Beginning with Intention

As I mentioned last week, I've been spending some time reflecting on my intentions for the coming year.  

I always enjoy the process of setting my intentions.  I usually brainstorm a long list of concepts -- and then I look for themes and commonalities.  Ultimately, I break my list down to 8-10 items -- and then I try to further distill each of them into simple 2- or 3-word phrases.


Those phrases end up looking sort of . . . simple, but it takes a lot of time and thought to get there.  Each of those little phrases represents layers of, well . . . intention.  

I really find this practice of intention-setting meaningful and important for me.  I love to take some quiet time, with pen and paper, to work out how I want to live -- and what I want to invite into my life -- for the year.  

Next step?  Goals.  Once I set my intentions, the goals just kind of emerge from there -- becoming external manifestations of how I want to move forward.  I'm still working on my goals - or, as I prefer to think of it, my "action plan" -- but . . .

It always begins with intention!


How about you?  Do you set intentions for the year?  If you do, how does it come together?

Bloomin' Friday: Winter Edition

Mid-January in western Michigan is a very bleak and gloomy time.  Winter has taken hold by now.  Bitter cold.  Lots of snow.  Perpetual cloud cover.  And even though we enjoyed a January Thaw yesterday, it was bleak.  Rain, fog, grey skies.  We haven't seen the sun in a while.  And overnight, the temperature plunged over 30 degrees and it is snowing again.

Fun times.

I need something to brighten my dreary corner of the world.


Enter . . . amaryllis.  The most magical of all flowers (at least, in the middle of winter).

My strategy with amaryllis . . . is to plant them a bit later in the fall.  I don't need blooms at Christmastime.  I need blooms in the bleak days of January and February!

They are the bright spots in my very bleak landscape.


Bring on the blooms!


3 Days . . . of Detox

I am - generally - a Quite Healthy Eater.  I stick to a near-vegetarian diet.  I pay attention to portion size.  I try to build in plenty of fruits and veggies.  And not eat too much sugar.  

Most of the time.

Except for when I don't.

Like . . . over the holidays.  When I start baking cookies.  And stocking up on candy for gingerbread houses.  And hosting parties.  And having my kids back in the house.  And eggnog.  Let's just say . . . once the floodgates of sugar and butter open up?  Well.  I'm All In!

And once you start down the path of butter and sugar and chocolate and cream, well . . . it's hard to turn back.  (At least, it is for me.)  By the time I headed to California with Erin (home of In-and-Out-Burger and some of the best microbrews in the land), I was really feeling the need for a diet-reset!

So when I saw this article in the most recent issue of Cooking Light magazine, I decided I to try the 3-Day Detox.


I've never done any kind of "cleanse" or detox before.  I don't like feeling hungry, and I really don't like green-juice smoothies.  But reading through the recipes in the Cooking Light detox, I thought . . . I could do this!  It looked like a tasty and interesting way to re-set my eating and get out of my sugar-and-butter addiction -- so I could head into the new year with renewed commitment to healthy eating.  And Tom (also tiring of too much sugar) decided to join me.

We launched the 3-Day Detox on Monday this week.


(The premise behind the detox is to add fruit, veggies, and fiber to your diet.)

I am very happy to report . . . this was a simple, effective, tasty detox!  The recipes were really good -- as in . . . some of them will make it into our regular recipe rotation going forward.  We never felt hungry or lacking in any way.  And - best of all - I have a renewed commitment to healthy eating.

And that's what it's all about.

If you're thinking about making a diet reset, this might be the thing for you to try!  My suggestions if you try the Cooking Light 3-Day Detox:

  • Plan ahead.  Do your shopping (there's a handy shopping list included in the detox plan) ahead of time, and definitely do the advance prep ahead of time.  (I didn't.  It was a lot of cooking on Monday morning.  If I'd had the time on Sunday night, I would've done it.  But I didn't.)
  • The Cooking Light detox plan is worked out for ONE person.  Pay attention to that -- and double the recipes to get servings for two (if you'll be double-detoxing).
  • The breakfasts were hardest for us -- and especially for me.  We tend to eat quick-and-light breakfasts before heading to the gym in the mornings -- so we don't like complicated menus.  Plus . . . I don't like breakfast -- and especially if it includes meat and vegetables.  So we played it kind of fast-and-loose here.   (I loved the smoothie recipe, and we used the sweet potato hash as a lunch menu.)


This was a simple, satisfying way to ease back into a healthy eating habit.  The meals were easy to put together -- and really tasty.  Tom was pleasantly surprised and never felt like he was deprived in any way.  In fact, he often remarked that he couldn't believe he was eating "healthy meals."

3 days.

We hit re-set . . . and we're detoxed.

Ready for healthy eating in 2018!


Be sure to join Carole for more Three on Thursday posts today!





Unraveling into the Future

Each year, I spend time in January making plans for the coming year, including setting goals and intentions.  (I'll be writing more about this in the days to come.)  For me, there's a big difference between a goal and an intention.  As in . . .

A goal is something specific and tangible I want to do or achieve in the future.  My goals are external achievements ("paint my dining room," for example), and it will be very clear whether I meet the goal or not.

An intention, though, is more about how I want to live my life right now - in the present moment.  My intentions are focused internally - on my personal values and how I want to live into them every day ("embrace whimsy," for example).  It will not be clear - from an external sense - whether I've lived into my intentions or not (although I'll know).

I set both goals AND intentions for myself each year.  And although I try not to get too hung up on meeting my goals, I do take them pretty seriously.  

With one exception (the great sweater challenge of 2009), I avoid any specific goals related to knitting.  I like to be free to go where the fiber-spirit moves me.  I like to be fickle about my projects.  I like to be able to chase after a shiny new object when I see it.  Heck -- I'm so fickle, I can't even use the Ravelry Queue feature.


This week on Instagram, many knitters have been posting under the hashtag #makenine2018, showing their nine "knitting goal" projects for the coming year (based on Rochelle New's annual challenge).  At first, this just . . . gave me an eye twitch.  Because I would just feel way too hemmed in by making this kind of challenge for myself.  

So.  No #makenine2018 challenge for me.

But.  It is kind of fun to think about the nine knitting patterns that have currently caught my attention.  Kind of . . . my #dreammakenine list.

So, here they are:  The nine things I'm dreaming about knitting in 2018.  But feeling under no obligation to ACTUALLY knit any of them.  (Because the list will change probably 100 times over the next 365 days.  Y'know?)


top row, l to r:  Humulus (Isabell Kraemer), Cabled Moss Stitch Cowl (Churchmouse Yarn & Teas), Olive Street Cardigan (Nancy Eiseman)

middle row, l to r: Manzanilla (Joji Locatelli), Nepali Bird Vest (Carol Sunday), Tegna (Caitlin Hunter)

bottom row, l to r:  Mossbank (Kerry Robb), Close to You (Justyna Lorkowska), Cranberry Gose (Thea Colman)

How about YOU?  Do you set knitting goals for yourself?  And if you do, do they direct and motivate your knitting for the year?  And - whether you set knitting goals for yourself or not -- what project(s) would you include in your #dreammakenine2018 list?


Head over to Kat's to see what everyone else is saying about their knitting today.



A Reflection . . . On Balance

I've chosen "one little word" now for 7 years.  (Actually, 2018 will mark the 8th time I've chose a word for the year.)  

I am always, always amazed at how my word manifests itself during its tenure.  Just having a word -- front & center -- in my psyche seems to . . . make things happen!  I learn things.  I try things.  I connect dots.  I see things.  

And I know I wouldn't otherwise.

There's just a . . . synergy . . . that happens from having a word.  Or, at least, that's how it happens for me.  And some years, there's more synergy in a word than others.  My word in 2017 - BALANCE?  So much synergy!  It ended up being rather transformative for me.


I started the year grieving.  Sad; resentful; horrified, really.  And wondering where "I" had disappeared to.  TILT!  I was definitely off-kilter.  In the weeds.  Out.Of.Bounds.  And desperately seeking balance.

After years of trying to expand my comfort zone and reaching for more, in 2017 I allowed my pace to slow.  I turned inward.  I took stock.  I gave myself permission to take the time to figure things out, to grieve, to prioritize, and to find myself again.


Gradually, over the course of the year, I got myself back on track.  I worked on my physical balance (core strength, yoga poses, stand up paddle boarding).  I worked on my emotional and spiritual balance (chakras, journaling, new rituals).  I balanced my surroundings.  I balanced my calendar.  I balanced my diet.  I looked for balance everywhere -- and I created it where I could.

And . . . it worked.

Eventually, I found my center.  I figured out what helps me to feel balanced, and what I can do when I'm feeling off-kilter.


I'm still not balanced every day, but I'm working at that.  In fact, I figured out that there are a few things (five things, actually) that I need to do every day (even if just briefly) to help myself feel balanced. 

  • Meditation
  • Reflection
  • Movement
  • Creativity
  • Getting Outside

If I can do these five things every day, I feel more balanced; more able to take on the day -- whatever it may hold.


I'm not saying that my word was magical or that it solved all my problems. Because that certainly isn't the case.  I am saying, though, that having the word BALANCE in my mind all year really helped me to keep looking for ways to manifest balance -- to make balance visible in my world.

And that . . . is the power of one little word.


The images in my post today . . . are photos of my balance journal from last year.  Each year, I sign up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word workshop.  Ali's monthly video prompts help me stay connected to my word through the year, even though I don't tend to DO the prompts.  And I am not interested in following her scrapbook prompts at all (although her materials are really cool, and her instructions are great) (it's just not . . . me).  

Last year, though, I decided I wanted to create my own journal for my "balancing process."  I journaled.  I kept track.  I collected poems and images and cards.  I drew.  I included prints of my own photos in the journal.  I loved creating this little book -- and I may even do it again this coming year.  (We'll see how it goes.  What works once may not work again, y'know?)


And if you're interested in signing up for Ali's One Little Word workshop this year - to see for yourself how it all comes together - it's not too late!  Click here for more information.

Sometimes Mondays

. . . look like digging out.


I'm back.  But I've been away.  

First, there was a big solstice party.  Then, there were the holidays.  Next, I had nomad-houseguests for a couple of weeks.  And to top it all off, I flew out to California for a few days with Erin (and her cat).

I am buried and behind in pretty much every area of Life.

So today will find me catching up and digging out and getting back on track with everyday stuff.  (Because, yeah.  That's my actual desk at this very moment.)

(I am so ready.)

On (and Off) My Needles - in 2017

As Goodreads is good for tracking all things books, Ravelry is good for tracking all things yarn-y.  (Without the handy year-end summary feature.  Which would be kind of cool, y’know?)

Here’s a quick screenshot of my Ravelry project page on January 1.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.04.04 PM

There’s my knitting for 2017 — not including the scarf on the lower right (that was my final 2016 knitting project.)  It also doesn’t include the sweater I began in October.  (Although I’m inching ever closer on that project, it didn’t make it to the finish line in 2017.)

So.  In 2017, I knit...

6 hats (including 5 Pussyhats)

1 cowl

A pair of mitts

2 sweaters (both actually started in 2016)

And 3 shawls

(There was also 95% of a beaded, lace weight wedding shawl that ended up in the trash bin.  And one hat that turned out significantly smaller than anticipated and couldn’t be given to its intended recipient. No photos.)

I declare it ... A Typical Year for me in the knitting department!  Some good, some not-so good.  Always interesting.  I’m looking forward to more knitting in 2018.

How about you?  Do you have any big plans for your knitting in the new year?


The Year in Books - 2017

I love using Goodreads to keep track of my reading.  It's so handy to keep lists of all the books I want to read -- and all the books I've completed.  I also really like reading the reviews of other readers whose opinions I trust.

Best of all, though - I love the year-end summaries and reading stats Goodreads provides.  Neat.  Orderly.  And easy to make sense of.

Here's a quick look at my year -- 2017 -- in books.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.04.48 PM

According to Goodreads, I read 84 books in 2017, for a total of 26,727 pages.

And my stats show how I rated my books throughout the year.

Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.09.00 PM

For the most part, it seems I really liked the books I read in 2017 -- since I ended up giving the great majority 4 or 5 stars.  (I think that's because I'm pretty particular about the books I read, and I tend to choose to read books on a few of the prize-lists, so they've already been well-received by critics.)

I read a lot of great books in 2017, but some of them have more "staying power" than others.  My top five reads in 2017?

  • Gentleman in Moscow (Amor Towles)
  • Beartown (Fredrik Bachman)
  • Days Without End (Sebastian Barry)
  • Sing, Unburied, Sing (Jesmyn Ward)
  • Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World that Can't Stop Talking (Susan Cain)

How abou YOU?  What were your favorite books of 2017? And do you use Goodreads to track your reading?