Tomorrow is the summer solstice. June 21st is also known as my personal New Year’s Day. That would make today New Year’s Eve.
Looking at the half dozen or so life changing events or supersize epiphanies I’ve had, the majority have occurred on June 21st. I didn’t notice the pattern until a few years ago. Then I also realized that the date was the summer solstice, which makes perfect sense. It’s coincidentally the 21st that I arrived in Seattle three years ago. (Hey ‘Needle — it’s our anniversary!)
During my research today, I discovered that our very own Solstice Parade has its own entry in Wikipedia.
Since this time of the year is cosmically loaded for me, I’ve begun to plan events to coincide with the date. If there’s nothing big on the calendar, I use it to have a retreat.
A few weeks ago, the Seattle Public Library had its bi-annual book sale. It’s basically a porn convention for booklovers; the library drags out five million used copies of its catalog and sells them for 50 cents a piece, a buck for hardcovers.
Nobody warned me to bring a wheelbarrow. You could tell the people who’d been there before. Backed by a sherpa and loaded up with refreshments, bungee cords, and collection lists, they elbowed their way professionally through the overwhelming crowd. I didn’t even bring a bag. But I ended up buying about 45 books. Some of them were ones I had been in the market for and others were of the “oh this looks interesting” variety. It’s easy to lose track when you’ve brought home so many new reads at once. I have the same problem with CDs if I buy more than 3 at a time. I’ll forget about one and it resurfaces weeks or months later, often at opportune times.
Last week I was moving my books into a new bookcase in the Good Karma Room, and discovered one of the “oh this looks interesting” variety. Perfect timing, too. It’s called The Woman’s Retreat Book by Jennifer Louden. I’m going to use it to plan my solstice celebration.
It’s enormously interesting, even if you’re not planning a retreat. The opening chapters talk about retreats for women from a historical and anthropological point of view. Women have been “retreating”, both formally and without ceremony, since we started walking upright. It’s a desire I’ve always had, even on a weekly (and sometimes daily) basis. I used to fight the urge. It’s especially difficult when living with someone else who does not feel the need to withdraw and be alone for great stretches of time. But lately I’ve begun to realize just how essential it is to my wellbeing. And I’m learning to ask for the quiet alone time.
For some reason, I feel guilty asking for alone time when there are other things to be done, like housework or shopping or social bonding. “Real” things to be done. As though sitting alone in a room, window open, music playing in the distance, daydreaming… as though that was not as valid as washing dishes. Yet I found that if I put off the downtime until the chores or other “needs” were taken care of, I never ever got it. You can always find something to clean when you’re a woman operating on guilt.
I’m excited for my retreat, though it will be modified slightly for financial concerns. I was originally going to stay at a European style hotel downtown (the kind with tiny rooms and a common bathroom). But financially, it didn’t work out. So I’m going to have a retreat in the Good Karma Room. While planning my retreat, I received the new catalog for Whole Life Yoga, my favorite studio in Seattle, with a workshop this Sunday called Yoga for Personal Change. Absolutely fabulous.
I’ve got more to share but I have an appointment to look at an art space a bunch of women and I are going to rent in order to create a creative haven full of shared art supplies, shared inspiration, and infused with unstoppable female energy. It’s a good time of year to put some of my dreams into action. You should, too.