Saturday, December 31, 2011

year- end inventory

On this final day of the year I found myself hustling out the door to attend a yoga center meeting. I was hoping for a quick outing into town although the piles of papers - coupon for Dick Blick's, holiday checks for the bank, knitting pattern in case I hit the yarn sale - and the two packages to post (yes, my final holiday gifts completed and ready to ship!) should have clued me in that this would be anything but a brief jaunt.

As I drove down the highway I noticed a dozen or more wild turkeys foraging on the side of the road. If this year has taught me anything, it is to welcome such signs and receive the message with a wide open heart. I cannot think of a more appropriate symbol for my life right now than turkey; the abundance of mother earth is so strongly evident in my life right now along with the experience of moving fluidly within the circle of giving and receiving. Shared Blessings is one way Turkey's medicine can be described and it is a beautiful description of the year that is passing as well as a suggestion for what I know lies ahead.

"Less is more" is one of my favorite directions to offer when teaching yoga. Recently I had a new student attend my class and
when he was in a seated forward bend, I gave him this advice while straightening his spine and moving him more upright than forward and down.

After class he thanked me and then said he was confused about what I meant when I said "less is more." Initially I was perplexed; it seems like such an obvious concept. I also like to tell inflexible students that we don't have to work as hard as flexible students as we feel the pose sooner. We don't have to go so far as we come upon our edges much faster. (Contrary to urban myth, all yoga teachers are NOT super bendy pretzel-types) Less is more in the sense that when we avoid pushing past our edge - which is when we risk compromising the structural integrity of the pose such as collapsing the spine in order to reach the toes in the forward bend - we inhabit the place where insight, understanding, opening, change, or transformation can occur. We gain more by doing less when doing involves force and ignorance of one's reality.

Less is more. I have said this so often, but only now do I see it is more complicated than I initially thought and in fact I too fail to practice my own advice.

Ask me to describe my day and most likely I would say I am spinning my wheels. My perception is I generate a lot of energy, but very little happens. I have this image of myself as not getting much done; that I squander my time and my resources and at the day's end see only what I did not accomplish.

Earlier this week as I sat at my sewing machine,finishing up the second of two last minute holiday gift projects, I had an unusual moment of clarity and honesty: I do a hell of a lot. I was thinking about the recent rash of sewing projects and then a parade of projects from the past few months flashed through my mind.

I do a hell of a lot of stuff.

In no particular order here is an inventory of my various crafty works - the ones I can remember:

3 felted holiday crowns
3 pennant banners and 2 felted banners
1 tent

1 sock puppet
6 pairs of knitted, fingerless gloves
9? 10? zippered pencil bags
7 paintings for charity (raising over $1400)
100 holiday postcards mailed
21 poems in 21 days
3 sets prayer ties (hanging in Omaha, Sedona and by Squam lake)
various SouLodge craft projects including meditation stick, smudging fan, protector spirit
49 postcard sized paintings
numerous other paintings in journals, notebooks, posterboard
6 painted journal covers

Spinning my wheels?!

Yes ... you may bitch slap me now.

Perhaps I have slapped some sense into myself. For I am ready to put to rest - nay, drive a stake through the heart of this phantasmagorical delusion that has colored my perception of myself far too long.

Less is more. Perhaps what I really mean by this is when I am focused upon what I am doing, intent upon where and how my energy and attention is directed, I am able to fully appreciate the fullness and depth of the experience. I am conscious to the scope of what I am creating or offering and in turn I am aware of the gifts of inspiration, insight, play, joy, or pleasure that my work affords me.

I am seeing and experiencing abundance as it extends to me and in turn moves through me. I don't necessarily believe I want to be doing less; I just want to be appreciative of all that I do do and to fully enjoy the process and myself.

Less is more in the sense that whatever I do, I pay attention to what is created or generated rather than fixate upon what might have/should have/didn't happen. There is so much to value and appreciate in the smaller moments which when viewed with some perspective take on a great fullness of being. Those little "lesses" add up to one huge something - in my case an outpouring of love and gratitude in felt, wool, paint and paper.

This is a first step in my embracing Clarity for the new year. Today I saw the abundance of wild turkeys and I heard their message loud and clear: my life - and your life - is nothing but one of many gifts within an abundance of blessings. It's time to celebrate and give thanks.

And because I am bad with beginnings and endings ... and because Mr. O'Donohue excels with them both (and all the words in between) ... and the discovery of his work is a true treasure of this past year for me ... I offer his blessing At the End of the Year for us all:

As this year draws to its end,
We give thanks for the gifts it brought
And how they became inlaid within
Where neither time nor tide can touch them.

The days when the veil lifted
And the soul could see delight;
When a quiver caressed the heart
In the sheer exuberance of being here.

Surprises that came awake
In forgotten corners of old fields
Where expectation seemed to have quenched.

The slow, brooding times
When all was awkward
And the wave in the mind
Pierced every sore with salt.

The darkened days that stopped
The confidence of the dawn.

Days when beloved faces shone brighter
With light from beyond themselves;
And from the granite of some secret sorrow
A stream of buried tears loosened.

We bless this year for all we learned,
For all we loved and lost
And for the quiet way it brought us
Nearer to our invisible destination.

Blessings and love and gratitude from our hearts to yours.

Happy New Year! See you 'round the corner ...


  1. Lis! You most certainly do do a hell of a lot!:) And one of those many things is inspire me. This part of Mr. O'D's blessing brought tears to my eyes it so perfectly sums up how I'm feeling this evening after finishing Susannah's wonderful workbook:

    We bless this year for all we learned,
    For all we loved and lost
    And for the quiet way it brought us
    Nearer to our invisible destination.

    Yes and yes and yes. Thank you!

  2. Thank you so much for another timely reminder. This feels like a "slow brooding time" for me - and I need to remember that less really is more. I've had a serious case of the "I wants" lately, and I'm trying to be content with what I already have.

    Happy New Year to you and yours! LOVE the pics of Cowgirl with her three missing teeth! <3

  3. Oh these words - your words and Mr. O'Donohue's which have appeared to me three times this morning from different sources. Yes, you do a hell of a lot and it's easy to thing more of what else you want to do. I am hoping to stop more often this year and breathe before many tasks just to realize everything that is in front of me with appreciation. Happy New Year!

  4. This is beautiful - a wonderful way to start the new year - thank you. You do so much and I'm in awe of your energy of spirit and heart, although not surprised! I'm so grateful to have met you this year and hope this year and beyond deepens our SouLodge connection and friendship. Blessings and Happy New Year! -ps Have you read the book Barnheart by Jenna Woginrich? If not - do...a wonderful memoir of adventures in homesteading. :)

  5. wise words: less is more. you seem to have an incredible amount of energy and cover a lot of creative ground daily. thank you for your inspiration and the reminders you give to look deeper into our lives.

  6. Lis, you are such an inspiration! Good words to live by: less is more. Love your word for 2012! I hope that you have a lot of it :)

  7. You forgot to include: write inspiring blog posts several times a week! :)Isn't it amazing how we are so incapable sometimes of seeing ourselves and what we offer to the world?!

    After my difficult time with the nerve pain in my legs, I returned to yoga and found that less is way way more. I could barely move into a pose without pillows, bolsters, and straps. BUT I could feel my whole being open up- It was such a powerful lesson in letting go of self judgement for not being able to "do it right."

  8. Happy new year - I can only hope that less is more but you...well you're just inspiring with your creative whirl! xx

  9. how inspiring you are! xoxo!
    happy new year too :o)

  10. Wishing you a wonderfully happy new year Lis, full of adventures, dreams and lovely surprises xxx What an amazing list, stand tall and feel incredibly proud :)

  11. ~...sighing deeply...what a post...a post that resontes deeply within me...i can attest to much of your words above but

    " I pay attention to what is created or generated rather than fixate upon what might have/should have/didn't happen"

    these words are words i have been talking to myself about for most of last year...about half way through i got so caught up in all the "things" i had not done or accomplished...all the loose ties that needed to be tied and completed...all the "things" took me till just a month or so to realize the torture i was giving myself...instead of honoring all that i had done and accomplished...even if small they were...i was banishing them from my thoughts...i realized...i had been busy just in a different way than before...

    thank you for sharing your wisdom and beauty with us...always nourishing me when i come over and read your words...

    i wish for you a journey into 2012 that leaves you feeling content with each and every single little bit you do whether it be great or much joy and happiness ahead...blessings my friend to you and yours~