Rest, play and work, from Martha Beck

This came along in an email newsletter from Martha Beck just at the right time.

Past experience has taught me that although we all have the same amount of time in one day of our lives, we can put a great deal of life in our days by re-establishing our natural rhythm. It's not about working harder, smarter or faster; it's about working in harmony. (Check out this month's telecourse below to get Terry and Susan's take on this issue)
The rhythm of our essential selves is like almost every other rhythm in nature. It has two phases which I call "rest" and "play." When you rest in harmony with your essential self, you feel as drowsy and contented as a cat in the sun. Right now, look back on a wonderful lazy day in your past. Maybe you were falling in love or you just finished a huge project. For some reason, you've given yourself permission to just goof off.
For the next ten minutes, give yourself that permission again. For me, it helps to pretend I'm in the company of "resting buddies." These are real people in my life with whom I've goofed off in the past. As I picture them, that energy of loving relaxation comes back easily. It can also help to be around an animal -- a horse, an iguana, or a dog -- who is just being.
As you stay connected with your essential self through rest, there will come a moment when something piques your interest. You will want to get up and investigate, or you'll be thrilled by the idea of exploring some area of your life - familiar or unfamiliar. (For me, this often takes the form of something I want to write.)

Hers is one of those newsletters I'm always happy to see in my inbox, and when I take the time to read it there is always a gem or two. Yes, sales pitches, too, but a girls gotta eat.

Here's what I did in my 10 minutes.

Stepped outside on the (windy) deck

Watched the wind play in the cedars

Thought about my blessings and made a gratitude list for the morning

Noticed the spring green and the blue sky

Filled up with the wild energy of the moving wind


Catching Up or Starting Fresh?

I find myself getting back into the blog after nearly a month away. Not even an intentional vacation from the page, rather a retreat from on-line life in favor of a packed August -- between exhibits, deadlines, workshops, and designing several new web-based projects, my calendar suffered a meltdown.

Perhaps more to the point, I've taken a vow to leave the computer in the studio -- or packed up in its tidy little briefcase -- during early morning and post "work hours," in the interest of sanity and domestic harmony. If this (blogging, et al) is important as part of my work, of my bigger picture of self in the studio, of the business of being the artist and teacher I want to be, then its worth doing as part of my work day. Frankly, the laptop was taking over my living room -- even the bedroom --  at all kinds of inappropriate hours. Inappropriate, because, well, live people deserve my undivided attention when I am in the same room with them. In order to step back from the brink, it seemed necessary to just shut it off for a bit, and decide how and when and what was most important to continue.

So we will see what that means. Exactly.

One issue, as I've come back online with the new month, was whether to try to catch up the record and my readers with all that's gone on -- two shows, three workshops, two trips, new art cloth projects and techniques, new classes planned and promoted. Yikes. No way. So we start fresh with today. With what's right now, as I sit here in the University Inn at Rutgers, a day early into town (New Brunswick, N.J.) for the Art Cloth Network meeting.

I have a visceral "new year" reaction to the first week after Labor Day, from 16 years of school calendars (back when schools still started after LD). The month has that new pencil, new notebook, new box of crayons feel and energy, so what better time to start on a virtual new slate. I've always considered myself lucky to have this second fresh start during one calendar year, don't you?

So here, besides the blog, are my fresh starts:

1. More time for just doing nothing. Letting quiet and peace make a space for what's new.

2. Saying "I'll think about it. Let me tell you tomorrow" before I automatically say "yes," to a request, no matter how important or  how much fun it intimates.

3. Take a yoga or NIA class weekly -- I need the class structure to move myself into fitness. The sweets of summer have gone to my waistline.

4. At least two "no drive days" each week. With planning, I can do that. Without planning I spend way too many hours in the car.

That's enough. See number 1. And number 2, even when I am the one doing the asking.