Create Light

Solstice

"This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year's threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath . . ."
                                                                                                    ---Margaret Atwood

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Welcome the light!


A Different Kind of Christmas

For me, this could easily be one of those sad, blue Christmases.  You know . . . the ones they sing about in holiday country songs?

After all, this will be the first Christmas without my mom.  AND - for the first year ever, neither of my kids will be home for the holiday.  It's just sort of . . . layer upon layer of Christmas bummer.

But I decided . . . NO.  It will not be a sad, blue Christmas!

It will be hard.  

It will certainly be different.  

But it will NOT be a bah-humbug kind of season.

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Over the years, I have gotten pretty attached to (entrenched in?) the ways we celebrate Christmas.  Traditions we all enjoy, sure.  But traditions that are hard to change --- even when the only reason we're still doing them ... is because we've always done them.

So.  This year provided me with . . . the reason, the space, and - yes - the permission to evaluate and re-think HOW I celebrate Christmas.

I've cut back on pretty much everything.  Decorating.  Gifting.  Shopping.  Wrapping.  Going.  For the first year in . . . well, decades . . . I have empty space and time in my December calendar.  I don't have a tree -- and I don't miss it a bit.  I'm not constantly on-the-go -- and it feels great.

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In this year that I could easily NOT have any Christmas spirit at all, I'm finding that I actually have more than I ever expected.

It's hard, there's no denying it.  I nearly broke down the other day when I found the perfect gift for my mom . . . and then remembered I didn't need to shop for my mom this year.

But I'm enjoying the lights and the music and the decorations - and my memories.  I'm looking forward to what's next -- and how we can create a "new" way to celebrate this year. 

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Christmas?  Yeah.  It's going to be different.

But it's going to be okay.

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Finding the Good

So.  As I mentioned the other day, it's been a rough summer.  And August, in particular, has been Truly Crappy.  Usually, as the month wraps up, I put together a "Right Now" post.  But this month?  Not so much.  (Although you can be assured that I'm . . . drinking, reading, and dreading . . . every day.)

It's really easy to get swallowed up by the overwhelming tough stuff of life -- especially when it sweeps you away suddenly.  And completely.  

So I'm trying to find the good.  

Because it's still there.  Under all the crap and maybe hiding in the corners.

Like . . . despite my absolute breakdown in the gardening department, flowers are still blooming.

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And Erin came for a visit.  She even extended her stay by several days to offer help and support, which was lovely.

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Tom and I quietly celebrated our 35th anniversary earlier this week.

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A new gelato shop opened in my neighborhood!

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And tomorrow, thanks to a lot of last-minute problem-solving and a bit of magic (thanks, Di!), Tom and I are heading to Boulder for a quick visit with Brian and Lauren.  This trip has been on the books for quite a while -- and I'm very happy to not be canceling.

So.

There is good.

I just have to keep finding it.

Have a great weekend, and I'll be back after my trip.


Perspective

I started out this blogging week wondering why the month of May... always seems to bite me in the butt.

It really has been a brutal couple of weeks in terms of busy-ness.  Mostly with things that are fun and enjoyable -- but that get to be a bit... much... when layered on top of each other, all at once.

I'm feeling pushed and pulled and in desperate need of some replenishment right now.

When I woke up and walked into my bathroom this morning, though, I saw THIS on the wall... 

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it was a good reminder to me.  About perspective.

Yes.  Life gets busy and feels crazy sometimes.

But.  Life is also grand.  And what makes it interesting, really, is all those bumps in the road and unexpected side trips and detours.  

The sparkle in my bathroom this morning reminded me to shift my perspective just a bit.

Today, I'm going to embrace my life -- the busy and the fun and the obstacles, alike -- and make sure I keep my eyes open to see the sparkle!

Have a great weekend.


Attitude Adjustment: May Day! May Day!

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There's something about May.

I mean. . . I always expect Trouble in December.  I just know - and accept - that December will be Impossible.  Too many activities and too many obligations and too many things to keep track of on the to-do list.

But May?

May always seems to surprise me.

I used to blame kids and school and activities.  You know . . . all those "year-end" things to tie up -- with the added bonus of spring sports.  Field trips.  Awards ceremonies.  Spring concerts.  Final projects.  Exams. Late games. Rain outs. Prom. Fidgety kids.

But I don't have kids at home anymore.  I can't blame school.  No one here is taking any exams.  Or going to Prom.

But May is kicking me in the butt again anyway.  

And I never seem to see it coming.

Suddenly, it's light until 9:00.  My garden is exploding.  The "up north" place is open again.  I have a bike.  The dogs want to run.  Drinks are served -- outside.  

I want to Plant All The Things.  I want to Go All The Places.  I want to Do It All.  

I am overwhelmed.

I blame May.

Does this happen to anyone else???

What I really need is an attitude adjustment.  I need to keep my face to the sun (assuming I can find it) and just . . . 

slow down

step back

breathe

roll with it.

May is busy, sure.  But it's also grand!

(Let's get out of the shadows, shall we?)


Right Now - January 2016

January.  
Of all the months, I think you are my least favorite.  
Dark.  Cold.  Bleak.  
And really, really long.

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The daylight is getting longer, though.  I'm even starting to notice.

Here's what's happening for me. . . Right Now:

Watching - My Oscar-nominated-movie-watching binge is nearly complete.  Bridge of Spies will be available on DVD next week.  (We missed that one when it was in the theaters last fall.)  That leaves me with Mad Max: Fury Road.  Tom has already seen it, so I'll be watching by myself.  (Keith received this movie as a Christmas gift, and everyone -- except me -- watched it during the holidays.  If I had known it was an Oscar-contender, I would've suffered through it then.  As it is . . . well, I need to watch now.)  For the record, my favorite this year is Spotlight, followed by The Big Short.

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Reading - I'm sort of at a reading low-point right now.  I'm reading H is for Hawk . . . and really not liking it very much.  (Very disjointed and kind of whiney . . . and as much as I like birds of prey, I'm not so sure how I feel about falconry.)  Also reading Last Friends, the final novel in the Old Filth trilogy.  (Unfortunately, it's the weakest of the three.)  I'm also avoiding reading my book group selection for the month, as it doesn't appeal to me in any way.  (Maybe I'll just show up and drink the wine this month.)  (It happens.)  On the upside . . . I read The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra.  Wow.  This was the best book I've read in a very long time, and - even though it's only January - might end up as the best of the year for me.

Knitting - I am still c-r-a-w-l-i-n-g along on my Henley with a Twist sweater.  (I only have the front to complete, and I've got a good start.)  (So slow, though.  Tiny yarn.  Small needles.  And bitsy cables -- every 8th row.)    I did knit two pair of Trip Mitts (one for me; one for my niece).  Such a perfect palate-cleanser.  And I am ready to Bang Out a Sweater next week (ha!) in the Mason Dixon Knitting Stopover KAL.  (Don't hold your breath.)  (But I really need a WIN here.)

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Listening to - Guided meditations.  While some are just too corny for words not to my taste, others are perfect and really add to my daily meditation practice.

Dreading - This happens every year at this time.  My yoga instructor goes to Mexico for the month of February.  (And this year, she actually added the last week in January.)  I hate this.  Because I am not so fond of the sub.

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Drinking - Peppermint tea.  Every afternoon.

Planning - My Month-of-Letters strategy.  (Remember, if you'd like to receive a letter from me in February, please see the sidebar to email me your address.)

Humming - (I blame Carole.)  (Said with much love.)

 

Itching to - Bang Out a Sweater!  (Because lemming.) 

Organizing - Myself . . . using a Bullet Journal.  I've been intrigued by this way of journaling/calendar-ing for years -- and decided to try it (in earnest) this year.  So far, so good.  (Maybe I'll blog about it soon.)

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Delighted by - My grocery store amaryllis.  This is my second set of blooms.  (Not bad for $10.)

Needing to - Get a load of stuff to Goodwill.  I'm Very Good at sorting and deciding; not so good about getting it in my car to drop it off.

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Enjoying - My watercolor class.  But oh.my.god.  So hard!  I need so much practice.  I waste so much watercolor paper.  (Fun.  But very humbling.)

Looking Forward To - My sister and I just booked our next trip!  This summer:  Scotland and Ireland.  It's a long way off -- but so cheering to think about.

Celebrating - The end of January.  So long.  So dark.  And even though February is much the same, it is short.  And has chocolate in the middle.

How about YOU?  What's happening for you . . . right now?

 


BONUS: Now with Added Magical!

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If you've been following along, you know that my shower started leaking last spring . . . and after a lot of thinking and considering and planning, we began a bedroom/bathroom renovation in October.  (It's almost finished; just waiting for our glass shower door and a part for the ceiling fan installation.  And, well.  A little touch-up painting.)  (But, really.  Almost finished.)

Anyway.

Yesterday, I discovered the big BONUS of the whole project.

Our bathroom used to be covered in dark, striped (hideous) wallpaper (which was probably the height of "in" back in 1988 . . . but not so much in 2015), with dark(ish) blue carpeting.

Now, my walls are light.  And the carpet is light.

And when the sunlight comes through our (pretty awesome) stained glass windows (not part of the renovation; they were already there), THIS happens . . . 

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It's like a freaking light show!

On the walls. . . 

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on the floor . . . 

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Everywhere!

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It's absolutely magical!

And I had no idea it was happening.  (Because hidden by that dark and hideous wallpaper.)

I'll never hang anything on the walls.

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Because I've got my own MAGICAL now!

BONUS!

 

 

 

 

 


Beating Back January

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January is such a bleak month.  It's long.  It's cold.  It's snowy.  It's dark.  There isn't any of the excitement and busy-ness of December.  

Just a long, long, bleak slog of a month.

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(My backyard.  Before last week's big storm.)

Although it is nice to just hunker down and hibernate through the rest of winter,  I try my best to beat January back.  What do I do. . . to make winter less bleak?

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1.  I give myself pedicures.

2.  And then go barefoot in the house.

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3.  I tend my indoor plants.

4.  And I bring fresh flowers home from the grocery store.

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5.  I read gardening magazines and catalogs. 

6.  And I dream about my own garden plans.

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7.  I get out with the dogs as much as I can.

8.  And I keep myself moving.

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9.  I light a candle and turn on some twinkle lights.

10. And I dream about beach vacations!

What about YOU?  How do you make winter . . . less bleak?

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Bringing Light to the Darkness

Last night was Winter Solstice . . . the darkest night of the year.  

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To celebrate, Tom and I lit candles and turned on our Christmas twinkle lights.

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Then, we went in search of Christmas lights in Kalamazoo.  First we found this house . . .

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Bright.  A bit over-the-top.  But kind of charming.

Then, we found this one . . . 

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It's hard to capture the . . . experience . . . of this home light display with a mere iPhone camera.  Because there is animation.  And flickering.  Lots of twinkle.  3-D everywhere.  And music.

Also . . . this is only part of the display.  Here's the rest . . . 

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Now THAT is bringing light to the darkness!

 


Back to the Basics

My life is in one of those "whirlwind phases" right now.  

My work . . . involves a constant stream of deadlines.  That is just the nature of what I do.  And, generally, everything just moves along.

But every now and then (in February and August, to be specific), those deadlines stack up in a rather frightening and overwhelming manner.  

And then . . . all hell breaks loose!

When life gets over-busy and everything feels under pressure, I need to remember to step back a little and get back to the basics.

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Go to yoga.

Knit a few stitches.

Pull a few weeds.

Start the morning with coffee and some poetry.

I Go Down to the Shore

I go down to the shore in the morning
and depending on the hour the waves
are rolling in or moving out,
and I say, oh, I am miserable,
what shall --
what should I do?  And the sea says
in its lovely voice:
Excuse me, I have work to do.

---- Mary Oliver in A Thousand Mornings

And now . . . you'll have to excuse me.  I have work to do!