Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons
January 22, 2007
St Vincent's Day
My Season: New Year Pledges
Slow Time Book Is Coming
Living in Season: Slower/Faster
Holiday Packet: Candlemas
New Year Collage Class in Seattle
Prices Going Up
Calendar CompanionSigns of Winter
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life. We've finally updated the newsletter format so we can provide a much prettier version.
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My Season: New Year Pledges
I always take the month of January off, to dream about what I want to do for the new year. Then on Candlemas, I make a pledge, a solemn promise to undertake some year-long activity that will deepen my connection with nature and spirit or expand my creativity.
In previous years, I've promised to take one day off, to take photographs on all the seasonal holidays, to write a haiku a day. I wrote about some of my previous pledges in my newsletter last year. Here's the link.
As January is coming to an end, I've been wondering (and somewhat worrying) about what I would pledge this year. Then I realized I had already chosen. A few weeks ago I bought a blank journal (instead of my usual lined journals) and I've been drawing pictures in it most days. I was motivated by a desire to draw the plants I'm writing about in my blog.
So that's my pledge: it's two fold: I will write a blog entry every week about the flower of the week. And I will draw a picture every day (not necessarily of a plant).
A pledge is different than a New Year's resolution. The word resolution always implies that you will try, but not necessarily achieve your goal. I think of a pledge as much more solemn. It is something which is within your power to accomplish. All you have to do is keep your promise.
A pledge is also different from a goal. I have many goals for the year, including publishing my Slow Time book. But a pledge has a spiritual dimension. When you find it difficult, you remind yourself that you have promised to do this for yourself, the world and the Great Spirit.
If you feel inclined, I invite you to make a pledge for the year and make it public by posting it on my web site. I've set up a special page for posting these pledges. They'll be visible all year so you can remind yourself of what you pledged. Also other people will know of your pledge, which may offer an extra measure of accountability.
When thinking of what you want to pledge, look first for something you've already decided, without even realizing you've done so. I suggest making only one pledge. (OK, I admit I squeezed in two but they are related.) A long list can be overwhelming; one pledge helps make your priorities crystal clear.
May you enjoy the opportunity to start the new year fresh,
Post your New Year's Pledge here!
Slow Time Book is Coming
I've been planning this for years but I'm finally self-publishing the Slow Time book, which I've taught as an online class in previous years. I hope to have a version available through Lulu.com by mid-February. Meanwhile, enjoy the excerpt from the first chapter below:
Living in Season: Faster/Slower
There is a secret bond between slowness and memory, between speed and forgetting.
Does it seem like time is going by faster and faster? It's not entirely an illusion. There are many signs that we are becoming accustomed to moving at a rapid pace. Gleick has written an entire book under the title Faster, describing the Western?s world?s obsession with speed.
Jay Griffiths provides many examples in the chapter on speed in her marvelous book on time, A Sideways Look at Time. She quotes two childbirth experts in Dublin who write: "Prolonged labour, in this hospital, was defined as 36 hours in 1963, reduced to 24 hours in 1968, and, finally to 12 hours in 1972." She also cites the results of a Harvard survey on Americans Use of Time. In 1965, 25% of the people polled said they felt hurried. That percentage increased to 32% in 1985 and 38% by 1992. Griffiths notes: "The percentage of the rushed has grown, and has grown faster and faster."
In response to increasing time pressure, we've developed methods of doing things even more quickly, like preparing food in the microwave and gulping down missing nutrients in the form of multi-vitamins. In his book, The Slow Down Diet, Marc David talks about the difference between the way the French eat and the way Americans eat. The French take several hours for lunch, drink wine with their meals, eat lots of cheese and high-fat foods, eat smaller portions, insist on fresh and high-quality ingredients and have their largest meal in the middle of the day. They are more likely to smoke and less likely to exercise yet they have lower rates of heart disease and lower blood cholesterol than most Americans.
Scientists observing this phenomenon decided that the polyphenols in the wine the French drank made the difference which is when we started hearing that drinking red wine was good for you. Suddenly polyphenols became available in pill form, in case you were too rushed to drink a glass of wine. Nobody noticed the context of the French meal: the leisurely time, the savoring of the experience and the ingredients, the socializing that accompanied the meal. David contends that a relaxed eater has a better chance of digesting a meal and feeling satisfied afterwards.
He offers one amusing story about an American geologist who was supervising a three-week dig in rural France. She got frustrated because her French crew disappeared into town every day for two-and-a-half hour lunch. So she told them they needed to eat lunch on site. They cheerfully agreed and the next day, a truck pulled into the parking area at lunchtime. Out of the truck came tables, tablecloths, silverware, china, flowers, a portable kitchen and plenty of food. Then the workers sat down and enjoyed a two-hour meal, complete with wine, on site.
Italian food writer, Carlo Petrini, launched the Slow Food movement in 1986 outraged by the opening of a MacDonalds besides the Spanish Steps in Rome. This movement, which has spread across the globe, champions locally grown seasonal food, artisanal production, the preservation of traditional recipes and the enjoyment of leisurely meals shared with family and friends. Carl Honoré describes the influence of the Slow Food movement and others in his book, In Praise of Slowness, which includes chapters on the design of slow cities (where walking is encouraged), the benefits of slowing down on health, the pleasures of slow sex and suggestions for raising unhurried children.
Ralph Keyes in his book, Timelock, offers some suggestions for slowing down:
- Take time outs during the day
- Choose the slowest route, not the fastest: Walk instead of drive. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Grate your own cheese rather than buying grated cheese.
- Distinguish between necessary haste (late for an appointment) and impatience (one-hour photo developing)
- Listen to your body
- Take a bath instead of a shower
What ways can you find to slow down?
David, Marc, The Slow Down Diet, Healing Arts Press 2005
Gleick, James, Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything, Vintage 2000
Griffiths, Jay, A Sideways Look at Time, Tarcher/Penguin 2004
Honoré, Carl, In Praise of Slowness: How a Worldwide Movement is Challenging the Cult of Speed, Harper San Francisco 2004
Keyes, Ralph, Timelock: How Life Got So Hectic and What You Can Do About It
Slow Food www.slowfood.com
Holiday Packet: Candlemas/Imbolc
On February 2nd, we celebrate the ancient festival of Candlemas (Imbolc in the Celtic tradition) with its powerful messages of hope and the potential for change. My illustrated, 45 page portfolio contains
- ancient holiday customs of Candlemas, Imbolc, Groundhogs Day, Brigid, Sementiva, St. Agnes
- more rowdy customs from the spring full moon festivals of Lupercalia, Purim, Valentines Day and Mardi Gras
- instructions for creating candles & Brigid's crosses
- recipes for navettes, Hamantaschen, blinis, nun's ribbons, Agatha's breasts, jelly doughnuts and other rich pastries of the season
- lore of the dandelion & the snowdrop
- songs and poems
It is available in an email version for $9 (sent within 24 hours) or via snail mail for $14 (please allow 10 days for delivery). Order through our Store.
Class: New Year Collages
One of my favorite activities for Candlemas is making a collage to represent my dreams, wishes and intentions for the new year. This year I'm going to offer this activity as an afternoon workshop in Seattle. We'll meet on Capitol Hill from 6 to 9 PM on Monday, February 5 to create our collages. The cost is $30.
I'll provide you with more information about what to bring and where we're meeting, once you register. You can sign up here using Paypal or send me an email.
Prices Going Up
On February 1, I'm going to raise most of the prices on the web site by about a dollar. The email holiday packets which were $9 will go up to $10; the print versions which were $14 will go up to $15. Some items will stay the same, like the Twelve Days book and the Calendar Companion.
Calendar Companion: Leaves from the Tree of Time
This is a graceful way to incorporate spirit and seasons into your life. Use it along with your usual planning tools and calendar to help you:
- Slow time down
- Consult your soul while creating your schedule
- Make time for what's truly important in your life
- Move in rhythm with the seasons and the moon
Every week for 52 weeks you will receive a brief email with a reflection on the qualities of the present time period and one suggestion, task or question that you can savor throughout the week.
Start whenever you like. When you order the Calendar Companion, you will receive the next week's calendar companion, along with an introductory email.
$20 for a year's worth of gentle reminders to help you stay aligned with natural rhythms. To order or to see a sample reflection, go to our Store.
Signs of Winter
Where ever you live, send me your signs of the season and we will post them at the website at Signs of the Season.
Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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