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The Pathdeep is the darkness,
with no light at all,

before and behind,
and to either side

I love this text from Stephen Mitchell’s translation of Gilgamesh. It invites me into the truth of this season. It is dark. The darkness is deep and long, and will be at its darkest depth this weekend. The hours of darkness overwhelm those of daylight.

I was recently in Anchorage, Alaska visiting my sister’s family for Thanksgiving, and it was still dark at 9 am! We took the kids to school in the dusky darkness. By 4 pm, it was dark again. It was really dark before and behind, and to either side.

There have been times in my life where this has been true, too. Deep is the darkness, so deep that I can’t see around me, with no light at all. At such times, it’s helpful to remember that we have choices. We often fumble around trying to see in the deep dark. Instead we can practice surrendering to its depths. And we can seek the light.

Winter reminds us of the mystery of dark and light, of their entwinement, of their ultimate embrace. Each cannot exist without the other—if there were no darkness, we would have nothing to contrast it with, nothing “light.” And without the light, what would “dark” be?

So, as winter invites us into the deep darkness, can we surrender to it, allow ourselves to dive in and become familiar with its depths? What might we find in the darkness? What visions, dreams, gifts, might be there for us to uncover, for us to release into?

Winter Solstice and the other wintertime holidays mark the beginning of the return of the light, at the cusp of winter. Winter Solstice falls on Sunday, December 21st at 5:03 pm CT this year. As we surrender to the darkness of wintertime, we also, paradoxically, are reminded of the light, which will grow ever so slowly from this day until Summer Solstice.

deep is the darkness, with no light at all,
before and behind, and to either side

If you’d like a hand to hold as you walk along your path, I’d love to offer you a free Discovery Session to find out how my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching might support you.

If you’d like to practice surrendering to and gleaning the gifts of the dark, consider joining me on January 31st for The Way of the Happy Woman®: Winter Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat. 

And to create some light in the darkness, you might want to join our next Sacred Chant Choir series, starting January 14th.

This winter, how will you enter consciously into the darkness?
How can you surrender to winter’s depth,
and at the same time allow the ever-returning light within
to slowly and faithfully guide you along your way?

Are You Listening?

Kuan Yin and Spring SnowThere’s so much to listen to here in this Western culture we live in—news, talk shows, music, weather, random TV shows and movies, our family, our bosses, our inner critics…The list can be endless and overwhelming.

What if you could decide what to listen to?
What if you really took time to tune into that?
Whose voice(s) would you choose
to listen to?

Wintertime invites us into deeper listening.

Deeper listening…deeper than what? Deeper than the outer sounds, deeper than the “shoulds” inside your head…Listening deep inside yourself, where there is quiet and stillness and wisdom. A wellspring to draw upon, if we turn in to it.

Especially in the colder climates, winter really does invite us to go inside—into our actual houses where it is warm, less in contact with our neighbors and friends. We are drawn to cozy up to the woodstove or sink into a warm bath, to light candles and sip warm drinks, to read books and journal, to reflect on our lives.

This deeper listening can be an invitation to surrender to nature’s call, to hunker down and in, out of the cold. In following winter’s lead, we also follow the rhythm of our souls. Our souls need to rest, to go within, to connect with the deeper wellsprings that nourish us. And from this place, we come back to the world more refreshed, more able to respond, more able to live authentically in the world.

The more faithfully you listen to the voice within you,
the better you will hear what is sounding outside.
~ Dag Hammarskjold

Of course, we can do this anytime, even in the midst of the holiday chaos, but it’s a lot easier when we can actually set aside undisturbed retreat time to really listen. Here are a few suggestions for how to create mini-retreat times for yourself any day:

  • Carve out silent journaling time.
  • Add in slow yoga or other mindful movement.
  • Sit in meditation, contemplation, or prayer.
  • Settle in with a cup of tea and look out the window, at the fire, sipping slowly.
  • Take a Do-Nothing Break.

Whatever you do, see if you can drop below the to-do lists, the “shoulds,” the noisy voices of our culture, and listen for the voice of your soul—S/He may speak in words, in intuitive hits, in physical sensations, in feelings, in images or symbols…Listen for your own deeper knowing and wisdom and heed it.

If you need more support, consider checking out my Women’s Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching.

And if you want to schedule some time for a retreat to go deeper into listening to your soul, consider signing up for my Way of the Happy Woman®: Winter Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat.

How do you make time to listen within? I’d love to share ideas about this essential part of our self-care and wholeness.

instinctual bodyFrazzled, harried, rushed? Not enough time to get it all done?

I get it!

The holiday season can be such a challenge! We want to enjoy connecting time with friends and family, to leisurely pick out the perfect gifts, to make yummy and nourishing foods…And we still have to work and take care of family and home and try to squeeze in some self-care time for ourselves…

It can feel really overwhelming!

What if I told you that there is a simple, short and sweet practice you can do to support yourself?

I know, you’re probably thinking—I don’t have time for one more thing! I felt that way, too, when I first started doing this, but I soon found that it was not only doable, but really helpful.

It’s what I call taking a “Do Nothing Break” or “Being Break.”

And that’s it! You just stop and do nothing except BE. You’ve probably heard that, perhaps overused, but very apt expression, “You are a human being, not a human doing.” During busy times, we can forget that, and when we do, we get lost. We lose track of what matters most to us–of our core values, of our connections with others, of what makes life most meaningful and enjoyable….

So, give it a try! I suggest 5 minutes, but if that feels like too much to start, try 3. And just stop. Read more about the “Do Nothing” practice.

Try this one small practice this holiday season and see if you don’t feel like you have a little more time, a little more presence, a little more meaning and connection in your life! (Hint: you can do it whenever you need it—i.e., more than once a day!)

If you’d like to dive a bit deeper and really give yourself the gift of self-care, consider coming to my
Winter Retreat on January 31st: The Way of the Happy Woman®:
Winter Yoga, Meditation & Life Balance Mini-Retreat

Fall Equinox: Letting Go

One of the ways I am simplifying and letting go this season is by not posting a long Seasonal Blogpost at the Solstice and Equinox. I hope you enjoy this simpler, seasonally inspired reflection.

Bidden or Not

This collage feels appropriate as we walk through the doorway into another season. What will Fall bring to us? To walk with the earth into this turning into Fall, we can be mindful of the themes of simplifying and letting go. Summer coming to an end, the school year starting, harvest being gathered and stored, leaves falling, the days getting shorter…

What is our harvest? What can we strip away to focus on the bare essentials most necessary to our lives right now? As one of my teachers, Sara Avant Stover, asks in her book, How gracefully can you let go? How much can you give into the way things are? How well can you honor yourself and that which is passing?”

I recently posted about Vivian, my inner teenager self—collaging her and giving her a voice is part of my practice of letting go. Including her in my life allows me to let go of the ways I have unconsciously acted out her feelings and needs.

Today, as I finish this, in the middle of a trip to New York State and Vermont, I am letting go of over-productivity and focusing on the bare essentials—in this minimalist blogpost, in resting a lot to heal (a head cold is trying to re-establish itself), in doing only the minimum necessary so I can focus on connections with dear friends (not keeping up with all my emails or facebook, not visiting too many friends or places)…

How can you re-orient with the Fall season and practice letting go, holding on only to that which truly feels necessary and nourishing in your life?

An Autumn poem to close by Joseph Stroud, from Of This World: New and Selected Poems:

Home. Autumn. The Signatures.
Let the day begin with its light.
For once, let the mothers and fathers sleep late.
Let the chickens in the mud
scratch their own inscrutable chicken poetry.
Let the clothes hang from the line
in the rain.
Allow the crickets under the woodpile
one more day of their small music.
Soon everything will be clean
and bare, a fine inner blazing as the leaves
drop, and the air is tinged with oak
burning across the fields.
Let the skeletons of cornstalks
scrape in the wind
and sunflowers droop heavy heads
spilling their crowns of seeds.
Let the dew on the webs
gleam a thousand pearls
as the sun hazes its light
around everything we must lose.
Let the night build its darkness,
and earth close once more
and, at last, become quiet.

Seasons Blessings of Letting Go Gracefully, Katy

p.s. If you would like some support in the lifelong process of consciously letting go, I’d be honored to meet with you for a free Nourishing Wholeness Discovery Session.

Vivian Speaks

Vivian2

Include me.

Include my fear.

Include my confusion of not knowing how to be when mom told me at 16 that it looked like my eyelids were growing mold when I first tried eye shadow—blue to go with my eyes, whose color and size I was always praised for.

Include my self-imposed banishment from the circle of other teenage girls who knew the tried-and-true steps to becoming a woman in the society I found myself growing up in.

Include my innocence that was broken by his unwanted touch in the night, and my subsequent frozen withdrawal from his heartfelt apology, from his owned ignorance, from his unintentional hurt of me—and from my own budding beauty.

Include my disordered eating—my attempt to know and control and stuff my feelings deep down where no one else, especially me, could find them so that I could go on living a good life.

Include my yearning for something more—to live for, to grow into, to speak, to sing, to embrace, to be.

Include my sadness when I cannot express what is in my heart, when my words hurt another, when I feel unseen for who I am—whether I myself can give voice to it or not.

Include my willingness to dive deep to uncover these stories, to turn them over and over again with loving curiosity, to understand, to offer them to myself and you.

Include my resting into myself, my leaning back into my sensual bodysoul in the perfect form she is expressing right now.

Include me.

Include life.

 

**Vivian is the name of my inner teenager.

**Image Credit: Dive Deep is the top blue painting of a woman diving, from the beautiful artwork of Leah Piken Kolidas: http://www.bluetreeartgallery.com/dive-deep.php. Used with permission.

My intention is to blog once a season about Life Practices in order to share what I am practicing in my life, and to suggest opportunities to join me, as well as ideas to use in your own practice.

floweringSummer Solstice is almost upon us! The daylight hours have been growing since Winter Solstice, each day becoming slightly longer until now, when seen from the North or South Poles, the sun reaches its highest position in the sky and appears to stand still (Latin “sol” or sun and “sistere” or to stand still). In 2014, the Summer Solstice occurs at 5:15 am CT on Saturday, June 21st.

Here in Minnesota, we’ve had a long cold Winter and a very unpredictable Spring—cool, hot, windy, thunder-stormy…but everything is growing and really green!! It turns out that the earth knows how to grow and follow her natural rhythms regardless of how crazy the weather is…

Summer’s gloryblooming radiance—abounds, with a new flower coming into bloom almost every day. We’ve passed from Spring’s early blooming bulbs to Lilacs, to Azaleas, to Lilies of the Valley, to Peonies, to Poppies and Clematis, and more…and now Evening Primrose and Daisies are smiling their sunny faces just in time for the Solstice!

How are you preparing or being prepared to bloom this Summer? What are some ways you can support yourself so that you, like the earth, can flourish this Summer?

You may want to write in a journal, or try a short ritual alone or with friends that could include the following:

  • Sitting outside, on the earth if possible, light a candle, red or orange in color.
  • Take a few deep breaths into your connection with the earth—into your feet or bum or legs, and breathe that connection up into your belly.
  • When you feel grounded, look around you and find one beautiful thing—it may be a flower opening or the light or something else that moves you.
  • Say gently to yourself “Beauty sees beauty.” Feel yourself, as beauty, seeing beauty. Own this, breathe it in…be beauty, breathing in beauty…
  • Continue to breathe as you look around, acknowledging and welcoming more beauty within and without. You might also want to try a different verb—”Beauty sees/hears/touches/senses…beauty.”
  • When you feel filled and beauty-full, say thank you and blow out the candle.

Remember that as this day comes to an end, the days will very slowly become shorter, until at Autumn Equinox, the day and night will be balanced, and by Winter Solstice, we’ll be back to the longest night. Savor and enjoy your own flourishing and beauty with that of the earth this Summer season! May you welcome and find grace in this changing of the seasons.

Being Woman-crpd2Collage as a Practice. My collaging has slowed down recently as I pour more creative energy into my studies (more about that below), my daily practice, the garden, creating healthy meals and new recipes, and other projects.

Being Woman explores the luscious, life-giving, instinctual, ever-renewing, deep Feminine ground that not only supports us but also gives birth to our many human expressions. We arise from and return to Her.

How does She live and arise through you?

KatyNourishing Wholeness: My New Holistic Health & Wellness Coaching Practice! I am so excited to be starting to practice as a Holistic Health & Wellness Coach—it feels like the fulfillment of my life’s journey thus far! Studying with the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, I also bring my years of practice and training as a Certified Riso-Hudson Enneagram Teacher, an ordained Interfaith Minister, a Certified Laughter Yoga Leader, a Diamond Approach Student, and an Assistant in Sara Avant Stover‘s Red Tent, as well as a Student in her Way of the Happy Woman Certification Program.

I will be taking more clients—both in person and via phone or skype—in September. Please check out my new site: www.NourishingWholeness.net, sign up for my newsletter there, and be in touch if you’d like to set up a free discovery session to talk about your dreams and desires for your health and well-being. I would be honored to support you on this path!

dandelionsFun, Healthy Eating as a Practice! How about instead of battling with the dandelions in your yard, you picked them and ate them instead? Over on my new site, you can read about how to prepare and enjoy dandelion flowers as part of your fun, healthy eating practice! You can also read more about healthy eating and lifestyle tips.

Are there wild things growing in your yard or on your property that you can harvest and eat? I’d love to hear about it!

poppy-tpWomen’s Practice. As women, there’s something we rarely talk about. We pretend it doesn’t happen. Some of us are ashamed by it. Some wish it would simply go away. Even in the most “evolved” and “spiritual” communities, it remains taboo.  Have you guessed what it is?

That’s right: it’s our moon cycle. (Or period or menses or whatever your favorite word for it is.)

Last year, with the guidance of my teacher, friend, and yogini, Sara Avant Stover, a group of really brave women began changing this conversation. This “Moon Tribe” got real and raw about how their moon cycles affect them, their work in the world, and their relationships. It was edgy. Real. And especially valuable and healing—for thousands of women across the world.

If you missed I {Heart} My Moon Cycle last year—or if you’re ready for a booster shot of feminine empowerment—this is for you!  I {Heart} My Moon Cycle is now available as a free, 28-day online immersion. Treat yourself to it, right here: https://bg156.infusionsoft.com/go/moon/a15. Read more on my Nourishing Wholeness blog.

Poetry as a Practice.

Bare branches and silent winter days
are but a memory
as we near summer solstice.

Shades of white snow and crystal blue
have given way to relentless green.

From dormancy rises
a summons to grow
that keeps us on our toes.

No longer shoveling
instead we mow, pull, whack,
and make our choices
around what to trim and tame
and what to let grow wild.

What we know
most especially this time of year
is that everything and everyone
shares this boundless call to grow.

Seasons and cycles give us
quiet reflective times
and periods of busting out.
A pull toward green sprouting
boisterous courageous steps
further in and further out
in this world.

If its inspiration you seek
as you feel the push / pull inside you
of steps in perhaps frightening new directions,
look to the grace of branches
swaying with the weight of vibrant leaves
heavy from new growth and recent rains.
See the way buds stretch skyward
readying for bloom
as if extending a cupped hand
to hold the sun.

You can trust the trees, the flowers,
the bursting green of this season.
Just as you can trust your own yearning
to set your wild spirit free
and grow in directions that call to you

Chris Heeter, Leadership Speaker, Wilderness Guide, Poet
The Wild Institute

 

Blooming and Flourishing Summer Blessings,
Katy Taylor, Holistic Health & Wellness Coach

Nourishing Wholeness

nourishing wholeness

Being Woman

Being Woman-crpd2

She is always here, beneath the surface of our lives
living in bone, in flesh, in blood, in cells, in our human embodiedness

She is that which we spring from, that which we rest into,
that which holds, supports, and sustains us

She is ancestral woman of us all, of the earth’s knowing,
of nature, of the elements, of the seasons

She is the ancient, embodied wisdom of living, of surviving, of thriving,
of tribe, of pleasure, of wholeness

She is pure, natural, healthy instinctualness—
instinct to rest, to relax, to savor, to be
and when needed—instinct to arise, to spring forth, to engage in life

She always returns to Herself, to Beingness

She loves to be enticed into the flowing expression of life—
as daughter, friend, maiden, mother, lover,
nurturer, worker, enjoyer, queen, crone, wildish one
—always remaining true to Her Being nature

From Her, in Her, through Her springs forth all life
To Her, in Her, through Her returns all life
She is Being Woman

 

Do you see Her in this collage? Do you know Her? Do you rest and arise in Her? How does She live through you?

 

Note: I was exposed to this idea by Zsuzsanna Budapest who calls her Sloth Woman in her book The Holy Book of Women’s Mysteries

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