“New Moon” (c) Cat Charissage, 2018, a.r.r., marker and acrylic on paper
(inspired by artwork by Carolyn Scrace)
On my mind and heart these days, in the busiest time of the year for me, is how deeply important it is to still sit in the darkness just before the new moon. My Story Circles are starting, and the first meetings of the year need extra planning to set the right tone and environment. As well, I’m attending a retreat for Spiritual Directors in Calgary next weekend, and preparing for two trainings with Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes in Colorado in the last half of October. The only way I can manage any of these activities is through good planning, thoughtful pacing, and a healthy enough immune system! And still there are many very good activities I’ve said no to. One form of abundance is having many options, and abundance is always wonderful —- it’s also frustrating, because all of us have limits, some of us more than others, and it’s impossible to take advantage of all the good things that are offered.
For many of us, September is the new year — going back to school, getting the kids to school, making sure family calendars are up to date with new activities. Oftentimes the only way to have downtime, meditative time, recovery time is to plan it in our calendars and writing it in permanent ink! So I do, and invite you all to plan some unplanned time, too.
The photo is the cover of my new journal for the month. For the last year or so, I’ve been starting a new journal each new moon along with setting an intention for the month and bringing it into form through artwork. Cycling along with the moon helps me notice the earth’s natural rhythms a little more. I’m also interested in discovering whether my own rhythms resonate with the new beginning of the new moon, increase up to the zenith of the full moon, and fall back as the moon is “eaten away again”. So far, I can’t tell whether my natural rhythms echo that of the moon. Yet thinking in terms of a lunar month has proved to be a good and healthy way to do some planning, some tracking, and some of the personal projects that so often otherwise get forgotten in the overwhelm of daily life. Thinking in cycles rather than galloping along in linear time (the soundtrack in my head is playing the “Da-da-dum, da-da-dum, da-da-dum-dum-dum!” of the Lone Ranger theme, Rossini’s “William Tell Overture”) is more like relaxed breathing than the holding of your breath as you’re concentrating deeply on accomplishing something. Life-giving rather than risking passing out! It’s not surprising that many forms of meditation focus on the rhythm of the breath.
Another note on my journal-keeping: besides meditation/silence, it’s my most important depth-dimension (i.e., spiritual) practice. I craft my own journals from watercolor paper that I’ve pre-painted backgrounds on while listening to the silence or talking and painting with friends, and I paste into the pages my to-do and ta-da! lists, notes from family and friends, and copies of newsy emails I receive or send out. Dear spouse calls it my extreme mindfulness sport — but it really helps me appreciate my life, all that I do, and is a loved container for new ideas and art experiments. Oftentimes our journals are used only to dump our negative emotions into, so for me, including just about EVERYTHING in my life reflects back to me the full richness of life. It also helps me track when things fall apart, and whether the overwhelm has to do with taking on too much to do or with conditions entirely out of my control. It’s also interesting to note the days, months, or even years when I haven’t collected my life’s ephemera and reflections.
I’ve been keeping journals of one kind or another for more than 45 years. It’s wonderful —- except when it’s time to move and I have 10 extra banker’s boxes full of them! Do you keep a journal? Has how you’ve done it changed over the years? How do you store them and deal with privacy issues? I’d love to “talk journals” and hear what’s worked for you.
So breathe, live intentionally, and dare to be as happy as you can!
Much love and many blessings,