It’s me. I follow this woman named Susannah Conway on Instagram and subscribe to her email newsletter. I’m not sure how I found her (through my sister?) but at the end of every year, she puts out a free workbook called Unravel Your Year that you can fill out to reflect on the year that’s passed and look forward to the next one. I think I started at the end of 2015, but don’t quote me on that. This year I took part in August Break 2019, in which she gave prompts for photos like “Smile” or “Clouds” or “Favorite Smell.” This month, she’s doing December Reflections. I thought when the mood struck me that I would also blog about what I selected. She’s so great because there’s no “right answer,” and there are no rules about how you engage. Post it or not on any platform. Skip days. Privately journal. Whatever you want.
Even though the idea is to reflect on things from this year, I changed it up and went back to 2018. This was taken in the Mabel Dodge Luhan House in Taos, New Mexico. Sunrise. It was about 6 weeks after my dad died. I had gone to Taos for a creativity workshop given by my pal, Jill Badonsky. I’d wanted to go before but never had the money. I had signed up for it before my dad got really bad. The first night of the workshop, all of us gathered and we signaled our intentions for what we wanted from our time there using the prompt: In the beauty of this moment. Here’s an excerpt of what I wrote:
“In the beauty of this moment, I can feel the story bubbling. I’m anxious to do the work I need to do, to feel the feelings I’ve been avoiding about Dad.” (2/14/18)
I started a type of memoir writing while I was there. Every night, I’d be in my room, scribbling furiously about the years leading to Dad’s death. I didn’t finish. Didn’t come close. I realized that long-form narrative wasn’t the way to go. I wrote “This is a True Story,” a poem that would close the “Hospice Bubble” section of my poetry collection which at that time wasn’t even a speck of an idea.
In Unravel Your Year, one of the exercises is to find a word to use as a guide throughout the years. That year my word was “spirited.” I thought of it as a way to connect to spirits and also to be alive.
Looking back at that trip, I feel like it came at a perfect time. It allowed me to truly get away from my life for a few days, surround myself with creative people in a beautiful setting. I met some wonderful people and reconnected with a woman with whom I had spent time many years before as she is the sister-in-law to one of my former friends.
I don’t know that I got any closer to processing the loss of my dad. Do we ever? But it was a step. It was a sunrise.