At the bend, where the river curves and carves its way through the vestiges of winter’s ice, in that place where two benches wait to beckon visitors to come and sit awhile, two ducks waddle across the snow-covered ground honking for no reason but that they can. Above them, a squirrel chatters in a tree, leaping from limb to limb.
I stop to watch and listen. I stop to breathe and bear witness.
I needed to stop. To standstill. To breathe in the fresh cool air redolent of spring to come. I needed to stop and be present to all the life that was happening in that moment where the river flowed through the ice, the ducks waddled past and the squirrel flew through the air.
In these uncertain days of a virus hellbent on disrupting life as we know it, of lives shuttered in homes under fear’s relentless onslaught and incident counts climbing, I needed that moment of calm. That moment unburdened of anything but the beauty
of nature flowing by, the wonder of ducks walking past and the magic of a squirrel leaping.
I needed to stop. I needed to be reminded of life, and nature, and beauty.
I took a day off from the studio yesterday. And, while I did not create in that space, I baked bread and wrote the above piece about a photo I took on one of my walks with Beaumont. I spent half an hour watching the Live VideoCam at the Monterey Bay Aquarium (meditative and calming), I did some yoga. Checked in with family and friends via phone and Facetime and watched Coldplay’s Chris Martin’s Instagram pop-up concert (delightful!)
I also started working on a weekly art challenge to share with everyone — Creative Daring (more to come on that one — it was my eldest daughter’s suggestion) and spent some time exploring the Musee D’Orsay via the internet as well as reading a novel.
It is all part of my commitment to add calmness and beauty to the world. To create spaces of serenity and ease. To be the change I want to see.
It doesn’t mean fear doesn’t lurk at the edges of calm, seeking a crack through which to slip in and play havoc with my peace of mind.
Doesn’t mean I am zen-like in my aplomb.
It does mean that I am consciously feeding my peace of mind what is healthy and calming. I am actively disengaging from the constant scouring of the news I was prone to lapse into before I ‘got conscious’.
Fear leads to panic. Naming my fears leads to knowing them, and knowledge is invaluable — not the knowledge that comes from feasting on news reports of the latest statistics and growing crises around the world — but the kind of knowledge that reminds me of my own power to create ripples of calm, joy, beauty all around me and within me.
So that’s one of the other things I did yesterday — I named my fears.
I wrote them out on a piece of paper.
Studied them. Acknowledged them.
Welcomed them in and let them know —
I see you. I hear you. I know you.
I appreciate that you believe that in your presence you are only trying to keep me safe. I get it.
Please hear me.
I’ve got this.
You can rest now.
My loving self is in charge. My peace of mind is rising up to embrace you and all of me in its caring, considerate, calming arms.
I am okay.
I felt better after I’d done it. Sure, some of my fears feel real, like they’re of substance.
Fact is, they are all based on the unknown. Based on ‘what if’s’ and ‘oh no’s’ that run rampant through my thoughts when I let my fears take the reins of where my mind wants to go when fear-driven.
Fact is, whatever happens, will happen. My job is to ensure I am doing all the right things, right now, to create love and harmony, peace and calm, and above all, well-being, in my world around me. This world where my beloved and I share our home, our lives, our love.
In this space, whatever happens next has a better chance of being something I choose, not something imposed on me.
Knowing I am doing whatever I can to create an oasis of calm (and good health) in my life and our home, gives me great peace of mind, and strengthens my capacity to weather all kinds of weather.
What are you doing to take care of you? What are your tips for creating an oasis of calm in your world today?