Well we’re moving steadily through January now and I always seem to experience the same feelings every year at this time. I sense a sluggishness from ‘out there’ : it may be with social interaction, personal motivation, or just a feeling of absence. I strive to get back into my usual rhythms while deciding to be open to new possibilities, to be refreshed as it were. But no matter how proactive I try to be, I still feel a sense of waiting for outside forces, and this time I’ve been trying to understand what is going on. I came across a quote on facebook by author, Elizabeth Erickson, which may go some way to explain it:
So, winter is a time of hibernation in nature, a time of going to ground, and because we are part of nature too, then many people can succumb to a lack of energy, both physical and mental. It’s also a time for catching colds and winter bugs – I’ve had one myself this week. Add to that the pressure of self-imposed goal making and resolutions, then we can end up being too hard on ourselves if we don’t feel like cracking on. This seems to be the common scenario. As for me, I’ve been doing some family visiting, some marketing for After Black, I’ve finished a painting, and got back into my writing by picking up the threads of novel number 3 and have discovered creating is where I need to be. But I am looking forward to the energy from ‘out there’ to pick up again. If anyone can relate to this, then feel free to comment. Maybe I should find a January jaunt to go on next year?
There are three random harvests today:
1. A Tech Tip
First up is a piece of techy stuff for those of you who have multiple web links, or maybe because you engage with more than one creative pursuit and you strive to represent them collectively online, like me. Writer, Ari Meghlen, who gives masses of help to other writers on her brilliant blog, has talked about this tip and I’ve followed it through this week. It’s creating one link for all of your links which can be accessed for free through Link Tree . It generates a single link for you (like the trunk of a tree) and you list all the online places to find you or your work (you hang your leaves on). It’s excellent to have to cite in particular places online or on certain occasions, not necessarily for sole usage, but nevertheless, a neat little tool – your very own marketing tree.
2. Work in Progress
But enough of tech, over to painting! I finally finished my peony painting, now entitled, Peony Millefiori, after much deliberation. A friend said the finished background reminded her of stained glass, and that seems fitting as it was a blown glass pattern on a vase which gave me the idea in the first place, as well as my loving stained glass effects in my paintings. But the Italian term millefiori (a thousand flowers) popped into my head, for the multiple cane effects used in paperweights. Intense and colourful, so the term seems apt. Here goes with a visual reminder of the work in progress stages to the final result.
It was a bit scary doing the final stage, and I had to make the peony leaves and the stalk stand out further against the ground, but overall I’m very pleased and I’m happy to do another of a purple opium poppy to make a pair :>)
3. Spiritual philosophy : what we can learn from fighting ducks
January reflections led me once again to pick up what has become my absolute favourite spiritual growth book, A New Earth : Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, by spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle. I bought this book about 6 years ago after reading Tolle’s The Power of Now. I struggled with the first few chapters because they seemed too widely encompassing in talking about the whole planet, too idealistic and fanciful to me at the time, but always I am drawn back to this book, because every time I read it I gain some knowledge, some insights, and hopefully some wisdom if I can put the teaching into practice, which I try to do. What I love about Eckhart Tolle is that he draws upon many religions collectively to teach a healthy spirituality and a tangibly practical philosophy of life. And because the personal can become political, and because this can in turn affect the world through governments and social structures, who in turn have a significant effect on the health of the planet, then this is perhaps why the first few chapters have a fundamentally mother nature power and a biblical scope to them. These days, those first chapters seem so highly relevant. Soon enough though, Tolle gets down to plenty of wonderfully written specifics. He originally studied psychology along with literature and philosophy, so this may explain why he has an amazing insight into human dysfunction, unhappiness, and inner and interpersonal conflict, as well as identifying what is the healthiest and happiest way of being. All of this is addressed in A New Earth, and it truly deserves its spiritual place on this earth!
So where do the fighting ducks come in? Well, Tolle gives us a funny visual metaphor to demonstrate how we can learn from ducks to let go of negative energy after we’ve created some conflict with another person. And let’s face it, this is going to happen unless we live in a vacuum. And if you are anything like me, even though you may have behaved exactly in line with your personal values and would say the same thing or act exactly the same way again, you nevertheless feel the upset and replay and analyse the ‘conflict scene’ for days afterwards, in direct proportion to the level of negative energy it stirred up. So when I began to read about the fighting ducks, my own recent conflict experience, and all the subsequent thinking I’ve been doing, suddenly fitted with Tolle’s metaphor, and I now have a visual for my mind’s eye to help me in the future whenever this happens again – which it surely will!
The lesson is: Two ducks get into an argument and fight one another, gripping each other around the neck with their beaks and wrestling. After they have finished their disagreement they paddle away in different directions. Each duck then flap its wings vigorously a few times thus releasing the surplus energy that has built up during the fight. Then they float away peacefully as if nothing happened.
Tolle points out:
‘if the duck had a human mind it would keep the argument alive by thinking and story making. This would probably be the duck’s story: I don’t believe what he just did! He came to within five inches of me. He thinks he owns this pond. He has no consideration for my private space. I’ll never trust him again. Next time, he’ll try something else just to annoy me. I’m sure he’s plotting something already. But I’m not going to stand for this. I’ll teach him a lesson he won’t forget. And on and on the mind spins its tales, still thinking about it days, months, or years later.’
Tolle explains, that as far as our human body and mind is concerned after this situation, the fight still goes on, and the energy it generates in response to these thoughts is in the form of emotion which in turn generates more thinking, and this becomes the emotional thinking of the ego. This is how so many of us live all the time. No situation or event is ever done with…Our duck’s lesson is this: Flap your wings and let go of the negative energy, the pending story, and return to the only place of real power: the present moment.
I love this because there is so much we can learn from nature, we just have to watch carefully and take in the hidden messages. So if the garden is lying dormant and ‘out there’ seems to be echoing this, then I must respect that, but maybe come up with some ideas to change my own repeating pattern for next January, where winter is still acknowledged, but my wings aren’t clipped by it.
Wishing you all the best for the nurturing of your creative ideas at this contemplative time of the year.