Yesterday, I was invited to a party. My wife was at work, my son at his grandfather's, and I could have gone. The people there were ones I know and like, at least many of them were. But I couldn't do it. The idea of getting in my car and going somewhere I'd have to be on, where I'd have to talk and smile and laugh and explain and sparkle, made me shudder.
Outside, the air was cold and snapping, with a deep blue sky. So I made a cup of cocoa, and packed a book just in case, and a granola bar, and I got in the car and started driving. I ended up at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, and it was what I needed. Golden maples, spreading oaks, pine trees that roared gently in the wind, and countless other kinds of trees, spread overhead. I walked trails hard and soft, and watched birds and squirrels. After a time, I got chilly, and drove further west to find apples.
The orchard I had chosen turned out to be all done picking for the season, and it also happened to be a winery. There were too many people, people who I'm sure are perfectly nice people, but had that kind of frantic "we're having AUTUMN FUN" energy, with careful hair and makeup, that makes me feel frumpy and inadequate instead of quirky and joyful, so I left. I came home to my book and the stew and dumplings I'd made earlier in the day.
So, there was no people-ing, but I did go out, and it was what I needed. I hope you are finding what you need, too, in this weekend...
One of my favorite writers and bloggers is Rachel Macy Stafford. For a while I had a hard time with her writing, because I identified too much with it. Rachel talks about her choice to move from a life lived by to-do lists and outside measures of achievement, a life that made her stressed and sad and angry, and made her children stressed and sad and angry, to a life focused on choosing love and letting her loved ones know how much she loves them. I felt like my still being caught up in the stress and spinning and awful feelings, meant I was less than she was, that I was a great and dreadful failure at life.
Those feelings still creep in sometimes, but through a lot of work over the last year, including doing Rachel's course Soul Shift (she's offering it again in January!), I am beginning to come out of a very long, painful darkness. I keep telling myself, it's not too late to change. It's not too late to meet your child and your spouse with empathy and love. It's not too late to let go of codependency and manipulation. It's not too late to be happy.
Dear ones, I was afraid to be happy. Sometimes I still am. I somehow ingested a message from all kinds of sources, that I should loathe myself, that I was the least of God's creations, that any self-compassion was a sign of failure and a sin. What a load of dingo's kidneys (no offense to dingoes).
It is not too late. It's not too late to learn to regulate my own emotions. It's not too late to be who I am. To shine my light.
Joy is a worthy goal. Kindness is a worthy goal.
Happiness is not wrong.
Is the world messed up? Lord yes! But we are not going to fix it by hating ourselves and spreading that hatred around. It's gotta be love. Love makes us fierce. Love makes us seek justice. Love makes us reach out to one another.
It's not too late.
I spent this spring and summer creating ten brand-new stories for the festivals of the year, from Advent through to Samhain and Martinmas. These stories are seasonal and connected to the deep gesture of the festivals as they relate to our human experience. These are not religious stories, but I hope they ring with truth. Robyn and Brian at Waldorfish.com took these stories and created 10 stunningly beautiful art lessons for you and your family. The whole course is ready now, and you can sign up at Waldorfish today!
Please go and have a look. The artwork is just lovely, and Robyn and Brian are amazing teachers. You will get 10 stories to read, plus 10 audio recordings to enjoy on your own or with your family, as well as access to the lessons, all in an easy-to-use online classroom. I'm so proud of what I made for you, and so honored to work with Robyn and Brian on this project. It's really special.
Sara is a storyteller, writer, artist, teacher, wife, mother, and singer living in Minnesota. I write about storytelling, and about living a life with stories.