The following is an excerpt from one of my favorite books for any woman seeking to become well-fed. This particular passage is the prologue and when I read it, back in 2003, I was so moved that I had it printed on a t-shirt. I just needed to plaster these words on my chest because they captured so much of what I was awakening to in and of my own body. If these words cause you to have a certain kind of ache, then I ask you not to tune that out. If these words stir you, a part of you knows that they are medicine, truth, and art all in one.
Pass them on.
The women linger at the water’s edge, and they are stunning in the most unusual way: large women, voluptuous, abundant, delighted. They lounge along the river bank, they lift their arms toward the sun, their hair ripples down their backs, which are smooth and broad and strong.
There is softness in the way they move, and also strength and sensuality, as though they revel in the feel of their own heft and substance.
Step back from the canvas, and observe, think, feel.
This is an image of bounty, a view of female physicality in which a woman’s hungers are both celebrated and undifferentiated, as though all her appetites are of a piece, the physical and the emotional entwined and given equal weight. Food is love on this landscape, and love is sex, and sex is connection, and connection is food; appetites exist in a full circle, or in a sonata where eating and touching and making love and feeling close are all distinct chords that nonetheless meld with and complement one another.
Renoir, who created this image, once said that were it not for the female body, he never could have become a painter. This is clear: there is love for women in each detail of the canvas, and love for self, and there is joy, and there is a degree of sensual integration that makes you want to weep, so beautiful it seems, and so elusive.
Appetites: Why Women Want by Caroline Knapp
As you may know, I’m a student of Wayne Muller. His book, Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in our Busy Lives was a total game-changer for me. In fact, I kept my own non-traditional sabbath for several years inspired by Muller’s words. This practice still influences how I live my daily life and my work in the world. You don’t need to be religious to benefit from this profound book–I’m not.
Muller has a fantastic new book out: A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough. Doesn’t the title just make you happy?! I wanted to share this excerpt from the book with you because it so wonderfully sums up why I coach and what I love about coaching.
“So in order to live well from the inside out, to listen for the right choices and the firmly and courageously act on them we simply cannot do this alone….
Because we are not taught or supported to live in this way, rarely educated or encouraged to listen and act from our own inner wisdom, never told how to follow the firm but invisible thread of the next right thing through the world, we will always need the support of good, honest friends.
We are called to be strong companions and clear mirrors with one another, to seek those who reflect with compassion and a keen eye how we are doing, whether we seem centered or off course, grounded or flailing.
As in all sacred, life giving practices that require a deep and confident faith in ourselves, we need the nourishing company of others to create the circle needed for growth, freedom, and healing.”
– Wayne Muller, A Life of Being, Having, and Doing Enough
While Evangelical Christianity isn’t my personal path, I find these words from, Charles Swindoll, an evangelical minister, so grounding and such an eloquent reminder of our power in life that I had to share them.
No matter our lot, no matter the goody bag we were given upon birth, we are sovereign and powerful beings in charge of the lens through with which we view life.
When I first came upon this passage I was so enamored with the words and sentiment that I hand wrote it and framed it, twice, giving one to my grandfather and one to my mother as gifts. Like the sound of a meditation bell, whenever I walk past one of these quote in their houses, I am instantly brought back to the perspective of empowered choice and gratitude.
I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life.
Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, the education, the money, than circumstances, than failure, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company… a church… a home.
The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past…we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable.
The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.
To forge our lives into works of art, to master the craft of living, to work patiently with the force of life, and to become ourselves in action requires courage and genuine commitment. It is both an inner commitment–to accept who we are and what we stand for–and an outer one–to take that into the marketplace. In short, we are challenged to make our lives into statements of that which we believe in. This sounds like a tall order, and it is. To touch our authenticity we will have to walk through the fires of ordeal not once but many times. But gold is borne of this fire. Our work in this world is the way in which the base elements are transformed.
So start with an hour. Move to a day. Go for a lifetime.
: From Rick Jarrow’s Creating the Work You Love: Courage, Commitment, and Career
Image Credit: Eva Juliet’s “Take, a big, deep breath” from her Etsy shop
“Our willingness to rest depends on what we believe we will find there. At rest, we come face-to-face with the essence of life.”
This quote comes from Sabbath: Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives by the wise Wayne Muller. This book was pivotal in my life. It renewed my commitment and connection to quiet, to play, to ritual, to spaciousness, to my spirit, and to myself.
And while Muller is a best-selling author, it always surprises me how few people know of this text or the many others he has written. Had you heard of him? Have you read this book? I hope my little shout-out love letter here will bring many of you who hadn’t to know his powerful work.
Here’s one of my favorite passages from Sabbath:
“What if our life is simply a time when we are blessed with both sadness and joy, health and disease, courage and fear — and all the while we work, pray, and love, knowing that the promised land we seek is already present in the very gift of life itself, the inestimable privilege of a human birth? What if this single human life is itself the jewel in the lotus, the treasure hidden in the field, the pearl of great price? What if all the way to heaven is heaven?”
Nearly every page of my copy of Sabbath is covered in aged yellow highlighter and inked underscores of the places that moved me. If you’re life is calling out for reconnection and your world is too noisy for you to hear yourself or whatever divine source you relate to, I hope you’ll make time for quiet rest and for Muller’s writings.
More musings on keeping sabbath to come….