Wednesday, January 11, 2017

* Simplicity *

Simplicity is my intention for 2017 ... along with Devotion (ah, yielding to the Gemini rising in my natal chart ... gotta have two intentions!)  I excel at overthinking, over complicating matters so Simplicity will be a real practice for me. It is already helping me find a path back in after a tumble down the hillside of illness and emotional exhaustion.

Lacking any sophisticated, clever or inspired account of the past month or so, I realize Simplicity tells me to just show up and begin again. Here's my story du jour: I thought I had injured my back and thankfully, that wasn't the case. (I worried I would no longer be able to volunteer with mucking out stalls, turning out horses - the one job I always look forward to!) What I had was a case of the shingles thankfully with no rash, just weird sensations and occasional flashes of intense and random pain. (At times it felt like I had an alien inside my body attacking my back or stomach muscles.) Still, the virus along with polar bear chilling temperatures, have kept me house bound for weeks. 

Weeks at home with only the dog and my loopy aunt of a mind to keep me company. 

Weeks to ponder my itchy navel. (Right side only)

Weeks  shuffling about the house in the one pair of comfy, loose-fitting and warm pants that I own ... weeks wearing oversized underwear of my husband's (who knew?! Men's underwear is infinitely more comfortable! No leg elastic! All cotton, no miracle fabric that tries to mold or cling to my delicate parts ... and no, I flatly refuse what my husband oh-so-gently tried to suggest to me: that perhaps I have been wearing a size too small of my lady-panties. Hogwash!)  A slippery slope for sure. The prevailing mood: Meh and What's the point?

I have no agenda. I have no plans, no real ambitions. This entire past year I have felt like the Hanged Man in the Tarot ... swinging and dangling and wondering when will I be cut down? After frustration, after despair, after confusion and resistance ... yup ... surrender. A slow but steady shedding of the layers of identity that I believed were necessary to bring meaning to my existence, to who I believe I am meant to be.

Lying in bed at 3 am, the virus attacking my back, waiting for a pain pill to kick in, with Mad Men on Netflix keeping me company ... it was a strange kind of rebirthing experience. (I felt squeezed by life in a not-so-loving way) My body, living, current events  (the world ruled it seems by upside thinking and pretzel logic) have me redefining how I want to be living each day.  "You've got to find what matters most to you." This was the advice given to the writer/doctor Paul Kalanithi after receiving a diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. (When Breath Becomes Air is his beautiful and thought provoking memoir, published after his death)

Apparently, birds matter a lot to me. Interesting experiment: leave lots of pictures on your camera and months later, download them. I had 78 pictures of birds taken from my back window. (A discovery which means I am more my father's daughter than I have allowed myself to believe ... as inheritor of his boxes of seagull slides, the relationship is hard to miss)

These past weeks I have leaned upon what matters to me:  
- my yoga practice (choosing again The Simple: basic poses, breath practices that enliven and refresh my body and mind; complex postures are not better, merely complex) 
- creative practice (learning, playing, observing, pushing myself to develop and grow by taking a drawing class online; immersing myself in the basics of line, tone, color theory and learning about my tools and technique)
- time simply spend connecting with family and friends

Rather than fixating on making something of my life, I am focused upon the simple act of living it. Or at least observing it when weather and illness prevent me from a more active existence.


Having fun certainly (there has been much binge watching of Six Feet Under, Mad Men, X-Files, Vera - all in the service of knitting time, of course!) but in turn, my chance to squeeze life back. 

Simply put: to be fiercely disciplined with myself about how I show up in my life: how I speak, what I do, what I think and where I place my energy and attention. And when I catch myself stepping off track, I simply step back on path.  



  1. Feeling this sooo strongly. To be subjectively going through deep, deep transformation, while the world does the same...what a kick. There is definitely a sense of,'Right...time to get dressed and back on the path.' And as you said somewhere else, it IS back and it IS a path that we already knew but had lost for a while. Also, I love seeing how your art has evolved - so beautiful. And I envy you your sparrows. We have many different birds out here but for some reason the sparrows don't make the hop from the village out to us in the hedgeland.
    'The simple act of living it'. Why is that so hard? Thank you for sharing your wisdom around how to do it. x

    1. Intense times all around! I find myself leaning on the knowledge that kindred souls such as yourself and our Canadian sister are out there ... that what I am grappling with others do know and understand and that the way forward is to continue to show up for this conversation. So thank you for your words, your Presence :) And now I have renewed appreciation for my humble sparrows who are eating a king's ransom in bird seed. But apparently I derive much pleasure from their antics given the bulk of images I take these days are of them frolicking about my patio!

  2. i love the last photo of the bird (hawk?)...

    it's funny how different we all are; how what stresses one person is the opposite of another. i never have had any plans, ambitions, or agenda, despite a myriad of people and institutions telling me that i should...apparently i am perfectly content to drift through my days, just living life. it would be nice if i could exchange some of my "unmerited contentment" with you for some drive and ambition, perhaps...

    i hope that whatever vile virus has been making your poor body miserable departs for good and does so soon. being ill like that is a wretched thing.

    now, the underpants issue...with THAT i may be able to offer some tangible help. SILK KNICKERS. they can't be bleached, and can't be put in a dryer (but then, nor can any of my other lingerie), but they are heavenly comfy. there is a style at that is not too "granny", and feels great. there are also knitted silk lady boxers, which are super comfortable too. you can get them on, but be sure to really pay attention to the sizing guidelines, as many of the chinese companies have a very different size range to US or UK or EU.

    feel better!

    1. Yes, the last image is of a red tail hawk visiting my yard the other day ... frequent visitor here yet always thrills me.

      Thank you, I AM loads better ... and fortunate to have had a relatively "minor" case of the shingles ... AND I am excited to check out your suggestion of silk knickers. Who knows? Maybe my existential angst stems from years of wearing the wrong (and uncomfortable) underwear?! I do know that deep deep within me my true soul self is like you ... content and blissed out by "simply" living life ... that what causes me angst is some interloper from without (the outside voices of teachers, parents, society) foisted upon this purer self. But if it helps, I am happy to ship (free of charge) some of my unwanted ambitions ;)

  3. oh dearest you!! my mum has been stricken down with shingles too -- she, too, thought she'd hurt her back, just before Chrimbles....alas, 'twas the dreaded shingles. She had the rash too. She's still suffering....but she's also fighting the fact that she's ill, willing herself to be 'over it' and getting impatient that it's taking so long. hmmmm. i've tried to gently suggest that she simply surrender to it and accept it'll take as long as it takes....not so easy a thing for the chronically controlling. ;)

    i love how you always show me the way...back to the core of things, those things that truly matter. it's really just that simple. and yet so strangely hard.

    be well -- i wish you speedy healing. xoxoxo

    1. You can pass my number onto your mum and she and I can TALK. Yes, time is very relative when one is ill ... I was moaning the other day about how "long" this has lasted and realized what felt like a month had only been two weeks. Still ... the rash bit must be miserable. I created a blend of essential oils in a roller ball applicator and smear that on my tingly self at least 5 times a day. Am finishing up my 2 batch! I think it has helped. Aloe Vera might be good for her ... or else a slug of whiskey? Oh, I was brought 'round to remembering how my mother was when ill and catching myself parroting her ... so it has been a humbling experience.

      Today was my first FULL day back with the horses ... the husband said I am a much nicer person when I get to be around them ... 3 hours of stalls and turning out horses in frigid cold and I am happily exhausted ... so much so, that my tingly hip/side doesn't bother me. Or rather, I am too fatigued to care! Bliss. Perhaps your mum needs to muck a stall or two? Just joking ... Miss you! xo