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Living in Season from Waverly Fitzgerald

Living in Season
The official newsletter of School of the Seasons

October 4, 2007


Seasonal Quote
October Calendar Update
My Season: Harvest of Slow Time
Feedback Loop: Newsletter Topics
Living in Season: Seasons of Change
New! Slow Time Book
Special Party: Slow Time Book Launch, October 25
Links: Self-Publishing with Lulu
Holiday Packet: Halloween
Calendar Companion
Signs of Autumn
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Welcome to my semi-monthly newsletter featuring ideas for bringing the beauty of the current season into your life.

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Seasonal Quote

All things on earth point home in old October; sailors to sea, travelers to walls and fences, hunters to field and hollow and the long voice of the hounds, the lover to the love he has forsaken.
— Thomas Wolfe

(I found this quote in the latest newsletter from Meg Cox who writes on family traditions.)

October Calendar Update
The October calendar is up. Check it out for information on the festival of the rosary, the holiday of the water nymphs, herb day, the holiday of the bear goddess, the feast of boiled beans, chrysanthemum day, and, of course, the days of the dead, plus many other seasonal celebrations. Click here for the October calendar.

My Season: Harvest of Slow Time

At the start of the year, I set certain themes for the year and one of them was harvest. I knew that I wanted to harvest all the information I’ve collected while teaching my Slow Time class and publish it in a book. I made Soul Collage ™ cards for each of my themes for the year and the harvest card contained a cornucopia and a large leather-bound book.

Although I didn’t intend for the harvest energy to have an influence on my timeline (I planned to publish the book in January), it seems that it was prescient, as I finally delivered the book to the self publisher of my choice ( on the Harvest Moon, September 26.

What happened during those nine months between my intention and the manifestation of my dream? I’m not sure. I procrastinated. I was busy at my job. I was writing essays on flowers and revising my detective novel and rethinking my historical novel. I was teaching classes and taking classes. And, all the time, I was beating myself up for not getting the book out.

Even though I knew better. Even though the book is about Slow Time and how everything comes in its own season. It’s not lost on me that it took about as long as a pregnancy to birth the book. Though, the book itself is almost 14 years old. I wrote the first version (still available from my web site as a self-published, comb-bound book called School of the Seasons) in 1993.
And I did use the natural time of the moon cycle to finally push me into finishing the book. I entered the final phases of editing at the New Moon in my sign of Virgo, determined to publish it at the full Harvest Moon. It took me the three days of the full moon and three tries on the third day before I finally got it into a format that Lulu could understand and got the message back that my book was published.

Although Autumn is sometimes seen as a season of melancholy and loss, this year I am really savoring the abundance and fulfillment of Autumn, the flavor of harvest.

May you harvest a dream this Autumn,
Waverly Fitzgerald

Feedback Loop: Newsletter Topics

Thanks to all who sent me topics for the newsletter. I’ve already set aside two to address in the next few months. If and when I use your suggestion I will give you credit for the idea and a credit in the School of the Seasons store (you could even use it to buy the Slow Time book). I’m still taking ideas so let me know if you have one (or several) by writing me at

Living in Season: Seasons of Change

(Excerpt from my Slow Time book)

All human life has its seasons, and no one's personal chaos can be permanent. Winter, after all, does not last forever, does it? There is summer, too, and spring, though sometimes when branches stay dark and the earth cracks with ice, one thinks they will never come, that spring, that summer, but they do, and always.
— Truman Capote

While observing the slow process of my book over the past year, I’ve been comforted by reflecting on the seasonal metaphor for change which I first learned while teaching for Centerpoint, a Seattle career-development center. This metaphor is also the basis of an excellent book called Seasons of Change by Carol McClelland.

The idea is a simple one—that we can use the metaphor of the seasons to understand and skillfully navigate change. But it’s a profound idea because it goes counter to the culture. The concept of the career ladder is designed to make us think of heading straight for the top. The Gross National Product is based on the concept of constantly increasing wealth.
By contrast, the cycle of the seasons, like all natural cycles, has a rise and fall, a beginning and an ending. This metaphor can be used to understand change in many areas of life including relationships, careers, and the creative process.

In spring, we often feel excitement and energy stirring. In a relationship, this is the time of infatuation, when you can’t help mentioning your lover’s name in every conversation. Or if you are looking for a partner, this might be the time when you are dating, trying to find a good match. In the realm of work, it can be at the start of a new job, or a time of looking for a job, sending out resumes, going on interviews. You are living in the land of ideals, all promise and potential. In the creative process, this is when I’m entertaining a flock of ideas, not sure which to choose. I may even be fluttering back and forth between different projects before settling on one and devoting myself to it.

Although spring sounds like fun (and often is), it has its challenges. In the five season system of Chinese medicine, spring is associated with change and transformation, but also with the emotions of anger and frustration. If you think of green shoots emerging in the spring or baby birds learning to fly, they must struggle for survival. I remember my first months at my current job, when I was struggling to learn new procedures, and having trouble moving from my flexible, free-lance life to working on a schedule and on a team. I was not sure at first that I would ever find ease.

With ease comes the summer. In the creative process, this is when I’m writing and I know where the article or book is going and the words are flowing. I’m in that process which Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls Flow, where you’re working on the edge of your abilities so you’re totally focused but you have the skills to deal with problems that arise. In a relationship, this may be the time of commitment. In a career or a job, this represents a time when you are feeling competent and successful.

Summer does have a down side as well. Sometimes we feel so good about our accomplishments or our relationships, they take over our lives. Suddenly we are consumed by our passion. In Chinese medicine, the positive emotion for summer is joy but the negative emotion can be masked feelings and pretense. Trying to keep on producing at a certain pace, we risk burn out.

Summer doesn’t last forever and inevitably disappointments pile up like the leaves of autumn. In the Chinese medicinal system, late summer is associated with worry and autumn with grief. Both emotions arise as you face the possibility that this novel (or article) might not work, this person may not be your partner forever, this job has many problems. Sometimes changes are thrust upon us. (getting fired or laid off, a break-up).

In my work life, the first sign of autumn is usually boredom. Once I’ve learned how to do the job well, I don’t want to keep doing the same thing over and over again. (Come to think of it, boredom is also the first sign of decay in my relationships.) In my creative life, Autumn usually arrives in the middle of a novel. I suddenly question the direction and motivation of the characters and want to rethink all the choices I’ve made.

Autumn in the cycle of change is often perceived in a negative way. What makes it especially painful is our desire to avoid it. This is a time when people take short-cuts, escaping into addiction or heading straight back to spring to look for new relationships, new jobs, new novels. Dawna Markova writes that her strategy for many years when she experienced the stagnation of fall was to get stoned. And the only time she experienced the complete letdown of winter was when she got sick. She writes “I was living my life as if it were always day, always summer, always up, up and away.”

The Chinese seasonal model suggests a healthier way to deal with autumn, a way that is in alignment with this season of abundance in the natural world. When the body is in balance, worry becomes love and compassion. The language of judgment and blame can fall away as we recognize the “beautiful needs” at the heart of our desires (I’m using language here I learned in classes I’ve taken with Holly Eckert in Nonviolent Communication, a way of listening and speaking developed by Marshall Rosenberg that focuses on connection and compassion).

Another shift that brings us into balance occurs when we move from grief to the grace of “letting go.” When we recognize the necessity of an ending, we can honor it. A graceful approach to autumn could include expressing gratitude, delegating tasks or passing on what you have learned to others, all activities that resonate with the harvest theme.

Winter in the cycle of change is a time of rest and retreat. In the creative process, this is a time when nothing is happening. Absolutely nothing. Nothing is visible. No new ideas are stirring. I’m always terrified at this point that I will never find my way back to my creative work again.

Fear is the emotion associated with winter in Chinese medicine. It’s an common reaction to loss and change. We become afraid to try again because the last relationship or novel or job didn’t work out well. We turn inwards, protecting our vulnerability. And although this might seem wrong, in a culture which believes we should always be active, this is the proper task for winter. This is a time for nurturing ourselves and healing, resting and waiting for the new vision and renewed energy of spring.

The great value of the seasonal cycle is that it gives us hope. We might not know how long we have to wait patiently for our new vision, but just like the buds swelling on the branches in spring, one day something new will appear.

Where are you in the cycle of change with your job, career, vocation? Look back on your previous experiences with this part of the cycle. What helped you through? How can you create a nurturing environment that will permit you to do the work of this season?

Look at other areas of your life: personal growth, spiritual development, creative projects, relationships. What seasons are you in? If you share your life with another person, consider where they are in the cycles of change and how you can complement each other.

Eckert, Holly,
Fitzgerald, Waverly, Slow Time, Priestess of Sword Press 2007
Markova, Dawna, I Will Not Die an Unlived Life, Conari 2000
McClelland, Carol, Seasons of Change, Conari 1998

New Book: Slow Time

My Slow Time class is now a beautiful book. If you want to see what it looks like or want more information about the book, visit the website devoted to the book:

One of the students in my Slow Time class had this to say about her experience:

“My perception of time changed from taking this course.  Time before was my enemy -- I fought it and it usually won.  I complained that I never had enough of it and like an elusive trophy, I hunted time.  Now I can honestly say that time is a friend, a cherished friend, because I know that I will always have enough of it.” 

The book contains twelve weeks of reflections, stories and playful exercises to help you transform your relationship with time. Jump off the ever-spinning hamster wheel of artificial time and experience the flow and the rhythm of natural time. Each chapter explores a different interval of time, moving through moments, hours, days and nights, weeks, moons, months, seasons, years, and ending with the lifetime, before returning to the still point, the timeless moment again.

Christina Baldwin, the author of the new book Storycatcher, wrote about Slow Time:

“What I like best about this book is that it allows me to choose the changes in rhythm that I can manage and to work from there.”

Because I found an error in the back cover, I will be fixing that error next week and re-issuing the book in a second edition. If you want to own a rare, soon to be an out-of-print first edition, order now.

To order it directly, you can use this link:

You can also download it for a slightly lower price ($12). I’m not sure what that will look like as I haven’t tried it myself. I suspect you would get the pdf pages, designed for a 6x9 book, which you could then print and put in a notebook or folder.

If you want the really Slow version of the book, I will be publishing it on the web starting in January, one chapter a month. You could print one chapter each month and by the end of the year, you would have the whole book.

Links: Self-Publishing with Lulu

For those of you who are interested in self-publishing, I have to say that so far I am pleased with the service provided by Lulu ( The website is easy to navigate and the service is easy to use.

I wanted my book to be as beautiful and professional looking as possible so I hired my friend and webmistress, Joanna Powell Colbert, whose design work I knew well from working with her on The Beltane Papers many years ago. She graciously took time away from her current art project, the Gaian Tarot, to design the inside of my book and the book cover — I had commissioned an original piece of art from the cover from another artist whose work I admire, Anna Witte.

Joanna provided me with the files I needed to send to Lulu and I found it easy to work through the steps involved in creating a paperback book. (I’m also impressed by what they say about their ability to publish photo books and calendars—those are my next two projects: a weekly planner based on the Calendar Companion and a French Republican wall calendar.) I designed the back cover myself and it’s the most amateurish looking part of the book (I couldn’t figure out how to do some simple things with the text, like italicize titles and move elements around on the page.) For the next book I publish, I will design the front, back and spine as one piece so I have more control over the way it looks.

Lulu sets a production cost based on the number of pages in the book. I can then change the overall price of the book. They take a commission of 20% out of the retail price I set for the book. Thus if my 193 page book costs $8 for Lulu to produce, and it’s priced at 19.95, I earn about $9 a book. If the book is sold through an online retailer (like Amazon), I will make about $4 a book (that’s because the retailer buys the book at close to the production cost). That’s still better than the 10% to 15% royalty I would get from a major publisher, although not as profitable as printing the book and selling it myself. But the nice thing about Lulu is that anyone can order it directly from them and Lulu will print it (that’s the on demand part of print-on-demand) and ship it to them immediately. I don’t have to keep a stack of books in my garage or put them in packages and take them to the post office for shipping.

Lulu also provides a distribution package you can purchase which provides you with an ISBN so that your book can be placed with online retailers like Amazon and Borders and Barnes and Noble. I’m not sure how this works yet but I am pursuing this option. I also don’t know how the payments are processed and sent to me, but I am looking forward to finding out. I love writing books. I love making books. And I am grateful to Lulu for making it so easy.

Special Party: Slow Time Book Launch, October 25

7 PM at Richard Hugo House, 1634 Eleventh Avenue, Seattle WA 98122

You are invited to my book launch party to be held on October 25, the day after Take Back Your Time Day, at Richard Hugo House, the literary arts center in Seattle, where I work. I am inviting John deGraaf who launched the Take Back Your Time Day movement and hope that he will say a few words about their accomplishments and agenda. I will read an excerpt from the book and, of course, have some books available to sell. We will also enjoy a buffet of seasonal food catered by my daughter, Shaw. And Hugo House has a full bar, so there will be drinks of all kinds available. Come and meet me and celebrate this harvest of autumn. I would love to see you.

Holiday Packet: Halloween

Order now if you wish to get 40 pages of ideas on how to celebrate Samhain, Halloween and Days of the Dead before the holiday. The email version will be sent within 24 hours.

This illustrated portfolio includes:

  • A panoramic review of how Days of the Dead has been celebrated
  • How this holiday evolved—a history of our alienation from the ancestors
  • The last of the autumnal transformation mysteries: making cider
  • Divinations for this particular crack between the worlds
  • Recipes for traditional foods like dead man's bones and soul cakes
  • Instructions for making skulls and masks
  • And much more.

The email version costs $9. It will be sent to you as an attached Word file within 24 hours of your order. The print version is $14. Please allow ten days for delivery.

You can order your packet through our Store.

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 Autumn/Winter

Julie from Portland, Oregon sent me both Signs of Autumn and Winter on October 3. She wrote:

This morning I saw my first skein of geese heading south down the Willamette Valley; hard to believe they are the same creatures — romantic in a wavering V, their wild calls thrilling the senses — as the ones grazing the grass on my favorite golf course!

Also this morning for the first time, a streetlight was on in a foggy, tree-shrouded street on my way to work.  From autumn to winter in just 20 minutes and five blocks!

Please send me your signs of the season and I will post them as well at Signs of the Season.


Copyright © Waverly Fitzgerald 2007
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Living in Season in other electronic or print publications as
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