If you’ve been a reader of The Artist’s Nest for a while, you know what a proponent I am of morning rituals and particularly my morning walk for its seemingly magical “problem-solving properties.”
On a particular day last week, though, my walk wasn’t helping. Not at all. I kept passing gorgeous ombré leaf colors and feeling nothing but overwhelm and stress.
I’d been realizing for a while that I was attempting to take on too much — too many projects, too many groups — and my energy felt scattered, my focus thin. I’d temporarily forgotten about “less is more” — the intention I set quite a while back.
I was feeling especially pained about this ongoing question (which has actually become a kind of meditation for me): How can I show up and be of service in this world and also take good and loving care of myself? How can it be both/and? (Because I truly believe it can be — a topic for another post!)
And then, in the distance, a new direction caught my eye. I mean, a new direction I could walk in, an area of my neighborhood I don’t usually traverse because it’s “out of my way.”
I felt a little intuitive nudge: Walk that way. Go over there.
Nah, I said back to this subtle prompting. If I walk over there, it will take me twenty minutes longer to get home, and my day will get started twenty minutes later.
The nudge repeated: Walk that way.
So I did. (I’ve found it’s more fruitful in the long-term to follow these intuitive nudges without a lot of questioning.)
Walking in that less familiar direction, I passed an enormous maple tree next to a vet’s office. The leaves were these unbelievable fire-red and pumpkin-orange colors. I honestly had never noticed this tree before.
Rounding a corner further on, I came across a side street I was not familiar with, even though I’ve lived in this general area for many years. I strained to find a street sign but couldn’t. I walked down it, and something caught my eye on the other side of the street — a calico cat, crouched on an outdoor window will, soaking in sun.
I looked down at the sidewalk and realized my feet were surrounded by red-yellow leaves the color of honeycrisp apples.
Crossing the street, I passed a woman wheeling a baby in a stroller. She parked it in front of a giant inflatable spider crowded into someone’s tiny front yard. The baby let out squeals of delight and pointed. As I walked by, the baby turned and pointed at me, and let out another squeal of pure joy! (Me? Prompting joy in a baby? Or was this baby just so full-to-bursting of pure joy so that it bubbled over onto me?)
Around the next corner, I saw a long-haired black cat crossing the cobblestone street, rustling leaves under its swift feet. The cat disappeared into a bush. When I caught up to it, I saw it sitting in a concrete path along the side of a house, and a few yards beyond it, further back into the yard, another black cat, like its distant reflection.
I felt like these cats were a Halloween gift to me.
As I made my way home, my energy had shifted significantly.
My life still contained all the same circumstances, but my mind was no longer perceiving them as “problems.” There was a spaciousness around them — and around me.
I felt at once smaller and larger: connected to something greater than my own self and my own problems, and at the same time, way more capable of handling the issues in my life than I had been giving myself credit for.
What I took away from this particular walk:
• Intuitive nudges are there for a reason. But we often don’t know the reason until we follow them. They need to be trusted.
• Breaking out of my “regular walking routine” helped me view my life — and the world — with fresh eyes. And yes, this happened right in my own neighborhood. I didn’t need to travel far away to do it.
• There were unknown pleasures (Joy Division, anyone?) on this less-traveled path to which my intuition pointed.
• My intuition pointed me not toward a “solution”, but toward the present moment — which provided spaciousness, which pointed me to the solution. As soon as I got home, I realized I was clear on the two projects I want to focus on (the others can go “below deck” for now).
My intuition also connected me to two words, in regard to my challenges with balancing self-care and showing up in the world as it is right now: kindness and openness. Kindness toward my stumbling along imperfectly, and openness to how all this might look, for me and for others.
How might you bring the gifts of spaciousness and presence to your day today? How might we, together, bring these gifts into the world, and notice how powerfully they already exist in our world? I’d love to hear from you. (And, of course, Happy Halloween!)
A couple of announcements:
• My specially-priced Autumn Transition Coaching Sessions are available through November 22, 2017. You can find out more about these sessions here. You can sign up for my newsletter, to receive updates and reminders about my offerings, here.
• Writers: If you need support in starting or finishing your writing project (or if you’re somewhere in-between) my friend Jenna Avery is offering a free trial for her Called to Write Coaching Circle. I’ve been both a participant and a coach in this Circle, and have found it to be so supportive! You can find out more about the free trial, which starts November 6, here.
Above images © Jill Winski, 2016-2017