“What makes a fire burn
Is space between the logs,
A breathing space.
Too much of a good thing,
Too many logs
Packed in too tight
Can douse the flames
Almost as surely
As a pail of water would.”
How many logs are you packing in this holiday season? In my recent mini-retreat, women shared some of the things they were packing in over the holidays. Too much shopping and spending. Too many commitments. Too much food. Too much socializing. Too many thoughts of “I’m not enough, I must do more, more, more…”
It’s downright exhausting.
What happens is that rather than the inner Creative taking over our lives, the inner Controller takes over. The part of us that is always doing, always problem solving, always trying to fix something, anything, so that we feel busy, productive, worthy…
Yet as poet Judy Brown says in the excerpt above from Fire, when we build a fire, it grows because s-p-a-c-e is there. Not because another trip to Target is there!
It’s hard. I can be sitting by the window, trying to simply open to even a couple of minutes of s-p-a-c-e, when suddenly my mind remembers an email that I forgot to answer. Or I gaze out the window appreciating the lawn for a moment, and realize how piled up the leaves are and that they need to be raked. Or the thought arises that I will feel so much better after I’ve done X and Y and Z. The only problem is that there is always X, Y and Z to do, which means the “feel better” part never happens.
What to do? Or not do, as the case may be?
First, I simply notice those driving thoughts that are telling me much is undone. I feel their persistent energy, that overwrought head space of never enough. I take a breath and offer myself compassion. It’s okay that it’s not all done. Really. It will never, ever be all done. I sit with that realization, even as I fight it.
I shower myself with more compassion as I struggle with simply sitting. I look out the window and notice how the clouds have turned ochre with the setting sun. I smell the pot roast cooking in the other room. The dog walks by and drops his fuzzy green ball lightly on my bare toe, looking up at me expectantly.
That’s when it happens. Life opens. Instead of running on the hamster wheel of never enough, I am settling for a moment into the delicious freedom of peace despite all the things still not done. Whereas a moment before I felt stress at what was left, now it is softening and its power is dissipating.
Creativity awakens. As I pick up the dog’s frayed ball, I am delighted at the images it makes as I squeeze it, like a face making different expressions. I relax more. I look out again at the clouds and feel expansive – the same clouds that I looked at restlessly just a few moments before now re-form into endless possibilities.
We talk about holiday spirit, forgetting it rarely resides in the over-doing, but in the under-doing. Creativity blooms in the pause, not the push. That’s when the exquisite and subtle beauty of life opens to us like a gift.
This holiday and beyond, I wish for all of us expansive, peaceful, creative, pleasurable and loving s-p-a-c-e. It just takes a moment. As author Tara Brach says, “Stop and come home. Find, in the space between the logs, the light that is your source.”
I’d love to hear how you find space in the midst of a busy day – Click here, and then share your thoughts in the comments section at the bottom of the blog.
New Writing Circle Launching in January! – As many of you know, it can be challenging to join my writing circles as spots rarely open. However, I’ve been getting requests from those of you excited to launch writing projects for the new year, so I’ve decided to create a brand new writing circle in late January. It will be limited to 6. If you are interested in nabbing one of the spots, then email me HERE and I’ll send you an application and details as they become available. For more immediate information on my writing circles in general, go HERE.
Spring Retreat in Taos: Greening your Creative Spirit
with Carolyn Scarborough and Sharon Zeugin
Mabel Dodge Luhan House, Taos, NM
April 7 to 12, 2019
If your creative soul is nudging you, then please consider joining us under the big New Mexico sky for the “Spring Retreat in Taos: Greening the Creative Soul.” I will be teaming up with artist, calligrapher and writer Sharon Zeugin at the storied Mabel Dodge Luhan House (illuminated by the likes of D.H. Lawrence and Georgia O’Keeffe). This is your time to take a deep drink of creative inspiration and freely express what appears when the well is full. If your creative soul is curious, she can take a peek HERE.
Creative Soul Seasonal Circles
January to May, 2019
The Creative Soul Women’s Circles launch on January 10! Right now they are both full, but if you want to get on the waiting list, let me know and I’d be happy to add you. All the details are HERE.
Morning Rituals to Awaken Creativity and Happiness
Seton Cove, Austin, Texas
February 8, 12 to 1:30 p.m.
What if a few changes in the way you begin your morning could have a powerful effect on your creativity and well-being, whether you are writing, working or simply wanting to live in a more inspired way? And what if these changes could be simple? For instance, imagine an entire morning routine in 5 minutes before you even get out of bed. Bottom line? We can either trudge into another day on autopilot… or prime the pump for purpose and creativity. So many of us have read about the benefits of morning routines, yet we don’t know where to begin, what to do, or how to stick with one. You’ll walk away with a customized morning routine that will include specific, powerful practices from “day scripting” to meeting and melting anxiety. Let’s greet our day in a way that leads to new possibilities and a more meaningful life. (Registration details coming soon)