Tuesday, 16 December 2014


I know we’re only in December, but I’m thinking about January, because it comes next.

You probably know already, the Romans rushed around conquering things – veni vidi vici – and changing names to Roman ones. It seems the Dark Ages are still hard to see into, and nobody seems entirely confident of the operation of the Coligny calendar (Unless you are a druid, in which case perhaps you know), but Riuros is a strong contender for the month of frost that got shoved out of the way by the Roman ‘January’.

And why they called it January is because in the Roman calendar it’s the changeover from the end of one year to the beginning of the next. After the god Janus, who had a two-directional face, one aspect looking back and the other forward.

So it’s a bit like the handover meeting you get at change of shift in a hospice/care home/hospital, where the incoming staff meet with the outgoing staff to consider what’s happened and what’s up next.

This seems important to me and I don’t want to miss it, so I’m getting ready now. I’m looking back at the way I’ve travelled and forwards to where I am planning to head through the ways of 2015. Which is subject to change by virtue of the plain reality that life is full of surprises and who knows what is coming along the road to meet me (‘Beware, O wanderer – the road is walking too.’ Jim Harrison).

2014 has been a colossal year for me. The simplicity trail of 2012 moved into a quest for solitude and peace in 2013, and in 2014 I’ve had my nose to a health trail, reading the work of Eric Berg, Gerald Green, Mark Sissons and Gary Taubes. You know how frost disturbs the ground, causing buried objects – china shards etc – to rise to the surface? Well, in similar manner this health quest threw up the phenomenon of minimalism; a deeper cleansing and de-cluttering and refining than before. I’ve spent the year cleansing my liver, and getting a grasp of the endocrine system and how the solar plexus chakra organs work – the gut, gall bladder, spleen, liver, adrenal glands and also the thyroid; all of which has been very enlightening in the most profound and comprehensive sense of the word.

The ripples spreading out from this have been a bit tsunami-esque. I had no idea that among all the other toxic stuff the liver hangs onto and has to process, emotional baggage is included. And I had no idea how much of my lifelong jittery, nervous, alarmed, permanently anxious, weary, fearful, jumpy, hyper-reactiveness was not so much my personality as the personality of sugar.

After clinging tightly together for a lifetime, sugar and I parted company completely in 2014, and boy, do I feel well!

But the emotional clearing has brought with it awkward change as well as hope and freedom. Greater clarity and honesty is always something of a mixed blessing socially.

I’m looking back on 2014 with a sense of astonishment at the thorough-going sense of change, the resulting calm, the increased health. I sincerely hope I haven’t got more selfish, but I’ve begun to know what works for me, and let go of exhausting expectation-driven obligations that had a lot of duty in them but no love.

At this cusp of the year, I’m thinking about getting right the balance between kindness and candour – simply and directly reaching for what is right for me, while doing my best to keep a practice of gentleness and respect.

One of the things I’ve carried in my bag a long time and would like to ditch now is a curiously recurring phenomenon.

It goes like this: being in a group of people where it is made clear to me that both a) I have a duty to be there and absenting myself would be reprehensible, and b) my presence there is merely tolerated.

I’m not going to do that any more. One of the next steps of the journey is to spend time with people who enjoy my company – as I really am – and who have a kind and healthy vibe; no manipulation, no spite, no dominance games.

Because I’m a spiky, fiery, inadvisedly over-truthful, introverted, Asbergery HSP, that won’t leave many people in my social sphere – but that’s okay.

Also – and knowing my abysmal track record on this one, I hardly dare write it down – as 2014 has been a Year Of Food (in terms of revolution and enlightenment), so 2015 will have to be a Year Of Exercise. Nothing mega. Dancing, walking and maybe swimming are what I have in mind.

As January approaches, I’d like to reflect some more on the alignment of the ways, seeing where the path now leads, considering what to carry along from 2014 into 2015, and what to leave behind in the handy trash bin at the crossroads. I hope it won’t bore you, and I will be interested to hear of any comparable reflections and map-bearings from your own life.


Kathryn said...

Pen, you are way ahead of me. About all I have figured out for 2015 is to make an extra mortgage payment this year so as to increase my 2014 tax deductions.
Many years ago, there was a commentator on US National Public Radio who suggested we would do well to split the year into 13 months. The new last month would be called Remember. That would give us plenty of time to do or say anything that was not completed in the previous 12 months. Think of all the loose ends there would be time to tie up; a person could actually start the year with a clean slate. That would be a very new feeling for me and probably many of your readers, too.
Why this did not catch on, I do not know. But if anyone wants to start a petition, I’ll sign it!

Pen Wilcock said...

'Remember'! Fab idea! We should have it for sure. Plus, it could re-align the year with the cycles of the moon.
In the Celtic cycle, they did have something more or less this at Samhain. I think it's a real shame the Roman system pushed it out of the way. xx

Gerry Snape said...

Ah Pen...I know why I follow you...I too am an awkward outspoken difficult woman...apparently...just about to have another difficult conversation...so thanks for the head up and I'll be who I am before the Great I Am...here goes!

Pen Wilcock said...

Ah - those difficult conversations! When I have One Of Those coming up, I get into a huddle with the Lord Jesus and say, "I need help. I can't do this. I'm just stuck. Please go ahead of me. Please do it with me. Please bring your peace and kindness, your healing and love into this encounter. May I do no hurt, leave no wounds. Please come with me."
Some impressively good outcomes arise from this.
May all go well for you.

Bean said...

I love the path you are taking and wish you wellness and goodness for 2015.
I too gave up sugar, I add it to nothing and eat hardly anything processed so it is easy to avoid. But what a difference, no more food cravings, in fact I find I need to remind myself to eat. No mood swings and just an awesome sense of well being. Physically I feel fantastic, aches and pains are gone,and rosacea has calmed way done. I exercise daily and often feel like skipping around the house and I always run up and the down the stairs without a second thought. Compare this to me six months ago, aches and pains and stiffness and I looked and felt every bit of my 50 years, me feet hurt, my back hurt, my face was puffy and my rosacea was awfully inflamed.
Giving up sugar, eating whole fresh foods, mainly raw, limiting fruit to two pieces a day and becoming seriously addicted to raw spinach sprinkled in with daily exercise has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. The weight has fallen off, sometimes 3 lbs in a week, and I feel absolutely marvelous. I can't believe it.
I was told that losing weight at my age is hard, a losing battle, why bother, this is just part of aging, part of starting the change of life. I determined that I would fight the odds and make a change, use it or lose it and with the help of an app on my phone, myfitnesspal, I have transformed my diet and my life.
I am glad to hear you testify to the wonderful effects of banning sugar, it truly is toxic, causes inflammation and many other health issues and once you give it up you don't miss it - strange but true.
So enjoy your exercise in 2015 and continue to tend and care for your body in the deliberate and careful way that you do.



Julie B. said...

Your Huddle With Jesus Prayer is beautiful. And needed often. I might copy it down. Thank you. xoxo

Rebecca said...

"Greater clarity and honesty is always something of a mixed blessing socially." Isn't THAT the truth?1?

Right now, I'm trying to deal with clarity and honesty about the "selfishness" issue. I don't have it all ironed out yet.

I don't have the sugar thing all ironed out yet, either.

Pen Wilcock said...

Bean - HOORAY! Well done you - I'm thrilled to hear you're feeling so well :0) xx

Julie - Sometimes it's all I can do :0) xx

Rebecca - A work in progress! Growth and change is the best way to check one is still alive - a state of perfection would cast serious doubts on that. Hope your knee is healing well and that you are free from pain now. :0) xxx

Anonymous said...

Pen, I want to give up sugar and I've tried many times. But I find it sooo hard. Please could you give some information as to how you did it and in particular, how you first starting coping with social occasions and special times of the year.

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Kay :0)

Looking at what you ask in its two parts - first the giving up sugar, then the social eating.

I found the important thing was to inform myself, so as to proceed with understanding, knowing how our bodies work. I strongly recommend Dr Eric Berg's videos on YouTube, and his book 'The 7 Principles of Fat-Burning'; also Gary Taubes book 'Why We Get Fat & What To Do About It', and Robert Lustig's YouTube video 'Sugar, the Bitter Truth'. Even if you are not fat nor wanting to lose weight, these men explain the physiological principles. Once you have understood, it makes it easier to give up the sugar.

In making change, there are steps to undertake, which I wrote about in my blog post here: http://kindredofthequietway.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/imagination-and-change.html

These steps to making change means it is important to keep topping up the inward flow of information and encouragement reinforcing your new intention and direction.

About the social eating - yes, that can be a problem. I found my instinct was to break my new eating pattern for parties and special occasions, but that didn't work for me, for two reasons. Firstly, we had several family birthdays in a row through the summer, such that what I was calling exceptions began to morph into dropping back into old habits.
Secondly, I think it's generally the case that people are okay with whatever your pattern is, provided it's predictable. So if they know X is teetotal, Y is vegan, Z is diabetic, they just factor that in when inviting you. At first when you go sugar-free you have to explain. I find it helps to explain from a clinical perspective. So I told people frankly how heavy I'd got and that I'd started to exhibit pre-diabetic symptoms and felt ill all the time, needed to make this change, and felt so much better now.
This meant that I cast myself in the light of an ill person who needed special diet, not in the light of a crusading reformer who disapproved of the party food. People understandably find that easier to accept.

Another thing I did was work out a strategy for eating out and parties. When going to a party, I'd take a bottle of sparkling water and a bottle of wine. The wine affirms other people's choices and the water gives me something to put in a glass so I can join in.

Meals out are not a problem, because there's lots you can eat. But girly get-togethers tend to be squarely starch and sugar based. The choices would be: 1) Don't go, 2) Go but just stick to unsweetened herb tea or sparkling water (it looks more festive than still water) or 3) go and take a sandwich box of sharing snacks - veggie sticks and raw nuts - explaining about how you have had to make changes for your health and anyone else can snack on what you've brought as well if they like.

Does that help?

Jenna said...

My Israelite brain numbers the months, as I do the days--only using the paganisms in reference to...well...pagans. I also do the 24-hour time so people already think me odd. Hugs to you, Pen! --Jenna

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Hello, friend! Waving! xx

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your reply to my questions Pen.
I've decided to go sugar-free after Christmas. Not an excuse, (well maybe it is), but there's a lot going on in my life at the moment. My daughter is staying with us for Christmas with her two house rabbits. Forrest and Jenny are set up in the spare bedroom. We also have a very interested six month old puppy! Added to this, I'm going into hospital on Monday for a hip replacement and yes, I'll be in over Christmas.
So, all in all, I think it's best to wait until New Year when things will be more settled. :)
Thsnks again for your help and I'm sorry for my late reply - my usually very organized self is struggling somewhat!
Kay X

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi Kay - I will be praying for you in your surgery and recovery. Come back and let me know when you are going in and how you are progressing, and I will be holding you in the Light.
It sounds as though you have a lot on. Sometimes it can be difficult making a big set change at an already complicated time. My husband, who has a very high pressure job, wanted to make health changes but not do the full diet change I have - and so did some of the other people in our house. So what they have done is just stop any food containing added, refined sugar. That's all. It has made a big difference to their weight and mood even though they've continued with starchy carbs and fruit etc. Just that one thing makes a big difference. May God bless you, your household, and your hospital stay. xxx