HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY?
If I get to decide, I’ll start my day with an hour or two of meditation and writing, early, when the whole house is asleep and my mind is sharp and lucid. But since I have two small kids, I usually don’t get to decide and my mornings are instead filled with feeding and dressing and hugging and brushing and packing and driving to school. It took me some time to accept and surrender into that reality, and to see what’s beautiful—sacred even—about being needed like that.
Because at my core I’m a lone wolf. I like to roam, far and wide. I like to mind my own business and have others mind theirs. Fortunately, small children will have none of that. So for a long time, I had to wrestle and bend and stretch this unyielding spirit, until something softened and I could relax into the full family life that is my reality right now. I’m still a lone wolf, but I’ve also learned how to belong and connect on a deeper level than I ever thought possible.
But I do try wake up early enough to do a five-minute meditation before the kids wake up too. These days, that is good enough.
WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU ARE OVERWHELMED OR STRESSED?
I crave spaciousness. Plenty of space inside and outside. That’s crucial to me. Overwhelm is the exact opposite of spaciousness, so if I find myself feeling overwhelmed, I know I have strayed very far from my truth.
When that happens (and it happens all the time) I stop. For most of my life, I had no clue how to stop or rest. Even if my body stopped my mind kept going, and eventually that made me sick. But I’ve learned.
Sometimes stopping means just pausing to take a deep breath and re-connect with my body. Sometimes it means walking away from whatever I’m doing, stepping outside, or going to bed. This takes enormous discipline for me. My default tendency is always to keep going, to do more, to make things happen. I have a drive that’s out of this world, which is a true gift when balanced with proper self-care, awareness and slow time. If not balanced, it will burn down the house.
When I feel overwhelmed, it’s usually because I’m bent on achieving a specific outcome of some sort—whether it’s work-related or just getting my eldest off to school on time. When I stop and breathe and allow some space back into my life again, I remember that it’s actually not important. Not like that. Either we will be on time or we will be late, and either way, I can handle it.
I don’t fear the unwanted outcomes like before. Someone gets mad, I can handle it. Something doesn’t happen the way I thought it would, life will go on. For sure. It’s a willingness, I think, to let whatever happens happen. Bring it on. I’ll have life in all of its messiness, not just my preferred version of it.
WHAT GIVES YOU THE FEELING OF TRUE BLISS WITHIN?
Those moments of absolute presence, when I fully inhabit my whole body and the space I’m in, when time seems to slow down or dissolve altogether, and every sense impression sink deep, deep below the surface, touching the core of my being.
This can happen in meditation, or during sex, or when I slip into the cool black waters of the lake on a hot summer day, or when a warm and sleepy little body settles in my lap, thumb in her mouth, or when I get deliciously lost in writing. Somehow I drop right into presence and the full impact of it erases everything else from my mind—it erases even my mind—and for a brief moment of bliss, I touch the truth.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? Slow Sex, by Nicole Daedone (highly recommended!), Light Is the New Black by Rebecca Campbell, and Momma Zen by Karen Maezen Miller. And I’m always returning to Women Who Run With Wolves, by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW?
My sister has excellent taste in music, so I follow her playlists on Spotify and revel in everything from Florence and the Machine, to Sigùr Ros, to Snatam Kaur.
Apart from that, I don’t listen to music that often. Not because I don’t like it, but because I so love silence. Music opens doors for me, to dance, to fire, to emotional release. But silence, oh my. Silence is my door to the eternal.
WHAT IS YOUR GO-TO SIMPLE RECIPE?
Just kale, chopped and lightly fried in good olive oil, with salt, garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice. It goes with just about anything (and my two-year-old happens to love it). Actually, when I think of it, olive oil, salt, garlic and lemon juice works wonders for many things, mushrooms, fresh fish, most veggies. It’s a very reliable quartet of flavours.
WHAT ARE SOME SIMPLE THINGS YOU DO FOR SELF-CARE?
Self-care has become the most important part of both my practice and my teachings the last couple of years (and for most of us, it’s the most difficult thing to learn). Self-care is not, as I thought before, a matter of minding my health in order to prevent myself from burning out; it is the very axis around which my whole creative life revolves. Through radical self-care, I fill up and overflow. My light, my work, my words, my love depend on that well to be full. So I commit to it fiercely these days.
On a practical level, I trust the impulses from my body and respond to them as quickly as I can, given that the kids won’t always sympathise with my need for a nap, for instance. But I try to go to bed early that day instead. I particularly tend to my sleeping habits, since sleep has always been elusive to me.
I meditate daily, and finally I’ve come to the point where this is non-negotiable. The difference it makes in my life is, well, yes: radical.
I am disciplined when it comes to using technology and social media. Too much distraction and I’m thrown off course, so I make sure I’m unplugged regularly, daily, to be able to give my family and myself the gift of undivided attention.
I‘m learning to give myself permission to follow joy, unapologetically, even when I can’t see where it will lead me.
I keep a spacious schedule. Nothing makes me happy and calm like unplanned time. It’s not always possible, and I get lost in a race to meet deadlines sometimes too, but I always come back to that deep desire for spaciousness and do my best to shape my life around it.
I revel in beauty. Images. Words. Art. The landscape outside. The shape of a pretty teacup.
And tea. Always good tea.
WHAT DOES NOURISHMENT LOOK LIKE TO YOU?
It’s in the simple things. I want less of almost everything (except creative power and love!). Less mindless doing, less striving, less distraction, less must-haves and must-dos, less talking, less nonsense, less noise.
Nourishment is a hot bath in my old cast iron tub. It’s lighting a fire in our fireplace on a cold autumn morning. It’s true connection, a sacred circle of women sharing what’s in their hearts. It’s a few lines that move me in a good book. A cup of really good Yunnan Gold. Writing a letter to a loved one by hand. Me and my daughter lying on our backs in the snow watching the impossibly starry sky, lost for words at the beauty of it. Touching the empty surface of a paper with the paintbrush and watching the colour start spreading. It’s the scent of my love, his strong hands and curly hair. It’s touching the trunk of a very old tree. It’s bare feet on Mother Earth.
WHAT ARE SOME FAVOURITE MANTRAS YOU CLING TO?
No more striving. That’s the promise I made when all the pushing and achieving made me sick, and that I stick to, come what may. It has changed my life and my work, that conscious softening and opening, and keeps changing it, as my understanding of what true creative power is—and how we access it—grows deeper and deeper.
And it’s not exactly a mantra, but I do often remind myself of who won the race between the tortoise and the hare.
PLEASE SHARE SOME WORDS OF WISDOM YOU’VE LEARNED AS A DIRECT RESULT OF SOULFUL AND EMBODIED LIVING.
When we let go of the struggle, we come to see that returning to our Selves and to our true expression is not a long, treacherous quest for something outside of us; it’s a soft unraveling, a delicate peeling away, a coming closer, one breath after another, to recognising what already is.
We are so much more ourselves in each moment than we acknowledge. In so many ways, we have already arrived. So much is completed in the letting go and the change is happening long before we see it manifest in the outer world, and without us clutching the steering wheel. Only our faith is required. Our softening, our tears, our honest asking, our surrender and our fumbling hands, unaccustomed to receiving. Our brave hearts, weary but willing to open, again and again.
We are asked to not know. To unlearn. And as we do, a light shines brighter and brighter. Even now, our true expression shines through. We may fear it, we may try to hide it, we may remain unaware of the depth and nuance of our own voice, but still others can hear it. (We see you, my love.)
In just realising that, we are already home.
Anna Lovind is a writer, editor and mentor of hungry women.
She writes about what it takes to live a happy, sustainable creative life, and through her online course, The Creative Doer, she helps brilliant creatives of all disciplines to go from dreaming to doing.
Anna lives in an old log cabin on a mountainside, overlooking a lake, where she drinks endless cups of tea, tends her garden and her kids, and writes.
Connect with Anna: annalovind.com