It is a weird November in Toronto.
Currently my patio door is wide open, the sun is shining and warm, and it’s 14 C (57 F). It is unseasonably warm here, especially for a city where most of the recent winters have been deep freezes, beginning now and ending in April.
It’s weird to be in a mini “warmth wave” and consider that a little west of here, Calgary is getting its first snow. A friend in California tells me that where she lives, it’s colder than usual. And on the other side of the world, spring is happening.
Last week I deep-cleaned my house as part of a seasonal ritual, even though it wasn’t really the temperature I wait for. It was a grand re-homing: a lot of clothes, furniture, and books left; I recycled a lot of old papers I’d been hanging onto in case I “needed them someday”.
In the process I found a lot of old writing books, and when I opened them, I kept reading the same thing over and over.
I love this kind of weather, when it’s just getting chilly. It’s like all the clothes I wear turn super-cuddly, and I just want to cuddle up in blankets all the time.
It turns out that I’ve been leaving notes to myself for years about how I like soft things: the texture of the clothes I wear, the weather, the light. In November I move from working at a desk or table to the couch—I pile pillows behind a back that aches a little bit more; I wrap a blanket around my shoulders and put a hat on my head.
I honestly didn’t notice the pattern until this weekend; it’s funny how you can be so used to a particular habit that it becomes invisible.
I suppose that realization means so much to me because I feel I’ve been hard to, and on, myself for a very long time—I don’t feel like I’m alone in that, either. The stories I hear from other people tell me the same thing. The more I look at and try to be conscious of the habit, the more I notice how I respond to the kindness that I give myself.
It’s not a perfect process at all. It will always be something I work with.
But when I am kind to myself everything is easier. I don’t have to fight myself quite so hard, which means that I can see more clearly how I want to live in the world. And it spreads outward. When I am out of balance, I get grumpy, impatient, and quick to anger (among other things), but if I am working from a place of being consistently kind to myself, it creates a bit of internal space for me. I don’t act on those little spurts of emotion as much and try not to add gasoline to any fires.
I mean, sometimes I am a holy terror and nothing works. That happens. We’re human.
But somewhere, on a deeper level, apparently my body is receiving a deeper message about how softness is something we need. How it is the extra breath, or the moment needed to catch up, the decision to not give ourselves a hard time about something.
How softness is full, grey skies and yellow leaves falling to the ground like paper umbrellas, and an extra hoodie that’s been hanging in the back of your closet, waiting for this moment. How these are small concrete actions that can, over time, grow into symbolic ones: the smile we give to strangers that somehow makes their day (I’ve been one!), the open-minded, non-judgmental listening we give to someone telling their story.
This is my love letter to softness.
The softness that I witness on my walks around the city.
The softness and understanding you get with the love of a special friend.
(These dolls were found on the website Jacq’s Dolls, where the owner/creator, Jacqueline Bryant Campbell, sews soft dolls, quilts and tapestries using custom fabrics. This idea excites me so much—now I know what to do with my mom’s old dresses, and my niece’s baby clothes!)
Consider donating a surplus of old clothes to your shelter. Having both been housing-insecure and living in a country with harsh winters, homeless people are never far from my mind this time of year. Socks especially—something so basic, and yet so overlooked—are always requested and welcome.
Petting, or even just looking at puppies, is good for our souls.
(photo via Dicar Frenchies)
Cuddling up in long-lost favourites:
(Sweatshirt via Skreened).
I don’t know what this is, but I want one.
(found via Crazy Little Projects)
I hope you have a beautiful weekend, and that you can find ways to celebrate and honor the softness in your own lives.
(Photos: via Wikimedia, Stocksnap, Flickr, and Erica Hoskins Mullenix).