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End of Year Reflections

At the beginning of 2023, I chose the word “balance” to be my year-long mantra — a vision that I would practice hard (yes, ironic) to keep in focus, front and center. The mantra challenge came from Stacey Lee Brebner, a strategist who believes in a slower, simpler approach to doing business. When I was first setting things up for Form and Function Creative, Stacey helped me to align and order the farming and fiber art components of my business into “seasons” so that anyone following the journey might feel connected to the different parts of the process, whether taking a class or purchasing a piece of framed art. Similarly, I have ordered the work that I do by the actual seasons – following the cycle of the fiber process, itself (more about that to come in future posts). The process of setting things up has been slow. And, I think that’s okay. Because I’ve been focused on balance…

Balance started out for me as a tension around the use of my time: how to allocate the minutes in a day; what to do in daylight versus evening hours; and which task(s) should take priority. I spent the day either worrying that I wouldn’t fit in everything, and/or second-guessing my plan, and/or experiencing resentment that I didn’t enjoy the process because I was worried or second-guessing myself. However, as I kept practicing (and practicing, and practicing), I learned that I experienced balance when I was not actually focused on the limits of time. In fact, some of my favorites days were the ones when I didn’t know what time it was. Work stuff, life stuff, farm stuff, self-care stuff have all miraculously been able to co-exist…when I have allowed the space for them to do so.

This discovery has nudged me to also pay attention to how I feel as I go through the different parts of my workday. My typical day is broken up into two main categories: farming, and fiber art-related tasks. When I am out on the farm, I have found that I am fully in the present moment. I scan the sky for changes in the weather, observe the animals’ behavior for anything that seems off, and attend to what needs to be mended for the night. Farm chores often leave me sore, tired and hungry, but they always have a way of making me feel refreshed and renewed. During the rest of the day, it is much easier for my mind to wander backwards or forwards, opening the door for my inner critic to voice her opinion or allowing anxiety about my growing to-do list. I believe that being outside, feeling grounded and being connected with the earth has something to do with this magical renewal. I also think there’s a benefit derived from having to be fully present.

This reflection has made me curious to explore what it might be like to experience being fully present in the moment all the time, like I am when I am out on the farm or even when I get lost in the process of weaving. Being fully present in the other not-so-meditative-seeming kinds of tasks like cleaning, or baking, or taking the dogs out, or crunching through administrative tasks, or running errands. Or, even when I am (trying) to listen to my teenager tell me something at the moment I am not quite ready to listen. What it might feel like to simply experience the moment for what it is and attend to what is right in front of me. And, what I might learn in the process. I’m at least going to give it a try. So, here it is: I’ve chosen “being present” as my 2024 mantra. I’ll keep you posted on the journey…

Do you have a word or mantra ritual for the new year? What might be the practice on which you want to focus your energy and intention for 2024? When you choose one, let me know – I’d love to hear about it!

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