Hello and happy new year!

As you may know, I’m following yoga teacher and Celtic spirituality guide Mari Kennedy on an online journey through the Celtic Calendar over the next 12 months.

The journey began at Samhain (end of October) which is the Celtic new year and which impresses upon us that the new always starts in the dark that is also indicative of the dark feminine energy of rest and receptivity.

The early Christian missionaries who encountered the Celtic world recognised the power of this period of sacred waiting and introduced the concept of Advent, which contrary to popular understanding is not the waiting for Christmas but for the Return of Christ and the renewal of all things.

And so each year, I’ve wanted to embrace the dark in some way; acknowledge both the dark of the Celtic new year and the immanence of the Divine at Advent. And yet, the peace and rest has always illuded me. I always succumb to the rush and hectic energy of the consumerist holiday season.

This year was no different and added to an already busy calendar with children’s Christmas activities, I took it upon myself to sell Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map Planners to UK/EU people who were keen to buy them but who had found the shipping costs from the USA prohibitive.

I got such a lot of joy from the experience and the interaction with people who loved Danielle’s products as much as I do was so beautiful. However, the Planners themselves didn’t arrive until the 19th of December, only one box from the order arrived and the other arrived later, damaged. So it was a bit of a crazy dash to invoice, repackage and ship to try and get them to people before Christmas. Generally, the endeavour was a success and as far as I’m aware there was only one that hasn’t made it to its owner.

All this to say, by the time the 25th of December rolled round, I was beat. Happy but tired, joyful but kind of slightly disappointed that the cool, calm advent I’d envisioned for myself hadn’t exactly come about the way I’d hoped.

Reflecting around this time, I did have to admit that there was a large part of me that in fact resisted rest and slowness. I resisted the void. I didn’t really know who I was outside of a relentless obsession with productivity and activity. I ran myself into the ground on a frequent basis and definitely decided that the next thing I would do would be to figure out this whole ‘rest and receptivity’ thing.

My word for 2019, I decided before Christmas would be SURRENDER.

Then, on 26th of December, I discovered a lump in my breast.

On the 10th of January, I had the full compliment of tests and it was determined that I did indeed have cancer and that surgery and further treatment would be needed.

It pained me to have to cancel my plans for the Desire Map Workshops I’d scheduled and indeed launched at a lovely evening in Bangor. I’m disappointed that I will be missing out on the first schedule of plans from our She-Wolf Theatre Collective.

But I am choosing to accept that this is a unique opportunity to explore who I am when I’m not productive because by all accounts, cancer treatment can knock the stuffing out of a person. I admit that I spent the first few days after the diagnosis on an adrenaline rush of attempting to ‘stage – manage’ what my encounter with the disease would look like. I was outwardly brave, determined, strong and defiant. I DID a lot of ‘fighting talk’ and story spinning. I wouldn’t be a cancer victim, I wouldn’t start a cancer blog. Then the inevitable crash; the fear, the anger, the disappointment, the disempowerment.

Now I’m at numb.

There’s a story about how an experiment to introduce a pack of wolves into Yellowstone National Park,  brought about surprising changes that no one had expected. Far from the pack wreaking havoc on the environment and devastating flora, fauna and animal populations, their introduction enhanced the park, rebalancing the eco-system and allowing it to flourish in beautiful ways. The beaver population increased and vegetation improved.

It’s amazing that something as fearsome as a pack of wolves could exponentially increase the beauty and wellbeing of a national park.

So here it is.

The Year of the Wolf.

An opportunity to go into the dark, to run with the wolves and see what beauty will come from the journey. Beauty that may not necessarily have a product, may be something intangible and so subtle it will only be perceptible to me and God.

And so may it be.

Tonight is the night of the Wolf Moon, a Blood moon, a lunar eclipse, the like of which we won’t see again for another few years. We only ever have this moment and so my focus, as best it can be, will be on this moment until the next arrives.

Strut and Bellow is on hiatus until I figure out what I’m capable of in the midst of treatment. It’ll be difficult to do nothing, but it might be neccessary. I’m going to try to listen to my body, quieten my mind and follow the guidance of my soul.

Thanks for journeying with me thus far and hopefully, we’ll meet up again virtually in the not too distant future.

With every best wish for your year,

Melanie Clark Pullen