Monday, January 26, 2015

changing, slowing

Changing Everything

by Jane Hirshfield

I was walking again
in the woods,
a yellow light
was sifting all I saw.

with a cold heart,
I took a stick,
lifted it to the opposite side
of the path.

There, I said to myself,
that's done now.
Brushing one hand against the other,
to clean them
of the tiny fragments of bark.

{from The Lives of the Heart}

I was walking one morning last week, and it was like that. The sifting light, the sudden awareness that something has changed. Or, I knew what I needed.

Earlier that morning I'd written a friend an email about a feeling of dissatisfaction. I couldn't name the sources of the dissatisfaction, but there was that feeling. It seemed vague to just say that, so I started to list odd things that might be causing this overriding sensation.

One of the things on the list was the internet and how I was using it. Not as mindfully as I'd like, not as carefully. The thing is I like a lot of things about the internet. I like many aspects of Facebook, but I don't like how much I'm on there looking, scrolling, squinting. A while back, I realized that I had read updates on various peoples' children and new books and the reviews on those new books for years, often clicking 'like' on their posts, sometimes commenting. And that these people probably had me 'hidden.' It's sort of funny, really.

And it's okay, also. Because we get to choose how we operate the internet. We can look at these sites as little or as much as we like. We can choose who we follow and who we hide.

My big 'revelation' last week was really this: I want to spend my mornings off the internet. I want to begin my mornings reading, and writing, and maybe listening to music. I want my mornings to be the way they were before the internet. I don't want to be one of those intrepid souls that give up the internet for a year, or however long. But I do want to institute what I'm calling, 'low internet' days, where I plan on being mindful of how long I'm on, how many times I'm checking this or that and try to keep it to a bare minimum. Checking email twice in the day, staying off the social networks entirely, etc. On the days I do go on Facebook, I plan on setting a timer.

I want to write more, in short. I want to begin dreaming up my next book. I'm nearing the end of edits on Rumi and the Red Handbag. I'm part way through a book of poem essays. I think what I want to write next is a big long old novel. I want to slow down, and dream more, let things arrive.

What does this mean for Calm Things? I'm actually quite excited about this next bit. Instead of posting every day, my current plan is to post once a week, every Monday morning. I'm hoping that the posts will be slightly more crafted and perhaps more thoughtful. More calm.

This is my plan for now. It's going to be quite odd for me, not posting everyday - it's been part of my own practice for so long.

I've been walking around with this thought for a few days now, and it seems the right thing to do. Naturally, I'm the sort always looking for signs, and what better place to look than Pinterest, right? Came across this one: "I give up freely what is no longer serving me. I release it to create space for what inspires me."

I'm not sure that it would apply to every situation, but I think when it comes to thinking about how we use the internet, it works rather nicely. So, with hopes of creating space for what inspires me, I leave you now, wishing you all calm things, until next week! May you also find what inspires you in the week to come.


  1. I certainly can understand, wish you what is best for you....but will miss your daily photos and insights so very very much. I look forward to them...feel co-depedent about them...oh have given so much to so many for so long...I wish you every good thing as you make a change for your creative energy...

  2. I like that some of your posts are just a thought, an idea, a sense of something, without it being analysed, crafted, or polished.

  3. Hello Greetings.

    This is an excellent idea. It will give enough time for bloggers to visit your post and write comments.

    Wish you all the best

  4. Great move, Shawna. And now we'll be even more eager for your posts! xo

  5. Yesterday morning I did not turn on my computer. I got work done, I did some reading, I drank coffee. It felt like the morning was so long and I felt like I was functioning at a leisurely pace. It was so wonderful. I had the feeling that I could reclaim my time and life. But here I am again on the internet at 10 in the morning. It was so good to read your post and think about how my morning went so well. I'm going to try again tomorrow but I will be missing your daily photos and poems. I hope you enjoy the time away!!

  6. Happy writing, Shawna, happy dreaming. This post speaks to me very clearly about listening and acting on what path is necessary to take. xo

  7. Yes I understand too .... but I will really look forward to Monday mornings. I've been trying to cut back on internet time too so that I can get work done for an exhibition. Today was a good day. Now if I can just keep away from Pinterest I might just finish in time.

  8. I so understand and now I will have good reason to actually look forward to Monday mornings!

  9. With my own 'occasional' email checking, I will look forward to being able to keep up to you! I hope the new program works well for you.


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