Expansion Does Not Equal Productivity

As I have been playing with Expansion this month, I’ve realized that periods of rest and restoration are an essential aspect of Expansion.

This is, in a way, counterintuitive to me.

However, if you look at nature, there are cycles of renewal and expansion. Tulips owe their blooms of brilliant color to the restoration process that the bulbs go through during the off season.

I believe that Expansion for us is similar. There are periods of regeneration that support our Expansion. And, those cycles of renewal are a necessary aspect of our Expansion.

So, Expansion does not equal productivity.

This may be obvious, but it wasn’t to me. For some reason, I had been thinking that if I am growing and expanding, it means that I am producing at a steady and energetic pace. And, that the reverse was also true: if I am producing at a steady and energetic pace, I am expanding.

I now believe that we are still expanding during quieter cycles of renewal and reflection, but that it just looks different. These are times of inner expansion, and in these times of quiet and inner connection, we are deepening the foundation that is also part of expansion. We are expanding in an inner sense. This Expansion may not be visible on the outside.

I learned this through my experience in the Direct Watercolor Challenge that I mentioned in this blog post. I’ve been expanding in many ways through producing a painting and sharing it every day. The Challenge has pushed my skills and tested my commitment.

But during the month, I have needed to have several cycles of contemplation and “step-back”, to renew my faith in myself and my courage to keep going, and to understand the nature of my commitment to the process. I needed to keep asking myself what was inspiring my continued engagement and commitment. I needed to refocus my intentions for the project several times during the month. I needed to keep digging deep for the courage to post the “failures” as well as the “successes”. (Turns out they were all successes from the standpoint of the process, as opposed to the outcome, of course.)

In the process of this exploration of Expansion, a question arose in me, which I will share with you, because it is still an open question for me, and I’m very curious about it. If restoration time is an essential part of Expansion, how do you know the difference between a restoration cycle, and inner resistance to Expansion?

What Does Discernment Have to Do With Expansion?

Everything.

I am realizing that we can be open to expansion, receptive to change, ready for a shift, but if we are full-up and full-on, there is no room, and no possibility for expansion.

There’s a common question in life coaching: In order to say “Yes” to this (new opportunity), what do you need to say “No” to?

When I first heard that question, it was revolutionary for me.

But now, I no longer believe that it’s a simple zero sum game. That’s an “outer” way of looking at it.

There’s a difference between expansion and taking more on.

For any true and lasting expansion to occur, an inner shift must happen first.

We will only have the energy, excitement, and vitality necessary for expansion if the expansion is “our’s” to do, and if it is right timing.

I ask:

  • What is mine to do?
  • What is it time for?

These are my doors in to discernment.

I sit with those questions until they inspire and inform me, with a clarity of direction, and an understanding of rhythm and timing.

Maybe this discernment process is what it means to be actively engaged in our own expansion.

How do you actively engage in your expansion?

Sunset

Every day we have a sunset.

I think of sunsets as a kind of completion.

Sunsets are an opportunity and an invitation to pause and reflect about what is completing in our lives.

What is completing for you today?

Sunrise

As I took my morning walk, the Eastern sky lit up in a tapestry of yellow, orange, and blue.

Every day, we are blessed with a sunrise, a new awakening, that is calling us to new potential.

It occurred to me one day that sunrise is a thing worth celebrating and worth pausing and taking a breath.

It is an invitation, every day, to welcome what is awakening in our lives.

How can you celebrate what is awakening within you?

Waiting Again

Nature has been showing me a lot of examples of Waiting lately.

This wren house is waiting for the wrens to return from their warmer winter grounds.

The cycles of nature comfort me, and they invite me to relax into patience, and into waiting with equanimity.

These rhythms of nature reassure me that they is a time for every thing and that my life has momentum, and that I will benefit from moving with that momentum, rather than pushing on it.

How would you like to be with the Waiting, in your life?

 

Totem

There’s a tree that stands midway up our driveway. It’s been dead for several years, but it is still beautiful, and still standing tall. It feels like a totem to me.

It is a sacred presence that welcomes us home.

What are the things that are a sacred presence in your life?

The Wild Places Beyond

This is the view outside of my office window. It is an east view, so I often see the rising sun from here.

This morning my eye was drawn to the hills beyond that fence.

I was asking myself: What are the Wild Places, towards that horizon, that are waiting to be explored?

I can feel the beginnings of a need to explore some new territories.

What are the wild places that are calling to you?

Awakening

The woodpeckers have started to drum on the trees. This is what they do in the Spring, to establish their territories.

To me, the drumming of the woodpeckers symbolizes awakening.

It is one of the early signs that Nature is awakening from the deep slumber of Winter.

What is awakening in you?

Hope

I sketched these Snowbells just after they came up this year.

These bulbs amaze and delight me, because to me, they are little beacons of hope.

They come up in February and subject themselves to all kinds of weather: blizzards, fierce winds, snow and ice, and they still survive, year after year.

They are evidence that Spring is on its way.

What gives you hope?

The Dark Soul of Potential

pot-no-green

Just before winter every year, I fill a pot with potting soil and plant some seeds in it. These are seeds that I have collected during autumn, usually along the road where I live.

It is fun to see what emerges when these seeds are given some light, water, and warmth. It is also fun to have some new growth in the darkness of the winter season.

But mostly I plant them to remind me of the power of being in the darkness, as these seeds are when they are planted, and before the plants start to emerge.

There is a lot going on, beneath the surface of the soil, in the darkness.

These seeds are preparing themselves for growth. They are putting down roots, and then developing their root systems, which will, of course, eventually be the mechanism by which they take in nutrients to grow.

These root systems are what keep them stable when their foliage starts to push up above ground.

These seeds teach me about the blessing of the darkness.

I am comforted to know that the darkness of winter is not just a dead time for me to get through.

It is instead an essential time of being in the darkness, and putting down roots for the creative energy that will grow and emerge from me in Spring.

What is the darkness about for you?

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