The energy of intention & where the river of stones went

Hands up! Here’s a message from a mum of four who’s blog is about headspace and finding time to write and paying attention and who said she was going to participate in the River of Stones Project this January (posting a few lines of a mindful meditation or observance every day) but hasn’t had the time! The message is Sometimes you can’t do it all. I started on Jan 1st with a stones post, on the second day my computer ate my post, on the third day I mentally wrote a post and even took a picture (it was about the dumplings that I’d cooked in the stew). The next day I thought about what I might write about but none of these observances made it to the computer, which in a way doesn’t really matter. And here’s why.

I met many new people on the blog last year who enjoyed reading my Jan 2010 stones posts and I in turn enjoyed the observances blogged and tweeted by others. However the main point of the project is to orient ourselves towards small observances and mindfullness of place, time or emotion and as a whole, I’m doing that. In December, through Barbara Scully’s wonderful blog At My Kitchen Table I won a Thank You book created to raise money for the Irish Hospice Foundation. The book is on my hall table and just seeing it reminds me to be thankful for something even if I’m having a rotten day. I also encourage the children to write in it or remember what is good. So my orientation is towards reflection, observance and gratitude.

I read earlier in the month an article by Orna Ross on her creative intelligence blog about resolutions vs intentions and firmly agree when she says that

New year’s resolutions are often framed as negative injunctions (giving up, never again) and based on self-judgements and -criticism. Creative Intention is framed as a positive proposal, moving towards something you’d like to see more of in your life.

I particularly identify with the idea that there is movement involved in intentions, that you are orienting yourself towards how you want things to be and even in that first initial orientation is the energy that will propel you along the route you have turned towards. I’ve talked about this before in relation to identifying yourself as a writer – the act of turning towards writing in a positive way puts your mind in the frame of taking further decisions and achieving further momentum along that path.

It’s a question of putting yourself in the mindset of what you want to be engaged in. If you’ve ever been in the process of buying  a house you know that you suddenly see For Sales signs everywhere. Once you are in the mindset of an endeavour, signs and opportunities will become more obvious. Not miraculously of course – you are putting yourself in the way of them. For me, a serious orientation towards being a writer included being involved in blogging, twitter and a writer’s group as well as submitting more of my work. These actions in themselves have generated further connections and opportunities. Learning about flash fiction through #fridayflash (click the image on the sidebar) led me to blog about it, then to be quoted in a national newspaper, then to get involved in the National (UK) flash fiction day, for example. Blogging here led me to be asked to blog for the Irish writing website

What is important when you orient yourself towards something, when you have an intention rather than a resolution, is that it is a positive thing, an action that has energy. Sometimes a resolution has an ‘ought’ quality and ‘ought’ means guilt. Resolutions may sound firmer – the stuff of Antarctic explorers but to me they can be ‘all or nothing’. Intentions can bend with you and work with you. In this case, I’m not really letting anyone else down – which is another matter and perhaps a topic for another post (saying yes to too much at once). So it’s okay that the stones have disappeared. It’s wonderful that I’m writing other stuff that I hope you’ll soon be able to read. It’s great that I’m still making still moments and observances in my own life and I may still have some stones for you before the month is out.

Words at the washing line

Bright, light. I emerge from my dark winter haven into the beneficence of sun, the stalk of the leafless dogwood still flaming red, a bird arcing and dipping in the coyly blue sky. I hang the family’s laundry on the washing line and keep my eyes on the sky. Then words appear all together like invisible ink made clear, a section of my novel, the character of a story, I see and hear them. I run back into the house to jot down the words, leaving the wash basket in the bright air.

Finding myself asleep

These last few days, being mindful, taking one to one time with the children, being where I am, listening to unexpected stories and revelations at the bedside of my carefully tucked in children. Finally everything put to bed, the pleasure of now lightly attended, I feel the exhilaration of my available writing time, satisfaction and heat, the tapping of keys in creative flight, the joy of words.

Then suddenly I wake, the world bright and popping out into three dimensions, coming right at me. My hands are still poised over the keyboard. I realise that I have been asleep for some time.

Fish pie

The satisfaction of cooking this wholesome meal. My daughter at my side. The sizzling of onions, chunks of fish, herbs, chopped eggs, some veg, a thick sauce. She stirs and stirs and adds the ingredients, eager to learn, eager to please. It is full of colour and goodness. We pour it into the dish and add the mashed potato topping, a sprinkle of cheese which sizzle and melts in the oven.

Cheesy biscuits

Crunch crumble falling into the mouth, the sweet melt of then soft biscuit, cool cheese, layer on layer, that spring back texture pleasant against the teeth. The taste mingling, crumbs on the chin, I run my fingers over them as if I am bearded, I gather them from my lips. A favourite thing.

The sense of children running wild

Red wrecks, burning barns with horses, conkers, brambles, rumoured pools of quicksand with makeshift planks, spies and tag and dare and hide and seek.  I remember. And now a parent, as my children move beyond infancy I let them go, off with friends, racing with the air on their faces on the green, near the secret, fenced in castle through the trees, into corners, alongside walls creeping, playing, all adventure, my heart beats along with theirs as I have a sense of them running wild as I did once too. And then they return safe and sound, their bright, animated voices in the driveway.