This year I learned that romjul – the time between Boxing Day and New Year’s Day – is traditionally 5 days of no holds-barred. A kind of winter Mardi Gras without the parades or brass.

I have no idea if romjul is somehow related linguistically to rumspringa, but I’ve been staying up later than usual, drinking a bit more than usual, and not keeping to any kind of routine.

I’m feeling incredibly irresponsible.

And somewhat sulky.

More adolescent than menopausal. Is that a good thing?

S. preparing the Feuerzangenbowle on a Christmas Past

In recent years we’ve been lucky enough to have been invited to two gatherings of friends that have marked the start of the season for us. Both were cancelled this year to keep us all safe.

International quarantine rules meant I had no family members here on Christmas Day. E. and I ate takeaway, and I’m a little ashamed.

I haven’t even put the New Year’s beef in the brine yet. I keep saying I’ll do it “later”. I believe I may have procrastinated my way right past a decent corned beef this year.

We’ve run along the trail sporadically over the past week. We ran on Christmas day, but now that I think about it, we didn’t even say Merry Christmas to people we passed. We were focused on not slipping on the ice. (Note to self: time to pull out the yaktrax.)

Even my meditation has been haphazard this week. I’m feeling a bit disassociated from my own life. Off track. Maybe at a juncture?

In a strange way this romjul-feeling may be the only thing about Christmastime that is familiar this year: the chaotic-slightly frightening-freedom. Waiting for the world to get back on track. Back to work. Back to routine. Back to practice. Back to it.

And questioning what it really is.

This morning I got up early, filled a thermos with coffee, and walked Leonard down to the park in the moonlight. I left the phone at the house.

It feels as though I’m approaching this new year from an odd angle. A bit like hesitating on the diving board: here I go… in a minute. Later. Tomorrow. Do I want to do this? Really?

These last few days have expanded exponentially in my mind: into a huge space filled with should-haves. I should have hung the new blinds in the kitchen. I should have cleaned out the closets. I should have written a whole damn book to justify all this emptied space.

Instead I’ve been watching gimp tutorials for days.

When Leonard has been sleeping, or when he’s been intensely sniffing after another dog’s trail, he shimmies. It’s like a reset button.

Looking toward a New Year

It’s what I’m telling myself this morning afternoon: Shake it off!

Running isn’t enough right now. Maybe I need some loud music and a bit of real shimmying? Something extraordinary to force me to switch tracks?

And then approach to my practice with renewed intention.

The key word for our time is practice.
We have all the light we need, we just need to put it into practice.
PEACE PILGRIM

Happy New Year. I’m gonna ask E. to put on some music.

I’ve been struggling with inflammation and the overall discomfort that brings. But we we did a Sunday run anyway. I need it most when I want it least. It rained. I actually can’t remember the last time I went outside and it was not raining. Everything is on the edge of freezing, and at two-thirty in the afternoon the sun was already touching the horizon. It made the afternoon even softer, but melancholy as a good mourning.

At 11:02 we Northerners tilt on our axis: leaning into a new half-year of leaning towards the sun. I am ready. I am pushing it. I’ve pulled the little goLITE out of the drawer.

I should have done it weeks ago as a preventative measure, before my body swelled with melancholy and cold, softening inelegantly in the darkness like something giving in, waiting passively to be reconstituted, reconstructed.

This morning I stretch through warrior positions, and feel an internal resistance with every move. After a crying jag, the skin around my eyes feel swollen and vulnerable – today my whole body feels this way.

Even though the days will be getting longer, that fact will be imperceptible until March. Maybe it will be because Christmas lights were taken down in romjul, because the sky exploded in light and color on New Years Eve, and New Years Day was predictably anti-climatic.

New years are as difficult as colicky infants. Expectations are almost inevitable, and weigh heavily on short days. But we’ve stepped in it and there’s no turning back, no option to avoid the follow-through.

Push on.


Svulstig is the Norwegian word for excessively emotional things like love ballads or national anthems. It also describes hollow flattery, and flowery platitudes. Navel-gazing profundities like I’m wallowing in here.

I’m thinking the word describes winter’s paradox- this svulstig state of swelling wetness. Even when it all freezes, it swells yet again.


I learned this week that romjul means the days where there are no rules. The flip side of lent without the carnival. This I am ready for: ring out the bells of Christmas, then wring out the heaviness of this passing year!