Erin O'daniel is a writer, artist and gender expansive womxn living in Duluth, Minnesota

Spring Equinox

Daring and Discerning. Sitting here, the time of year when light and dark are balanced, contemplating my own creativity and confidence. There’s a person in our community who I have a crush on and while my logical brain can offer a dozen or more reasons why the crush wouldn’t “work”, I still fantasize about them often. Curious curious curious. I want a bit more than what I’ve got right now. Which is all in my head and body.

Yesterday morning while drying off after a shower, I found a small bead like nodule in my left breast. It’s on the inside, middle, center- near my heart. My head has done it’s own loop de loops since then. Last night reading about the Equinox, goddess representing birth and fertility and god at this time of year representing the jokester, I muse this morning. About how that combo even in the last twenty four hours has played with my heart and mind.

Something in finding a not “normal” spot on my body, flashed my mortality in front of my face. My body is a temple. I am, to use an active friend’s term about hers during summer months, a specimen of fitness much of the time. I feel my privilege in this fully working and ready to go physical presence. This sack of bone and flesh is how I know to be in the world. Connect with people and physical places. Express myself. I take care of it accordingly.

I was at a work training on Friday and we discussed post election self care. How we who are employed by Planned Parenthood especially during the defunding efforts are maintaining balance and wellness. How we are able to be fully engaged and strident in our work and love of self. On four tiers, physical, emotional, mental and spiritual, we shifted through some of what we do and don’t do for ourselves. It was a powerful way to spend a morning, in the context of a dynamic work team, that led into strategic planning for the next year and a half. I marveled at how smart my co-workers are and how balanced my life is.

Here in Northern MN there is a lot of contemplation and sometimes action. Now seems like a time full of external momentum. I’m playing around with the terms discernment and daring in the context of personal and political landscapes.  At thirty-nine, my perspective is vast and balanced. I know how to channel my confidence and step back. I’m recognizing there’s different varieties of stepping back and stepping up to navigate at this point in my life.

In MN, such a cultural contrast to my southern home, there is quiet and reticence I both decry and respect. Sometimes the push and pull of these elements of northern Midwestern life are so confusing, complicated and delicious.

When younger, the balance between daring and discernment was mos def tipped towards daring. I had no problem jumping in, at, onto. And damn was it good times… and dastardly too. I had to clean up small to large disasters in my life during that period due to that approach.

Now with more perspective, I sit here with a spot on my body I don’t know if is healthy or not, something more than a small cyst, and I can feel life and death. Life equals healthy diagnosis and continuing building this contentment, moving forward, dreaming, creating, working. Diagnosis of breast cancer would mean altering my everyday reality, working for basic equilibrium again, one I just this weekend claimed boldly and marveled  over with feelings of contentment.

The trust I have in my body might shift. Many things I probably can’t comprehend- don’t need to try to comprehend here now could become real. I feel a fear that is quite unfamiliar yet I choose to not become that fear. Similar to the political upheaval our country is experiencing, not knowing what a wack job president will do next, we come back to our most rooted selves and local communities and families for answers and reassurance. We are blazing mad so we tap our daring and discernment here at home. Big ideas and achievable goals. I guess I would do the same with physical illness. I’ve been relying on so many things to achieve this beautiful balance in my life. It is stunning!!!! Beyond gorgeous. And I want to enjoy every flavor of it. Tap, sip and swallow it to the max. Maybe that’s my goal? I right here chose to allow myself to enjoy this even more. Know it even more. Contentment, confidence, creativity is subtle and easy ways. Recognize me even more.

To engage fully- that is what I’m married to. Exploring in dedication. Partered with. I choose to trust this pairing with my entire being.

Yet there is a gift, especially now, politically and seasonally, to feeling one’s mortality. Makes me not want to take anything for granted. Shift all my creative and romantic dreams into high gear. Yet that doesn’t for me right now include saying what the fuck and throwing up my arms. Running 'at' like a crazy deprived and hungry person. I’m not starved. I’m very well fed. From this place, here I can steer like I’ve never steered before. I plan and imagine and jump into the exact spot I want to swim. This is knowing satisfied.

At thirty nine, there is an seeing, knowing, being I am learning how to balance. The power I hold is immense. I don’t want to hold tight to it, afraid it will go away. I want to trust this mental emotional physical spiritual strength I have and be fully engaged.

A feeling is a spark, a match, do I want to feed the fire? Fire, light, life, sex. All of this sits right here between us at the Spring Equinox. I want to feel my fire, light, life, sex in ways known and unknown. That is the best way to describe this moment. Spring equinox if the balance of the known and the unknown. It is really quite delicious.

To not run at or away from, I want to be here holding this equinox. Listening and using it in new and old ways. To build something profound and simple. To get to know life even more. Yesterday finding that spot in my breast was a moment. I could label it many things. I choose- an invitation to let go of resistance and say Yes! No! And...

What do I give more time? Why don’t I connect in new ways. Beyond “daring”, where I tell the person how I feel, or “discerning” when I sit with my feelings and assess the situation for a bit longer. How about living as in exploring our connection? Yes, how about exploring as both stillness and action. I do it every day when I’m outside here in my wild home and walking, running, hiking.  There is momentum and stillness. I am returned to my fullest and emptiest self.

There isn’t attachment to an endgame yet I have a plan and keep to it. This life of mine, I have a plan. I have all along. Sitting at the Mayor’s State of the City address last night in a packed auditorium on the west side of the city, I heard resolve, dedication and vision. I felt amongst all of us in the audience trust and respect. We were wholly looking at the woman we chose to lead our home, Duluth, into a healthier, satiated place. We listened completely, letting the fullness of our days, lives, minds, hearts drip away, and become as vast and beautiful as the bigLake. A subtle and fully expressed and embraced love. Knowns and unknowns talked about in the context of a mayoral term.

To be connected to one another, lovers, ourselves. Is to know how our daring and discerning parts dart about like hummingbirds, become words and actions, wellbeing and sickness, life and death. And feel the rootedness of this life together and alone. Our home embraces all of that. Our bodies do too.

Spring equinox I dream of many things. For myself and my writing and my work. For my community and my loves. For my family members and my beloved bigLake. For my body. Allow me to live up to and out the best and most beautiful of these dreams as well as I can. In this moment and/or all million plus (weather it is as human, rock, bird) moments in front of me. Here life, here death. Here daring and discernment. Here big and subtle love. I explore what it means. Confidently and creatively and curiously and calmly and in community. Here my deepest values held up for me and others to see and explore by too.



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