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
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