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A Yellow Chair

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

I am spending a month in residency on an island where I arrived just a day before a wintry mix weather pattern outed the power, albeit briefly, and crusted over the sidewalk and trails I had discovered on my first day here, a three-mile walk which has become my daily practice. What was left? Only a bit of melty and re-frozen snow, still walkable, crunchy, and pleasantly wintery. But today––––joy of many joys––––I am writing inside of an old-fashioned snowstorm, where the white stuff is coming down in large blustery flakes, accumulating nicely on the path to the water, and summer porch furniture, including the yellow Adirondack-style chair on a deck where I like to sit and watch the light on the water. From inside, I stay in the presence of the magic outside, as I anticipate the evening when the snow promises to abate, and I will bundle up to shovel and walk. Walking is one of my favorite activities and I make it a priority here. And sitting.

This morning, I am contemplating the nature of a residency. This is following a day-long workshop I offered online on the topic of hygge, the Danish concept of comfort, warmth, and quiet in the spirit of beauty and calm. I land on gratitude. I asked for this. I applied and I received it and I feel gratitude for the time and space and the benefactors who thought my work merited their support. Simplified, this gift seems to me to come down to kindness.

But the reality of a residency also begs the question: What am I willing to receive and make use of, trusting fully that I am indeed the recipient of radical kindness? How can I balance the pleasure of what this place offers with the doubt of deserving, which can be very real, hard-earned, in fact, in the receiver?

One thing I do each night before I go to sleep is to fling open the wide slanted sky-lit window and fill my lungs with winter air. I imagine the exchange of clean air with the day’s air tainted by electric heat, clearing out space for new dreams, the re-fresh of another day. I say thank you.

This has become part of my other hygge rituals––––the companionship of slippers, some candles, pots of tea, and a new pad of heavy-weighted creamy-colored writing paper­­–––to give nightly thanks to the clear-eyed cosmos, the river lapping the shore, the muses. To feel the cold sting on my face of “yes, it is you" that now dwells here, you, the child of comfort and care, you who will walk and rest, read and write, and do the creative work you love to do for a month.

(Wintry Mix on Window)

What do you do to create the spirit of hygge for your creative life? What is the specificity of that comfort?

Creativity Prompts

~ Read the poem: "Kindness" by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer.

~ This poem takes one object of her pleasure and zooms in on the object, a tulip, and expands on its origins. The poem honors the gift and the giver from the point of view of the receiver with her care of details.

~ Now take out a blank sheet, or a turn to an open page in your journal, and set up a brainstorming sheet, something like this…

~ Fill in bubbles from the point of view of your sense. Then use your senses to zoom in on some of the things that add comfort to your surroundings. Fill in the details.

~ Now pick your favorite. Mine, today, is the yellow chair. Put the name of the object on the top of a blank page, set your timer for ten minutes, and write everything that wants to come. See where it leads you.

~ Set your timer for ten more minutes and write for ten minutes more. Keep doing this until you feel complete.

Today, the yellow chair mounds with white. It offers a new perspective on my previous view. I will write about the yellow of it, the plastic of it, the comfort of the seat, and the sunset, but mostly I will write about the sitting.


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