Friday, July 22, 2016

Summer has arrived! I know, I know, technically summer has been around for a month already, but in my world, summer equals warmth, which we haven't really been wallowing in yet this year. Finally, the warmth feels like it's building; nothing too drastic yet, but slowly, every day a bit warmer. It's delightful, even though it has now caused the rest of the apricots to plunk down to the ground at a rate I can't quite keep up with, no matter how many I give away.

Last night I was doing my nightly rounds while texting with a friend about our mutual need to ignore the current news, puttering with the dogs and chickens, checking the yard, and before I knew it, the sun had gone down. I hadn't really paid attention to the sunset--I was on the other side of the house, I think, when it really went down--and it was super dusky, warm and quiet. It was just so delightful to stand there and feel the night roll in. I stood there, in the middle of the back yard, and thought about the stuff that really matters, to me, and how I need to spend more time reflecting on those things, rather than letting my life get eaten up with less important matters. After a few minutes, it occurred to me that there should be a moon, shouldn't there? Where was it? Then I started thinking about the Pale Blue Dot video and pulled up YouTube up on my phone. I mean, I'm waiting for the moon, so why not go look at a space video with Carl Sagan's voice? I found the one below, which I don't think I've watched before; or if I have, it's been awhile. It's a longer version than just the main quote that gets shared a lot. It always resonates, but last night it super-resonated, what with all the weighty stuff of the world currently.

When the video was over I looked at the horizon and saw the glow. The moon! It was coming! Finally. I texted Seth to come and watch it, and he sweetly obliged his mom and came and watched, chatting as the glow-dial turned all the way up until the moon peeked over the Blues. I couldn't help take a couple of pictures, to try and capture this lovely night. (Of course they don't even remotely do it justice.)

I haven't told one of the stories that brought me back to Friday nights and my list, but I've meant to. There were a few of these interactions over my inactive year (or two) that reminded me of why I'd started doing it, and the value of not just being grateful, but of the act of noting gratitude as a ritual. I was at the spring musical at the local high school--something I did only once in Seth's whole high school experience, so not really my natural habitat. But friends had raved about The Little Mermaid, so I corralled another mom of a recent grad into going with me. We sat in the back (we're similar that way, I knew I was asking a like-minded date!), and beside two sisters and a mom I know. Lovely ladies, you know who you are, and your words of encouragement about missing the devotional feel of this Friday night ritual meant more than you probably realize. Thank you.

Week before last was a rough one, locally, as many lost a dear person, and the gathering that followed the loss brought my dear friend Kate to town. Of course that means gathering, and eating, and laughing and crying and sharing. Of course. Thank you, friends, for the time and space to be together. And thanks for giving me an opportunity to crack open a much-loved but not-enough-used cookbook, and bake up a delightful cake. I will need to make this again, definitely.

This week, I am grateful for:
Hugs from Seth. Those hugs are awesome.

Apricots. Even though I sometimes curse how full the tree has been this year, I am so grateful for the bounty. And basil. And the tomatoes that are coming on, and kale, and zucchini and even the precious few okra we've had so far.

Our pups. Such sweet loves. They know exactly what we're up to in the mornings. They know when I'm getting ready to go, and they come upstairs to get more loving from husband before I put them outside. And of course, General *must* bark when I kiss husband goodbye. He just cannot deal with that affection. He is a funny buddy.

Our view. Being able to watch the sunrise and moonrise from the yard is not something I take for granted. If you follow me on Instagram you know that I'm rather captivated by my surroundings, and find the view very tolerable, indeed. I am stopped short by this landscape, almost daily. :)

Water. Not to be taken for granted, at all, in this world with limited resources. To be able to water my garden and bathe and drink and all the things we *do* take for granted.

Friendship. From my best-husband-friend to my girlfriends old and new, I am blessed beyond what I deserve.

The instant gratification of purchasing an airline ticket on a day when I needed something to look forward to.

The ability, and desire, to be real with people. When I observe un/non-realness (or as a normal person would write = inauthentic), the first thing I think is, why? The world is so much better when people are really who they are. And as I type that, I can think of a few exceptions. (Heh.) Maybe it would be better to say, "In general, it is better when people are really who they are."

Laughter. Always a plus, in any day.

Doesn't it feel like week before last, it was ALL Pokemon? And this week? Crickets.

Last, a few words to remember:
"Just for today, I will be unafraid. Especially I will not be afraid to notice what is beautiful, and to believe that as I give to the world, so the world will give to me." -Kenneth L. Holmes


Friday, July 15, 2016

Friday night grateful list

I should have two weeks worth of gratitude saved up, shouldn't I? Well, as a matter of fact, I do. (I know, you're shocked.) Truth is, with all the nuttiness near and far, I am increasingly grateful on a daily basis for the peace of my surroundings, the love in my home, and the ability to find joy in the smallest of moments.

We have been so blessed with the pace of this summer, heat-wise. We popped back up into the 90s one day this week, but other than that, it's been 70s and 80s. This has really helped the apricots not ripen at the speed they usually do, which has also been helpful since I have not been especially motivated to pick them. I can only eat so many, we have proven that we're not big jammy people, and I've already inflicted them on friends and co-workers. But I think this weekend, jam will be made, and more will be picked, and eaten, and baked. I do so love their color and flavor. A true sign of summer, to me.

Also a sign of summer in this valley are the sunsets. Pretty much every evening is beautiful. Even if the day is nothing special and even blah and cloudy, something happens about a half hour before sunset, and the light filters across the valley. I haven't tired of it in all the years I've lived here, and being out of town a bit the past decade, with more unobstructed views, my appreciation has only grown. I am often struck by sunrises as well, being a morning person, but there is truly something special about a Walla Walla sunset.

Still loving having the boy home. Thankfully, haven't quite started the countdown to the college return (well, the parents haven't, but the boy probably has), and having our little family routines and chats brings me great joy. Husband and I talk all the time about the process of tossing youngsters out of the nest (well, our youngster in particular) and this sweet little comic resonated with me. I think a great deal about what it was like for me to leave home at various stages: boarding school, college, Australia for a bit of school and then a bit of work, then more college. It feels more complicated for Seth and his generation. I don't know if it actually *is* or whether it's just the press around millennials and the challenges of employment and how many end up back home with the 'rents.
It can be easy to fall into thinking how the world is more complicated, with various and frequent violent actions taking place near and far. Seems out of whack, unreal. I think, has it always been like this? And of course will see opinions posted, "No! It's worse than ever!" and two seconds later, "Things are really much better than ever before in human history." Sure. Whatever. I'll just keep telling the people I love that I love them, and not take a single day for granted.

This week I am most grateful for:
My mix of introversion and extroversion. I like people well enough, but boy howdy I like my quiet time too. I'm glad to (mostly) get a good balance, even if it means some weekends I don't leave the house for 48 hours. 

Singing. Singing is awesome, even if one is not especially gifted with the voice. It is lovely to hear coworkers pipe up with songs at various times throughout the day too. But, it sure would be nice if a few of them were old enough to know who Rick Astley is, is all I have to say about that. Sheesh. 

This song got shared a bunch this week, and I loved it. I have always appreciated this song--I think I went so far as to make a mix tape (well, CD, but you know what I mean) a few years back of various artists covering it. Rufus' version has very much popularized the song for the less-Leonard-Cohen crowd, and the addition of the choir is quite powerful.

Memories. I had an old friend from my Australia school days reach out on Facebook recently, and it compelled me to dig up some old pictures and relive some pretty fun times down under. Hard to believe how long ago that was, and some things are fuzzy while other memories are pretty clear.

Greenery. I found a baby tears plant recently, and have loved seeing it flourish. Totally takes me back to my childhood, when I usually had a baby tears plant around. Very sweet and green.

Words. This piece, "Thirty Things I've Learned," popped up as something I'd shared on Facebook a couple of years back, and I re-read it. Good stuff. Probably need to schedule an annual reading of it. Also popping back into my feed lately have been Pema words, which always always always resonate.

Patience is not learned in safety. It is not learned when everything is harmonious and going well. When everything is smooth sailing, who needs patience? If you stay in your room with the door locked and the curtains drawn, everything may seem harmonious, but the minute anything doesn’t go your way, you blow up. There is no cultivation of patience when your pattern is to just try to seek harmony and smooth everything out. Patience implies willingness to be alive rather than trying to seek harmony. -Pema Chodron

Love that woman. Should probably schedule an annual reading of that nugget, too.

Do you remember what we did before emjois? I don't. It's very strange, that we all end sentences with smiles and winks and hearts and little slices of cake. Oh I know, YOU probably don't. But I do, and it's weird. I would never have thought that I'd be searching on my phone for a little celebratory emoji to wish a friend a happy birthday with. Go figure.

All that is to say, if I could put a little emoji here for you, I would. Oh wait, I can.

Friday, July 1, 2016

Friday night grateful list

There is simply nothing quite like the Friday night that precedes a long weekend. I'm practically giddy with the idea of that mythical extra day between Sunday and Monday being a reality. Short week next week? Don't mind if I do.

But for all my giddiness, this was a pretty good week. One of the teams I work with set some records in the workplace (boo-ya!) and beat some deadlines--one quite resoundingly. That felt good. And in general, there's a summer happiness in the air. Seth is enjoying his work at Walmart, cashiering it up at all hours of the day and night--he had one shift end at 11 p.m. this week, and another start at 7 a.m. (though luckily not the morning after the 11 p.m.!). I bet you can't guess which one he liked better. Heh.

I spent a couple of summer evenings in the yard this week and fell back in love--not just with the peacefulness of the setting, but the work itself, and how good it feels to be out there with my hands in the dirt. There is a special magic to those end-of-day hours in our valley, where the light hits everything just so, and it's not so hot you can't breathe. Though, honestly, I'm not sure we've gotten over 100 yet--I should say yet again, we did have that odd first weekend in June hot spell. I can do 85, 90, even 95, quite easily. But working outside in 100 degree weather takes a particular grit that I'm not currently embodying.

One of the things that has always made yard time go more quickly for me is when I have a book dialed up on my iPhone and I am interested in knowing what's going to happen next. Right now I have Eligible playing, and it's a rather delightful listen. It's a "modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice" and is every bit as filled with the witticisms and annoyances (Mrs. Bennett, anyone?) as the original. I have also recently listened to Anna Quindlen's Miller's Valley, as well as My Kitchen Year by Ruth Reichl, Happily Ali After by Ali Wentworth, and Padma Lakshmi's Love, Loss and What We Ate. 

My biggest misstep there (in terms of what's good to listen to rather than read) was the Ruth Reichl. I didn't really read much about the book other than to know it was her telling of the year after Gourmet shuttered, and I knew she'd had a rough go of it. But I just skimmed past the whole "136 recipes that saved my life," and listening to someone read recipe ingredients doesn't really do much for me--except put me to sleep. So in a way, it's been a good book to fall back to sleep to on those nights I wake up with to-do lists bouncing around my head.

The Ali Wentworth I got because I just love Ali Wentworth. I do that with celebrities and their books, it's one of my People-magazine-reading personality shortcomings. I most enjoyed Ali when she had a web series called Head Case that was only 12 minutes per episode. I found it hilarious. Anyway, the book is fine, and mildly funny. Also not bad for falling asleep to. That's my bar--can I work in the yard to it? If not, how about fall asleep to it?

This week, as always, I am ever so grateful for friends. Had the joy of meeting up with this dear one tonight and getting our toes painted. As is Sara's effervescent way, she made friends with a pup in the salon who was dressed (yes, that's a dress--and a bonnet) up and smelling fine. And by fine, I mean hair products. Who knew? My poor pups are lucky to get brushed. Product? That's for poodle pups, apparently. But catching up with Sara, sharing stories and laughing--that's always a good time. And, because she won't tell you this, I have to: she's a good wife. I know few women who are as supportive of their husbands as she is. 

This week I am grateful for color. Oh, color. You knew that would come galloping back to the grateful list sooner rather than later, right? See this project below? Swoon, baby. Swoon. I must make this. Now. Going yarn shopping. This. Weekend. As I say when I wear that scarf, or those gloves, or these shoes: how can you have a bad day around color like that? (Seth said something to me recently about my favorite color being rainbow, and at first for some reason I objected. He just looked at me, like, "Really, Mom?" I just saw this post as I was looking back for links, and laughed. He's right.)

I am grateful for the berries. Always with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, blackberries. If there's a "berries" on the end of it, I'm all in.

The apricots are ripe. I'm grateful to have an apricot tree.

I'm grateful for shows like Orange is the New Black, even though they make me sad.

I'm grateful for my thoughtful husband.

And so grateful for my sunshine boy. I will say this every Friday night this summer, I bet: having him home is a gift. Now, when he woke me with a mini-crisis at midnight Wednesday night, did I feel that gift in my heart? No, I did not. But come Thursday morning, well, maybe Thursday afternoon, the gift was back.

Picked another fig (teeny tiny, miniature--but oh the flavor!) off the one fig tree that HAS figs. Grateful to be actually growing figs!

I'm grateful for laughter. I do love a good laugh.

I'm grateful for sleep, which has been better of late. (Well, except for that one night where I ate a bunch of watermelon before bed. Skip that night. OTHER than that night.)

I'm grateful for my pups. Such love.

I'll end as I began, with gratitude for this weekend. I have big plans to do nothing part of the time, and something the rest. It's a little more formed than that in my brain--but not much! Looking forward to seeing what joys the weekend holds, and wishing you the same joy.


Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday night grateful list

Oh lovely weekend, welcome. My arms have been wide open, waiting to welcome you, since at least Wednesday. Thanks for finally showing up!

It's been a wild and wooly week, as my mom used to say. Lots of unusual things popping up to be handled--nothing too unusual, but perhaps it was the volume? Buckets instead of cupfuls, or to have a happier metaphor: a giant rainbow cake of awesome "things that need to be handled." No cupcakes around here, oh no. Whopping layers of cake. Yum.

Meanwhile, the grateful. Such a glorious time of year around here. Long, long days, with lots of light to wake me early, and keep me awake on the other end too. Very grateful for the blinds we have in our bedroom that help keep the light out--this week it had to keep out that strawberry moon business too, from Monday night. Seth and I were out for a bit of exercise when the moon rose, and it was lovely to see it rise in that harvesty way that is mammoth and warm.

And early in the mornings too, when I'm out with the dogs and the chickens, I'm struck by how green and beautiful everything is. We haven't ramped back up the HOT weather yet, just lolling around in the low 80s. Very hammock weather. I walk past our hammock. That's about how hammocky my week was. (Insert wink emoji here.) (I really want to wake up one day in a post-emoji world, but then I think to myself, how on earth would I add an extra "touch" to my texts?! Amiright, Ma?!)

Having Seth home is such a gift. There's really no other word for it. Just knowing he's here, even when he's not in the room with us, makes me smile. He started his new job this week, as a WalMart cashier. I saw him in action tonight as I got a few supplies. He was intent on his scanning responsibilities, and I kept the proper Mom distance. There's a rule that family and friends have to avoid their relative worker, so I behaved, even though I was sort of tempted and if caught would have pulled out my ID--look, different last names, we're not related. You can see I thought through this a little bit. Such a silly mom. Such a silly, grateful mom.

Seth and I are on track to eat a record amount of watermelon this summer. If there isn't a watermelon currently cut up and being eaten, there are leftovers in the fridge, or another one on the counter ready to cut, or both. Of course it's a little early for truly local melons, but we have been enjoying some real gems who have taken a trip north to our bellies. The other food item we are quite ahead of the game on is pesto. The one thing I got planted early is basil, and it is beautiful, bushy and fragrant. I love keeping it trimmed of its blossoms, and having the lovely scent on my hands for awhile after. Happy summer days! So grateful for produce, especially the local farms.

For this week especially, my grateful list includes (but is not limited to!):

Sweet husband and his thoughtful ways.

Our haven of a home, where I can tuck away for a day of rest and come out the other side energized.

Friends who drive hours to come to town for lunch and a visit and a laugh. Who can cut through nonsense in zero time and get to the heart of whatever really needs discussing.

Our pups and their unconditional love. Nothing like the greeting those three give us all at the end of the day. Is it about food? Possibly--especially for General. But those border collies, boy do they embody the "love is love is love is love is love is love" philosophy.

Cold brew coffee. The perfect summer drink. Easy to make, oh-so-easy to drink.

Early morning energy.


Coworkers who put in extra when needed, without being asked. (It's the "without being asked" that's especially awesome.)

Berries. All. The. Berries.

Summer rain. The smell, the feel in the air, the lovely morning after.

Wishing you a joyful, restful weekend.


Friday, June 17, 2016

Friday night grateful list

 Well, I only skipped one week, so that's not soooo bad, right? The groove might take a bit, but it will come back. Just saying so helps solidify that notion.

This Friday night is cool and rainy, and I'm tucked up and away, ready for a little hibernation. I have a quote somewhere that I calligraphied back in the day: There are years that ask questions and years that answer them. I have no idea who said that. I just now thought that about this week--could the same sentiment apply? Hard to say; weeks go by in a flash, whereas years... nevermind, years go by in flashes too.

Occasionally, though, there is this:

I crack myself up. I am more of a lady than THAT, right? Hmmm. Don't answer.

Seth got a summer job! I know, right?! He's going to be a cashier at the local WalMart. Before you get all opinionated about the evils of Walmart, let me tell you about ours. I mean, it's WalMart, but. The local management is the kind that supports local nonprofits. The employees are excellent volunteers for nonprofit events in the community. Also, they hire people (elderly, differently abled) that might not have a shot at working elsewhere. So I'm not as inclined to diss the WalMart. We're just excited that a) he's gainfully employed and b) he's gainfully employed. Gives a kid a sense of purpose to have somewhere to go when they get up in the morning, right?

I have a feeling this experience will make Seth get a little more interested in internships during the rest of his college summers, which of course I think is a great idea too. It's just hard to do that when you have only one year of college under your belt. So we'll be grateful for this summer and the joy of having him home.

Oddly, I'm grateful for the coolness of the last couple of weeks, after the brief but impactful heat blast. I like the increased cloud action, and not having to water the heck out of everything morning and night. One funny side effect, though--I was looking at mail order catalogs and tossing them into recycling and saw something about "Summer Sale" and thought, really, that doesn't seem right, isn't summer over? No, silly, it hasn't even begun. I'm all mixed around in my seasons right now--feels like it could be either spring or fall, but definitely not summer. I suppose some weather-nik would point out to me that it's officially not summer until Tuesday. Yep. I get that.

I have eaten three figs off my fig trees already this season. Right before the brief heat blast, I moved one small tree that I had overwintered in the kitchen out onto the back porch. There were at least a dozen figs on the tree, and the sudden heat caused three of them to ripen within 48 hours. Cracked me up. They were teeeeny tiny, but they were very yummy and I may have gobbled them up. I am looking forward to the other figs ripening at a more leisurely pace.

Have you ever had a time when you were really grateful to just be you? I know there are people who, so I hear, pine to be someone or something else, other than what they are. I don't know how unusual it is to say I am really, really happy to be me. Grateful, even. All those placards of  "you are enough" have always struck me as a little odd. Of course you are, dear one. How could it be any other way?

I have had some moments of despair this week, feeling very much like all the talk of love winning over hate is really just a load of nonsense, because obviously hate is winning. Just look around. And then I breathe a bit and read wise words and say my prayers and breathe some more. And I go out into the world, which is all any of us can do, and try to make things better in the small little circle of influence I have. Because really, that's all you can do, right?

I am so grateful for people who lift others up and encourage.

I am grateful for mornings. Both the weekday mornings when I'm ready to go conquer the to-do list, and weekend mornings, when I am ready to roll over for a bit more of a snooze.

I am grateful for books, for the plethora of new ideas being generated by creative minds and put down in words. (Didn't reading that last phrase make you want to start singing, "How wonderful life is, when you're in the world?") I have so many good books I want to read, listen to, enjoy.

I am grateful for summer flavors--every year I welcome the fresh tastes of the season with such enthusiasm, you'd think I'd never eaten fresh, homemade pesto or asparagus or rhubarb before. It is such a treat to live in such a rich agricultural area.

I am grateful for family.

I am grateful for the pauses that remind me to look around and notice the little things that bring me joy.

I am grateful for the beauty in nature. Every week there's a new "favorite" blooming in the yard. The apricot tree is full of fruit ready to ripen. Green is everywhere.

I am grateful for sleep, and for quality shades in our bedroom so that the early morning summer light can't get in!

I'm grateful for a day of rest to bring back a little pep in my step. That's what weekends do best--re-pep!

I'm grateful for Amazon Prime. I know, aren't we all? 

A little something from Seth for the grateful list:

Wishing you a peaceful weekend.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Friday night grateful moment

A little shocking to come over here and realize it's been more than a year since my last post. Shocking, and then not. Time passes so quickly, *that's* the shocking thing. I never really get used to how quickly the days, weeks, months roll by. I haven't meant to be so absent, but the fullness of life (kind of an understatement) has had my brain in other places for large chunks of time. I'm not going to make some proclamation (see this post, and this post, sigh) about the future, but it has been on my mind for some time to come back to the blog and post more regularly.

Tonight I am looking out our bedroom slider and watching a beautiful summer sunset reflect on the mountains, while close by (I could probably hear cheers if I opened up the sliding door, but it's quite warm) the local high school is graduating a fresh crop of seniors. I am nostalgic for what was just taking place for Seth just a short blip of a year ago, and so grateful for the year he's at at PLU. What a true blessing it is to know that your kid is content in their journey. I know that "content" is a fluid state, but for now, we'll take it and appreciate having him home for the summer.

I went looking for Seth grad photos, you know, to really wallow in a little nostalgia. I love this one of him and his buddy Noble. Such fine young men. So proud of them both.

And then I saw this doozy of a grad photo from (cough) 30 (cough) years ago. That is one wild blast from the past, seeing the four of us looking so youthful and sprite-like. I'm grateful for this family that launched me out into the world, and provided such a good foundation.

I do appreciate the memory jogs from the Facebook memories that pop up on occasion and remind me of what I waas doing or saying five or six years ago. (I am also very aware of how horrid those memories can be for people who have had to endure a tragic life event., however. I am sure I would feel differently if I had to see some pictures just ta-da into my feed.) Anyway, where I'm going with this: Apparently the spring of 2010 was really cold--lots of memory posts about soup and boots and rain and rugging up in the cool temps. This year we had a really early warm spell  (fruit trees blooming! everything budding!), then cooled off for many weeks. Just as I was thinking, "well, at least my friends won't have to host graduation parties in 100-degree weather," up popped the temps again. I've been grateful for the cool weather, but the fact that the rain and wind has often fallen on the weekend has brought us to a rather jungle state in the yard.

National Doughnut Day today. Who knew? I clued in last evening and thus popped by the premier doughnut joint this morning on my way in to work and got a few for the co-workers. I may have mentioned my love for apple fritters a time or ten before; there's something quite compelling about a Friday + doughnut combination.

I saw this funny dog pic just this week and really, really related. Replace the bagel with my apple fritter. 

This week I am most grateful
for laughter, even on the stressful days
for joy in the flowers and fruits in the yard
for love
for green fields, green trees, green hills, green everything!
for roadtrips
for family
for pups and chickens
for cleared off desks and answered emails
for egg salad
for the smell of summer in Walla Walla--dust and onions and alfalfa
for age, and the understanding that comes from having walked a mile or two on this earth
for another week of progress towards goals
for friendship
for my morning routines, which set up the whole day so well
for my guys. Always and always, my guys.

Glad to be back in this familiar space. I wish you the best of weekends.


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.

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