Blog Archives

Wide Awake

I usually experience an opening or awakening in the springtime when my soul seems to wake up after a long troubled sleep. I see things clearly again. That didn’t happen this year. It started to. I felt a few moments of wide open clarity early on when I first saw the daffodils come up or on the first warm day, but I feel like I never really woke up. I’ve never had an awakening at this time of year, in the late fall or winter. This is usually when I feel my spirit darkening like tinted glass, when I close off and hunker down inside for a long period of deliberate unconsciousness where I try my best to ignore what’s going on around me.

Instead, I feel bright. Sure, I get tired and a little gloomy in the dark, early evenings sometimes, but most of the time I feel amazing. Something about these cold, clear days; the changing color palette; and watching the trees strip down to their essence is incredibly cleansing, as if the old ideas are becoming brittle and breaking away, leaving me sharp, clear, and wide open for the cold winds to whistle though. It’s like splash of cold water to the face to wake up in the morning.

I may feel differently in a few weeks, but right now I’m going to enjoy this. Maybe winter and I can be friends. Anything is possible.

New Small Painting-Time and Light

One of my favorite things about spring is the lengthening days. It’s interesting how I may feel like going to bed at 7 pm in the winter, but in the spring when it’s still light at 7, I feel like playing. Our sense of time changes right along with the light.

11X14 Acrylic on Canvas

This is now available in the small paintings section of the shop. It’s is acrylic on 11×14 stretched canvas, and the sides are painted to match the frame, so it’s ready to hang! It also features real clock hands! I love this piece so much, I’m planning to play with this idea some more and even create a large painting with this theme.

Available for purchase here, just $85.

Have a fabulous Monday!

Spiritual Spring Cleaning

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I made it through another one.

Winter and I have never been on very good terms, but it feels like the last several years have been much worse. Even though I see this as a valuable challenge in my life that will ultimately help me grow stronger, I still hate winter. I hate feeling like crap in the winter. When I think of winter, I also think of lots of swear words, but I won’t write them here.

Each spring feels like a lungful of fresh air after I feel like I’ve been half-smothered for the past few months. I can’t tell you how amazing I feel when I first smell that special springy smell for the first time each year. It feels like hope, a fresh start. I feel like laughing and crying and rolling around in the grass like a maniac though the grass is still brown and there’s usually still some snow on the ground at this point.

I’m not naive enough to think that it will be all sunshine from here on out. I live in Utah, which is known for schizo weather. We might get snow, rainstorms, a tornado, who knows. It’s spring though, and that’s good enough for me.

I tend to go numb in the winter, so when spring rolls around I find it helpful to take a fresh look at my life and take stock, sort of like surveying the damage after a flood.

  • I’ve slipped back into some habits that don’t serve me like stressing out over trifles, some emotional eating, and not eating enough veggies.
  • I’ve put on about 10 pounds this winter due to aforementioned emotional eating. I’m not upset or anything, but I don’t think my body likes it much. I know that it will fall right off when I get my head back in a good place. It always does. At least my pants aren’t too big anymore.
  • My creativity lagged a little for awhile, mostly around the time I went back to work full time, but I feel like things are flowing again.
  • I’ve had time to think long and hard about my goals and priorities and I feel like I’m on the right path. I’m learning to balance goals with living in the moment, which is a rough lesson for me. I’m better at living in the past or future rather than the present, but here is all we have. It’s a beautiful skill.
  • I’m experiencing some food sensitivities and blood sugar issues again, which is a reminder to let food fade into the background rather than relying on it as a prime source of excitement or strength in my life.
  • I get to start all over on what little tan I managed to get last year. A tan for me, by the way, means that I don’t blend into the white walls in my apartment. Time to get my pasty bod back out in the sun!

Though my tone is quite snarky and slightly dry today, I actually feel extremely hopeful right now. I’m noticing that people around me seem to be perking up too. People seem to smile more, they have more energy. Spring is good for us.

Spring cleaning is always something I’ve enjoyed because I love to clear out the old stuff and feel fresh. I haven’t really made plans for spring cleaning yet, but I’ll be sure to do that soon.

What I have been thinking about is a Spiritual Spring Cleaning, in which I clear out some old ideas, habits, and mindsets that don’t suit me anymore. I’ve been noticing a lot of those things cropping up lately, and now I feel ready to shed them so I can grown. I’ve already started spontaneously, before I even knew what to call it. I’ve been instinctively writing a ton in my journal, reading through passages in my books that never meant anything to me before, listening to things that inspire me, etc. It’s like I heard a little voice in my ear that said “McKella, it’s time for you to grow.”

Now I’m doing what I need to do to find those stale mindsets that keep me stuck, question them, and then let them go.

I think I should make this my new yearly ritual.

How about you? Do you do spring cleaning? Do you have any old junk to clear out for your Spiritual Spring Cleaning?

Signs of Spring

I visited my family this past weekend and while I was out gathering eggs from my dad’s chickens, I noticed that something in the air felt different. I recognized it.

Even though there was still snow on the ground and my ears were numb from the cold, I swear I could smell spring. Winter isn’t just about the cold or darkness, I always feel like something in the air is missing. Everything feels dead to me. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the air is definitely different in the spring and summer. I’ve felt it a few times over the last two weeks, and each time it fills me up with tingly, bubbly joy. I feel like laughing and crying at once. I feel like I’m getting something that I’ve been deprived of for a long time, something I didn’t realize I was starving for. I never notice when that magic in the air fades away, but I notice when it comes back.

I saw green things for the first time in months.

This is exactly how I feel in the spring.

Looking Forward with Hope

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Today is Groundhog Day. Today, millions of people in the Northern Hemisphere start thinking about spring if they haven’t been already.

I certainly don’t trust a rodent to predict the weather, but I’m certainly thinking about spring. It’s February. We’re well on the downhill. That means that next month is March. I’ll see daffodils next month. Even though the seasons seems to have been pushed back a month off schedule over the last few years, the days are getting longer and even though March will most likely be wintry, the flower beds will show signs of life. That special smell might even be in the air. You know the smell, that special excitement that you can’t really put your finger on. I’ve been able to trick myself into feeling that for a moment a few times this winter, when I’m high in my office at work and I can’t see the ground, only the blue sky.

I remember feeling that feeling, smelling that small for the first time after a particularly nasty winter when I was 19. I’d just moved out of my parents’ house and I was living alone. If I’d been thinking straight, I never would have done that in February. I was lonely, depressed, and stressed out about school and my upcoming wedding. There was so much snow that I couldn’t really walk around my new neighborhood because the plows had piled the snow up over the sidewalks.

Then one day in March, the sun came out. By that time, the mounds of snow on the sidewalk had melted quite a bit and I could actually walk in sneakers instead of snowboots. Mothers threw their antsy kids outside to play. Kids playing outside always sounds like summer to me. I walked outside for hours that day. I even walked to the grocery store and bought green peppers to make chicken fajitas for dinner. It was a day of hopeful joy to interrupt a winter of sliding all over icy roads and taking five classes a day in a building with no windows.

It won’t be long before that special electricity starts to spark in the air again. Six weeks, according to the rat. That isn’t long. We’ll still have snow, or at least rain for awhile. It’ll still be cold, but at least the light will come back, and the flowers will come up.

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We’re on the home stretch.

Beautiful Winter

If you’ve been reading Handprint Soul for more than a day or two, you know that I’m not the biggest fan of winter. In fact, this is the time of year when I usually begin my annual “daffodil mope,” where I feel dead and gray inside until the first daffodils pop up and fill me with hope.

I have to admit though, winter can be pretty sometimes. Though I much prefer sunshine, flowers, and green grass, it’s hard not to appreciate the silver and blue palette of winter.

I woke up to the first decent snowfall we’ve had all year, and I decided to get outside for a tromp through our famous Utah powder before it melted off the tree branches.

I love the way snow looks when it clings to the branches. It makes my neighborhood look like Narnia.

It just goes to show that there’s beauty in everything, even and especially the uncomfortable things.

 

First Snow

As much as I dislike winter, I’ll admit that this one has been pretty sweet so far. We finally got some of the white stuff after a bone-dry Christmas and lots of glorious sunshine. I can’t complain. January blizzards bring May flowers right?

I wouldn’t call this a blanket of snow though. More like a poorly-knitted afghan of snow. Still, it’s moisture and a beautiful part of nature’s cycle. I got out for a walk to enjoy this little dusting of snow while it’s still here. Maybe winter has finally kicked in…

Though I don’t mind the sunshine.

I love to see blue sky after a storm. It reminds me that nature is optimistic.

Making Peace with Winter Blues

“Live each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influences of each.”

Henry David Thoreau

It’s that time of year again. Since I was a child, I’ve had winter blues. I’ve never been officially diagnosed with SAD (seasonal affective disorder) but I know that my moods, energy levels, appetites, and creativity are very seasonal. Even my art is seasonal.

I usually dread this time of year and pretend it isn’t happening. I curse the snowfalls, the darkness and the cold and I retreat into my little turtle shell until spring. I always pretend that this year will be different. I will eat the right foods, exercise a ton to keep my serotonin up, take all the supplements I need, somehow find the money for a light box, etcetera etcetera etcetera. Has it ever worked? Nope.

This year though, I’ve decided to stop fighting it. Call a truce. Make peace with winter. I’ve accepted that I’m entering my low-key, quiet, contemplative time of year. I need to allow myself to be slower, quieter, and to even…enjoy the change of pace.

I know I’m not the only one who feels like a slug all winter, so I wanted to share some ideas of how we can embrace this time and stay healthy.

  • Do what you can to stay healthy, but don’t be militant. Simple carbs like sugar and white flour can raise serotonin levels briefly, but often leave you craving more. Get enough protein to keep your blood sugar stable. Exercise helps boost your mood, but be compassionate on the days where you really need a rest. Make it easy to stay healthy. Stock up on healthy staples and if you have a freezer, try preparing a bunch of healthy meals in advance like soups, casserole or stir-fry and crock-pot meal ingredients that you just have to open and dump into the cooking apparatus. Pick up some fun exercise videos. I’m a fan of belly dance, kundalini yoga and kickboxing videos.
  • Keep warm. I’m a frugal person, but I’ve found that one of the nicest things I can do for myself during the winter is to shell out the extra money on the gas bill to keep my apartment warm and to take lots of hot baths. Also, I notice that I’m a lot more likely to exercise if I’m not freezing. Invest in an electric blanket and cute, warm clothes to layer. Get some warm exercise clothes if you plan on trying to exercise outside.
  • Remove as many stressors as possible before your energy starts to sink. Do your holiday shopping early and/or online. Do a deep “Fall cleaning” so you don’t have to be as vigilant with housekeeping in the winter. Prepare Christmas cards early. Take on less responsibility if possible so you can create “white space” in your schedule, and give yourself plenty of “transition time” instead of rushing from obligation to obligation. Take care of as many nasty chores as you can before the temperature drops. For me, this means car maintenance. Blegh.
  • Take advantage of sunny days. Get as much sun as you can. Decorate your home with candles and lights. The lack of light is a huge factor of winter blues. It’s no accident that many winter celebrations that take place at the darkest time of year include light as a major part of their traditions. Think Hanukah candles and Christmas lights.
  • Make your home beautiful all winter. I hate taking down Christmas decorations, because then my home looks so drab and depressing after a month of lights and glittering ornaments and beautiful colors. This year after I take down my little tree, I want to put up some other beautiful winter decorations so I won’t have to look around at the newly dreary walls and feel sad after I put the Christmas décor back in the closet.
  • Find things to celebrate, but don’t try to overdo it.My November Gratitude Project is a good example.  Perhaps you could spend the evening of the winter solstice taking a candle lit bath, or read a special book. This gives you things to look forward to and ways to make peace with  the season rather than fighting it.
  • Acceptance, compassion, and gentleness. You probably won’t be the Energizer Bunny during the winter. It’s ok. There is a season for everything. I get some good thinking done in the winter. Read good books, think, write in your journal, learn to knit. This is the season for slowness. Nature takes a rest, and you can too.  You will have rough days, but this is also a time to exercise patience. Spring will come. It always does.

Happy winter!