Daily Connector | Stillness & a Cup of Coffee | Lavonne van der Zwaag

Recently I was surprised with a package from Julia Cameron. In it was an advance copy of her new book, The Listening Path:  The Creative Art of Attention, scheduled to be released on January 12, 2021. In her introductory letter accompanying the book Cameron writes, “The listening path…asks us to take a moment to stop and listen—and argues that the moment spent tuning in, especially when we think we ‘don’t have time’ doesn’t take time, but gives us time…and clarity, connection, and direction as well.” The book is structured much like her book, The Artist’s Way, in that she provides exercises at the end of each chapter that help us experience what she has just shared. I was gifted with this book because I agreed to read it, do the exercises, and provide thoughtful feedback. So I’ve incorporated it into my morning routine.

Listening by its very nature seems to require being silent and attuned and attentive. In a household with 3 women working from home with their 3 dogs, this can be a challenge. We each have our WebEx and Zoom work meetings in shared spaces and phone heart-to-hearts with clients behind closed doors. We have learned to tune out the activity around us, the conversations that we don’t need to hear, and dogs that wonder aloud what good it does them to have their people at home but they don’t get extra walks, treats, or playtime. This is not a complaint. I am loving this style of working and living with my adult daughters. And I have found that even with my noisy, cluttered household, I can be “silent and attuned”.

A screened porch helps with that endeavor. Starting my day with a cup of coffee on my porch has reacquainted me with the sounds of a city waking up; the living, breathing world in my backyard, particularly the birds and squirrels that chat amongst themselves; and the sounds of autumn (rustling leaves and acorns dropping onto the roof and ground). Interspersed in all of this is the regular schedule of trains announcing their travel through road crossings and the clatter/screeching of wheels and rail encountering each other. Planes drone overhead heading to or from the OSU airport. Some breezy mornings, I’m blessed with the lilting sounds of my wind chimes. Occasionally my dog’s snoring will puncture the symphony of morning. I may be silent but even without the usual sounds of 3 working women and 3 lively dogs, my world is far from silent. I’ve discovered that being silent is not so much the goal as is stillness.

Tuning into all of this each morning has helped quiet my mind and spirit and prepares me to start my day. It provides a path to gratitude and turns my thoughts to the blessings in my life. It allows me to acknowledge the working of the Divine in my life. It is through stillness that I am redirected and renewed. Stillness and a cup of coffee is a great way to start one’s day!