Recovering Simplicity: The Art of Enough
Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
-Leonardo Da Vinci
The holidays are upon us. Between the unseasonably warm weather and the loud, distracting force of our recent election, I haven’t thought much of it yet. Sure, Kroger and Home Depot immediately threw up Christmas decorations the Tuesday after Halloween and quicker than you can say, “turkey and dressing” and honestly, I’ve come to accept that over the years. What’s tricky is when I still work up a sweat mid-November while rummaging around the car to find my favorite lip balm that went missing somewhere back in September. My body and brain register pure confusion in this suspended time frame hovering right between summer and fall. I call it “fummer”… (“sall” works, too).
For many, myself included, the holidays can be a real bear. I notice a heavier client load in my practice seeking out extra support and space to prepare for extended (often distressing) family time, along with the unrealistic and unwarranted expectations we put on ourselves. There are also those who battle intense and palpable loneliness as family time and connection in general isn’t even an option.
I tend to have this extra special need to seek out more grounding than usual and constantly remind myself of what is truly important during this buzzy, disjointed time. That or else I find myself glued to emotional porn of the season’s finest Rom Coms (The Holiday, Love Actually, what have you), with one too many glasses of wine and a shiny headache the next morning to prove it. Over the years, a welcomed shift from numb consumerism to creativity, simply making things, has happened. As a result, I’ve noticed the hazy fog of some of my own deep loneliness has lifted.
In last week’s blog post, we talked about the slippery slope of scarcity mindset. You know the one: it whispers insidiously sexy sweet ( literal) nothings to us in the name of certainty and staying stuck precisely in the seat of disconnection we’ve gotten cozy in. I call it “rear view mirror“ living— we have one eye on the road ahead and one eye glued to the dusty view of our past. Besides developing some bizarre version of strabismus (the medical term for crossed eyes—thank’s Google), we are at best a divided passenger in our own life while some ridiculous imposter drives us around all day in the driver seat.
I can’t insist enough: we must ruthlessly interrogate those dangerous, infiltrating voices of scarcity like we’re Jack Bauer thwarting a terrorist attack in season three of 24. Not your style? Ok, well then at least firmly defend yourself! Identity is on the line here and the holidays can be a war zone.
One of my life long scarcity dialogs has been: “you are unworthy of the creative journey and will never be taken seriously as a writer and creative.” For some reason, I grew up thinking you had to be handed a golden permission slip by Willy Wonka himself in order to pass go and gain entrance into the umpa lumpa inhabited twizzler- bursting land of creativity. I had no such permission slip. As a result, I skated through most of my early life avoiding that magical existence all together while settling for life as a control freak/consumer.
Bliss and Calling
I tried to control everything and everyone around me, ignoring all the resources and possibilities bubbling up under the surface while lushly consuming and cheering on the harvests of other’s efforts whether they be music, ideas, achievements, fun, art, stuff, travel, you name it. I was living on the sidelines, cheering on the players in the game. Eventually, I woke up one scared, vacant little puppy seriously underestimating all that patiently subsided somewhere deep inside. The diamond of truth I came to treasure through all of this is that there is a vast difference between our calling and our bliss. My consumeristic bliss wasn’t satisfying my heart’s longings and the resistance of my calling felt too big and scary to embrace.
I’m a bonafide late bloomer. For years this felt extremely self conscious; now I think its pretty cool. I got real tired of dishonesty: the pursuit of people pleasing and placing so much weight on everyone else’s vision for my life. Finally I started digging deeper into those dormant soul-longings I mentioned earlier and it’s been healing and scary as hell to say the least. Writing is hands down the most powerful and healing agent for change along my search for worthiness and presence. This first took shape in the form of songwriting and has morphed into a different versions throughout the last decade. The physical act of writing, making something out of nothing, proves powerfully life-giving as it bumps me out of my constant state of analysis and consumption and into a new role of creator.
We are made to make things, all of us. I hear it time and time again and it gets my goat every time, this notion that , “Oh I’m not a creative person…I didn’t get that gene.” Hog wash. We are all creatives. Want proof? Of course you do. I am re-reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s latest, Big Magic(game changer). She speaks to this point, drawing a hard line in the sand:
“Look at your ancestors. Look at the ones who were immigrants, or slaves, or soldiers, or farmers, or sailors, or the original people who watched the ships arrive with the strangers onboard. Go back far enough and you will find people who were not consumers, people who were not sitting around passively waiting for stuff to happen to them. You will find people who spent their lives making things. This is where you come from.”
She goes on to say that for most of history, people inherently just made stuff, yet the difference was they didn’t make such a big deal of it…it’s just what they did. We put impossible expectations and parameters around our creativity. We think it has to look a certain way, all wrapped up with a bow, or a record deal, or a website or, God forbid, a job title.
There is a distinct reason I bring this up on the heels of the “most wonderful time of the year”. I heartily subscribe to this idea that healing power flows when we let go of the things we don’t have control over (i.e. how Aunt Lois will react to the new sleeve of tattoos you’re rocking these days) and focusing energy on that which we do have control over (i.e. the story we make up in our heads about her passive aggressive comments all week).
This season, I’d like to start a bit of a Holiday Stress Revolt by proactively choosing something different— and talking about it along the way. It’s an art form that lends this soft, insanely gorgeous glow to our uniqueness rather than literally, buying into rat race around us. Here it is: we must create and cultivate simplicity, a quiet safe place where we dial down the expectations, stop comparing ourselves to others, remember what’s important, give voice to our desires, and create the moments we will cherish without harsh judgement. It’s beckoning the wisdom, creativity, and resourcefulness of our ancestors who were makers, NOT passive consumers. It’s tapping deeper into calling as opposed to gorging on the pumpkin pie of our bliss, and in doing so, unlocking a lion share of peace and contentment…even stillness.
Throughout the next several weeks, I am going to be amping up this conversation a bit both on the blog and social media fronts. If there is one thing I need in this life, it’s constant reminders of truth, especially during stressful seasons. Reminders that I am worthy of love and connection and that I’m not alone. If you’re like me, I invite you to come along on this month-or-so long journey. I would really enjoy your company and I think it’ll be good fun. We have some incredible guest bloggers lined up as well. I can’t wait to share them with you.
As we near the home stretch of 2016, I am inspired to refocus in on those beautiful, life-giving desires that burned brightly in my heart back in January. I want to honor them, listening closely to the litter of ideas they birthed along the way. Let’s finish strong my friends; we are all in this thing together.