In my part of the world, we're now a couple weeks into Fall, but it still feels very much like Summer. Today will feature another day with a high in the 90s (Fahrenheit) with no hint of rain.
It's been extra dry here since July, and it shows. My grass is brown and brittle. The plants in my landscaping are scorched and wilting. My shrubs are drooping. The leaves that the trees are shedding like an out-of-control bout of dandruff are uniformly brown.
Even though my tree-filled yard means that Fall creates an enormous amount of extra yard work for me as I deal with all of the leaves, I still love the usual burst of colors that comes with this time of year as the leaves turn such amazing colors before falling.
Not only are the colors themselves breathtaking beautiful, they remind me every year of the possibility that I can face hard times and let go with grace and beauty knowing that there is hope for new life in whatever "Spring" will come my way. For me, Fall is inspiration for how I want to live my kintsugi life.
It doesn't look like we are going to get very much of that inspiring color this year, though.
Even if it were to start raining today enough to make up the deficit for the last couple of months, it wouldn't be enough to prompt the richness of color I love. The amount of color the Fall season brings is a factor of the water and other nourishing conditions the trees receive throughout the year long before the actual time when the leaves fall.
Don't get me wrong! The trees (and the rest of my yard) does need water now, and ongoing nourishment of the trees even as they are dropping their leaves is very important for their health as winter approaches, but increased watering now won't do anything to change the color of the leaves. Now it's just a matter of health and survival.
We're really not any different.
When we are facing the hard times in our lives when things we love are falling away and one of life's winter seasons is approaching, it's vitally important to nourish our souls for our own emotional, mental, and spiritual health. By that time, however, our self-care and self-nourishment is focused only on survival and ongoing health.
It's too late at that time to spontaneously develop all of the kinds of skills and inner fortitude that would allow us to let go with the kind of beauty that we might aspire to.
Our self-nourishment at that point is still necessary (and absolutely critical) to maximize whatever grace and beauty we have already stored up and to sustain us through the challenges, but it won't make up for any lacks or deficits we went into that challenge with.
This is why kintsugi living is so vitally important even when we aren't in the midst of life's hard times. It's because it's all about nourishing ourselves and our souls in an ongoing, continual way to be able to face future hard times with as much grace and beauty as we can.
What does this look like?
It looks like stretching ourselves to sit with discomfort and difficulty even when it shows up in the small things in life so that we have developed that muscle to use in more challenging moments.
It looks like learning how to self-soothe and find comfort in healthy ways so that those habits are ingrained and ready to be practiced when we're grieving deeply.
It looks like the finding and capturing of lessons and skills learned in previous hard times so that those skills and wisdom are readily at our fingertips the next time things get hard.
It looks like watering our souls on a regular basis with the inspiration and wisdom available to us from the streams of wisdom available in our world.
It looks like nurturing our connection to something greater than ourselves so that connection can sustain us when we're struggling and hurting.
It looks like continually working to heal the deep wounds and fractures in our hearts so that we can face future pain as whole-heartedly as possible.
It looks like practicing the skill of cherishing life's good things without clinging to them—holding them loosely in our hands so we can let go with greater grace.
It looks like surrounding ourselves with the kind of people who are able to provide healthy support for us when we're struggling (just as we practice providing that kind of support to them).
It looks like teaching ourselves to naturally seek out life's joy and beauty and goodness with an abundance of gratitude so that we don't lose sight of that goodness in the hard times.
It looks like an ongoing willingness to inspect and challenge our belief systems about who we are, what we deserve, and our place in the world to minimize how much we hold ourselves back or beat ourselves up when the hard times surface.
It looks like taking in kindness and compassion that's shown to us and practicing to make the offering of kindness and compassion to others so ingrained in us that it becomes second nature.
Without these kinds ongoing practices that consciously nourish our souls well in advance of any hard times we might face, it's much more likely that we will respond to life's painful moments by dishing out more pain to those around us because that's all we'll have to give.
Learning to nourish our souls and practice the skills that will serve us best before we need them allows us to be more like the beautifully colored trees of Fall offering beauty and inspiration to the world as we gracefully let go during life's hardest moments instead.
It mines the gold of all our earlier healing so we have that treasure to offer to ourselves and the world around us when life's brokenness strike again (as it inevitably does).
How do you nourish yourself in advance of life's hard times?
If you were to make this an intentional practice, what would that look like for you?
What would serve you best in becoming the best version of yourself you imagine being the next time hard times strike?
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