my nature—and one that I pushed aside for so long for the sake of productivity. 

I’m returning because what I do stems from who I am.

And I’m returning to speak about gender.

I know that gender has always felt ambiguous to me. 

Not ambiguous like it doesn’t matter. 

More like, whenever a situation presented itself as “masculine” or “feminine” I felt like I needed to shift a part of myself to “fit in.”

I didn’t really have language for this though.  I’ve never been into hair, make-up and dressing up.  EVER. 

It wasn’t even like I wanted to care that much about it though.  I just didn’t. 

I felt really uncomfortable because the only option it seemed like when I didn’t care about the things many women care about is that I was repressed. 

And because I grew up in a very conservative Christian environment, it seemed like the only healing path sounded like this:

“You know, it’s really okay to bring attention to yourself.  You should make yourself stand out.  You deserve it.”

I liked sports.  Played sports.  Followed sports.  I had several guy friends and yet I was overcompensating in this “masculine energy” (at least that’s how a lot of people refer to it.)  because that’s how I learned to be recognized and rewarded. 

Be rational. 

Be competitive.

Win.

Protect yourself.

Fight for power.

I never felt like I was in the wrong body.  I never wanted to be a boy.  Over time I realized I needed to let go of needing to overemphasize my masculine energy just to be seen. 

Interacting in this unbalanced way didn’t serve me well.  It didn’t allow me to know myself, know others, let go, receive.

In the holistic health world–this journey could be called balancing the masculine and feminine energy. 

I needed this journey.  I needed to know how much “feminine energy” I hold in my body.  My empathy, my intuition, the way I nurture and cultivate myself and communities. 

These energies are strong within me.  But simply the divide doesn’t make sense to me.

I don’t feel masculine or feminine.  I don’t feel like I belong to either gender.  I don’t feel like these energies are separate and in need of “balancing.”

That’s known as agender–an identity in the non-binary spectrum. 

As I reflect on how this has functioned throughout my life, the common thread has been my natural inclination for minimalism. 

My aesthetic is simple & low maintenance (hair, clothing, make-up, jewelry).  Things for me must be functional–and for me this is not a statement of repression. 

But as a way to tread lightly on the earth, while not ignoring responsibility or personal power. 

This way of being does amplify my spiritual/connection energy and it’s not saying the earth and the body are bad or meaningless. 

It’s simply just a way I move through the world with greater connection, in love with myself and others, the Divine and the Earth. 

The greatest movement towards understanding my gender occurred at the height of my illness when I was simplifying my lifestyle. 

When my energy was so limited that I knew that to heal I would do less, eat less kinds of food, work less, see people less. 

I knew in my body that less could be revolutionary. 

And this movement wasn’t a commitment to minimalism.

It was necessary for my survival first. 

Then my thriving. 

Then my acceptance of myself. 

So I keep on returning to my younger self for wisdom. 

This kid who had a strong connection with nature, with kids, with older people, with the stars. 

This kid who had strong, aggressive energy who loved to run, to be outside.  This kid who both absolutely loved to win, and sometimes didn’t want to compete at all.

This kid who went through phases of dress up and dolls and wearing dresses non-stop because I loved them.  This kid who also became really content with spandex, sweatshirts and sweatpants, and not as a way to hide. 

This kid who spent summers building forts, who wrote letters to everyone, who fell asleep with books all around me in bed. 

This kid who accepted this role of just trying to please.  Who absorbed a lot of the energy of scarcity, even while living amongst privilege. 

There was a scarcity of connection, of deep relational exchange in my family of origin.

And yet I had deep relationships with friends, with nature and I internalized that my depth was something to fear.

I realized that there were gender rules and that i didn’t really fit.  So tomboy just worked for awhile.  It helped me to make sense of myself. 

But in order to make this “work” I suppressed a lot of my “feminine” energy. 

Through oppressive church teachings about what it meant to be a “woman” I lost a huge part of myself. 

I tried to be a tomboy, to be smart & to be good. 

And I stayed in this place for a long time. 

Just trying to please and do what was expected of me.  I didn’t leave a lot of room for wonder or exploration anymore. 

I was overwhelmed with this feeling of being different and being sick. 

But being sick made me look at myself.  And I learned to honor myself, to accept what I could not control and saw that many of the things I repressed in myself were keeping me sick.  

It was from my own physical healing, where emotional and spiritual healing also occured (of course!)

Curiosity, life & wonder returned. 

With that came questions about gender & sexuality–and then wonderings, and then affirmations. 

Alyssa (she/her and they/them)