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  • Jen Kohan

Make. Believe.

I’m pretending it is New Year’s Day. Make-believe is beautiful and hopeful and just that: making oneself believe. I don’t need anyone else to believe it. I don’t need anyone else to approve. I am making my own reality and today is the first day of the year. My year.


After many years of wandering, I am beginning to feel at home in myself.


Over time, my external service work has grown a healthy web of community and meaningful, positive change. In contrast, my internal development towards a more content and grounded self has always felt blurry and muddled. For years, I’ve ascribed this to factors outside of myself -- some I have control over, some I do not.


Habit-formation has always been a challenge for me. Rather, positive habit formation has always been a challenge. When life feels chaotic and uncontrollable, the concept of habit seems self-defeating and a little absurd. In spite of this, I have cultivated a few positive habits in the past 43 years. Outstanding in their field of “changing my life for the better” are: a dedication to regular therapy, enthusiasm for clean(ish) eating, devotion to nurturing living things, and faith in my identity as an explorer.


I am making-believe every single day.


Ritual is the critical, catalytic element of my life experience and any meaning I make is created through ritual. All ritual, even the most common, is ceremony. Food preparation. Consuming food and drink. Cleansing and cleaning. Meditation, rest, and awakening. Moving the body. Touching and holding that which is beloved. All ceremony. In practicing mindfulness I gain awareness of the control and care I bring to each moment. The passive becomes active when awareness shows up.


My intention this year is to cultivate greater awareness of my experience in the present. I will slow down and observe: cognitively, emotionally, somatically. Where in my body do I experience connection to ritual as I move through each day? Where am I experiencing connection to the ritual of stringing together words for a purpose right now? What do I think about it? How do I feel it?


I am trying not to be too hard on myself for not writing as much as I originally planned last year. It’s startling to look back and recognise that I did not make a single Fieldnotes entry for all of 2019. But it’s OK. It is what it is. I know there is a balance between the muse striking and actively seeking her. My muse was quiet this past year and needed rest. A friend described 2019 as the year in which she “wanted nothing more than to… STFU.” My heart sighed and nodded when I read that. It was the moment I forgave myself for not writing, not creating enough art. I made a hell of a lot of other stuff this year: friends, love, dreams manifest, and lots and lots of merry.

I'm grateful to be healthy and happy. I'm grateful to be safe and loved. I'm grateful for the opportunity to use my privileges to bring awareness to the suffering and healing of the lives around me. I promise myself to look after myself so I can continue this work.


We are all on the hamster wheel. We gotta get off and check the ball bearings from time to time. Grease the gears. I’ve climbed back in now. The squeak seems to be gone and, presently, the going feels smooth.

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