It’s hard for me to quite believe another month has passed by this year, possibly because this month has been the quietest and least eventful so far. When I chose the word “Change” as my word of the year, little could I have imagined just how true that would be, both personally and on a global scale. In many ways it feels like we should be at least halfway through 2020, rather than simply ending the first third of it. And yet here we are, entering May still in lockdown, getting used to our new “normal”, adapting to changes we never would have dreamed would happen.
Temporary changes or a shift towards a different future?
One of the things I’ve been reflecting on lately is just how positive some of the changes we have been forced to make during lockdown are. I’m not talking about the intense pressures we’ve put upon our keyworkers, or the challenges of being cooped up at home for weeks on end, feeling a desperate urge for a break from some loved ones alongside a desire to finally hug others. Those are the changes we all hope are temporary, and that once the threat of COVID-19 has reduced we’ll all be able to return to normal. No, the changes I’m talking about are those which have a real benefit for vast numbers of people.
Take, for instance, the flexible working patterns that have emerged as companies have tried to continue to run through these challenging times. For many, many years various groups of people have been asking for this kind of flexibility within the workplace, and yet been told it wasn’t possible. Suddenly it’s not only possible but actually essential to the running of many companies, and it’s going to be much harder for them to insist it is impossible moving forward. This could open up many opportunities for people who, for whatever reason, need a more flexible workplace. Disabled and chronically ill employees and working parents are just two groups of people I can think of for whom this could be a really positive change.
And what about the benefit system? I’ve written before about how cruel and heartless our benefit system is, and that the stigma attached to being reliant on benefits runs very deep indeed. For far too long we have clung to the idea that if only you worked hard enough you’d be alright, forgetting that it only takes one or two unforeseen changes to occur to throw someone into dire financial need. Within my own experience, I am a highly educated person with a lot of work experience (I’ve been turned down for multiple jobs in the past for being over-qualified or over-experienced in fact), and yet when my health took a turn for the worse I became unable to continue working and ended up battling the benefit system for the support needed to stay afloat.
The system is not fit for purpose. We’ve all seen the news reports of the shockingly high number of deaths attributed to benefits being stopped, and we’ve all heard about the ridiculously long wait for Universal Credit to begin. And yet until now it has been too easy for too many to forget about it, feeling as if that would never happen to them. Except now it has. It has happened on an unprecedented scale, and it is my hope that moving forward this will add more angry voices to the collective call for an overhaul of the benefits system that fails far too many people.
Of course, all of this is in our future, and who knows right now when we might start returning to a more “normal” way of living. We are far from out of the danger zone, and any changes we make towards a return to normal must be done cautiously. But I hope that as we do, we hold on to the positive changes we’ve experienced during this time of lockdown whilst giving ourselves the time and space to grieve for and heal from the trauma associated by such uncertain times. Because if there’s one thing I know for sure, it’s that such deep uncertainty and prolonged time of stress and anxiety has a massive impact on our mental and physical wellbeing, and we need to give ourselves the grace to heal from that.
A new look for the blog
One of the biggest changes this month on a more personal level is, of course, the new look (and name) for my blog. I have been thinking for several years now, ever since we relocated and I started getting sick in fact, that I needed to change the name of my blog. As much as I loved the name “The Family Patch” it just didn’t seem to fit what I was writing about. I rarely posted about family life, and over the years have begun to write far more openly about both faith & spirituality, and health & wellbeing. At one point I started a second blog (Spirit Kid Network) to write about raising spiritual kids in the modern world, thinking that moving that side of things off this blog would help. But I found that didn’t work out very well, because I wanted to write about faith here too (plus I was getting increasingly ill and running two websites was too much).
So I reintegrated the content into this blog, and tried several redesigns to reflect a more varied compilation of content. But it just never felt right. The Family Patch was an old identity, one I had tried to fit into for too long and which was stifling me. The only problem was, the idea of changing my blog name and sorting out redirects and everything else felt too overwhelming. So I never did anything about it. Then suddenly, part of the way through this month, I decided I really needed to change the name. And as I have a bit of inheritance money coming through it felt like the perfect time to do so. I was able to get my host to sort out all the redirects for me, and I even purchased a premium WordPress theme so that the redesign was the quickest I’ve ever done. The entire change took less than a day to make, and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Why “A Spiral Dance”?
I tried a few different name ideas out, finding some I loved but which I knew wouldn’t really mean anything to anybody else. And then I stumbled upon the idea for A Spiral Dance. I’ve often said that life is like a spiral dance, you go round and round in seemingly endless circles, coming back time and again to what feels like the same place. And yet it’s never quite the same, because the circular path you take is more like a spiral, bringing you back to a similar spot but ever so slightly higher or lower than the vantage point you had last time you were here. You’ve changed in the time since you last visited this point, sometimes the changes are positive and sometimes they have brought you so low that you fall to your knees and weep in despair at just how much things have changed. But it’s all change. And change is the only constant in life, right?
So that’s what I hope to use this space for moving forwards. I want to share with you the changes happening in my life. I want to show you the things that help me on my journey, to tell you the things I’ve learned, and invite you to take steps within your own spiral dance through life.
One of the things I want to write much more about is my spiritual journey, particularly the way that I am re-embracing spirituality. For well over a decade now I have been holding back from fully embracing the spirituality that had previously filled me with so much hope, peace, and joy. Years ago, when I was a teenager and very early into my twenties, I lived in a world that was so full of possibilities. Faith and spirituality meant that there were limitless opportunities to connect to the Divine, and I felt almost constantly connected to various energies all around me. I’d talk to the Angels and those in Spirit, think about Faeries, connect with the trees through Celtic Reiki, use my Oracle Cards all the time, chat daily on spiritual forums, carry crystals with me (even popping small tumblestones in my bra if I didn’t have any other way to wear them), and quite simply accepted that there was far more to the world that what I could see. But somewhere along the line I lost my deep connection to all of this.
A large part of this has been because I have gone too far into my head and forgotten how to listen to my heart as well. I became too focused on figuring out where I fit in, and then when I did find my way into the church I began to wonder where all of this fit in. I began to doubt my earlier experiences, getting too caught up in orthodoxy (correct thinking) and orthopraxy (correct practice) rather than keeping myself open to the possibilities. Now don’t get me wrong, I have learned a lot during this time and I think it is very helpful to be able to have a theological conversation with someone which is based on generally accepted principles. And it is through understanding Christianity through the work of Progressive Christian scholars that has helped me to realise I do fit into the church and enabled me to write posts such as Why I Support The LGBTQ+ Community as a Christian and Christianity and The New Age: Can You Walk Both Paths Together? But I had become unbalanced towards always trying to justify faith, particularly my faith, and lost the ability to connect in a deep way.
This isn’t a new change for this month, as I’d already taken a step towards sharing more of my own personal spirituality in the post Walking Between Worlds. And I’m currently on day 109 of my daily chanting practice. In fact it has been the daily practice that has most reminded me of the importance of being open to trying new things and making them a part of your life, because only through doing things do we begin to truly experience them. But there has been a very clear shift for me this month, and I think that comes from having finally finished reading The Universal Christ by Richard Rohr. Of all the books I have read over the years, this is the one I wish I had had access to all those years ago when I first started to doubt my own experiences and put more faith in trying to find my place and fit in.
If you haven’t read The Universal Christ yet, I highly recommend getting yourself a copy. Or you could visit the companion site and watch some of the videos there. None of the ideas in the book were new to me at all, and yet the way it was presented was completely new. Here was a well respected Christian author using terminology that I had only ever heard within New Age circles. Reading this book felt like I was finally being given permission to completely and utterly embrace all the things I’d known to be true all those years ago, without feeling the need to justify any of it. And whilst I shouldn’t have needed that permission, the truth is I did. I’m not very good at accepting myself for who I am and living life my way, I’m too much of a people-pleaser and generally hate standing out in a crowd. But reading this book, especially knowing just how many Christians had loved the book too, made me realise that it’s not only okay for me to be unashamedly who I am, it’s also vital that I do so. It’s vital that we all embrace who we are.
Which brings me to the end of the month and how I spent a lovely morning creating a collage of how I want to feel about and within myself for my birthday. I had previously spent some time cutting out pictures and words from various magazines with the intention of creating a few manifestation collages. I’ve done this in the past and always enjoyed the process, but haven’t done one in well over 5 years now. It felt like the right time to do so, with all the changes in my sense of self this month, and I’m so happy with how the first collage turned out.
I love the way the collage brings together a feeling of freedom of spirit, and resonates with the more “magical” side of life with which I wish to connect more deeply. It is a visual representation of the person I want to be, the person who I am sure that I could be if only I let go of my hang-ups and truly embraced myself as worthy just as I am. And I hope to see some of these changes happen over the coming months.
Other news from this month
Here are some of the other things that have happened this month:
- I created a daily routine for both myself and Tim that ties into Little Man’s homeschool routine. Each routine prioritises things that we each want and need to do, whilst also providing flexibility for the difficult days. It gives us a bit more structure to these crazy days that all seem to roll into one, and makes sure we both get time to rest and decompress.
- I did my first shop since the lockdown came into place, and promptly came down with a stomach bug two days later! But, at least it wasn’t COVID-19.
- Since recovering from the stomach bug, my joints have been particularly painful, so I have started trying to go for a daily walk again to build up strength and motion. I’ve also found a nice bed yoga routine to help gently stretch my incredibly tight hamstrings.
- I’ve continued listening to Harry Potter and am about to finish The Order of The Phoenix. I’ve also started reading a book called The Age of Witches, which isn’t a genre I’d normally read but I’m really loving it so far. It has even inspired me to buy copies of The Real Witches Kitchen and The Real Witches Garden, to help bring a bit more magic into my own home.
- I began a free course by Rockstar Priestess on Aphrodite and Beauty. This course came at the right time for me, because beauty is something I have always struggled with and I want to really try and embrace it in my life moving forward.
- Following on from the above point, I used some of my birthday money to order some delicious vegan oils and balms from an Etsy store called Luna Levitas. I’m really looking forward to trying them out and lavishing my body a little bit.
I think that’s it for this month. I wonder what changes May will bring with it?