Last Saturday afternoon, as I was taking a shower after I returned from trampoline practice and my errands, I felt like something was “off.” I couldn’t pinpoint what it was; it felt like something was missing. And then I realized what it was:
A feeling of lightness.
Ha. It says a lot about me that this felt weird.
Reflecting on what had sparked this feeling, I realized what it was:
For the first time in months, I wasn’t feeling pressure to send my newsletter.
Let me back up a moment for some context.
Right Idea, Misaligned Timing
Over the summer, after years of being inconsistent in sending out a newsletter, I started to send a weekly newsletter on Sundays. From the start, it felt like a heavy load. To send it on Sunday morning I had to write it and upload it by Saturday night. Saturday is a day I want to play; I hardly want to write my daily blog post. And suddenly I was feeling the pressure to write both my blog AND a newsletter.
It wasn’t sustainable for my rhythms, and I wasn’t surprised when I fell off of it in early fall. After I fell out of the practice, I carried the pressure of needing to “get it done” into every weekend, and the disappointment of not getting it done followed me into the following week.
For the last several weeks, knowing that I wouldn’t get it done, I let it go.
At least I thought I had let it go.
Last Thursday, I sent my first new newsletter in months.
I celebrated it in the moment and quickly moved on to the next task. I didn’t really think much about it again until that lightbulb moment in the shower.
As much as I thought I had let it go over the prior weeks, it was clear in that moment that, at least on some level, I had still been holding it.
Sometimes you don’t even realize what you’re holding until you let it go.
The Wisdom of Nature’s Rhythms
This feeling of lightness felt good, so I took to my journal to explore where it came from, so I can try to replicate it.
I realized that this feeling of lightness that I was experiencing was the “winter” phase in the life of a newsletter, and that sending a newsletter on Thursday might be the sweet spot for me.
In every aspect of my life I try to follow the rhythms of nature, and my own rhythms. The cycle of the seasons play out in every project, relationship, and endeavor, as well as in our days, weeks, months, years, and lives.
If I had sent the newsletter on Monday or Tuesday, I might have felt the pressure of the next one hanging over my head over the weekend, in that sense of “you should write it to get a jump start on the week” — Echoes of “do your homework before Sunday night so you’re ready for school on Monday.”
Having just sent it on Thursday, however, on Saturday I was still feel the energy of its completion, and I had plenty of time before I had to think about the next one. In the cycles of nature and the seasons, I had celebrated the harvest (Autumn) but it wasn’t yet time for planting new seeds (Spring).
This is the “Winter” in the cycle of the seasons, a space of emptiness and rest. In the creative cycle, which mirrors the cycles of nature, it is the void from which all creation emerges.
No Need to Fear the Darkness
In that moment, at least with respect to this one slice of my work, I was in the darkness of the void.
We are taught to fear this dark space, the space of not knowing. Our culture tries to skip over “winter” and all that comes with it: darkness, letting go, grief, stillness. “Getting things done” culture doesn’t honor rest. A culture that promotes accumulation of more doesn’t respect the emptiness.
Rather than feeling empty and cold, this space felt like a soft velvety blanket. It was an emptiness that nourished me.
Honoring this “Winter” laid the groundwork for “Spring” to come sooner than I expected.
Ironically, from this void emerged the topic of my new weekly newsletter. On Saturday, a day on which I typically feel unmotivated to write, I followed the energy to write a first draft of my newsletter. It didn’t come from force or pushing; it simply emerged, like a sprout from the Earth.
That flow continued over the next few days, providing greater ease in my work than I had experienced in several weeks.
A Process That Unfolds Over Time
For those of us who tend to push harder when things aren’t working as we desire, the hard work is in deconditioning the beliefs around what we must do to be successful.
This work is a process that unfolds over time — this process itself follows the rhythm of the season.
That feeling of lightness I experienced last weekend created a small crack in the armor of cultural conditioning.
It proved to me that I didn’t need better time management skills; I needed to adjust the timing of my actions.
I didn’t need to do more or work harder, instead I needed to work in alignment with my rhythm, and honor the rhythm of the creative cycle.
In your own life, what are you holding that is interfering with your need to receive nourishing, regenerative, rest?