Posted by: devonellington | January 25, 2021

Jan. 25, 2021: Releasing to Make Room for Change

image courtesy of Alexas_Fotos via

This is something we talk about seasonally, or at the year-end. But it can be ongoing.

As I go through boxes of whatevers in preparation for moving, I reconnect with my past. I am so grateful for so many things.

I am not someone who lives by “if you haven’t used it in a year, throw it out.” I would not have made it through lean financial times OR the pandemic that way. I keep things. Not only do I keep things, I end up USING them – sometimes years after I’ve accumulated them.

“You can always replace it” is a fallacy. Companies intentionally stop making products and build products to fail to force purchase of more product. Books go out of print or vanish from the Kindle.

When you find something wonderful, keep it. Use it. Enjoy it.

If and when it no longer serves your life, donate it, or toss it, or otherwise remove it, unless it has positive emotional value or holds an important POSITIVE memory.

But do it because it serves YOUR life, not because someone else claims to know so much more about how you “should” live your life or what you should and shouldn’t keep. It’s YOUR life.

As I sort through things, I release what I no longer want and need, I give thanks for the time that they were in my life and worked in my life. And I wish them well on their next adventure.

Releasing what is no longer needed is liberating – as long as I am the one making the decisions!

Releasing objects also makes me think about the patterns to which they are attached – patterns that I can release because they no longer fit into the way I am re-structuring my life.

Recovering from last year, both mentally and physically, will be difficult. We can’t go back to the way it was. There’s been too much loss, too much grief, too much cruelty. But we can build something out of the ashes that works better.

That may mean releasing some people from our lives, as well as objects. I’m doing that, too.

Part of that is making room in your life for the “better” both in a physical and an emotional sense. We don’t need to know what it is yet, or have all the answers. The fact that we are taking small, regular actions – MINDFUL actions – matters.

What are you releasing?

Posted by: devonellington | January 18, 2021

Jan. 18, 2021: Physical and Emotional Space

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As I’m reviewing options and obstacles for the upcoming move, one of the things I realized I need is both physical and emotional space.

I lived in NYC for years, and before that, I grew up in a suburban apartment. I spent decades in small spaces, and learned how to be creative in them.

As I got older, and one of the shifts to living here on Cape Cod was that I wanted more space. Space to live in a house and have a garden. I’ve had that here.

But the Cape is getting overbuilt. Neighbors change. Sadly, too many of them destroy the environment by cutting down their trees, destroying habit, overbuilding.

I’ve both physically and emotionally expanded to fill this space. My neighbors have done the same in their spaces. A neighborhood that used to feel spacious yet cozy now feels claustrophobic.

While many of my choices for the move are dictated by financial resources, I’m looking for a place within my budget that fulfills my spatial needs – especially emotionally.

I like fences, so enclosed space is not a problem. I like cozy. But I need to feel less claustrophobic, on multiple levels.

What are your needs for space? How do you fulfill them or adapt when you can’t?

Posted by: devonellington | January 15, 2021

Jan. 15, 2021: Mid-Month Check-in

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How are you? How’s your month — and your year — starting?

As I expected, making a list of where I am made me feel like I’m already behind, the first of the year. It’s not a bad list for the first fifteen days of the month, especially considering there was an attempt to overthrow the government, and we’re in the middle of a pandemic. But it’s not as much as I hoped to accomplish.

My first 1K of the day has not always been on a specific fiction project, which has thrown off both my pace and my creative orientation. The positive aspect about this list is it brought that into focus, so I can fix it moving forward for the rest of the month and beyond.

This is what I’ve done so far in January:

LOIs: 32

Article Proposals: 4 (1 acceptance, article in process)

Book Proposals: 1 (goes out this weekend)

Script Pitches: 3

Boxes Purged: 5 (it should be at least 3 times that by this point)

Exercise Bike – 15 min/day

Daily yoga

Twice-daily meditation

Weekly meditation group on Zoom

Daily interaction with elected officials

Holiday decorations packed & put away

Client work

Regular blog posts on Ink in My Coffee, GDR, Gratitude and Growth, A Biblio Paradise, Ink-Dipped Advice

Books Reviewed: 1

1K day/first thing on various projects, but not on one specific project

I can look at this and make necessary adjustments moving forward.

Posted by: devonellington | January 11, 2021

Jan. 11: Celebrating the Done, Not Fretting the Undone

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I decided that, at least to start the year, I will not torment myself with To Do Lists.

I may create specific project lists and put deadlines in calendars, but the To do Lists were sabotaging me, rather than supporting me.

I’d hoped a monthly “To Do” would work – I already knew daily lists did not.

But even the monthly lists became overwhelming.

Yes, I will keep track of what needs to be done and get it done – on time.

But I will not create a list that burdens me instead of empowers me.

So many people find that making a list and crossing each item off makes them feel wonderful. I used to be one of those people.

I am not in that group any longer.

Therefore, I try something different, and see how that works.

What are you trying to do differently this year, built on what has not worked for you in the past?

Posted by: devonellington | January 4, 2021

Jan. 4, 2021: Easing Into the New Year

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Most years, I hit the ground running, filled with plans and hopes and dreams for the coming year.

I had SUCH high hopes and big dreams for 2020. The start of a new decade. I was so excited, only to have my dreams dashed upon the rocks of the pandemic, my own health issues, and the rot in the United States government.

I want to hope for better, but I don’t want 2021 to say, “Ha! You thought LAST year was bad? Wait and see what’s in store!”

I’ve almost forgotten how to be hopeful and positive, and I don’t want to lose the part of myself that believes in creating positive change.

As I mentioned earlier, I’m picking one thing to focus on for 2021. It has a lot of moving parts, pun intended.

Moving is one of the most stressful things to do in one’s life.

But, in this case, it’s necessary, and I want it to be as positive as possible.

I need to know WHERE I’m moving – that’s still up in the air, although I have a list of possible locations.

I know WHEN – my lease is up at the end of April.

I’m putting together the HOW – which has to do with resources/money for the move, cleaning things out, and organization. It means taking on extra work and working differently to put together the financials in order to make this happen.

It means getting serious about purging the boxes in the basement, something I keep starting and stopping over the years, because every four or five boxes, I’m overwhelmed again.

There’s no room for being overwhelmed.

At the same time, I have to juggle daily life: taking care of home and family, dealing with clients and assignments I have, while piling on more.

The next few months are a juggling act.

Posted by: devonellington | January 1, 2021

Jan. 1, 2021: The Answers to The Questions Posed for 2021

Janus image courtesy of Loudon Dodd via GNU Free Documentation License. Statue part of Jthe collection at the Vatican Museums

January 1, 2021: Janus

Janus is the god of beginnings and transitions in Roman mythology.

One of our rituals for the New Year is  one minute before midnight, we open the back door to let out the old year’s energy. One minute after midnight, we open the front door to let in the new year’s energy.

This year, we need new energy. Most importantly, we need hope.

Now, to answer our questions.

Look back on 2020. Do not consider anything left undone a failure. You survived. That’s the baseline for 2020.

It’s very difficult to look back on 2020 and not feel like a failure. I was so sick for so much of it – three surgeries and two cancer scares. I had to push back book deadlines. But, when I look at the year, it wasn’t a total loss. I was able to accomplish a few things, albeit in a smaller scale:

–Survived 3 surgeries and 2 cancer scares

–Maintained my daily yoga practice

–Maintained my twice-daily meditation practice

–Had an article published in THE WRITER magazine, a publication I’ve wanted to crack for years

–Had an article published in SCRIPTMAG, another publication I wanted to get into

–My radio play “Intrigue on the Aurora Nightingale” was produced/performed before everything was shut down by the pandemic

–“By Her Pointed Quill”, the one-act play inspired by the life of Susanna Centlivre was researched, written, and submitted to the 365 Women Project.

–“Family Layers”, the one-act play inspired by the life of Isabella Goodwin, was researched, written, and submitted to the 365 Women Project.

–JUST A DROP, the full-length play about Giulia Tofana’s circle of herbalists, was revised.

–SERENE AND DETERMINED, the full-length play about Lavinia Fontana, was revised.

–Wrote “A Woman for the Job”, another one-act play based on Kate Warne’s career

–“Holiday Transitions” flash fiction written, accepted, and published by Weird Christmas Anthology

–“Help, No Questions Asked” short story written, accepted, and a finalist in the Body Be Gone contest

Article on settings published on the Cape Cod Writers Center site

Judged two categories in a contest

Regular book reviewing gig

Client work

Blogging, including reviving the food blog, Comfort and Contradiction

2021 Almanac piece published

Contracted and wrote a piece for a 2022 Almanac

Put together the “Trinity of Teasers” promotional giveaway

Re-released the short “Just Jump in and Fly”

Re-released the short “The Ghost of Lockesley Hall”

In process:

–started writing “A Rare Medium”, a one-act play based on another one of Kate Warne’s cases

–started revisions on the screenplay VISCERAL INVISIBLES

–working on revisions and re-releases in the Topic Workbooks

–deadlines pushed back on books

–tried some new directions in fiction

So, it wasn’t a completely lost year.

Grieve as needed. There were many losses on many fronts. Visit Grief To Art for a site dedicated to collective mourning, and a list of resources.

Lots of grief, lots of loss. In additional to personal losses, the realization that the people who are paid and take an oath to protect us and this country don’t give a damn and will let us die was difficult to navigate.

I was also sorry to give up my dream/hope of getting a piano and starting lessons. It would have been a wonderful distraction during the pandemic, but there just isn’t any room in this house.

Communicate your experience of the year, through words, music, visuals, dance. Purge as much of it as you can.

The effects of this year will ripple forth in my work for the rest of my life.

Survival as the key component of 2021. That is your main task.

Pick one thing you want/need to achieve in 2021. It can be small. It can be simple. But instead of breaking the year down into goals, dreams, and resolutions, pick one thing and craft a plan to achieve it.

The one thing that must happen this year is moving. My lease is up and it can’t be renewed, as of the end of April. Putting together the move is my priority. Then, it will be about recovering from it and building a new life in a new place.

Daydream. You can rebuild and heal by dreaming about the future you want. Start setting the foundation for more in 2022.

Allowing myself the space to dream again will be the biggest gift I can give myself. I have not fully comprehended how much long-lasting trauma this past year has caused.

Posted by: devonellington | December 31, 2020

Happy New Year!

image courtesy of Quince Creative via

I am not going to admonish myself for what was not done. I am going to celebrate that it will soon by 2021. Happy New Year, friends!

Posted by: devonellington | December 28, 2020

You Are A Success!

image courtesy of

I nearly called this post “You are Not a Failure.” However, I wanted it to contain a positive header, not a negative one.

You are a success.

You survived 2020.

No matter how your plans changed, no matter how much fell by the wayside, you are a success.

Take time to breathe and recharge.

We are not going to barrel into 2021. We are going to ease into it with compassion, gratitude, and fortitude.

You showed your strength this year, even in the times you did not feel strong.

You are wonderful.

Posted by: devonellington | November 23, 2020

Not Perfect, But From the Heart

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There’s often a lot of pressure on us during the holidays to make it “perfect.” We feel even more of this pressure when we have family and friends coming to share the holidays with us, because we want to give them the “perfect” holiday experience.

This year, with smaller celebrations at home, is a perfect time to worry less about “perfect” and more about what comes from our hearts.

Decorate as much or as little as you want.

Prepare and eat the foods you and those living in your household enjoy most, even if they’re not traditional.

Laugh. A lot.

Rest when you’re tired.

Play with a mix of tradition and fresh ideas that make you happy. See where you enjoy simplifying. If the entire burden of the holiday was on you, and there are others living in your household, include them in getting things done. Invite them rather than accuse them. Find out what traditions and tasks give them joy, and let them participate. So often, we feel we have to do everything and present for others, when they may well enjoy the process of decorating or cooking, or even sitting in the room talking to you while you do it.

Maybe you want to spend less time cooking this year and more time on decorating.

Maybe you want to order prepared meals and just heat them up on the day, so you can watch a movie or read a book.

Holidays are about celebration. So often, they wind up being about exhaustion.

This year, from Thanksgiving through the end of the year, think about what makes you happy, and also what gives you energy.

Let your rituals and traditions feed your soul instead of deplete you.

Lead from the heart, rather than from expectation.

Allow yourself joy rather than exhaustion.

Posted by: devonellington | November 16, 2020

The Year of Creative Holidays

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With the pandemic this year, the case numbers rising, we need to be creative about how we celebrate the holidays. Many people will be alone – and lonely. We need to be creative in designing this year’s holiday season to nurture us, to stay connected in community, and to find ways to enjoy ourselves, even if we can’t do the normal rounds of holiday madness.

Thanksgiving is a the big gathering holiday for our extended family. We usually gather in Maine, where we’ve rented the VFW Hall for decades. There will be anywhere from 30-60+ at the dinner. We cook together, we eat together, and, importantly, we clean up together.

Even when I worked on Broadway, I negotiated getting Thanksgiving off as often as possible, and then worked Christmas so someone else could have that holiday off.

However, this year, we can’t come in from all corners of the country.

We need to stay the F home.

I love cooking the entire meal, so it won’t be terrible for me to cook. If you’ve never cooked a turkey on your own before, on the Nov. 20th post of the Comfort and Contradictions blog, I will have some suggestions.

But what the extended family IS doing is having our smaller family meals separately and safely, and then doing a dessert party via Zoom so we don’t miss all the catching up we always do. Often, Thanksgiving is the only time I actually see most of them.

That is how we are re-calibrating Thanksgiving this year.

Here are some other ideas, looking ahead to the entire holiday season:

Decorate. If you’re on your own, it might seem silly to decorate “just for yourself.” It’s not. Trust me on this. When I was out on my own around the country and couldn’t come home for the holidays, decorating whatever space in which I lived – even if it was a hotel room – made all the difference in the world. It doesn’t have to be expensive.

If you don’t have any decorations, and you can’t go out to pick things up in person, consider ordering just one or two pieces online, either from your favorite store and have them delivered. If you have a good computer/printer set up, you can print out pictures either on cardstock or paper you can use spray adhesive to mount onto cardstock and build all kinds of fun vistas for yourself. It could be as simple as a few seasonal pictures mounted to add atmosphere, or maybe a few cutout trees to build your own evergreen forest, or maybe you’re feeling ambitious and want to build your own Christmas (or Holiday) village. There are LOTS of options online with ideas how to do it.

I love using fabric to change mood. I pick up seasonal fabric remnants whenever they’re on sale or I find them at thrift shops, and I change out tablecloths, curtains, cloths on end tables every 4-6 weeks to keep up with various holidays and change the look and the feel of rooms.

Write Holiday Cards. This year, make the time to sit down and write holiday cards. It’s worth it. It’s a way to let people know you are thinking of them, and helps keep the post office in business. There are tons of holiday cards you can order online. I love those from the National Wildlife Federation, although I can’t always afford them.

You can order stamps from the post office online and have them delivered. They have delightful holiday stamps. You can make the writing of the cards into a ritual, with candlelight and holiday music.  But it’s always worth it to make the time to sit down and write cards. Because of post office delays this year, I’m going to write the overseas cards the weekend before American Thanksgiving and send them out, and then start the domestic cards the week after Thanksgiving, hoping to get them out by Dec. 10.

We hang red velvet ribbons along our door frames and window frames, and tape the holiday cards to the ribbons for display. I’ve also taped them to the back of my front door (or a hotel room door, when I did long-stay hotels on the road).

Remember there are lots of lonely people every year, but especially this year. If you know of someone who’s alone, get that individual’s address and send a card. You can also send cards to the troops, to nursing home patients, and to others who are alone and sign up to ask for cards.

Participate in the Icelandic Tradition of “Yule Book Flood.” I’m having trouble getting the accents in to type in the correct Icelandic name, so here’s a link. We joined this Christmas Eve tradition a few years ago. We open our gifts on the Eve anyway, and just have stockings for the day. Books are a part of it, but now we mindfully pick a book and start reading that night!

Drop Traditions You Don’t Like. We’ve all done it; kept up traditions we don’t like because someone else wants us to. If the someone else lives with you and it matters to them, yes, keep it up for them. But also ask to add something to the traditions for YOU, so it stays balanced. You don’t want to destroy something meaningful to someone else. However, if you’re on your own, who will know? See how it feels. It might turn out you replace it with something you’ve grown into and enjoy more; it might turn out you miss it. But try the holiday without that which gave you stress.

Limit the Holiday Zoom Parties. Or, at least, your time in them. It’s already happening – an flood of invitations for online holiday parties to replace the in-person ones. I’m so grateful to be included. But I’m an introvert. That means I limited how many invitations I accepted pre-pandemic, and limited the amount of time I spent at parties. I will need to do the same this year.

It Doesn’t Have to be All Alcohol All the Time. I like a good cocktail hour as much as anyone, but I’m getting older. When I hit the bottle, it hits back. I’ve always been a fan of the drink Shirley Temple. I first had it at the Peacock Alley Bar in the Waldorf Astoria hotel, way back in the late 1960’s. We waited for my dad, who worked in the building next door. The bartender would make me a Shirley Temple as I sat in the bar (I was about 7 at the time, and kids were allowed to sit in bars with their parents). I loved it. It looks a bit like a whisky sour.

The recipe I learned to make it is equal parts ginger ale and lemon lime soda, with a dash of Rose Grenadine and a maraschino cherry.

I always serve it as a non-alcoholic options when I give parties.

When I prepped for my surgery last June and was allowed only clear liquids, I discovered the White Cranberry-Peach concoction from Ocean Spray.  I now buy 4-6 bottles of it whenever I go to the grocery store. It’s as festive as a cocktail, and goes well with most non-tomato-based dishes and fish dishes. Quite often this year, I’ve drunk that instead of wine with dinner.

Try One New Recipe. So often, there’s so much pressure to make everything from scratch for the holidays while working full time (often remotely) while so many have to also monitor their children’s online learning. Take the pressure off yourself. Try ONE new recipe. Maybe it’s a cookie. Maybe it’s a side dish. Maybe it’s a fruity or spicy holiday bread. Put aside a block of time where you don’t feel pressured and just enjoy every step of the process.

Create New Rituals/Traditions That Speak to Where You Are Now. Maintaining past rituals and traditions is important to our sense of connection with previous generations and our personal histories. But take this year as an opportunity to create a new, different tradition that fits the current circumstances, and, most importantly, will make you happy. Let your repertoire of holiday traditions grow with you. It can be as simple as going outside on Christmas Eve to wish upon a star, or to use pine cones from the yard for decorations. It could be dressing up when you usually wouldn’t, or dressing down when you’d usually dress up. It could be playing a board game or a card game you haven’t played in years.

Rest. Holidays are stressful at the best of times. Pandemic holidays have the potential to be even more so, because we have to let go of so many expectations. However, this year is also a chance to say, “You know what? We need to stay home to be safe. I think I’ll take a nap.”

Be kind to yourself, be kind to your tribe. Reach out to someone who’s hurting. Enjoy the good things, and build new traditions that fit where you area now.

Posted by: devonellington | November 2, 2020

Preparing for 2021

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Preparing for 2021: Just One Thing

Here are the questions/prompts to consider as we prepare for 2021, knowing so much hinges on what happens tomorrow and in the next weeks. I am posting it here, and also in a new tab for 2021.

  1.  Look back on 2020. Do not consider anything left undone a failure. You survived. That’s the baseline for 2020.
  • Grieve as needed. There were many losses on many fronts. Visit Grief To Art for a site dedicated to collective mourning, and a list of resources.
  • Communicate your experience of the year, through words, music, visuals, dance. Purge as much of it as you can.
  • Survival as the key component of 2021. That is your main task.
  • Pick one thing you want/need to achieve in 2021. It can be small. It can be simple. But instead of breaking the year down into goals, dreams, and resolutions, pick one thing and craft a plan to achieve it.
  • Daydream. You can rebuild and heal by dreaming about the future you want. Start setting the foundation for more in 2022.
Posted by: devonellington | September 21, 2020

How Do You Plan in Chaos?

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One of the difficulties of navigating the pandemic these past months is that it’s difficult, almost impossible to set goals and resolutions and to work on dreams when so much of our time, energy, and focus is on basic survival.

I know I’ve had to throw out almost everything I both wanted and needed to accomplish this year. Some things are postponed. Some things are in limbo, and I live in the additional dread of knowing I will have to deal with them on top of the pandemic, and without the resources I’d hoped to put in place over the last few months.

With so many people acting like the pandemic is either over or didn’t happen in the first place (in spite of the enormous, avoidable death toll), it’s also difficult to fend off exterior pressures to put yourself in danger in order to either make other people money or make them feel more comfortable about their own choices.

We talked, a few weeks ago here, about the importance of inner resources. Building a strong inner life will help deal with external pressures. Whether it’s home-related projects or reading or pets or garden or cooking or yoga or meditation or creative pursuits – all of this will help build your inner strength and help you face the exterior challenges.

That’s an on-going process, and what gives you strength and feeds your soul will change over the years. That growth process is positive, not negative. It doesn’t mean everything you’ve done to that point is negated – it means you build on it.

Another helpful tool is to strip everything down to what you need to survive this. Not what you WANT, but what you need. What do you need to do, and how can you do is safely, in order to fill those needs?

Then, take time to realize how many people live focused on just filling those needs because that is their daily necessity.

Decide on actions, tools, processes that will help you fulfill your basic needs while keeping you and others safe.

Don’t give in to pressure from those who pretend everything’s back to “normal” and fine again. It’s not. Don’t buy into “new normal” being “just live with it and hope you don’t die next.”

Those pressures are for and from people who do not have your best interest at heart.

You’ll need to take some energy to figure out workarounds where they’re concerned. Some of them will need to be removed permanently from your life. None of that is bad. It’s necessary.

From the necessities, build on what you need to strengthen your inner resources.

Build in that which gives you pleasure (safely), and DO NOT FEEL GUILTY ABOUT THAT WHICH GIVES YOU PLEASURE. A “guilty pleasure” is a form of bullying. We’ve been told we should feel guilty about pleasure. No. It’s another tool of oppression.

Now you have a foundation that keeps your life running, and you can take information (REAL information, from vetted sources) and use that information to make decisions and start building back your goals and resolutions, and start dreaming again.

This takes time, a little bit of time every day, but it is worth it. Five minutes a day figuring out how to keep things running smoothly and how to make progress to where you want to be physically and emotionally is 35 minutes a week is progress.

Five minutes a day isn’t overwhelming.

In meditation class, they say that starting with 8 minutes a day will lead you to a strong daily practice.

Once you’re comfortable with 5 minutes a day of goals, dreams, and resolutions, move it up to 8. This gives you time to focus.

Psychology Today talks about how 8 minutes of walking can change your life. There’s an entire meditation practice based on 8 minutes a day. They can give you ideas on practices and benefits.

If it winds up being more than 5 minutes or 8 minutes, great! But a little bit of work every day adds up to a lot of work by the end of the month. It’s not overwhelming.

Also, by working a little bit every day, it gives you the chance to integrate new information.

We are in the midst of chaos, and there’s no end in sight. We need to learn to ride the chaos dragon WHILE also taking steps to positively change the chaos.

There are too many people out there, in positions of power, who don’t believe that each of our lives matter. We need to take care of ourselves and each other, as much as we can.

Build slowly, steadily, keeping immediate needs balanced with longer-term needs. A little bit of steady works builds a full creation.

Posted by: devonellington | September 14, 2020

Honor Yourself For Surviving

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We’re in the middle of September. I haven’t posted a To-Do list or a Wrap-Up list in months.

I had a lot of goals, and I had a lot of things that have to happen going into the year. They’re stalled, many of them, but some of them still have to happen as soon as I can pull them together.

I keep on top of deadlines and keep an eye to the future, but that’s about it. I’m not setting myself the dozens of tasks each month, because sometimes getting through the day is the best I can do.

We need to celebrate our survival, while we mourn those who died. Especially because so many died needlessly.

I’m working on questions for 2021. In the meantime, I’m also looking for coping tools and caring tools and ways that we can survive so that we can thrive when there are solutions to the virus and those solutions are enforced.

We won’t go back to normal. That might be a good thing. There were many elements of what was considered “normal” that we now realize are toxic. One of the things we need to do as we work our way forward it to redefine what we want and need in our lives and put systems in place to get that – while breaking apart the systems that have demanded that we don’t achieve what we want and need to achieve in order for someone else to profit.

A big part of this is redefining work.

Take a breath. Celebrate yourself. Take time to assess. Stockpile both physical and emotional resources. It will be a tough winter, but we want to be in a good place to build something better by spring.


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