growth

Wolf Moon

It’s the first full moon of 2022, and it is referred to as the “Wolf” moon. I kind of like that. It sounds a bit feral, a bit mysterious, a bit wild. And (at least here) it is cold and windy out, and I can imagine a wolf howling in the dark night. It has a few other names, too, but I like “Wolf” moon best.

My, isn’t someone feeling poetic tonight?

Astrologically, full moons are important and symbolic. They represent culmination, hidden information coming to light and literally illumination on situations or relationships. They symbolize seeing things clearly. And they are dramatic, chaotic and intense, stirring up emotions. Sounds fun, right? Has it been a full moon for the last two years?

And you might be thinking, “Astrology. Huh. KeAnne, isn’t that a bit ‘woo’ for you? I thought you were a rational, logical person?”

Of course it is. I mean, it’s not like I know my natal chart, rising sign or the location of other key planets (Virgo sun, Gemini Rising, Mercury Virgo, Venus and Moon in Leo, Mars and Jupiter in Cancer). Not like I own a deck of Tarot cards and have given readings before (see college, 1995-1999). Not like I have a crystal ball. Not like people expect me to keep them apprised of when Mercury Retrograde occurs (that would be now. Started January 14 and will go until early February).

I’m not sure I can explain it. There is a part of me that is fascinated by the unknown, by mysteries. Maybe even rational, logical me likes to think, as Hamlet says:

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, / Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’

I consider it a feature, not a bug in myself. And frankly, those Tarot card readings in college gave me much greater insight into psychology and, well, therapy than anything mystical. Still haven’t ever seen anything in the damn crystal ball. Good conversation starter, though.

But. The point of all of this is the mystery of the full moon, the chaos it brings and what it illuminates. I haven’t made it a secret that my household is full up on therapy. If the cats could get therapy, I’d arrange it.

I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last year. A lot. It’s given me a lot to think about and process. Today I had a major epiphany in therapy. I’m not going to go into the details because that is private and personal (I do have SOME boundaries!). But some situations, perceptions and behaviors were illuminated.

When I grapple with how to describe my therapy journey – and my journey in general – over the last year, I return to fiery imagery and themes: the phoenix, a crucible, and most recently, thawing. Lots of thawing. I feel like some parts of me have been frozen and frozen for a very long time. But they are thawing. And that’s horribly messy and confusing for someone like me who does prefer to feel in control and felt like she had a good understanding of herself.

But it turns out that maybe the thawing is revealing key parts of myself that I had put up barriers around. And they are good parts. And maybe barricading them away didn’t make me feel like my best self. Actually, I felt like a rather horrible self. And as the thawing keeps progressing (I’m trying really hard not to think about Global Warming and melting glaciers as I write this), I am discovering myself. And I like what I am discovering. The worst feeling in the world is not liking yourself. The best is finding something to like. Because if you don’t like yourself, who will?

So Wolf Moons, and full moons, and epiphanies and melting frozen parts…somehow it is all related and makes sense in my mind. It was a good day. A painful day. I had some anger. I almost cried because that is what I do now (what are warm tears but melted ice?). But at the end of the day, I was happy to reacquaint myself with this part of me. Welcome back. It won’t be easy, but we’ll get there.

Chimney falls and lovers blaze
Thought that I was young
Now I've freezing hands
And bloodless veins
As numb as I've become
I'm so tired
I wish I was the moon tonight
-Neko Case

Birthday Gift for Myself

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”

Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself”

A few months ago, I decided what I wanted to give myself for my birthday. It was…a bit radical for me. Despite my liberal beliefs, I am a bit conservative in some areas.

But once the idea took hold in my head, I couldn’t get rid of it. I wanted…no, I needed to do this. I made a goal to have it by my birthday, but it wasn’t possible. However, one week later, I did it. I fulfilled my birthday gift to myself.

Behold:

I honestly never thought I would get a tattoo. I admired them, but I never thought I would get one. However, like I said, over the summer, the idea took hold in my head, and I wanted to do it.

I know a phoenix is a little cliche and possibly trite, but it spoke to me. What better symbol of rebirth could there be after one’s spouse dies and you are forced to figure out a new reality and existence? Plus Harry Potter.

And I love it. I do. I could not stop grinning for hours after I received it. It’s such a small thing, but it felt so transformative. So symbolic.

My tattooist was great – I think he is in his 80s based on what he said, but he has had a very colorful life (and I think he is libertarian based on his comments. That or slightly conservative?!). He had on classic rock in the background, and we had some good chats about the music. It also made me think of my father.

I’m not going to lie. It did hurt. About 75% of it was bearable and mainly resembled a lot of acupuncture needles being placed at the same time. The other 25% caused me to clench my jaw and grip the pillow. But it took only an hour.

I don’t know if it makes sense to be proud of myself for getting a tattoo. But I am. It felt like a radical act…for me.

I know we all likely know this line from Mary Oliver (and I’ve used it in this space before):

“What is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

I want to live. To find me. To be me. And this tattoo felt like the first step in that direction.

Happy Birthday to Me.