List Making and What You REALLY Want: A Journaling Exercise

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List making is such an ingrained part of our daily lives that we often don’t consider it a journaling technique.  More than just a reminder of what we need to do today, lists are an excellent way to generate a lot of information in a succinct manner very quickly.  In her book, Journal to the Self, Kathleen Adams suggests creating a list on a chosen topic that is 100 items long.  Why?  Like many other journaling techniques, list making benefits from giving yourself the time and space on the page to work through that which is at a conscious level.  As you keep writing past a point at which you might have otherwise stopped, you tap into information that lies just below the surface in your subconscious mind.  You may be surprised by what shows up towards the end of your list when the conscious mind has exhausted its efforts and the subconscious has an opportunity to weigh in!

You can write a list on absolutely any topic whatsoever.  A few ideas include:

100 things I am grateful for

100 things I need to/should do

100 things I’m afraid of

100 things I would do if I had more time

100 things I’m worried/stressed about

100 topics to write about

100 things that I love

100 things I want to make

Your list can be about anything at all that sparks your interest or feels like it might be therapeutic for you.  When I’m feeling overwhelmed, for example, I love to make a list of 100 things I need to/should do.  Getting these things down on paper gives me a chance to capture them.  From there I can sort through them and choose what to tackle now, what to save for later and what to forget about altogether.  It is a very centering, clarifying process.

When making your list, feel free to repeat yourself as many times as an item pops into your head.  The fact that it is entering your thoughts more than once is something to note in and of itself.  Also, don’t worry if your list entries don’t make sense.  Just keep numbering on the page and continue writing.  This process benefits from moving swiftly, letting whatever pops into your head make its way on to the page.

Once you have completed your list, it is helpful to go through what you have written and put your items into categories.  You will probably find that your list breaks down into 5-7 categories.  For example, if you wrote a list of 100 things I’m worried about, you might find that 30% of what you worry about relates to money and finances, 20% to health, 20% to your relationships, 20% to daily tasks that need to get done and 10% to your job.  This can give you some clarity about what you want to do next.  Maybe you choose to tackle some of those daily tasks that are weighing on your mind but are also easy to cross off the list and then resolve to taking a serious look at your budget and financial outlook when you have more time over the weekend.  List making can help you focus your energy and generate productive and inspired action based on what comes up for you.

For today’s exercise, we are going to make a list of 100 Things that I Want.  Take out your journal and pen, and when you are ready, began making a list of 100 things that you want.  These can be tangible things like a new house or a jet-ski, but they don’t have to be.  Maybe you want a career that gives you a sense of purpose and meaning or for your partner to stop nagging you about the way you load the dishwasher.  ANYTHING at all that you want right now in this moment, put it down on the list.  Remember, repetition and nonsensical entries are just fine.  Don’t overthink, just write.  Keep going until you reach 100 items.  This should take you 20-30 minutes.

When you are finished, set your pen down and begin reviewing your list.  Notice that for every item, for everything thing that you want, there is a feeling state that you hope to achieve by getting this thing.  For example, if you wrote down that you wanted a million dollars, what you really want may be a feeling of security or comfort, or perhaps freedom.  If you wrote down a cabin in the woods, perhaps what you really want is a feeling of peace or connection with the natural world.  Or maybe you said you wanted to start running or practice yoga on a regular basis.  Maybe your underlying desired feeling is vitality.  All of our desires are fueled by a way we want to feel.  Go through your list and begin identifying what feeling states you desire based on the items on your list.  You will probably find that most of your items fall under 5-7 desired feeling states.  When you are finished categorizing your items into feeling states, tally the number of items that fall into each category.

Now that you’ve categorized and tallied your items, notice what it is that you really want, the desired feeling states that lie behind the items on your list.  These feeling states are available to us all the time in our daily lives, and by finding ways to access them more frequently in small, attainable ways, the easier it is to move in the direction of the things that will help us feel the way we want to feel.

When we are unaware of the feeling state that lies behind the want, we can get into a position of thinking that getting a particular thing is like a magic bullet.  More money=freedom.  A cabin=peace.  Running=vitality.  As I’m sure you’ve experienced in your own life, this is not necessarily so.  There are people with plenty of money who feel trapped.  There are people who own cabins who feel anxious and upset.  There are people who run regularly who feel exhausted.  Sometimes what we think is just the thing to fix everything is actually not.

But when we are in touch with how we want to feel as a starting point, that can change everything.  Beginning with our daily lives, if we desire a feeling of peace, maybe we begin a meditation practice or simply find more moments for quiet during the day.  We note what peace feels like and move in the direction of things that generate a peaceful feeling inside of us.  Freedom may be as simple as going for a bike ride or making what you want for dinner tonight rather than what others expect you to make.  We note what freedom feels like and move in the direction of things that make us feel free.  You have the power to consciously move towards things that make you feel the way you want to feel.  And away from things that don’t.  Find the feeling and continue to move in that direction.

Most importantly, this way of being keeps us from the “waiting to start living” syndrome.  In his book, A New Earth:  Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose, Eckhart Tolle says:

The “waiting to start living” syndrome is one of the most common delusions of the unconscious state. Expansion and positive change on the outer level is much more likely to come into your life if you can enjoy what you are doing already, instead of waiting for some change so that you can start enjoying what you do.  Don’t ask your mind for permission to enjoy what you do.  All you will get is plenty of reasons why you can’t enjoy it.  “Not now,” the mind will say.  “Can’t you see I’m busy?  There’s no time.  Maybe tomorrow you can start enjoying…”  That tomorrow will never come unless you begin enjoying what you are doing now.

There is no reason to wait to feel the way we want to feel.  There is no magic bullet.  We can dance and play with these desired feeling states beginning with what’s right in front of us in this very moment.  Maybe, as it turns out, you won’t need that yacht after all!  Maybe it was a feeling of adventure and aliveness you were after.  Where can you find that now?  Today?

There is No Rush

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“The mindful nature of sourdough production is that it can’t be rushed, in fact the essence of its success, and the accompanying feelings of satisfaction and pride, are bound into the amount of time it takes.”

-Jo Bisseker Barr, Breathe Magazine, Issue 11

There is no rush has been my chosen mantra over the last couple of weeks.  Simply saying the words to myself periodically as I move throughout the day has a grounding effect…my breath slows, I feel rooted in the present moment and an opportunity to refocus on whatever task is at hand suddenly reveals itself.

Rushing has become the norm in our modern world.  We run from here to there trying to accomplish what we can, all the while thinking of the next thing on our to do list.  We are rarely present in what we are doing, fully immersed in what is right in front of us.  I find that even when I’m not busy I feel rushed, not because I have so much that I need to get done, but because it has become my default way of being.

The practice of baking sourdough bread helps me embrace the values of an unhurried life.  From the time I mix the levain for a loaf of bread to the time I take it out of the oven is usually close to 36 hours.  The process cannot be rushed.  The dough sets the pace, and I am here to engage with it when it is ready for the next step in the process.

Intentionally engage in slow activities that encourage you to move to the rhythm of the natural world.  Your kitchen is a great place to practice this kind of slow living.  Good things take time.  Let them unfold as they will.  Be ready when they are.  There is no rush.

Dialogues: A Journaling Exercise

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A journaling dialogue is essentially a conversation on paper between you and someone or something else in which you are writing both sides of the discussion.  This dialogue can be with absolutely anyone or anything.  Some ideas for dialogue partners include but are in no way limited to:

Any person, alive or dead

Someone famous you admire and whose advice you would love to receive

An illness

A part of your body that hurts or an aspect of your body image that is uncomfortable or unsettling to you in some way

Money

Time

An emotion or feeling

A creative project

Your job or career

Your creativity in general

Procrastination/Your resistance to taking action on something

Circumstances in your life

A material object

Your authentic self

This is your opportunity to ask questions and have a conversation with someone or something in your life that needs some insight or further exploration.  It is usually written in script format, as if you were writing dialogue for a play:

ME:  Asks question or makes comment.

DIALOGUE PARTNER:  Responds.

And the conversation continues from there.  Try not to rush the discussion, simply let the dialogue proceed in a relaxed and unhurried manner, as if you were talking to a good friend.  You may even experience some silence in between responses.  That’s okay.  Let the conversation flow as it wants to.

With that, please take out your journal and a pen.  Review the list of possible dialogue partners above and choose someone or something that you would like to gain insight from in some way.  Remember, this is just a preliminary list of ideas.  Feel free to choose whatever or whoever you want for your conversation.  Once you have a dialogue partner in mind, close your eyes.  Take a few deep breaths and let your body begin to relax, feeling present and open.  In your minds eye, picture yourself somewhere in nature that you find particularly soothing.  It might be the beach, the forest, the mountains….whatever setting calls to you.  Really put yourself there…feel the air, hear the sounds and smell the scents that you associate with your particular natural setting.  Take a few moments to really let this come alive for you.  Once you feel present in your vision, imagine that there is a path in front of you leading to a comfortable place to sit down.  You began walking along the path and take a seat, settling in to this space.  Imagine that there is another path on the opposite side of where you are seated that leads towards you.  You began to see that someone or something is slowly making their way down the path.  As they get closer, you begin to make out their appearance.  This is your dialogue partner.  Let them take whatever form they choose.  There is no right or wrong embodiment for this entity.  Simply note their appearance as they sit down next to you.  Take a moment to comfortable in one another’s presence.  Feel the energy of openness and honesty between you.  It is clear that this is a sacred space where you can say or ask anything that you want.  Once you are ready, open your eyes and begin having a conversation with your dialogue partner on the page.  Spend 20 or 30 minutes here talking to one another.

As the conversation comes to a close, thank your dialogue partner for the insight and wisdom they have shared with you.  If it a conversation you want to return to, let your partner know that and ask if you can return to this space to continue the dialogue at another time.

This can be an extremely powerful exercise that can yield surprising results.   Read through what you wrote with compassion and curiosity.  Underline or highlight any particular insights you received for further reflection.  You can always use the wisdom and insight from your dialogue partner as a prompt for your next writing session if you want to dive deeper into what you’ve discovered.

 

 

Declare Your Independence

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Many of us spend time and energy trying to be something that we are not.  But this is a move against soul, because individuality rises out of the soul as water rises out of the depths of the earth…Power begins in knowing this special soul, which may be entirely different from our fantasies about who we are or what we want to be.

-Thomas Moore

Today, for the sake of us all, please declare your independence.  Be willing to show up as authentically as you can, as the very essence of you, and go your own way.   This will serve the world in ways that are much more valuable than you showing up disguised as someone you are not.

Living someone else’s version of your life can be an exhausting, weary experience, like being on stage and in character all the time.  An authentic life, in contrast, is one in which you feel comfortable in your own skin, at peace with your choices and actions because they come from a place deep within you.  It’s a life that serves others in a way that only you can.  It’s a life that nourishes rather than depletes you.

That said, authentic living is not easy either.  It takes a willingness to get quiet and listen.  It takes trust, not in the booming, know-it-all voices that surround you each day but in the still, quiet voice inside.  It takes bravery and a desire for freedom in the likely event that your authentic path requires that you take a risk or two, or takes an unconventional twist or turn and does not meet the approval of your family, friends, or society at large.

Collectively, we need the absolute best of what you are here to bring us, and your absolute best comes from a place of authenticity.  It’s time we prioritize this process of getting to know who we really are, of carving out the time and space to figure out what authenticity means to us.  This quiet revolution of independence requires nothing more than a little letting go, a cozy spot for reflection, some quiet time and a notebook and pen.  Here are a few tips to get you started on your own authentic journey:

  1. Strip down.  Finding and following your authentic path is more like remembering than it is like learning something new.  It is getting to the very essence of who we are.   This may involve removing layers upon layers of personal and societal expectations and false beliefs about who we are at our very core.  Be willing to really examine everything you believe to be true, everything you believe to be possible.  Many of the beliefs and ideas we carry around with us are not helpful or true but are simply well worn paths in the brain that become our default settings. Be willing to let go of what doesn’t serve you.  There are many ways to do this, journaling being one of my favorites, but it is not easy work.  There are many good professionals out there who can help you through this process. Find a therapist or coach who can work through your core beliefs if you feel you could benefit from a little help along the way.  I also recommend the work of Martha Beck and Byron Katie.  Both have very inspired things to say about how your core beliefs affect your choices and actions.
  2. Make Space.  As it is on the inside, so it is on the outside. And vice versa.  Clearing our physical space can have a profound effect on our ability to live authentically.  Sometimes we purchase things in order to fill an empty space inside ourselves or to find an identity or a sense of self-worth through the items we own.  This kind of clutter is draining, both energetically and spiritually.  Once we realize that the thing we just purchased is not going to fill any internal void or provide us with a sense of self, it can leave us feeling even emptier than we felt before.  And so we look for more things to purchase and the cycle continues.  Know this:  There is nothing you can buy that compares to the feeling of getting to the very essence of who you are.  This work is about uncovering and remembering your true nature, not looking outside yourself for a pre-fabricated identity to purchase.  You already own your authenticity.  You already have everything you need in order to set forth on your own path.  With that in mind, go through your living space on a room by room, closet by closet, drawer by drawer basis and ask yourself if the things that surround you are beautiful and/or useful.  Do you want them in your life?  Get rid of the unwanted and the unnecessary.  If there are items that you are unsure about, box them up and set them aside in a garage or storage space for a few months. See if you miss them.  If not, feel good about letting them go.  Enjoy the space you’ve created and the sense of peace and possibility that comes with it.
  3. Create a Sanctuary.  Your authenticity depends on having a safe haven to explore what it means to be yourself. Find a cozy place in your home where you can curl up with a cup of tea and a warm blanket and write, dream or simply enjoy a few moments of quiet.  This may seem trivial but having a comfortable place to call your own, even for just a few minutes a day, can make the difference between you taking this time for yourself or choosing not to.  It doesn’t need to be anything big, just a corner of the couch or a favorite chair and a soft blanket will be just fine.  In the warmer months, consider bringing your cozy nest outside if weather permits.  Nature is a lovely compliment to quiet time.
  4. Get quiet.  In our modern world, we are bombarded with voices telling us what is best for us ALL THE TIME.  Between the internet, social media, podcasts, radio and television, not to mention your well-meaning family, friends and co-workers, there is no shortage of advice out there.  But ultimately, you are the authority on you.  You have the answers.  Cultivating a practice of quiet in your day is absolutely essential if you want to want to live a more authentic life.  We need to eliminate the other voices for a period of time if we want to hear our own. This can be a quiet cup of coffee or tea in your cozy sanctuary or it can be a more formal meditation practice. Or something in between.  Start with whatever sounds doable and appealing to you.
  5. Write.  Quiet is wonderful, but quiet plus writing is magic.  To say that journaling has helped me find my authentic path would be a profound understatement.  It has been the most critical piece in finding my way back to myself.  As a journal writing instructor and as someone who has greatly benefited from the practice in her own life, I encourage you to settle in to that cozy sanctuary you created with a notebook and pen and write. Even if you don’t consider yourself a writer.  Journaling is more about the process than the product.  It’s about you writing your way to a deeper, truer sense of self, not writing the next great American novel.  There are several journaling exercises and prompts available on my website if you aren’t sure where to start.  See where they take you.
  6. Pay attention to what resonates with you.  Psychologist Carl Jung developed a principle called synchronicity which suggests that the universe is conspiring to work with you to uncover your authentic path. It does this by leaving you clues about where to go next.  They may take the form of song lyrics you hear that resonate deeply or a quote or poem that brings about a feeling of recognition.  They may also take the form of an overheard conversation, a line from a book, or a coincidence or chance meeting that seems too meaningful to be random. PAY ATTENTION TO THESE OCCURANCES. They are telling you a little something about what resonates with you on a soul level.  Whether you believe that synchronicity is the universe itself working with you (an absolutely fun way to go about living in the world…I highly recommend it) or whether you believe that it is simply your subconscious mind “noticing” things that it finds valuable that are not yet known to your conscious mind….what is actually happening here isn’t the point.  You don’t have to believe in magic in order to reap the benefits of paying attention to what resonates with you or strikes you as meaningful.  Write these things down in your journal and see what kind of patterns begin to develop.
  7. Be willing to trust and take inspired action.  Since you are the ultimate authority on you, at some point you are going to have to trust what you begin to uncover about yourself.  This can be difficult, particularly if it goes against societal norms or the expectations of those around us.  But trust builds on itself, so if we can begin to hear and compassionately acknowledge that still, small voice inside and act on it in small ways, we will begin to see the rewards of this deep listening practice, namely a more authentic, satisfying, peaceful existence.

So do us all a favor and go your own way.  Where will this journey take you?  I have no idea.  But you do. So please…make space, listen and BE YOU. Find out what that means.  We need you, just as you are.  And whatever light shines at your very core, we need that too, just as much as you need to share it.  Get to the business of making space and listening, of finding your essence and putting it out there.  We are all waiting.

 

 

Using Quotations as Prompts: A Journaling Exercise

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Sometimes it is helpful to have a starting point for your writing, a question or phrase that stirs the mind and soul from a particular perspective.  We call these questions or phrases journaling prompts or springboards as they help launch you and writing in a new, and possibly unexpected, direction. I particularly like using quotes or snippets of poetry as prompts.  A quote or line of poetry can sometimes resonate with something deep within us in a way that a mere question or phrase cannot.

I have compiled a list of quotes to use as springboards for your writing.  Choose one that you feel drawn to and write it at the top of your page.  Set your timer for 15-20 minutes and let your writing take you where it wants to go from there.  Please refer back to this list throughout the month for writing inspiration. Prompts are particularly helpful if the idea of stream of consciousness writing feels daunting because you don’t feel like you have anything to say.  Let these wise words be your starting points.

“Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”

-Henry David Thoreau

“We are earthen vessels that hold the treasure.”

-John O’Donohue

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”

-John Lubbock

“Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.  It will not lead you astray.”

-Rumi

“We need the tonic of wildness.”

-Henry David Thoreau

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

-Mary Oliver

“Stop pushing the not knowing away

Embrace the mystery

Look for the hints

Follow the clues

It’s just a game, after all.”

-Unknown

“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.”

-Thomas Merton

“I think the best thing I can say is to follow your bliss. If your bliss is just your fun and your excitement, you’re on the wrong track…Know where your bliss is. And that involves coming down to a deep place in yourself.”

-Joseph Campbell

“I would like to live as a river flows, carried by the surprise of its own unfolding.”

-John O’Donohue

“When food is prayer, cooking is not an effort to the soul.  One has only to quiet the ego who ever natters, “faster, faster!”  No.  The soul says instead, “slow is life giving, why would anyone ever run faster and even faster toward death?”

-Clarissa Pinkola Estes

“The notion of the day as a sacred space offers a lovely frame for the creativity that a day can bring. Sadly, in modern life, the day is often a cage where a person can lose youthfulness, energy and strength.”

-John O’Donohue

“Creativity lies not in the done, but in the doing.”

-Julia Cameron

“Help the world by leaving a trail of who you are.”

-Mark Nepo

“Your playing small does not serve the world.”

-Marianne Williamson

“Imagine treating yourself the way you treat people you love.”

-Geneen Roth

“Don’t be satisfied with stories, how things have gone with others. Unfold your own myth.”

-Rumi

Simple Seasonal Pleasures for July

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The farm stand down the street has set up shop, the cicadas serenade us from the trees with their meditative hum in the evenings, and early revelers set off fireworks as the Fourth of July approaches (much to my dog’s dismay).  The sultry days of summer are officially here.

How will you immerse yourself in the month of July?  What sensory pleasures do you plan to enjoy? What experiences would really help you settle into and be present with this cycle of the year?  Here is what I’m focusing on this month:

  1. Those cicadas! They are not much to look at, but they are the sound of summer in Nebraska as far as I’m concerned.
  2. Porch time. We are fortunate to have a screened in porch off the back of our house.  Perfect for morning coffee and journaling, a glass of wine in the evening or dinner at dusk.  No bugs allowed!
  3. Independence Day. Find a way to celebrate the Fourth of July that is meaningful to me.  Sometimes it just seems like a day dedicated to blowing things up….not really this quiet introvert’s jam.
  4. Explore new ways with summer produce, particularly ways to pair it with my sourdough bread. I’m looking at you, tomato gratin!
  5. Frequent visits to the aforementioned farm stand and the farmer’s market. Bonus style points if I remember to bring my cute French market tote.
  6. Bake a peach galette, the sexiest and simplest of desserts.
  7. Plan and enjoy an honest-to-goodness picnic.
  8. Read some seriously light fiction just for fun, preferably on the porch or outside under a shady tree. You can keep your Oprah book club picks.  I’ll be tucking into a good thriller or romance this month, hopefully something unputdownable.  Suggestions are welcome!
  9. Perfect the mezze dinner for summer nights when grazing on small bites sounds better than a full meal.
  10. Eat as many cherries as is humanly possible.
  11. Vacation!  At this time in our lives, most of our vacations are working vacations.  This is what happens when you buy a cabin that is a serious fixer-upper.  Sometimes this means that our vacations don’t exactly feel like vacations.  This trip I am hoping to find a nice balance between work and play.
  12. Make pesto in my new mortar and pestle. After watching Alice Water’s new masterclass on home cooking, I splurged on a traditional suribachi, which is basically a Japanese mortar and pestle.  It is my new favorite tool and just the thing if you want to try doing more by hand in your own kitchen.

All the best to you this July as you find your own simple pleasures to enjoy.  Please share with me what they are!  I would love to hear how you plan to make the most of your month.

In Praise of Seasonal Living

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Live in each season as it passes: breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit.”
–  Henry David Thoreau

 “I’d just as soon skip over this time of year,” a friend said to me as we drank tea together yesterday.  I nodded.  It was hot and steamy as it often is here in Nebraska in late June and I could completely relate.  I’ve never been a summer person, always preferring the cool, brisk air of fall and the inner warmth of winter.  And yet I know that when I wish away a particular season, just waiting for whatever is next, I’m missing out on so many small seasonal pleasures, opportunities to be present and fully alive in the here and now.

In the era of heat, air conditioning and a global food supply, we have the opportunity to not really participate in the seasons if we choose not to.  Don’t get me wrong…I’m as big a fan of modern conveniences as the next person.  But when we don’t allow ourselves to really experience the cycle of the year, life can feel like one big 70 degree day where raspberries are always in season. This kind of living can leave us feeling disconnected from ourselves and from the natural world.  There is so much joy to be found in the sensory experience of being a human being on this extraordinary earth.  Why not take a moment and notice it?  Enjoy it, even?  If your days, weeks and months are tending to blend together or you are seriously wishing summer would just get itself over with so it can be fall already (remember when you were just saying that about winter a few short months ago?), maybe it’s time for a new way of being.  One in which you are willing to lean in to the current season and notice the small seasonal pleasures that are all around you just waiting to be discovered.  Here are a few ideas for noticing, cultivating and appreciating the current season of your existence, whatever that might be:

  1. Notice the sounds that are inherently linked to each season…rainshowers in the spring, lawnmowers in the summer, the sound of a football game in the fall, the scrape of a shovel against the driveway in the winter. All seasons have their own soundtrack.
  2. Likewise, each season has its own scents as well: The smell of fresh, damp earth, just-mowed grass, wet leaves, wood fires.
  3. Pay close attention to the change in light as the days pass. When you check the weather on your phone each day, pause and also check the time of the sunrise and sunset.  Notice as the days and nights get longer and shorter during the year.
  4. Commit to spending time outside everyday, even if it is not your favorite weather. Scandinavian parents tell their children, “there is no such things as bad weather, only inappropriate clothing.”  Gear up or strip down (whichever is seasonally appropriate) and head out!  Be open to the experience of finding something you might like about that which you are assuming will be uncomfortable. Sometimes the best part of heading out in the cold for a brisk walk is coming back inside and experiencing the warmth of your home again, maybe with a steaming hot beverage cupped between your icy hands.  Just the anticipation of this is enough to make that chilly walk worthwhile.
  5. Cook and eat seasonally.  Supermarket tomatoes in January are just sad.  Just because foods are available to us all year round doesn’t mean that we need to eat them all year round.  When we eat fruits and vegetables when they are in season we are not only getting more delicious produce, we are also saving money and the environment.  We also develop a sense of anticipation for what is to come…strawberries in the spring or the first crop of apples in the fall. The tomato can wait!  Imagine that day in July when you slice into that perfectly ripe, red fruit still warm from the farmstand or, better yet, your own garden. The real thing is worth waiting for.
  6. At the beginning of each month, make a list of what you enjoy (or think you might enjoy) doing that month that is in sync with what is happening in the natural world. Think small and simple.  In July, for example, maybe you want to host a barbecue for your neighbors, really listen to the hum of the cicadas each evening and make your first batch of fresh tomato salsa.  Look to nature and possibly your childhood for inspiration.  Sometimes the things we enjoyed doing as children (catching fireflies at dusk, spreading out a blanket under a shady tree and reading a book, enjoying a warm slice of apple pie) are the very same things that help us reconnect with our sensory world as adults.  If your childhood was less than idyllic, ask your inner child for ideas.  There is a soft, tender part of each of us that is just waiting to be comforted and soothed by these simple seasonal activities.
  7. Take a few moments in the evening to record what seasonal pleasures you enjoyed during the day. Commit to yourself to make more time for those things.

Decide now that it is time you became a true sensualist, someone who feels alive and connected and who finds pleasure in the world around them as it is right now at this very moment.  Not next month or once it’s not so damn hot outside but NOW.  If you are looking for me later this evening, I’ll be on my back porch sipping a glass of chilled white wine and listening to the cicadas sing to me from the trees.