Enough already

dark-journal-advent-project-2016

 

“Most often out of darkness, we do go on to find our strength and faith rekindled. Go slow if you can. Slower…. Perhaps you just might hear the miracle of your own true name and rise again.” ~Jean Richardson

It is so easy, in late November and December, to put your inner resources on overdrive. Checking my email just now, there was a pulse of incoming mail running up my finger as it rested on my delete button, while I read what I wanted of the many, many emails coming in on CyberTuesday.

I get persuaded, at least 20 times a day, that what I currently have is not enough…

(stencils, inner calm, places to donatedonatedonate, holiday vegan, paleo, green, raw, classic, or pet treats, meditation recordings to make it through the holidays.) I want to raise my painty hand and suggest that you already have everything you need to navigate this month.

 

It is enough to make a simple Advent wreath

In whatever way you celebrate, December is the perfect time to remember this:

You are enough.
You have enough.
You do enough.
You give enough.
You are enough.

Yes, even now, when the way is unclear, when the world is folding origami style in on itself, when the leadership of my nation is in a state of grave question, still, now, here, on this day, you are enough.

 

You can only be a light for the world if you know yourself as light. And to know light, you must also know dark. Try this experiment. Read this sentence, then close your eyes for 30 seconds and listen to your breath.

♥↔♥

I feel my pulse settle. Sitting in the dark of closed eyes, breathing, I begin to remember, I am enough, right here. I can let go of that doing muscle that drives me so harshly, especially in December.

My daily practice changes in this season.

I dig in to black paper and paint. There is plenty of that on my table, because hardly anyone uses black paint or gesso in my studio. Even I don’t use it most of the year. But once Advent rolls in, once the Salvation Army starts swinging hand bells, I reach for the black paper.

I have several other Advent habits that make this month more pleasure than panic. One is, I up my self-care. This week, I have a bottle of lavender oil by my bed. I rub my feet with it before I go to sleep. I say things like, “thank you for taking me on a walk today.” The scent eases me to sleep and the treat for my feet reverberates in to the next day.

 

A feather pattern in the bark of a red oak is a secret message

I take walks in the woods. Maybe you don’t have woods nearby, but you have a street and maybe there are trees? “When I am among the trees,” writes Mary Oliver, “…they give off such hints of gladness.”

They do, they really do, even in December. Every day, I walk.

Preparing for the arrival of the Beloved

My friend Jill Rogers teaches in her Seven Sacred Steps, about “preparing for the arrival of the Beloved.” I extrapolate on her idea to prepare for what is ahead by spending an hour a day doing something that will make my days easier in the coming week. I clean an area that has gotten clogged with piles and an accumulation of dust. I make one small meaningful move of housework or garden work or business work that I have put off for a while.

Yesterday, I fixed up a freebie shelf that Janet helped me haul home on Sunday. I resettled a toppling stack of studio supplies, which now frees up the space around my chair where I teach. It was not a monumental task. All told, I was an hour clearing the space, dusting, vacuuming. As a bonus, I sorted a box of Catherine’s craft supplies that have sat in the corner of the guest room for, well I will be honest, at least 10 years. She is 19. I don’t think she has built a kaleidoscope since she was 8. I pilfered some tiny drawings of hers for my journal, tossed out a collection of seeds and rocks in to the garden, and sorted a collection of black beads and spangles that I will use in my Advent journal. What makes this clean up hour different from clean up at any other time of year?

I did it.
That’s what.

 

Just this is enough

Black beads and spangles with tiny drawings from Catherine are enough treasure for me today

I beat off the dogs of doubt that keep me from beginning a bit of studio overhaul and housework, the dogs that bleat “You don’t have time for that! Leave that dusty box of beeswax figures, clumped up balls of wool and a long forgotten scarf, and do something more important!”

I simply did it.
These small deeds accumulate joy.

I use black paint in my Advent journal and collect quotes, phrases, and images that become my own oracle.
I take really good care of my physical needs because I am only as generous with others as I am generous with myself.
I get outside and take in the hints of gladness, even on gray wet days.
I prepare for my own arrival and for the arrival of the holiday season, of Solstice, of guests, of Light, of the New Year, of new ideas, of new projects, by taking reasonable and inspired care of the space I am in. I cannot take more in to my life if I am only adding to mounted neglect.
In my journal I ask myself, what am I making room for? Use the image of “the inn” from the Bible story or your bare garden that waits for spring-what is long-expected, about to be new, that you can prepare for now?
I turn away from offers to look outside myself for solutions. Every time an email or flyer or invitation comes in, I stop and ask myself, what do I already know that can serve me in this way? I remember, and have to remind myself over and over, that I am my own best resource.
Even now.
Lastly, I pick up my handwork. This year, I have been very busy. Busy. Busy, too busy to knit. So, on the first day of Advent I cast on a hat, for myself. I cannot multi-task while knitting. Knitting is knitting.

Does this sound selfish to you?

Slip back to my 30 seconds of your eyes closed and breathe. While you quietly breathe, ask yourself what would feel really good for you right now–browsing past another offer to up your holiday game by enrolling in a program or sinking in to your own bathtub, maybe some bath salts mixed in, to read the book you have wanted to read all year? Just hold those two things in your mind as you breath. Or how does a trip to the mall sound? What if you set a cup of hot tea and a clementine on the back porch and wander your own garden for 30 minutes, sipping and seeing what there is to see?

For me, the choice is made. My body signals ease when I linger on a thought of doing something that fuels me.

“My body is my compass, it does not lie.”
Terry Tempest Williams

My posts this month will be about my walk in to Advent, in to Solstice and the 12 Holy Days and the coming New Year. More writing about my Armenia project will intermingle, as I digest and take stock of New Illuminations and my next steps there.

But none of this is possible without my daily practice, which shifts in to a conscious turning inward, embracing long,dark December nights with an open heart, looking first within myself for what I think I need from the world.

 

Finding love in the leaves

You are enough. And so am I.

With great love,

S

“The body is our precious Consort. Allowing us to go forward in all conditions. Take good care of her. Take good care of him. Strong body, strong mind. No matter what else.”

-Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes

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Showing 26 comments
  • Yvonne Lucia

    Thank you Suzi….love your invitations

    • Suzi

      Yvonne, I am about to sew the spine of a book embedded with your Solstice card from last year. I know we run on parallel tracks in this season. I look forward to seeing you in 2017 and hearing about your trip to Malta. All my love, S

  • Lois

    “What am I making room for? I am my best resource.” Thank you for the beautiful wisdom reminders, Suzi. Ideas to think more about as I walk through the wet woods this morning.

    • Suzi

      We walked together Lois, me in my wet woods and you in yours. The best thing about blogging is setting a post up to publish while I am doing something else. So this morning, it was a secret pleasure to walk in the woods and thinking about this sisterhood reading and breathing together. xoxoS

  • janet

    ahhhhh.

    • Suzi

      Mmhmmm. Janet, I am happy all is well at aR&aP. xoS

  • Linda

    Suzi, Thank you for your post – I agree, enough already on the constant ads and emails luring me to look outside myself for what I surely might need! Much more uplifting, turn into myself and ask, “What am I making room for?”

    xxoo

    • Suzi

      Thank you Linda. I look forward to your response to that. See you at the Ramsdell this evening! xoS

  • Bryony Smith

    That was exactly what I needed……your invitation to close our eyes for half a minute…. actually slow down as we drank in your beautiful post…. perfect. Yes, self-care! You’ve inspired me once again! XO

    • Suzi

      Thank you Bryony. It astounds me sometimes, how little it takes to reset myself. I have tiny moments of grief thinking,”Oh if only I had started this earlier I could have spared myself so much trouble.” But then I breathe again and trust my timing is just what is, enough. xoS

  • Ginny

    Such good reminders here, Suzi. Thank you for each one. xo Ginny

    • Suzi

      Thank you Ginny. I know you and I swim in the same waters with soul support. It is wonderful to have you here. xoS

  • Brece

    Thank you, Suzi. I read your post before my morning walk and recited the ‘enough’ mantra along the way. Thanks for reminding us. xo

    • Suzi

      Brece, yes, that mantra, it makes my stomach climb down from under my ribcage, even right now. So glad you found it helpful. xoS

  • Lesley Howard

    This. Is. Perfect. Thank you.

    • Suzi

      Thank you Lesley. With great love to you! S

  • Jennifer Johns

    Thank you for the lovely post, Suzi. It left me feeling refreshed, unhurried, and appreciative. I had a total hip replacement on November 14 and am already walking with a cane and best of all, have no pain! My longtime friend from 4th grade is arriving for a visit today and we will be cooking, reading, and enjoying fires in the fireplace. My oldest son who I haven’t seen in 2 years will be arriving later this month for Christmas and a wedding reception I am hosting for him and his new wife (whom I have not yet met). I am full of gratitude.

    Love,
    Jenni Johns

    • Suzi

      Jennifer, so many good things in your lap! I am happy for you to be out of pain. Much love to you for all your gatherings! xoS

  • Debbie Irwin

    Amen!

    • Suzi

      Thank you Debbie! Let’s meet for tea sometime soon. xoS

  • Irene

    Thank you for this soulful recognition of our inner wisdom and bounty.

    • Suzi

      Thank you Irene. We all need these reminders, don’t we? I am so happy to have you here. xoS

  • Lynne

    This was a particularly inspiring post. Thank you so much. The last few weeks work has kept me from PK, so I’m finding the readings extra fulfilling.

    • Suzi

      I look forward to seeing you Lynne, whenever you arrive. The 14th is our holiday session. Take extra good care, okay? xoS

  • Carol Coogan

    Dear Suzi. Solstice is the 9th anniversary of my beloved husband, Paul Strausman’s, death. An extraordinary man, the father of my 3 children, and my co-creative partner in so many ways. I miss his so much, especially during the winter holidays. I usually get depressed and self piteous about now. I needed to read these words you’ve written. They helped me immensely. Thank you.

    • Suzi

      Oh Carol, I am so very sorry for your loss. I cannot imagine how hard these days must be for you. If I can offer any comfort, I am grateful, but it is grace, always that brings us through-hopefully together. Thank you for reading and for commenting with such tenderness. With love, Suzi