Pick a stone

IMG_1030 stonesI collect stones. Stones with strange patterns. Stones with holes in them. Stones with fossils. Stones in wonderful colors. Most of them are polished by sea and wind, each season more beautiful than the last. A couple have words on written on them, all have a story to tell.

I keep some in a glass bowl on my table.
We were having coffee, she was crying. Everyone is against me, I can not go back to that job, they all say different things on what is wrong with me, she sobbed. It could be true, I did not protest. She wanted to know what she should do.

Pick a stone for each of your colleagues and tell me about them I said. She did. The stones were evaluated, this black one is a doctor, this aqua one the other nurse, and so on. They were all placed on a long line. Where are you then? I asked. She searched through the bowl once more and finally came up with a small grey rough stone. Put yourself in the middle I said. She was not able to do that. She choose a spot outside the line with the other fifteen.

No let’s make some piles I said. What do they say to you. She remembered something that everyone had said, and I made her think it over. Was it really about her? Was it about her way of reacting, was it something she really had done wrong, were they actually ganging up on her? She talked, moved the stones, sorted them. Close to the end of the session there were two piles and two single stones, herself and her boss. She was able to start thinking about the messages the person in each pile sent her. Perhaps there was things she could talk through with them?

There still was the issue with her boss. In some way or other that had to be resolved.  We did not go into that yet. We did not talk about how to approach the others. In fact we did not do anything else than take another look at the mess, trying to find the elements that could be left for now, trying to select what would be the first step.

Her exercise until our next talk would be just that, to remember, they were not all against her. Next time we would practice the eventualities of her talk with her boss, we would perhaps schedule an appointment for both of them. Not know, for now she was just to find strength in the fact that there was another way of looking at life. She was not alone.

Any thing better than no thing?


I have an erratic creative process. When making a quilt, painting a picture, knitting a sweater or writing a piece I start with a vague idea. As when we were chopping firewood up in the mountains. I looked down and saw the sun filtered through the fall-colored leaves of the wild blueberries. They were vivid green, dark blue, purple, orange and all hues of red, all at once. Set against a background of wet glittering moss, it was beautiful beyond words. I knew I had to make something to carry that moment with me into the winter.

As soon as we were inside, I started to pull out all the knitting wool, embroidery floss, quilting fabrics I had. Surprisingly much, as we were at the cabin, I had fun though, well into the evening, and then nothing made sense. I was one step further and had an idea board of colors, I did not have a project, the living room was a total mess, everyone was hungry, I was tired.
To me a well known, creative tangle. My first thought was I have to do something, after all this mess, I cannot just clear everything away! I was just reaching for my cutter, to at least do the pieces for a quilt. I envisioned myself in my rocking chair in front of the fire, sewing the most glorious quilt, as soon as dinner was over. I did ruin some golden batik, I was stressed, and did not feel the joyous calm I do when I am in a creative flow.

This is when I know I have to stop, and do nothing. Almost,nothing that is.
The nothing that helps me on at this stage is to clear and sort. To fold the big pieces of fabric, to put the small ones in a nice basket. I make all the wool into neat balls, as I go everything that did not make it to my idea board is cleared away. I wonder where the empty teacups came from, and take them to the kitchen. I lay the rest out on my work table, and then I do nothing, I quit, for now. IMG_1662plansWhen I come back to the project, my mind has been playing with the elements of a possible project, not a mess.
To me, this approach work in any mess, especially when my brain has come to a stop. No matter how much I try to force on, it only gets worse.
Then I stop. I clear my desk, or the space I am working at. If it is a mental problem, I make it visible by putting it on paper. Every big and small thread of thought that disturbs me. Then I sort. Normally the problem has fewer pieces than I thought, it was just entangled by all the other stuff I tried to remember. When everything is on its own list, I take a break, I do nothing on the problem. When I come back, the elements of the problem has not altered a bit, but I can see them clearly and hopefully make some sense of it. By doing nothing, actually before I have done nothing at all.

And the blueberry leaves? They ended up as a knitted jacket, well, they will be as I have not figured out which buttons to use. Guess it is time to do…something.

Nothing, nothing at all

IMG_0711hvorYou know all these things that should have been done before?

It is sometimes called procrastination, which makes it sound like a disease that should be cured. Immediately, not later.

Words have power, does not “reflect, thinking it through, making a plan” all sound like a much more mature way of….well, just not doing it today?

I do claim that “to do nothing” is an underestimated tool to untangle the tangles of life. I think of it as the fourway stop signs. You do not stop forever. You will go, eventually, you are just given some extra seconds to assess the situation, understand the traffic, and adjust your speed and action.

We do that, of course we stop at the line in the road. Unfortunately there is no stopping line that makes us think before we force ahead at the really important crossroads of life. We have to introduce those ourselves, perhaps some of our tangles even are created when we do not understand when to stop, when to reflect and when to go ahead?