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Winter Solstice — Festival of Enoughness

December 22, 2022
Kitchen table — wood, worn, loved — holds two jade-green candlesticks with yellow hand-dipped beeswax candles, lit; a vase of red winter berry branches; a beeswax candle shaped like a pinecone; a woven grass placemat; glass amber-colored decorative dish for olives or pistachios; and a book, splayed open with the cover visible: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki.
Kitchen table — wood, worn, loved — holds two jade-green candlesticks with yellow hand-dipped beeswax candles, lit; a vase of red winter berry branches; a beeswax candle shaped like a pinecone; a woven grass placemat; glass amber-colored decorative dish for olives or pistachios; and a book, splayed open with the cover visible: A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki. [Note: I’m still debating whether to do image descriptions in captions, alt text, or both. For now, both.]

Solstice is a planetary event — though its nature and intensity, as experienced by humans, varies depending how far we are from the equator, and in which “direction,” South or North. (As an elderly Japanese anarchist nun character in A Tale for the Time Being would say: “up, down, same-same.”) While our friends and comrades in the Southern Hemisphere are experiencing their longest summer day, here in the North we have our longest winter night.

Though I didn’t grow up celebrating the Winter Solstice, these days I find that it magnetizes me just as much, if not more, than any other holiday in the winter season. Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Gregorian New Year, Lunar New Year — probably many more of which I’m unaware. Each holds beautiful myths, meaning, and ritual. But I don’t participate much in any of them, unless I’m invited in by a friend.

One thing I’ve learned about my nervous system: I tend to find abundance in simplicity.*

Simplicity like:

  • For Winter Solstice, cook soup in a special pot.
  • For Winter Solstice, light a few of your most beautiful candles.
  • For Winter Solstice, go outside at least once to breathe fresh, cool air.

It doesn’t have to be fancy. The soup I made yesterday was no heritage recipe; just a way to use my Guilt Vegetables (perennially in danger of wilting or spoiling from my cooking procrastination) and some dried beans of mysterious provenance.

I try to remind myself: this is enough.

It doesn’t have to be an award-winning recipe. It’s ok if the sweet potatoes get a little overdone, softly ragged in the broth. It’s ok. It’s enough. You’re enough.

Many of us, I find, do well to remind ourselves this time of year: I Am Enough. You Are Enough. There Is Enough.

Consumerism, comparing mind, capitalist pressure for end-of-year productivity, and the looming prospect of another round of New Year’s resolutions: all these dominant cultural practices can converge at this time of year to reinforce our internal beliefs that there’s MORE we need to do, buy, accomplish, become.

So yesterday, I just practiced noticing those impatient, critical voices of never-enough, as they arose in my mind. Notice, acknowledge, observe. Watch any doubts, fears, self-deprecations and urgent worries as they arise, churn, and eventually pass away.


Mirthful Circulation of Gifts

Another lesson I’ve learned lately about my nervous system: when it comes to enoughness, sharing and circulation of abundance feels wonderful in my body. Flowing abundance forward brings me joy, meaning, and grounding. Like a lot of people, it’s sometimes easier for me to be on the giving end than on the receiving end — though I’ve made progress lately on shedding the shame of wanting to receive!

This year, in the weeks leading up to Winter Solstice, I played in an experiment of mirthful circulation.

A generous family who believes in me and my coaching work has gifted me with a sizable subsidy, so that I can offer intimacy coaching at a fully sliding scale. This in itself is already an enormous blessing, because it means I can work with anyone who is a true mutual fit, regardless of income or financial access. Never ever do I have to upsell myself to people or try to convince them to book more often than they really want to. And unsurprisingly, because of this voluntary association, I’ve come to deeply and easily love my clients, treasuring the work we do together.

And so, this year, inspired by a whole happy jumble of spiritual and secular traditions — from the principle of zakat in the Muslim faith, to dana in Buddhism, to redistribution, solidarity, and mutual aid in Leftist liberation organizing — I decided to keep circulating the gift, by giving away over 10% (more than $3,000) back to my current and former clients: most of whom are BIPOC, queer, trans, non-binary, sick and disabled, or some combination.

When more of us delight, I delight.

Mudita — Sympathetic Joy — Delight In Your Delight

While my clients who received winter gift funds were free to use it however they wanted, I strongly encouraged them to prioritize their pleasure if possible. The results warmed my heart.

Here’s a small sweet sampling of how my clients chose (or intended) to use their gift money:

  • A golden pole for home pole dancing practice
  • Yoni massage before giving birth for the first time
  • New roller skates
  • Gifting a friend who used the $$ for a writer’s residency
  • Gifting a friend who used the $$ for Xmas presents for their kids
  • Nail polish, candles, and lingerie
  • A sexy weekend getaway with a new boo
  • Additional coaching sessions with me

YES!!! Yes, yes, yes.

And the fact that 5 out of those 8 examples are Black queer women… a small step toward the world I want.

A number of people mentioned that the unexpected gift of funds was coming at a great time, when they could really use it. And because life is life, and government in the U.S. (where most of my clients live) fails to prioritize basic care, the most affirming way to use funds, for some of us, might be to pay bills, buy meds or necessary equipment, put money on the books of an incarcerated loved one, and keep it moving.

All valid. All beautiful. All enough.


Feeling ambivalent about this entry (does this come off as bragging? out of touch? ostentatious?), but gonna tap back in to the original purpose and premise.

Enoughness.

One of the things I love most, and miss most, about the format of blogging, is that it feels so profoundly open-ended and receptive to dialogue in comments. If someone disagrees with my original post (OP) and takes the time to lay out their critiques or opposing perspectives, you can bet I’ll be listening and engaging. For me, this eases the burden of anxiety — knowing we can move through conflict and disagreement, if and when it appears. As Brené Brown says: “I’m not here to be right; I’m here to get it right.” However many iterations it requires.

Wishing you a glorious winter (or summer, in the South) on this miraculous earth, in an ongoing Festival of Enoughness.


*Simplicity, I am coming to recognize, is actually far from simple, and more often in my context turns out to be an ableist consumerist aesthetic in disguise. More on this later!

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Joshua permalink
    January 7, 2023 4:30 pm

    I loved this post a lot! And no, talking about ways to keep things moving in community didn’t land for me as bragging, out of touch, or ostentatious. Rather it was deeply affirming and joyful. I love that you say yes to care, community, and interconnectedness and am so happy to hear that you are being supported by people who believe in what you’re doing! Yayyyyy. I admire your acknowledgment that it feels pleasure-full to receive and also the reality that you have to be open to receiving to then keep it moving out into community. Great practice, Dharma buddy! <3

  2. Joshua permalink
    January 7, 2023 5:09 pm

    And…I was just mulling on “enough-ness” and if you’re into writing more about this would love to hear how you balance the basic sense of confidence that we are enough, there is enough, etc. with also the limit of saying “Enough!” and how that ties into learning what actually is environmentally and relationally sustainable, and practicing joyful refraining. But only if any of this is appealing to get into here!

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