A Perfect Wish

Yesterday was what I call a "pinball day."  I'm sure you know exactly what I mean. . . those days when you race from one thing to another all day, just like a silver ball in a pinball machine.


I thought today would be a good day to share this birthday card I received from a friend here in Kalamazoo.

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A perfect wish, non?

Words on Wednesday: Poetry

I've had a rather . . . thoughtful . . . year.  I think it's just the natural rhythms of life.  Changes.  Settling.  Getting older.  I'm finally understanding that life really is fleeting, and that every day is a gift that shouldn't be squandered.

Melancholy?  Nah.  

It's just . . . getting to a point where I think about things from a new perspective.  Acceptance, maybe?  Wisdom?  Certainly a commitment to make the most out of every single day.

I think poets capture this . . . sense of things . . . in remarkable and beautiful ways.  They can distill that almost-melancholy-but-not-really feeling in just a few, perfectly chosen words.  And get it so very right!  (That's one of the reasons I like poetry so much.)

The poem I'm sharing today is by W. S. Merwin, who served as the U.S. Poet Laureate in 2010-11.  It's from his collection Garden Time, written in his late 80s as he was losing his eyesight.

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The Wings of Daylight

Brightness appears showing us everything
it reveals the splendors it calls everything
but shows it to each of us alone
and only once and only to look at
not to touch or hold in our shadows
what we see is never what we touch
what we take turns out to be something else
what we see that one time departs untouched
while other shadows gather around us
the world's shadows mingle with our own
we had forgotten them but they know us
they remember us as we always were
they were at home here before the first came
everything will leave us except the shadows
but the shadows carry the whole story
at first daybreak they open their long wings

                -- W.S. Merwin 


April is National Poetry Month.  On Wednesdays throughout the month, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.

Balance . . . And Now For Something Completely Different

As I focus on finding balance in my life this year, I'm trying to look beyond what's in my usual "toolbox."  I decided to step out of my comfort zone a bit . . . and enter a (new age-y) world.


Last month, I spent a lot of time researching chakras -- what they are; how they get "blocked;" how to "un-block" them; how they work to establish balance.

Now.  Before going any further . . . let's just establish my boundaries here.  I tend to be a very pragmatic person, rooted in the here-and-now.  I'm not a fan of fantasy.  When it comes to religion, well . . . let's just say I have a healthy skepticism.  And I'm pretty firmly stuck in "Western thinking."

Still.  I'm open.  I like to explore.  And I definitely think there are "higher powers" out there.  I believe in the power of positive thinking.  I believe in abundance mentality.  I practice yoga and meditation.


Why not balance my chakras?


I did a lot of research and reading about chakras.  (And . . . there is a lot of kooky stuff out there.  Just sayin.)  I "filtered" my research to be very practical and Western-friendly.  (I ended up buying and reading one book - Healing Chakras by Ilchi Lee.  And while it was mystical enough to induce some eye-rolling on my part, it was also fairly straightforward with good explanations and suggestions.)

I created a Pinterest board (because of course I would).

And I purchased a set of chakra stones (Etsy).

Here's a bit of what I learned:

  • First, suspend Western thinking and judgement!
  • The concept of chakras has been around for thousands of years and across cultures.
  • Chakras are 7 "energy centers" in the body.  Each chakra is associated with a different set of bodily organs and systems.  Energy flows through your body, through the chakras.
  • These 7 chakras also represent particular parts of consciousness -- the mind/body connection.  
  • While the existence of chakras is not scientifically proven, most people have experienced them at some point in their lives.  (For example, anxiety is often felt in the stomach, stress manifests itself as a headache, relationship problems can cause heartache, etc.)

Of course, there's a lot more to it, but that's enough to give you a general sense.

Things can get a little . . . weird . . . in reading/learning about chakras!  But, for me, I really like the concept (in a practical sense), and I'm looking for ways to embrace the whole chakra thing in my own daily practice as I seek balance.


Chakra affirmations work particularly well with meditation practice -- furthering positive thinking and creating healing energy.  Because there are 7 chakras . . . and 7 days of the week . . . I'm focusing on one chakra each day as part of my meditation practice.  There are yoga poses associated with each of the chakras, so I make sure to include those poses in my yoga practice.  This is a great way for me to keep my mind/body connection in mind every day.

I really like having the stones (each stone represents one of the chakras) as tangible symbols of my intent.  And, speaking of symbols -- I even found some "chakra earrings" that I love wearing these days.  (You can see them in this picture of me from last weekend.)  (Looking so balanced, non?)


So.  I stepped way out of my box and learned all about something new last month.  I never dreamed I'd be blogging about balancing my chakras, but there you go.


(And, really, that's what it's all about!)


Running to the Beach

Saturday was a beautiful day here in Michigan.  Chilly . . . but sunny -- and the warmest it's been in a few weeks.

A great day . . . to run to the beach!


Saturday was the Kal-Haven Trail Run -- a 33.5 mile run on the Kal-Haven Trail, a rail-trail from Kalamazoo to South Haven (a Lake Michigan shore town).  Tom was part of a 6-person relay run along the trail.  (He ran the 3rd - and longest - leg of the run -- 8.08 miles.)


I didn't run -- but I did serve as Cheerleader and Driver.  It's great fun -- especially when the weather is decent.  Because the trail used to be a railway, there are LOTS of places where the trail crosses the road -- so you can drive along, stopping every so often to cheer and encourage your teammates as they run by.

It took just under 4 1/2 hours for Tom's team to complete the course, ending in South Haven - where we all celebrated with Mexican food and beer.

 And then, a walk along the pier out to the South Haven lighthouse.



The weather was perfect.  A bit windy and cold out at the lake, but really quite pleasant.


A trip to the beach is always a good idea.  Even when you have to run all the way there!


How was YOUR weekend?


Checking In . . . #The100DayProject

Earlier this week (April 4 to be exact), #The100DayProject launched . . . with me, on board.


What IS #The100DayProject, exactly?  Well, according to the organizers, it's a free, global art project that anyone can participate in.  (And it's not too late --- you can join in anytime.)  It's just a project . . . to spur creativity on a daily basis.  To bring more art to the world.  Any kind of art!  There are no complicated prompts to follow or "rules" or guidelines.  

Just pick what you want to work on.

Post your photos on Instagram.

And . . . begin!


I knew I was going to sign up for the project right away.

The picking what I wanted to work on, though?  That was the hard part!


Because, you see, I'm a dabbler.

I "do" something creative pretty much every day.  But I'm all over the place!  There's knitting, sure.  And gardening.  I take a lot of photos.  I draw.  I'm learning watercolor.  I stitch.  I sew.  I play around with collage.  I write a bit.  I read poetry.

It's . . . there.  But it's really compartmentalized!

I often wonder . . . is there any way to pull these things together????


I'm not sure.

(But I've got 97 more days to find out.)





Words on Wednesday: Poetry

April is National Poetry Month.  

As a reader and lover of poetry, I always celebrate this month -- and I take it as a personal challenge:  To share poetry I love; to remind people that poetry is wonderful; and to encourage others to just . . . give it a try!  Because if you hated it in school . . . well . . . I'm betting it was the way it was taught. 

In third grade, my teacher's name was Mrs. Clinton.  Besides being an excellent teacher, she was also an artist -- and a lover of poetry.  When she taught poetry, it was from the heart!  And, best of all, she taught us that poetry could be fun.  She shared silly poems with us every day -- and we loved them!  By beginning with the silly, she took the dust-and-fuss off the rest of "Poetry," so when she threw the more serious stuff at us later, we were receptive and unintimidated.  I'm going to bet that many of my classmates also grew up with, at the very least, a fondness for poetry.

Anyway, I think of Mrs. Clinton whenever I pull this book off my shelf.

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Here's a poem from the book.  (I think Mrs. Clinton would have approved.)  (But not for third graders.)

"What do women want?"

I want a red dress.
I want it fliimsy and cheap.
I want it too tight, I want to wear it
until someone tears it off me.
I want it sleeveless and backless,
this dress, so no one has to guess
what's underneath.  I want to walk down
the street past Thrifty's and the hardware store
with all those keys glittering in the window,
past Mr. and Mrs. Wong selling day-old
donuts in their café, past the Guerra brothers
slinging pigs from the truck and onto the dolly,
hoisting the slick snouts over their shoulders.
I want to walk like I'm the only
woman on earth and I can have my pick.
I want that red dress bad.
I want it to confirm
your worst fears abut me,
to show you how little I care about you
or anything except what
I want.  When I find it, I'll pull that garment
from its hanger like I'm choosing a body
to carry me into this world, through
the birth-cries and the love-cries too,
and I'll wear it like bones, like skin,
it'll be the goddamned
dress they bury me in.

Kim Addonizio


On Wednesday throughout April, I'll be sharing some of the poems I love.  Thursday, April 27 is Poem in My Pocket day.  Maybe you'll join me -- and share YOUR favorite poem that day.




Right Now . . . March 2017

And . . . here we are at the very end of March.  It looks like this:



Cold, dreary rain.

Mud.  Puddles.  Ugh.

(But.  It's not snow, and for that I am grateful.)

So.  What's happening . . . Right Now?

Watching - Basketball.  Pretty much my entire March Madness bracket is toast at this point (beginning with Villanova; I had them to win the whole dang thing!).  I think I have North Carolina in there still, but otherwise?  A bust.  As usual. I'm also looking forward to watching the new season of Grace & Frankie, although I haven't tuned in to one episode yet.  (Anyone watched it yet?  Thoughts?)

Reading - It seems like I've been reading a lot lately!  In the ears, I'm reading Little Deaths by Emma Flint.  In print, I'm reading Exit West by Mohsin Hamid (and, while this one is quite short, I'm moving slowly -- because it's one of those books where the writing is So Fine that I keep re-reading, and then reading parts aloud to Tom).  Other recently finished books worth mentioning include:  The Lesser Bohemians by Eimear McBride (this one was really irritating to me; I don't recommend the audiobook version -- and I'd avoid it altogether unless you're particularly fond of stream-of-consciousness writing without punctuation - à la James Joyce, but more "modern" . . . and quite a bit of fairly graphic sex); The Sport of Kings by C.E. Morgan (which I adored, but it won't be for everyone); and The Keeper of Lost Things by Ruth Hogan (a whimsical, rather "lite" little story that is a bit fun and kind of like dipping your hand into a candy jar).


Stitching - (you'll notice I don't even bother to call this category "Knitting" anymore . . .)  I've been totally captivated by my Alabama Chanin wrap skirt this month.  I'm finished with the stitching and cutting portions of the project, and now just need to stitch it together.  I'm so excited -- and already planning my next project!  Despite the allure of the Alabama Chanin world, I did manage to knit one sock this month.  Pretty basic.  (I'll show you sometime.)  But. . . as so often happens, the stripe-ish yarn pooled badly in the gusset portion.  And I despise pooled yarn.  So I'm Not Thrilled.  In other news, I decided I want to try the helical knitting thing (because how cool is learning something new???), and found this (stay tuned) . . .


Listening to - Podcasts.  March has been #trypod month, where listeners are encouraged to recommend the podcasts they enjoy.  It's still March, although right at the wire . . . so here are a few I especially like: Happier with Gretchen Rubin, Freakonomics Radio, The Moth, From the Heart: Conversations with Yoga Girl, and - of course - NPR's Wait, Wait. . . Don't Tell Me.  There's a new one that just came out this week - S-Town - which seems promising, too (although so far I've only listened to the first episode).  (Also, S-Town's website is one of the most beautiful websites I've ever visited.  Worth a click!)  (I also listened to Missing Richard Simmons, which was . . . well.  A bit weird.)  How about you?  Tried a pod?  What ones do you recommend?


Drinking - YES!  Thanks to my sister, I can now enjoy wine - by the cup! - first thing in the morning.  (Does she know me, or what????)

Delighted by - A couple of little things that just make me smile every time I look at them.  First, my new coffee mug . . .


and then, my Women's March pin from Penzeys . . . 


Both of things keep me smiling -- and remembering that even though there is serious work to be done, we can still share humor and kindness and love in the world.

Gold Star - Awarded to ME . . . for not stressing about my taxes.  Here's the deal.  Every year, I do and file my taxes right around April 10.  It doesn't take me long, really, and as a former CPA (yeah . . . ) I pretty much know what I'm doing.  But.  Every year, I begin stressing in January about how I haven't done my taxes yet.  This year, I decided to drop the subterfuge.  No matter when I started the stressing, I still didn't DO my taxes until April.  This year?  I'll start stressing tomorrow.

Trying Hard - to tackle my Big Projects by spending small bits of time working on them on a regular basis.  I tend to put off my Big Projects (things like digitizing all of the old family photos . . . or a digital clean up of all my computer files . . . that kind of stuff) because I feel like I will need huge blocks of time to complete them.  And, really, that's true.  Those projects WILL take a lot of time to complete.  But . . . if I tackle them in small, 15-minute mini-chunks of time -- every day -- I will be able to get them finished!  So.  That's my plan now.  Project completion by degrees!


Blooming - Before yesterday's day-long deluge of rain, I was able to get out in the garden and find my first hellebore bloom of the season.  It gives me hope for what's to come!  (And deer don't like to eat them, by the way. . . )

Celebrating - While the main birthday hoop-la is now complete, I am still celebrating!  Right now, I'm celebrating the incredible support from all of you yesterday -- when I revealed that this birthday was a struggle for me, without my Mom.  Your words felt like hugs -- all day long.  Thank you.  Thank you.  Thank you.  You all helped me get through a difficult day.  (I can't really express how much your comments meant to me.)

Coming Up - Although I tend to like March (this year it was rather challenging -- because the weather was so nasty and didn't much feel like spring at all), I'm looking forward to April.  I'm taking part in Michelle's Just Five Things workshop for the first couple of weeks in April.  (We'll see how things go, but maybe I'll share some of my experience with you.)  And (although I haven't officially signed up yet - but plan to yet today), I'm going to dive in to the #The100DayProject.  (Stay tuned.)  I'm also going to continue my quest to find BALANCE . . . by balancing my chakras and following moon phases!  Yeah . . . things are going to get interesting around here!

How about YOU?  What's going on for you . . . Right Now?