Winter Jewels

winter-jewels

How are you doing through this end of a particularly strange winter? It’s felt like a long haul hasn’t it? Considering meditations and moments pressing in for warmth and rest as the new year turned these recent months, I want to pay tribute to this outgoing season for the creativity still brewing even when we didn’t realise it.

This image stayed with me all winter long, taken on a November morning at Fforest while retreating alone, coming at sunrise from another angle down in the roots one day.

Crouched and hunkered down through hibernation times, it would be natural to write these coldest and darkest weeks of the year off altogether for gaining any sense of achievement and progression.

For all its weirdness and cold though, the last little while has given us beautiful frosts, and sunrises to set the earth shimmering at dawn.

Ideas secretly growing while we stayed low and simple.

Here’s what winter can be…

…crouching so low that wet grasses tickle our noses, sun seems to stream though from another angle unexpected and turning cold earth into a tray of jewels, glinting to our eyes, easing in a smile and while that sun hits little apple cheeks, made blush and round with quiet joy, a bird might pipe up in its beak language and say something along the lines of, “Don’t worry. You’re doing better than you think you are…”

Here’s what I think. We have—unwittingly—done better than we think and almost made it to warmer days again, and when good and ready after rest, energy will flow more freely on our ideas and making and doing once more, not just preserved for staying warm now. Some brilliant, bright green shoots are on their way – just look about and see! *

Jewels have been forming all the way through winter, when I neither had energy or daylight hours to do anything with them except gaze on and be glad – to be inspired.

Thanks for your jewels, Winter. Here’s to a gleaming Spring.

 

*  This is a particularly brilliant project to be launching with the Spring – Makers4Refugees founded by Pip Wilcox. Keep an eye, there are some fabulous people making stuff in order to support refugees with your help.

 

{Today’s Soundtrack: Kaki King – Skimming the Fractured Surface to a Place of Endless Light}

Finding Forward

central-park-arrow

This little brass arrow sits in the concrete somewhere in Central Park, New York.

I was taking care of my friends’ kids for a week back in July, my first trip to the city, and we were having a lot of fun deciding where to go and what to do with our times together. So much to soak in, and maybe it’s because it all just makes you want to look up that you get a big, gulping sense of opportunity and ‘skies-the-limit’ sort of inspiration, so we ran around and ate waffles and swam and went to the zoo and ended up in A&E and rode buses and bought sacks of M&Ms and took funny pictures…

It was great. And I saw that arrow, and somewhere in the middle of signposts pointing in fifty different directions, I clung onto this photograph of a solid, anchored thing that shone out from the floor and told me which way to look.

After travelling through summer with a sense of barefoot freedom, its time to carry some of the fresh feeling forward into a new season of projects and plans back home. Bumping into friends all over the place, I get a sense that for many of us, this summer has been a time for rethinking, gaining clarity and gathering courage to act on new ideas or even close off old ones. It’s exciting – loads going on if we can settle back in carefully and figure out how to do what next.

But wait! Please! Don’t make me go inside, I’m thriving out here in the world’s wide open spaces, running around, having ideas, drawing nice pictures and playing petanque on the beach!  

When it comes to ideas, time out is a pure gift, but we all know it only really means anything if we get down to some practical reality and planning, and doing. 

Direction, that’s what we need, out the back of free-spirited imagining.

But I do find this hard, don’t you? A transition from one season to the next; moving through a sort of liminal space after leaving one state of dreaming and before fully grasping the new state of doing.

Direction. Commit to a path, and keep moving forward.

So this week back home and inside again, despite inevitable fears, I’m having a go at making it happen. I’m filtering the coffee, working through my list, braving the thought that some of this might not work, and I’m giving it a go anyway. And I know the same is true for many of us. I think it helps to keep finding time and space to be quiet, distill the options and discern next steps – like gazing up through cool trees in Central Park after scampering through grubby, hot and hectic NY streets. Taking a breather, to figure out what to choose when you’re back to it?

Seeking stillness is never an excuse for inaction, so long as it’s done with a willingness to drop the distractions and be present to the day, and what it asks for. So along with thinking about that quiet little brass arrow, these are some of the words I find helpful at the moment:

Be still; find your forward.

Here we are, back in the loop, no more freestyle for a while but plenty of plans, and all the love in the world to make them happen!

 

{Today’s Soundtrack: Bob Moses – Like It Or Not}

Halfway Down a Long Path

Now roughly half way through this 100 Days project, I want to take a moment to check in with some ideas that have occurred as I’ve progressed, and the reasons for taking a break before continuing.

As mentioned at some point in recent posts, rattling through 100 Days really is a long time to be rattling, and is rattling really a good use of my precious time? What am I learning here? What is better in the world as a result? It’s a long time to keep mechanically repeating a task or approach with either no critical judgement—”I’m just doing it for its own sake, and that is good enough.”—or with no sense of direction either.

I realise I want direction. 

I realise I want the wealth of all those days to add up to something significant.

I want that wealth of thought or effort to show either in a resolved, embedded attitude of mind, and/or better skills, and a rewarding body of work too.

Agreed – sometimes its important to just play as that’s when your mind can loosen up and become free enough to let new things happen.
Somewhere in here though is a neat point about the purpose of regular discipline and the benefit in forming a new habit. By definition, a new habit will not be so polished to begin with. Being accountable to the world by sharing all this online amplifies inevitable personal vulnerabilities, and maybe these last couple of weeks I just needed to take a breath and then here’s the next thing I realise:

I realise that being publicly accountable with the things you make day after day is a little nerve-wracking and slightly exhausting, and quite difficult to do unless you have the strength of a rhino, which I don’t

This began with the question, “What could you do with 100 days of making?”
I have a new question. Now I have glimpsed what’s possible and I know the effort involved, how can I make my next 50 days really count? 
 
{Today’s Soundtrack: Shivum Sharma – Flicker}