I sat out on the lower porch for an hour last night. My companions: a glass of wine and a spy novel. It was a clear evening and I watched as the sky went from brilliant blue to purple and finally inky.
The trickles of the pond, the softness of the breeze, and the sighting of an occasional firefly invited me to employ all my senses as I sipped the cold, crisp glass of rose.
It was just the heart medicine I needed.
I am taking a break from myself and my focus on writing for my coaching practice. I am sorely in need of this break and cannot recall the last time I simply sat in my beloved space breathing in the night air. We’ve had heatwaves, reconfigured our pond, and have traveled.
There’s a special quality to the night air of summer.
“I always forget how important the empty days are, how important it may be sometimes not to expect to produce anything, even a few lines in a journal.”
Earlier, John had sat alongside me.
We alternatively read and chatted. He’s reading David McCullough’s The Wright Brothers and shared tidbits with me. Despite being together 24-7 for the last week, there is always more to talk about: how the plants are faring after the heatwave, the return of frogs to our pond, and a strange interaction with a neighbor.
We also sat for long moments doing neither. Not talking or reading, simply sharing the nourishment of side-by-side companionship. At times I take advantage of the soft motion of rocking. Every piece of outdoor furniture rocks in some way.
When he went back inside to play his Xbox, I stayed. Another type of comfortable companionship: home together yet allowing each other some necessary solitude.
“Loneliness is the poverty of self; solitude is richness of self.”
My mind drifted to summer nights when I was a child. My parents would drag out their lawn chairs and sit near the front porch. My mother rocking, both sipping iced tea. Sometimes talking, sometimes not.
I could never quite understand the point of just sitting!
I was always needing to move. To run, to jump, to dance. Though I wasn’t one to go long without talking, the only advantage I saw to the summer evenings sitting outside was the way the sounds of the night came alive. The cicadas and frogs singing in harmony.
I would sit in my own chair or sometimes my mother would get out the big blue quilt and let me throw it on the grass so I could gaze at the stars. One of the rare times I could be (mostly) still and (almost) quiet.
Now, at fifty, sitting on my own porch on a summer night, I finally get the point of just sitting outside and allowing the night air to soothe and comfort me.
I also finally understand why my mother loved a lawn chair that could rock. I desperately wished for that blue quilt with the tiny red splashes.
I summon you
Out of the past
With poignant love,
You who nourished the poet
And the lover.
–May Sarton (from her poem “For My Mother”)
I am taking the weekend off from work. Though it seems to be something I should do, I rarely do it. At my core, I am a workaholic.
I also like to check things off my list, mark them done. Right now, I am in a perpetual cycle of tasks for work that will take weeks, if not months, to complete. These undone tasks hang over me, and true to my ENTJ nature, I obsess.
When I am not writing, I am planning to write. When I am not planning to write, I am creating a plan of attack to manage the updating and rewriting of old pieces I have written. My archives are a valuable commodity; however, they must be modernized to fit new rules of search engine algorithms and the ways in which we consume content.
I have spreadsheets.
When I make progress on the plan of attack, I take action and begin editing and re-writing old blog posts. Often, I am cringing at things I wrote back in 2011 or 2012. Adding to the sense of urgency to get them all reworked.
And when I am not writing, planning, editing, or re-writing, I am pouring over stock art websites. In April, I began a soft rebrand. Rather than using line art for blog posts, I switched to photos. It fits me better now, the person I am at fifty rather than the person I was at forty-three when I began my coaching practice.
Because the aesthetics matter to me, while I am doing all that revising and editing, I am also changing out the art. I’ll admit that I have an inner perfectionist, too.
“A day when one has not pushed oneself to the limit seems a damaged damaging day, a sinful day. Not so! The most valuable thing one can do for the psyche, occasionally, is to let it rest, wander, live in the changing light of a room.”
Though I am needing to take a break from this obsession with writing (and rewriting) for work…and though I have committed to take this weekend off, I admit that I miss it. It takes every ounce of self-discipline I possess not to at least open one of my spreadsheets with my various plans….
The challenge excites me. The need to push myself fuels my creativity and mind in ways that nothing else does. In many ways, I had allowed myself to become complacent, my work to become stale.
As creative beings, we must regularly feed and water our creativity. Infuse it with challenge to amp up the joy. To cultivate new work, we must cultivate pieces of our heart and soul.
“…I feel more alive when I’m writing than I do at any other time–except when I’m making love. Two things when you forget time, when nothing exists except the moment–the moment of writing, the moment of love. That perfect concentration is bliss.”
After dinner tonight, I plan to return once again to the porch.
I only came inside last night when I did because a skunk made an appearance nearby,adding an unnecessary element to the perfection of the summer night air.
My hope is that he finds another space to play.
About the Author: Debra Smouse
Debra Smouse is a self-admitted Tarnished Southern Belle, life coach, and author of Clearing Brain Clutter: Discovering Your Heart’s Desire and Clearing Soul Clutter: Creating Your Vision. When she’s not vacuuming her couch, you’ll find her reading or plotting when she can play her next round of golf. She’s the Editor in Chief here at Modern Creative Life. Connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.