Practice, Noticing, and New Beginnings
Practice allows us to experience our own transformation; we come to it new each time, held and mirrored by the routine and repetition of our actions.
What do you plan to return to or continue?
Practice, Noticing and New Beginnings
I find winter to be a cozy and creative time. While I enjoy getting out for a walk in the cold, I also relish quiet time indoors. I read more, enjoy hot tea and cozy blankets, and tend the interior space of my home.
I welcome the first two weeks of January as a clean slate after the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. This year was a bit different; I found the uncertainty and transitions of the new year took me away from my hopes for renewed focus.
My goals for a fresh start and a return to routine felt stymied by snow fall, school delays, and the impact of the pandemic on my family members' school and work.
As much as these things disrupted my routine, they were also invitations to engage in practice in new ways. With the snowfall, I was drawn outside to witness the wonder of familiar woods under the cover of snow. The transformation continued hourly as more snow fell and the light shifted.
I began to reflect on how staying true to practice is in part about letting go of expectations and noticing what calls to us. After creating In the Company of a Tree: A Book of Days, I wondered about my daily tree visits. Did this product curating two years of photographs signify that this practice was over? How could I stay engaged when the photos I took were likely repeats of ones from the previous two years? How many photos of one tree's bare branches does a person really need?
On January 3, we received 11 inches of snow; it began just before dawn and continued into the afternoon. For the first time since completing the book, I felt re-energized by my visits and observations in the forest. The photo at the top of the page was taken just before sunset; there is a captivating sparkle to the snow in the evening light. I noticed a shift in my internal state, from one of doubt and uncertainty to wonder and gratitude. I was grateful for the routine of daily visits to this same spot to offer a focal point for seeing the trees and light transformed by snow. Below is a collection of photos taken over the course of the day.
Here, well past the middle of January, it feels a bit late to talk about new beginnings and a new year. My own experience makes me interested instead in what you hope to continue or return to? Today, this week, this month? What beauty or wonder has been calling to you? I’d love to hear how the routine and repetition of a practice you love has allowed you to experience your own transformation.
Practice Invitation - Winter Light
At the beginning of January, I read an article in The Guardian by Jeanette Winterson, “Why I Adore the Night.”
This quote and question stood out to me…
“Night and dark are good for us. As the nights lengthen, it's time to reopen the dreaming space. Have you ever spent an evening without electric light?”
I wake early and usually do my morning journaling with a bedside lamp with a bulb to mimic sunlight. Instead, I’ve been experimenting with leaving the electric lights off and noticing the natural light growing and entering the house.
It worked out that I chose to try this experiment as the snow began just before dawn on January 3. I found myself captivated by the silver gray sky and the darkness of bare tree branches around me. Rather than turn on the desk lamp by my bed, I moved to a chair by a window in the living room for my journaling. It was interesting to go through a quiet morning in softer light and the snow was an added bonus to my practice.
Further on, Winterson writes,
“I have noticed that when all the lights are on, people tend to talk about what they are doing – their outer lives. Sitting round in candlelight or firelight, people start to talk about how they are feeling – their inner lives. They speak subjectively, they argue less, there are longer pauses.”
I invite you to experiment with ways to experience the softer light of winter in the morning or evening. How is it different with the electric lights off? What do you notice about familiar spaces in your home without electric lights? How are your own reflections different or your interactions with family members? Perhaps try a drawing or photo of your experiment. I’d love to see.
One of my favorite things about winter is the display of colors in the morning and evening skies. My collages of winter skies with trees are 10% off in my etsy shop with code JAN10.
Thank you for reading and being a part of creative community through this newsletter.
With a grateful heart,