Monday, December 31, 2012

One Word 2013: Light

Think about it: 2013. What good comes of something, anything, even a new millenium, becoming a teenager? While my personal experience as a parent has not been such that the teen years are horrific or earth-ending, by any means, there's a reason why teenagers have the reputation they do. Boundary stretching, arrogant, annoying, impatient with everyone older than 20... If we think the past few years have been challenging, what is ahead in this coming year? Hmmm. Between you and me, I am not holding my breath for 20-THIRTEEN to be anything other than a hormonal temper tantrum of a year.

That being said, I *also* think it could quite possibly be a great year (yes, I can have it both ways). Mostly because, dammit, it needs to be. It HAS to be. And, frankly, we can either let the teenager rule, or we can show it who is boss. Am I right or am I right?

On the heels (and pardon the whiplash after that slightly gloomy intro) of my Grace recap yesterday, I offer you my One Word for 2013: Light.

Light (as a child of God):
"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light." Ephesians 5:8

Light (as a wife and mother):
"There are two ways of spreading light…To be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it."
-Edith Wharton

Light (as a friend, colleague, fellow traveler):
"Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder. Help someone's soul heal. Walk out of your house like a shepherd."

Light (as a woman):
"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."
-Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross

Light (as a citizen of the world):
He who would travel happily must travel light.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery

So, what does another word for another year really mean? Well, for one, it gives me a handy jumping off place for goals. It's when I am able to align so many of my current thoughts and inner workings with One Word that I know I've arrived at a word that will work for me (theoretically) in the coming year. I usually turn over any number of words for a month or two in my brain before landing on one that really resonates.

The past couple of months I've been mulling over 2013 and where I'd like to go:

*Lighten up (see what I'm able to do with one little word?) means working toward a few fitness targets.

*Being light also means getting organized, paring down, cleaning out those sock and makeup drawers that I've been meaning to get to, for years. When I read the Saint-Exupery quote above, I think about having less of a footprint on the earth, consuming less...

*Lighten up also translates into taking myself less seriously. Seriously.

*Being a light (lamp) to others, at home and away: I think about my abilities to listen, to empathize, to show compassion, and my need and desire to grow in those areas.

*I'd like to work on my devotional time (focusing on my Creator as The Light), finding ways to make prayer and scriptural meditation meaningful and consistent as my life requires additional balance.

*To shine light on a topic is to gain wisdom; there are a number of areas, professionally, where I want to learn and grow.

And I know the list will expand and morph over the year. I'm very much looking forward to seeing where it grows to.

Always, there are a few online resources to help in the journey:
One Little Word: I just signed up for this year-long class. I think it will keep me more on track in a gentle way (not like some online classes that are all-in for weeks at a time). (Come join me! That would be awesome!)

My One Word

One Word 365

Here we are, on the brink of another year; a year destined to be filled with joy and sadness, challenges and opportunities, the full range that every 365-day cycle provides. But rather than wishing for a good year, or even a great year, I wish for you the strength to meet whatever your year brings--and I wish the same for myself. If it is good fortune, so much the better. If it is less than that, may you (and I) be surrounded by love and comfort and courage. And light.

‎"I wish I could show you, when you are lonely or in darkness, the astonishing light of your own being." 
-Hafiz of Shiraz

Sunday, December 30, 2012

One Word 2012 recap: Grace

Grace has been my One Little Word for 2012, the word I chose to focus on, to bring more of into my life. And like any highlighted characteristic, it seems, the simple act of choosing GRACE flipped a switch to spotlight my need. Upon deciding on the word, I almost immediately felt utterly challenged--both in the giving and receiving of Grace. I had to take a few deep breaths and remind myself that, cliche as it might sound, this wasn't about a specific destination, but about the road to be traveled along the way.

Here, at the tail end of 2012, I am quite glad I chose Grace. Articulating the word, and keeping it present in my mind and heart throughout the year, was very worth the effort. Was I human? Sure. Did I act graceless at times? Oh yes. But did I come to better understand grace in my own life and work to share that outwardly in my relationships with others? Yes, I did.

Like Focus (2011), and Pause (2010) before it, I know that Grace will stay with me, long after 2012 is gone. Each word remains a part of me--reminding me, keeping me company, guiding the way--with a kind of cumulative effect. By the time I'm an old woman, all kinds of words will have visited my years, even circling back around for a retool from time to time, maybe. It's a welcome image.

I mentioned the Grace journey only a few times this year:
*In a Mid-Week Reminder about the magnitude of being present to what our life offers.
*Another Mid-Week Reminder about grace in the turnaround.
*And in a Friday Night Grateful Moment, when I mention a Bible verse that highlights grace: Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Could I stay with Grace for another year? Quite definitely. But I'm moving on, adding Grace to the word pile and picking another to focus on and build goals toward. I'm really quite excited about 2013, in many ways. Can't wait to share...

Friday, December 28, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

My gratitude is quite simple tonight--not like it's ever very complex!--but having spent the holiday week with just the three of us together, I am extra-aware of my sweet family and how blessed we are to have each other.

We only inflicted a few Mexican train dominoes games on Seth--and he trounced us every time!

We even ate a salad or two. Can you tell which one is mine? Ha. Yes, I'm the grape-pomegranate-blue cheese girl, but you knew that already.

There were beach walks, in between a few rollicking storms and gentle rainshowers.

We indulged in time-honored traditions like Camp 18 for breakfast on the way home.

I won't pretend we drove like this the *whole* time...

But we are safely home through the fog and cold, safe in our cozy abode with the fire crackling.

I hope that wherever you are tonight, it is a place with love and peace.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Christmas links to bring good cheer

All of a sudden, here we are: Christmas is upon us. It has seemed especially sneeky this year, creeping up and surprising most everyone I know. Is it that we've all been so busy, or that the local weather seems to deny December, or some other factor I haven't yet considered? Who knows. But on this Christmas Eve Eve, here are a few things I've been collecting around the interwebs that are particular to this time of year.

Just this weekend the "must watch Christmas movies" mood struck. This post about life lessons from "Elf" made me smile... (part of a separate post about life lessons from other Christmas movies, but truthfully my favorite of their list is "Elf." I'm a big "Elf" fan.). I think my favorite "Elf" lesson is Do What You Love:
"First we'll make snow angels for a two hours, then we'll go ice skating, then we'll eat a whole roll of Tollhouse cookie dough as fast as we can, and then we'll snuggle."

Also from Positively Present, a collection of links I thought I'd pass along, all Christmasy, of course. And a Christmas playlist, because you can't ever have too much Christmas music, in my humble opinion. Kind of sad to say goodbye to it for another eleven-ish months.

A number of my favorite bloggers have written posts around the holidays. They are not necessarily full of joy, or cheer. But they are real, and represent the dichotomy of this season, the light and the dark, the sadness and the joy, that I think most people relate to.
Hugs for Holidays
Winter Solstice

And, because there's got to be a way to build "Downton Abbey" into just about everything (am I right or am I right?), here's a little gingerbread magic for your viewing pleasure. Fun to watch the construction. Gives me hope that one day I will conquer that Fallingwater gingerbread house that's on my bucket list...

If you read my post a couple of Friday nights ago, you know that Mary Did You Know? is my favorite Christmas song. I happened to read a devotional about how the song came to be (click link above) a week or so ago.

And if you're in need of a reminder of the real reason for the season (as I am, often enough), these little kids from New Zealand do a pretty sweet job.

  Merry, merry, all. Wishing you peace this week, more than anything else.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

It's been one of *those* weeks... you know, one of those weeks where a whole seven days happens between posts. I'm not a fan of *those* weeks, but lately, with the crush of work and life and family and the holidays, well, it's just going to be what it's going to be.

Meanwhile: Friday evening + my guys + peacefulness + fireplace + holiday anticipation + fondue with a friend today = a very grateful girl.

The glow of holiday lights is something that always fills me with joy. Remember, I'm the possible-eccentric who wants to have twinkle lights up all year long... But I am grateful for Christmas lights (of any color), which impart a holiday feel wherever they are strung.

For the past few days, whenever a decision has been needed or a specific choice has seemed a little overwhelming, my default has been, "let's talk about that at the first of the year." While I'm not one for deferring items of importance, it just seemed--in many cases--to be the best approach, rather than rush through something and have to circle back in 10 days. Between now and then, I'm grateful for the mental space and clarity I'm anticipating. I figure putting it out there to the Universe to manifest is the first step, right?

In that mental space, I want to do some thinking, planning, scheming... all good, of course. I would never use my mental space for evil... or would I? (Cue maniacal laugh, which never really suits me. So, nevermind.) But I have been thinking for far longer than just the past week or so: "When we get to the holiday break, I want to take some time to think about X. Plan for Y. Plot and scheme a way to accomplish Z." Happily this break coincides with the end of one year, the beginning of another--coincidence? I think not.--so my planning may or may not take on the ring of resolutions. I am grateful for new years, for blank slates and clean notebooks.

This time of year is fraught with out-of-whack expectations, dashed hopes and remembered loss. I know many people grappling with very new and very fresh loss as well, and my heart catches in my throat when I think of everything that needs to be processed in the coming days, weeks, months. There is nothing like the holidays to put a magnifying glass over any emotion and just ratchet it up. I just now caught up on one of my favorite blogs, Hollywood Housewife, who is visiting her home state of Oklahoma because of a sick niece. The last paragraph from her post really resonated: "In such a heightened emotional state, it's easy to see God everywhere or not to see him at all. I do both, depending on the hour. That's what faith really is, I think. Seeing the 'everywhere' portion as Truth and doing your damndest to dismiss the rest." I'm grateful when people are able to put into words what I'm needing, and feeling.

I'm grateful for friendships, for new friends that feel like old friends, and for old friends who knew me when. For those who saw me through rough patches, and those that only know the "now" patch, I am grateful for the blanket that is woven over and around me, and keeps me warm in love and affection. I simply could not be more blessed in the friend department.

For my guys, who know me and love me and accommodate me and spoil me, I am also grateful and blessed. Any holiday that includes the two of them is bound to be a lovely one.

Satsuma oranges are the best. I think I have eaten about four boxes of them all by myself this season? Maybe that's why I haven't gotten a cold? Well, regardless, I adore those little orange gems, and am grateful for their season, short as it is.

For color, I am always grateful, especially in this season of gray. Our Christmas tree is always a source of joy for me, with so many beautiful ornaments we've collected or been given through the years. This week the tree was given another beauty (below), and I love it!

I am grateful for quiet. Even though we have not be honored with the blanket of snow I keep harping on about wanting, I am surrounded by stillness at the moment--the only sound is Seth crunching away on baby carrots, and the fireplace. I love the peace, and quiet.

I hope your holiday brings you joy, peace, hope, a little contentment, love and maybe even a bit of chocolate and sparkly prettiness, if that's your leaning.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Kind of hard to wrap my brain around gratitude tonight, what with the events of the day.

But I am still grateful, even with this ache in my gut and lump in my throat.

I'm grateful that even when evil shows itself so absolutely, there are kind and caring people who act in heroic ways. I know stories will come out about the adults who were killed that will show many of them died trying to protect children.

I'm grateful that I know Seth is safe tonight, even as I'm painfully aware that there are families (a whole community) still in shock at the loss of their little ones.

I'm grateful for a warm home and the prospect of sleep. For my dear husband and our conversations. For the glow of the Christmas tree, for the jingle of the bell on Chief's collar, for those little oranges you can only find around the holidays. I am grateful that I have all my supplies for Christmas baking and the work party in hand, so that prepping and cooking can get underway without a lot of hassle. I'm grateful for fleecy socks in the cold, flannel sheets, and layers of sweaters. I'm grateful that there were a few precious snowflakes today, before it turned to rain. I'm grateful for coworkers who care about and are invested in outcomes. I'm also grateful for packages on the doorstep, music to sing along with, and pumpkin spice cream in my coffee.

My friend Janet posted this quote on Facebook and it seemed worthy of sharing:
 "Put down your raging opinions. Grasp at what you know is real and true right now: the people around you and the pain you can help alleviate with a kind word or touch." -Stephanie J. Stiavetti

Hugs to you all tonight, and go hug your near-and-dears, too. Please.


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Midweek reminder: The meaning we give it

“The question one should ask themselves is: Do you want to be right or do you want to be happy? If you want to be right, this is a request from your ego. If you want to be happy then this is of the Great Spirit. The only meaning anything has is the meaning we give it. Maybe we should develop a philosophy of: Today is the last day of the rest of my life. If this were true, how easy it would be to let things go--how easy it would be to forgive.” -From Meditations with Native American Elders: The Four Seasons

Friday, December 7, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

As you can imagine, I am torn between reflecting and writing on gratitude, and just sitting here, by the tree, *being* grateful. Om.

Alright, om time can wait. It's been a full week, with challenges and opportunities alike, but the fire is on, my boys are in the house, and the list, it calls to me.

This week I am grateful for age and maturity. I know, who knew? But it's true, SO true. I have zero desire to be any age other than the one I am. Youth, well, it's wasted on the young, as Oscar Wilde used to say... but the relative wisdom that comes from having walked down a path or two, even the paths where backing up or starting over was necessary... that wisdom is so well- (and hard-) earned, I wouldn't trade it for anything. Now, about the gray hairs... not so much.

With thankfulness for friends and conversation and the ease and flow of being together, my heart is full. I got to see a number of friends over lunch and/or extracurricular activities this week, which always makes me smile. The 10th anniversary of making pierogies took place, and a lovely post-making supper by the Christmas tree was just so peaceful and relaxing... I am grateful for traditions like that, sneaking up on me (10 years?!).

Husband had work that took him across the snowy mountains this week, and thankfully he's home safe and sound tonight. I am grateful for that, and for the restful weekend ahead, and (a little further out) the holiday week we are anticipating, too. Peaceful family time. Ah. 

Pumpkin is definitely my gateway flavor to the season, which leads me to cranberry, which leads me to eggnog, which undoubtedly leads me to yams and brussels sprouts and then back to pumpkin... I'm sure there are more flavors in there, but yum yum, this is a great time of year for eating (but I say that at every season, don't I?). Grateful grateful for the lovely flavors of the holidays. Time enough to switch back to kale and quinoa in January! Bring on the butter!

You may have surmised (correctly) from the top picture, but I am grateful for our tree, for the warm glow that it gives off, and all the beautiful ornaments (many of which have come from a particularly generous Santa Aunty). Many have memories and sentimentality attached to them; I love sitting and looking at them, taking a little walk down memory lane...

Oh and the tunes! The season is really here when the music starts to seep into my quiet mental space, when the internal humming is automatically a cycle through various carols and Christmas tunes. My current favorite is Cee Lo Green singing my all-time No. 1 Christmas song, "Mary, Did You Know?" "Cee Lo's Magic Moment" album is the revelation of the season, kid you not. Do not mock as some friends have. Listen and be pleasantly surprised. I am grateful for music-y friends and our shared enjoyment in tunes.

I have mentioned before my penchant for this season and the way it appears to work its magic (what at times seems like miraculous magic) on all of us, somehow for a time softening our innate human pettiness and allowing a pause for conflict and dischord. It's crazy and sometimes feels unexplainable, but then I sit by our tree and listen to Cee Lo (and others) singing, and it all makes perfect sense.

I hope your weekend, and your holiday season, are filled with joy.

And peace.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Mid-week reminder: What batters you becomes your strength

Let this darkness be a bell tower

Quiet friend who has come so far,
feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

-Ranier Maria Rilke
Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29

Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday night grateful list

Friday night. I feel almost pre-verbal, I'm so tired. This could be quite the sketchy post...

But, before I nod off, take a look at my view as I drove up to the house this afternoon. How awesome is that sunshine? It felt really hard-won this week, what with the gray gray gray that had been our view up until mid-morning today.

I'm so grateful for my guys; it was a wonderful two-week holiday time with Seth, and now we still have Christmas to look forward to, as well. Husband is on the mend, and I'm grateful for that, for him. Sickness is no fun at all.

Being busy all day takes a toll on my evening meal creativity... After the flurry of holiday cooking last week, I was grateful to have some pretty quick meals at my fingertips this week (even if one of them meant a stop at take-and-bake pizza on the way home from work)!

We are blessed to live in a small town with many, many engaged and committed volunteers and social services professionals. I was grateful to have an opportunity to attend an event to honor a number of individuals this week, but one in particular is dear to my heart--the former community manager of our region's Children's Home Society. He was the leader when I first started volunteering with the organization seven-ish years ago, and I so appreciate his lifetime of effort on behalf of local children and families. Warmed my heart to be able to see him accept his award.

I'm grateful for happy memories. When the ornament below was hung on the tree last week, it reminded me of our honeyversary trip just two years ago, and how much we enjoyed Kauai. Good times... and with the gray this week, I was itching for a trip back there!

So so grateful for the weekend, for the prospect of rest, relaxation, naps... I think I told just about every person I saw today: I'm napping tomorrow by the fire. So no phone calls, people!

The brevity of this list makes it no less heartfelt. Perhaps I'll comb the depths of my gratitude for the many gifts of my life while by the fire tomorrow... perhaps not. Right now I will be grateful for a full night's contented sleep, and no alarm by which to wake! Wishing you the same.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

Thursday 13: Been gone too long, random!

I have been missing Thursday 13! My weeks are so full and my blogging time so scattered (and lacking), that having the mental space to plan ahead... well, that's on my list to acquire. I'll let you know when I find some.

Meanwhile, I thought that random might just suit this week 'o mine:
1. Sickness is everywhere. Husband, many co-workers, friends, kids... I am avoiding it (like the plague, doh!), and dosing on my Cs and other voodoo health wonders.

2. Sleep is elusive. I wish I could look less tired. However, if you tell me I look tired? Yeah, not going to win you any points. Don't say you weren't warned.

3. I love dressing for winter. Sweaters, tights, boots, scarves, mittens. Love them all. Maybe I was a teddy bear in a former life?

4. Having pumpkin spice creamer in my coffee makes me happy. (Yes, Jen. EVERY. Morning.)

5. My mom has her first smartphone and now we can text. This I love.

6. I let Chief onto the bed last night for a few minutes, and man, is he a bed hog. That won't be happening again for a long time. (I had previously thought he would be all polite and space-giving. Ha.)

7. The gray is relentless. RE.LENT.LESS. (Well, OK, we had a gloriously sunny day last Sunday. But still, since then.)

8. I was a bit stunned how soon after Thanksgiving I had to buy groceries. Apparently the family cannot subsist on leftover turkey and stuffing forever. Huh.

9. I posted this quote to Facebook this morning: "See if you can catch yourself complaining in either speech or thought, about a situation you find yourself in, what other people do or say, your surroundings, your life situation, even the weather. To complain is always nonacceptance of what is. It invariably carries an unconscious negative charge. When you complain, you make yourself a victim. Leave the situation or accept it. All else is madness." -Eckhart Tolle

10. I get that No. 7 and No. 9 are rather in opposition to each other.

11. When I read the quote again, it occurred to me that OBVIOUSLY I need to be planning a tropical vacation, because all else is madness. Am I right or what?!

12. I love plotting and planning for holiday baking. Two cookie parties on the calendar, one work catering, and then just baking for me/us/friends/family. Joy.

13. I am loving the Christmas tree. Some days I think I want to be the eccentric lady who leaves it up year round. Wouldn't that just be a hoot? Probably feel really weird around July, August... but still, what a fabulous thing to be eccentric about!

I hope you are having a great week and that wherever you are, the gray is NOT relentless. Someone somewhere has to be seeing the sun... please say that it is you!

For more Thursday 13s, go here.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Midweek reminder: Pursue the authentic

Advice to Myself

Leave the dishes. Let the celery rot in the bottom drawer of the refrigerator
and an earthen scum harden on the kitchen floor.
Leave the black crumbs in the bottom of the toaster.
Throw the cracked bowl out and don't patch the cup.
Don't patch anything. Don't mend. Buy safety pins.
Don't even sew on a button.
Let the wind have its way, then the earth
that invades as dust and then the dead
foaming up in gray rolls underneath the couch.
Talk to them. Tell them they are welcome.
Don't keep all the pieces of the puzzles
or the doll's tiny shoes in pairs, don't worry
who uses whose toothbrush or if anything
matches, at all.
Except one word to another. Or a thought.
Pursue the authentic—decide first
what is authentic,
then go after it with all your heart.
Your heart, that place
you don't even think of cleaning out.
That closet stuffed with savage mementos.
Don't sort the paper clips from screws from saved baby teeth
or worry if we're all eating cereal for dinner
again. Don't answer the telephone, ever,
or weep over anything at all that breaks.
Pink molds will grow within those sealed cartons
in the refrigerator. Accept new forms of life
and talk to the dead
who drift in through the screened windows, who collect
patiently on the tops of food jars and books.
Recycle the mail, don't read it, don't read anything
except what destroys
the insulation between yourself and your experience
or what pulls down or what strikes at or what shatters
this ruse you call necessity.
-Louise Erdrich

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Anniversary lovin'

There is an extra-lovely aspect to having been married at Thanksgiving: only on a very few years does the anniversary actually land again on Thanksgiving Day. So, the love stretches out, then, in either direction, as one can't help but think on the love while feasting with family, and again on the specific date (for us it's today, Nov. 24).

Dear husband's sweet roses came home with him from quick errands yesterday. Pink roses make me smile.

On our first anniversary, I gave husband this little framed calligraphy I did of our vows. The vows were longer than just this little phrase, but the words above were gleaned from a poem we found by a Frau Ava of Gottweig, and were my favorite part of the ceremony:

I am yours.
You are mine.
Of this we are certain.
You are lodged in my heart.
The small key is lost.
You must stay there forever.
-Frau Ava (circa 1160), translated by Willis Barnstone

Happy couple, seven years ago today!

More anniversary flowers, from Ma and Pa.

glassbabies were on our tables at the wedding in 2005, and grace our Thanksgiving table each year.

This morning Seth proved his teen mettle by sleeping in until past noon, and husband and I enjoyed a leisurely breakfast together and reading by the fire. The weather outside is not compelling us to leave our quiet spot, as the gray stretches out in all directions. It rained thoroughly all night, it seemed, so the sog is upon us, and with the lights of the Christmas tree and our trusty Chief alongside the sofas, it's a pretty blissful state we find ourselves in.

Seven years isn't a significant milestone (other than that silly itch thing), but every year means a great deal to us, having come to this love a little later in life. There's a joy in knowing that we found each other, that we recognized a good thing and embraced it, and that we continue to value each other and our love above all else.

Here's to another seven, dear husband, and another, and another...

Friday, November 23, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

Peaceful and quiet. That's what's going on around here this Friday night. After the bustle of the past week, a house full of dear people, we're now back down to the three of us. It was great to have people, but it's lovely to be sitting here, in the light of the Christmas tree, with my guys.

In spite of my desire to post this week--recipes! thankfulness! Christmas decorating!--I just couldn't get it together to have that happen. So, theoretically, I will share some posts in the coming days, a few pictures, maybe a recipe or two, and before you know it, we'll be in full-on Christmas baking mode. Wow. How did we get to almost-December?

But, back to my by-the-fire musings, and gratitude.

I could preface this with "Of Course!" but my gratitude for family was front and center this week. Getting to spend the holiday with my immediate family, and spending a little time with husband's as well, I was reminded of how lucky we are to have such love and support in our lives. I'm grateful for our conversations and laughter, and for the excuse to put the Christmas tree up early!

I'm very grateful that I have zero pull to participate in the Black Friday festivities. I have a shopping gene, of course, but I also have a big big anti-crowd gene, and the idea of being packed in at a big box store gives me fits of anxiety. The extent of my Black Friday were my black yoga pants, which I wore all day while lounging about and not leaving the house!

And in my not-leaving-the-house, I dug into Christmas music and enjoyed getting reacquainted with my tunes, making a few different mixes for specific purposes, and adding new tunes along the way. I'm grateful for music most days of the week, but feel that joy especially keenly over the holidays.

Also part of my homebody day: leftovers. Not that one couldn't work up an appetite while hip-checking people at Macy's for bargains, but I was grateful to graze the leftovers and create a plate filled with Perfect Bites... and I'm also still looking forward to a little pie tonight... Next-Day Leftovers are awesome! (And I'm grateful that there are plentiful leftovers, so I might be able to tuck a few meals away in the freezer for future winter afternoons when we're craving a little stuffing-turkey-mashed potato dinner.)

This month has been filled with thankfulness all over social media, and I'm generally a fan of those sentiments (surprised, aren't you?). Not every one of the posts I read over the month, or yesterday specifically, resonated with me 100%, but whatever makes we petty and self-involved humans (I'm including myself in that category) pause and reflect on the many things, little and big, we have to be grateful for; well, I'm for that. 

I'm grateful for our Christmas tree, for its glow, and for all our ornaments, with their sentimental meaning and big ribbony bows. I would put the tree up early and take it down laaaate, if it were even remotely acceptable. According to all the men in the house this week, I pushed the early boundary a bit with having it up at the same time that there are still pumpkins on the porch!

I'm grateful for two more days of downtime before the whoosh of another week is upon us.

I'm grateful for another week with Seth in the house.

I'm grateful for our fireplace.

For my friends and their dear ways. 

For Chief, and his unfailing love.

For grace, which is new. Every. Morning.

So, that last thing? It means the world to me, and I'm grateful for it, more and more as time goes on.

I hope your grateful list is especially long this week, and the coming weekend gives you ample rest to reflect on the things that matter most. What are you grateful for tonight?

Friday, November 16, 2012

Friday night grateful list:

Such a quick week, in many ways. And yet, I always felt a little behinder... always catching up, running, being oh-so-close to late for meetings and appointments, guessing that surely it must be Wednesday when it was only Tuesday... and by the end of today I felt a lot like this:

In between all the nuttiness there were some really lovely moments, and a gobzillion reminders of all that I have to be thankful for:

For the friends who remembered my birthday (even long past the date) with tokens of rainbows, crochet, books and owls (seeds of happiness even showed up on my desk this week!) and all the little things that make me me. I am aware of my transparancy most days, but months like October and November, I realize that maybe I should keep some of my owl/green/bunny/color freakishness to myself. (Like that will happen!)

A card with the following sentiment really made my day (it went with the rainbow tissue and sushi lunch below):

It was the rainbow 

gave thee birth, 

and left thee 

all her lovely hues. 

-W.H. Davies

I reflected a number of times this week on my husband and his rock-solid good sense and reasoning. With all he has on his plate, I couldn't be prouder of him (or more grateful for him) and the way he lives his values.

Seth is home! If I didn't have a bit of restraint, there would have been so very many exclamation points after that sentence. (Feel free to envision thusly.) Grateful for the many hugs, chats, walks, hugs, discussions, dishwasher emptying and laundry-doing, hugs and more hugs in the weeks ahead.

Thursday night I got to meet the founder of glassybaby when Lee Rhodes came to town to support The Mom's Network. Supported the cause, too, and got to purchase from Lee herself; I told her how we'd had glassybabies at our wedding seven years ago. Since the company only opened its showroom in Seattle in 2003, she was curious how I'd come to know about her in 2005... so we chatted, and I was able to express my appreciation for her company and all the light they've brought into so many lives.

Words crossed my path this week that made me pause and reflect and nod in agreement. Case in point:

"There is no circumstance, no trouble, no testing, that can ever touch me until, first of all, it has gone past God and past Christ, right through to me. If it has come that far, it has come with a great purpose." -Alan Redpath

Somehow, I have a feeling that almost every person I know who believes, will read that and think I posted it for them. And, I did!

I am also so so grateful that my whole family is coming for the Thanksgiving holiday, and we'll get to be together and eat the best meal of the whole year, together. Did I mention the together part? Dominoes! Movies! Walks! Chats! Together! (Now I've frightened them all with my exclamation marks... don't be frightened, dear ones...)

My cousin Jill posted this on Facebook this week, and I loved it, every minute of it.


I hope this weekend that you sing and dance while the music is played. What are you grateful for this week?

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Midweek reminder: Deliver me

"Deliver me from all evildoers that talk nothing but sickness and failure. Grant me the companionship of men who think success and men who work for it. Loan me associates who cheerfully face the problems of a day and try hard to overcome them. Relieve me of all cynics and critics. Give me good health and the strength to be of real service to the world, and I'll get all that's good for me, and will give what's left to those who want it." -William Feather

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Remembering: Nine years later

It wasn't until I read a Facebook post of a friend of a friend, so to speak (I know, privacy, right?!) last night about an upcoming surgery date (today), that I realized I was going to wake up this morning to an anniversary of my own--nine years since my thyroidectomy. Nov. 13, 2003.

I have some very concrete memories of that day: the blessing of having my parents come to town specially to take care of me and watch over Seth while I was overnight in the hospital; of a dear Walt Meske (the hospital chaplain had been my dean of students in college) coming and praying with me prior to surgery and my tears at his tender and loving heart (love that man!); my amazement at the anesthesia, not having ever gone completely under before (or since); of being woken every hour in the night for a vitals check (gah, how annoying); of feeling very fragile but also incredibly strong. The surgery itself came on the heels of my own "annus horribilis," and feeling like I could check this off my list in 2003 I remember as very empowering, indeed.

That particular portion of my life is wonderful to look back on, and reminds me not to take my good health for granted. It also fills me with a lot of thankfulness that such surgical procedures exist and were available to me; knowing that there are places and people for whom that is not the case is sobering indeed.

By the Monday following my Thursday surgery, I was up and at work again, doing a small catering and easing back into life. It didn't take long for the scar to diminish (good surgeon, aging neck, fabulous combo!) and having the surgery take place at the cusp of turtleneck season certainly didn't hurt.

One of the first thoughts I had upon the realization of this day and its significance is a song that a former co-worker shared with me earlier in 2003--not in regard to the thyroid issues, as that hadn't blossomed yet, but about my awful year. I listened to this album of Sara's a lot the summer/fall of 2003, and it has remained forever linked to that time in my memories. I was convinced I'd shared it here before, but my brief search this morning turned up zip, so I'll share it now.


 My thoughts and prayers today will be with my fellow Nov. 13 surgery-goers (I subsequently found out I know of another person going under the knife today), and that their recoveries are quick and complete.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Friday night grateful moment

What's not to love? A warm house, a cozy sweater, a steaming cup of soup... it's Friday night and I'm in heaven. This week has felt especially dark. Doh! The switch to Standard Time seems to take me a bit to catch up with, and I am hopeful that this weekend I will get not only caught up, but spring out ahead of the curve on the dark and dreary...

Meanwhile, it's Friday. Grateful for that. Fo sho.

The election is over. Extremely grateful for that. I wish for, dream of, pine for a different way for our country to approach these big decisions, but alas, divisiveness and polarization is still the way of it. I am grateful to have avoided much of the nastiness, just by paying attention to other things; but next time, I do think I'll take a total social media break for the week prior and after (at least). Remind me of that, would you?

I'm grateful for the flavors of the seasons... still eating on that squash! Had a gorgeous bowl of borscht tonight with husband. Spent some time gleaning pomegranate seeds from their pith earlier this week and enjoying them by the handful. Looking forward to many Perfect Bites for Thanksgiving dinner. Oh joy. (If you're new here, the Perfect Bite is what I call the sublime combination of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, maybe a little cranberry sauce and a bit 'o gravy, all on your fork, headed into your mouth for a piece of Thanksgiving heaven! I talk about it a lot: here and here, just for starters.)

Had birthday lunch(es) this week, and packages in the mail too... I'm grateful that the birthday celebration has stretched out so lovely over the past couple of weeks! I've gotten to enjoy tidbits and meals--glorious meals!--with many dear and loved ones.

I walked in the back door to an afternoon surprise visit from Seth. He's on a bit of an extended time at his other house before an extended time with us around Thanksgiving, and so it was a lovely surprise indeed to actually glimpse that beautiful boy and not just have to make do with texts and phone calls. We had a lovely catch up and he had a snack (of course). I'm still smiling and so so grateful for such a boy.

The East Coast is still in repair mode, and I'm grateful for them that the end is somewhat in sight (though, oh what a clean up!). I'm grateful for Corinne and I that our trip was the week that it we happened to schedule it, as Sandy actually hit land on my birthday itself.

It's been a hard week for many, as every week is. A coworker has a sister who is recovering from a catastrophic car crash, a friend's father experienced a stroke and most recently I learned of a missing son for a blog reader/Facebook friend. Sadness and hard times persist; I'm grateful that every one of the people I mentioned above has a support group of family and friends to see them through these challenges. 

This variation on the iconic I heart NYC logo seems appropriate (and some days, not just for NYC!).

Being November and all, gratitude gets a bump up on everyone's to-do list, and it's fun to see some of the daily thankful lists on Facebook and other blogs. My friend Lisa always keeps me laughing with her insights and witticisms. My favorite of her gratitude posts so far is about punching babies. Seriously. You'll want to check that out.

I think I might need one of these. You know, to keep track of the thankfulness.

I'm also grateful for all the usuals:
my Creator
my health
my man
the prospect of hours of deep, deep sleep
lazy weekend breakfasts to look forward to
naps by the fire
maybe (just maybe) watching a few snowflakes
kind and thoughtful words...
You know, MY usuals.

I hope you have some usuals in your life--things you can count on to lift your spirits when needed, and to rely on in good and bad times. What would make your "usual" list?

Happy weekend! Peace.

Blogger Template By Designer Blogs