GREETINGS, again, world!
In November 2019 I was in the midst of a conversation with Britt Kolo, the creator of MarketingPersonalities.com when I received a call that one of my high school students had died in a horrific accident. A beautiful, vibrant, talented, young life was taken in a freak accident that could neither have been predicted nor prevented. Everything shifted at that moment. I began to question this journey I was on. Why was I even trying to write a blog? Why was I trying to share my thoughts? Why did I think I had something to share? Why was I making any of the decisions I was making if life is so fleeting?
The result, I stopped working on the blog in January 2020. I tried to keep my social media posts going. But that too suffered from my growing silence. I followed a hunch that I needed to look deeply into what I was doing, why I was doing it, and how I was doing it. I didn’t intend for it to take most of the year but 2020 has been an unusual year to say the least. My intent was to look deeply into my creativity and to re-connect with it. My approach was a sabbatical. A time to delve intellectually and emotionally into the work of knowing myself as a creative.
- “a period to devote oneself entirely to the development of a new and transformative project — whether that is writing a book, conducting fieldwork abroad or learning new teaching pedagogies.”
- -“transition into the kind of concentrated period of creative work that is difficult to accomplish on a typical academic schedule.”
I remember reading articles in the Chronicle of High Education a couple of years back about all of the think-abouts one should consider when going on sabbatical. Lots of advice to be bold in the development of one’s sabbatical. I decided to put those ideas to use during my time away form the blog. I began by setting my learning goal: to make peace with my creativity and to bring it into the open, fresh air and space so that it can breathe and speak. I considered all of the ways I see creativity expressed in my life and all of the ways I re-fuel it.
I joined a group of amazing creative women from around the world in Anna Lovind’s Creative Doer course https://annalovind.com/the-creative-doer-community-2/ and I began to focus on daily acts of creativity and connecting with creative women. Wow! A powerful group of creative women accepting and supporting creative women in the pursuit of their dreams. I was exploring the creative work that nourishes the rest of my life. I was re-emerging.
And then, COVID-19. Quarantine. Social Justice protests. Environmental disasters. Economic hardships. My creativity stopped. I found myself without words. That’s not entirely accurate, either. I found myself with lots of thoughts, feeling, emotions, reactions, but nothing came out. Even as I shared with our high school students the importance of creating in quarantine – whatever that looks like – and how much the world needs creatives during COVID, I couldn’t do it myself.
I realized that I needed to go back to the the practices that connect me to who I am and my place in this big, beautiful universe.
I shifted my goals.
1. 20 in 20 Adventure Challenge from Hike Like A Woman (HLAW). This has been an opportunity to create my own adventures and broaden my idea of an adventure. As HLAW explains, “an adventure is whatever you want it to be! For some an adventure might be reading an adventure book, a trip abroad, or a hike down a trail that they’ve never been on before. For others an adventure might be learning a new skill or starting a new habit.” The 20 adventures I will have completed this year look very different than the ones I envisioned in January 2020. Gone are the new countries and swimming in new places. In are the home-based adventures that spontaneously emerged. COVID has been an adventure all of it’s own. https://hikelikeawoman.net/
2. 365 mile challenge in 2020. Get outside and move! 1 mile every day or 365 miles total in 2020. It all counts – walk, run, hike, swim, bike, paddle. It’s not competitive, it’s collaborative as we share our success and challenges with each other. https://www.365milechallenge.org/
3. 52-books in 2020. In 2019 I read 33 books and set my sights on 52 books in 2020. All genres represented. With four weeks to go I am only at 75% but it’s doable.
4. Delving deeper into herbalism and aromatherapy, and my ancestral lineages associated with them. I’ve completed so many great courses in 2020 with Aromahead Institute https://www.aromahead.com/ and The Herbal Academy https://theherbalacademy.com/. The Intermediate Herbal Course and the Natural Perfumery course are two of my favorites, and I am in the final stages of aromatherapy certification.
5. Working closely with my teacher, Britt Steele, and finishing the year with the annual 108 day Pilgrim. www.brittbsteele.com
6. Coming back to my writing.
What I learned along the way is that I have everything I need and everything I have been searching for is already inside of me. It has been there all along waiting for me to see it. Waiting for me to see the interconnectedness. Waiting for me to free my creativity. Waiting for me to jump back into the work of creating meaning and sharing it with others in support of our collective remembering of our creative, powerful, unique feminine wisdom and knowledge.
The last conversation that Britt Steele and I had before our family escaped to a cabin this summer, was about lily pads as a metaphor for those things that that we go back to in order to re-connect and ground. Tucked away from our daily lives of work and obligation, my husband and I went hiking. As we emerged over a hill, there in Winston Lake, was a thriving community of Nelumbi lutea, American Lotus. The American Lotus is distinguishable from lily pads because it is round like a pancake. They are so amazing!
I have learned so much from these beautiful American Lotuses:
The American Lotus grows in shallow water but then moves out to depths of 5 or 6 feet. Reminding me to ground myself first and then I am able to confidently move into unknown depths.
The American Lotus opens in the sun and closes at dusk. Reminding me of the importance of daily rhythms. To be in tune with the natural world. We are a part of the ecosystem, not a-part from it.
The stem in the center of the leaf of the American Lotus draws oxygen into the plant. Reminding me that breath is life, and that, like life, I cannot control my breath but I can awaken my breath to move through and with it. Breath affects how I receive everything happening around me. Being breathed makes way for life itself.
The American Lotus comes together to form fields. Reminding me that when all of my lotuses come together each day, my creativity flourishes, my limbic system is nourished, and I am at my best for the divine work of supporting my family and community.
I don’t have it all figured out. And, this isn’t about getting it, whatever it is, perfect. This is about finding my way through the mess and imperfections of each day. It is about finding the tools that support me and using them each day. The best part of each day is the chance to begin again.
I discovered I have twelve American Lotuses that are available to me each day as my foundation. They are all different sizes. Some are scraggly. Some are well-formed. Some days I am diligent about tapping in to them and some days it is more free-form. They all have one thing in common – they are always available to integrate me and this land and universe I am part of.
Here they are, my 12 lotuses:
- Slow Down
I’m so pleased with my sabbatical. The path has been different than I imagined but I have come to the other side ready to move forward. Each month in 2021 I’m going to share something about one of my lotuses. I’m also going to send out the newsletter again to share what I am listening to, reading, watching, etc.
This isn’t about me knowing the way. I know a way, my way. Right now, this way is working for me, and at a later time, it may shift again. Just because it is my way, doesn’t mean it will work for anyone else and that’s not the purpose of sharing. The purpose of sharing is to nurture community, to share experiences, to learn from with each other, to connect to our shared wisdom and knowledge. If you have made it this far in this post, be sure to sign up for the monthly newsletter at: https://tinyurl.com/ACrunchyLifeNewsletter
Thanks for joining me on this new adventure!