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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

December 19, 2007


Seasonal Quote: Marilyn Monroe
My Season: Wrestling with Calendars
Networking: Getting Creative in the New Year
Living in Season: Creative Calendars
Recommendations: My Favorite Calendars
New Years Gifts from the School of the Seasons

  • French Revolutionary Wall Calendar
  • Natural Planning Journal (email)
  • Illustrated Calendar Companion

Yule Holiday Packet
Slow Time Book
Signs of Winter
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.

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Seasonal Quote

I've been on a calendar
but I've never been on time.

— Marilyn Monroe

My Season: Wrestling with Calendars

I just hostessed my fifteenth annual Winter Solstice party which is always the highlight of my social holiday season, but also somewhat stressful. This year I only made 3 out of my 13 cookies, but I had a big cookie epiphany (you can read about it in my blog).

My goal was to see if I could relax while throwing a party and so I did a minimum of cleaning, invited people with whom I felt totally comfortable and bought some of the food items I served instead of making everything myself. It was going pretty well until my daughter arrived home in distress, having just broken up with her boyfriend.

My other holiday traditions involve less effort on my part: a day of silence on winter solstice, the matinee performance of the Nutcracker on Christmas Eve, the medieval feast on Twelfth Night at Camlann Medieval Faire, and the week after Christmas spent reviewing the past year while enjoying time off from work.

At this time of the year, I'm always thinking about calendars and even more so this year, as I'm trying to create several versions to offer through School of the Seasons (see the full descriptions below).

Blessings of this time of potential,
Waverly Fitzgerald

Networking: Getting Creative in the New Year

I had a great time at the Virtual Opening Reception Party for the SmARTist-telesummit. It was my dream come true, being able to present my Slow Time work with some of my favorite teachers and mentors, like Molly Gordon, Jennifer Louden and Mark Silver. I'm really looking forward to the conference which happens in January and is designed to help artists learn how to make a living through their art. I'll be participating in a panel discussion and giving a 90 minute workshop on finding time for creativity. If you would like to hear the hour-long session in which we all introduced ourselves and our topics, go this website and clock on the button at the top that says "Learn More."

Living in Season: Creative Calendars

An excerpt (slightly adapted) from my Slow Time book, Week 7:

I tend to do my planning on a yearly basis. During the "empty" month of January, I engage in a long review of the previous year and create visions for the new one. I choose two or three themes for the upcoming year. Lately I've been representing them with collages done in the Soul Collage format.

Once I've developed an overall view of the year ahead, I assign tasks and projects to each season, then gradually distil them down to monthly goals. At this point, if I were using a regular calendar system, I'd have to attach them to specific dates (thus ignoring the ongoing process involved in accomplishing a goal, instead focusing on an end product or deadline).

Luckily I use a Planner Pad, a calendar system that encourages me to schedule tasks by priority. Besides pages that feature the weeks and two pages that show me the year at a glance, there is also a page that shows a month at a glance. On the blank page facing the month grid, I write my themes for the year, then list the specific steps I can take towards accomplishing them in this particular month.

From there the Planner Pad uses a weekly system like other planners, but with extra flexibility. The top of the page provides me with a blank slate on which I write all my projects for the week and the tasks associated with them. The middle of the page lists the days of the week so I can fill in tasks on the day of the week they seem most appropriate. This gives me a really clear picture of where I'm overcommitted and it's usually Monday that looks the worst. Finally the bottom half of the page provides hours of the day and lines where I can write in appointments and tasks by the hour.

When I first started using this system, I always had more tasks to do than time to do them but recently I've simplified my life so that I can actually accomplish all of the things on my to-do list.

One year when I was really struggling to find balance in my life, I made a collage calendar showing the year as a circle with different slices of pictures for each month. December and January were time off months, months for dreams and visions, which I depicted with a starry sky background. February, April, July and October were months I wanted to focus on my teaching, indicated by fields of lavender. March, June, September and November were months I planned to focus on my writing (I used the image of a page of handwriting). May was my month for sending out my work (I figured if I could get it all done in one month of the year, I'd be relieved of the pressure I always feel to market my work). I indicated this month with flowers and a hummingbird drinking from them. August was a vacation month (camels in the desert). This calendar proved to be enormously useful to me since every time I was feeling frantic, I simply looked at it to figure out my priorities.

Twyla Tharp describes using a circular calendar in her book The Creative Habit. She says she keeps track of multiple creative projects by drawing circles within circles on a piece of paper with the deadlines scrawled inside the borders. Although each circle is unique it rubs up against or enfolds other circles. She writes; "If I follow my circles and match things up with my calendar, the progression begins to make sense."

New Years Gifts from School of the Seasons

I'm still developing the Calendar Companion weekly journal. I'm thrilled to be collaborating with Catherine Kerr, a long-time School of the Seasons subscriber, whose incredible photographs and poetic prose I've been admiring at her blog "Beyond the Fields We Know."

However, since I've been unable to find a reasonable price for reproducing the photographs and calendar pages in a printed format, we're still trying to figure out how to make it work as downloadable pages. Keep tuned for more details.

French Revolutionary Wall Calendar
I found another incredible photographer in my own neighborhood, Christine Valter Paintner, whose lovely photographs will grace the French Revolutionary Wall calendar which I can afford to print (if I do it myself). I'll be shipping the first orders out the last week of this year. This is my only tangible product for this year so I'm really excited about it. The calendar costs $16 for the print version ($10 if you want to download it yourself).

This wall calendar features Christine's photographs illustrating the seasonal theme of the particular month in the French Revolutionary calendar, for instance, January is Snowy/Rainy, and each day is marked with the item meant to be honored on that day. Usually these are plants and trees; every day ending in 5 honors an animal and every day ending in 0, a tool. Click here for a peek at our prototype.

You can order it through our Store.

Living in Season Natural Planning Journal
For 2008, I'm launching a new email service that I'm calling the Living in Season Natural Planning Journal. This will be a way of formulating themes and goals for each season and moon cycle and using those natural rhythms (and the balance between action and rest they offer) to accomplish your dreams. The service will include four weeks of preparatory assignments via email in January, to help you identify your themes and goals for the new year. (Those of you who start your new year in a different season, can do this at any time.) For the rest of the year, email messages will arrive shortly before each new season and new moon, suggesting possible themes for the season or lunation, and reminding you of your intentions at the start of the year. You will have the option of posting your responses to a list-serve, if you would like to share the experience with others.

Sign up for a full year for only $120 ($10 a month). You can also sign up in modules. Each season will be $40. The introductory module, "New Year Wishes," is also $40. This will be a new adventure for me and I'm looking forward to seeing how it works.

You can order it through our Store.

Yule Holiday Packet

Still time to get the Yule holiday packet. It contains 60 pages stuffed with information on midwinter holidays, magical gift-givers, recipes for Christmas morning porridges and warming beverages, menus for Christmas dinner, instructions for making luminarias and pomanders, and a selection of Yule songs.

I've posted some sample pages from my Yule packet at my website so you can see how it turned out. This link will take you to pages on the tradition of lighting lights in the darkness:

It is available in an email version for $10 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).

Order through our Store.

Twelve Days of Christmas

I've been celebrating the magical time interval between Christmas and New Year, when time is suspended and miracles can happen, for over 15 years and it's become one of my favorite holiday rituals and one I love to share with others. This illustrated book contains some of the traditions I've created, as I review the year past and create visions for the year ahead, and some I learned from my students when I offered this as an online class, plus

  • Folklore about the 12 days of Christmas
  • Ideas for celebrating each of the 12 Days
  • History of the famous 12 Days of Christmas song (and alternate versions)

The email version is available for $10 (sent within 24 hours of your order)and the comb-bound book is available for $15 (please allow 10 days for delivery).

Order through our Store.

Slow Time Book

If you're looking for a gift for someone who is overwhelmed by business and wishing for a slower, more natural relationship with time (maybe that's you? I hope you buy yourself holiday gifts), consider my new book, Slow Time: Recovering the Natural Rhythm of Life. It provides twelve weeks of ideas plus gentle exercises for working with different intervals of time from the moment through the lifetime. To see the book, read an excerpt or order a copy, go to:

Advance Notice: I'll be posting chapters from the book, one at a time, on my website, throughout 2008, if you prefer the really slow version.

Recommendations: My Favorite Calendars

I sometimes shy away from the task of writing calendar reviews because I fear my recommendations will be repetitive. I have my favorites and I tend to return to them year after year, so if you've been reading my newsletter for years, much of what follows will be familiar although I did find two new calendars I adore this year.

Jim Maynard's Pocket Astrologer

If I could buy only one calendar a year, this would be the one. It contains all the calendrical information I need for the year: the dates of major Christian, Jewish and other festivals, plus moon signs, moon void of course, eclipses (and where to view them), the best meteor showers of the year, planetary transits (including Mercury retrograde), and much more, all for my time zone (Pacific; there's also one for Eastern time). I'm not sure why I love this calendar so much. Other calendars — Llewellyn's astrological calendars and the WeMoon almanac — provide the same information. Maybe it's the compact size. Maybe it's because Jim Maynard was the first person to teach me about that mysterious time interval called "moon void of course" (a transition time when the moon is "in between" signs). Maybe it's because so much is information is packed into such a small package. You get everything I mentioned above plus a blank horoscope wheel for writing in your own chart, a visual map of the planetary motions, explanations of the qualities of each zodiac sign and planet, an article on planting by the moon and much more. To order go to:

Planner Pad

In a totally different realm, the realm of scheduling, I would be lost without my Planner Pad which is like the control panel for my complicated, multi-faceted life. Unlike traditional planners in which one tends to write mainly the dates of external obligations (appointments, etc.), the Planner Pad system encourages you to think of what you want to do in different areas of your life and then assign them time in your schedule. (I imagine this is similar to the Covey system which I've never used, though I have incorporated many insights from his books into my schedule, like putting first things first (my spiritual life, then my writing) in both my schedule and my day.) I'm going to adapt some of the Planner Pad ideas into my Natural Planner. To order go to

Wall Calendars

Besides my handy astrological guide and my planning system, I always like to keep a beautiful wall calendar on my wall. Both Pomegranate and Amber Lotus offer many beautiful choices. I think you can use calendars as a focal point for your dreams, which is why I sometimes give friends calendars as New Year Gifts, calendars that feature places they want to travel (Greece, Italy, etc. ) or activities they love (yoga, writing, knitting, etc.). My wall calendar last year displayed William Morris floral designs, which helped inspire my flower essays. This year I'll be enjoying my own French Revolutionary wall calendar and Christine Valter Paintner's rich photographs.

Weekly Journals

I often use beautiful calendars as journals. I have one I kept the year my daughter was turning two and it's full of hilarious stories about her adventures and a detailed record of her vocabulary acquisition. We both still enjoy reading it. I also have a Book of Days that came illustrated with Japanese seasonal paintings which I use as a phenological journal, where I track the seasonal changes in my life, noting the first whiff of sweet box in January, the first ripe raspberries in my garden in June, the first time the radiator comes on in my apartment in September. I put each entry under the appropriate day and write the year in parentheses, so that over time the book has become a palimpsest of over a decade in my neighborhood. I can say with certainty, "the lilacs are blooming earlier this year."

Ecological Calendar (Pomegranate)

Any pretty weekly planner will work for this purpose, but I'm especially taken this year with one of my new finds: the Ecologial Calendar. I've mentioned this in a previous year when it was a gorgeous wall calendar (which is still available but I must confess that once I had pinned it up on the wall of my sterile work cubicle, I rarely glanced at it). The weekly planner version (new this year from Pomegranate) will be much more useful. The design is lovely. Each weekly page shows celestial events, the ratio of sun to darkness, natural seasonal events, the tides and a preview of what's to come. The right hand page offers space to write in your commitments or comments. It begins on Winter Solstice, as every calendar should. I love it that the creators have named the months and the days fanciful, seasonal names, just like the creators of the French Revolutionary calendar. Winter is Celeste, Sleet and Bluster. December 24 is MoonGlow, December 25 SnowLine, December 26 Ice Floe and December 27 Frozen Lake. But these names point out one problem of seasonal calendarsóthey don't fit all regions. There are no frozen lakes in Seattle, and I'd be surprised if the emphasis on snow in winter works for residents of Florida or Southern California.

Jennifer Louden's Inner Organizer (New World Library)

My other new find this year, although it can be used as a planner, falls more into the realm of inspiration. This book is so beautiful (glossy pages, bright colors, playful design) that I hesitate to write in it but I love using it as a meditative tools for beginning each week. In her work as the Comfort Queen, Jennifer has always focused on finding great questions to explore. In the Inner Organizer, she offers intriguing questions for each week like "What am I most passionate about this week" and "What if I welcome interruptions as an opportunity to come into the present moment?" I only have one quibble. It's designed to be used in a non-linear way. You can dip into any week, based on themes, or just random chance. Suddenly I find I'm attached to calendars being linear. Still I look forward to using the Inner Organizer to deepen my experience of time all year.

Signs of Winter

Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and I will post them on the website at Signs of the Season.If you no longer wish to receive these emails, or you wish to update your profile, please click below.


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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