lucia circles

effort and surrender

June 26, 2016 - Daily Notes, From the Editor

How do you ebb and when do you flow?

She brought a braid of sweetgrass (Hierochloe odorata), the kind only natives are allowed to gather. Removing her thick blade from its leather sheath, she sliced a few stems there on the gray dishtowel in my kitchen.

"It helps to clear and prepare a space for ceremony," she said as I handed her the blue teacup and a box of matches.

Five were in the circle on Saturday in my living room. The theme for the morning was "creative cycles" but our conversation wound around other things too, the way women do. We are creators.

One of them is writing a book. Another, a novel. A third is trying to make more mistakes this year. The fourth said her focus this summer is on rest. I was the fifth, and I am growing Lucia.

How do you know when to effort and when to surrender in your creative life? How do you ebb and when do you flow?

We talked about darkness and light, daytime and night. How for some, insomnia is a state in which to do both: surrender to the elusiveness of sleep, and sit up to softly flow. Maybe wrap oneself in a blanket and breathe the steam of herbal tea with a pen and some paper. Feel your own heart and hear what it is telling you. Commune with the moon.

We asked each other, what do you do with the mental chatter that assails and freezes the body in those dark hours, or in the first precious moments after waking in the morning?

"I write those thoughts all down, first thing," someone said. "Then I can get on with the rest of my day, because once they are on paper, even as chicken scratch notes, they are sort of already dealt with, in a way."

"But," I wondered aloud, "What do you do about the ones that cannot be put to rest so tidily?"

"Oh, those," she said. "I put those into a special jar labeled, 'Things I Cannot Control.' Like my boss being so mean, for example. Later, I take them outside and burn them. I release those things to the universe." 

She surrenders. 

Maybe this is the ultimate form of courage. Knowing what must be handed over to spirit is wise. Actually letting it go is brave. Then we can return again to the work that calls our souls, the work of creating.

This morning, I wrote down my uncontrollable worries. One by one, I tore them into little strips of paper. I gathered matches and what remained of the sweetgrass snips from yesterday. I set them on fire and watched the carefully written words weave their way into the Sunday sky above the maples in my backyard. 

"Here, universe. Please take these. They are yours. Thank you."

Then, I sat down to write.


Laura Lowery is the founder, editor and publisher of Lucia. She does her best to lead a creative life. Whether triumphant or stumbling, Laura shares daily notes (that are often weekly) here on luciajournal, including stories, behind-the-scenes happenings, little doses of inspiration, and large quantities of curiosity and heart. She is pleased to meet you.

first lucia circle

May 23, 2016 - Daily Notes, From the Editor

I have a habit of taking big bites out of life. I commit to things that move my heart with a great deal of optimism, confidence and inspired momentum. These enormous bites often result in stuffed cheeks and wide, watery eyes.  I am not always as graceful as I'd like to be.

My two-year old niece does the same thing when her grandpa gives her candy. She puts the entire thing in her mouth and even though it makes her teary-eyed, she refuses to spit it out or take smaller bites. Her commitment might be a bit unwieldy, but it tastes so very good.

I am hosting Lucia Circles in my living room this summer, inviting a handful of the brilliant women I know to come for coffee, movement, breath, juicy conversation and journaling around themes that hold relevance in our creative lives. The first was this past Saturday and the theme was commitment.

As a part-time yoga teacher, I am familiar with holding space for people to move their bodies and have their own internal experience, but holding space for other women to share what's in their hearts and minds, out loud in a circle, is new for me. I realized this as we sat down and began to talk, that perhaps I had bitten off more than I actually know how to chew. 

Thankfully, women seem to instinctually know how to hold one another. While I was quietly worrying about whether and how I could adeptly facilitate an inspiring conversation...the conversation unfolded. What I had hoped for, happened. The women who came collectively knew more than me, and so I learned.

Three braved the rainy Seattle morning (and multiple unmentionable obstacles) to get here, drink coffee, and spill their wisdom.

One has found her calling and gone to great lengths to prepare herself to offer her gifts to the world in professional ways that heal and bring light. She is also a mother to a toddler and finds herself questioning where she should commit her energy right now. Is there room for both? How?

Another shared that she is experiencing the raw, rug-pulled-out-from-under-you feeling that accompanies the potential unraveling of a marriage. The big stuff. What are we supposed to do when the commitments we built our lives upon start to come apart? 

A third recently "quit" a big commitment she made professionally, completely shifting her life. I write "quit" in quotes here because what she shared led us all to consider the power of the language we use. What is the difference between the word "quit" and the words "redirect" and "evolve" as they relate to making and breaking commitments?

Our conversation wound around each other's stories and held space for questions, tears, inspiration, and hearty laughter.  


One of the women in our circle said, "I think it's possible to commit gracefully."

Commitment has always sounded to me like a tense, tight, heavy sort of thing. Grace, on the other hand, is supposed to be light and forgiving. What could it possibly mean to commit gracefully? 

Time is one element, we decided. We do not always grasp the amount of time it will take to bring a promise to fruition until we are knee-deep in whatever it is we've committed to. When things are not going the way we envisioned or hoped, it can feel overwhelming, like anxiety or even failure. Can we give ourselves permission to take more time? This is grace.

Committing to a process rather than an outcome is another piece. The same woman asked, "When you started Lucia, were you committed to an outcome or were you committed to the process of creating something meaningful?" Her question gave me pause.

Maybe we can lighten the weight of obligations we tend to place upon ourselves by turning them into daily practices instead of goals-that-have-not-been-met-yet. Maybe keeping a commitment simply means doing the best job you are able to do each day, living your life the way you wish.

"I think it's also important to own our commitments, rather than let them own us," someone offered. "We are always evolving and so are our promises. It's important to keep taking stock of what we commit to and check in to see if that is still what is needed."

Is it graceful to place an entire truffle in your mouth when it is so big it makes your eyes water? I imagine at age two my niece doesn't care but I guarantee you once it is in her cheeks she is not going to spit it out. Nobody rushes her and in time it melts. Soon she's asking for another.

I intend to make good on the wisdom three ladies poured in my lap on Saturday by shifting the way I think about my own commitment to Lucia. I am going to give my promises permission to evolve.

And I am really looking forward to sharing more from these Lucia Circles with you as they unfold this summer.

With gratitude,