To Catch You Up:
On January 1st of 2016 I set out to create an Enso-a-day for one year. Each Enso is meant to thank a person, place or thing that has inspired me creatively. You can find a few on facebook using #enso4you (and in the future they will mostly be on Twitter/Instagram, same hashtag).
An Enso is a symbol created on an exhale of breath which represents a moment when the mind is free to let the body create.
So begin my #enso4you check-ins.
Creativity, to me, is moving the mind away from the self. I'd like my acts of creation to break through the selfish hamster wheel of my mind, open a window and say, Well hello! How can I help you today?
In other words, the Enso.
What was different this month? What was the same?
It has not been easy. And I'll be completely honest--I have not created an enso every single day yet. But even creating the ones I have has already made a difference.
Even the act of deciding I was going on this journey has brought a new level of awareness that I didn't expect. When I get up in the morning, typically at some horrendous hour that even the sun has decided is not for him, there's a struggle: do I get up and meditate and do my enso? Or do I sleep or five more minutes?
Most of the time, the alarm is snoozed.
But just the thought drifting through my foggy brain of: Oh yeah, enso, awareness, giving and love and stuff...has made me more aware of opportunities to create & to give. I may hit the snooze button, but I've found that once I do get up, I make sure the living room looks nice for when my partner wakes. I don't rush to my emails and work--instead I eat breakfast and read the news. I give myself little 10-second moments to breathe when I'm in the car, instead of following the racecourse of my mind. I pay attention to where I'm holding tension, and I try to release it, just a little bit.
It's so small. But it has made such a big difference and has affected my interactions with others for the rest of the day. My day-job is as a nanny, so it is imperative that I'm the best version of myself as much as I can possibly be. I am definitely not that perfect and there are moments I'm not proud of. But over the last month, I've noticed some differences in how I've responded to certain situations. For example:
My 4-yr old refuses to eat breakfast. Again. Instead of grabbing my pitchfork and torch and being all, Alright, girly, let's battle this out! I've started taking a little breath before I say anything. Sometimes I try to get her to think about how she will feel later on if she doesn't eat breakfast. Sometimes I sing this song she loves and to which I've added "Take a bite!" at the end of each verse. Sometimes I pretend our invisible friend Sammy is in the room, and I say very loudly, "Okay, Sammy, don't eat her breakfast!" and then I put my hands over my eyes and peek through the gaps to see her sneakily taking a bite as she cheerily declares: "Look Caitlin! Sammy ate my breakfast!"
Sometimes we battle it out. But it's happened less and less over the last month that I've been practicing the #enso4you exercise.
I guess I thought that giving myself the task of creating an enso every day would make it easier for me to meditate as well. That hasn't really happened yet. But then again, I also haven't been super consistent about making the ensos.
Plus meditating at 6am is akin to coming out of anethesia and then trying to brainstorm ideas to solve climate change.
So maybe I need to take a step back a bit. Let go of meditating, at least for a little while, and just try to create my enso in the morning. With love and forgiveness and strongly caffeinated tea.
What did you notice before, during and after each Enso was created?
Before I went to paint the Enso, I noticed brain giving myself little high-fives for remembering to actually do it. While painting the Enso, I noticed that right at the midway point, when the brush needs to come around to complete the circle, I always have this little moment of panic: What if it doesn't look good? What if I fail at making these? Do I really know what I'm doing??
After each Enso was created, there was sometimes a little sigh of relief, especially if I thought it looked good. If it didn't look good, it took every cell in my body not to create another one and post that one instead.
CREATE YOUR OWN #ENSO4YOU JOURNEY:
If you would like to make one Enso, or even join me on this wild journey, here are the guidelines I'm following:
1. The Enso can be made out of anything, but it must be made out of things I already own.
2. I will post and update once a month on www.ensotheatre.com/blog.
3. The update will answer the questions: What did you notice before, during and after each Enso was created? What was different? What was the same?
Try to create your enso at around the same time each day. I've found that this makes it both easier and harder, but it creates a habit, which ultimately, is what I want to find. A different habit of mind.
For the mornings when a creative enso is just not going to happen, I use something called a Sumi-e Board. You can paint on it with water and it immediately evaporates, so you can use it again and again. The cheapest one I found is $15, you can get it online here.
Or you can just get out some printer paper and watercolor paints and there you are!
And if you do explore this, comment here! Or email me privately! I'd love to here how it's going for you, and if it's made any difference in your life.
As always, THANK YOU, for being on the path with me.
With love, Caitlin
(please read the following as David Attenborough:)
Planet Netherfield is a place like nowhere else on earth. Only here can you find a rare mixing of upper and lower class species, each determined to do whatever they must to survive.
We zero in on a particular part of the jungle, where we will see a unique glimpse into the gossip ritual that precedes the hunt. Here, we are looking at two female Bingley Cats discussing the qualities of an Elizabeth Tiger (or Liz Tiger, for short):
“She's so proud, impertinent, terrible manners, nothing to talk about, horrible taste, not particularly pretty, and her family!! Good lord, how will they marry off five daughters with a mother like that? The only thing she has going for her is she is a good walker! (Here it looks as though the female Bingley cats are laughing!) Did you see her paws? Six inches deep in mud!!”
A male Bingley Cat seems to be defending the Liz Tiger: "Guuuuuysss, why you gotta be so mean?"
And the Darcy Bird makes a squawk! "I liked her eyes."
Fascinating. The comment from the Darcy Bird has confused the female Bingley Cats. Awkward silence settles over the jungle. But look! See there!
Into this scene of growing tension returns the Liz Tiger, having no idea what is already underway. The Caroline Bingley Cat eyes her competition, and begins to make her move on her prey (the Darcy Bird).
She must be careful. She cannot make any sudden movement that would alert her prey as to her intentions. Slowly she circles him. To avoid detection, she begins a mating dance, a series of questions aimed at Darcy Bird's younger sister, Georgiana. Let's watch as she approaches him:
"How tall is Georgiana now?.....I wish I could see Georgiana!.....How wonderful she is!"
The prey has not yet taken the bait, but the predator is not finished yet.
"She has such good manners, and so pretty!.....She is so accomplished for her age!......Is she still playing piano?"
Someone snaps at the bait, but alas, it is not the prey she was hoping for: the male Bingley Cat chimes in: "I think all ladies are accomplished."
The Caroline Cat turns on him, but she cannot destroy him without ruining the favor of her prey. “All of them, Charles?” she spits through clenched fangs.
"Yeah!" he replies.
But it works! Somehow the interference of the brother has stirred the prey toward the bait. The Darcy Bird offers: "I don't know more than six ladies that truly deserve the term ‘accomplished.’"
The Caroline Cat licks her lips.
But alas! The Liz Tiger interferes: “Then you must have a prolific understanding of the term ‘accomplished woman’,” the Liz Tiger says, stealing the Darcy Bird's attention.
“I do” says the Darcy Bird.
Now the Caroline Cat must win back the attention of the Darcy Bird, or all is lost. In a last, desperate measure to snag her prey, the Caroline Cat announces that “Yes, no one can really be called accomplished unless they can sing, draw, dance, speak several languages and have a certain je ne sais quoi in their walk.”
Oh! And this is truly extraordinary, a rare moment when we witness the Caroline Cat mince around her prey: yes, there she goes, mince, mince, mince. But will it work?
“And of course, she must read all the time,” says the Darcy Bird.
Caroline Cat looks where the Darcy Bird is looking--at Liz Tiger, who is….oh no….reading a book.
All is lost. The Caroline Cat slinks back into the shadows. And, interestingly enough, the Liz Tiger does not go for the kill, but instead, she too leaves the battlefield. And what's this? A hungry look on the face of the Darcy Bird...well, I say.
This has been another episode of David Attenborough’s “Planet Netherfield.” Tune in next week for our next exploration of the mysterious creatures of Planet Netherfield!
The Boys Are Back In Town! The Boys being the militia, of course. Who doesn't love a man in uniform?
Catherine (Kitty) and Lydia, the two youngest Bennet daughters, certainly do. They've been trekking out to Meryton (a neighboring town) three or four times a week to meet them all. We'll get back to this in a bit...
We interrupt these musings to bring you a special Letter from Netherfield (this is the beginning of a LOT of letters, guys. I'll try to keep it interesting but don't say I didn't warn you).
If you don't get your pretty behind over here ASAP and join my sister and I for cupcakes, we are gonna pull each other's hair out with boredom. The boys are out with the officers, so it's GIRLS NIGHT!!!! Do it.
P.S. Did I mention we have CUPCAKES?????"
Lydia is all, OFFICERS!?!?!
Mum is all, But, but, no Bingley??!!!
Jane is all, Cupcakes!
Just then, the heavens open and drench the earth (it is England, after all).
Mum looks outside. The cogs begin to turn. 'Yes,' she says, 'You should go have cupcakes with Caroline.' A devilish smile crosses her face. 'And you should go on horseback.'
Jane looks outside. 'Ummmm can I just take the car? (The coach)'
'Your father needs the car. Don't you honey?'
Mr. Bennet looks up from his newspaper. 'Did you say something dear?'
So it's settled. Jane grimly leaves Longbourne on horseback and is drenched by the time she reaches Netherfield. Jane grows I'll and sends a letter the next day (here we go!) to let her family know that she won't be coming home any time soon.
Mr. Bennet says, Well, my dear, if Jane should die, it would be a comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr. Bingley.
[that's pretty much straight from the text. Well said, Miss Austen]
Mrs. Bennet couldn't be happier. Because of course, this means Jane is forced to spend more time with Mr. Bingley. And fall in love. And get married. And save the family from financial ruin.
[Side Note: Okay, is there something about girls with runny noses and headaches that totally turn guys on? Because this is definitely a recurring Austen thing. The heroine runs out into the rain, gets sick, and then all the dudes are like, "Oh my dear, that snot coming out of your nose is so sexy, let's get married." I don't know about you, but I am NOT sexy when I am sick. The last thing I want when I'm on the couch in my jammies with tissues stuck up my nose, is some dude in tight pants kneeling in front of me declaring his love for me. Move, I'm trying to watch Pride and Prejudice.)
Lizzie is like, Yeah, you guys are crazy. I'm going to go check on my sister.
So she walks to Netherfield in the mud and cold and arrives while Bingley, Darcy, Caroline and her sisters are having breakfast. Lizzie steps through the door with windswept hair, rosy cheeks, bright eyes and muddy boots.
Darcy's Thoughts: Hottttttt
Caroline's Thoughts: No, no, no don't track mud all over my new floor, bad dog, bad!!
Bingley's Thoughts: The toast looks a bit burnt, doesn't it?
Lizzie goes to see Jane, (who really is pretty sick, thanks a lot Mum), and is invited by the Bingleys to stay overnight to make sure Jane gets better. Lizzie agrees.
And so the drama at Netherfield Park begins to unfold...
To be continued next week!
Caitlin Lushington is the Co-Artistic Director of the Enso Theatre Ensemble, a teacher, director, and actress. Sometimes she works too hard, sometimes she forgets things, and she strives to put the car keys back in the same place every time. She drinks tea every morning from her TARDIS mug and "Mr. Tea" diffuser. She loves the morning and wishes she had a photographic memory, so she could remember the names of every person she meets.