10 years now

Hey planners, goal-setters and coaches! What are the best questions you ask people, to help them identify their goals? What helps people unearth their true purpose, and set out on that path?

This question feels alive for me today because it’s my birthday. And I’ve had this note on my unwieldy calendar of to-dos, to contemplate this. This turning. This phase of life I’m in. This moment. Where am I at? What are my priorities? What are my desires and dreams? What brings me joy? What is the overlap of my passion and the world’s need?

Apparently, you can even draw circles and create magical diagrams that will help you identify the sweet spot of your life….

A friend recently shared a curious newsletter with me, called Oldster magazine, about what it means to grow older. The interview that she shared with me, featured a woman, Jennifer Romolini, age 48 1/2, reflecting on the questions that the magazine asks everyone. I loved, particularly, two things that she said.

One, is the idea that the age she most identifies with is her 9-year-old self, “the earnest, gentle weirdo I was before I started performing femininity, before I started performing an identity, period.” As the parent of a 9 year old, I love this naming of the magic of that age, of full of the earnest gentle weirdness of who a person really is.

I also loved Romolini’s answer to the question: What do you like about being your age?

There’s this idea that the joy of middle age is giving fewer fucks, but that always rings false to me, a kind of “badass”/superwoman posturing that’s handy on Instagram and hollow at its core. Truth is, I give all the fucks now, my fucks are urgent, I care more deeply about how I show up than I ever did before. The real joy of middle age —if you can get there— is trusting yourself enough to be tender and porous when you can and developing the shrewd sense to know when you can’t.

Jennifer Romolini

Friends, I don’t think this is the joy of middle age. I think this is the privilege (and pain) of the Age we are now in. We have no time to waste, to squander on things that are performative, insincere, that don’t serve life… and I give all the fucks now, my fucks are urgent.

I am feeling this sense held and nurtured in our Active Hope Climate Squad circle, which has allowed a kind of spaciousness and supportiveness to rally around that urgency, so it can de-activate, so my nervous system can stand down, and I can consider the times we’re in, and the work I have to offer, with a groundedness that “urgency” doesn’t normally offer. As is said, these times are urgent, we must slow down. Or, as Brene Brown has said so beautifully, in reflecting on recovery work, or as David Lynch says beautifully, in reflecting on mindfulness meditation, we need to create a bit of space, a moment of pause, between the input and the output… between the stimulus and the response… It might be a breath, it might be parenthesis, it might be a circle… but elongating the space between the alarm and the action, allows for a wise response.

I’ve been giving some of that spacious consideration to the Wellness Almanac, too, these last few months, having been asked to share what we’ve learned over the years, with the Nukwantwal Intergovernmental Committee, which is meeting next week, bringing together elected leaders and senior staff from the Lil’wat Nation, Village of Pemberton and Area C of the SLRD, to explore what it means to “help each other to find the way”.

Racism, reconciliation, injustice – these triggers create highly charged responses, Facebook threads that can leave me feeling pretty amped up, wondering how we will navigate our way towards a greater sense of community, wholeness, wellness… and who’s job is that? Who has the map? Who leads the charge? Who knows what they’re doing in this field?

We’ve spent 10 years at the Wellness Almanac trying to unearth the wisdom that is in this community already… each of our little pockets of passion, pain, insight… trying to look around at where we are for answers and sign posts and markers, rather than looking outside to authorities or experts. I still think that there is wisdom in that approach… but what matters is that as many people as possible feel welcome, seen, heard, heard, safe, valued and part of the community. And what does that look like, in 2022, in these strange, stressful, urgent times, that require all your fucks to be laid gently on the table, laid out amongst all of everyone else’s… honoured and acknowledged and invited to start the work of bridging and braiding and repairing and regeneration.

These images, below, are the first 2 weeks of posts we offered… 10 years, 3656 posts and 165,147 visitors ago. Dozens and dozens of people have contributed, lent their support, insight, photos, tips, stories, words… and it feels like falling into a corner with a pile of old photo albums, when I start flicking back in the content stream. This project has wrapped me up in a feeling of community and a deep appreciation for the people who live here. How do we nurture and amplify that, I wonder, as we recover from a two year pandemic response that emphasized separation as safety, and as we confront ongoing climate vulnerability in a world that emphasizes scarcity (because that’s deeply profitable to a few.)

What lies ahead? Who can coach us on this question? What path will we set our feet to? What vision do we hold?

The vision that keeps coming up for me is that I want to love in a climate-resilient, trauma-informed community, a life raft of coherence and possibility, in which people feel able to bring their best selves to the betterment of everyone, and we get through connecting with soil and water and song and each other.

So here’s to anniversaries and the moments of pause and reflection (and nostalgia) they invite, between the urgent clanging of now, and the next intentional step we take forward, into the future we’re dreaming up, and inviting to come into being through us, and our words and actions.

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