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Querencia: A Space for Simplicity



querencia is a place the bull naturally wants to go to in the ring, a preferred locality... It is a place which develops in the course of the fight where the bull makes his home. It does not usually show at once, but develops in his brain as the fight goes on. In this place he feels that he has his back against the wall and in his querencia he is inestimably more dangerous and almost impossible to kill.

Writer and poet, Georgia Heard, introduced the concept of querencia to me. Ever since, I've thought of querencia as a metaphysical space where I am home... a space I sometimes hold for myself in my environment, or a space that I hold within me. To me, querencia means sanctuary. I think we all have these places.  My poet friend from Potatohill Poetry, Andrew Green calls them "sacred places." When he first described one of his sacred places to me, I knew exactly what he was talking about. And while he described Vermont, my mind was already drifting to the shores of Whitefish Point on Lake Superior. 


But, I think that querencia doesn't just mean a physical place.  Any spiritual practice can be a querencia. Sometimes, I sit on the couch with Gracie my chocolate lab/pointer mix, and I breathe. I think querencia can also be inside yourself.  Have you ever engaged in an activity where you are "out of your mind?" Like Ferdinand, the little bull from Spain, I lose myself when I sit in the garden and smell my flowers. I used to run long distances, and when I ran, my mind shut down. I never listened to music while running.  My foot fall, my breath, my heart...I didn't think. I just was.  I may have begun my run feeling like a monster, but by the end of it,  I felt peace.  It was my sanctuary. 


Recently, I started paying attention to my querencia again.  Over the last couple of years, life has been tumultuous. I've lost sight of my sanctuary because of the physical and emotional clutter that has crept in.   So I began a Simplicity Challenge. It began with closets. Then moved to a journaling practice. It expanded to cleaning out my refrigerator and paying off some bills. I let go of old love letters. I made a "Not-To-Do List" for the week, and listed ten things I was not going to let get in my way of feeling human.  I even left my teacher bag at school. GASP!


I began by picking a card every day.  I read the challenge of the day and completed it by the end of the day.  If the challenge seemed too hard, I put the card back and chose another one. Then, I charted it on my Simplicity Challenge Chart.  I journaled about some of the challenges, when they called for it. But I also began to ask myself, "What do you want?" 


Have you ever done that?  My answers surprised me.  Then I asked, "How will you get what you want?" and "How will you know you've gotten it?" And finally I asked, "What will you do if your plans fall short?"  It's okay, go ahead and chuckle.  I just used SMART goals 101. But, it's working!
What happened? I'm smiling more. I'm enjoying my students more. I'm eating better. I feel like I'm accomplishing more on my to-do list, because I'm paying attention to my querencia. I'm procrastinating less.  I'm more focused. New goals and ideas are forming because I have taken better care of my physical and emotional querencia. I smelling the metaphorical flowers.

So, I challenge you this January. Try a Simplicity Challenge. Track your progress. What have you got to lose? Ferdinand and I are waiting for you under the tree. We'll save some flowers for you.




Click the pictures below!


A 30 day challenge to get you started!


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