Category Archives: observation

Surrender & Self-Love in February

I wrote a post a couple weeks ago for my gym, Muv Training, for its February newsletter. When they published it, I reread it, and was satisfied with how it had come out.

But then a few days later, I was wandering around in one of my ‘Cup of Comfort’ trances, and the lessons I had pointed to in that Muv article came back to smack me in the face.

What’s a ‘Cup of Comfort’ trance? Oh, yes, I haven’t published that story yet.cup of self love sketch

Well, a year or more ago, I was wandering around half an hour before work. I wanted a tea, or a coffee, or a hot chocolate. But I wanted a comfy seat, too, and a quiet atmosphere, and not too expensive. I was on foot, and checking all the cafes within reach and open in the time allotted was a formidable task. But as I flipped through my mental Rolodex, I realized none of them would give me what I wanted.

Because what I wanted was a ‘cup of comfort,’ that feeling of being warm, and cozy, and comfortable. And cherished.

hygge sweater cup of coffee

Tea, or coffee, or even hot chocolate, would not be able to do that.
So I went to work early, in a bit of a huff, I’m sure, munching on that bit of mental floss and how I could learn from it.

What happened this last time was the same search, but in the car–more choices, dammit!–and without the time limit–I was on my way home, and only limiting myself on the amount of money to spend as I once again flipped through the mental Rolodex of cafes open.

But this time, I’d just read my own words on self-love and self-care, and I realized, as I parked and contemplated Noraneko, parked and walked around Hawthorne, peering through windows, that what I was really searching for, what that Cup of Comfort held, is Self-Love.

Oof, ya.

I’d been trying my best to not go out, not spend money, create brilliant works of culinary art at home on a shoestring budget, and have that suffice. But my self-love well was getting low, and somehow, I wasn’t recharging it.

I went home with this realization, feeling at least sufficient enough to turn down the warm interiors on Hawthorne. But once home, how to replenish?

well of love margaret agnes rope stained glass

Self-care? I got a massage (on an account I’d long since had to deactivate), but that did not work. I tried bonding with the cats. That did not work. (Their pee on my rug thrice this week made me irritable.)

I could have gone to the gym, but didn’t. I might’ve gone to the show I had tickets for, but didn’t–it was miserably wet and icy Friday night.

I watched Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone. I traced how Harry found his way to the friends he needed. By chance! And I was reminded of the hardest piece of belief and trust and faith.

Surrender.

 

Have you battled such demons? Made similar discoveries? Do share.

 

Images via VidyaSury, DailyMail, & Pinterest (by the way, Margaret Agnes Rope, incredible stained glass artist of the Arts & Crafts movement–who knew?!?) 

The Light From Within

“People are like stained glass windows.  They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within.”

– Elisabeth Kubler Ross

paisley abbey stained glass light

This post is inspired by the quote above and this photo, which I took while in Paisley Abbey this spring.

My friend Sarah, an incredible processor of emotions, decoder of psychology, and beam of positive sunshine, reflected on the quote and what it meant for her.

As this blog is a place for reflection, discovery, and growth, I am very pleased to feature her thoughts here.

“At first, I took this quote to mean that character and authenticity, or lack thereof, are displayed when struggle is at your doorstep or worse, has invaded your home. It is a powerful metaphor intimating the need for a deep, inner truth and a grounded sense of self if one wishes to shine with integrity, kindness, and grace through such trials.

It is easier to be at my best when the sun is shining, when circumstances perfectly align for me to be healthy, well-rested, well-fed, well-spent, and well-loved. When all is well, ‘soul beauty’ is easy to share, but those moments exist only in fleeting magnificence.  

Life is almost always some measure less than optimum existence. I often fail to find my own inner light in the midst of turbulence, but mettle is light that springs forth in response to or anticipation of life’s shadows.

If people are like stained glass, an inner light not only reveals their own beauty but lights the path for those who pass by outside.Inner light is both a gift and the outcome of patterned positive thinking and practiced kindness. It enriches life with the peaceful knowledge that no matter what darkness may come, the light will not be extinguished.

This is the root of happiness: the practice of acceptance, gratitude, and resilience coming together.  If ever life runs amuck, it is inside that one must find a light.  

Thankfully, even without a natural source of inner light, it may be developed and grown. So for me, it is not enough to have my own inner light.  How can I see beauty when someone cannot find the match for themselves?  How can I bring my light and heart to bear in a way that reaches into their darkness, finds the match, and ignites a flame for them?

Let’s not let the dark and evil blind us to the light that remains hidden. Let’s show this compassion to ourselves and those we encounter. It is the greatest and most uplifting kindness.”

What do you think?

IMG_7722 copySarah is a Midwesterner at heart and a mom. She loves food, music, reading, dogs, outdoor activities, travel, and self-defense training. Her musings occasionally stumble out and onto the page. Her true vocation eludes her, but the search is on.

Writerly Focus

 

Someone great once said that Focus Is All You Have.

This November I will be repeating my attempt to draft a 50,000-word novel in 30 days. This means that for November, my focus is on writing, an activity which has been curbed since last winter due to the editing, marketing, technical tweaks, and other various life chores that I’ve had to attend to in order to get HERE again:

writing

woman thinking about writing

This is the month where I focus on getting out the WORDS from my HEAD that have been trapped. Ahead of the sales promotions, before thinking about any edits, taking priority even over personal hygiene. (Well,…)

Why such a single-minded approach? Because the brain is such a powerful tool, and it can do great things when it can concentrate. I’ve been methodically doing research tasks (1820s Great Britain) and making my way through my detailed outline in preparation for NaNoWriMo. So much work! But an amazing payoff:

This is when I get to sit back and let the brain take over.  Like magic, it will supply the right word (“bracken”), feel the mood I’m grasping for, remember whether common people wore cotton yet in 1822, and generally, bloom.

love your brain

Even better, once this blooming sets in, one productive explosion begets another, and you find yourself in a virtuous cycle of creative ingenuity. It’s happening right now!

One really great writerly research ‘expedition’ I ‘expedited’ in September was attending an afternoon of Wordstock, an annual book/ author/ poetry festival in Portland, OR. I surveyed new authors, listened to spiels about writers’ organizations, and then attended a panel discussion on crafting historical fiction, the star of which was an author I had actually previously read: Jamie Ford, of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet fame.

The moderator asked several questions about research methods, about personal motivation for story, about process. One panelist answered with his own opinions, seeming to circumvent the questions altogether, another answered with humor and some regrets, and Jamie answered with the honesty of “this is true for me; this is the only way it could be” and it really struck a chord with me…

OK, OK, back to focusing on writing…

Is there something you are trying to focus on?

Do distractions always manage to pop up?

If you’ve got any successful mental-tricks, we’d love to hear about them in the comments…

 

Images via Sacred Dirt and Beyond the Dream