Distilled, Part 2

I found this lovely definition of “distilled” in an online dictionary and I love it:

“The purification or concentration of a substance,
the obtaining of the essence or volatile properties contained in it, or the separation of one substance from another, by such a process.”

Distill is my word for the year, and a fine word it is. Here is why: As I get older, there are many sad words for what is happening to my aphasic mind and creaky body– words like “decline,” “arthritis,” “unsteadiness,” “forgetfulness,” “infirmity,” “decay,” and many others that make me feel like roadkill. You know that feeling: flat, plastered, and shriveled.

I could not find a flat old lady. This will have to do!

Ah, but distill? Now, that has an elegant feel to it! Bees distill  nectar into honey by fanning away 70% of the water. What remains is a golden substance of pure, concentrated essence. Nothing impure left behind, just an elixir of wonder moving forward.

If I toss aside all the words that represent decrepitude and replace them all with “distillation,” suddenly that’s a way I can step forward feeling quite regal–a queen instead of a hag!

I had been struggling after New Years with how much I’ve accumulated that I want to pass on in some meaningful way. There is so much! Bees! Gardens! Skeps! More books! Presentations! Mentoring! Classes! Women’s circles! Aghh! I have learned the hard way that stress can kill me, and nearly did, so how to bring my best forward without overdoing it?

It was right in the middle of this mind-muddle that the word “distill” floated up to me, and fast on its heels, the whispers of concentration, essence, and preserving the best of what is. And I could not help but recall that distilling usually requires aging. They go hand in hand. A wonderful word!

Gathering the Library Swarm from the treetops. I’ll leave these high rescues to the youngin’s!

Over the weeks I took this word along as I looked at all the projects and dreams I still have, dreams that will need to be made manifest with a body that has significant  limits now. Distill said, “Shed the details. Bring the Keynotes. Mentor.” Bee classes? Well, no one needs to learn all I know about bees, but they need the core basics. Presentations? Keep to the number that does not feel overwhelming. It is okay to say “no.”

A skep full of honey, some of which I still have!

I’m asked often to present classes on weaving bee skeps. I learned this ancient art through a lot of hard work and I’m darn proud I can carry on this ancient tradition. It adds to my income, but setting up classes is labor intensive and something for a younger body than mine. Providence intervened in my dilemma and sent me Onyx, a young and gifted natural beekeeper who is smitten with skep making. My choice was clear: I offered to mentor Onyx into skepping, and told her she could offer classes and I’d attend and assist. I get to weave and teach, she gets a new side income. And the bees are happy!

Side-by-side with Distill, I looked at all of my dreams and found that if I took them down to their essence, I would be able to entertain them all in a satisfying fashion.

Last year, I left my home behind, bringing along with me only the most precious things. Photos were distilled down to the most meaningful. Artwork downsized to the pieces that truly rock my soul. Clothes? One small IKEA armoire. Without thinking about it, I distilled my physical life down to its essence. I’ve reveled in what I have and rarely ponder what I left behind.

Now I’ve put my New Year’s dreams through this same sieve. I ask myself, what is the most meaningful of what I can give.  I’m dropping aside all the superfluous baloney that I’ve used in the past to beat myself up with. Sure, I could offer more, be more, do more–but the price is deadly. Contentment is my goal now, and it comes through distillation, like fine whiskey, golden and warm on the tongue.

Distilled! Aged!

The words we tell ourself can make or break our life. What do you see through the golden lens of distillation? What do you feel when you turn all your nectar into honey?


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