Restfulness – Simplicity
Always this beginning:
Twelve years ago my friend sent me the following stanza by poet Marge Piercy from her poem, The Spring Offensive of the Snail. She also added this note, “This is a great poem to start off the New Year. There is a ceremony among some First Nations people, which involves throwing water over their backs seven times. In doing so, they wash away any habits or thoughts no longer beneficial for growth. People forgive those who have harmed them and ask forgiveness of those they have harmed. Now they are ready to start the year anew.”
“…But remember to bury
all old quarrels
behind the garage for compost.
Forgive who insulted you.
Forgive yourself for being wrong.
You will do it again
for nothing living
resembles a straight line,
certainly not this journey
to and fro, zigzagging
you there and me here
making our own road onward
as the snail does…” excerpt from Marge Piercy’s poem
I am interested in restfulness as we enter this year. It’s a bit of a quandary that at a time when we are predisposed to hibernate with a need to curl up in front of the fire there are many demands to exercise our will in all manner of goals and resolutions for the New Year. Common ones are to eat less and exercise more, get started on the unfinished projects from last year and create BIG new goals for 2022. I am reconsidering all of this and looking at the first three months differently. Possibly as a time to cultivate restfulness.
Restfulness doesn’t mean feet up and doing nothing. It certainly doesn’t mean laziness. Rather I see it as wisely using our time to do the things we need to do while leaving enough space in between each activity so we are not agitated. Rather than booking our calendar back to back and relying on our will to see us through why not try something different. How about adding rest notes throughout our day, not just at the end. Maybe we take 5-15 minute intervals, (without turning this also into a task-oriented life) in order to actually enjoy this wonderful gift of waking up. In order to enjoy our contributions.
I’m thinking of the pauses we could interject to breathe, gaze out the window, read a poem, scribble in our journal, close our eyes. A mindful walk through the day where we aren’t running to catch up but rather walking and noticing the beauty of the sights and sounds. Being present to what unfolds.
Your important work will still get done.
The longer we are bound to our desk chair the harder it is to pause. To take three breaths. To stand and stretch our legs. Little breaks can help us to accomplish our important tasks without breaking our backs or our psyche. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction has a good definition of overwhelm: he defines overwhelm as “life is unfolding at a pace that I find unmanageable in my psyche and in my nervous system.” If that is the case we can do something about it.
Life is a banquet with so much to choose from. We can’t have it all without serious indigestion. I want to savour a few things this year that I love by saying no to other things that I would also like. It’s all about limited time. I’m not good at any of this but I want to experiment.
To Be Present
I know my heart is wanting simplicity and meaning, and restfulness is part of this. Poet and philosopher David Whyte claims that we aren’t meant to work 8 or 9 hours a day through will. For instance, it takes no will at all for me to prepare and present my Friday webinars at Wellspring Calgary because I love doing them. I am preparing a conversation and finding a poem and music to complement the topic. All things I love. Friday is my Wellspring day and it is topped off by spending an hour with wonderful people. I don’t take on competing purposes that day and I am rested and rejuvenated and filled with delight when the day is done. It allows me to be present.
When we can do something like this we can give the best of ourselves. And as Whyte also says we get a glimpse of what we have already been given.
In the spring when the sun is coming up early and the evenings are getting longer and the earth is coming back to life is time enough for considering some of my more audacious goals. I might take advantage of spring fever instead of demanding constant service from my willpower. Will power is important but we demand a lot from it and I want to modify my thinking a bit – give it a break.
So, my wonderful readers, each day is a new day. We don’t need a new year to make any changes we are curious about and I have no idea what is best for you. The truth is, YOU are the expert on you.
As for me, this new year, I am aiming for a few more contemplative and meaningful moments without rushing. Restfulness. I am curious about the possibilities.
1:) Once again we are in difficult times. Like the others, it will pass, but not without angst and suffering for many. Please, take heart! May you stay safe, yet, not isolated. We all know ways to do this now.
2:) “There may be a good reason to move quickly. there is never a good reason to rush…what happens if you soften and slow, just a little bit? Feel how that changes your experience. Your sense of yourself. Your capacity for ease in the moment.” Martin Aylward, “The Art of Slowing down.”
3:) I am honoured and delighted to start off 2022 here with you. Please accept my best wishes and my thanks for your generous and encouraging words and know I so appreciate them. A thought – if you have a favourite poem or two you would like to share, you are more than welcome to send me a copy. Warmly, Trudy
PS the photos: Both from Gottfried’s library. The banner was taken in Yellowknife in January 2003 (I think) and the second one from Gabriola Island looking across the coast Salish Sea in the general direction of Vancouver.
Hi Trudy. I love Wednesdays. First Forest Bathing and then time with you. How can it get any better?
Again, your thoughtful posts resonate and help. Today I stepped out of reality and slept almost the whole day. When I awoke, I showered. I then sat down and really reflected on simplifying my life even more.
I must learn to let go of things I cannot control. I must learn to find joy in the things I love, slow down and read more poetry!! And for the first time in a long time, I will consider ways to put myself first on a daily basis – those 5 – 15 minute breaks sound like a good plan. Thank you again. love
Thanks Pat for your thoughtful note. Good for you to cultivate a few breaks in the day may you continue. Poetry- nature- restful breaks. Sounds like a good prescription.
Rest notes. . I love the sound of that. As though, through the music unrolling throughout the day, there is the pause that makes the music even sweeter. Bless you, Trudy, for bringing this gift to me.
I am so happy that you welcomed the gift, Karen. We help each other along. “You there. Me here. Zigzagging along.”
Thank you ,Trudy
And thanks to you dear Kathryn. Best wishes.
What a wonderful message to read and embrace as Kenny and I embark on new beginnings once again. As we are settling in our new home and surroundings and navigating the continue changes within a pandemic your words have me take a deep breath and surrender to the restfulness intention. Thank you. Hope you and loved ones are well 💕
Hello dear Teresia. How generous of you to send these kind words. I can picture you and Kenny in your new westcoast home. May you have many wonderful and restful moments in this new chapter. Tell that sweet boy we miss him. Thank you for continuing to read my blog Teresia.
Thank you very much for all your insight. I’ve especially enjoyed the poems. I send your message to my friends and they love it too. Always makes me feel better and more at ease.
I received a poem by Stuart Kestenbaum called holding the light and it is very good. I don’t know how to attach the poem to this post. Hope you can find it.
Thank you Bonnie. How lovely to hear from you and I’m glad you and your friends are enjoying this space. I looked up the poem and it is perfect. You are bound to see it here one day.with appreciation, Trudy
So many pearls of wisdom here, and always, but I especially love the photos. I thought I was the only one filling my camera with snow pictures 🙂 What beauty you have captured!
Thank you for the words of praise for snow photos. I love them too and they were beautifully captured by Opa. My skills are no match for the snow.Thanks Emma.
In my enforced, post-covid resting, I notice how my mind still tries to push me, but I feel a deeper commitment to slowing down which I hope to carry with me through this year. May the coming days and months be easeful for you Trudy. love Jan
Thank you Janice. I note your word of caution and will attempt to recognize the subtle pressure to turn restfulness into a project. Yikes. Slowly slowly.
As usual Trudy, spot on.I have been having heart to heart talks with myself about allowing time. introduced the word…….Moodling to my daughter and grandaughter so we are all trying to moodle more. my wishes for good health and just a little pure joy each day, dear friend.
Happy Moodling Jean and family. Enjoy every second. Thanks for your warm wishes and lots coming your way too. Trudy
Hi Trudy, Just want to share a poem that I heard today:
“Winter Grace” by Patricia Fargnoli
If you have seen the snow
under the lamppost
piled up like a white beaver hat on the
or somewhere slowly falling
into the brook
to be swallowed by water,
then you have seen beauty
and know it for its transience.
And if you have gone out in the snow
for only the pleasure
of walking barely protected
from the galaxies,
the flakes settling on your parka
like the dust from just-born stars,
the cold waking you
as if from long sleeping,
then you can understand
how, more often than not,
truth is found in silence,
how the natural world comes to you
if you go out to meet it,
its icy ditches filled with dead weeds,
its vacant birdhouses, and dens
full of the sleeping.
But this is the slowed-down season
held fast by darkness
and if no one comes to keep you
then keep watch over your own solitude.
In that stillness, you will learn
with your whole body
the significance of cold
and the night,
which is otherwise always eluding you.
Oh my goodness Flora, what a beautiful poem. Thanks for the gift of a new poem and poet. I love it. A deep bow to you.
Oh Trudy … what beautiful words to bring in this new year. I particularly loved the stanza from Marge Piercy, and the accompanying words from your friend about the beautiful First Nations ritual people, of throwing water over their backs seven times to wash away any habits or thoughts no longer beneficial for growth, to start the year anew. Words and practise that could inform every day, I think! I also loved the poem that Flora kindly shared. Thanks Trudy, thanks Flora and all … feeling blessed by your words.
Thank you dear Patty for your kind words. We are truly blessed with the amazing poets in our midst. They have sustained and inspired me throughout my lifetime. Enjoy these days. Big hugs from afar.