The wheel of the year is ever-turning and the last days of 2020 are slipping away in its tracks.
, I hope you’ve been heeding my tarot reading in my last email on the new moon and making space this festive season for joy, celebration, and good rest.
As we approach the New Year (at least by the Gregorian calendar), you may meet pressures to make resolutions for new demands on your self-improvement. A list of declarations to do more and be more. But after withstanding the past year together, I hope you’re allowing yourself to make the crossing into 2021 with tender, indefinite softness.
I deleted access to my work email from my phone at the start of the holidays. I observed the summer solstice here in Sydney, belly full of stone fruits and spiced mead, watching the sun set outside my window and the sun rise over Stonehenge in conjunction.
In this season of long, hot, languid days, I’ve noticed my curiosity returning like a playful kitten. I want to read for the pleasure of reading, luxuriating in another’s world created by their words. As an academic, I don’t think I read so much as I consume, often with an agenda to use everything I read (by paraphrasing, citing, and adapting in my theorizations). Returning to the pleasure of reading feels so deliciously resistive to me, subverting the prevailing demands to consume and produce.
Perhaps even reading feels too much right now, and if so, I hope you’ll honor your needs to do nothing, to sleep, to cuddle a furry friend, to call a friend you miss, to sit by a window and watch the sun, snow, stars, or storm.
But if you think you’d like to find solace in a little reading this season or as we trundle into 2021, I invite you to join my 2021 Reading Challenge.
This challenge is an excuse to read for pleasure, choosing six books across six prompts: (1) Book by an Indigenous writer, (2) Book by an LGBTQIA+ writer, (3) Collection of writings, (4) Book of poetry, (5) Book with a color in the title, (6) Book on the Disorient reading list. To help you keep track of your choices, I’ve created a reading tracker that works both electronically and in print.
If you visit the blog, you’ll find three lists with ideas for books as well as my own reading list for this challenge. (I’ve already dived into Pleasure Activism by adrienne maree brown.)
The tarot card that came up today for this full moon is the Nine of Swords. Swords in the tarot are associated with all things intellectual and this particular card reveals the nightmares — the fears and anxieties — that can plague us. Perhaps there’s some apprehension about what the New Year will bode or maybe there’s some restlessness over the holiday season as we prepare to return to work and life amid a global pandemic. There’s nothing to be ashamed about if you’re feeling scared and anxious.
The Nine of Swords reminds us that when we retreat completely inward, worries and doubts can multiply and fester until it feels like they’re tearing our minds apart. We can ruminate over all the things that have come to pass and recite catastrophic possibilities, haunted by our worst nightmares. Sharing our pain is one way we can release ourselves from shouldering the burden alone. We can concentrate on the aspects we can control and allow ourselves to ask for help.
Many of the resources I’ve created on Disorient came from your requests for help. One reader shared with me their struggles teaching intersectionality so I published my lesson plan. Another reader doing their PhD asked me for my thoughts on fighting injustice in academia and I collected my experiences on the joys and risks of being a scholar-activist, which will be published on the blog next week. Next month I’ll also post an article about how I published my first book, Redeeming Leadership, answering many of the questions I’ve received from others interested in doing the same.
I cannot promise I’ll always have the knowledge or tools to help you solve your problems, but it would be a privilege to be a source of support to you.
In solidarity and strength,
P.S. I’ve been writing a workbook on radical self-care. When I complete the first full draft in a couple of weeks, I’d love to enlist beta readers to provide some formative feedback and help me improve the workbook before publication. If you’re interested, please reply to this email and I’ll send you more details about what being a beta reader entails.