(image – acrylic on canvas “Luminous Exodus” 36″ x 36″)
I was sitting among a group of women entreprenuers not too long ago and one woman was discussing how instead of doing her regular workout routine that morning, she decided to come to our coffee gathering instead. The need to honor her desire to connect with community was much greater than expending energy on her personal work-out routine. She then delved into a discussion about how winter is a time to go into a kind of hibernation state of mind, to reserve our energy, to slow the pace of our lives, hang with friends/family and take time to reflect. We all nodded our heads in aggreement.
Hearing her words, gave me a sense of what my internal self had been preparing me for the past couple months; that need for contemplation, for transition, for change. Part of me thought I was going through a low level depression because, frankly, I am not used to giving into these feelings of melancholy. I have always prided myself on being resiliant, positive, reliable, a shoulder to lean on, there’s no time for a negative Nelly. Well, guess what, that is frickin exhausting and that is exactly what I have been feeling, EXHAUSTED! My whole body, mind and soul seem to be prompting me to reserve my energy, slow my pace in order to give me the opportunity to look within myself, to heal and reflect on what needs are not being met. I cannot do that if my energy is caught up in the needs of others.
Needs change throughout our life, but in my pre-Bend, Oregon life, I rarely stopped long enough to give my needs more than a passing glance and few lines in my journal at any particular time. Robotically, I simply listened to what the outside world was telling me I should or should not do. It seemed easier to follow social protocal. The times I rejected certain unsolicited should’s and social norms, I was not doing so because I was listening to my own heart. Most of the time, I was simply rejecting that advice for rejection’s sake. Fighting a good fight, but not really knowing the why.
This lack of looking inward, brings to mind when as a college professor, I looked forward to school calendar breaks. Culturally, in education, teachers relish those breaks just to catch our breath and reflect before heading back into the water. For me, once those anticipated days arrived, I felt dread and despair. Instead of a neatly laid out schedule with students and faculty and all that that entailed, it was just me with what seemed like too much time on my hands. I was free from worrying about the needs of others and instead was face to face with what my desires were and that was just too real and too scarey. I was so caught up in what developed into my daily routine for 24 plus years of teaching, that I failed to listen to my heart in regards to my own truth. I did not have clear answers to the “What do you desire?”, What are your wants?” guestions. And honestly, that just was not the norm in my little neck of the woods. To be thinking about yourself, well, that was just plain selfish.
Now, after all these years, I have finally realized that I dreaded those down times for this particular reason. I never gave myself the time and effort to contemplate because I was simply doing what I thought should be done or what others felt I should be doing. An actor in a play (my life) that I did not write.
One of my good friends, Amy Turner, talks about the fallow season, when fall turns into winter and all of nature moves into an idle and restful period. We are part of nature. If you look up the word fallow, some of the definitions may appear discouraging. I see fallow as quiet, still, suspended, growing, developing, productive. It is during the fallow season that nature readies for rebirth and all the magnificance that comes with that rebirth. The seeds are being planted for the growth that will take place in the spring. I look forward to this season of hibernation, where my natural, creative self can be still, quiet and where my ideas can begin to perculate and grow.