Mindful walks lift my spirits. Sharing what I learned from 9 hours of meditation in three days.
When I find myself sitting on the ground beside a tree, I know belonging.
"There are so many ways to reconnect with the sacred within creation, to listen within and include the Earth in our spiritual practice and daily life." ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth
It is my hope with Waterwoman Knits that I can provide a link between my two hands' creations to nature and funnel anything earned back toward healing Earth, toward planting trees. I have been reassured by TreeSisters that their planting projects continue even in this pandemic, because thankfully no one has become ill. I do not know how my vision will come to fruition, as thus far I have raised $2.10 from sale of my 3 hat patterns towards this effort.
While working toward my next pattern, I will continue to broadcast little videos from precious Earth as solace in these challenging times. I wish I could feed all those people in food lines. I wish I could house all the homeless. But instead, I find myself applying for unemployment as soon as April 18 arrives for freelancers in my state and searching remote work lists. I found this message of hope from Jane Goodall to be balm for the soul, and am sharing here in case you find it so as well.
Last week I was feeling 100% peace by applying my own resilience in coming through past trauma to today's circumstances. This week, I am feeling mostly foggy confusion, vague indirection, scattered.
In this moment with my biggest shift being unpredictable work and loss of income, I am turning to the inner work of becoming comfortable with "being seen." It's thrown me for a bit of a loop. My paid work is completely behind the scenes and invisible, and with the exception of volunteer work and two years (the past trauma years) in my adult life, I have not had an in-person interview for a job or worked with people in a team directly. Through two years of college and a year of grad school, I took service jobs where I would be invisible, delivering mail to an entire campus and doing interlibrary loan couriering, walking to 25 different libraries and physically making photocopies before library content was on Google. I loved getting information to people and being invisible. I think at one point before my 30s, I actually started to believe in the fantasy I was invisible.
Not new information that folks who want to reach people with creative work need to be comfortable with being seen. I am forcing myself to record little bits of me talking in my halting way on camera, to overcome and get past the, "Oh my gosh this is horrible," feeling where my brain freezes up. For now I'm forcing myself to do no retakes. I hope my voice will become more fluid and stronger in future clips. It is my intention to have greater theme focus, but for now, I'm just doing what I can when I can, around a completely unpredictable workflow.
Wonderful resource on growing our resilience.
And in case any of you love poetry as much as I do, you may enjoy these Pandemic Poems from Kim Stafford, Oregon's Poet Laureate and teacher from my former college. Against the backdrop of the confusion storm, it has been amazing and encouraging to witness the incredible spontaneous creativity bursting out of the seams from many places in society, in countless forms.
Slideshow of soaking in people-free nature during 3rd week of "shelter in place."
Will try horizontal filming next time and sharing one exercise each week on our interconnection with nature.
More Senses to Consider
Interesting to consider how much more capacity humans may have than our education may tell us. I found a sheet I drew up from coursework in ecopsychology describing more than 5 senses, as identified by Aristotle. Food for thought how complex our sensory connections really are. This is only some of several pages of them grouped by Project Nature Connect into four categories:
Color and Design
Here is an exercise to try to tap into your personal color sense. Make a list of colors out of a crayon/pencil box and make two columns. Felt sense (what the color makes you feel in connection to the natural world) and rational sense (what you've been told these colors represent) and see where if any differences exist.
After decades of intermittent depression/anxiety struggles and not feeling I fit into whatever grand experiment we're in, it all changed when I decided to stop listening to and experiencing inner pressures to be more social, date more, find a partner, be less isolated. After years of trying all of the above (I even remember one amusing workshop on finding soulmates where literally the best "success story" that was offered was, "She dated 100 people, and after the 99th, she had success, and you can too!"), I no longer wanted my energy to go there.
Instead I turned toward the solitude I gravitate to inherently and fully embraced it. The power I have felt from my start on this planet is that I never feel alone when I am alone. My earliest memories are observing nature, and my parents were patient enough to allow me a full hour to walk around a single block as a toddler, since I had to commune with every leaf and flower. In other words, I am by other people's/culture's metrics showing "isolating behavior," but I find incredible richness in connection with my inner world/imagination, the natural world around me which I find super nourishing, and increasingly spiritual exploration.
It dawned on me that even if I may concern others by my behavior, I can reassure them that I experience greatest peace and connection with all that is when alone. Kind of a hard thing to describe to those who may not experience this. In short, I feel I am expert in balancing health and needs in the circumstances most are currently living under. If you are wanting some advice on being an isolation warrior, just hit me up (not literally).
I am capable of switching on an outgoing aspect in order to serve/help others (my first spoken word was "hi!" and mini-me did not stop saying it to everyone who crossed my path), and am actually finding myself having a reverse trend from most in this "sheltering in place" time. In the past month, I've had more social interaction, participated in more networks, more meditation groups, more family conversations than I have in 15 years.
The fact I enjoy my solitude does not mean what is happening in communities large and small everywhere does not impact me. I feel it, honor the background grief and watch the waves of energy and fear rise and fall. But most of all, I have learned to be gentle with myself in times of great upheaval, because I have had good training. May you be gentle with yourself too.
Virtual Maker Circles 4/4 & 4/5
If you would like to connect as fellow isolation warriors, my offer remains to be present for as long as our quarantining lasts, each Saturday & Sunday @4:30 pm PST for Maker Circles, link on home page. Bring anything you're working on and maybe a cup of tea or coffee. Open to anyone. So far we've had a puzzle being made, weaving, cross-stitch, knit design, and crochet. I'm plotting out a pattern to knit my own face mask. Care to join me to help figure out the best shape?
Wool is surprisingly suitable for a face mask for these reasons*:
*Please know I understand enough about the mechanics of viruses to know a knitted mask is not recommended or protective against them. I find no masks available, and if I had one I'd give it to my sister on the frontlines (donate to Mask-Match, Masks for Humanity, DonatePPE, PPE Link). I thought I would attempt to make one for when I go into public spaces just because it's better than nothing to protect others from me. I am 100% healthy at this time thankfully, but we all know we can be silent carriers.
Yarn support arrived today from Canada! I am super grateful to be granted this luscious wool to work with for my next design, precisely when we all need a positive focus. I'll be posting little glimpses as I make the cowl, and look forward to releasing the pattern after tech editing. Amazingly, the yarn colorways match the new moon image I took while on a walk. I'm convinced synchronicities increase hundredfold with daily nature connection practice.
Please continue to take care of yourself. Making with our well-washed hands is a great gift to see us through these times.
Things are a bit shaky as I adjust to my work timing being unpredictable and my workload cut by 50%. But I count myself fortunate to have shelter, food, and two daily practices that are not stopped by shelter in place order where I live: Meditation and nature connection. I figure, as long as we're not all hugging the same tree, I will continue to enjoy the woods in my local parks. I even saw the light at the end of the tunnel the other day!
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of sharing time with a knitter and a cross-stitcher. Today no one showed, but that did not stop me from working on a project from last year. I would like to use this time to complete projects. If you can be there tomorrow, I'll be on Zoom @ 4:30pm PST! Would love to see what you're making. Again, message me on Instagram or email me at email@example.com, and I'll set you up with Zoom.
You will not believe the gift I received today - a dozen dancing eagles!
Join me at 4:30 pm PST Saturdays and/or 4:30 pm Sundays when I'll be hosting ongoing maker chat sessions on Zoom. Bring any fiber craft you are working on, your favorite warm drink, and an open heart. We will gather to share what we are making and be together from the comfort of our homes in these dramatically uncertain times.
Please DM me on Instagram or message me at firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up, so I can make sure you are good to go with Zoom and have a head count for that day. Looking forward to making something with you!
I want to reflect a bit on feelings and thoughts arising in me around a response to pandemic in general. Whether or not a flare-up of a community acquired virus is in your specific region like the state of emergency in my region, we all cannot escape information about coronavirus/COVID-19 everywhere over the past few months. Listening to front-line healthcare workers talk about preparing isolation rooms and protective equipment, powerful emotions arise in me. Not only have I experienced the scariness of pneumonia five times, but I have spent time in negative-pressure rooms, not allowed to leave for weeks on end, needing to ask for even a glass of water to be brought in to me while caring for my daughter during an illness.
My ability to knit inside that isolation room actually saw me through, gave me something to do, to feel a sense of focus and purpose and control over one little stitch at a time when everything was so shaky. (Reflecting now, I'm not sure why I was allowed to bring in my knitting in the first place, but I never left the room, and in our situation I was). And thus, my own trauma history arises.
Emotions over my past quickly move outwards, bringing to mind all the millions of lives impacted around the globe now. I cannot help but think of a massive shift taking place where we are all forced to consider what our personal habits' effects are on other people, and many levels of coordination are happening among different groups of community leaders that I've never seen happen in other ways. If I wash my hands and cover my cough, am I preventing another person from suffering? Many folks are understandably feeling fear of unknown, of uncertainty of how big this will get, how long it will last, how it will change our day to day in longer term. And just like any illness, a virus does not select us based on our political or spiritual belief.
Personally, I am feeling protected and profoundly grateful, when I consider I have been able to earn a living working from home for over a decade. I am also low income, so I don't have much to lose during economic shifts. But I do live in proximity to other people. And this got me thinking how we are in this moment being forced to consider other people and our interconnectedness all around the globe. In addition, one side effect of entire cities limiting human activity as usual is massively lowered dangerous climate emissions. And that brings to mind whether there may be ways we can pause some of our activities all the time without collapsing economies, needing to live as shut-ins, and still have lighter impact on the Earth.
Profound lessons can be learned from these times, acknowledging our common humanity, our vulnerability, and tremendous power we all have to shift our thoughts and behaviors and be there for one another in need, humankind's greatest basic instinct in times of crisis.
“We have disconnected from the sense of mystery, because we no longer understand the voices speaking to us from the surrounding world. Our scientific preoccupation and relentless commercial exploitation of the planet have left us with diminished sensitivity to the natural world in the deeper emotional, aesthetic, mythic, and mystical communication it is offering to us.” - Wendell Berry
Fir Hat - Free pattern through February.
Staying close to the wealth of nature and making with my hands bring me greatest joy and comfort. You can find me on Instagram as @waterwomanknits, and on Ravelry as Waterwoman-Knits.