Lammas at Arbor Low

On a bright evening at the end of July I travelled with two newfound friends – and fellow celebrants – to work some celebratory magic up at Arbor Low Stone Circle, in Derbyshire.

We had done some rudimentary planning in advance but the three of us were keen to hold fast to our intuition and the spirit of the place and not have things too rigidly set in stone (no pun intended!). We knew that being outdoors and being in such a beautiful space would spark our hearts and creativity and evoke words of truth and power from us when the time was right…

… we were not wrong.

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After travelling along winding country roads we approached Arbor Low under the shadow of some rather energetic storm clouds, that were casting thunder and rain of quite epic proprtions all around us. The car windows had turned to liquid glass and the roads were slick and (at some points) lake-like. As we pulled into the car park I felt the tiniest tug of uncertainty… what would we do if the rain continued? How would we mark this special time – of Lammas and our first collaboration together – if we had to leave, thwarted by the elements? What would we do if no-one turned up?

Once again the World was asking me to trust and thankfully Jason (driver and fellow celebrant) was able to articulate its wishes wonderfully well. He showed no sign of doubt, certain as he was that the skies would clear for us.

And they did! As we reached a half hour before start time the sky began to lighten ahead and then suddenly, as if someone had flipped a switch, the rain stopped. Instantaneously. I have rarely seen rain behave like this before, particularly in England where it loves to fade in and fade out slowly, but it simply ceased to be, between one breath and the next. It really strenghtened Jason’s previous assertations; that the Land was being cleansed and that once it was ready the rain would stop and we could move out.

So we did; me having gained a needed boost of trust and confidence not in myself but in the Land, in the time and the space and most of all in our intention. We were there to celebate Lammas and celebrate it we would; not just because we wanted to, but because the World wanted us to.

 

As if I needed even more proof of the rightness of the situation, the ground underfoot once we reached the circle was mostly dry and certainly warm. The Sun had reappeared and stayed with us throughout the evening till it was replaced by a beautifully clear waxing crescent moon. We were able to set up our central shrine and gather people together in comfort and ease until finally the drums started and we all (20-30 of us) gathered together in circle.

The variety of participants was inspiring and a blessing; families, solo attendees, couples and groups of friends. Everyone brought with them their own path, their own beliefs, their own experiences and shared them with open hearts; also allowing the ideas and inspirations of we three celebrants to reach in and inspire them with grace and acceptance. There was no sign of resistance or discomfort, everyone seemed to find something they could enjoy, appreciate and connect to. The unified energy was a testament both to the collaborative techniques we employed (inspired by our training with Glennie Kindred and Annie Keeling) and to the Spirit of Arbor Low itself.

 

Arbor Low is one of my favourite stone circles although I have visited only twice. On my first fleeting visit I sensed a landscape that was still very much alive, very much in use and attuned to sacred and spiritual practise. There is a solidity and strength to the stones – which lay flat on the ground, not standing upright – and the earthworks, but also a fluidity and flow that seems to emenate from the pockmarked limestone and pools of water that are ever present.

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On this my second visit, I was able to expeirence all this more fully and directly, by taking part in sacred celebration myself. The Land of Arbor Low definitely knew what was happening and held the space safe and strong for all of us and the energies we raised. I would go so far as to say the Land itself took pleasure in what we were doing. I felt welcomed, accepted and connected in a very simple but honest sense; something which can be difficult at some sacred sites where the mass of people/energies can leave you feeling baffled or overwhelmed.

It was a beautiful place to celebrate and an active part of our celebration, especailly as we honoured and gave thanks for the gifts and the sacrifice of the Land at this Harvest time.

 

Together we blessed and laid a stone on the Earth, as marker and memorial for all the fruits and grains that will be taken and consumed by we humans in the months ahead. We then offered back some of the Land’s gifts with offerings of beer, along with our own gratitude, to the Earth at our feet. And finally we chanted, drummed and sang to honour Lammas, the Land and our own Harvests; raising energy and offering it back to the Land itself in gratitude and with love. Finally we were blessed with Lammas loaves, butter and honey so that we might carry with us the blessings and abundance of this time as we departed from the space.

 

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I was buzzing afterwards, buzzing in a way that only working on the Land can leave you. The thrill of feeling the wind and the ground responding to your words and your heart’s intentions is something that can’t easily be described but is never forgotten once it has been felt. It’s been some time since I’ve celebrated out on the Land, in a wild place, with others present and I had forgotten (until that night) how powerful it can be. The community feeling was strong and everyone was able to laugh and share and smile afterwards. Lots of kind words and kind thoughts were passed around as we slowly packed ourselves away and followed the sinking Sun towards the horizon and home.

 

I am so grateful to Nicola and Jason of Way Of The Buzzard for asking me to co-create this celebration with them. I am also thankful to the Land and Spirit of Arbor Low for being so welcoming and so active a participant in our activities.

Most of all I am grateful to the Flow; for leading me to this time, this place and this happening that truly opened my heart to the Spirit of Lammas and gave me inspiration and energy to feed into the season ahead.

 

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If you want to read Nicola’s account of the celebration you can find it here.

Arbour Low

Photo Credits:
1) English Heritage
2) badwitch.co.uk
3) Nicola @ Way Of The Buzzard
4) great-place.co.uk

A ‘One World’ Welcome

It’s been a busy busy Midsummer this year and only now, over two weeks after the Solstice can I say I’ve fulfilled all my commitments for the festival. Not that I’m complaining, as I said in a previous post, it’s been a while since my energy and action have felt so in tune with the energy of the season and I’m pleased to have taken full advantage of all that bright, summer enthusiasm. But after attending The One World Festival at High Lea Park in New Mills yesterday I can finally say I’m done and have a little time to rest and eagerly await the harvest I have been tending.

Walk The Wheel’s introduction to New Mills has been a great success and I loved celebrating with those who made the first event we held at the beautiful Springbank Arts Centre on the day of the Summer Solstice. Although the posters and advertising went out a little later than I’d planned we still have a lovely group in attendance and everyone brought their own unique Midsummer energy with them. I am hopeful that the next event in New Mills – celebrating Lammas on Saturday 2nd August – will be even bigger and even better, particularly after meeting so many more New Mills folk yesterday.

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It was my first time attending this long-running local festival which celebrates “peace, the environment, cultural diversity, community, and world development”. I have to say the organisation was fantastic, the park was beautifully kept and the weather better than we could ever have expected (I think I may have tanned a little!). All the stewards were incredibly friendly and so were the attendees. I had so many inspiring conversations with new and people that I came home feeling all a-buzz with sunshine and human spirit. My heart was full to bursting after hearing so many people express their pleasure that Walk The Wheel is making a regular home in New Mills. So – for them and all who attend in future – I am determiend to make all our future celebrations there as joyful and inspiring as the festival was.

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So if you are one of those One World Festival goers who has found your way here from a leaflet or a remembered Google search then a hearty and happy welcome and a HUGE thank you for making me feel so welcome in your community! I am very much looking forward to walking the wheel with you all. 🙂

And to those who have been walking with me a while or who might come upon this page sometime in the future then warm welcome to you too. As I told many people I met yesterday, it is the people that make Walk The Wheel so special and their sharing of inspiration and themselves that makes it such a joy to hold and to attend.

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Bright blessings to all!

Photo credits:
1) and 3) by Visit New Mills on Facebook
2) by Huw Jarvis on Facebook

Growth

It’s been a long time since my life has so closely matched the energetic pulse and turn of the seasons, as it has so far this year. right now I’m consciously channelling all that bright, busy been energy into my work and into Walk The Wheel as a whole.

In the early months of the year, around Imbolc, I had itchings and stirrings to do something more with what I’d already established in the previous cycle.  The Hadfield events have gone from strength to strength since their conception over 18 months ago and it was time to start letting the community and energy at its heart, grow.

Fast forward to Beltane when, surrounded by the fires of creativity and fertility, I set down intentions to run a second Walk The Wheel event in New Mills – a lovely Derbyshire town about 20 minutes drive from where I live. This would be a chance to see whether the success of these seasonal celebrations was determined by the people I’d already met or whether it was something I could carry inside me and share further afield, with others.

As well as the New Mills venture I had just started a new job at a local cafe, which immediately opened doors to work right at the heart of my town and community. I trialled a few Mindful Mornings* in April and am offering a third (yep, third!) Midsummer event at the case this weekend; one specifically aimed at families, hoping to share seasonal celebration and wonder with a range of age groups and peer groups.

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Alongside all these things I have been aiming to blog regularly, keep my hand in the social medias and somewhere in amongst all that find time to raise a kitten, go on a brief holiday, support the hubby in his new job (which he’s loving by the way) and have a first wedding anniversary.

Needless to say that now, at Midsummer, life feels a little hectic!

Some things have gotten lost along the way… but I’m glad to say those are mostly things like dishes, the hoovering and any real sense of space in our already tiny house; all things that – while important – can be lived with, and don’t directly impact too heavily on my creativity and well being. Although I will admit that going for long walks in the uncluttered countryside has become more and more necessary and not just because of the glorious Summer weather we’ve been having.

All the important things still seem to be here and somehow I’m keeping on top of them. I have another weekend of celebrant training coming up in a couple of weeks which I am ecstatic about. I have been able to visit my family, see some friends and enjoy a few joyful days in the park and out on the hills. Midsummer in New Mills went really well and seems ready to continue rolling, growing as people start to mention it to friends and co-workers. And this weekend (if the weather holds) I feel confident that there will be two more joyful and inspiring Midsummer celebrations in my home town.

And I’m here, now, blogging for you. Still writing, still thinking and still growing…

And I have no doubt that at the root of it all is the same powerful energetic buzz that is making the rest of the World so bright, so busy and so vibrant too.

Who knows what the dark half of the year will bring?

 

With you in Midsummer energy…. buzz… buzz… buzz…

 

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Photo credits:
1) Facebook
2) Shutterstock

In Flow

It’s been a little quiet around the blog recently; my apologies to all, especially those folk who have kindly chosen to follow me over recent days. Until recently I had been posting quite regularly (which surprised me too!) then life semed to stand up, shake itself about and go a bit crazy. But hey: it’s Spring time, it happens.

 

All that green and growing energy buzzing across the Land has given  things a real stir. Both the hubby and I have new jobs and we are both making tentative but determined steps towards spending our days doing things we love and believe in rather than things that simply make us money.

The whole work/life balance has always proved an interesting (and infuriating) concept for me. Being of the firm belief that we should only have to work for and at things we truly love and believe in makes stability in this society (financial and energetic) both difficult and dangerous.

One way I try to mitigate this is by trusting my instincts and trying to remain ‘in the flow’ as much as possible. I’m planning a longer, more elaborate post on what I mean by ‘flow’ for later; for now, know that it is simply my way of describing the path of least resistance. Far from being the ‘lazy’ route, this path is where you should be, where Life wants you to go and where your actions are in harmony with your Self, you needs and the needs of all other things.

A lofty ideal? Yes; but one grounded in my own experience and heart-felt truth. Truting the flow is what keeps me from going completley batty when I lose the thread of my own intentions and dreams.

 

This Spring the flow has really made itself felt in our lives. The repercussions of choices we have made in the past based on instinct and trust rather than logic and ‘sense’ have proved to be joyful and promising. I now have more time to spend on creating work of my own devising, walking the Wheel with more determination and sharing it with others (including here in the blogosphere!). I have been able to attend classes and workshops that inspire me, meeting inspirational people along the way. And when I am earning money I am doing so in an environment that promotes the things I believe strongly in: community, sustainability and good health.

I am immeasurably grateful for all these changes taking place in both myself and the hubby’s lives but they do come with provisos. The house is currently in disaray as we both adjust to new schedules and I find it almost impossible to work in a cluttered space. There are also new ideas and opportunities popping up all over the place provoking excitement but also nerves, anxiety and no small amount of administration! So things may be a little shaky around here for a few weeks yet, with posts not being as regular or as well planned as I might like. That said I learned right back at the beginning of this blog that sometimes a little wildness can make for an interesting read. 

I will however do my very best to get back on top of things as soon as possible, to keep offering ideas and insights into how the Wheel is turning for me and how it might be turning for you, wherever you are in the World.

 

So a big warm welcome to all newcomers to the blog and a hearty hail and thanks to those sticking with me. You are all part of the flow that I am following as diligently as I can and I look forward to seeing where you and it are taking me.

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Shelf Brook
Image from Wikipedia

Happy Women’s Day!

A very Happy Women’s Day to all!

In honour of this International event I would like to share with you the thoughts that formed the basis of my introduction to last week’s Honouring Woman event.

Taking place almost directly after Being Woman, Honouring Woman was quite a dramatic shift in energy; going from holding a space for women to quietly and intimately explore and experience their core self, to creating a shared space where ideas, inspirations and thoughts of Woman could meet and interact and in the open. I like to think we pulled it off and that everyone who attended left with some deeper sense of the importance and beauty of Woman.

Both men and women attended the evening event which was a real blessing, ensuring the space remained balanced and grounded. No room to spiral off into conjecture, prejudice or politics, just a safe place to encounter the energy of Woman and consider how it might manifest in all our lives; the question at the heart of it all:

What is Woman?

It is, in its most practical sense, an energy; or rather how the life energy of over half the human population chooses to manifest itself in the World. It is the ishness, the very nature of all women and influences certain traits and states of being that are shared by them all to one degree or another. Woman is cyclical, emotional, nurturing and protective. Woman is half of human history, of human experience…

But Woman is not restricted to women alone.

Woman is a gift we all inherit for we are all of woman born. Whether we have a relationship with our birth mother or not we still receive the gifts of Woman through her. For we all carry within us a set of DNA – mitochondrial DNA – that passes exclusively down the maternal line and this DNA has allowed scientists to trace the lineage of every person in Europe back to just a handful of ancient women. These women are our Ancestral Mothers and we all – male or female – carry a part of them within us. So we are all entitled to know, experience and benifit from the gifts they created, cultivated and gave: the gifts of Woman.

Most obviously these manifest – in both men and women – as aspects or traits of personality or Self. The ability to nurture and rear, the need to create and sustain, the joy of emotion and expression; all are essential elements of Woman and all can be cultivated by anyone who wishes to live them more fully.

Woman is not all sweetness and light. She is often the parts of us that are unpredictable and unreserved; that encourage us to experience life to its fullest.  She can be destructive in her drive to maintain balance and she is the root of all life itself. Woman dives deep into feeling and emotion and is not afraid to express it. Woman trusts instinct and internal wisdom as much as (if not more than) rational logic. Woman works in circles and waves avoiding straight, logical lines; flowing through life, dancing with the ebb and flow of time and mood. Woman is changeable, adaptable and always evolving.

All of us will recognise aspects of Woman within us. But for many it can be difficult to trust or even access them as Woman’s ways are often discouraged in ‘modern’ society; seen as too fractious, too hysterical, too unpredictable. But by holding and cherishing these aspects alongside the masculine energy within us we might discover benefits not just for ourselves but for the World we live in too.

Because Woman is an energy that inspires and empowers us to preserve and protect life.

Many people will be familiar with one of the most poignant manifestations of Woman: Mother Earth. The idea of our Land being inherently female and imbued with Woman energy feels right because it is the Land that holds, grows and supports all the life upon it. From keeping seeds warm in her Winter womb, to the birthing of shoots and grains on her surface, the Earth is Mother to it all. And (as someone rightly pointed out to be at ‘Honouring Woman’) she is not adverse to a little aggression and destruction to maintain the balance and success of all her progeny (who stretch far beyond we humans).

Woman is often more easily accessed through the abstract than through our self as it is rare for us to clearly see our own true facets and depths. Throughout history there have been recorded instances of the Divine Feminine; some cultures even venerating Her over and above any male deity figure. From Mother Mary to Mother Earth, across cultures and pantheons, Woman has been honoured throughout time as a vital, life-giving force with a myriad of lessons to teach us. And I am glad to note that through various movements (Intenrational Women’s day included!) and shifts in interest and perspective interest in Her is gradually returning.

I would encourage anyone interested in exploring Woman energy to look at images of female divinity – Mothers, Goddesses and spiritual leaders – and consider which ones speak to you? What gifts might they offer you? What traits might they encourage you to develop and explore? This can be a reflective process; the first step to recognising how we embody Woman in our own Self (male or female!).

At this time in our human existence, I believe Woman offers ideas, energies and approaches that our World desperately needs, to redress some of the imbalances that exist between all current life on the planet. If Woman’s energy and traits could take their rightful place beside the energy and traits of Man we might return balance to one another and compliment one another to ends that at the moment we can only imagine.

For now let Woman be something we all embrace, celebrate and cultivate in ourselves and in our lives. I have no doubt it will bring inspiration and growth not just to the individual, but to the World as a whole.

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To end the evening we all took part in a little folk magic to tap into the energy of Woman that had been generated through our sharing. I asked each attendee to bring a length of ribbon and a flower/leaf/natural object.

Taking the ribbon first everyone chose an aspect of Woman energy (e.g: fiercely protective or nurturing or flowing) that they felt was vital to life and concentrated on imbuing the ribbon with that trait. After a few moments we then wove the ribbons onto a red wheel I had created especially for the event. The result was a web of Woman energy and attributes woven strong in the centre of our circle.

Then everyone was invited to take their natural object and think of a woman/group of women/manifestation of Woman that is in need of support and again imbue the object with that person/persons. Finally these items were carefully laid onto the web where they were held and supported by the web we had woven.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

Our shrine for Woman

In the final moments when we gave prayers and blessings to the web and all it stood for I was overtaken by the power – delicate but utterly vital – that the web exuded. It felt sorely needed and yet also strong, steady and supportive.

I hope it continues to be such a symbol – for those who attended and everyone else – on this International Women’s Day.

Created with Nokia Smart Cam

The Web complete

Celebrating Woman with Walk The Wheel

International-Womens-DayTo celebrate the approach of International Women’s Day, Walk the Wheel is holding not one, but TWO events at Hadfield Community Hall.

I am pleased to say that ALL PROFITS from both events will be going to HIGH PEAK WOMEN’S AID – a local Women’s charity that provides support to victims of domestic abuse.

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So if you are local to Derbyshire/Sheffield/Manchester why not come along and support a good cause and celebrate Woman in her many guises.

 

 

EVENT 1

Being Woman

A workshop for Women only.

Join us as we come together in a safe, sacred space to share our individual and collective experience and expression of Woman.  As we sit in circle together we will explore the magic of our Womanhood, seeking insight to better know ourselves:

Who is the Woman within us?

How do we see her? How do we feel about her? How do we love her?

And who are the Women in our past? Our future?

How can Woman inspire us on our path?

Using crafts, chanting, silence and visualisation, the spoken word and simple ceremony we will aim to connect more deeply with who we are and the ephemeral, earthy energy of Woman.

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EVENT 2

Honouring  Woman

Open to EVERYONE!

As we approach International Women’s Day, Walk The Wheel invites you to share expressions of Woman and how Her energy and influence is present in your life and the World around you.

Whether there is a Woman you particularly admire, an expression of Woman in myth or history that resonates for you or it is the ephemeral energy of Woman itself that most inspires you, we would love to hear how!

We will work simple ceremony to honour Woman and raise energy for the Earth and those who would benefit from Woman’s warm and powerful embrace.

Participants are encouraged to bring something to share with the group – it should be suitable for all ages and inspire in you the idea of Woman!

 

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When and Where

Hadfield Community Hall (above the Library)
Railway Street
Hadfield, SK13 2AA

‘Being Woman’ : 5pm – 7pm
‘Honouring Woman’ : 7:30pm – 9:30pm

COST

Both Events (women only, 16+yrs) – £20 per person

Evening Event (everyone) – £5 per person (suggested donation)

 

Email walkthewheel@hotmail.com for bookings and more information.

Picture credits:
1) internationalwomensday.com
2) highpeakwomensaid.org.uk
3) Janie Rose @ beeswaxandbroomsticks.co.uk
4) awakeningwomen.com

New Year, New Dates

Walk the Wheel’s next ‘real world’ event will be taking place on Saturday 1st February at Hadfield Community Room/ Full details are available on the event page and will continue to be updated as we get closer to the day.

IMBOLC – Spinning The Thread

will be a gathering to honour the sleeping seeds, the promise of new life and the return of Brigid – Lady of Flame and Forge – to the land, who brings the first breath of Spring in her wake.
 
 

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(credit)

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Dates are also set for the next two seasonal events:

Spring Equinox on Sunday 16th March

Beltane on Saturday 3rd May

Both events are set to take place at Hadfield Community Room, events will appear on the FB page closer to the dates.

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Finally, there are some extra WtW events planned for the coming months; including possible links with International Women’s Day. So keep your eyes peeled for info as it becomes available!

WALK THE WHEEL holds regular events to honour and celebrate the changing of the seasons, the turning of the year and how we turn with it. 
It aims to give people a place where they can gather together to acknowledge and celebrate the world around them; fostering a sense of connection, community and fun in the process!

 

 

“Back to life, back to reality…”

Song quote from Soul II Soul, Back To Life (However do you want me)

It always comes with a bump, the return to ‘reality’ after the suspended animation of Solstice/Christmas/New Year. My festive season stretches out to 3 weeks, to incorporate all three, which is the better part of a month and quite frankly far too long for me to be living on the cocktail of excitement and anxiety that it brews in me. My nerves feel shot and I’m craving crap food and fresh water in equal measure. I’d also like to sleep for the better part of this month to properly recover my senses… but no such luck. I was back to work on the 2nd, dealing with crabby customers by the 3rd and it has quickly become apparent that despite last weeks festive cheer we are all now suffering from festive withdrawal.

What frustrates me the most is that we have no choice but to accept this sorry state of affairs; to strap on a smile, pick up our feet and plunge back into life, pressing ourselves into the same mundane cycle that we have been working so hard to escape these past few weeks. I feel like an escaped convict returned to her cell, breathless and desperate. The proverbial stuffing being forced and cajoled to fit myself inside the turkey’s arse.

I know I’m not the only one; thousands if not millions of us will have felt the same way over the past couple of days or will (if you’re lucky) have that joy waiting for you on Monday. This is not some sort of childish pity party I’m attempting to throw. I simply want to shed light on the fact that I (and so many others) am being forced to suppress my needs – physical, emotional, spiritual – not for my own good, not for survival, but in the pursuit of something I can’t eat, can’t drink, can’t breathe and that doesn’t give me warmth or shelter or love.

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My Mum swore by these when she was giving up cigarettes

If I had a New Years wish I would be able to give up Money as part of my New Years resolutions. It would be a dirty habit that I could kick given some perseverance and a jumbo packet of Fisherman’s Friends. Then I would be free to rest my weary brain, relax these strained muscles and allow myself and my home to recover from the December madness and make way for the possibilities of the year ahead.

Instead I have already started selling my time and my mood to people I’ve never met in the hopes that I can scavenge together enough pennies to keep myself in food, water and warmth – things we are told are part of our basic human rights.

I didn’t think I’d be starting 2014 in such a grouchy mood but the sky was grey this morning, my nose was cold and my hubby far too warm and cosy to leave on the train when we reached my stop. For a while I did feel like a petulant child, one who hoped that enough ranting would get her what she wants, even if that is a new version of reality. Perhaps I spent a little too much time with my 18month old niece these past few days? Or perhaps I’ve been listening to too much 90s pop? Either way I am here, there’s a whole year ahead of me and I’ve got 363 days to kick these withdrawal symptoms.

“Back to life back to the day we have
lets end this foolish game
hear me out don’t let me waste away…

… back to life back to reality
back to the here and now yeah”

(lyrics)

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If you would like a more uplifting New Years read I can heartily suggest checking out the wonderful Janie Rose at Beeswax and Broomsticks. This post is a heartfelt and uplifting call to shine in the year ahead.

Copyright

All written materials and images, unless otherwise stated, are property of Kelly Tomlin 2016.

Further reading

We gather together to Walk the Wheel; to share with one another and be inspired.