I discovered to my astonishment when I went to update my WordPress account that I had last posted on New Year’s Day of 2013. Those who have followed my blogging journey know that I have fallen away from writing from time to time, but a year? Last year was a moment, a lifetime, a daily slog. In the end I added another slab of clay to a life mostly molded with a strong and recognizable shape. My sculpture grew in some ways predictably, in others, less so. My gardening became a massive bounty of produce that I never anticipated; shared with friends and strangers I never met. I taught myself to preserve that same bounty in lovely sparkling jars now gracing my pantry shelves. I learned new things about myself and others as well as what makes a great garden grow.
After a patchy go at trying to fill in the gaps for work and personal growth, taking college classes that aided both but never added up to that coveted piece of paper; I charted a course to finally achieve that, until now, elusive goal. To that end I stepped back into a college classroom a few weeks shy of my 60th birthday and discovered that instead of feeling old, I felt experienced. I took a single class that set me off in a new direction, with enthusiasm and excitement I lacked during every previous college experience.
For the first time in my life I chose to suspend my disbelief and open my heart to faith. I learned quickly it is not an epiphany but a way of living; constantly reminding myself to open my heart and ask for grace in all things. I never realized that the practice of believing can lead to belief, rather than having belief which is then practiced. I know there are many gifted with the later, but it took a wise man of God to suggest that the opposite might work for a searching, but Doubting Thomas such as myself.
The grand and the minutia and all the daily bits of life sandwiched between; when one reflects back on a year, each has its role and place in memory. Five years from now, which bits will remain and built upon? Which bits will drift away into the mist and leave little reminder. Even though we seek to live lives of value and honesty, it is a perplexing effort, trying to know which things will linger and add to the fabric of our lives. In this especially then, I wish all of you the grace to believe, and the opportunity to offer your experience and wisdom to those around you.
There’s never enough time to do all the nothing you want.” ~ Calvin to Hobbes ~ Bill Watterson
Some days it feels so good to put the to-do list away and take time to do nothing in particular. Of course we still breathe and eat and sleep, so we aren’t actually doing nothing, but the delicious extravagance of unscheduled time is a luxury many do not often allow themselves. We feel the need to be doing something, anything, that we can look back at and say, I crossed that item off my list. As we go-go-go we then impose that on our over-booked children as well. How many times has your child had to choose between one activity and another because there just wasn’t enough time to fit everything in?
Teaching our children the art of appreciating down time, simply sitting and observing and taking in the world around them. A trip to the park that does not involve soccer, or elaborate preparations; just a walk down the block to swing or not, to mosey rather than hurry, to just slow the pace to know how that feels. We owe it to our children to teach them the value of quiet that does not involve study, but just the simplicity of being.
At each stage of life these moments of doing nothing seem hard to find. But in the end, will it matter if the floor was swept 1000 times or 1000 and one? One can always find something to do, but it may also be an excuse to avoid paying attention to the quiet. Discovering the inner peace that comes with mindfulness and the sheer joy that comes from free spontaneous play are gifts we give our children when we allow them to do nothing at all. And in that nothing grows imagination, observation, love of the natural world and the ability to be self- entertaining.
We all deserve our down-time, our doing nothing moments. Breathe and jump in a pile of leaves.
“The beauty you see is also in you…
You only see what you contain”
Isn’t it one of the lovely circles of life that the beauty we take in, we hold, and it in turn allows us to see and experience more beauty in all things? I am privileged to live in a most beautiful place and it has opened my heart to other beauty in my life. The beauty of a group of 15 kids ranging in age from 5-12 working together and helping each other in our community garden in our Libray Kids in the Garden program. One child has profound hearing loss and speech difficulty, yet was easily welcomed and included by all the others. The youngest seems painfully shy, yet found his footing with the help of another child a couple of years older. The two oldest, where there seems to be a marked difference in maturity, hung together at first, then realized the younger ones were struggling with the scavenger hunt and split up to help the younger ones. All of this coöperation, with not one episode of unkindness or lack of enthusiasm, was truly a thing of beauty. As the weeks go by and our tomatoes, carrots, broccoli and assorted other goodies begin to ripen and the kids get to know each other better I expect there will be more moments like this. This day, which was glorious in every way, with warm sun and clear skies, came on the heels of gray day after gray day, punctuated only by rain and wind. I felt deflated and filled with the kind of gloom that only a long Montana “sprinter” (spring on the calendar – winter outdoors) can induce. Then suddenly sun, smiling excited faces, and my hands in the dirt to turn it all around in a quick two and a half hours.
This morning we are back to “sprinter” even though summer is only days away, it is wet and cool again. But the beauty lingers in me and I see how green the grasses and trees are, washed clean overnight; and the wildflowers continue to burst forth with the long hours of daylight with or without the sun.
Continually watering the inner garden and filling oneself with every moment of beauty and tranquility grows inward radiance becoming one’s gift to the outer world as well as to oneself. Add a full mix of care, compassion, hope, joy, wonder and beauty of all kinds. The more one contains of the positive the less room to hold anger, sadness, cynicism or indifference. Taking care what is added to the container, mindful that all that one contains colors all that is seen and done; choose wisely.
Inspiration, a tricky thing. That little spark that can jump into flame with timing, effort and enthusiasm and just as easily slip away. Looking for topics to comment upon on a daily basis has caused me to wonder what happens that allows a quote or a side note in another blog to cause my mind to kick into gear and the words to begin flowing. I certainly do not wake up every morning with some brilliant piece already formed in my head just waiting to be typed! For the most part when I hit the publish button, I am satisfied; thoroughly pleased on occasion and really excited once or twice.
So how do I inspire myself to keep writing day after day? As I surf for quotes or pull out the bookmarks from passages previously read, I let my subconscious do the wander-ing and make some of the connections behind the scenes. Even though my personal ah-ha moments are few, I find the “likes” and” follows” and especially the comments written by my readers motivating. To read that a particular phrase resonated with another person creating a connection with them is thrilling.
I have read so many “About Me’ stories across the blogosphere and they are truly inspiring. I look to each writer for ideas, topics and famous quotes they have discovered and have moved them in some way. Each person has something unique that touches them, a photograph, a bit of humor; something that tugs at their sleeve for attention. Some are passionate about a cause that is close to them or an all-consuming life event that begs to be shared. Others see the mundane and add a perspective that makes it sparkle. The inspiration behind each story, behind each life, is as distinctive as it is original.
So what inspires you? What causes you to becomes animated and excited, eager to share and create? Looking inward and drawing out the best of your inspired self allows you to greet the day with enthusiasm and joy. And when you can’t find it inside, just look around. It seems when one begins to look for something it pops up everywhere. Keep your eyes and heart open, be inspired!
The ability to jump on a creative moment or thought as it arises is something I am so grateful for at this time in my life. Without the demands of job, family or chores, I can take advantage of those moments of inspiration. Yesterday as I was cleaning up after a full day of “loose ends” and the image of a photograph of a friend kept coming to mind. Before I knew it the words of an original children’s story began to form. In the twenty minutes that I had I quickly dashed to the computer and began typing furiously. Six hundred words later, I was off to a good start, capturing the tone and pace of the story. I envision the illustrations as paintings of the photos that inspired the story. I have never even considered writing a children’s story, but after years of reading them aloud and encouraging the young readers in my family to love books, it seemed like completing a loving circle.
Today will be more loose ends, and organizing my writing projects to pair with my books of the moment. In the area of paying it forward I left a comment for a poster on Gretchen Rubin’s Facebook page on her concerns about downsizing to a smaller living space. I related my better than best experience of moving to my “Hobbit House” and the joy of being surrounded by only my most favorite things. I hope it encourages her to make this change a chance to weed out the extraneous and surround herself with her treasures.
It is a clear and therefore cold early March morning in the beautiful Bitterroot, I will also be mindful to spend some part of the day outdoors to soak up the beauty and tranqility in the place I am privlidged to find myself.