being human,  breath,  learning

Learning to Be Gentle

I have felt so aggravated and unsettled lately, and it’s caused me to be a bit stern with myself. Why do you feel this way, Heather? Why are you making problems where none exists? Why can’t you just be happy? But this narrative is not helpful, and its time for a change.

We are having trees taken down in our meadow, an adjacent property we bought early last year with the intention of folding it into our farm business. We call it the meadow because it’s the most wide open space where we live; we’re covered in trees otherwise. But the meadow is the perfect place for a huge garden. It’s already open and the pine trees that are being cut will make it an even more open space to let the sunshine in.

The problem? It’s unsettled me (and has sorta pissed me off at myself) … the problem isn’t really a problem; it’s a man(mind)-made problem .. a first world, privileged problem (which is why it makes me so mad). Since we bought ‘the 19’ in 2014, it’s been one project after another. I love what we’ve done here. We literally started with zero infrastructure (no water, septic, electric, gas) and have since developed all of that, along with a beautiful sprawling homestead, with a garage, house, greenhouse, gardens; we even put in a pool last year.

Now we are developing the meadow as part of our farm business. There is almost five acres available for gardening as well as a walk-out foundation that we plan to turn into a greenhouse. It will be amazing once we’re done. The ‘problem’ is that these things don’t happen overnight and they tend to turn me inside out as we go through the necessary growing pains. I honestly didn’t understand all of my recent angst so I am happy to have discovered this morning that my mood at least has a reason behind it. Now, how do I work with it?

“In nature, nothing is perfect and everything is perfect. Trees can be contorted, bent in weird ways, and they’re still beautiful.”

Alice Walker

It occurred to me the I am in process as much as our property. I’m in the process of untethering from the work I’ve always done. Recently I started moving away from marketing into writing almost exclusively, and this current transition will take me further away from all of that as I begin to devote more time to the farm. I am very excited about the change, but it’s turned me sideways in not so pleasant ways. I recognize my need to be gentle, to ‘smile, breathe and go slowly.’ Why are some of the simplest things also the hardest?

What I realized (that I honestly already knew) is that thinking isn’t helpful, but writing is. Naming it is helpful. So is breath work. And embodiment. And dreaming about what comes next — sort of — that tends to kick me into the rush I’m prone to, as I anticipate what comes next. But knowing this change and transition has purpose is helpful, so I’m learning to be gentle, to honor the process, to be with what is.

My contemplative practice lately has centered around the fact that I am nature, as much as the natural world around me. Somewhere along the way I forgot this fact. Society has definitely forgotten. We’re so far removed from nature in our capitalist society, it takes work to claw our way back there. But I am working at it. As Lao Tzu says, “Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished.” Perhaps I should choose to live into the same.

(Photo by joyce huis on Unsplash)