Monthly Archives: January 2023

Wintering….but it’s Summer here!

It’s the height of Summer here (albeit a cooler, wetter one) and I am contemplating the process of Wintering! Since the cochlear implant, I have become an enthusiastic podcast listener. And Krista’s Tippet’s On Being is a favourite. recently I listened to this one. It was about Wintering and Krista spoke with Katherine May who defines Wintering as:

the active acceptance of sadness. It is the practice of allowing ourselves to feel it as a need. It is the courage to stare down the worst parts of our experience and to commit to healing them the best we can. Wintering is a moment of intuition, our true needs felt keenly as a knife.

She acknowledges that there can be self punishing ways to be sad and self salving ways to be sad. Wintering is distinguishing between them. I loved Katherine’s descriptions of the process and the links between the metaphor of Winter and being.

Plants and animals don’t fight the winter; they don’t pretend it’s not happening and attempt to carry on living the same lives they lived in the summer. They prepare. They adapt. They perform extraordinary acts of metamorphosis to get them through. Wintering is a time of withdrawing from the world, maximizing scant resources, carrying out acts of brutal efficiency and vanishing from sight; but that’s where the transformation occurs. Winter is not the death of the life cycle, but its crucible.

It’s a time for reflection and recuperation, for slow replenishment, for putting your house in order. Doing these deeply unfashionable things — slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting — is a radical act now, but it’s essential. 

Having been through times of Wintering, there was a deep sense of relief and gratitude that the circumstances of my upbringing, reading, experiences etc meant that I think I was able to be sad wisely. Not necessarily through any wisdom on my own part but because those other things fell together. I was forces to see there was no other way. Sure there were the moments of kicking and screaming and rejection and denial but ultimately I think that I am learning about how to Winter. the cycles of life; the need to make rest part of every day in some form. Tippet spoke for me when she said:

I really recognized myself in some of the ways you described the self that you were reflecting on, …You were forced to stop. You were forced to go inward. You were forced to slow down and seek replenishment, as much survival as anything that would feel luxurious, as you say. And I have to say, I recognize in what you describe, also reflection I’ve been doing and would not have forced myself to this kind of stop, but that the pandemic forced. But I’m trying to take this wintering moment, both the season and in our culture, to try to get really clear in myself who I do want to be on the other side, how I want to live on the other side.

Again, I recognize myself so much. You say, “People admired me for how much I got done. I lapped it up, but felt secretly that I was only trying to keep pace with everyone else, and they seemed to be coping better.” [laughs] I felt like that all the time, for so many years of my life.

Goodness me. This all links with acknowledging my need for laziness (I still wish there was a better word! Spaciousness is growing on me). I plan to order the book and really loved both the On Being podcast and Katherine May’s own podcast here. These images are from a magical Winter morning walk on Mt Ainslie in August last year.

Still banging on about creativity and discipline!

My dear reader may recall that my random word of the year was discipline. I am discovering the link between discipline and habits. Genius eh? Bet no-one else has thought of that*. Then, there is a strong link between establishing habits and having a super bloody low and highly specific bar. Not exactly sure what a specific bar would look like but give me some rope. For example, I need discipline to exercise. I am not what you’d call a natural exerciser in any way, shape (definitely not shape) or form. But I like it sometimes while I do exercise and I feel better if I do. If I say Exercise once a day it doesn’t happen. If I say Do 30 Days of Yoga and one 20 minute Pilates tape every day, it usually happens…it becomes a habit. If I say walk for 20 minutes, three times a week, I usually walk for over an hour 5 times a week. However….if I said walk for an hour 5 times a week, I wouldn’t do it. But…let’s be honest, there is really not much more boring than talking bout someone’s wholesome exercise routine. What has this become? The only worse thing might be real estate. Cue wry smile. I am just saying, if something’s a habit, you need less discipline!

The habit/ discipline I DO want to talk about is part of my creativity routine. Or as I like to think of it, daily Vitamin C. Once again, the secret for me has been LOW BAR and CLEAR STEPS. That’s the beauty of a month of carving a lino tile. I tell myself that enlightenment lies in carving one tiny tile once a day. What actually happens often been several tiles each day and the making of quite bit of jewellery! Do I really need to be so sneaky with myself to get results. Apparently, yes. Well, whatever works. The tiles don’t need to be for anything saleable, or even good. I just have to carve one tile. I carve in stages and stamp as I go. If I preferred a tile in an earlier iteration, I can always do it again. (You can see this in the picture of a page from my carving journal, top left, where my favourite was the very first carve. I have carved another stamp of the stage I liked best.) There is no pressure. Most tiles are a celebration of seeds. And some have already emerged as jewellery as you can see in the photos. I’ll keep you posted on how I am going. Mwah.

 

*Only lots of other people like James Clear etc

Creating each day keeps the doctor away?

Recently I read about a great organisation based near Wollongong called Makeshift. I am going to learn more and write more about this later on but the good folks at Makeshift and I share few ideas!!

Like me, they believe that a creative habit can transform lives. And, as anyone who has done a class with me would know, I agree with their statement that EVERYONE IS CREATIVE. I also believe that we have made our definition of what creativity is much too limited. I know I have banged on about that before. Anyway, I try to do at least one tiny, creative thing every day. And I am regularly broadening my definition of creativity!

Over the past few weeks, my creative practice has included my almost daily linocuts, posting photos of stuff I am culling to our local Buy Nothing group (Goodness this is a fabulous group and believe me culling has to be creative!) and making things I am calling leaf sticks. No idea what these are really, but they are huge fun to make and my mum and dad loved the one I gave them to put somewhere on their beloved balcony. I mindfully collects bits and pieces on my morning walks and then create one or two sticks each week. Sometimes I listen to a podcast and other times I practise mindfulness meditation. Either way, it’s been fun and grounding. And could one really have too many leaf sticks?

It takes discipline to be undisciplined!

Every year for who knows how long, I’ve randomly selected myself a word for the year from a bag of clouds in lieu of New Year resolutions. Eventually, I got greedy and had two words: one I randomly selected AND one I chose. It may be called hedging my bets. (For those interested, I have described the process here.) Some years, I remember these words for about three months and then forget them but other years they stick and create a kind of framework for intentions or reflections on life.  After a run of tough years where hard words like courage and resilience and tenacity just gave me the tom-tits, I removed them as choices from the bag. Or so I thought!

So, I was a bit pinged off on the 31st December 2022 when I drew out discipline. I was hoping for ease or wellness or boundless energy under whatever circumstances with no vertigo or illness*. And if the dear universe didn’t select it for me, I was going to choose SPACIOUSNESS/ PRESENCE but what did I get? Discipline.

On reflection, I have grown to rather appreciate the word discipline. It occurred to me that to create the spaciousness I crave, I would need to be disciplined. I want that spaciousness to be in the form of more regular unstructured times without a lot of scheduled plans. A bit like Thich Nat Han’s LAZY DAYS! And being present, staying in the present moment, requires discipline! It takes discipline to simply be sometimes. Discipline to overcome my default pattern of DOING.

I already do some things that will help to create spaciousness. Things that last year seemed hard to do so I could cross them off my list, seem easier this year. In fact, now I look forward to some of those things because they make spaciousness and presence more attainable. Same activities, new mindset.

One delightful January discipline is to carve one small (5cm x 5cm) lino-cut per day for 30 days. Loving this. I’ve included a few photos of what I have done so far. Some have already been transformed into polymer earrings. Of course!

*All unlikely since they weren’t in the bag! And a great podcast about Lazy Days is here.