Meditations on Stillness & Hope

There are times when the world feels like a hard-edged place and it is challenging to catch your breath and reflect and absorb it all. I feel like right now we are living in such a time. And while I think there are some people who are bolstered by this type of environment, to be an activist, to create change, to shout from the rooftops that the world is not right and justice needs to be served, for me, and I sense many others, I really thrive in a place of less reaction and more contemplation.

Sunset

I have taken to wearing the same simple outfit everyday: jeans, a v-neck t-shirt, no makeup for the past year or two. It is only recently that I’ve recognized that this is my armour. That the predictability, the comfort, the autonomy of such clothing choices make me feel secure and more able to face the world that we live in currently. So I am a turtle tucking my head deep into my shell to reflect intensely on my core values, to realign them and make sure they are true, to make sure they are not being drowned out by all the other noise surrounding us and my clothes help with that as obscure as that seems.

Wooden Bench in Garden

It is hard to not react and to find the time to meditate deeply when the world seems to be spinning faster and in an ever more off-kilter direction. It is jarring to slow down and pause because spinning can feel like a natural rhythm once you’ve been doing it for awhile. To stop, to step off a spinning carousel, onto solid ground, still feels wobbly for awhile. We get used to the pace we allow ourselves, to the amount of content we absorb, to the expectations we and others set on ourselves to be “productive”. And we live in a culture where “hustle” is often lauded and feels like the mantra of the moment.

Sunset over Railroad Tracks

I am ever so slowly getting used to a less fast pace where solid and not spinning ground feels comfortable but I find myself trying to fight it still – I am so used to spinning these past few years yet also deeply craving a break, a pause, a reprieve. I prefer the long, quiet in-between spaces, the time to create without expectation, but it really does take awhile to remember that this is where the good stuff lies. That out of stillness come the breakthroughs and the epiphanies that can’t be scheduled and fit into preordained time frames or occurrences. Overall, I respect the seasonality of life, and I have faith in its profoundly recurring nature even if my build, then retreat, then torture, then contemplate method is predictable.

Pile of Autumn Leaves

I have been meditating on stillness, on subtlety, on optimism, on grace overall in a world whose own values seem muddied. I recently listened to a podcast with writer Junot Diaz. He was talking about an essay he wrote called “Radical Hope is Our Best Weapon” in the wake of Donald Trump’s election. Hearing him describe the philosophies and perspective that went into his piece, was moving and a point of view that I wish I heard more often. He said a lot of powerful things but this statement really resonated with me: “Society gives us a lot of prompts and a lot of encouragements to be reactive, emotionally reactive. In this, we have received tremendous tutelage. So the ability to do what our societies seem incapable and unwilling to do is important. It’s incumbent upon us to be reflective, to be complex, to be subtle, to be nuanced, to take our time in societies which are none of these things and which encourage none of these things…”

Yes, yes to all of this, yes.

Patience & Embracing The Season You Are In

Learning Patience & Embracing The Season You Are In | Gather Goods Co

This is not me right now. I currently have bed head, pajamas on, and a sling around my right arm. I’m dictating this into my phone and I am in so.much.pain. Apparently rollerskating with a group of nine-year-olds was not the best idea.

Michelle Smith of Gather Goods Co

I have been in a heavy season full of growth and never quite connecting all the dots properly for a long while now. And while I have always been an optimistic glass is half-full person, this year I started thinking that my glass had a hole in it. I’ve experienced burn out and my laser focus has at times wavered for the first time in my life. I’m hyper driven, the physical embodiment of grit, and love what I do, but hustling too hard can damper that. People can be disappointing, things don’t always go as planned, when the challenges are great and they keep presenting themselves, when the mountains keep appearing, it can accumulate. Needless to say, I’ve been stuck.

Recently though, I have been regaining my clarity. I can see glimmers of the future emerging and it looks peaceful and sweet. Then I broke my wrist in two places! Here I am at the bottom of another mountain and in some moments, the challenge of that feels really frustrating. I’m tired of steep terrain, I’m tired of things being hard. I just want to sit, kingly on the top of one of these mountains, just to take in the view. Maybe that’s why my arm got broken.

A friend suggested that perhaps this time in my life is trying to teach me patience. Touché. And it’s true, this is where I am, no amount of wishing or doing can change that, and yes, it’s messy, and it hurts, but if I pause to look out my window I can see that the leaves are a beautiful vivid orange and that only occurs in this particular season. As is true in nature, I can count on another season being ushered in behind this one but right now I’m going to pause, right where I’m at, and see the beauty around me. How about you? What challenges are you looking to overcome these days? Let’s be encouragers to each other as we each navigate our own sometimes (okay oftentimes) messy paths towards who knows where. After all it’s about the journey not the destination, right? -Michelle

Words I Need To Hear

Be A Nice Person

This morning I woke up knowing in the pit of my stomach that the country I love voted out of fear and not hope. My gut was telling me that this would happen, to take a look at Brexit, that history repeats itself, that the brightest light can only exist as a contrast to the darkest corners, but nonetheless I was hopeful and willfully naive.

You Are Capable Quote

But being willfully naive however is the very root of the problem. We can’t just all assume that the world and values around us are the same. We have to actively work towards change each and every day and be vocal about it as well.

Action Cures Fear Quote

Today I want to pause to say to those hurting: I hear you, I see you, I will fight for and with you. It’s not acceptable to stand behind fear and hate. I choose to be a voice of love, hope and compassion. I am embarrassed and ashamed at the prevailing attitudes of our country.

If All You Can Do Is Crawl, Start Crawling

Today I’m posting the words I need to hear, shouting out loud, in my own way, that the world does have goodness, and that emboldened, together we can work together towards that.

Do What You Can Quote

I encourage you to do the same. Let’s let love, not fear, rule our hearts, and not just today, but everyday. Let’s never forget this feeling and use it as fuel to do the deep and heavy, but compassionate work, that needs to be done to make this so. Let’s let these feelings stir our hearts towards action, not just for us, but even more so for others.

Mother Theresa Quote on Poverty

Let’s be kind and good and always, always, be an encourager to those who need it most, including ourselves as we strive to become better each day.