Hard Work Held Softly

The Card: Retraction

The card Retraction describes the motion of pulling in from a larger space into a smaller and more concentrated form.

It's a wonderful card if we are feeling overextended, all over the place, or fragmented. It draws our energy back in and focuses our efforts on one or two powerful choices.

Retraction often occurs after a period of expansion. It translates large, expansive ideas into doable actions, objects, and systems, helping ensure simplicity and success in the things we are creating.

This last week I’ve been rewriting my client contract.

Fun? Perhaps.

And my daughter has been doing her college applications.

We had a working date on Sunday at a food court where we could get hot chocolate when needed and stay focused on our work. Because if you’re working on a weekend, this is how you do it.

The card this month is Retraction.

The word ‘Retraction’ sometimes gets a bad rap. We associate it with pain or fear, like the reaction we have when we accidentally touch a hot burner. It's also thought of as a disavowal. A negation of something that has come before.

I like to think of Retraction as being in a natural call and response cycle with Expansion. Like breathing in and out, Retraction and Expansion require each other.

Collectively, we’ve all been doing a lot of Expansion recently. In my own life, I’ve been building and envisioning my business and work. My daughter has been building and envisioning her life and work as well. For lots of people, big ideas, brave actions, and forays into the unknown have been happening.

The card Retraction describes that point after expansion where we make things solid. We consolidate our ideas. It’s time to reel it all in and decide on the details. The particulars of what is going to make this thing GO.

This is not always easy. Expansion is fun. What a lovely experience it is to have all those ideas. Getting things small and detailed includes holding some of those shiny, beautiful ideas up to the light and saying "Maybe not now. Maybe not even at all." Choices are made, and it can sometimes feel like a loss.

But there is also a tenderness to the card Retraction. It's time to pull in the tendrils we may have had out in the world, surrender the things we have been giving our energy to consciously or unconsciously, and let ourselves come home.

When we do these things, we clear space around us. We create a place to work through the details without tugs and pulls that take us elsewhere.

The card Retraction is interesting because it embodies two sets of qualities -- one soft and tender; the other focused, practical, and disciplined. That they are often kept apart suggests that somewhere in our psyches we've made an equation between successful work and hard space.

But maybe hard work is held best when it’s held softly. Maybe focus is not a driven force but one that arises when we come home, when we are still and small and simple.

When we get down to business sometimes the spaces that support us are not the ones that feel or look like work. They may simply be the ones that soften us or give us space.

When my daughter and I park ourselves at a food court booth for four hours with hot chocolate, we are creating a place where we can pull in from the world and our responsibility to it, even though we are out in the middle of it.

When we focus our energy on creating small objects with big impacts, such as college applications and client contracts, this too is an example of Retraction.

This New Moon cycle is a time of Retraction for all of us. Even though getting there can feel like sorting grains of sand, Retraction offers us the opportunity to sink into the solidity of our choices. There is a simplicity here. A realness. Relaxing into this process allows a spaciousness even in the density of details. Between the details, there is space to breathe.

Retraction Action Plan

The card Retraction describes a small object, action or tool that embodies a big intention. For example, the client contract I'm writing embodies a deeper understanding of how I work and serve my clients. This kind of tool is a lever that allows us to have more effect with less effort. They are worth the effort to put in place. Choose one and do it.


A lever.

Judith Tamarah
You are invited to a Fresh Look

If your office or workspace feels funky -- and not in the good way -- you can invite Judith to take a fresh look at your space and get insights on how to bring your office into greater alignment with Who You Really Are. Just ask.

Judith helps you figure out where your desk should go, what color to paint your walls, and all of the little details so you feel more at ease, totally at home, and completely held by your office.

She holds a Masters Degree in Interior Architecture at the University of Oregon and is certified in Design Psychology.

How does this deck work anyway?

I created a deck of cards that ‘reads’ our environments. It's still a little mysterious to me. How, I ask, can the cards 'read' the environment if they can't even 'see" it? However, they have proven again and again to be amazingly helpful in both creating designs for my clients and helping all sorts of people understand their relationship with their workspaces and home spaces in order to feel more spacious, free and alive.

In each newsletter I draw a card for all of us, to help us navigate the month ahead, understand what our collective environment is presenting to us, and suggest small changes we can make to our personal physical space that will support us in the coming month. Would love to hear from you if this card was helpful!

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