Everywhere in Ojai spring is bursting forth. For three weeks myriad trees around town (whose names I don’t know) have been covered in lacey white blossoms. Then, this past week, all the front and backyard edible and ornamental stone fruit trees have bloomed in the wide range of pinks that is their way each March. The acacias around the far edges of my meadow are flowering late this year, only now bedecking themselves with their annual yellow flounces.
Chubby little buds are developing on the otherwise still naked branches of the apple trees at the near edge of the meadow. Daffodil, ranunculus and jonquil bulbs in various pots have begun setting forth thick, stubby green leaves. The rose bushes in containers around the patio are filling out with reddish green leafy abundance while my annual planting of pansies flash perky gremlin smiles at their feet.
Walking in Santa Barbara one evening last week meant being surrounded by the intoxicating perfume of blooming mock orange. This is always the precursor to Ojai’s late March orange blossom bacchanalia, the quintessential scent of our paradise.
On the mountain road to Santa Barbara the hillsides were covered in clouds of pale blue ceanothus; coreopsis, tree tobacco, wild mustard and oxalis (sour grass) all in shades of yellow; pale lavender wild horseradish and patches of white elderberry flower heads. Many of these are also flowering on the trailside in Ojai right now.
I’m still picking greens for salad and steaming every day from overflowing pots of red mustard, Bok choi, arugula and both red and green kales, though the Bok choi is starting to flower. It’s coming time to pick the last good leaves of it and then set in fresh seedlings. New strawberry plants in my hanging baskets look promising after several earlier starts failed to thrive for unknown reasons, sigh!
The severely pruned back sage and Gloriosa daisies are beginning their annual resurrection and there’s a host of tiny new leaves emerging on the jade plant that had been so decimated by the frosts this winter. A garden is an endless miracle of death and rebirth, blossoming and decaying into compost that fertilizes new growth. A constant reminder that life is not linear but rather moves in endless cycles.
Last night, after some weeks of silence, the local family of coyotes had a long and particularly raucous joke-fest that had me laughing out loud along with them. Then later, while floating in my hot tub, I heard the first returning cricket of the season: always a momentous signal of the emergence of spring in my meadow.
And, along with spring, the last six weeks have been filled with the (for me) equally momentous miracle – on February 4th – of my book’s emergence into print and onto the Amazon and CreateSpace websites. Such a strange mix of excitement, wonder and it all feeling completely surreal – even as I was rearranging my study, a week later, to accommodate the arrival of the nine cartons of books I’d ordered. I immersed, immediately, in the process of signing, then packaging the books along with my letter/birth announcement and several copies of gorgeous promotional postcards and magical stickers designed by Barbara, my amazing-collaborator-in-charge-of-everything. Over the next two weeks, I hand-delivered or mailed most of the 200+ complimentary copies from those nine boxes. In the middle of it all, I would both be stunned by their beauty and filled with incredulity: had I really completed this assignment from Spirit? Was I really sending all these babies out to find their way into the world?
This first round of mailing/delivering was to friends, family, clients, former clients who still keep in touch, my team of alternative health practitioners and several Ojai and Santa Barbara booksellers. It’s been an enormous and also deeply nourishing project that has continued to preclude my ever getting to the end of year/beginning of year projects that usually weave though late November into mid February. I keep amazing my self with how easily I seem to be letting go of all these formerly have-to-do rituals that have been such an important part of this time of year for me for so long. Somehow I trust that a right-time will come for vacuuming the cobwebs off all my masks, wiping the year’s dust from all my plants, going through my clothes closet and all that’s been accumulating in my shed. It’s just quite clear that it’s not going to happen now. And, my world isn’t being upheaved by the indefinite postponement. Who’d’ve ever thunk it!
In the middle of all the packing and mailing, my friend Carol arrived from New York for a long weekend during which we facilitated the Ojai cycle of our semi-annual Advanced Overcoming Overeating Workshop (Turning to Your Self Instead of Food). Since we no longer had access to the venue we’ve used for the past three years, this year’s nine participants gathered for our sessions in my cottage After having done so many semi-monthly wisdom circle gatherings in my home with as many as 22 or 23 women at a time, nine didn’t feel as overwhelming a number as it once might have. The cottage seems magically able to shed whatever energy comes into it as soon as people leave and I set the furniture back the way it usually lives. The added bonus of meeting here was that we didn’t have to pack and schlep over to the old venue everything we’d need for our all-meeting-long buffet table.
Though it was more than a little challenging to pull my self away from the book mailing to be fully present for our sessions, for the most part, I did manage to find my way into showing up. As always, it was a rich and nourishing time with and for the women who come to explore their journeys/struggles around food and self-nurture as they share deeply during these weekends. Carol left on Sunday just a couple of hours after our last group session ended. Though she was available to help me before she had to leave, I needed to move more slowly and by my self into the process of reclaiming and reorganizing my space. She’s known me long enough and well enough to allow me my idiosyncrasies.
After making order, I spent the next two days finishing the mailing and packing for a three-day trip (beginning on Wednesday) to a continuing education conference in San Diego with another close friend. We both needed the credit hours for our biennial license renewals and this particular conference (on mindfulness, compassion, self-compassion and psychotherapy) seemed like it might offer some things that wouldn’t be especially boring. We were mostly wrong about that but still had a delightful time wandering around Mission Bay during the breaks and in the evenings.
We wound up rescuing an adorable young kitty – obviously someone’s lost pet – that we found meowing piteously as we were walking about a mile away from the hotel early one evening. He’d earlier in the day been making a hit with several conference attendees outside the meeting room at the hotel. Now he seemed lost and troubled. He was quaking when I picked him up and wrapped him in my jacket but, three times wriggled down and ran off as if he knew where he was going. Each time he’d wind up stopping en route and setting up his piteous cries again. After the third time I retrieved him, he settled into my arms and started relaxing and then purring.
The cat rescue folks we called from back at the hotel thought it likely he was a house cat belonging to someone living close to the hotel. They felt it would be best for us to keep him there overnight and bring him into the shelter – just two miles away from the hotel – when it opened the next morning. So, off we went to buy him several cans of cat food (he was famished though otherwise clearly healthy and well cared for) and a disposable litter tray and set him up in our suite.
He was totally captivating: friendly, playful and a gorgeously fluffy black rascal. We both fell in love with him as he cuddled with or wound himself around each of us, purring like crazy, At some point in the night, I gathered my sheet, pillow and quilt and moved him and my self onto the couch in our en suite living room because every time he jumped up to snuggle and purr in my friend’s bed she’d waken and not be able to fall back to sleep. (I’d get back to sleep easily each time his purring in my ear or nibbling on my arm would awaken me.)
We put him in my Whole Foods insulated bag (with me holding and petting him through the partly opened zipper) to ferry him to the (very lovely) shelter/adoption center next morning. He was totally mellow with being in the bag for the ride and even chilled quickly when I had to transfer him into a cat carrier at the humane society. But, I came unglued when I walked out the door and left him there to wait for his family (hopefully) to reclaim him. I’d fallen in love with his spunky, dear little self so quickly! It didn’t help to know that even if his family didn’t come for him, he’d absolutely captivate anyone who came to the shelter looking for a pet. Reminding my self that there was no way I could bring him home to my two kitty household or take him on a four hour car ride to Ojai wasn’t much solace either. I felt devastated by having to give him up and was in tears on and off throughout that day and whenever I thought about him for several days afterward. I still carry memories of his lovable, silly self close in my heart, amazed at how much of an impact he had on me. Our adventure with him was the highlight of the conference!
Alas, both the workshop weekend and the immediately following San Diego weekend were immovably on my schedule long before I’d any idea of when the book would be printed or when the project of getting it out in the world would begin. If I’d had a vote on the timing, neither of these would have been happening just then. But, in the end and once again, I surprised my self with the amount of letting go and staying in the thinnest slice of now that I was able to manage. Except for when I daily used my friend’s ipad to check email and read the delightful responses people were having to the mailed books’ arrivals, I was able to put down any thoughts about the book and what lay ahead when I’d get home.
Once back from San Diego, I had just a couple of intense days (after my two work days) to finish preparing the paperwork for my tax appointment. Usually, I have my part of this process completed by early February. This year – with all the final stages of book proofing, the mailing, the workshop and the conference – there was neither the time nor mind-space to get it all done in my usual leisurely fashion.
The whole of February was an even more exaggerated departure from my ordinarily slow-lane life than November, December and January had been. Making my way through these months has been quite challenging, manageable only by surrendering completely into being led by the Grandmothers moment to moment and giving up any idea that my life would feel familiar or normal or that it would make sense for me to have any agendas for my time.
More than one of my close friends has pointed out that, in these few months (and particularly in February) I was living more like most people live: with always full plates and very little drift-time. Though, surprisingly, I’ve been able to make my way through this – for me, overly busy – time with a fair degree of balance/equanimity, I haven’t much liked it.
I missed what I would call the savoring time/pace of my ordinary life. Usually, when I’ve a trip on my horizon, thinking about what I’ll take with me in the way of clothes, amusements and food/snacks weaves in and out of my days long before the trip begins. I like making packing lists and revising them now and again as I get closer to when it’s time to actually pack. Inevitably, I pack long before my departure date, sometimes adding or removing things as the spirit moves me in the between packing and leaving time. There’s a kind of sensuous pleasure for me in the ebb and flow of anticipating and preparing that’s usually part of any trip I’m going to take.
And, there’s a similar sensual meandering I’d usually do before we have a workshop here in Ojai. I’d leisurely go through the workshop storage bins to assess the stock of paper/plastic goods, update the food and shopping lists, check on the availability of the serving pieces we’d need (before this time) to have ready to schlep to the meeting room, begin to bubble wrap the breakables, think about in what special foods I might stock in my fridge for Carol, shop for those tidbits, etc.
Even preparing the paperwork/figures for my taxes is usually a pleasurable and gently meandering process of moving receipts from sections in my accordion file into appropriately (and colorfully) marked envelopes, running tape totals for each, transferring the numbers into this year’s copies of my own organizing sheets, than entering these figures into the accountant’s ready-for-data-entry sheets. And, in the end, coming up with my own approximations of my tax liabilities for state and federal returns before packing up my take-with-me file box.
Because I’ve arranged my life with lots of open, empty time/space, I normally experience my wandering through all these different kinds of getting-ready activities as pleasures in themselves rather than merely what needs doing in order to get to the end goal. In this month of having too much to do and no time to meander, I simply did what needed doing wherever/whenever there was any sliver of space in my too full days. Never time to revel in the process, just doing what needed to be done as efficiently and quickly as possible. Clearly, I can operate this way if/when I have to but I sorely missed the juiciness of how I’m used to being in the middle of every part of the process of my life, sigh!
In what seemed to be a bit of lull, I’d been drifting a little the past few days, enjoying the lusciousness of aimlessly puttering without much focus. Then yesterday I was swept up again into a new cycle of so-much-to-do. Jacki, the amazing woman who’d formatted the manuscript into the templates for the hardcopy book, has just finished reformatting the files for the Kindle, iBook and Nook e-versions. Barbara, my amazing-collaborator-in-charge-of everything, and I spent most of the day filling out Kindle Digital and Barnes and Noble Nook forms (pricing, rights, royalties) along with Bowker forms for buying ISBNs for these and the iBook versions. Then, because of some naïve thing I did by emailing information I shouldn’t have, we spent quite a while with a new software program redoing passwords for the now endless numbers of accounts and emails I have relating to the book.
Every time I think we may be done with the intense, seemingly unending things-to-do, there’s a whole new wave rolling in. The good news is that, in the middle of it all, I’m still able to always be moving slowly; to have occasional naptimes and random brief interludes of lying about reading my latest novel or listening to a book on CD. With February over, things don’t feel as squished in anymore. Still, there are 60 more books coming on Monday. Once all the e-versions are launched in the next few days and once I’ve written a letter to accompany them, a dozen or so of this new batch of books will go off to local newspapers, a few magazines and maybe some other kinds of media with requests for reviews.
I’ll also be leaving a few of these books on consignment with a couple or three local healing practitioners who might try carrying them for sale to clients of various sorts. Then, hopefully, my part of getting the book out into the world this way will be over and the Grandmothers and Barbara (with her managing of Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Pinterest and what all else accounts) will take over the next stages.
After a bit of respite, I’ll be working again with the delightful graphic designer who helped redo the Rememberings and Celebrations card masters so they’d include alpha-numeric codes to match the chapters about them in the book. This time, she’ll take over scanning, framing and putting drop shadows on all of the 35 note and post cards that will be interspersed among the blank pages in the companion journaling book that should be ready to print in late spring or early summer.
This is such a different life than the one I’ve been leading for a long while till this past October! In many ways, it’s reminiscent of a cycle in the early and mid-nineties when I was swept up in doing road shows selling the For the Little Ones wares (note and post and poster cards, amulets and t-shirts), helping coordinate women’s craft shows and drumming circles as well as speaking at the same workshops and women’s conferences where I was being a vendor. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to have the book go out into the world without me, though. Right now, I’m really not interested in doing book readings or signings. But, I understand that if the Grandmothers want that of me, they’ll nudge me out there again. I’m just hoping that that won’t be their plan or won’t be their plan for a while.
I’m feeling so blessed and so filled with gratitude for all the magic in my life. My team has been and is being extraordinary. Barbara, Jacki, Viv and Kathy are each meticulous, exceedingly competent, miraculous, warm and delightful beings with whom it’s been/is being a joy to work. The legacy of the inheritance from my sister has made it easy to be able to ask for and pay well for the amazing help they provide. The bounty of her legacy has also made it possible and easy for me to give away all the many books the Grandmothers have led me to send out into the world.
So! The Kindle version of Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go is now available at the Amazon Kindle Store. It became available on March 9th (today as I’m writing this). The iBook and Nook versions should be available within a week or so. All three are priced at $9.99.
The 400-page trade paperback is selling for $17.95 though I can provide a discount code for it if you’re ordering several copies at once and you order them through www.createspace.com/3870129. You can email me to request the code at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you know of anyplace you’d like to leave some of the promotional postcards or the Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go 3” round stickers let me know and I’ll send you a batch of either or both! Get a peek at the stickers on the Compassionate Ink Facebook page and please “like” us while you’re there. And, if you do Facebook or Pinterest or Twitter (@robyn posin), please think about spreading the word: #Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go. (Barbara tells me this is the way to “trend” the book…do I have the lingo right?)
A last thought: a dear friend just this week shared this wonderful quote with me without information about who authored it (if you know whose it is, please let me know so I can credit the person). It feels so apropos:
Following the Way:
Go where you are sent
Wait till you are shown what to do
Do it with the whole self
Remain till you have done what you were sent to do
Walk away with empty hands