It’s winter here in Philadelphia, on the east coast of the United States of America. It’s not time to plant seeds for new growth. It’s not time to tend my budding garden. It’s not time to harvest what’s grown, celebrate the bounty, or set up my stores for the winter. It’s time to hibernate.
Recently I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that I think it’s garden planning season right now and that I’ve been contemplating what seeds of intention I want to sow this year. What plants of experience do I actually want to grow in my life? What do I want to harvest from my efforts living here on earth this coming year?
Thinking about the seasons in relation to my unfolding life path has been helpful for me as I notice surfacing urges — some exciting and some fear-based — to act on every idea for my future right this very moment.
Swirling and urgent thoughts: Where are new avenues of income going to appear? What new ways can I be of service to other people? How and when am I going to make new art? What will be the structure of my new book? Who is going to publish that book? Will I teach online or in person classes and if so, what will they be called and what will my curriculum be and who will show up to learn as I teach?
Fear, fear, fear, excitement, excitement, excitement, figure it out, figure it out, figure it out — mounting springtime energy.
When I can reel it in and remember that it’s still February, I know that all I’m actually called to do right now is deep but simple preparation. At the very top of my list, I want whatever is planted in my life this spring to grow in healthy, nourished, clean, rich soil — I want the foundation of my life to be able to sustain the intentional endeavors I pursue this coming year.
Getting clear about my core desired feelings so that I set goals with soul is high on my hibernation agenda. Committing to a daily meditation practice is really working for me too. Third, leaning into one of my favorite prayers from A Course In Miracles gives me direction as I turn the unfolding of each day over to my inner guide: Where would you have me go? What would you have me do? What would you have me say? And to whom?
I love the metaphor that my life is a healthy garden and the opportunity to allow the seasons to guide the flow of work and relationships in my world as the year turns. I also love the metaphor that my home space reflects my internal state and the popular concept that a body is a temple in which a soul dwells. Just as I’m preparing a healthy garden bed (my life) to plant seeds (work, art, relationships) in this spring, I’ve been cleaning house — literally and metaphorically.
It has been so cool to see that as I’ve been doing internal work over the past little chapter of my life — considering forgiveness, changing how I treat my body, adjusting how I show up as a friend, family member, and work team-mate — things are physically shifting in my apartment. All of a sudden I’ve been able to let go of objects that I’ve been holding on to for 15+ years.
One example is an obsessively organized plastic bead collection I’ve had forever. Stored in an open-backed container with small drawers that was meant to be wall-mounted (and wasn’t), the beads could spill out of the back of the container if knocked over, which they did, four apartments ago. I’ve been carrying around this collection of anxiety from apartment to apartment to apartment worrying that I would spill them again, always thinking that, “one day they will be useful.”
And you know what? All of a sudden the other day after some serious truth-spilling about a habit I’m ready to let go of that is no longer serving me, I came home and was completely ready to let go of the beads. It was so easy. I just dumped them into a plastic bag, put it in my give away pile, and donated them to Philly Aids Thrift the next day. Just like that.
And I say “just like that” and “all of a sudden” but that’s not accurate. This experience of letting go — of both the painful behavior and the precarious plastic bead collection — did not occur overnight. The actual unfolding has been brewing for a long time and is the accumulation of countless small shifts in perception that have built on one another to bring me to these moments of relief.
In my experience, books fall off the shelf, teachers come into my life, and companions on the path show up in divine time — especially when I make space for my future to show up. Recently, I was really feeling in the flow of turning from one small right action to the next and I was guided to read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
Marie reports that most magazines and decluttering experts will tell you to do a little at a time, otherwise you’ll rebound into untidiness again. In opposition, her famous and effective methodology — the KonMari technique — calls for an utter and complete inventory of all belongings over a brief (no more than 6 month) time period in a very specific order (clothes, books, miscellany, sentimental). She guides her students to hold each item in their hands and ask, “Does this elicit a spark of joy within me?” If not, the object is discarded. Only after all un-sparking objects are let go does the second stage of putting things away begin.
Marie says that the only way to have lasting change in your homespace is to do it — thoroughly — all at once. I am gearing up to do that in my apartment and I see that happening in my spiritual, emotional, interpersonal, and work life as well. A major key in the KonMari technique is knowing why one wants a tidy space.
I desire a tidy home because I want an inspired nest in which I can create art. I want to cultivate a sanctuary to explore my own healing. I’d like to feel confident that my apartment is a welcoming place for people I love who come visit.
I desire a clear internal landscape because I want to get out of my own way in order to be a more reliable friend and family member. I want my body and mind to feel fit, worthy, and showered with self-compassion so that I’m not seeking approval and sustenance from outside sources.
I desire a healthy metaphorical garden plot because I’m ready to enter a new season in my work assignments, relationships, and on my spiritual path. I want what’s planted in my life to have a shot at deep roots and sustained growth, and that kind of magic will come forth for me from a well-loved foundation.