wintry potato cauliflower soup in a white bowl

Image: the cauliflower potato soup I made all winter long, with chopped green onion & homemade vegan cheese, in a white ceramic bowl on a wooden table, a brass spoon resting against the spout of the bowl

Some words before the other words!

What is this called? A pre-something.


A lot going on these days in the world. A lot going on that makes it difficult to focus, to keep on keeping on. I want to glow extra love (boundless & bountiful love) for all trans friends, I want a better and kinder world, an inclusive and welcoming world, but most of all a safe world for you, may justice and sanctuary prevail, I also know that glowing love is not enough, it is just a beginning point for everything that needs to change.

A heart-breath for dreaming and scheming (in a good way) towards these wishes of sanctuary, a safer world where you are loved and treasured and thriving. May it be so or something even better. ❤️

Three Months Later (hello again)

An unexpected seasonal crumpling

The time change this month hit me like a ton of bricks, I am imagining the last straw on the proverbial camel’s back but each straw is somehow also a ton of bricks.

All my beautiful well-cultivated habits crumpled immediately.

And I can’t even say why I didn’t expect it. It’s in the calendar! It happens every year! This felt different though.

As if I was under siege, as if time itself had launched a wily and multi-pronged all-fronts attack on both my nervous system and the system of my daily routine, exposing how these two systems are entwined. When things are working, they support each other. When the light is wrong and the time is off, they both short-circuit, along with my brain.

Is this a lot of metaphor-mixing? Sure, possibly, yes, however, in my defense, I was already not doing well and then the time change has not helped, so this disjointed report of my current state comes from within the unraveling, and if that is reflected in a cacophony of disharmonious metaphor, I am okay with that.

When the light is wrong

I hadn’t realized until the time change just how many things were working for me, and had been, all winter long:

Early to bed, closing my eyes for X Delicious Hours, the steadying comfort of morning bobcat time (gentle yoga, slow stretching, big cat yawns), making my pot of ginger chiltepin hot chocolate, padding around my tiny kitchen in my warmest socks and fuzzy slippers. A routine.

A routine is a lovely thing, or it can be

You do one thing and then do the next thing, and it is, if not automatic, then at least a familiar and reassuring sequence.

But it’s been two weeks and I am only just now beginning to find my bearings again.

For the first week I couldn’t fall asleep at night, couldn’t wake up in the morning, couldn’t remember what I am supposed to do next, or what I need to try when nothing makes sense.

So I just stayed in bed for hours, unable to remember the sequence of getting out of bed and starting my day, I stopped stretching and forgot to make a hot southwestern desert beverage or light my candle or hum my morning hum.

And even once I remembered the sequence, it had zero appeal. I couldn’t remember why I used to do those things, for what purpose, or how to begin, but also couldn’t think of a new way to coax myself into the day, into being brave enough to just try.

It isn’t just me though

Anne Helen Peterson asked on March 16, on Twitter:

Is there an explanation for why Daylight Savings hit everyone I know like a semi this year (I’m talking more than usual, more than I can ever remember)

Her question elicited an enormous number of responses. Predictably, there were some annoying ones from men in suits who magically remain at ease and unbothered no matter what the happens in life and intensely need to brag about it given the slightest opportunity, but the majority agreed emphatically with her premise.

Even people who said they normally don’t notice it reported getting absolutely flattened by it this year.

I thought the best (or most useful) response came from Kathleen McLaughlin, @kemc, who said, “We are all just cracking under the weight of three years of way too much every-fucking-thing. I think. Any little shift is now big.”

Yes. Any little shift is now big. So there’s that.

Three Months Later…

Three months ago (and change), I wrote about my practice of interacting with the year in quarters, equinox to solstice, solstice to equinox, and how deeply I adore the television drama trope of Three Months Later, Dot Dot Dot, typed on a card, to indicate to us, the audience, that a substantial period of time has passed, and things are different now.

And just like the time change hit different this spring, this winter quarter (or these winter quarters, if you, like me, prefer to imagine time in space, time like a living space…) felt very different to me compared with previous years.

*I say WINTER from here in the northern hemisphere, and at the same time I don’t want to exclude friends and readers in the southern hemisphere who are summering their way through the end of summer, so please translate as needed based on your location, and know that I am thinking about you as well, drinking iced beverages and napping a lot, I hope!

Whether your equinox is vernal or autumnal, we head into the next Three Months Later either way…

Time is confusing

Time is confusing and I have questions!

For example…

How did the Three Months Later of this winter go by so fast???

But/and also: How was The Endless Winter so very long and seemingly unending, my friends in the midwest are still getting snow in late March, and even here in sunny southern New Mexico we had hail and some flurries last weekend, the mornings still cold and bitter.

And apparently three months ago is when Elon Musk did his fake poll of “I will step down if the people want me to”, but that feels like at least two years ago, so make it make sense, I find myself so confused by the passage of time and also confused by my confusion.

A confusion of sadness

On equinox I sat down to write my wishes, and began by rereading the wishes I wrote for winter solstice.

This is usually a grounding and helpful way for me to begin the vulnerable thing that is the process of wishing wishes and daring to let them come into the world in the form of words. It is revealing.

Except I was absolutely devastated to confirm that all my wishes are exactly the same as they were three months ago, which very easily morphed into a very familiar self-criticism narrative or monster story about how Nothing Has Changed, There’s No Hope and What’s The Point because It Will Never Get Better.

What’s true? What’s also true?

And so I am trying to play the game of what’s true and what’s also true, to see to shift my focal point.

What can I notice, what can I bring my attention to that is different, to counter my impression that nothing has changed.

What is useful in encountering the same wishes, three months later? If they haven’t changed, have I changed?

And: if noticing the pattern changes the pattern, what changes when I notice (in a neutral way, without judgment) the re-wishing of past wishes? How do they change when I rename them or re-invoke them?

What is different now? How is this equinox different from last solstice?

What is different, other than things related to light and temperature and length of days?

My hair is three months longer.

I cry a lot less. To be clear, I still cry a lot, I just mean that am no longer crying multiple times a day, and as of this past two weeks, I am no longer crying every day, so that’s a shift, a huge one, and it counts.

Related: I think in general I am a lot more angry and a lot less sad, so that’s something?

I don’t know if it’s a good something, but it does indicate that things are moving, and I believe movement is good, and also we are countering the narrative that nothing has changed, because here’s something pretty big that has changed!

The First Rule of Cooking Club is Think About Cooking Something

I now make a big batch of soup each week, which is a delight, and I got really into Cooking Club, which is imaginary, but it does its job, aka it helps me focus on batching food and keeping myself fed.

These are both important because I have very little appetite most days, and often no energy, and some days even standing is too much work for very long, so I need to make eating both easy and appealing, less of a chore.

Three months ago this was one of my biggest challenges, and there’s considerably more ease there now, though this is also one of the helpful habits that got rattled by the time change.

What else?

I started celebrating days by naming them and doing one thing to commemorate each day. Marking? Celebrating feels like a very strong word here, it might be doing too much work. We mark the days.

Maybe nothing was particularly celebratory but what I mean is associating something good with the day, like Taco Tuesday! Who doesn’t like tacos.

But specifically for disabled life, rural trailer house on the edge the forest life, a life that runs on slow time.

Happy Blursday

Sunday Spa Day is not actually a spa day but I make sure to do one symbolic thing like shave legs or give myself a kitchen facial with hot towels, or a small diy pedicure.

Monday Strike Day is for being on strike and not doing things that stress me out. This is how I avoid what some people call the Sunday Scaries, the existential dread that accompanies knowing you have a long list of things waiting for you on a Monday. Screw that. Monday Strike Day! WE STRIKE!

Zhugsday is for making zhug.

When the time change happened, these all fell apart, but I kept naming days: Woeful Wednesday, Things Are Off Thursday, Fuck It Friday, Sleep In Saturday, Surly Somnambulist Sunday. We keep a sense of humor around here even when things are falling apart.

What can I find to be proud of, looking back on these past three months

Let’s see…

I kitchen-jogged every day,
did more yoga,
learned to bake without baking when my beloved tiny toaster oven broke,
made myself a birthday cake,
survived a poisoning,
lit a candle every day,
and I am thinking about different things now than I was then, and that’s also something.

Though also who cares? And I mean that in a good way, not in a critical way…

Not: Who cares (derogatory)
But: Who cares (liberating)

Though also who cares

What I mean by this is that even if nothing changed at all that I can name or point to, and even if my wishes and desires are the same as they were three months ago, and even if my perceptions of zero progress are correct which I don’t think they are…

None of that matters because that’s not the important thing. The important thing is actually that I made it through the long, hard, cold winter against all odds, and honestly the odds were kind of grim.

So sure, there’s no linear “progress” on anything I can point to, but I made it through. The rituals held me and healing is happening.

The rituals held

The rituals held and healing is happening.

The rituals held in the sense that they did not break (at least until the time changed), like a protective barrier, a levee, and they held me in the sense that they were my comforting ground, they made my days make sense, they carried me from winter solstice all the way through to spring.

Those things matter. They matter a lot, actually.

Against the odds

Here’s what I was up against this winter, in addition to the usual winter things of cold and dark.

My hot water heater is broken, as you know, and no one will give me a clear answer on the kind needed to replace it, so I have to heat water in the kettle to wash hands and wash dishes and wash myself with a washcloth. I get to shower a couple times a month if the mountain roads aren’t covered in snow and ice, which they mostly were.

The drafty single pane kitchen window which wasn’t doing a great job keeping the cold out to begin with has taken to flying open at a gust of wind. It was an especially stormy winter, colder than last year, more snow, more wild winds, more intensely gloomy than I remember.

There’s no central heat and I can only run one space heater without blowing a fuse, which means that each day I need to decide if I’m going to be in the front room or the bedroom, and just stay there.

My toaster oven broke, and I had to stop making many of the warm cozy baked goods that got me through autumn.


Long covid and a traumatic brain injury continue to be a one-two punch. I can’t do very much because of the misery of neck and back pain, or the excruciating tinnitus, or the devastating depression or because I am basically Drew Barrymore in Fifty First Dates and can’t consistently remember what I’m doing, sometimes even while I’m doing it, sometimes even with a written reminder.

And the loneliness gets to me. It does. Somehow in the winter it is harder.

In the three months between solstice and equinox, I had seven conversations. There were days when I listened to podcasts just to remember the sound of someone laughing.

All the many forms of grief and despair, all the many forms of shattered hopes.

So hey, you know what, if I made it through the bitter cold of winter, the intense solitude and the pounding of wild winds on the roof, if nothing too important broke and I arrived here, into spring, then who cares if anything else happened?

Still here

Braver than the marines. Tired, scarred, still here.

I am the hero of my third pandemic winter which, despite all these obstacles was also, in some ways, less depressing than the last two. Still here still here still here.

Still here, baby.

Grieving my lost hope

I found a bottle of grief tincture in my cabinet, I’d hidden it away after discovering that I did not enjoy learning just how much grief I have, but something has shifted or maybe it hasn’t but I was feeling brave and took a dropper-full.

Then I got on the floor for fifteen minutes of very slow, very gentle, cautious movement, and what came up very strongly is that I AM GRIEVING MY LOST HOPE.

Grieving my lost hope.

What restores hope?

Or is that even the right question…

What can I love right now?

The startling clarity about my grief and my lost hope was startling and clear in a way I did not find helpful in the moment.

But from the perspective of a few days later, I can see that the answer is more along the lines of shifting my focus to Things I Can Love Right Now.

What helps? What is hopeful?

Tending to the tending

Like I said, I am crying less, maybe that’s because the sun is back and the bunnies are back, and, in very exciting news, I was finally able to get to a shower after three long weeks.

But there’s also something about how even though grieving lost hopes was one of the challenges I faced this winter, I think I might be getting better at the grieving process, the acknowledgment & legitimacy, the layering on of safety, the slow and patient work of self-tending.

It’s not like I’m good at it. It’s just that I can automatically turn towards the tending now, instead of blaming myself for needing to be tended to in times of grief.

Making do part deux

I was going to say that back in the fall, I wrote about making do. But I looked it up and it was actually in the fall of 2021, so a year earlier than in my memory. It figures, time remains elusive and confusing. The essay was called Use What You Have.

Anyway, I was challenged to master a new level of Use What You Have recently when the tiniest toaster oven that was already making do in place of a regular oven, or even a regular sized toaster oven for that matter, gave up the ghost halfway through winter.

I learned how to make raw cakes and cookies. I started baking (or actually not-baking) skillet bread which is actually cooked — yes, in a skillet, hence the name, instead of baked.

And I missed my mini toaster oven dearly, but in some ways focusing on missing a toaster oven was easier and less painful than missing the person who loved me deeply until the day they exited my life without warning (I wrote without WARMING, which is also true).

Missing an appliance is just so much simpler than missing the mysterious disappearers from my past, or missing pre-pandemic life, or pre-pandemic me for that matter.


Ah, my pre-pandemic pre-concussion self. I am not sure if I miss that person or not, but mainly I try not to think about it because it’s painful to remember.

Pre-pandemic, pre-concussion, pre-long-covid me who had energy, focus and joie de vivre. A playful approach. And hope. Those were the days.

But we are here, now, and it is spring, and we lived to tell the tale, quite miraculously in fact.

Just some light poisoning

Long-time readers may know that I have a birthday curse, and so on the day of my birthday I am very careful to do nothing at all, particularly nothing celebratory, because the best possible way my birthday can go is uneventful.

REMAIN INDOORS! DO NOTHING! This is my birthday approach, having run many experiments and learning the hard way that the only way through is to keep a low profile.

So in honor of my forty sixth birthday, I gave myself the gift of the most uneventful, normal day imaginable. I did my kitchen jogging and my slow cat-like yoga. Made sure I ate. Stayed offline. Moved slowly and carefully. Did zero cooking. Nothing celebratory. Nothing out of the ordinary. Don’t tempt fate.

And it worked. For the first time in memory, nothing bad happened. To be fair, nothing good happened either, but the bar is low, and zero disasters is honestly quite impressive.

Unfortunately, this is also how I got cocky. I didn’t wait long enough for do-overs.


As you know, I am devoted to the concept of Do-Overs Forever, and so, in a way, I celebrate my birthday (in a top secret sort of way) throughout the year, because I know the day itself will be rough. And usually, I don’t do this too soon after my actual birthday.

But because there had been ZERO injuries, mishaps or other disasters on the day itself, I mistakenly thought it might be safe to attempt some low-key celebrating the day after, and make a birthday cake, sans baking.

It was a raw chocolate lavender cake, with the culinary lavender that I bought at the lavender farm last summer when I intended to make this exact cake for Concussion-Anniversary Day but never did, and it was gorgeous.

Celebrate good times COME ON (very quietly and in secret)

And I can’t tell you how this cake tasted, since I only had the tiniest taste of the frosting when my throat began tightening dramatically and my throat glands felt like painful golf balls, and that, my friends, is one way to learn if you are extremely allergic to raw lavender.

I’ve used it in stews and for a lavender rosemary simple syrup for example, and that’s never caused an adverse reaction, but apparently this quantity of lavender in uncooked form is not awesome for me, which is information that I would rather have than not have.

But of course it’s hard not to interpret this as yet another sign that CELEBRATING is not something my body or the world will agree to, apparently, the nature of the mysterious birthday curse.

I am far from town so did acupressure on myself until it felt like I could take full breaths again, and had a very miserable, painful sore throat for a few days, and It Is What It Motherfucking Is.

Anyway, that’s the story of how I poisoned myself on my birthday but really the day after, and someday when I am feeling brave, maybe it will be time make another raw cake with only known safe ingredients.

Three months later / next time around

What worked this year in winter?

  • cheery things
  • yellow things
  • noticing: often these are the same: lemons, bananas, tall candles, a beeswax tea light when i’m having a bad day, I learned that like bright yellow dish cloths, so really: cheery, yellow things
  • laughter (other people’s, listening to podcasts to have laughter in my house)
  • having a schedule for Cooking Club
  • making a note for the next day about what I am excited about / why to get out of bed, for example there is pudding for pre-breakfast
  • making do, and being creative with Use What You Have, innovation as a superpower

What is good? What can I appreciate right now…

Eight robins in the field outside my window.

The bunnies are back, in full frolic, doing their little cool flips and playing statue next to my car.

A solid roof over my head reminds me of sturdiness that was not available for me in past difficult times, a reminder that Now Is Not Then.

Every single version of the song I Can See Clearly Now, but especially the Holly Cole version right now. I can see clearly now, the rain is gone / I can see all obstacles in my way. I keep reminding myself that this is what hope sounds like, it’s gonna be a bright bright bright sunshiney day…

A literal perspective shift

I moved the bench in my kitchen from one side of the table to the other, and now I have a different view.

A literal reminder of Now Is Not Then, and now is also not three months ago, and even if my wishes are the same or appear to be the same, I can look at them with a different perspective.

What else can I move around, physically or otherwise, in service of exactly this?

What do I want to keep in mind for next year?

Some of my equinox rituals really worked for me!

I took Star Car to get an oil change & checkup, and there was a cute girl working there who flirted with me outrageously, which is definitely the best thing to happen so far in 2023, bless a good sunny spring day flirtation. Also spa day for Star Car!

And I made the bed with fresh clean sheets and lit my favorite candle and made spicy chocolate pudding.

The thing I wanted most (either a hike or a visit to hot springs) did not happen because of weather and circumstances, but it was a beautiful wish, and I can appreciate that and re-wish it for next time.

May I stay flexible and determined, in equal amounts.

Equinox wishes

I think for now I want to return to my solstice question of what wants to be eliminated versus what wants to be illuminated, and how can I take small steps in service of both?

Feeling some good Spring Gleaming energy whooshing in now that the fog of the time change is lifting, a pull towards rearranging and reconfiguring.

I wish for steadiness, focus, and the warm, sweet, loving clarity of Holly Cole singing. I can see clearly now means I think I can make it now.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright bright bright) sunshiney day. This is what hope sounds like, even when I forget.

Let’s keep going. ❤️

ANNOUNCEMENT! The Brautigan Wing returns!

In October of 2013 (nearly ten years ago somehow), I put out a 77 page ebook called The Brautigan Wing.

My description of it at the time: It is about a museum of small and big realizations.

But as a commenter on a recent post pointed out, it was also a collection of intriguing scribbled notes to myself.

In this book, I imagined building a museum exhibit about my mind, based on these found post-it notes, with commentary about what the poet may or may not have intended. Now it is a glimpse into the museum of my mind from ten or more years ago. Maybe there are some good clues for you, or maybe you will be inspired to turn your pile of notes into your own museum exhibit.

Anyway, if you feel moved to give any sum of Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund, I’ll email you a link to the ebook as a bonus thank you! I don’t check email every day, so give me a couple days but it will happen!

Notes! If you recently bought a product or sent Appreciation Money to Barrington’s Discretionary Fund and are thinking, “Ohhh actually I wish I’d known about this because I want to read this!”, just email me (use my first name aka Havi @ this website aka fluent self dot com!) with the subject Brautigan. You don’t have to say anything else unless you want to, I will just send it to you!

Come play with me, I love company

You are welcome to play with any of the concepts here in any way you like. Come play in the comments!

We are experimenting with experimenting, all experiments are useful experiments! You can brainstorm your own. What are some equinox wishes or themes you’re drawn to play with! What patterns are asking to be rewritten and what would help? As always, we remember that People Vary.

And of course you’re invited to share anything sparked for you while reading, or add any wishes into the pot, into the healing zone, as a friend of mine said, who knows, the power of the collective is no small thing, and companionship helps.

Here’s to locating the supportive rituals, playful experiments & loving compassion we need, or something even better!

A request

If you received clues or perspective or just 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.

Or you can buy a copy of the my Monster Manual & Coloring Book if you don’t have it!

And if those aren’t options, I get it, you can light a candle for support (or light one in your mind!), share one of my posts 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 so much. ❤️

The Fluent Self