yellow slices of pear on a ceramic rectangle

Cheery yellow slices of a sweet Bartlett pear, on a ceramic trivet that my friend Miya made, with the excellent reminder to EAT MORE, plus a glass of my homemade spiced apple shrub that is the most delicious thing I’ve had in ages, here’s to pleasure…

A quick check-in

Hi friends, I hope you are safe and well, adjusted to the time change if that’s something that takes you extra-adjusting, that you are finding comforts, useful clues, some pleasure where you can, or whatever is most needed.

Today we are exploring Autumnal Delights, as well as what helps when I get overwhelmed, and my rebelliousness around holidays, perceived shoulds, forced gratitude. But also some thoughts about how we might find our way to something new and better…

And other autumnal delights

Noticing, what am I noticing?

Something I have noticed (previously, over time, and also very much lately)…

I can find myself in the moodiest mood, and I either try to find reasons or try to find solutions.

But actually, for me, a moody mood is usually a reflection of a need for blank space, in some form or another.

That is to say, there is too much going on in my line of vision in addition to inside my head, and it’s overwhelming.

I need to look at a clean surface, or gaze out at an open field with big sky.

Getting there

So, there’s the reason (not enough blank space), and the solution (make some blank space), but it takes me a while to get there, to the realization, to the remembering. And then sometimes I can figure out what else is upsetting me, and what would help.

I know what helps, but I forget.

And then, once I get there, it takes me even longer to remember how to access that blank space, wide open, steadying calming experience.

Sometimes I just move everything off my kitchen table, sometimes I go outside and look at the sky.

But I always feel better when I make space, literally as well as emotionally, to be in my big mood.

The usual dilemma (1)

Yes, I crave blank space to be able to function. A wall with nothing on it, an open vista, a clean table.

Versus the powerful ADHD urge to gather, and compile, to fill my space with dozens of reminders, because of course I am the most out of sight out of mind person who has ever lived, and what will I do, how will I know what to do next, without being reminded…

Forgetting of course that I also forget to perceive the reminders as reminders, and only perceive them as blocking my view of [the thing I crave, what is it, oh right, blank space].

The usual dilemma (2)

If you’ve been hanging out here for any amount of time, you know that I am intensely allergic to the holiday season, that I dread American Thanksgiving, and Christmas…

These two days are tied for number one in the category of Loneliest Day Of The Year.

And you also know that I am on an ongoing quest to make them better, or hate them less, or get through them with less distress, I don’t know exactly.

Sometimes my calendar is too much like my kitchen table, cluttered with reminders, but not enough space to plan.

Progress report

As you know, I love a feast day, I love planning a menu, and I mostly love being the lone cowboy of the bunkhouse.

So I am trying to view or perceive American Thanksgiving (next Thursday but really that whole weekend) as an opportunity to go through a chrysalis of sorts.

I want to perceive this time as a passage of my choosing rather rather than a hellish pitfall in the calendar, a place in the year that I dread.

And so we begin with questions…

What would make for a cozy, contented Hermitsgiving?

What supports a playful Zerofucksgiving?

What makes for a calm, sweet day of Naps-having?

What do I already know about this?

What are the known knowns?

The Known Knowns

I think the main thing I want for Hermitsgiving 2023 is a clean house and good food and a clear schedule for chrysalis activities so I can avoid social media and other traps…

Though maybe those wishes are also traps, or they can be, if I allow them to become expectations or shoulds.

Oof, and I want to get my vacuum fixed if it’s fixable or replace if it’s not because it’s giving off a burning smell which scares me, and all this means venturing into far-away civilization before pre-holiday chaos intensifies..

But mainly I am thinking about this Hermitsgiving chrysalis in terms of how it fits into the bigger picture of my year.

And I am considering the humbling question of WHAT DO I WANT, as opposed to reacting to external circumstances forced upon me.

What do I want from this holiday?

I think for me a lot of this exploration is related how reactive I am, because yes, I am a rebellious person who does not like any of the external structures, and I only like my own structures…

Can I find a way to enjoy having a feast day next Thursday without being mad at the world (or really, this country, this culture) for forcing it on me?

What would help me step away from the perception that the whole world is conspiring to remind me that I am all alone while everyone else is gathering, and instead, with great love and intention, choose this chrysalis time for myself…

Can I calmly choose towards the peaceful solitude of the cowboy bunkhouse, that big open sky that I know I crave anyway?

Yes, alone and quiet is what I wish for most anyway, so why am I fighting it…?

Porch breaths

It isn’t too cold yet so each evening I go outside and take porch breaths.

I love the scent, the crisp air, taking a moment to connect with my tree friends and mountain friends, the great expanse, the fields, the gates, the guardians of place.

Are we calling this a gratitude practice? Probably not, I think I’m allergic to that too, but also yes, sure,
it’s that too. It’s an honor to be here, breathing, alive, taking porch breaths at the end of another day, we made it.

Porch breaths are an autumnal delight.

In the deep cold of winter, sometimes I will open the door for just one, but right now I can take as many as I please. A miracle in its own right.

Flavor and pleasure

Some of you know that I run a test kitchen for the holidays, where I try out as many recipes as I have energy and patience to try, choosing from the ones that appeal most, until I land on some favorites, some True Yeses.

The theme of the Hermitsgiving Test Kitchen this year is And Other Autumnal Delights.

I made a spiced apple shrub with brown sugar, date vinegar, and a homemade toasted spice blend, it is so delicious I almost cannot handle it.

It is pear season, and pears rank high among the autumnal delights. I made a pear crisp with some green chile, because for me a good punch in the face (a metaphorical one, via the tastebuds) is also an autumnal delight, and also IDK IDK, sometimes I just need to feel things, you know?

What else?

I made a chocolate ginger cake (vegan, gluten free), and it was almost too good. Upsetting, honestly. This is what I want from my autumnal delights actually. Yes. Be life-ruiningly delicious.

Be life-ruiningly delicious or gtfo.

This is what I want from so many things, actually.

Destroy me with pleasure. Go big or go home. Go big and go home.

Back to the bunkhouse, with a magical pot of green chile stew, and a hot cider cocktail or mocktail.

What is good about Hermitsgiving?

Or, what would help me see it as something I am choosing towards, and not something I am stuck with, a consolation prize, a making-do?

I get to eat exactly what I want, at exactly the time I am hungry. This is important.

Even better, I do not have to accommodate anyone else’s preferences in any way (food, politics, anything at all), and there is no need to be polite, to placate, to do anything other than what I wish to do.

Popcorn for breakfast? Why not.

Dessert first? I insist.

What is joy?

I have spent so much time thinking about everything I dislike about the holiday season and this holiday in particular that I forgot to pause to think about what is joyful, meaningful, desirable, what I can focus on instead.

What would put me into that porch-breath state of wanting to give thanks, in these hard and scary times, these super intense times when everything feels wildly accelerated and too busy, too loud, too dangerous.

Or, if not joy and not thankfulness, then what brings me closer to Operation Winter Cheer?

How can I add cheer, layer on cheeriness, make this a cozy and comfortable time of meeting myself with more kindness, more patience, more sweetness, more appreciation?

A practice of keeping company

I am wondering about maybe next week, instead of posting an essay here, just having a cozy gathering space for anyone who wants to drop in and hang out in the comments (you are welcome to use an assumed name, whether for safety or playfulness or both)…

And that way we can have some together along with the holiday, maybe wish some wishes or call in some superpowers or just notice what we are noticing, make some space, mark the day, take some breaths.

You can tell me what you are eating, and I will try to take pictures of whatever I end up cooking, assuming I have energy to cook. It might just be popcorn and leftovers, we will see.

What do you think? Next Thursday? Here?

There are a lot of ways to be festive, and sometimes my feast days are more pensive than festive, but what if that’s part of marking a holiday too…

Let’s conjure up some autumnal delights…

Or for all southern-hemisphere friends, maybe these are springtime delights for you, rewrite as you see fit.

Here I am thinking about a warm wool hat, sweater weather, getting on a heating pad to stretch.

The vegan chocolate salted caramel sauce that I make for a special occasion, and really, can’t anything be a special occasion? Sometimes the desire to have an occasion is its own occasion.

Desire is its own occasion. Being alive is an occasion.

What is warming, what sweetens, what comforts, what softens, what strengthens, what fortifies me? And what reminds me to go on the porch and breathe?

Let’s call in the delights!

What are your wishes?

What are your wishes? I am lighting a candle for them, and for your own investigative process, and whatever treasures are revealed from the act of wishing.

Oh wow, what beautiful wishes. I love to wish wishes with you.

Thank you, everyone who reads, thank you to porch breaths, to the winding path, to all the many clues that land when they land, to receptivity, and to the tiny hope sparks that we keep cultivating, one breath at a time.

Come play in the comments, I appreciate the company

You are welcome to share anything that sparked for you while reading, or anything that helped or anything on your mind. Wishes you are wishing.

Or anything you’d like to toss into the wishing pot, the healing power of the collective is no small thing, companionship always helps.

You can wish any wishes that come to mind (come to heart?), or echo “Oh wow, what beautiful wishes!” for my wishes or anyone else’s.

I’m happy you’re here with me.

Bonus question

I’m making progress on bonus material about how I relate to time and map out my quarters, let me know if there anything you want to know more about specifically? Drop any questions or thoughts here…

Anyone who gives to Barrington’s Discretionary (see below) will get these by email as soon as I finish editing, I hope soon.

A request

If you received clues or perspective or want to send appreciation for the writing and work/play we do here, I appreciate it tremendously. Working on some stuff to offer this coming year, but between traumatic brain injury recovery & Long Covid, slow going.

I am accepting support (with joy & gratitude) in the form of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund. Asking is not where my strength resides but Brave & Stalwart is the theme these days, and pattern-rewriting is the work, it all helps with fixing the many broken things.

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share this with someone who loves words, tell people about these techniques, approaches and themes, send them here, it all helps, it’s all welcome, and I appreciate it and you so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self