“Hello, my name is Heather Plett and I am an accomplishment-aholic.” Cringe.
It’s true. I’m addicted to accomplishments. I NEED to see results or I start to get twitchy.
Even though I’ve been determined to not be too driven this month and to spend some time in sabbatical letting ideas percolate, there’s a piece of me that is TOTALLY STRESSING OUT about it all.
This morning, I started feeling that familiar ball of anxiety in my belly, reminding me that I’ve already been off work for a week and I have so little to show for it.
As always, my well developed Mennonite work ethic was whispering in my ear “Thou shalt not fritter away the day!”
And then there were all the other voices that chimed in… “if you’re so determined NOT to build your business too quickly and instead spend time in the neutral zone between the old and the new letting creative ideas take shape, well then shouldn’t you at least be keeping the house clean? Or shouldn’t you be making amazing delicious meals for your family to enjoy? Or shouldn’t you have at least painted something, or redecorated the house, or read a dozen books, or… SOMETHING?”
I know what you’re thinking… I’ve been known to write about and teach people that “you have to give the creative muse space to breathe” and “transitions shouldn’t be rushed” and “sometimes when it seems like nothing’s happening, the most important things are brewing under the surface”. I KNOW THOSE THINGS! But sometimes they’re easier said than done.
This morning, after a healthy dialogue, I told those pesky voices to shut up for awhile, grabbed my iPod and my running shoes, and went outside to enjoy this glorious Fall morning. After all, isn’t that what you’re SUPPOSED to do on Thanksgiving – just hang out being thankful?
I wish I could tell you that I stepped into the sunshine and that ball of anxiety just magically vanished. But it didn’t. It came with me – stubborn, annoying thing that it is.
Feeling a little bored with my surroundings and not fully enjoying myself because of that ugly ball, I wandered into a different part of my neighbourhood than I usually do. There’s a large undisturbed stand of trees that I’d been meaning to explore. I crunched my way down leaf-covered trails and found a log to sit on. There I sat, trying to let the trees and the birds and the squirrels ease the mood I was in.
I closed my eyes and tried to examine just what that ball felt like and in which part of my body it sat. It was large, resting in the pit of my stomach, but pushing up into my lungs so that a deep breath was difficult.
I whispered a little prayer, “God/Goddess, take this ball and make it into something beautiful.”
And then I pictured Sophia (the feminine wisdom of God/Goddess) reaching inside me taking hold of this large clay ball, pulling it toward herself, and shaping it lovingly in her hands. It was beautiful watching her, the sunlight dancing in her hair. But she’s too slow for my accomplishment-aholic mind, and I got impatient when I couldn’t see the results. “What is it going to BE?!” I demanded, but she just smiled and winked. And kept shaping.
Not totally satisfied and too restless to sit, I got up and walked away. Sophia frustrates me sometimes.
I wandered further into the woods where there were no paths. The smell of rotting leaves reached my nose. “See how I create these woods?” Sophia whispered. “It takes years and years and many cycles of the seasons – birth, death, rot, rest, re-birth – to grow them into this lovely place where you can wander. The winter ahead is a long one, but the trees will wait through it. Have patience my child.”
Patience, schmatience! I’m not a tree – I have to make a living after all!
And then I spotted them – purple leaves! In just one tiny section of the woods, vines were drooping from the trees and all of their leaves were the most lovely shade of purple. Few other leaves were left on the other trees or plants in the same area, so the sun shone through, illuminating just the purple leaves in an enchanted corner of the woods. It looked like a special little place where fairies would gather to dance in the twilight, wrapping garlands of purple leaves around their necks as they giggled and danced.
I don’t know why, but those purple leaves finally shifted my mood. Maybe it was the knowledge that these vines that I’d never noticed before grow in this one little corner of the woods completely un-noticed and un-appreciated by anyone all summer long. But when it comes their time to shine – when all the other plants have released their leaves – they burst forth in magical purple, oblivious to whether or not anyone is paying attention.
I want to be a purple-leafed vine.
- I want to shine in all my uniqueness, even when few people notice.
- I want to offer the magic that somebody stumbles upon the moment she most needs it.
- I want to be prepared to give up those purple leaves at the end of the season when it’s time for rest and rejuvenation.
- I want to offer up what the world needs – even if it means surrender and (gulp) death – for growth and re-birth.
- I want to be ready for my own new growth when that season has arrived.
How’s that for a business plan?
(I didn’t have my camera with me in the woods, but I brought a few leaves home with me.)
And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? – Matthew 6:28-30