Unwrapping

Living with Intent

Every year, in January, I come up with a list of intentions to guide me through the year ahead.

I don't consider them resolutions or even goals.  Just . . . intentions.  Ways I want to live.  Ways I want to BE.

And I try to distill them down to just two or three words.  So they're simple and concise -- and open to interpretation (re-interpretation?) as the year unfolds.  Here's my list for 2017:

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Now that I've been living with these intentions for a few weeks, I wanted to take a close look at them again -- as a review, and to see if I wanted to make any adjustments to my list.

I think they're good, though.  I can already feel them taking root; guiding my thoughts and actions.

I'm off to good start . . . at living with intent!


Slipped My Mind

Tom was away over the weekend - to curl in a bonspiel up in Canada.  Before he left, he reminded me, "Don't forget about the wine sale on Saturday."  (Because Tom manages our beverage inventory - and would usually hit the sale himself.)

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I had every intention of stocking up at the wine sale.  But I got busy with other things.  And, well.  I missed the wine sale.  It just slipped my mind.

It wasn't until yesterday that I realized . . .
the wine sale wasn't the only thing that had slipped my mind!

Saturday - February 4 - was also the 8th anniversary of my final chemo treatment.  A Big Day.  A Red Letter Day.  A Day I usually set aside for some serious reflection and celebration.

But it slipped my mind, too.  Completely.  I never even gave it a thought.

I think that's really significant. 

Y'know?


Looking Back

As I mentioned the other day, there is nothing magical about turning the calendar to a new year.  The beginning of January does not erase current situations, ongoing projects, or existing problems.

But.

There is something about the fresh start of a new year that brings reflection -- a summing up and moving forward kind of feeling.

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For me, the beginning of a new year is a time to . . .

Stop.

Think.

Assess.

Where am I?  And where do I want to be heading?

Ideally, I'd do this reflecting before turning the calendar over to January.  Y'know?  To be ready to hit the ground running when the ball drops?  But that never seems to happen for me.  (I blame the hub-bub of the holidays.)  

So January . . . serves as my time of reflecting.

It's great to look back over the just-finished year -- to face last year's mistakes and disappointments; to leave guilt or despair behind; to get closure on projects or ideas; to assess what worked - and what didn't.

It's also a perfect opportunity to pause -- to just breathe; to allow my mind to wander; to read poetry; to clear some space for new thoughts and ideas.

All of this helps me gain perspective -- on who I am now, and where I want to head next.

And, although I don't really set any "resolutions" for myself, I certainly do set intentions -- for how I want to live and what I want to especially focus on during the upcoming year.

I guess it's a good thing January is so gloomy and long!  It gives me plenty of time to reflect. . .

Enjoy the weekend.

 

 

 


The Beginning

“We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential.”

---- Ellen Goodman

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I'm always a sucker for a fresh start.

A blank journal.  A new calendar.  A freshly turned garden.  Casting on.

Especially after a rough go of things.  

And 2016 was certainly that.

I spent the day yesterday drawing up a list (as Ellen Goodman so artfully says) of work to be done, cracks to be patched . . . and potential.  So much potential.

I have no illusions that turning the calendar to a new year will bring any magic.  But it does provide a sense of beginning again.  A summing up, so to speak.  An opportunity to assess and reflect and start anew.

So.  Welcome 2017.

Let's do what we can . . . to make you a good one!


More Than Just a Storage Solution - It's a Way of Life

When I read the prompt for this week's Think Write Thursday post, it made me chuckle.  How I stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong.  Because ... well.  This has been my daily struggle for a while now.  Y'know?

So much going wrong.

So many attempts to stay positive.

So many ways this blog post could go.

Like . . . I could write about meditation and mindfulness practice.  (Because that helps.  A lot.)  Or I could write about journaling.  (Because that is essential for my well-being.)  Or I could write about the power of a good workout.  (Because pushing your body is powerful and sweat is GOOD.)  Or I could write about knitting or weeding or drawing.  (Because those activities are grounding and help me find my center.)

But, instead . . . I'm going to write about Ziploc bags.

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Yep.  Ziplocs.

You see, somewhere back in time - probably college; maybe earlier - when I first started dealing with time management issues and that feeling-like-everything-is-going-wrong thing - I came up with a sort of Scarlet O'Hara tomorrow-is-another-day approach to dealing with things.

Stick it in a Ziploc.

Yep.  Just stick that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem in a Ziploc bag.  Seal it up nice and tight.  And store it in your brain.

The trick?  Keep. It. Sealed.  Do NOT let it out.

And, just like real Ziploc bags of real stuff in your real life, that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem will just sit there in your brain.  

Safely stored.  
Marinating.  
Gathering dust.  
Or rotting.  

And you can open that Ziploc bag whenever you are ready.  Or when it is time.  (Or somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 am, when the seals, sadly, tend to be at their weakest.)

I'm not talking about denial here.  I'm just talking about compartmentalizing.  When things/ideas/ future to-do items/problems are overwhelming and when it feels like they're all closing in on you and you just can't manage . . . that's when it's time to do a little sorting-and-storing.  

Fill up your Ziploc bags with things that you really can deal with/think about/do LATER -- so you can deal with the more immediate issues NOW.

It works for me!

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This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  Read more posts on this topic here - and sign up to receive the weekly prompts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Desperately Seeking Balance

15/30

Nothing is permanent.
Everything is subject to change.
Being is always becoming.

                          ----  Buddha

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Like many of you, I have been profoundly disturbed since last Tuesday night.  My mind is a swirl . . . What's going to happen?  What's the latest news?  What can we do?  

Swirling.  Swirling.  Always swirling.

Around and around and around.

And, of course, my own regular life is still happening, too. 

So I'm swirling about  . . . first amendment rights and my concerns over the Paris Agreement while also creating the slide show for my mom's memorial service and planning Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm managing preparations for a house full of guests while I also come to grips with having an ill-prepared and inexperienced flim-flam man as President.  I'm sad and worried about the future of my country . . . at the same time I'm excited to see my family and wanting to honor my mom with a meaningful memorial service.

I am . . . completely overwhelmed and desperately seeking balance!

Last night, I went to yoga.  I almost didn't . . . but I made myself leave the house and go.  Once I got there, I knew it was the right place for me.  Comfortable space; welcoming environment; stretching and bending.  

During the balance portion of the class, my yoga teacher talked a bit about the importance of finding balance in the midst of challenging times.  She reminded us that when we're overwhelmed, we need to find our core - our center.  She also reminded us that the sun will rise again tomorrow, and it will bring a new day.

I really needed to hear those words.

So, yes.  

I do want to raise my voice and make a difference.  But . . . I also need to take care of my family.  

I need to be informed.  But . . .  I also need to shut off the hype.  

I know the world has changed.  But . . . I also need to hold on to what I value in my heart.

Nothing is permanent.

Everything is subject to change.

Being is always becoming.

And . . . BALANCE . . . is key.

 


Little Bits of Good

11/30

"Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little
bits of good put together that overwhelm the world."

                               --- Desmond Tutu

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Okay.  I'll admit that as I lay in bed, not sleeping, on election night . . . I only felt disappointment, disbelief, and deep, deep despair.  

Then I got angry.

And motivated.

To DO SOMETHING, for crying out loud.

Because I really do care that all people feel safe and secure and protected.  I think that even the very language we use should reflect respect for one another.  I believe in protecting our environment -- and that we should be doing a whole lot more to address climate change.  (Which is real.)  I believe that a rising tide raises all boats.  I believe in hope -- not fear.

I started doing some real soul searching . . . How can I move forward?  What can I do that might actually make things better for someone (or some concept) threatened by this horrifying new political reality?  Are there ways I might be able to make a difference?

I started by making a list of some of my biggest concerns.  And then, I started brainstorming about ways I could address them.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • I am concerned about the lack of civility . . . so I plan to be particularly mindful about practicing and modeling kindness, respect, and thinking before speaking.
  • I am concerned about threats to free speech and our constitution . . . so I plan to make significant donations to the ACLU, an organization that will stand on the front line in defending our constitutional rights.
  • I am concerned about the safety and protection of refugees and immigrants . . . so I am going to learn about programs and resources available to this population in my own community.  In fact, I have already been invited to observe an ESL class this Saturday at our local Islamic Center -- and I'm considering becoming involved as an ESL tutor.
  • I am concerned about voter suppression efforts . . . so I am going to learn more about voter rights here in Michigan, including who is doing what to keep voting accessible for everyone.  Perhaps I'll join the League of Women Voters and become a poll worker as a result. 
  • I am concerned about the climate . . . so I am going to start by focusing on my own personal conservation efforts.  I may begin devoting one or two blog posts each month to conservation topics, and I'm reseaching organizations to support through charitable donations and volunteer efforts.
  • I am concerned about racism . . . so I am going to learn more about being an effective ally -- and then I'm going to put that knowledge into practice.
  • I am concerned about freedom of the press and the general disintegration of journalism . . . so I am going to purchase online subscriptions to the New York Times and the New Yorker.  By supporting paid subscriptions, I hope to help strengthen checks and balances through the independent media.
  • I am concerned about women's reproductive rights . . . so I am going to make donations to Planned Parenthood, an organization that will stand on the front line in defending these rights, and will provide essential family planning services to women.
  • I am concerned about hunger and poverty . . . so I am going to shop for and donate at least one bag of groceries for our local food pantry every month.
  • I am concerned about education . . . so I am going to donate to a local, grassroots program funding college tuition for low-income, rural students in Lake County, Michigan (Michigan's poorest county on a per-capita basis -- and the county where my "up north" hideaway is located). A well-educated populace is necessary if we're ever going to think for ourselves.

This is just a start; I'm still brainstorming and thinking.  I want to make sure I'm doing my part to protect threatened people and causes that I care about.

I'm ready to DO SOMETHING -- and these little bits of good will add up.

Join me, won't you?

 

 

 


On Processing and the Power of Running Away

10/30

Yesterday was such a hard day for me -- in the way that grief makes everything feel impossible.  I couldn't quite manage to do the things that make for a "normal" day.  I just needed to "process."  And for me, that means reading, talking, analyzing . . . basically, figuring out how my brain - and my heart - was going to adjust to holding and dealing with this new reality.  

So I read every high-quality analysis I could get my hands-on.  I talked to my sister.  I talked to a good friend.  I talked to Erin.  I journaled.  I knit.  I made feeble attempts at household chores.  And I thanked my lucky stars that Tom had left earlier in the day for a planned trip up north to the cottage for a few days to close things up for the season and host his annual poker game.  Because Tom - who was going through his own painful grief process - grieves in a very different way from me.  He turns inward.  He doesn't speak.  He needs to process his feelings without interference.

But then . . . I heard Hillary's most gracious speech.

And I totally lost it.

I needed to be with Tom -- even if it meant silence.  

So I ran away.

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I threw my knitting, a bottle of wine, and the dogs in my car -- and I headed north.

To grieve and process (in our very own ways) alongside Tom.

We sat around the fire for a couple of hours . . . 

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Talking some, but mostly not talking.  Tom reflected.  I read more analyses and opinions and updates.  We pet the dogs.  We drank.  We processed.

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We watched the sun go down and moon come up.

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This morning, I'm ready to pack up and head back home.  I feel a bit more . . . put together now.  In my own head.  Certainly more resolved.  And ready to move forward.  (Stay tuned.)

Running away for a day . . . was the right thing for me to do.

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Although I didn't participate today, please be sure to check out the Think Write Thursday group here.

 


Flowers are Magical

When I post pictures of my garden blooms on Instagram, I often use the hashtag #flowersaremagical.  Because, to me, they are.  

Explosions of color.

Science unfurling.

Endless variety.

Magical connections.

Apparently, my own grandmother - my mom's mother, who died four years before I was born - was a gardener.  While most of her efforts focused on growing fruits and vegetables, she also found time to tend a lovely flower garden filled with snapdragons, daisies, hydrangea, zinnias, and dahlias.  Not surprisingly, all of these flowers became my mom's favorites in her own garden.

Every Mother's Day, I would give my mom a new dahlia for her garden.  Every year, my mom would plant the dahlia and enjoy the lovely blooms, come September.  Later in the fall, she faithfully dug up all her dahlia tubers and overwintered them.  Some years, she was successful; some years . . . not so much.  But her garden always had dahlias.  

This spring, my mom wasn't quite herself.  She didn't do any gardening.  She didn't plant her dahlias -- and I gave her a hanging basket for Mother's Day, instead of the usual dahlia.

So imagine how surprised I was on Saturday, when I started clearing up my mom's garden for fall.

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Because there were . . . Dahlias!  Blooming in my mom's garden!

She must have missed digging all the tubers last fall.  And last year's mild winter must have saved this one.

Just for me.

Because . . . I'm going to dig this dahlia tuber and try to overwinter it myself.  

Because . . . My garden will always have dahlias.

Because . . . Flowers ARE magical!

 


Telltale Sign

As an avid gardener, I notice gardens all the time -- whether they're parking lot plantings at the vet's office, professional plantings at the hospital, or lovely gardens in front yards all around town.

I especially appreciate the gardens I see day in and day out -- the lovely flower beds and and borders I pass every day in my neighborhood.  On the way to the grocery store.  On my walks with the dogs.  At the corner where I have to wait to turn left.

Lovely gardens.  Carefully tended.  With love and attention and time.

Except when they're not.

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Weeds out of control.

Dead, spent blooms.

Grass creeping in everywhere.

Total garden chaos.

To me, these are telltale signs . . . that something is amiss in that gardener's world; in that usually lovely, well-tended garden space.

And I'm usually right.  Someone's husband is ill.  Someone has moved to assisted living.  Someone has lost their job.  Or taken a job.  Or had a baby.  Or adopted a puppy.  Someone is having chemo.  Or suffereing from depression.   Something . . . has disrupted the life of the gardener.

In a rather serious way.  And it shows . . . in their garden.

 

My own garden this year (pictured above) shows all the telltale signs. . . of a garden season disrupted.  

Of other priorities.  

Of things amiss.

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You can find me out there every day now.  Weeding.  Deadheading.  Cutting back.

Restoring.  Reclaiming.

My garden.

(And a whole lot more.)