Words for a New Year + the "Use Your Rests" SALE
I just returned a week ago from a pokey little town on the Pacific side of Costa Rica. The adjustment has been difficult, honestly. I seem to have left one foot in the wet sand, still searching for the sun. I don’t want to snap myself back yet into the list-making-get-it-done efficiency necessary to keep my life and Nectar moving forward. And the reality of these cold, grey January New York days. Not yet.
On my last day there I filled my journal with these words:
How can the sound of sea smashing against rocks provide such comfort, though it does. It’s such a violence really, washing it all clean again with unforgiving confidence, pulling what it needs back out, and out, depositing small souvenirs as an offering.
I like this place. Its lazy rhythms, and foreign, sharp, squawking, thunderous, rooster and monkey bespeckled sounds. The languorous time to plunge into not one but two books in mere days, and most of all unfettered time with my three sons and our friends playing at these pristine beaches, or talking deeply and laughing during meals without distraction. Yoga every day alone by the water’s edge while my older sons lovingly care for the littlest one so I can have this time. Time to dream. No cell phones and rarely any internet.
Writing I have withheld until this morning, on the last day of this trip and of 2015. I am not so sure if I have much to say. There’s something in the being vs. doing here that has seemed infinitely more pressing actually. I have happily omitted any “shoulds” from my days, so removed from my world. Why is that which is necessary so difficult to do, especially when and where we need it most?
While pregnant many years ago, a wise midwife friend reminded me to “use my rests” during labor. What she meant was that when we are not in actual pain, between contractions, we must not anticipate (and fear) the next wave of pain while overlooking the period of much needed restoration. Instead, we must wash our tensed and tired muscles and spirit in breath, restore, if only a fleeting thing. In other words we must be fully present and rest when we can, and we can much more than we do.
That sage advice is a wonderful recipe for a balanced life beyond labor, but it’s hard for us Americans to follow. We are entrenched in a culture of doing and doers, of lists and goals, of moving ourselves ever forward stoically, of fear, of too many of us merely surviving rather than Living, and then if we can, saving any scraps for tomorrow even if it costs us today.
This is our first vacation as a family beyond a few mere days within driving distance in 7 years. Too long. And yet so much more of an indulgence than most. According to skift.com nearly “42% of Americans said they didn’t take a single vacation day during 2014.” I feel deeply grateful to be supported by an incredible staff who can keep it all going in my absence with as much caring as I would bestow upon all that is our growing small business called Nectar. I will worry about the bills later. Here, now, this time away has been essential with my family, and climbing back into my center and balance.
But we all need to allow ourselves more time to pause, take spiritual and emotional inventory, and dream. And it need not cost any money. Turn up the music and dance in the kitchen while the kids look at us like we’re crazy before they join in because they can’t resist (or we don’t let them resist). Delay the dishes and emails. Watch the light shift on a wall/field/sky. Delay whatever else that is keeping us from ourselves and the conversations our family members and friends need us to share. And take the time we deserve to find a healthy release for all we feel and see without guilt-- whether it be physical or creative or both. Doodle. Journal. And yes, travel to unfamiliar places, on whatever budget we can or even can’t afford because making this a priority helps us to see through a (much needed) new lens, and to be more flexible, spontaneous. We can justify purchasing other things (even if we don’t truly need them thereby putting ourselves further into debt), but why in our culture are we taught to think of new experiences as indulgent rather than essential? And don’t we all have our best ideas anyhow when we are not forcing them, when in fact we are “doing nothing”? Here in Costa Rica, I have been so lucky to walk the beaches and swim, as well as meet my yoga mat each day, but I had buried the urge temporarily to write until now, allowing instead for a lazy, luxurious, UN-DOING. Out of the head, into the breath, heart, earth, sea.
Really every single one of us deserves to rest and be re-ignited in order to have more to share, and so that we remember who we are under the obligations, debt and stresses. So I’m going to let the sea claim any guilt, wash it clean.
Today, January 12th, I am back in our High Falls store as I write this. Re-reading that journal entry while the snow falls, those sunny days of only two weeks ago already feel so out of reach. Still, I can admit there is a definitive beauty in the grace and quiet of snow, this freshly brightened landscape. Winter is after all the embodied season of rest, of pulling inwards, and recalibrating. But also of organizing, taking inventory, and planning the year ahead (which can create other pressures and busy-making).
So here’s to balance, and wishing you all a joyous, forgiving, and inspired New Year! Sincere thanks for making what we do at Nectar feel so authentic & supported, and blessings that you too remember to “use your rests." If you should happen to want some extra incentive nurturing yourself and creating your sanctuary, Nectar is offering an extra-long no-stress use-your-rests SALE! 20% off an array of items (candles, journals, tea & teaware, robes, slippers, malas, statuary & shrines) to help you "do nothing" a little more, both in-store & online. Not to mention that if you live within a 45 minute drive from either Nectar shop, I offer a free 1 hour design consultation in your home or office to help you actualize a space that feels just right. Be sure to check out our full range of Design Resources here!
Finally, for the year ahead, expect all kinds of new goodies in Nectar’s mix! New art to be gracing our shop walls, exciting events, trunk shows and readings, not to mention interviews with the small companies we love to support. Please check out our ever-changing and growing site for news, like Bea Rue’s latest blog post celebrating some of our favorite places in the Hudson Valley! And stay tuned for A NEW 40' CONTAINER!!! Hand-selected, one-of-a-kind antique & reclaimed furniture and treasures from abroad are on their way this Spring!
As for the two incredible books I read while away, I HIGHLY recommend both:
Author, playwright and activist Eve Ensler shares her beyond powerful, important and beautifully/brutally honest journey in In the Body of the World.
Terry Tempest Williams had this to say: “I dare anyone to read In the Body of the World without crying, without crying out, without getting up out of their chair and rising to this beautiful broken world with awe and gratitude. Eve Ensler embodies the fierce flame of love on the page and in the world. There is no pity here, only the raw force of courage in the face of fear and violence, and the healing grace of honesty."
And in Just Kids musician, poet and writer Patti Smith immerses the reader into the New York City art and music scene at it’s height, and explores her boundless relationship with photographer Robert Mapplethorpe:
“Yet you could feel a vibration in the air, a sense of hastening. It had started with the moon, inaccessible poem that it was. Now men had walked upon it, rubber treads on a pearl of the gods. Perhaps it was an awareness of time passing, the last summer of the decade. Sometimes I just wanted to raise my hands and stop. But stop what? Maybe just growing up.”
Feel free to let me know about the great ideas using your rests may fertilize. I certainly love a good story; I’ll get the tea ready...