6 May 2023 | BY ANDJELKA JANKOVIC | Life
I want to go where the rivers are overflowing
A year is a very long time and nothing at all.
Some things certainly feel like a thousand years ago, or only yesterday.
I am still living in the unfolding.
2022 was split into two.
It began with bans and blacklisting. Amongst the confusion and uncertainty, I resolved to swim in the ocean every day at dawn and dusk — as I told myself: you can’t mandate the sunset. I never lost reverence for ordinary pleasures. I found incredible comfort and solidarity in friendships and realised that deep convictions require a lightness of spirit. I always trust that everyone knows what is right for them. Now, we all know.
I can no longer meet other people’s expectations of me that I never agreed to. — Marlee Grace
The world turns, as it does. In the second half of the year, I started working “full-time” again to fund my Celtic pilgrimage. I now know exactly why it is called that — because it leaves you mostly empty. Work is still not working for me.
To be brutally honest, I never want to see a marketing plan again.
My soul is here to do other things. My best friend Kylie texted me: “Free idea: we stop everything and just make miniature versions of every object that exists. For cats. And for cats only,” and I might just take her up on that.
You have gifts.
The world needs your gifts.
You must deliver them.
The world may not know it is starving,
but the hungry know,
and they will find you
when you discover your cargo
and start to give it away.
— Greg Kimura
Shifting gears, I became a morning person again (hello 5 am). My cycle synced with the moon. I stopped writing lists to improve my memory and it really worked. This is crazy talk for a Virgo. And I was bitten by a spider on my face seven times while sleeping on the eve of my birthday. Please help me figure out what this means?!?!
I got full-blown OBSESSED with Outlander, and why yes I do have a basket collection and wish to clutch a beautiful Scottish man on horseback — just call me Claire. I am the world’s slowest binge-watcher, but even I made it to Season 4 in ONE YEAR. Go me.
I also reclaimed all the years I didn’t swim in the ocean because I didn’t like how I looked and felt (bloated) in bathers. Nora Ephron was right: ‘Oh, how I regret not having worn a bikini for the entire year I was twenty-six. If anyone young is reading this, go, right this minute, put on a bikini, and don’t take it off until you’re thirty-four.’ In my case, a black one-piece.
I have become less and less interested in my phone. I oscillate between stepping away from online life and coming back for the rush of connection and sharing. This very wry New Yorker article hits a truth nerve and reminds you that the point of Reels and TikTok and whatever is invented next is advertising. This line is gold: ‘As you continue to overwork, be underpaid, and understand the people around you less and less, we know that the hit of dopamine you get from a like is the only thing keeping you warm at night. And we won’t be content until everyone, and everything, is content.’
The truth is, I’m at capacity with content.
We all just want to see our friends’ posts, but the algorithm won’t allow it. I want to grow a salad, write a book, and meet a wild animal. I want contentment.
To be happy, doing a thousand things no one ever hears of. — still my mantra
I read 73 books in the year and ate just as many coconut carob bears (addicted). I devoured Migrations in one night while staying in an Unyoked cabin by myself for a ‘think week’. Sex at Dawn delivered on its promise of being very good, while The Dawn of Language – not so much. I have high praise for Sacred Earth, Sacred Soul which tells the story of Celtic spirituality and Pelagius who was a monk from Wales and the first historically recorded writer in the Celtic world. The Celts were an oral culture until the second century who worshipped without temples – and said that the wild, forests and the mountains were their “church”. In short: my kind of people. I can still taste the Korean noodles and deep quest for self-knowing in Crying in H Mart, and pretty much will talk to anyone about The Red Tent who wants to hear about it (bring me mead and plait my hair while I bleed). The Great Alone broke me nearly as much as A Little Life did (the unputtable down book of 2022), The Fruitful Darkness is a must-read for spiritual seekers, and Love and Other Words was such a satisfying romance read (Love and Other Poems equally so). Books, as ever, are my solace.
I adopted two elderly cats at the start of 2022 – a mother-and-daughter duo called Evie and CousCous. I loved them instantly and immensely. These two queens live in a sunlit treehouse retreat with me as their worthy servant. Precious 14-year-old Evie soul passed away after a year together on the second day of 2023. It started with Googling “How do I stop my cat from vomiting all the time” and ended with liver cancer. Darling CousCous is weary of most things but not me, and is my little sidekick sitting with me during tea every morning and thriving.
To love more is to discover the truth sooner. — Sri Chinmoy
Tea is my refuge and has held me immensely this past year. I seriously can’t image my life without it. Serving tea is a great love of mine, and bowl after bowl alone on a rainy day is ultimate heaven. Reading a page from the Tao Te Ching, I am reminded: do your work and let go. My friend Matt and I hosted our first tea gathering in the round (themed to black and white) exploring duality and wholeness in silence. I have listened to this Cloud Hidden tea playlist more than a hundred times. I wrote two articles for Global Tea Hut magazine: sharing my coming-to-tea story and a piece on the practice of chaxi. I also learnt two Japanese mindfulness practices – ikebana, the art of flower arranging (or ‘the path of flowers’) with my friend Kira and taught myself kintsugi, the art of golden repair. KINTSUGI IS HARD GUYS. Both seem simple but are infinitely deep, which is always the way with a Way. In the process of handmaking a ceramic bowl for my ikebana arrangement, the teacher said: “If you rush any step, it just doesn’t work” which is the best accidental life advice I’ve ever heard from a lump of clay.
As you get older, you want less from the world; you just want to experience it. Ordinary things become beautifully poetic. — Richard Linklater
I didn’t quite master being a Projector last year, although I am leaning into ‘wait for the invitation’ more than ever. I just want to be fully alive with a bone-deep level of ease and flow. When I am depleted and exhausted, I am not me and have literally zero to give. I discovered cosmic rest and the seven types of rest you need, and have learnt I NEED TO PAUSE or I will burn out and miss a lot of magic. Being busy is easy. Anyone can fill up a calendar. The challenge is to be well-rested and I don’t want to die tired.
As I wrote:
Life is very big. We all need to prioritise small moments of rest for self-preservation. We also need to change our language. ‘Time off’ does not have to be ‘spent’ well. It cannot be ‘wasted’. Time is not something we ‘use’ – we exist within time. If your life is full, it is going to go very fast. Our lives, like the seasons, need downtime.
My word was 2022 was: trusting.
This has been the hardest word to live yet by far. Sheesh AJ a year ago, you picked a big one.
Trusting is a practice and a sense. I now have a PhD in waiting. Trust doesn’t keep time, or care about your plans (but it does have a playlist).
Trusting is accepting something is not for you even if you want it really bad.
Trusting is not getting what you want because it’s not meant for you.
It is living in the mystery and darkness – feeling around for a solid shape and something to grab onto.
Trusting is subtle – it has a voice but doesn’t speak a language. It’s a feeling, a hunch, an ease, an excitement, a nudge, a knowing. It is not your ego.
The one thing I know for sure: trusting is a process.
Trust that when you don’t know what to do, do nothing.
Trust your body so your body can trust you.
The price for not trusting your intuition is high.
Real love, big love, true love, fierce love is a perilous thing, and travels surely towards its devastation. A broken heart – that grief of love – is always love’s true destination. This is the covenant of love. — Nick Cave
Trust says, you will thank him one day.
Trust, trust, trust. Like the time I nearly died in Tofino, Canada which led me to live in an intentional community in New Mexico.
Trusting is knowing something to be true, and letting the universe take care of the details.
But even I falter sometimes, not trusting trust.
After I was devastated by a heartache earlier this year, I didn’t see the point in all this solid optimism I have in trust. As my friend Dallas pointed out, a breakup is a death, especially if you don’t see or hear from them ever again. It is a bodily ache. A fragility and a deep missing.
Even book characters move on faster than I do.
Trusting takes unbelievable strength, to believe in something with no proof. And then that moment – after going through such turmoil – when you finally receive a reward for all your blind faith, it is incredibly affirming. I’m not saying it’s a guarantee of trusting, but it is a gift.
Peace arrives on the eve of the right decision and rises on the sun of the way forward. — Tess Guiner
I have returned now to a season of solitude.
I am at a threshold being thrashed around. A crossing is near. I feel excitement and fear and I am bewildered; it intensifies as I come closer to it. I know I will have to step over eventually. I cannot sleepwalk through this next passage.
I act as if anything could change my life. And it often does.
Here are the 10 things that genuinely changed my life in 2022:
I became very attuned to the times of sunrise and sunset – and their huge impacts on your health – after attending a talk by my friend Heath Daly who is a wellness mastermind. He explained how we are intuitively programmed to rise at sunrise (the colours orange and yellow tell our brain that) and to wind down at sunrise (there are no blues in a sunset because that would tell your brain its daytime) and how we’ve messed it all up with technology and the saturation of colours we experience 24/7. I set myself the challenge of getting up for a sunrise swim for a week, and after I did and loved it, I continue it where I can. The catch is – going to sleep early and blocking all that pesky blue light that floods all our entertainment channels (Netflix, phone, laptop) where we usually “relax” at night. Nothing wrong with that. I just pop on my blue light-blocking glasses. Heath said: ‘If you leave this life without mastering something, you’ve wasted your 4000 weeks.’ And also to hug high-voltage people or pets. Instant anxiety relief.
I will not be this buoyant forever, so I have embraced being braless and I’ve realised just how constricted I’ve been. I read this theory that wearing a bar cuts your circulation and loses muscle tissue which makes sense when you see the marks it leaves behind after flinging off your bra the moment you get home from work. Oh the freedom and relief! I am embracing it. I suggest going braless for a day and seeing how you feel (of course, depending on your size this might not be ideal). Apparently, it improves muscle tone and breast shape, and going bra-free has done that for me which I was not expecting but totally welcome. Also, I feel like a mega brave babe who should have done this all through my twenties but instead is doing it at 34.
When I crack the elusive work/life balance, I will tell you all for free. I did a 2-hour online workshop with Claire Baker and Vienda Maria on figuring out how to make work work for me, as I am not interested to sit at a screen for the rest of my life. Claire made the interesting point that: ‘We work in the times we are paid to work in – which is always’. I’ve been the gal with 12 jobs. I am not going back there. This workshop was about being really honest with the kind of person you are with work and boundaries, and I am fluid and non-linear and find having to be in an office five days a week really unproductive and stressful. I could honestly get all the work done in 3 days (projector vibes) and have 2 days for writing. I want expansive flow and spaciousness and the freedom of time to deliver what I believe I can offer that is of the highest value for my brief time on earth. That is what this year is about.
You can’t be caged in a pool for long. Not when you’re someone who wants oceans. — Victoria Erickson
After 2 years of wanting to, I finally went on the May full moon in the Toodyay forest to visit Dhammasara Buddhist Nuns Monastery. I met a nun called Analia who is pure joy and radiance. She asked: “If you like, we can share some time?” which is the nicest way I’ve ever been asked to hang out. We walked (mindfully, of course) to a bench at the dam and shared about our lives. I realised I had to let go of something REALLY BIG, that is this feeling I need to live in Canada. Every time I talk about Canada I want to cry. And yet, the three times I have “lived there” for 6 months at a time or less, I have had to leave. I asked what does it feel like to lose everything you have. All three nuns said: “free.”
Shampoo Hair Soap
I said goodbye to chemical-laden shampoo (despite saying ‘natural’, it never is) and started using shampoo soap. It comes in a bar and it has honestly lasted something like 8 months for $17.95! It trains your hair to eventually not need conditioner anymore, made with only essential oils and actually natural ingredients. I’ve just turned the corner where I don’t use conditioner and it’s a whole new world friends. Also if your hairdresser hasn’t told you, the secret to hair is: double shampoo. In October my friend Yas asked how I was doing, I texted back that ‘I was even boring myself’, and she replied: “I would like to challenge you to find another way to say that you’re bored” (beautiful question!). Stagnant is what I really meant. This was a great wake-up call. So I cut four inches of my hair and it felt like getting rid of spiritual deadweight. Three years of growth, gone! I then went on to cut my hair again above my collarbones because I just want the cute bob I had as a child, okay.
My friend Essie asked if I would like to have a Quince audio portrait captured. An audio portrait you say?! I thought the same. It was one of the most exquisite and meaningful experiences to date. Basically, it’s like a podcast of your life. A snapshot of where you are precisely now and everything that led to here. With incredibly thoughtful and nuanced questions asked from Essie, revelations abound – you’re practically swimming in truth bombs and ‘wow’ moments of your own telling. You feel deeply heard, like therapy with a friend, and it is very healing and transformative.
There’s a type of beauty in solitude, but you have to be okay with being alone to witness it. — r.h. sin
Celtic Tarot Reading
I had a hugely impactful Celtic tarot reading after meeting a tarot reader at the Busselton Farmers Market and then went on to visit her on a property down south during my winter writing break at my friend Kate’s cottage (turns out life fulfilment is stacking firewood for the day ahead and a bowl of mandarins gleaming in the sun). She told me I was about to start the biggest pilgrimage of my life (true) and that I was in a pause phase (so true) and gave me this beautiful prophecy – ‘go where the moss grows the thickest’. She also said I can’t know too much. I let go of my plans to move to Canada after this session. I was forcing it big time at this point in my life. I felt immediately lighter because that’s what possibility feels like.
Tracy Chapman’s New Beginning
The unexpected soundtrack of last year. In terms of a perfect album end to end, this might be it. I saw this classic 1995 number in a tape stack while staying in a remote cabin in the WA wilderness. With no WiFi or laptop, this is what I was going to play. Except I couldn’t figure out where the eject button was on the retro cassette player and when I finally did (20 minutes later, yes this is true) I listened to this for the next four days straight. That’s a lot of Tracy, but can you ever have enough? Crank on it for her velvety voice and lyrics that cut to the core.
Feminine Wisdom Codes
Circling back to the start of 2022 where I attended a tantric workshop led by Chantelle Raven on Feminine Wisdom Codes. I usually get a top-up once a year on this kind of stuff and I found it really helpful. Nuggets of advice like, ‘trust yourself to say yes if it is a full YES’ and ‘the feminine can do anything, she just does it differently’ and ‘a boundary is not a request.’ Read that last one again. I now regularly do Chantelle’s four centre check-in before making a decision (womb, heart, yoni, intuition) and it is profound how your true self can’t lie.
I continued my studies with David Whyte in his Three Sunday series and found myself more and more enamoured by the concept of beautiful questions that have no right to go away. I challenged myself to start a practice of asking and hearing beautiful questions and wrote a guide on How To Ask Beautiful Questions – I feel like I’m still an infant crawling in this arena but this work is rich terrain. Essentially a beautiful question leads you to overhear yourself saying something you didn’t know you knew. I also have a list of All The Beautiful Questions That David Whyte Asked Me if you want to get a start and try out one in your next conversation.
We cannot contain the sacred. — John Philip Newell
As I discovered, trusting is a muscle you tend to every day.
Trusting is active, it is a decision that you have to make.
Trusting is so much patience. You have to trust yourself. You have to choose to trust yourself.
Trusting is hard especially when you don’t want to. When you want something now and last week, PLEASE. I have waited so long. Even I get doubts in the quiet hours.
I trusted this year in new ways. I am trusting everything I have let go of will come back to me, full circle one day. I am trusting the full body yes, and the hard no. I trust evolution and conscious dissolution – of relationships, ideals, ways of being, and parts of myself. I trust only the truest light, even if it leaves you in the dark for a while. I trust that death takes us home – that it is another kind of transformation – and not something to fear. I trust where love will take me, even if I am not there yet.
I trust in what is right for my body, not what is being sold.
I trust delight.
I trust receiving it all. And that the timing is not up to you.
Some people contract and others expand when you tell them your story – that’s ‘how you know’. — Nayyirah Waheed
If you feel it, don’t overthink it – it’s a soul truth. Trust that.
Trust is the ‘prickliness of my knowing,’ as Mimi Zhu calls it.
Ultimately, trusting is holding two possibilities and being okay with both of them. Even if one takes you to a dark place. Even so, the light always comes.
Get on your knees, make yourself humble and crawl into the darkness. — Joan Halifax
Track your trusting.
When have you not trusted and let yourself down? When have you been trusting and how did things work out for you? Has trusting ever let you down?
One time, I had this thought, “I’d love to have a tea sister in my lineage who serves tea to hang out with” and then boom next day, I got a DM from Romany who said she had just moved back to Fremantle after living in Woodstock, NY for 9 years. Universe delivers.
“When you get the message, HANG UP THE PHONE.” — trusting
Following the feeling and let it come to you.
To release your hold on life, and be held in return.
Trusting is not emailing for the fourth time. Trusting is waiting in a rich form.
Trust that everything is happening as it should, even when everything is going to shit.
I’ve been reflecting on how things come at the right time, not on your time, and how hard that is to accept.
The hardest thing I have had to learn is to trust trusting.
Some of us are drawn to mountains the way the moon draws the tide. Both the great forests and the mountains live in my bones. They have taught me, humbled me, purified me and changed me. — Joan Halifax
Looking ahead; I am all about sprouting up.
I was trying to explain my new word for 2023 to my friend Tiff and all that came out was rapid arm movements shooting high — like a sunflower turning towards the sky and unfurling its petals wide.
Put simply, I just want to be more myself than ever before.
To be planted and bloom.
The sun on my naked back.
Flourishing and thriving in the right soil.
And shepherd my soul to its highest possible expression.
I would love to live like a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding. — John O’Donohue
Have you ever lit a beautiful beeswax candle and forgot about it, and not realised it was finished until you smelt the smoke of its own extinguishing? Maybe I’m being too abstract — YOUR LIFE IS THAT CANDLE. If you don’t watch it, take in the splendour and awe and wonder and be present with what is right in front of you – you will look up, and it will be gone.
Now the important work begins.
I am ready for Soul Initiation.
Will you risk your current life and identity for the possibility of uncovering your most sacred of tasks, your unique soul-infused service to the world? — Bill Plotkin
To travel to Ireland and Scotland; write and walk, blossom and belong.
Delving into the Priestess archetype and the divine feminine in nature.
Sacred, small, everyday moments.
Overwhelmed with kindness.
The silent divinity of wild places.
Whatever leads to ease.
You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should have behaved better. — Anne Lamott
Where the moss grows the thickest.
Reading to you from my favourite book.
My third pilgrimage and the first with tea.
I still have mountains to climb.
And I am rich in time.
What is your word for 2023?
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows where you are. You must let it find you. — David Wagoner