We ended Owen’s life on January 6. When I wrote last year’s essay, he was still with us and I said we were trying to hear what he wanted. His last months and the aftermath were both an honor and an emotional tsunami to survive. For the time he couldn’t quite do it for himself, I carried him outside, cleaned him, pet him, and we all loved him and circled up when it was time to bury the shell he left behind. That cat never gave up going downstairs to use his litter box. When I found him struggling to make the journey, I felt I wanted to let him go with his dignity more than I wanted to cling to his precious soul. Was his voice in there, too? Maybe someday I’ll know. The pain of loss is no longer raw but still catches me at times. We put his body into the ground and in the spring we adorned his grave with 13 ginger plants. Finding catnip left during the year by other members of the family let me know they have felt his loss, too. He was and forever will be, family.
My written goal on my Twitter account for 2023 was to work on moving the mic to others who haven’t had it.
I terminated my account on Formerly-Known-As-Twitter in 2023 and that was another big change for me. I’d made it a habit to use my profile page there to establish for myself and the world what my goal for the year was. While it was never perfect, the turns that platform has made since the new guy in management took over drove me away. That stage is not a place to be right now, in my opinion. Some people from around the globe who had become somehow dear to me are no longer in my world anymore because of that change. It’s strangely painful when I stop to think about it. However, if I send them loving energy into the vast cosmos, I hope it finds them somehow. I can find new and sustaining relationships near and far through other means. I know that truth now.
There’s that letting go thing, again.
What do I see when I think of 2024?
For one thing, 2024 is going to be about fledging: getting big enough wings to fly.
Our youngest son will go away for college in the fall if all goes as we see now.
I will nurture (with a lot of help) a garden into existence big enough to substantially support 3 high schools if all goes as we see now.
I will get into a system of self-care that will see me remain pain-free but develop a return to better food choices, glucose management, and strength/cardio characteristics if all goes as I see now. My body has been handling the carrying of excess weight surprisingly well but it’s time for me to see if my next evolution can pull away from the lures of the flesh a bit and fly a bit further and farther before it’s time for this me to rest. Will my rainbow aura expand and brighten even more? I can hope.
I got a second tattoo in 2023. In 2021, I decided to honor the evolution I'd undergone to that point with my first which finally happened in early 2022. I may have physically been stronger through those previous years, but my insides had been an absolute mess. The messages and atmosphere of BTS played a big role in my growth. As did friends. And COVID. And a host of other things. It’s all represented in that first tattoo, which faces me as a daily message to myself:
"I’m good enough. Face the world with your head up. Speak your truths. Love yourself. You’re not alone and you are much, much stronger than you think you are because of that."
This second tattoo crawls down the length of my left forearm making it easily shareable with others because it’s a message to the world. It's my chosen message to the world. I heard this phrase during the Grammys, I believe, and it was spoken by an Indian award winner. He said it was part of his religious tradition and its truth screamed at me as he joyously proclaimed, “The world is one family!”
The world…is one family. Wow.
My 2024 will be grounded in that wondrous idea and what it really means. What if we lived everything grounded in that short declaration? It’s incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring to me to consider. The term “family” has always had a bitter current running through it for me so this use helps me work through that. I had the tattoo artist add a bumblebee and dandelion to the phrase. The insects are my family. The weeds are my family. And yours! And I am yours! That darn yellow flower has haunted me for years with its messages:
"I’m a weed. But I feed others. I birth seeds that can fly to far places. I survive. We survive."
They are all my family and I am theirs.
So, my goals for 2024 are ones of flying and acknowledging more and more family. Nothing really new for me from the last few years, but It’s another turn on the theme. I feel a fullness of hope and anticipation for a new year, which are both actually rather new for me. In 2023, I wanted to witness. This year, I want to jump in.