Embers of the Heart on a Cold, Wet Winter

Embers of the Heart on a Cold, Wet Winter

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in Stories | 0 comments

Tonight I felt a strong urge to write. I have no art news at this time, and the only deck news I have is that it is now available in several stores, something that will matter little to people from out of town. (But if it does matter to you, I can certainly use some help convincing some of the bigger stores to expand to more outlets, which buying from one of the major retailers here would certainly support. You can still get it online, if you so desire to acquire it.)

Even with scant deck news, I will write about what’s on my mind and heart of late. Maybe you can relate?

Winter is always an interesting time for me. I feel a deep sense of withdrawal, an urge to hibernate and ponder life. It seems to make sense in the overall energy of the season. Almost natural (as natural as being a digital, desk-bound producer can be). Yet, all around I feel the holiday pulse quickening, the call to stay busy and make, do, give, and perform. It’s the way it’s always been done.

The contrast can sometimes be disorienting. If we aren’t doing enough, or are doing too much, or aren’t giving enough, or have enough people around us, there’s this feeling that we are failures. We can never win in this scenario, we are always at war with ourselves. No wonder so many people get depressed at the holidays. And of course, it doesn’t help when you already feel lonely.

This year I’ve made a deliberate choice to withdraw from the usual rush. My deck has gotten into many stores, just as I believed it would. It would be a great year to get out there and do sales and festivals, as I have every year before. Frankly, I just don’t feel like it. I love selling my work, but I’m not in the mood to play salesperson. And I’ve decided that’s okay.

I’m putting the overall expectation meter on a low setting.

I didn’t come to this suddenly. This year is a bit different, because it comes on the heels of my marriage to the handsome and wonderfully kind Jefferson Lee. We had a small, close-knit, and low stress wedding at a restaurant in our studio building, with old friends and a few family members. Our vows were close to the heart and unrehearsed, as we shared our deep appreciation for each other and what we bring to each others’ lives.

After a couple of fun days post-wedding, in Portland with friends and family, visiting some of our favorite haunts—Powell’s, The TARDIS Room, Ground Kontrol—we headed out for our honeymoon to Hawaii.

Funny enough, the wedding had been a breeze, but work had completely sapped us in the weeks before. We each pulled 80 or more hour weeks a month, with very little time to plan or prep for our nuptials. It was a lucky thing we kept it simple.

When we got to Hawaii (a trip that we paid for mostly thanks to the kindness of family, friends, and strangers who contributed to our GoFundMe), it took us a good couple of days to really shut off.

It’s not something we’re great at. We both work very hard and care a lot about doing good work. Plus, with a thriving business and large client load, I often need to be available for clients and the drop of a hat. Totally disconnecting–moving the expectation meter to zero–was alien to us.

Somehow, we figured it out. Each day was driven by our desire to explore the island, or to rest, or to eat… Basically, what we desired, and only what we desired, when we desired it. We took in some beautiful vistas, treated ourselves to a bit of luxury from time to time, but mostly just took in the natural, warm, inviting world of Hawaii from little AirBnB cabins all over the Big Island.

I’ve been to Hawaii once before, for a best friend’s wedding. Whenever I return, I find I bring something back from the island… A general wish to “get down to what matters”. It can take me awhile to adjust back to my normal life, to find my momentum again. I welcome the pause.

This time was more extreme than the last, I think mostly because I was able to disconnect so thoroughly. (Funnily enough, even my phone broke at the end of the trip, as if to drive home the point that I really needed to chill out.)

I found myself looking at my work and life very differently. What do I care about most? Why do the things I do matter? And I will confess that I, Tarot lover extraordinaire, didn’t want to turn to the cards to help me out on this one. I felt this deep quiet in me that longed for time to bubble up with answers, instead of getting outside guidance, even from the cards. As the warm air from Hawaii in my bones soon chilled to the cool, winter air of Portland, the questions continued to steep.

I had kept myself so busy for so long that I was running on autopilot. I hadn’t paused in awhile to get quiet enough to align my actions with my deeper drives and desires.

I’m still adjusting. In a world full of supposed experts, wannabe gurus, and 10 easy tips living, I am trying to find my way as a creator and communicator again, probably for the hundredth time. Ultimately, I find everything in this moment boils down to the following question for me:

Is it coming from my heart? Or is it coming from my ego?

I can’t always answer this question. What feels all heart in one moment can slip and slide into ego the next.

I do have one clear answer to my post-Hawaii musings of “What really matters?” It’s not groundbreaking or new. Many people have had this thought before.

Basically, what matters, to me, in this moment, is acting from the heart.

In this chilled air and quiet, inner space, with my expectation meter set very low, this is the only truth that really pulses clearly for me right now. And, truth be told, my heart needs permission to have some time for mending. Not from outside hurts or unkindnesses, but from too much pushing and willing and efforting. What it longs for most, before it acts, is to sleep a bit more, to work a bit less, to remember its own embers again before being expected to blaze a fire.

This winter, I will allow myself to hibernate, to question, and to pulse with uncertainty. After all, uncertainty is an essential part of the creative process.

Winter is the perfect time for all of that. Instead of fighting it, and fighting myself, and getting depressed when expectations and life are at odds with one another, I’m gonna embrace the chill style.

Here’s hoping you get a chance to chill, too.