(Lucy, outside the Cake Shop on a snowy early morning)

I love this time of year, in all its cold, snowy, melancholy darkness. Though, for all intents and purposes, I am a summer girl, winter holds a special beauty for me, especially the time after the holidays. All is quiet, the days are short, and the mind turns to more contemplative matters. For me, its a time to regroup after the mad rush of Christmas, at the shop and in family life, to set goals and priorities for the year, tidy up corners and loose ends, and begin anew.

And, its a time for sledding.

(Jasper and Hana, on our way to sledding at the Montford Amphitheater)

We’ve had so many snow days off from school and work this winter that its beginning to feel like a way of life. Between the sledding, the shared meals and time with friends and neighbors (and new neighbors that have become wonderful friends, yay for Peter and Hana!), the card games and general merriment, it feels like Christmas has lasted for a month and a half. We had lovely friends visit from Colorado, we had family up from Charleston and from Atlanta, and Santa came and brought Jasper a transformer and some treats. And while we all need to get back to work and school at SOME POINT, this Summer-Camp-in-Winter feeling is certianly lovely.

(On the one warm-ish day we had in the last 6 weeks, Jasper and Stella hung out downtown)

We had a gathering on New Years Day, with Hoppin John and collards and wine and friends and kids, and we made wishes for the new year and put them on a garland in the kitchen.

We burned last year’s Christmas tree, along with the slips of paper on which we had all written down the things we want to release and let go of from last year, in the bonfire in the backyard.

When we burned the old tree as the yule log on New Years Day, in my heart I hoped for the best and brightest for every one this year. I think 2010 was challenging for many of us. I know I’ve got alot on my mind, trying to balance the beauty and the difficulty of the experiences I’ve had this year with the long view of being grounded in my home and family, and balancing the joy and creativity of my work with the sobering reality of the hard work that giving my life to a specific path entails. My Cake Ladies book is complete, and will be coming out in the fall, and I’m so proud and excited. But right now, with the snow on the ground and the house warm and cozy, I’m not in a big hurry- the book (and wedding season) will come soon enough. For now I’m going to enjoy the winter, and life with my family.

And, speaking of family, Duncan’s home! That’s right, we got the band back together. And I won’t go too deeply into that story right now, but I’d just like to say that I’m incredibly grateful, and that I’m learning: about teamwork, about appreciation, and about the giving and receiving of love. All year, as I journeyed and wrote a book and experienced magical adventures, my heart kept returning to the things that were here all along: my home, my sweetheart, my baby boy, my Cake Shop. And now I’m learning that life doesn’t have to be an either/or situation: that I can have my happy, healthy home and family life, and have my soul journey too. Integrity is a word that comes to mind: a wholeness, a sense of being yourself no matter where you are, and of believing that, everything, joy and sorrow, solitude and togetherness, creativity and good ole hard work, are not opposites, but co-exist in proper measure, one to the other. This is what I think is expressed in this image from Tarot:

And that’s what I’ve been trying to incorporate more of into my life. Temperance and balance have been tough lessons for me. I’ve been working hard in these years since Jasper was born to create more balance and stability in my life, but sometimes it seems life’s changes keep coming at me so fast that its hard to take a breath, much less put own solid roots. Sometimes, I do get a little bit affeared. But I’m learning that, when we feel affeared, that maybe what we need is stability not in the form of security, because nothing is truly “secure,” but that actually what we need is just a little bit of shelter, a respite for a minute before we pick up and keep moving. I’ve learned that we each carry a little bit of shelter around with us- sometimes we find it with friends, sometimes, it’s in our home; but most of the time, its in our own hearts. And that we have to look if we want to find it, and we have to appreciate it where it is, and that nobody is going to do it for us, and that we sometimes have to work to accept and receive it. Luckily, right now, I’m feeling it in so many places- in my home, in my work, in my relationships, and in my heart. And I’m learning to believe it and to recieve it.

Another couple of images that come to mind are:

The Benjamin Long fresco of the Prodigal story, from the Chapel where Duncan and I were married 9 years ago.

And the ten of pentacles, a symbol of stability and family, which carries with it a reference to Odysseus, who was only able to return home to his family after a long journey.

So Duncan and I returned home to each other, and our love and our home and our son are healthy and happy, and it took us being apart for a while to get there. And the Cake Shop is strong, and I’m appreciating each of these things like never before, with a presence that I am just now learning.

I am grateful for my community, and for the friends and family that love and support me. This year, my intention is to give and receive, in equal and reciprocal measure, that love and support in all my endeavors. My hope for all of us this year, friends and family and the world, is that we learn to truly give and receive love. And so may it be, and so it is.

Post Scripts:

-There is tremendous personal power in letting go. I’m now an advocate of breaking up if that’s what you need to do to figure out how to make it work, or to figure out that you need to move along. (sort of along the lines of, “If you love someone, set them free.”) We are each responsible for our own happiness, and for doing what it takes to make things right for ourselves, even if it means taking a seemingly terrifying leap. And its OK to be alone.

-Standing in your own power and opening your heart only benefits all of those around you. You do not diminish anyone’s else’s light by shining your own.