Stripped down

This morning when I stepped out early, the grass was crispy with frost. I could see the squirrel’s nest in the tree down the driveway. A single crow perched at the top of the dying tree that threatens our car. My eyes find squirrels in the trees, movement more than color or shape in the skeletons of the stripped down trees.

It’s a month of paring back. Simplifying. Stripping down.

Apparently I’ve stripped away words. While one of my friends tries to write a novel for NaNoWriMo and another blogs daily for NaBloPoMo, I’ve been absent here, writing less, not more.

It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I’ve finished an essay and, just this morning, an article. Both have been lingering in half-forgotten folders on my computer and dusty corners of my mind. But in the mornings when I’m up, I find myself just sitting. I crave stillness and quiet. I wrap my hands around a mug of ginger tea for warmth. I slowly breath in the steam rising from the cup. It is the closest I come to meditation.

I find myself standing outside feeling the sun on my back, watching the clouds scuttle across the sky or peering down at the bees crawling all over the pale pink mums with their yellowed centers, still working. Like the squirrels in the trees, it’s the motion first that catches my eye. And I watch.

There are leaves to get up, wood to move, flower pots to tuck away in the barn. There are stories to tell, words to get out, but right now, I’ve pared back. I get still. I watch. Getting quiet, noticing. This is my work too.

The words will come back, like the leaves, but right now is a time to find out how much there is to see when everything is stripped down.

The gift of space and stillness

My calendar is empty. I have no to do list.

I won’t be on a phone call with a group I meet with every other week or doing a training a client is offering.

I won’t be Christmas shopping or editing a chapter or paying bills.

And I won’t be online. Emails will wait. Facebook with chatter on without me.

On December 17, I’ll let the quiet settle around me. Settle within me.

Quiet and stillI’ll take care of my girls. I’ll be with my family. I’ll be kind to myself. I might walk or read or write a letter. I might work on the needle-felted turtle I’m making for my niece, not because I need to get it done, but because the process is soothing. I’ll see what I’m moved to do.

I leave this day open every year. In the middle of all the bustle and festivities and end of the year wrap up, I make space.

I make space to remember and  to sit with what ever emotions come. The emotions are hard, but that space, that quiet is beautiful.

You should try it.

Go ahead. Take a day. Let go of your “should do” list. Shut down the computer. Turn off your phone. Let things wait. Move slowly. Go outside. Soak up the sunshine no matter how weak or trace patterns in the stars. Breathe deep. Walk. Sit by the fire. Do what feels comfortable or comforting.

Let in quiet and stillness and peace.



Is silence golden?

Write with Me Wednesday writing prompt: Write about silenceSilence is early morning—rosy gold peeking through gray, snores and shifting bodies upstairs. Silence is no interruption to my thoughts or actions. If the coffee grows cold, it’s my own fault.

I love the silence of early morning that isn’t really silence. The furnace hums (more and more often these days), the coffee maker sputters and drips and hisses, and some days the birds outside are downright raucous.

Is it ever really silent?

The house grows quiet when the power goes off, all the underlying hum we don’t notice until it is gone stops.

A house goes silent, beyond quiet, when somebody has died. Even when the furnace and the coffee pot and the birds keep doing their thing, whether or not the power is on. A silence envelops you. Nothing really fills it. You can turn on music or a TV, talk to people, fill up the house, but still a silence lingers. Even when the person missing is a baby who slept a lot.

It is perhaps an absence of energy, not noise.

I had to learn to love quiet again after my son died, because for a long time I remembered that empty silence. These days, I settle into quiet again, even seek it out, because as much as I love the noise and life and exuberance, I need the quiet too.

Today, I woke to singing in the next room. With the time change they are up before me. I miss my morning quiet, when the silence is broken only by snores and shifting bodies upstairs, the sputter-hiss of the coffee maker and the hum of the heat turning on. We’ll settle into new rhythms, and I’ll sit comfortably in that silence again.

What about you? Do you love silence or are you always trying to fill it?

Usually for Write with Me Wednesday, I share a prompt related to whatever I’ve written.

This week, I was stuck. I was staring at the blank page, wanting to just dig back into my past writing rather than write something new, so I looked for a prompt myself, something to get me started. This one is from Old Friend from Far Away:

Tell me about silence.