Beauty-Making in a World That Feels Increasingly Restrictive and Closed Down

alive beauty changemakers Nov 18, 2020

Dear Fountains of Sorrow and Overflowing Promise,


Isn’t that what we all are really? Here in the soft ache of being human we find the intermingling of grief and beauty greeting us everywhere. Fleeting and fragile, there is nothing we can do to hold on. 


It takes a fierce courage to live from the tender, impermanent heart of grief-beauty. To not shut ourselves down or flee from the richness of our lives, even when its emotional intensity shows up in ways that are painful or we don’t understand. 


So eleven months into this indescribable year, it feels like an opportune moment to check in: How are you still tending to your devotions, to what you love, to what brings you joy? 


Our capacity for embodied joy depends on our ability to receive, which is like a muscle that can atrophy when it is perpetually closed and contracted. Whether it's our ability to receive positive feedback or support, or to expect things to work in our favor, we may unconsciously discourage goodness, even when it is staring us straight in the eyes and breathing on our faces. 


When we apprentice ourselves to the way of nature, we begin to see that all of life is one continuous cycle of giving and receiving. I think of an ouroboros, the ancient symbol of a snake eating its own tail, a symbol for the cycle of life, continuity and wholeness. In order to experience true belonging, we must not only acknowledge the gifts we are receiving, but also our beauty-making, which is meant to be given away. 


Beauty-making can be :


A source of nourishment and self-care.

A reclamation of power, purpose, and possibility.

A way that we belong to what we love.

A practice of disruption, even activism (check out this cool article on how to be a Craftist).


Beauty-making is also our human birthright and a seriously essential way that we tap into our force of aliveness. It is not about the individual little things created, but is more of an authentic approach to life in general: a spontaneous, open determination to nurture instead of destroy. 


I beauty-make through the medicine of nature, creating herbal teas, tinctures, body oils, elixirs, ferments, and herbal salts for bathing and cooking- just because I really, really love it. This is one of the tea blends I made for this fall: calendula, red clover, lemon balm and lemon verbena. 


I am wondering what kinds of beauty-making you have been up to lately. How do you open up to pleasure in a world that at times feels increasingly restrictive and closed down? 


Here are just a few other questions to get you opening into more beauty:


Can I do this (job, task, duty, whatever it is) in a way that feels good to me?


Can you shift the energy that you are bringing to the situation? Beauty-making often means taking something that feels boring, laborious, or hard and returning to our circle of joy while we complete it versus just grinding our teeth and plodding forward.


Can I complete this beauty-making without any expectation of a certain outcome?


Can you do it just for the love of it? Can you do it just because it makes the world a more interesting, gorgeous place to be? Oh, and don’t just give your gifts to people. Leave gifts for the earth, for the acupuncture points of the land, for the rivers, and tops of mountains. Humans have been leaving offerings spontaneously or through ritual since the beginning of our time here.


How does my beauty-making contribute as a humble (or loud) form of rebellion from the consumeristic grind that we are taught in our culture?


Beauty-making a small, radical act for a liberated future, where pleasure is a state of being at home in your own skin, knowing an inner richness no matter where, when, or with whom you find yourself.


(November 2020 Newsletter)