365 days of moon journaling
It's been one year since I started painting a circle a day to document how I feel. Here are seven things I've learned from painting 365 moons.
(1) Dark months don't last.
I started this journal after the painful end of a five year long relationship. For the first few months, I woke up feeling like I was dying -- I know, it sounds dramatic, but not untrue. When people told me that it would get better, I didn't believe them. But what I've learned now is this: life always wants to move. There is light, even at the end of long tunnels of despair. Now I have visual proof that I can survive.
(2) Dark days will always happen. They don't last, either.
I've learned that even in good months, there will be bad days. Guaranteed. In those moments, I'm under the illusion that it will stay this way. My mind panics and gets existential real fast. Then I look back on months of moon journals and see that I've been here before, and it doesn't last. There is nothing that calms me more than this truthful reassurance, that what comes after a dark day is always lighter.
(3) Dark days are crucial opportunities for growth.
It takes a really dark day to trigger my emotional ecosystem to emergency mode. Those are the days when I drop everything to take a bath mid-afternoon, meditate, write in my journal, and be very gentle to myself. There is always catharsis on the darkest days; I come out of it having made a resolution, released old baggage, stumbled upon new revelations about myself. But even foggy, mustardy green (bleh) days are triggers for me to ask myself: what shifts do I need to make in my life right now? How is my quality of mind contributing to this bleh day? What can I learn from this?
(4) Neglecting my well-being makes days hazier.
This is one pattern I've noticed over and over again. When I put other people's priorities before caring for myself, before my own artistic and wellbeing practices, before ample time alone and before cultivating my relationship with myself, it will, without fail, always result in a series of hazy, grey-tinged days. Sometimes it's easier to peg that grey day on a specific event or trigger; something external, but the truth is that if I were fully taking care of my well being, these external triggers wouldn't even bother me. They wouldn't be a thing.
(4) Growth and grief both come in waves.
My emotions and my days are never a linear progression. This is life, right? You learn some, grow some, experience resistance, self doubt, then emerge realizing that you are a different person than you were six months ago. Over time, I've learned to accept this cyclical living, accept that seeds of intention are planted all the time, come to fruition, ripen, and die. Death is pure opportunity for transformation into something else. We are just the gardeners.
(5) Some days will be too bright and beautiful for words.
I can't seem to predict those days, and I love that. I've had soulful days at sunlit cafes with old friends, days working at my desk on fire with inspiration, days that emerge out of the blue and surprise me with a blinding burst of turquoise and gold. When they come, I just say thank you. This is me feeling most alive.
(7) Consistent, light days take intentional practice.
Over the past year, I went from feeling helpless and controlled by grief -- to gaining the slow understanding that I have the power to influence the emotional color of my day. It is something I can practice by doing more of the things that nourish me and my soul, and by cultivating my mind through meditation. This is what lead to my project, Camp Kening (more on this soon).
I'll be continuing my moon journals into 2018. This time, I will use one sheet of paper for 365 moons. Most of 2017 was me playing observer to my moons, but next year, I want to focus more on creating intentionally light and bright days, and understanding how to do so.
It's been a practice of self understanding and self love. Implicit here is the idea that I, myself, with all of my turbulent emotions and ups and downs, am a subject worth my time and precious attention. It's given me so more wisdom and compassion for myself.
If you feel inspired to try this, please write me and tell me how it goes. Wishing you all bright moons for 2018.