31 January 2022 | BY ANDJELKA JANKOVIC | Life
How does the long way feel?
I know I haven’t written anything this past year here. I have written at least 383 things in my head (and also 144 posts on chicken).
It always takes me a bit of time to fully digest and process things in a new cycle. Looking back on 2021, I read many excellent books. I made Japanese miso from scratch and drizzled sesame oil on everything. I developed a pigmentation right on the bridge of my nose. I am yet to find the perfect comfortable underwear and I have not made peace with this. I washed and dried my linen sheets in the sun and made my bed, all in the same day; the definition of being an adult. And I picked up some new skills like growing oyster mushrooms from a log, the heartbreak that is tending to tomato plants in summer, and learning how to roll my own beeswax pillar candles (getting ready for cabin life).
I worked a whole year in hospitality and now my right shoulder hurts. I wanted to put the idea of ‘service’ into practice – in service to my brother and his dream, literally serving food, sharing tea in ceremony, and fostering five gorgeous kitties across the year. I now understand that being in service is about putting your ego out of the equation and mostly being invisible for a greater good. The act of service is the reward itself, not being recognised for it.
Service is never-ending and you have be wary of spiralling into a ditch because if you’re down there, you can’t help yourself or anyone really. I did nearly burn out a few times and so I made abundant rest a non-negotiable to survive the year; it wasn’t perfect but it was better than before. As my friend Si says, rest is a revolution. WE ALL JUST NEED MORE SLEEP.
I do not know if the soul survives physical death – and I do not care – but I know that to lose your soul while you are alive is worse than death. – Jeanette Winterson
I took great delight in beautiful dates with solitude. Matinee film screenings (Nomadland is a standout; “What’s remembered, lives”) with my dark chocolate sorbet and GF waffle cone hack. A seat at a Parisienne-feeling bar with half a dozen oysters and a bowl of frites. Hike days in the forest. And soaking in my bathtub with the moon and the serene nothing.
It’s my Jesus year apparently (I’m thirty three) and he was a revolutionary.
My music tastes have changed considerably this past year. Although indie folk and anything melancholy will always have a place in my
bleeding heart repertoire, a large part of my music listening has been of atmospheric, neo-classical and instrumental tracks. My Spotify Wrapped says, “peaceful and wistful.” (I love that.) It might have something to do with my tea practice. This transcendent song by Luke Howard. This calming playlist by Alaskan Tapes. And my most listened to album of 2021 – Silencia by Hammock, an ambient masterpiece by a Nashville duo who I had never heard of. There isn’t a single lyric in the whole album, and if you know me, you know this is a big deal.
It was a year of lockdowns and creative concerts. Lie on the floor, put a speaker near your head and listen to Bon Iver songs in the dark. It sounds like Justin Vernon is in your house. True story. I also cannot be more OBSESSED with Taylor Swift’s magnum opus.
Many books were huge in my life: Braiding Sweetgrass is a must-read requiem for forgotten and wounded nature. Carl Jung’s The Red Book blew my mind as I read the details of his (and I’m still finding the pieces), as well as anything Martha Beck says or writes is hitting the sweet spot – highly recommend starting with The Way of Integrity, and let this word change your life too.
The exquisite risk – to be fully alive, open, available, living true to our heart. — Mark Nepo
A few things were quite radical to me; like Thinx period underwear. I transitioned to them for the nighttime of my cycle and it is so liberating to bleed (along with my moon cup) without using any plastic or disposable items. I learnt a self-compassion technique called R.A.I.N by Tara Brach at a silent meditation retreat in Denmark which I clearly needed, after having a minor meltdown when I arrived. I’ve also been slowly unpacking my beliefs and narratives around money, realising how unconscious the conditioning is and how hard (but worthy) it will be to rewrite new truths. I will also sing the praises of finally getting a pair of Blundstone boots and feeling pretty invincible.
My word for 2021 was listen.
I had no idea what I was in for.
I thought it would be about being a better listener. Don’t interrupt, allow silence, ask invitational questions. And it was. But it is also so much more subtle and divine (obligatory playlist here).
The small signs and inner knowings. To listen is far beyond the physical. It’s the unsaid and what cannot be spoken.
To listen is to pay close attention with a quiet heart, with a waiting, opened soul, without a passion, without a wish, without judgement, without an opinion. — Hermann Hesse
The act of deep listening is a high form of love. Hearing with your body, rather than your ears. Paying attention to when something is ‘off’ and when your spidey senses get fully activated.
I discovered an entirely new realm of inner listening – following that little voice; barely a whisper. Asking for invisible help and getting clear messages from the universe. The more you listen to your intuition, the more it flows.
The tone in which we speak to the world is the one the world uses with us. Give your best and you will get the best in return. – John Burroughs
And of course, there is actual listening. Life was telling me to be more receptive (literally in a breathwork session, “It is safe to receive all the joys in your life”). I overheard someone shouting the best ever instructions for life/finding the public toilets to their friend lost down a dark laneway, “Just keep going. Don’t question it!”. I had a potent message from within after a tea ceremony, “Protect your peace.” And in my ongoing quest for the most beautiful question in the world, my friend Ned asked me one: “Have you ever been truly taken home?”.
Deep listening is an act of surrender. We risk being changed by what we hear. — Valarie Kaur
Here is where it gets next level.
While becoming a fanatical listener (I didn’t want to miss any gems!), I also realised I am a listenee, as in the one being listened to. In my quiet thoughts and unwavering desires, the way I converse with the universe, and the quality of my inner talk.
Longing is a prayer. Not a passive wish list or a quest for enlightenment, prayer is active and receptive – a conversation. We listen and speak, surrender and serve. — Rebecca Wildbear
You might as well love
You might as well love
You might as well love
The repetition of these three lines struck me at my core. I love being alive, which is to say — I love my aliveness. Experiencing life first-hand is a core value of mine; I want to know what the juiciest orange tastes like. I ask of the options open to me, which one brings the most love into the world? I choose them. I cannot be any other way.
Since I was in the groove of being all ears, I had a dream where I asked a question to a personal hero of mine, the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, “How do you have grace and fortitude in waiting?”. I miraculously remembered her answer when I woke up:
You have to do a lot of bad writing first, then eventually you’re not writing about it — it is writing it through you.
So there’s that. Thanks Liz.
My new word for 2022 came quite easily to me.
Trusting is backing yourself. Centred and spacious.
An unshakeable faith in life.
Trusting in the waiting. Trust it can be easy. Trust it is true.
She asked ‘you are in love, what does love look like’ to which i replied ‘like everything i’ve ever lost come back to me. ― Nayyirah Waheed
Trusting is blind bravery; there is no path in front and you haven’t seen a trail marker for days.
The climb may get fifty times harder, because the view is that good. Infinitely more beautiful than you can ever imagine and receiving more than you could possibly conceive.
Trusting your inner guidance will lead you in the direction of soul.
Inhabiting your intuitions.
As David Whyte says, trusting the way in which you hold the conversation with life.
If following your heart’s desire seems crazy but not following it is becoming more and more difficult with every passing week or month or year, your choices come down to taking a leap of faith or living with the regret of never having tried. Wouldn’t you rather jump? – Martha Beck
Your moment will come.
You are being led home.
Now to my favourite part, these are the 10 things that genuinely changed my life in 2021:
My friend Lamis invited me to a School of Breath event at an old naval stores warehouse lit up in blue. Breathwork is basically someone guiding you to breathe in patterns of different rates and depths. It brings more oxygen in to heighten your awareness and can bring about altered states of consciousness. The overall feeling of calm and centred in an otherwise hectic week, after just breathing, made me curious. Then I attended another breathwork session shortly after followed by a Sunday session with a small group of people, both facilitated by Russell Storey. He was the one that said that realisation to me, noticing something in my breathing pattern, that it was safe to receive in my life which was as beautiful as an invitation gets.
A Little Life
I didn’t know what I was getting myself into. A Little Life still plays in my head like cinema. Easily the best fiction book I read last year (and yes, I am saying that even after Sally Rooney’s third release). Immersive storytelling and characters that make you want to reach through the page and hold them. I had to stop reading a few times due to holding the page to my chest and sobbing – either from unbelievable kindness or from unimaginable cruelty. By the end – I was utterly shaken. The tender friendship between Jude and Willem is one that will never leave me. Dammit, I know they are not real people but it doesn’t make it any easier! I’ve looked online for some sort of post-A Little Life bereavement club. Please read it so we can start one.
Stella tried to get her groove back. She really did. A good friend recommended How Not To Die Alone which despite the cringy title, and my initial resistance to reading it, is actually very good. Then I read Attached – a book on attachment theory and the science of relationships that made the rounds in my friendship group. It’s one of those books to get the most from you need to do the actual Work (as in the exercises at the end of each chapter). I found myself thinking “OH THAT’S WHY I DO THAT” many times, especially after the Relationship Inventory.
Our attachment style is usually rooted in early childhood experiences that shape your examples of love and ideals of romance, plus how many times you’ve seen A Walk To Remember. I finally recognised that my avoidant attachment tendencies (being unavailable, hard to reach, happy hermit) are barriers to meeting a new love interest. And then my friend Jakub earnestly told me (and it wouldn’t be an end of year post without a piece of advice from him), “Waiting is not active.” So I decided to go on an ‘11 Dates’ experiment with new intentions like being available and treating dating like friendship – which made it less pressure and more fun and illuminating. I dated four different people and while there were moments of meaningful connection, none of them went anywhere. I have not been met yet.
Someone asked me what I miss most about being in a relationship? Forehead kisses. Unstructured time together and someone to listen to forlorn music with while it rains. I really value spiritual cultivation and to meet – as Rilke said – another solitude to ‘protect and border and salute each other’. I’m always open to the possibility of magic.
Can you be alone with yourself and truly like the company you keep in the empty moments? – Oriah
About halfway through 2021, I realised I was losing a lot more-than-usual amount of hair. My hairdresser pointed this out to me too, so I saw a trichologist to assess what the flip was going on. Long story, cut short (intended pun) – I am not dying from the myriad of things I Googled, but instead this is apparently how things go in your thirties with sporadic hair loss. She also told me to remedy this by shampooing my hair every day. Laughs every female, ever. I happened to come across a wooden hairbrush at Zero Store and I’ve been brushing my hair with it ever since. Natural wood bristles (as opposed to plastic) stimulate your scalp and don’t cause as many excess hair breaks, friction and frizz, and (actual) tears. Anyway, that’s my TED Talk on a hairbrush and you can read this article if you don’t believe me.
Being A Projector
I was going to share how Human Design changed my life in my 2020 list but I wasn’t brave enough. Back in San Francisco in 2019, I struck up a conversation with a girl working in a shop and we clicked; the next minute she is asking for my birthdate and then told me that I am a Projector. Now I had no idea what she was talking about, but a year on, I spent a few weeks going down the rabbit hole of the Human Design System and confirmed that I am indeed a ‘Projector’ – a Mental Projector, 1/3 Profile, with Right Angle Cross of the Vessel of Love – to be precise, and everything I have read on it is wildly applicable to my life. You can find out which Energy Type you are and get a free chart here (you need your exact time of birth to be accurate). This quote from the founder Ra Uru Hu is what hit the nail on the head for me:
There is nothing more dangerous for Projectors than being exhausted. You’re not here to work. You’re not. You’re here to think. You’re here to see. You are here to express an outer authority that provides guidance. You’re here to organize energy. You are here to guide energy. And you’re here to get rewarded for that. You’re not here to be the worker. You’re not.
I have been self-studying aspects of Human Design for two years now and had a reading with Breyton in December (after looking for 6 months) to crystalise my direction, correct use of energy, and know myself more. This year is all about trusting, in Human Design terms, to align with my Strategy (Wait for the Invitation) and Authority (Sounding Board). It’s a helluva gear change from the hustle and making things happen to waiting to be invited, recognised and rewarded for being myself; and magnetizing money and opportunities made just for me.
Koko & Rudi
My babies! I fostered Koko (a kitten) and Rudi (her 13-year-old sidekick) for nearly a year after their owner couldn’t care for them due to being houseless. I should have listened when I was told it was emergency boarding and their owner would eventually come back for them, but I was madly in love with these little souls as was anyone was who met them. Giving them back was a heartbreak I couldn’t have planned for. It truly broke me and still hurts. I was comforted by the poet David Whyte whose words I have on my fridge, “There is no sincere path that any human being can take without having their heart broken.” Yes indeed. Maybe they will remember me as the girl who danced around the kitchen with them. Now I have two elderly rescue cats Evie and Cous Cous – a mother and daughter duo – who were surrendered by their owner when they moved away, and now these cuties sleep in hiding nooks in my clothes. You might as well love.
Ginger Shallot Oil
Nothing to write home about here except EVERYTHING that is frikkin delicious about Hetty McKinnon’s ginger shallot oil. It’s easy peasy to make, has a huge umami hit, and you’ll pour it on everything (avocado on toast, rice, noodles, your face). I did.
Intuitive Vision Board
I went to a beautiful gathering led by my friend Anna that was a 90s heaven: hundreds of magazines, scissors, and gals lounging on couches chatting about life. Anna eloquently explains how making an intuitive vision board is about noticing what you notice. Letting yourself be surprised by what you are drawn to (just cut it, don’t overthink it) and getting your brain out of the way. In the end, my board was pasted with autumn scenes and windows (a total of five which I didn’t notice until a friend pointed it out), and a very cozy aesthetic. As a stranger said to me: “that’s basically Canada and Bon Iver.” There will always be a part of me that feels like I should live there.
Trust that what gives you life is listening. — Anna Balston
Tea In Nature
I thought I was the only person on this entire side of Australia who practices in the Global Tea Hut lineage until I met Matt, who reached out to me on Instagram after looking for the same thing! Meeting tea friends is one of life’s sweetest moments of synchronicity. We’ve since had many tea ceremonies in nature – at the edge of a wetland, under an ancient tree, and by rolling rapids on the eve of my birthday. I also met Matt’s wife Odille who hosted a gathering of women on the last day of 2021 and I had a revelation with Elevation.
I served tea at my home in a Sacred Sunday series throughout the year and was invited to serve tea at three retreats and high in the sky. My friend Jill took THE most glorious pictures of me and my favourite tea bowl, I gifted myself my first wood-fired side handle teapot from Czech potter Petr Novák and I finally read The Unknown Craftsman (which I’ve heard talked about so much) that echos, “The Way of Tea transcends the individual. Its law is the beauty of Tea. It is not a private path, but a highway for humanity.”
Laser Hair Treatment
I’ve been pondering laser hair removal for many years after asking several of my friends: WHAT, HOW, WHY IS YOUR BEACH SITUATION SO FLAWLESS. Holy moly it works, and to be unshackled from having to shave is a joy. As someone who first got their hands on a razor when I was twelve and took off half the skin on my legs before a dance recital – this is a TRIUMPH.
Okay, there is also an eleventh one that I am not ready to share quite yet because it is Big™ and Scary™ but friends, I got the call. Loud and clear.
When you get the message, hang up the phone. – Alan Watts
Now to 2022; the year ahead for me is all about reclamation.
Reclaiming writing, and my birthright to pleasure and play.
Thriving and rising with the sun again.
To know the centre of my being very well.
Worry less about what you make — that will mostly look after itself, and is to some extent beyond your control, and perhaps even none of your business — and devote yourself to nourishing this animating spirit. – Nick Cave
Bake a signature chocolate cake.
More hiking and sleep under the stars in a swag.
To be smitten beyond belief.
A very, very long tea session in nature.
As bell hooks said, to participate in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love.
Guitar strumming; curled up next to a fireplace.
Moonlight, not fireworks.
Get an actual alarm clock and BE ON TIME ANDJELKA.
Practice equanimity and observation.
Consider everything an experiment. – Sister Corita Kent
Walking side by side, next to you.
Arriving at the place I was always going.
Honest, real, true, and oh so good.
What’s your vibe for 2022?
That’s how much love fuels you. Amazing. Drive through the night for love. No sleep ’til love. Now imagine it is yourself you’re driving towards. Call that your new home. Go home. Come home. Be home. – Megan Falley