Friday, September 7, 2012

Five O'Clock Shadow

During my recent move, I got rid of 75% of what I owned—my belongings. My belong-ings.

It required me to get clear about what I did and didn’t want to fill my life with. Now I am searching to find what fits—what belongs. 

When the search-and-discard impulse seizes you, two crosscurrents are at work: the old is leaving and grieving, while the new you celebrates and grows strong. As with any rupture, there is both tension and relief… You may find yourself feeling volatile and changeable. You are.
-Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way

It feels like I’ve just shed skin. I feel raw and vulnerable and exposed. I only want to touch and handle things that are light, fluffy, soothing and calm. I’ve temporarily lost my ability to tolerate things that are rough around the edges.

My soul wants to settle into a bed of down and feathers. I want to be enveloped by Grace. And I don’t mean church-y Grace. I mean I’m free to be me Grace. Uninhibited, unfiltered, unashamed, unabashed Grace.  Human, vulnerable, honest, beautiful Grace. The you-can-rest-because-it’s-all-going-to-work-out Grace.

I have just been through the arduous process of creating s  p  a  c  e in my soul, and I’m not anxious to fill it back up with little tchotchkes, meaningless trinkets that create the illusion of full-ness.

My soul is waking after a long sleep—a hibernation of sorts—and it needs room to spread its arms in an I’m awake! stretch.

Stretching always comes after waking.

As I’ve been adjusting to this new soul-space (which doesn’t always feel expansive), I have noticed this phenomenon.

During the morning and afternoon hours, I can (for the most part) wrap my head around all the change. I feel grounded in this needed to happen and I am learning to embrace this new season.

But when evening rolls around—almost precisely when the little hand hits the five—when my natural rhythm is to think what’s for dinner, and how will I unwind, my heart turns toward Home. And Home is not the same as it used to be.

That’s when the clouds roll in all I want to do is clear the deck, collapse and cry. It feels like a torrential downpour is on the horizon and I have to take shelter immediately.  And if I don’t or can’t, I feel prickly—like the coarse whiskers on a man’s cheeks whose face was shaved early in the morning.

It's the five o’clock shadow.

As far as I can see, there are two ways to deal with the pesky thing. I can get up and (figuratively) shave it off (and then it’s only a matter of time until the shadow comes back), or I can just let the freaking hair grow in.

I like the second option.

I have to just let myself grow in to this new space—not just the rooms I’ve set up furniture and clothes in—but the new space I’m inhabiting in Life.

I can’t say I know exactly how to do that or what it’s going to look like, but I have a hunch that simply by putting my Yes out there, the answers will present themselves.

Growing in might look like collapsing and crying for now. It might look like hanging curtains or painting canvases. It might look like walks on the beach, dinner out with friends, bike riding at dusk. I don’t know.

But I do know I can’t hide the shadow in the shadows. I don’t have to be ashamed at my growth. Because that’s what it is. Growth.

Five o’clock shadow emerges on a man's face because the hair that has been cut back keeps on growing. The five o’clock shadow in my soul emerges because even though my external living space has been cut back, my insides are still growing and expanding.

But it doesn’t necessary feel like I'm growing while I am in the midst of it. Sometimes it feels like I’m shrinking; other times like I’m regressing.

We may feel—and look—erratic. This erraticism is a normal part of getting unstuck, pulling free from the muck that has blocked us. It is important to remember that at first flush, going sane feels just like going crazy.  
-Julia Cameron

Five o'clock shadow feels a lot more like grieving than growing. And even though grief is involved, the pain isn't just over what I am leaving behind, it's over the enormity of the blank canvas of my future that has been set before me. The prospects are both exhilarating, exciting and--when the shadow appears--exhausting.

The five o'clock shadow comes because I'm at the end of a long day, and it's time to breathe in the new and let my hair down. It's time to embrace the rugged, wild terrain in front me. 

I've never been here before. And today I'm reassuring myself that that's okay. In fact, it's good.


  1. Oh wow. I identify with so much of this post, brave woman. Or really -- I long to identify with it. I want to be growing and shedding and expanding and not-hiding. I think that's where I'm going, but I'm not there yet. I am so encouraged to see how it's going for you, though, how you are entering in to the growth and the exhilaration and the big scariness of it all, and that you're just letting it be.

    I especially love this: "But it doesn’t necessary feel like I'm growing while I am in the midst of it. Sometimes it feels like I’m shrinking; other times like I’m regressing."

    Oh yes. I have felt like that, and often.

    1. You, my friend, you *ARE* brave. I see you growing, shedding, expanding and not-hiding. Truly, I do. I think you liked that line because it's what's true about you. You are growing more than you know. I see it. And when you look back one day you will see it too. <3

      Thank you for leaving your love-words here. I treasure them all.

  2. this feeling of shrinking inside of the change, that's you going deep inside yourself, you can't see the change until it has come and settled on your bones. allow yourself room, for who you are and who you {are} becoming are beautiful, just full of life sources. this sitting with yourself, this patience with the time it takes to evolve, this is grace. hugs to you with each hour of 5, because each will bring you to the hour of your emergence.

    1. I'm crying as I read and re-read your words. I am going to do something special with these life-words so I can return to them when I feel worn-through and shattered. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

  3. Cast me gently
    Into morning
    For the night has been unkind
    Take me to a
    Place so holy
    That I can wash this from my mind

    1. I can always count on you to find the perfect verse to what I write. You haven't disappointed here. Thank you, friend. :)

  4. you are so brave. much love to you. <3

    1. Thank you, Rain. Taking the love in ... and sending your own huge helping.

  5. Each day I go swimming in the hot mineral springs, relishing the softness of the sulphuric waters. Sinking my head below the surface or floating on the surface, I just like the feel of the softness. And each day, embraced by this watery pillow, I think of you, Angela.

    This world is not your home. Each word of beauty and truth you embrace is penetrating deep into your spirit, transforming the angry voices of before and making a new, softer, and quieter present.

    We are changing together, you and me and all of us in hearing distance. We are entering into a new, magical life. I write more about this at

    All week I have been thinking of you, Angela... call me anytime. I hope one day we can meet in person. In the meantime, I hold you in my heart each day as I swim in the healing waters....

    1. "We are changing together, you and me and all of us in hearing distance." I want to fill the atmosphere around me with these words. They both soothe my heart and make it leap.

      I love the thought of you floating in those hot springs day after day. Tonight, as I headed over to a neighbor's pool for a before dinner swim, I thought of *You* as I grabbed my suit and towel and scurried with my boy out the door. "I wonder if Susan is doing the same thing right now," I thought. "I wonder."

    2. I was swimming with a friend between 5-6:30 pm Mountain time (one hour ahead of you), last evening... so very likely, we were donning bathing suits at nearly the same time ;)

      There's no time or distance in the Spirit... what an amazing thought!