what the trees told me

poplar and maple trees

I went for a walk last night to a special place. There are trees there that speak to me. They reminded me of things I’d forgotten. I remember now.

I appreciate my special poplar trees.

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p.s. I’m going to be starting to post irregularly on this blog and my Kitchen Sink Wisdom blog. I’m hoping that the posts that I do write will be more meaningful. See you next time!

so i’m writing this book

stack of art journals

I’m not quite sure how it happened (to be honest, it feels a little like a dream that I may wake up from at any moment), but I’m writing a book right now. It’s based on these daily blog posts that I’ve written for my Kitchen Sink Wisdom blog over the past two months, on the theme of ritual.

I’m excited and humbled by this project. It keeps me up at night, and puts a smile on my face every morning.

I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I never knew how to get a book written. To tell you the truth, the very idea of writing a book always intimidated me. How do you choose a subject? How do you make it interesting? Even though I’ve been a paid writer for nearly 20 years, the sheer length of a book scared me. I write short things: articles, newsletters, information sheets, procedures, training materials, blog posts, reports, business plans. But a book? No way. Too many words to ever get down on paper.

Then I found out that an acquaintance of mine has published 55 books in his lifetime. Yes, you’ve read that correctly. 55. And when I realized that his books were written one day at a time – sometimes one blog post at a time, the way I was writing – it finally occurred to me that maybe that’s how a book gets written. Through a regular practice, sentence by sentence, day after day.

The second, wondrous aspect of this particular book that I’m writing is that the subject matter of the book is the same as its process. Meaning, I’m using creative ritual to write a book about creative ritual. I’m tapping into an energy larger than myself (which some people might call God, or their muse, but I like to call creative Source), and letting that energy flow through me, while writing a book about how I let creative energy flow through me. Yes. Pretty trippy.

I’ve been blessed to have a small circle of readers who’ve followed the original blog posts day after day on Kitchen Sink Wisdom. Having them there has been a huge inspiration to me, and in honour of their faithfulness (and to help keep me focused), I’m making the working manuscript available to anyone who’s interested. You can read the introduction here. Email me if you want more. I’m happy to share.

loss, and freedom

Gondoliers 1

If you’ve read some of my earlier posts (look here, here, and here for examples), you’ll know that I encourage people to get in touch with their deepest dreams and desires. Sometimes it’s not until we know what we truly want that we can make decisions about which direction to take in our lives.

The cyclical nature of life means that for every birth there is a death – but also for every death, there is a birth. It’s no mistake that Christians, for example, celebrate Jesus’ birth in the winter (when everything in nature seems to have died), or his death in the spring (when everything in nature seems to be coming back to life). When we live our lives in sync with these natural rhythms, the pain of loss can lose some of its sting.

My boyfriend and I just broke up. We remain great friends, and love each other deeply, but we are moving in different directions. For either of us to give up our dreams for the sake of the other would mean a loss of something so intrinsic to ourselves that it’s unimaginable.

And yet I am almost paralyzed as I sit between two extremes: the pain of losing him, and the joy of finding myself.

I thought I knew what I wanted, but what if what I wanted isn’t what I really want? (And I just went looking for some food to stuff into my mouth, which you KNOW can’t be a good sign.)

Sometimes we can’t know. Sometimes we’re walking blind, and when we hold out our hand to find a wall or a piece of furniture to orient ourselves in the blackness, we hit instead a knife blade that slices deep.

But what if the blade cuts things not apart, but together?

I am in the first year of a kind of bodywork training called the Alexander Technique. Without getting too esoteric, the technique is about becoming aware of your habits of poor psycho-physical use, and replacing those habits with better use.

I’ve discovered that letting go of old habits and discovering something new is very frightening and disorienting. One of my instructor’s favorite commands is to “not know.”

“Don’t KNOW,” she intones with discouraging frequency as she works on me with her hands. (Discouraging only because it means that for the millionth time I’ve been trying too hard, and cutting myself off from true knowing in the process.)

“Don’t know, don’t know, don’t know,” I direct myself with fathomless panic inside my head, until suddenly her hands, in cooperation with my open mind, find new freedom and release within my body.

Don’t know.

It reminds me of the Rainer Maria Rilke quote from Letters to a Young Poet, where Rilke says:

…have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language.

Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything.

Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.

Loss, and freedom. Perhaps deep down, they are really the same thing…

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This post was originally published on my professional organizing blog.

Art journal spread Gondoliers, undated (October or November 2006). Wax crayon, ink and collage on paper.

This art journal spread has special meaning for me, since all the collage pieces were ephemera from a production of Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Gondoliers that I took part in the previous spring. I played the Duchess of Plaza Toro, and my then-boyfriend played one of the gondoliers, Marco.