Friday, May 15, 2015

Friday night grateful moment

So perhaps my little moment of "I'm back" (see NYE post) was a little premature. You think? Sigh. My heart was in the right place, for sure. My brain and ability to follow through has been completely used up elsewhere the past few months. But, no matter. Somewhere mid-afternoon today I decided I'd post tonight, and here I am. No more or less grateful than any other Friday night, but just here. Rusty but writing.

It's spring here in Walla Walla, with all that that implies. Sun some moments, rain at others. And oh how we need the rain, so I'm not arguing with that, even though I get chilled and maybe a wee bit crabby about that. I will remain grateful for whatever moisture we can drum up before the real warmth starts and we go into official drought mode. We are greener than green right now, and that makes me very happy.

Seth approaches his last weeks of high school, and I'm so grateful for these days together. He's done pretty well at keeping "senioritis" at bay, and has been busy with many extracurricular activities, but he's here and he's happy with his college choice (Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma) and feeling ready to move on to this next phase. Yay for endings and beginnings and all the things that make these passages significant. (With Seth's graduation will come visiting family, and I'm really looking forward to that!)

This has been a rough few months (year?) locally and further afield, for family, friends and friends of friends, in all areas of health, grieving and loss. I can't really even tally the number of cancer diagnoses, deaths, divorces and other heartaches, and on some level, I feel a little numb. A bit in the arena of, don't let it all in, because it's really just a big ball of sadness. But for the living/currently undiagnosed, it's one foot in front of the other. What else can you do? I'm grateful for my health, for sure, and don't take it for granted. I'm grateful for another day to hug my husband and child and assure them of my love.

One of my favorite things from these past few months is that we have acquired a few chickens. This is especially exciting given our collective love of eggs, of course. And now we have on hand at any moment the freshest of eggs. There have been many lovely golden omelets and deviled eggs, and Seth's breakfast egg sandwich is extra delicious--so I've been told. My Saturday morning poached egg ritual has also risen a notch or two. It took me a bit to taper off my usual egg grocery purchases, so we were fairly swimming in egg options there for a bit. Now, we've got it more or less down to a steady diet.

My mom has been traveling with her sisters this week, and I've enjoyed thinking about their time together, grateful they have each other. Sisters are awesome, whether by blood or by marriage or by choice. I am grateful to have lovely sisters in the last two of those categories.

For Mother's Day the boys treated me to a day in TriCities with a couple of glorious nursery visits as well as lunch out together. It was exactly what I wanted and needed. Now, to get the plants in their appropriate spots. I have dug up my dahlia bed (it took a big hit this winter, though I'm not sure exactly why, given it wasn't a very severe winter) and am transplanting them elsewhere. The snowball bushes and lilacs both bloomed gloriously, and the irises and peonies are currently going to town!

And now for a couple of random pics I found on my phone. I am very grateful for my phone. I love having a camera with me every minute of the day. I know, how weird. But I like to document things, however mundane. Go figure.

I am ready for this weekend and all the rest and recuperation that implies, physically, mentally and spiritually. I hope that whatever your weekend holds, it's all that you wish for.


Wednesday, December 31, 2014

And now let us welcome a new year

Well, that blog break lasted a bit longer than I meant for it to.

As I'm sure you could tell there toward the start of the "break," I got a bit worn down by my own repetitiveness on the weekly gratitude lists, and work and life and life and work continued to march on in such a way as to nip at my creative heels, undermining my extracurricular writing, reading, reflecting, etc. And I let it, so that's on me. But each time I thought about getting back into writing more regularly, I would hear my internal voice say "meh" and  kept on the path of least resistance.

There were real and true plans to pick it back up at my birthday, paying subtle homage to the fact that the blog began back at my birthday six years ago. But Oct. 29 came and went, and here we are, post-holidays and on the cusp of a new year. Perfect time to get off my butt and back to writing, right?

I have mullings about this past year, and plans for the coming year, and these few days of really precious quiet time with the guys have been so helpful. My brain feels reset to a more balanced place. So, for the moment, I'll take it and move forward with optimism that I can structure my life to accommodate the other, important areas of my life that require a little time and energy to caretake.

So where am I at with the One Little Word idea? Oh, it's still a thing. There were a few early word choices vying for my attention, all reflective of my desire to focus on what's most important and not just what's urgent. For a moment or two, the word "filter" was at the top of my mind, but that's a completely utilitarian word, zippo on the romance factor. Filter led the way to "mindful," but hasn't that word been worked and reworked the past decade? That alone doesn't make it a bad word, but it wasn't quite what I was going for. And then I arrived at Presence, and stayed.

Presence is something that I have always needed more of in my life, even before smartphones and constant media inputs fragmented our brains. OK, my brain. But it's true. Listening, processing one thing at a time, not multitasking the heck out of every situation to try and get more done, slowing down just a touch and reminding myself of what's really necessary... for me, all of this fits under the umbrella of Presence.

Wish me luck, both on the Presence and the blogging. Time will tell on both of them, of course. But I see that they are rather related, too. A bit of Presence (I swear I won't cap it forever, just for this one post. Really.) will go a long way toward giving me the mental space I know I need to to even allow inspiration in.

I found the above image via Pinterest, and love the whole list--but was of course very interested in "Give the Present of Presence." :)

In case you need a recap, I couldn't help but review my blog posts about resolutions over the years:

2009 resolutions and my report on how I did.

Starting to simplify the goals process in 2010

2011: the first year I really picked a word (Focus).

2012: Grace, with the recap/follow up post)1

2013: Light

2014: Pray

Which brings us to 2015: Presence.

One site that is consistently my go-to for all things thoughtful is On Being. There are two specific posts that I've seen/listened to/read in this week of peacefulness that have relevance to 2014 (Pray) and 2015 (Presence):

Thomas Merton's Prayer That Anyone Can Pray.

"My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think that I am following your will does not mean that I am actually doing so. But I believe that the desire to please you does in fact please you. And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it. Therefore will I trust you always, though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for you are ever with me, and you will never leave me to face my perils alone."

Gordon Hempton's The Last Quiet Places: Silence and the Presence of Everything

There are many audio opportunities with this post, and I so enjoyed taking in his recordings of the natural world. If you can't find me, I might be out in a field, listening to the silence.

I hope that 2014 was a good year for you. And if it wasn't a good year, I am glad for you that it's over. I know a great many people who had life challenges this year, from health troubles and careers failing through to marriage and relationship issues. The beauty of a new year is the old refrain about turning the chapter to a new page and starting over; even if it was a good year, that's an idea that resonates with me.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Friday night grateful moment

What does a week hold? So many things, when you think about it: joy, hope, sadness, love, peace, discord, sleep, work, delicious food, pretty ordinary food, prayer, happiness, tears, laughter, music, noise, silence, cursing. This week was no exception.

And of course, this week held gratitude. Gratitude to be a part of this world, this life, living with the people I get to call family and friends and colleagues, and contribute to all that makes the world go 'round.

An old family friend posted a video on Facebook by the Maccabeats, and being the acapella junkie that I tend to be, I had to go find more music by them. I liked many of their songs, but this one stood out as reflective of my current mood.

Last weekend we were fortunate to have my brother and his family here to visit and spend time together. We did all the usual things--ate, napped, went for a glorious walk in the sunshine, visited around the firepit while roasting s'mores, ate some more, and waved goodbye as they all-too-quickly whisked back over to the other side of the state. I was grateful for our time together and look forward to our next visit. Soon, hopefully!

I have a little before-bed habit of browsing Instagram for #maryoliver. Her words do calm my spirit, and life me. Here are a few of the ones that stayed with me, this week.

"Everything will be everything else, by and by." Love those words.

Wishing you a peaceful weekend, wherever you are.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Friday night grateful moment: Happy

I have a confession. I had not heard the song "Happy" until tonight. I know, how insane is that? It's only been everywhere, all over the place, for ages. How I've missed it is a feat, it itself. And to top it off, I have even been gifted the song on a CD from one of my dear music friends. Somehow that one had not made it into my CD player in the car, quite yet. It will be asap, I swear!

It could be a tiny testament to how distractable I've been, I suppose, a version of busy that, for me, tends to sap my ability to read anything longer than a blog post or article. It's not pretty (in terms of concentration outside of work topics), and I think I need a reset button or digital sabbatical to undo some of my more wound-up tendencies, lately. Meditation, prayer, quiet time? Good thoughts, all.

Regardless, I feel the need to share the song tonight, even though this hasn't been the happiest of weeks. Let's just say it was one of those weeks where reminders of life's fragility felt close. I could list my own reasons for feeling fragile and you'd have yours too, surely. Everyone who reaches a certain age and has any kind of interaction with other humans on this planet knows loss and heartache on some level. I can't imagine it being otherwise. And the sweet part of the bittersweet is all the love, all the happy, all the warmth and joy that exists and that I get to experience daily. The bitter is what it is, just that. Sure makes me appreciate the sweet, and the happy. 

My home is warm, my tummy is full, the pups are dozing on the floor nearby. I can hear Seth's voice as he visits on the phone with his special lady friend (gosh, if he only read the blog, imagine how annoyed he'd be with that phrase?!) in the other room. Husband and I share snippets of conversation and I am thrilled with the two days ahead, where the break in the routine is definitely welcome. I am very grateful for all of the above. Very much so, tonight.

Wishing you the same.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Friday night grateful moment

This week was one of those long-short weeks. Wednesday felt like Thursday, but I also was concocting extra days between Thursday and Friday to try and pack it all in. Yes, one of those weeks. What joy, what bliss, to be at Friday night, with peace and quiet, screen door open, pups napping, husband beside me, all peaceful and well.

It is spring, there is no doubt about that. Well, there were some people on the East Coast who seemed to doubt it for a minute or two this week, I think. But, we had the whole gamut this week--rain, wind, rain, blue skies, clouds, the gorgeous smell of rain. This week I learned what that word is, the smell of rain: petrichor. Cool word, eh? It's one of my favorite smells, and makes me so grateful for spring, whenever I am outside after a rainfall and inhale, big. Deep breath.

With spring comes color, which is always a favorite of mine. I looked out our dining room window one morning, and saw orange fish in the pond, purple lilacs, pink on the flowering weeping almond tree, greens of every shade. That scene made me smile quite happily, gratefully. I am in a bit of denial that it's actually Easter this weekend--how did that happen already? Not having the nieces (and their parents) here for the Egg Hunt Extravaganza, I have opted to just ignore it. That and eating less sugar means, what? huh? candy? chocolate? whatevs. ;) (I'm saving it all up for May!)

I love the way the seasons work with flavor too. Here comes the asparagus, in all its local glory. The strawberries are blossoming, and while it feels a little far away, I am already pining for fresh produce from the garden. Basil, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes... now we just need to keep the nights above frost level for a bit!

I learned of a friend's cancer diagnosis this week, and have been thinking of her and her family and lifting them in prayer, many times over each day. I am tired of cancer touching the lives of people I care about. Tired especially for them, and wishing for healing, in many places, tonight. I am grateful for the love and support that I know my friends and family with illness have surrounding them. Very grateful indeed.

Tonight I'm also very grateful for the path of this past decade, where I am now, with the love and support in my life. I try to pause every day and reflect on it, really feel the gratitude and focus on keeping my eyes open and aware of what's going on. I believe it as much now as I did 10 years ago--when you have a major life transition, there's a wakefulness to it, a super-alert mode that only lasts if you focus on not letting the noise of the world lull you back asleep. No thanks. To me that equates to taking things for granted, and I work pretty hard to not do that.

I love that sentiment. I think I need it tattooed somewhere. Or, at the very least, close by so I can refer to it nightly. I think I will go sleep in peace now. I wish the same for you.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Friday night grateful list: Spring Break edition

Ha. I typed the words "Spring Break edition" and instantly had Girls Gone Wild images flash through my mind. Ha ha. Not even.

This week, following the festival that was Grandma's 95th birthday, Seth and I put husband on a plane home and trekked off over the mountains, down I-5 and had a few days of looking around colleges, educating ourselves on a few local-ish options. We both learned a lot, about the process of applying to colleges, about the various campuses themselves, and what environments felt more "Seth" than others. We have the advantage of having friends who either are or were in the college admissions game; their advice has been invaluable. And I know we'll be back for more, friends. Prepare yourselves.

I am so grateful to have had this week with Seth. He and I have road-tripped many, many times over the years, all over the place. We have listened to many audiobooks, sung many songs together at the top of our lungs, and eaten more than our fair share of completely unhealthful food too. I am grateful for Seth every day, but getting to spend multiple days together is always special. Even when we got on each other's nerves, or one or the other of us missed the right exit and we had to backtrack, we still had a really excellent adventure.
We had really great tour guides, for the most part--extroverted, engaged young men who were pretty passionate about their college experience. It was good to see. The bottom left photo is Seth telling me to stop taking pictures and stay with the group. As if. You'd think he'd know by now...

I managed to keep on top of work emails while I was away, by borrowing a Surface from work, instead of the usual laptop. I am a complete convert. Seems odd to sit and type away on a Surface, referring to my iPad while I do that--I was working on one of my nonprofit volunteer projects while I was away, and had documents I needed to read on one device, while recording notes in a spreadsheet on the other. I thought Bill Gates and Steve Jobs would appreciate my ambidextrous approach to technology, but mostly, I was just grateful to be able to get things done. I'm not sure I will actually give the Surface back, I like it that much. I think one of the reasons it works so well for me is my love of all things touch-screen. But transferring back to my laptop, it's hilarious how many times my hand reaches up to swipe something on the screen. Creature of habit...

We came home to a yard that is bursting with springtime energy. That is to say: green! I was thinking today while pulling weeds, why can't we pull them once and then they'll never come back?! I agree, it's a little early in the season to be thinking like that! Ha. Seth and I got a couple of beds cleared of the winter leaves that blow through, and picked up potting soil and a few plants to start the flower pots. I am always so grateful for spring, but for some reason, I am ever-so-much-more-so this year. Why is that? It wasn't a hard winter, here in Washington. If I were on the East Coast, it might be more understandable. But we had it pretty mild.

Look what I found: lettuce, reseeded from last year!

Listened to (and inflicted on Seth!) some great work-related podcasts while on the road, and now that it's yard season, I'll be cranking up the audiobooks too. Nothing makes yard time go by faster than listening and learning. Happy me! I'm so grateful for technology (well, other than that dang Heartbleed thing. Blech.).

The whole of the Pacific Northwest put on a glorious sunshine show for us. It was most pleasant. I got to have breakfast with Jen on the morning we were in Portland, which was lovely; it was especially lovely to walk together to breakfast without an umbrella!

When we were at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, walking down the hall in the English department, I saw a bunch of photos of various poets, and the tour guide said something, "blah blah blah, photos all taken by William Stafford blah blah blah." What? How did I not remember that William Stafford taught at L&C, years ago? 

I was first introduced to William Stafford as a poet in 1991, while I was in college, and I even got to hear him read that year, too. I have always appreciated and enjoyed his writing. He died in 1993 and I just read that he wrote the morning he died: "You don't have to / prove anything," my mother said. "Just be ready / for what God sends." Wow. That'll stick with me for a bit.

The bottom photo has Galway Kinnell in it, another poet I have appreciated.

I'm so grateful for poetry. Can't be said enough. :)

Tonight I'm especially grateful to be home, with husband and Seth, with the sliding doors open and the spring air so fragrant. I'm grateful that the weekend is ahead, and while I'm sure there will be work of both the work-work and yard variety, there will also be sleep, joyous sleep, and relaxation, maybe another brief road trip, some good food, laughter and love. Yeah for weekends.

Hope your weekend is "yeah" too.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Friday night grateful moment

Tonight I am grateful to be in Canada, surrounded by family, celebrating the 95th birthday of my grandma tomorrow. I am grateful for safe travels, for lots of laughter, for car naps and for sunshine and blue skies along the way. I'm grateful for such a loving extended family, and for their laughter and hugs. I'm grateful for such a great kid, and the prospect of a road trip together next week. I'm grateful for a wonderful partner and spouse, one who is my biggest cheerleader and best friend. I'm grateful for sleep, which is arriving very soon, and for the joy of sleeping in. I'm grateful it's the weekend, and I'm so very grateful it is THIS weekend. That my grandmother is 95 is the best and biggest thing on my grateful list this week. She's amazing and lovely, and I am grateful for every day she's on this planet.

Hope your weekend is filled with gratefulness too.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Friday night grateful list

Tonight I went on a Rumi jag, and found some fabulous words that make my heart full and happy. And grateful.

That one about being irritated? Well, I just might need to get that little reminder as a tattoo, some days. :)

I hope you have a grateful weekend. I plan to spend mine by the fireplace, if this rain keeps up. Such a chill to the bone!

Wishes for warmth, and peace.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday night grateful moment

Confession: this list, this tradition, this ritual... almost didn't happen tonight. But then I spoke my sacrilege out loud to husband and his sweet response was, "But you've worked so hard to never miss. Here, I'll help you. Do you want me to type?" So, so sweet. (And no, he's not typing.)

So here's our joint little grateful effort. A little him, a little me, a little list.

Spending the afternoon with the one you love. We took off from work early, had a lovely late lunch out, did some errands, and generally enjoyed the sunshine and running around together. Blessed.

We are both very grateful for springtime, and all the green and leafy things that are popping out. I'm a little sad that it got down to 28 degrees a couple of nights last week. I'm pretty sure that means no apricots. :(

For color, I am always grateful. I saw gobs of beautiful flowers at Lowes today and got all twitterpated about planting and gardening and blooming and such. Calm down, Sher.

We are well! All three of us! Woot. Last weekend was pretty draggy, especially for husband, so we're super grateful to be mended.

For family: for talks and reflection and the anticipation of time together. I am so looking forward to the first weekend in April. Hugs all around, family people! xo

Seth's home again for the week--we've had a lovely run of extra boy time and that makes both of our hearts very happy and grateful. (Seth's too, I am sure, but I am only typing for the two parentals at the moment. And with a teen, who really knows, right?!)

For the promise of a big, fat, lazy sleep-in tomorrow (this is all Sher as husband does not sleep in). If the phone rings or there's a text before 9 a.m., you're toast. Yes, even YOU.

Visiting girlfriends. I have TWO (count 'em, 2!) friends in town this weekend, visiting; completely unrelated visits, which is cool. That almost never happens, probably mostly because my friends who aren't in Walla Walla never come here. Ha. That's a veiled threat/dare to Jen and Corinne, mostly. Bring IT. But to the ones who are here: looking forward to seeing you!

Feeling fiesty, and sleepy, and that's a dangerous combination. (Just ask husband. He's now given up on the list, since I'm clickety-clacking over here.) Off to La-La-Land I go! Wishing you peace and joy and love. Always love.


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