Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Whenever I cannot write

The call of the geese gets me all the time.

Whenever I cannot write... I rearrange things. I clean, I sort and somehow things get sorted in my mind. This is wonderful, because I can trust it works. While I clean this and sort out that, I listen to music or the birds, chat with friends via texts or simply marvel at the things I love: Books mainly and some old knick knack I always pick up here and there and sometimes I find artists who's work I'd love to support big time but my budget lets me only get tiny things. But tiny things can be big too, right?

Black Hibiscus candle and scarf from here and gold filled bowl from Christina Salusti, Woodstock,VT.

Thankfully my budget is small, otherwise our small house with small rooms would be even more overrun with.... things. Nice things, but nevertheless a lot. Every year at least once I promise myself to reduce. I do re-use though. A lot. Instead of buying new things I often buy used ones. Old silver, vintage cutlery, found pieces of furniture. Its clearly a passion and I also have promised often enough to open an ETSY shop to bring the things, which are hopelessly stored back into circulation. It hasn't happen yet. I somehow cannot part with things. But even I can see, I should. So shall I go head and do this?

Another of Salusti's beautiful bowls.

Whenever I cannot write.... I think about things, problems, issues, my family, my writing. Sentences pop into my head and then I run to my notebook or phone and write things down. Cleaning calms me. Others might choose meditation, but I clear my mind while I contemplate which bowl goes well with what candle holder and where I should put this wonderful sideboard, which has spent too many years of exile at the veranda. I stand and watch the sun move over from the dining room into the music room, where a golden afternoon light plays with the wooden blinds and beckons me to sit and tickle the keys of the piano. I often succumb to its calling.

Summer and fall arrangements

Whenever I cannot write... I let it go. I have learned over the last years that writing cannot be forced. Regret is a sorrowful master and I have dismissed it early in my (still short) writing career. I know I will pick up after a dry spell and that gives me great comfort. I know there are times I will not be able to sit down to write. Mostly during holidays, just like recently over the Christmas break in Vermont, when I had been happily occupied with my family, but too distracted through outings and other entertainments.
Dutifully I had brought my computer, but never opened it to write. I remember a few years back, being fretful, nervous about interrupting the flow, but somehow I've learned that these sometimes unwelcome pauses have hidden benefits. They lend themselves to contemplation and some distance gives me a new prospective. Now, when I am stuck with a particular problem I give myself a time out. I cook, bake, clean, rearrange. I tinker around.

Today's  work:  January collection in the morning.

And at night.

Today, a few days into the new year, I took down most of the Christmas decorations, although the tree is still up. Some candle holders and decorations needed mending, careful packing and as with every season or holiday I feel it passes faster and faster, Wasn't it only yesterday that I dug up the boxes from the basement? Back it goes.

Window sill in the music room with some fine editions of Penguin Classics.
Tree in a bed of acorns and fragrant star anise.

Winter light is bright and clear and every January I love to have the light come in and play. I love glass in winter. Sunlight, china, crystal, brass and silver, a white table cloth. I love candle light and it warms the brilliant light and bends the cold into something I like. It is as if the light cleanses everything, cleanses my mind too.

I love the clean, fresh look.
The day has passed and finally I sit down, a fire warming my toes, while the chilly air presses against the windows. A hot tea near my chair, my laptop at the ready. And now I just let it flow, let the day pass by and share my thoughts with you for what's it worth. Being creative is a bit like shape shifting. It applies itself to all ways of life and that is such a wonderful thing. Whether I make salad dressing or shop for dinner or sort the laundry, whether I think about any problem or rearrange my collection on my windowsill, I know my creative energy is with me like an invisible cloak. I am deeply grateful for life has given me such a gift. 

Most of these things have been everywhere in our house.

There are times when I feel the cloak has gotten caught somewhere and then I need to be still and rest. Particularly anger and creativity are on the opposite end of the spectrum for me. There are people who can funnel their irritations into creativity but that's not how it works for me. When I am in a temper, when I am too distracted to write,  I clean. My house is not overly tidy and I take it as a good sign. After all, I have other things to do....

A preliminary home for Chip's artwork.

An art print from a painting by Chip Evans, whom we met in Woodstock, VT a few days ago. 

I try to work on reducing stress. It's one of the very few New Year's resolutions. I hate them for I feel they are forcefully tied to a rather random date. (Sure, I do get the symbolic power of a new year.) But I prefer resolutions when I have a need for them. I get overwhelmed quickly and then all systems shut down. Not so good and too disturbing.

Tea at night.

But thankfully cleaning and sorting are great problem diluters and after a good day's work I usually can sit down and write. I take a deep breath or two, look with some satisfaction at the new arrangements and feel content.

Wishing you all good ways to resolve issues and if you like, try organizing your cupboards when you feel you are stuck. It's very invigorating and renewing. Here is to a fresh New Year, where problems shall melt away with the power of contemplating while cleaning...


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