If I can finish this sentence without popping another Nespresso pod into the machine that will be something. So too if I can leave the dirty pan from last night’s home stir fry well alone. These are my challenges with thinking the granite island in the middle of my kitchen could ever serve as a suitable space with which to write. Expecting something more insightful to emerge than a scribbled post-it shopping list of avocados and Rau’s pasta while sitting here is a stretch.
But my special space is coming. Thank God. I’ve just chosen a lovely desk to adorn the snug room upstairs that’s sat empty since moving here four months ago. Windows flank both walls, my kitty can curl up next to me in the corner rattan chair, and the Chinese rug conjures countless memories of those I’ve known and loved that have walked across it. Here, I will be able to fully express myself. Uninterrupted.
Self-expression, to me, is living – in full presence – connected to the little flame deep down in my heart that so many of life’s daily requirements and “should do” rules conspire to blow out at any given moment. It comes in so many forms. For me, it’s blogging, practicing and teaching yoga, pairing an emerald green heirloom pin from my late grandmother with a vintage sweater, stumbling through homemade granola and Thai curry recipes. Your have your ways to express too.
But we need space to do that. Space from people, distractions, and perhaps even environmental triggers that can conjure up self-squashing doubts that keep our creativity harnessed and unexpressed. I endured a period of years without appreciating the importance of space, allowing others, coupled with my own marginalized sense of worth, to lock me in a state of numbness as I moved through my day.
Now Shannon. That’s just not copacetic…”
My late father used to say this mid-head shake any time he visited a restaurant, church, or public space lacking any sense of aesthetic. As a prolific interior designer and revered artist, he ingrained in me early on the difference between craftsmanship and garishness, thoughtfulness and neglect. In spaces and personalities. “You’ll never think clearly in a room painted this ghastly shade of purple,” he warned before helping me opt instead for a soft rose hue in a former beach house I once lived in.
He nodded his head in knowing when I cried in desperation over not being able to absorb the fire hydrant of suggestions from various well-meaning but at times overbearing family and friends as I was going through a divorce at age 40. “Go outside, away from what you see everyday, by yourself, and walk. Slowly. Notice everything around you,” he offered.
I’m happy to say I’ve done that repeatedly since our talk. Five moves in five years, I can describe in detail the particulars of a bench on the towpath in Princeton facing the Delaware & Raritan Canal. The family of deer who’d greet me before dawn as I walked, flashlight in hand, through a wooded area of a development community in Pennsylvania. And now the Somerville Community Path, where I grin at the continuous parade of retrievers, pit bulls, poodles and their cousins on my way to the yoga studio.
Close your eyes here and look inside…”
In my home studio downstairs, the only one watching me is a beautifully carved Indonesian Buddha calmly blessing my practice from the corner of the room. Even so, I can get self-conscious trying on new variations of a pose, especially if it involves the hips. I’m reminded by a fabulous mentor and teacher that sometimes we have to close our eyes, and get out of our own way to re-ignite our inner creative fire.
With these thoughts in mind, I’ll close here. And succumb to the Nespresso machine already…