2023 In Review

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Mid-December through the end of each year has continued to be a season of reflection and preparation for the last few years. When this cycle first began, I noticed a frustration that it didn't exactly align with the traditional "New Year" time; but this year, a peacefulness around the timing itself has arrived. This has allowed me to really dig into reflections and preparations for upcoming seasons with clarity and excitement.

Each year I look forward to being guided through this reflection process by Susannah Conway, who is the creator of the Word of the Year process. I can't recommend her materials enough. They are beautiful and thoughtful. Because this blog functions more as an online sharable journal, I want to share my 2023 reflections and lessons learned here. I am really trying to distance myself from Instagram this year, so sharing here feels more in alignment than the traditional way I've done so before.

2023 in Review

If I could describe 2023 in three words, they would be confusion (see also: unclear, uncertain, bewilderment), trepidation (see also: trembling, agitation), and clarity (see also: coherent, intelligible, lucidity, transparency).

Monthly Roses & Thorns


Rose: Advocacy for Great Salt Lake. It felt really good to rally behind such a beautiful being. I really put myself out there during this time. I attended my very first rally at the Utah State Capital. I went to as many in-person events as I could possibly fit in my schedule, and though I was incredibly busy, I felt connected to the land and my community in ways I never had before.

Thorn: I missed my family. Every weekend I was in attendance at an activity, my family was at home. It was very difficult to strike a balance between my family's needs and my desire for meaningful participation in something I was excited about.


Rose: I prepared and taught a class on cultural appropriation for folks of Northwestern European descent with Nourishing Kin. This was a spontaneous offering, created in just a few week's time, but was such a pleasure to create. Cultural appropriation was such a focus in 2022 for me, and it felt lovely to have created a cohesive, beautiful offering to share about the importance of finding authentic cultural belonging in one's own ancestry. I also spontaneously got a tattoo of the outline of Great Salt Lake (pre-colonization levels) that felt like it had always belonged there.

Thorn: In truth, this month was smooth and lovely. The only exception to this was the urgency behind creating the Cultural Appropriation course, but that was certainly self-imposed. Next time, I'd like to give myself more space to prepare!


Rose: This month, I traveled with my husband's company to Newport Beach. They rented a true beachfront cabin, and it was truly one of my year's greatest pleasures to wake up each morning that weekend and see the ocean just outside my window. It also provided fantastic birdwatching opportunities, and I was able to see dolphins (from a distance) for the first time ever. While we were there, we spent the day in Disneyland with friends. For a Star Wars fan like myself, spending time in Galaxy's Edge with people I love was a dream come true. In non-travel news, I also co-created a haircut with my stylist that felt fantastically "me." I really enjoyed it!

Thorn: I noticed that even as pleasurable as traveling was, I felt a deep longing to be home almost the entire time I was gone.


Rose: This month was pretty non-eventful. Most of it was quiet. I began to notice that my PCOS symptoms were very well managed by the diet prescribed by my doctor. I was feeling so proud of myself for finding such an effective way to reduce my insulin resistance and increase my energy.

Thorn: I was (and still am) finding it difficult to communicate my dietary needs without using the word "diet" and then feeling like an explanation is necessary. My feminist ethic includes an anti-diet, body-positive attitude, and I've struggled to navigate my chronic illness and its treatment within a cultural shift from body shame to positivity. In fact, this has been a major barrier for me this year in actually keeping to the food choices that truly nourish my body's specific needs. I noticed this shift in April when my weight loss became noticeable and people began commenting on it. The attention people were paying to my body felt uncomfortable; so much so, that it was at this point in the year that I stopped following my anti-inflammation protocol and stepped back into the pattern of inflammation and insulin resistance. As of today, my symptoms have come back and my A1C numbers are abysmal; I hope to change this and gain more confidence in my chosen way of managing it this year!


Rose: Facilitating the Nourishing Kin Beltane gathering was certainly a highlight for this month. I self-elected to be the May Queen for our Beltane fire ritual, and I had such a great time doing so. At the end of the month, my family and I traveled to Ephraim, UT for the annual Scandinavian festival. The festival was held on the Snow College campus, where my husband and I first met. It was so much fun to walk down memory lane and spend time together in this way. Finally, this month I took a deep dive into the concept of pleasure.

Thorn: There was some interpersonal conflict in relationships at this time, but it was all managed super well with incredible communication skills and an abundance of compassion!


Rose: This month, Nourishing Kin hosted a retreat in the mountains outside of Cedar City, UT. It was an incredible four days of dancing, learning ancestral skills, discussing pleasure, stargazing, walking through meadows of flowers, and eating delicious foods. I truly can't believe I am so lucky to be a part of a community that was equally excited to dance around a fire naked to 90s music as I was.

Thorn: On the way up to the retreat, my car got a flat tire. Thanks to the efforts of a few highly-motivated women, it was repaired by the time we needed to go home! On the way back down the mountain, two different tires on my car went flat and needed to be replaced before we could make the trek home. It added an element of stress to the otherwise incredible weekend, but all is well that ends well, I suppose!


Rose: I created and announced the Runic Rhythms course. It was something I hadn't ever anticipated doing, but has been a genuine delight to teach. Its a six-month deep-dive into the Elder Futhark runes, and is a huge commitment from everyone participating. But doing so has been such a pleasure. It was also at this time that The Faithful Feminists podcast came to a close. My co-host and I felt it was time for the project to end, even though we hadn't completely closed out the content as we originally intended. As sad as it was, ultimately, it was the right decision for us and for the project.

Thorn: Some unhealthy relationship patterns became conscious for me around this time, and it was an incredibly uncomfortable realization. I began to see the ways I had relied on co-dependency and people-pleasing to manage discomfort in my relationships. I began working to understand these and move toward authenticity and genuine love.


Rose: The Runic Rhythms course began in full swing and I was so excited to be doing something that felt good to do. My family was preparing for another school year as well, which is something we all look forward to.

Thorn: Continued growth in my relational participation was incredibly uncomfortable, and tension in this area increased.


Rose: There was very little to sustain me this month, but the Circle of Security parenting class I took through a local mental health organization helped. I also attended a concert with friends, and that was a welcome reprieve from the chaos of this month.

Thorn: The month began with the death of my grandma. I was grateful to have had an opportunity to visit her before her decline intensified. Some of my family members experienced an increased need for support during this time, and I'm grateful I had the capacity to show up in this way. The most challenging part of this time was caring for myself and a bit of a broken heart while also taking care of others. 


Rose: The Samhain gathering for Nourishing Kin was again a huge highlight for this month. I found the perfect outfit (crowned myself as "The Star Bride") and thoroughly enjoyed facilitating this gathering.

Thorn: Moving through grief is always a complex process, and there were so many griefs to move through.


Rose: I traveled so much this month! First, my husband and I went to Austin, TX for a work function. Austin is so much fun. I had a great time walking Congress Ave, going to the library, and watching the bats beneath the bridge at dusk. Because the conference he attended was a huge deal, there were lots of parties and fun things to do. We watched armadillo racing, played ping-pong at a bar, heard lots of live music, had the best peach cobbler in my entire life, got my very first Voodoo donut, and discovered a $2k pair of boots made from crocodile skin. A week later, I traveled to Hilo, HI with my mom. This was my first time visiting Hawaii, and it was exactly as beautiful as I thought it would be. We had beach time every day, ate amazing food, watched a sunset in Kona, found some sea glass (bucket list item), went to the botanical gardens, swam with sea turtles, ate fruit we'd never had before, and went to bed at like, 8pm every night. It was amazing.

Thorn: When I visited Hawaii, half the trip I was experiencing a weird sensation of seeing an "alternate" lifetime. I had a boyfriend in high school who lived in Hawaii, and we would often talk about living there together when we were married. That never turned out to be the case, but being in the place we had talked about living together... not together... was strange in a way I didn't anticipate. I allowed myself time for a grieving ritual while I was there, and that helped immensely; almost like acknowledging what I was feeling helped me process it! I also missed my kids immensely this month.


Rose: My kids played basketball this month and it was a bi-weekly joy to go to their games and cheer them on. My husband and I also celebrated our 13 year anniversary, and it was fulfilling to reflect on our time together and celebrate how much we have grown together.

Thorn: A meaningful relationship came to a close this month, and though it was a sad parting, it was a relief. I also didn't experience a lot of "Christmas Spirit" this year, but I'm chalking that up to living in the midst of genocide more than anything else. Its very difficult to celebrate a holiday when its birthplace is being systematically destroyed.

2023: The Word

to stretch oneself toward

I kept this word with me all year long. I have been devoted to tend-ing and tend-erness in the most sacred places in my life; myself, my kids, and my marriage. I wrote a poem at the beginning of 2023 about the Norse goddess Sigyn that has held me through this year, and I still feel it is not only relevant but perhaps one of the most important things I have crafted. This has undeniably led to a spiritual devotion to the goddess Sigyn, and I strongly feel that I have become a gentler, more patient and compassionate person because of this relationship. I feel radically transformed after spending time with Sigyn and the word tend.

2023: In Summary

What I Watched

  • The Witcher Series (rating 5/5 stars)
  • finally finished Game of Thrones (5/5 stars)
  • House of the Dragon (3.5/5 stars)
  • Lady Chatterly's Lover (new Netflix version - 5/5 stars)
  • Ghosts (BBC version - 5/5 stars)
  • A Discovery of Witches (5/5 stars)
  • The Great (3/5 stars)

What I Read (what was notable, anyway)

  • Fantasy: The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski (the entire series + prequels - 4/5 stars)
  • Romantasy: The "A Court of Thorns & Roses" series by Sarah J. Maas (5/5 stars)
  • Smut: Wicked Villains series by Katee Robert (5/5 stars)
  • Smut: The entire Orc Sworn series by Finley Fenn (5/5 stars) 
  • Non-Fic: Messy Minimalism by Rachel Crawford (5/5 stars)
  • Non-Fic: Codependent No More by Melody Beattie (4/5 stars)
  • Non-Fic: How to Manage Your Home Without Losing Your Mind by Dana K White (5/5 stars)
  • Sci-Fi: The Bear by Andrew Krivak (4/5 stars)
  • Sci-Fi: Woman on the Edge of Time by Marge Pearcy (4/5 stars)
  • Literary Drama/Horror: The Book Eaters by Sunyi Dean (4/5 stars)
  • Horror: The Watchers & The Creeper by A.M. Shine (5/5 stars)
  • Horror: Lapvona by Otessa Moshfegh (1/5 stars - just not my style)
  • Poetry: New & Selected Poems by Mary Oliver, Vol.1 (5/5 stars)
This was my most well-rounded reading year in a very long time! Look at all those series and genres!

What (or better, Where) I Ate

  • Dolcetti Gelato on 9th & 9th in SLC
  • The Dough Miner in SLC
  • Seaside Donuts in Newport, CA (very yummy Thai tea!)
  • Sawadee Thai in SLC
  • Hawaiian Style Cafe in Hilo, HI
  • Pineapples in Hilo, HI
  • Salt Lick in Austin, TX
  • Torchy's Tacos in Austin, TX
  • Split Leaf Coffee in Bountiful, UT
  • Caffe Mercantile in South Ogden, UT

What I Fell in Love With

  • Great Salt Lake
  • monthly Full Moon circles with friends
  • understanding astrology & natal charts
  • complete silence while driving
  • Star Wars (again)
  • doing less
  • freezer meals + crock pot
  • seasonal capsule wardrobes
  • securely attached relationships
  • farmers markets

What I Fell Out of Love With

  • social media
  • traveling
  • an overwhelming schedule
  • too-short shorts
  • wearing pants to bed (ew)
  • being outside (I know, completely unexpected)
  • crafting
  • herbs
  • co-dependency

Who Even Am I Anymore?

This has been a year of quiet, understated growth. Now at the end of it, I am exhausted; as if I've run a marathon I hadn't prepared for. And I feel changed, different in ways I previously believed myself incapable of. I feel strange, and new. It feels impossible to over-emphasize that I don't know who I am anymore.  Everything I feel I understood myself to be has changed drastically. And yet, there is a peacefulness that underlines this process. 2023 felt like a massive deep clean of my entire life. I can feel something building on the edges of my awareness, but I feel unhurried and unworried about its development. 

All of this internal experience has been unfolding, as it always has and will continue to, in the context of a large-scale systemic societal and climate decline. This cannot be ignored, and the reality of genocides across countries, global climate collapse, late-stage capitalism, white cishetero patriarchy, and colonization as the background to my life experience continues to add rage, disgust, panic, shame, and overwhelm to the everyday. I am still, always, grappling with the question of what it means to be a white middle-class queer mother in a drying-up red state in the US. 

2024 is coming whether I hate and shame myself through it or not. So I'm trying something different next year. I'm going to disappoint some people, and I'm going to have to learn to breathe through that. Gather. Release. Gather. A new rhythm to dance to.
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