Peering into the closet

Sometimes we need to dig into the closet. What is in there that scares us?

I’ve read that the Chinese New Year’s FIRE ROOSTER brings with it the energy of tidying up, letting go, and being fastidious. 

Recently I fully embraced the rooster energy and decided to spontaneously empty and organize our walk-in closet. To the untrained eye the room was full of assorted piles of crap. Not so! I had fastidiously sorted each and every last content into items in need of repair (buttons sewn on, stains removed); items to donate–with sub-categories including the items to take to the domestic violence shelter thrift store (clothes mostly) and items to donate to a home for young mothers in foster care (for them, only the nicest household items, some children’s clothes and toys and don’t ask why those things were even in my closet in the first place.). And then was the pile of trash. The pile of random mementos that needed to put tucked away. The pile of clothes that no longer fit but maybe if I lose those last ten pounds? The pile of office supplies (why were they in there….?) You get the idea.

SO. MANY. PILES.

A week later and the project is complete, including the addition of a new plush rug inside the closet that my daughter and I gleefully rolled around on, all the while absorbing the beauty of the clean and orderly closet! 

I thought my Fire Rooster energy had run its course. It turns out, no so fast.

Alas, it seems there were other dark spaces that had slow and steadily collected items out of view. Left in the dark but ready for light to be shined upon them. 

You may have noticed I haven’t been posting as much recently. Mostly this is because I have been doing a lot of artwork, and also keeping busy with my little project #100daysofhope (mostly on instagram).

You could say I’ve been consumed by my art. Every spare moment I seem to be in front of the watercolors. I’ve been posting them on Instagram…and then something started to happen.

Within the span of days several people asked to purchase prints I had made. Did I have a store?

I think the best way to describe what happened next would be paralysis. 

I know, it makes zero sense. This is awesome, people want to buy my artwork! How wonderful!

Yes, yes yes. But it meant getting my act together. It meant collecting and properly scanning and uploading and editing and printing and….and….all the excuses you can imagine. Know what it really meant?

It meant shining a light on my creative work. IT MEANT VULNERABILITY.

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Image found online

The universe was giving me so many nudges, it was ridiculous. And then my sister called. She urged me for the thousandth time to setup a damn online shop. And after I told her about the inquiries she jokingly and lovingly scolded me, WHAT? Sarah get your butt in gear!

I was a tad defensive. Do you know how busy I am? Blah blah blah. Well, in talking to her, I decided to cut work early yesterday and at least get started on the project. 

So yesterday afternoon, dragging my feet still, I slowly assembled the artwork until every last piece was laying on my bed.

My jaw dropped. There was SO MUCH ARTWORK. I had created all this? All this time it had been tucked away in the dark, in need of fastidious sorting and cataloguing.

And it needed light.

At this point in the afternoon I realized I needed to make a call. I left a message for my sister and I told her she would not believe how much artwork it turns out that I had! (Oh, I think she knew.) I thanked her for the nudge. The loving nudge to push the baby bird out of the nest. The bird who was more than ready to fly.

I’m sorting, scanning and fastidiously editing and preparing to print the artwork. I will gleefully-and fearfully-share with you when they are posted online for sale. And if I drag my heals, you officially have permission to nudge this baby bird once again.

What about you? What is hiding in your closet, in the dark, in need of light and air? Are there things you need to let go of? Are there things that need to be seen? Who can hold you accountable and gently push you out of the nest? The fire rooster calls!


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The Winds are Slowly Filling our Sails

Solstice came! It occurred to me that while I am rejoicing the return of the light, others are like really Sarah?!  This means winter has started. In Iowa that means the frigid below-zero temperature winds will make it undesirable to leave your home. Not that it matters because the nearest Starbucks is AN HOUR AWAY. (Oh, I have so many great Iowa stories. Another day.)

So yes, solstice. A slow creep toward light, with cold winds thrown in for some of you. I promise to send you some Florida sunshine okay?

Yesterday I sat in my therapist’s office and despaired. About how horrible this year was, how everything in my life is so uncertain, and all hope was lost. I think that maybe, just maybe I saw my therapist’s eyebrow make a tiny movement upward as if to say, for real Sarah ALL HOPE LOST? but she caught herself and later we laughed when I pointed out that perhaps I was being a bit…dramatic? Yeah.  Just a tad. (I love when I realize it even as the words exit my lips but I hold on to the story I’ve created in my head, not quite ready just yet to let it go.)

But I need to tell you about the sailing ships. There is a point to this post you see. I told her how it feels like a great large ocean liner in my life is slowly changing directions but it feels so damn slow and laborious. And then her eyes lit up and she said, have you ever sailed? (Maybe once? A very long time ago.)

She told me how when sailing, when you go to change directions you must get the sails adjusted (I am forgetting all technical sailing terms) and there is a moment where you are jostling around getting it just so, and there is a pause. You must wait for the winds to fill the sail, which can be jerky at first, before you can move into the new direction. But once the sails are full of wind, WHOOSH you are off!

But that isn’t all. To change direction, you don’t just take off with those sails full of wind and zoom in the direction of your liking. No, you zig-zag back and forth for some time, forward and back. Forward and back. And little by little you go the intended direction, hitting your stride after just a bit.

We both agreed that this wonderful analogy should be tucked away for future reference for any and all clients. I mean, it is pretty brilliant right?

She told me: your sails are slowly filling with wind. I can feel it. I can too.

But there is more! Last night I read a post on Facebook about how winter solstice is a pause–not here or there just yet–like when suspended in that one moment at the top of a roller coaster where your stomach drops before the moment you rush back down again. Or, the post continued, how it is like a dead calm sea between gusts of wind.

Well, I’ll be. I love when themes and symbols pop up again and again my life.

There you have it folks. I reckon we are all in that pause right now. Heck, our country most certainly is. The world most certainly is.

Remember: our sails will continue to fill and we will soon be off to the races. It might take a little bit of backtracking at times–but don’t despair. It is necessary to get where we need to go.

 

 

Gratitude (kind of) for the darkness

Friends, solstice is upon us. Tomorrow. That is right, the days of winter darkness shift toward the light. I don’t want to speak for y’all but damn, it is time for the dark days of 2016 to exit the building. 

The church I attend had a lovely solstice celebration this past Sunday. We toasted “wasail” (apple juice) to the new year coming and the the turn to light. And there was an urging to think about darkness not as something “bad” or “evil” as it is often considered in our culture, but instead as a gift. What if we met it with gratitude? We couldn’t have 24 hours of sun – everything requires a period of rest and darkness. What if we look at the darkness as a womb capable of creating and birthing life anew?

Never before have the themes of winter solstice resonated with me so much.

This year brought lot’s of darkness for me. Not in the form of “bad” or “evil” but in the form of letting go, release, and being left with emptiness and not-knowing. The not-knowing is SO HARD for me. I am not a patient person when it comes to just sitting. (I get this from my mother. The woman moved ALL DAY LONG! She would be sitting folding clothes at midnight while watching tv.) So yes, sitting, waiting in the stillness, not knowing, and knowing that it isn’t time for me to know just yet? SO FREAKING HARD. I wrote about this in September and it still resonates with me — how it feels like frog swimming and let’s just say that is not a pace I like.

Yes, if I am grateful, this year brought many gifts that did not feel like them at the time: the release of pain and loss, more pain and loss, and shedding of that which no longer served me. The dissolving of identities and patterns and masks that are no longer needed. I feel as empty as the northern wood, stripped of leaves, all life burrowed away and hiding in hole.

It was a year of pausing. It was a year of rest.

But if I am honest with myself, it was also a year that showed me hints of what can come out of the darkness and chaos. Creativity in the form of Art! Writing! Music! Wow, amiright?

It was a year of embracing the unknown and unexpected, of holding on to faith and hope that eventually the wheel will turn, the axis of the earth would slowly and eventually move its position in relation to the sun and the days will grow longer. They will — at last — tomorrow!

On Solstice Eve, value the dark. On this longest night of the year, before the light overcomes the dark, sit in the dark (alone or with others) and think about the importance of darkness. Bless mushrooms that grow in the dark and honeysuckle that sends its luscious scents into the night. Be grateful for the darkness that soothes us to sleep, the darkness that animals require for hibernation. Give thanks for sheltering dark places: the rich earth where seeds germinate, the caves that harbored our ancient ancestors (and where some of our sun gods were born), the cellars that keep us safe from tornadoes, the wombs that provide our first nourishment. Acknowledge the darkness of suffering, which can deepen our appreciation of life and strengthen our connection to one another.


From a post at http://www.uuworld.org/articles/celebrate-winter-solstice and Excerpted with permission from In Nature’s Honor: Myths and Rituals Celebrating the Earth (Skinner House), copyright 2005 by Patricia Montley. Available from the UUA Bookstore (see link below).


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