The window frame is not that important. What is important is the light that comes through the window.
Magic happens . . . out your windows.
Make sure to take a peek!
Here's to a good week for all of us. Happy Monday.
The window frame is not that important. What is important is the light that comes through the window.
Magic happens . . . out your windows.
Make sure to take a peek!
Here's to a good week for all of us. Happy Monday.
A new month . . . means a new Museum of Me exhibit!
This month, we enter the deep, dark, cobwebby back hallway of my museum . . . to discover something that set me apart from my peers in my childhood.
C'mon . . .
(I have a flashlight.)
When I was a kid, I was good at lots of things. I was an excellent speller, for example. I was a good reader. I knew how to behave in school. I had really great ideas and could get people to follow along with them most of the time. I could jump double-dutch at recess with the best of 'em. I was creative. I had a big imagination.
But lots of kids I knew shared those skills; they weren't all that special.
I did have one thing, though, that I was really good at that most other kids I knew were not: I . . . was a dancer.
And a good one, too!
I started taking ballet when I was 4. My mom had danced as a girl, and she thought I might like it, too, so she started me early. We headed out each week to Miss Olsen's School of Dance for my lessons. Back then (and for almost all of my childhood dance years), we had a piano accompanist for our ballet classes. (That cracks me up now; so old school.) I loved dancing right from the start -- every thing about it.
Here I am, ready for my first dance recital. I was 5 by then, but just barely.
I also took tap and jazz classes, and some sort of "tumbling" that I can barely remember now, but it involved doing tumbling maneuvers through hula hoops (I can only imagine a really basic Cirque-du-Soleil-for-children kind of thing?). (I didn't stick with the tumbling.)
Dancing . . . was definitely my Best Thing as a child.
At the end of second grade, my ballet teacher - Miss Olsen - pulled my mom and I aside after a ballet class and asked my mom if she might consider allowing me to take private ballet classes . . . because she saw some "natural talent" in me. Now, I'll tell you . . . this was The Most Special Thing that had ever happened to me at that particular point in my life. (Back in the 60s, kids were definitely not coddled.) It was a Big Deal for my parents to add private ballet classes for me, but they did. My dad (who was absolutely ambivalent about the whole dance thing) installed a little "ballet barre" under the stairs in our basement for me to practice at home. And the whole family tolerated my arabesques, glissades, and pas de bourrées through the living room and down the hallway (for the most part).
In third grade, I landed my first ballet solo . . . as Snow White.
By the time I was in sixth grade, I was only taking ballet, having dropped the tapping and the jazzing (and the "tumbling"). I really did love ballet -- the dancing, the costumes, the performance. I even liked the discipline of practice. If you'd have asked me what I "wanted to be when I grew up" at that stage of my life, I probably would have told you "a ballerina" (or maybe an astronaut; it tended to be a toss-up).
Then, as I've revealed in previous exhibits here in the Museum of Me, my family moved across the country just as I was finishing up sixth grade. I was promised dance classes in our new location, but there were . . . ummm, let's just say . . . family complications following that move. And dance classes for me were simply not a priority. (And, to be fair, I had moved to a city with no actual ballet options anyway. . . ) I continued to dance . . . on the junior high dance team and (sort of dance) as a cheerleader in high school. In college I finally got back to ballet classes again when I discovered I could take them to fulfill my gym credit requirements.
But, basically . . . my dance career ended in sixth grade.
Of course, I never would have had a "dance career" in the first place. Being singled out at Miss Olsen's School of Dance was a great childhood ego boost, but it was no real sign of overwhelming talent, y'know? (It's not like the Chicago youth ballet was knocking down my door at the time or anything.) Still . . . having something that I could do well . . . that not just anyone could do well . . . made me feel special as kid -- back in a time when kids were, generally, not made to feel special at all.
Looking back on it all now, I'm really happy I had the opportunity to dance - and to take it relatively seriously - as a child. It made me feel special to have a "talent" that none of my friends shared. I was proud of being a "ballerina," and for other kids to think of me as a "ballerina" (who also happened to be a good speller). And I learned so much more than just dance steps and barre exercises, too. I developed habits and practices that have served me well throughout my life -- the value of discipline, the benefits of daily practice, the joy of moving my body, the confidence that comes with mastering something difficult -- and a lifelong appreciation for the arts.
My ballet "career" may have ended earlier than I'd have liked back when I was an 11-year-old, but I think things worked out Just Right in the end.
[Cue curtain call.]
Thanks for visiting The Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each month.
And if you're a blogger and you'd like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I'll send you my "exhibit schedule" (a list of my prompts) and we can talk about ourselves together.
For Christmas, Brian and Lauren gave me a soup cookbook from Zingerman's Deli and Bakehouse (a Michigan treasure; be sure to check it out if you're ever in Ann Arbor). Each soup recipe includes a suggested "bread pairing" -- which is great if you happen to have quick, local access to Zingerman's bread (I do, but selection is very limited). Without access, those pairings are just wishful thinking . . . (And that link up there? That's to Zingerman's online store. Trust me . . . their shipped goods are almost as fabulous as what you'll find fresh in their Ann Arbor bakehouse. If you have a hankerin' for some FINE bread or bakery goods, give 'em a try.)
Anyway, last weekend, with Tom in Detroit, I decided to try another Zingerman's soup recipe (I'd already tried one - with great results - right after Christmas) . . . AND I decided I'd up my game by also baking the suggested bread for my given soup: focaccia. Now, I'm not exactly a newbie bread baker. I used to bake bread on the regular -- years before the pandemic sourdough craze hit. But . . . I'd never baked focaccia before. No worries, though! I dusted off my trusty bread book and found a recipe for focaccia.
It was a bit fussier than I anticipated.
My recipe began with biga (Italian bread starter; kinda like sourdough starter), so that was my first step. My biga started out looking a bit sad . . . but it perked up and did just what it was supposed to do by the time I needed it, 12 hours later.
The next day, focaccia baking began in earnest. Let me tell you, focaccia dough is . . . sticky. It doesn't really behave like most bread doughs I've worked with in the past. But it was doing just what my recipe told me it should be doing, so I proceeded, fully bought in by this point.
I really like my bread cookbook (it's this one in case you're interested), but I'll tell you . . . more photos would have been really helpful as I struggled to "fold" my very sticky bread dough into thirds, then halves, then again with a quarter turn. I had to trust my instincts and read carefully. And, eventually, I had 3 focaccia loaves rolling right along.
I'm sure Paul Hollywood would have much to say about the air bubbles I managed to bake in (I'm sure that's the result of my questionable "folding" skills, see above), but it really did turn out to be very tasty!
And it was a perfect pairing with the soup, too! (I'm thinking . . . not bad for a first attempt.)
And in the meantime, my knitting jag continues . . .
How about YOU? Are you make anything interesting this week?
Welcome to Read With Us book discussion day!
Bonny and Carole and I are each posting a different question (or questions) on our blogs today about our latest RWU book . . . Matrix by Lauren Groff. Join the discussion (which you're welcome do even if you didn't read the book). I'll be answering your posts within the comment section for this discussion -- and you can comment on other people's comments, as well. Y'know . . . like in a real book group. (Please know . . . that because of the limitations of Typepad, I can't "layer" or "stack" the comments in my comment feed. Sorry. Bear with me.)
Let's begin. . .
First . . . I'd really like to know what you thought of the book. How did it make you feel? Did you like it? Do you think it deserved to be one of the National Book Award finalists last year?
Next . . . At the beginning of the novel, Marie is angry and up for a fight. But toward the end of her life she says, "open your hands and let your life go. It has never been yours to do with what you will." How does Marie evolve as a person throughout the book?
Last . . . How would you describe Matrix to a friend looking for a book recommendation?
I can't wait to hear what you think
Don't forget: We'll be discussing the book on Zoom tonight - 7:00 pm Eastern Time. There's still time for you to join us! Just let me know of your interest either with a comment or by sending me an email (see sidebar, above) -- and I'll send a Zoom invitation.
PS - If you are planning to join us on the Zoom, but haven't received an invitation from me (I sent them yesterday), please let me know so I can re-send the invitation to you today.
It's very cold.
I'm discombobulated because the painting project continues this week.
I'm running a bit on the sluggish side today.
Maybe you, too? It's definitely time to . . .
On the first a Monday of early in the month (see aforementioned discombobulation), I share random things that have recently caught my eye. Interesting articles, little factoids, and inspiring this-and-that, for the most part. Things that might help get your day started in a revved-up kind of way.
Let's start things off with a quote . . .
The secret of change is to focus all of our energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
--- Dan Millman
This is the quote I wrote in my planner to inspire me this week. I've seen this quote several times over the years, but I've never "collected" it -- mostly because it's often attributed to Socrates. Although sometimes, also, to Dan Millman. I don't like to use quotes when (a) I can't attribute it to the originator, or (b) if the originator is offensive to me. But this quote seems like the Right One for me this week, so I decided to dig around a little. It's safe to say . . . Socrates is NOT the originator of the quote. Apparently, that all got started when someone posted it on Facebook, claiming it was Socrates who said it. (Go figure.) It was, indeed, Dan Millman - who is a former gymnast, coach, and teacher who is now a writer and inspirational speaker. I couldn't find anything terribly offensive about him on a cursory review. So. There's my quote for the week. (Not Socrates. No matter what it says on Facebook.)
Read With Us
Tomorrow - Tuesday, January 11 - is Read With Us book discussion day. Bonny, Carole, and I will post a question about the book here on our blogs for a comment-driven discussion AND we'll be hosting our Zoom book discussion later in the evening at 7:00 pm Eastern time. If you've had a chance to Read With Us, you already know it will be an interesting discussion . . . and if you haven't? Well. We're a fun group to hang out with, so you're welcome, too.
I'll be sending out the Zoom invitation notice later this morning (again, see aforementioned discombobulation) with a couple of links for "advance prep" if you like that kind of thing, or if you'd just like a "refresh" on the book. I've decided to just send the invitation automatically to those of you who frequently join in for the Zoom discussions -- AND I'm also including others of you who have mentioned reading the book in the comments. If you don't receive a Zoom invitation before the end of the day today and you really want to join in, please send me an email and I'll send you the link. And if I do send you the invitation and you can't join in . . . no worries! (BUT it would be helpful if you let me know you won't be able to make it.)
Expanding Your TBR List
When it comes to reading, I really enjoy well-translated books from international writers. It's not always easy to find good translated novels to read, though. They're not usually promoted on the lists of "best of" book lists we typically see here in the US. They just don't seem to land on most readers' "hot picks" lists, either. And yet . . . many of the best books I've read in recent years are actually translations. (And, to me, good translations are magical!)
I know that a lot of you are looking to expand your reading experiences and "read harder" (I can never really understand what that means, exactly, but I do know it's quite a popular concept . . . ), so I thought I'd share this source of international books written in other languages and translated into English from Words Without Borders. (That link will take you to their list of Best Translated Books of 2021.) Another good source of high quality translations is the International Booker Prize. Give it a try! You might find something magical.
A New Foreign Lifestyle Concept For You
I know most of you are familiar with the lifestyle concepts of . . .
hygge (Danish; that coziness feeling)
fika (Swedish; pleasant and frequent coffee breaks)
friluftsliv (Norwegian; open-air living)
shinrin-yoku (Japanese; forest bathing)
But have you heard of uitwaaien? It's a Dutch lifestyle concept . . . and it embraces walking or jogging into the wind - especially in the winter - for the purpose of feeling invigorated and reducing stress while boosting one's general health. Researchers are, indeed, finding there are health benefits to being outside (safely, of course) in all kinds of weather, including cold winds. I know that I never "feel like" taking my daily walk with the dogs when it's cold and windy outside, but I always love it when I actually get out there! I love the bracing cold . . . for awhile. And I love coming back inside when the walk is over.
I'm not suggesting you go all Wim Hof here, but . . . maybe get out there on a windy day and try a little uitwaaien!
I know it's been a very long time since I've used "Corona Lisa" in a blog post. I try not to talk much about Covid in this space. Because, of course, you get enough of that everywhere else. But it's big on my mind these days . . . because we're dealing with it right now in our family. Erin and Keith are both deep into their "mild" (ha! that is a relative statement) Omicron bouts of Covid following their (ill-advised but couldn't be helped) holiday travel. And Brian and Lauren were exposed at a (ill-advised but couldn't be helped) work event over the weekend. And Tom spent the weekend at a curling event in Detroit (sure, it was a closely "bubbled" event, but . . . probably ill-advised ). And we have (vaxx'd and boosted) painters working in our house right now (also ill-advised and highly-debated, but sometimes you just gotta take the risk).
So. Anyway. Back to my point.
This Omicron variant? It really is everywhere. And even if most of us have been trying really hard to do the right things and stay isolated as best we can, it's out there, folks. And it's super easy to pick up.
Some things I've learned over the weekend:
This explains . . . a lot. So just . . . keep it in mind.
And, if (when?) you do test positive? Then what? That was one of Erin's first questions and biggest concerns. Now what should I do? Here's an article from The Atlantic that specifically addresses the what-to-do-if-you-get-a-breakthrough-Omicron-infection. It's helpful information to have around, although new details are coming to light all the time. (The article is from mid-December, so we do know more. The advice, though, is still relevant.)
Take care of yourselves.
And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great - healthy - week for all of us.
Happy January, everyone.
Late last fall, I was out in my garden.
And thinking about how we are living in a Zeitgeist moment.
What IS a Zeitgeist, exactly? Well . . . essentially, it's the spirit of a generation or a period of time. So, yeah. THIS . . . whatever it is we're living through right now?
These have been weird times, for sure.
Unprecendented, as they say.
Pretty much every single thing and way of being for us . . . has changed since March 2020. And most of those changes have been out of our hands, out of our control. We've just responded. Because we had to. Or needed to.
Back in my garden last October, I started thinking about all the ways I've changed (because haven't we all), BUT I was also aware of something else, another feeling altogether. I could tell that I was allowing myself to . . .
Change happens. But shifting? It's deliberate. And intentional.
Way back in October, my One Little Word for 2022 just showed up as an epiphany.
I've never had a word just show up for me like this one did. And so early, too! I think it's going to be an interesting year.
"Man, I ain't changed, but I know I ain't the same. . . "
-- The Wallflowers, One Headlight
This week, as one-little-worders started revealing their words for the year, I anticipated that there might be others choosing words that reflected this Zeitgeist moment . . . change, shift, adapt. And I was right! Juliann and I share the word SHIFT this year, which I think is very special and pretty cool. In fact, I can't quite imagine another blogger I'd rather share a word with. Juliann is very thoughtful and intentional about exploring her words, so I can't wait to see what we discover. I know my experience will be richer . . . sharing this word with someone I know and admire.
I'm right on time with my annual January knitting "jag." It seems to happen to me every year . . . After the holidays are over, I just start knitting one thing over and over and over. One year it was little gnomes. Another year it was dishcloths. Last year it was little hearts.
This year? I've got a Musselburgh jag going.
Once I finished my own Musselburgh hat, I immediately cast on another -- this time for Tom. And I gotta tell ya . . . despite essentially knitting two-hats-in-one, these things fly off the needles! They are endlessly entertaining - especially after a busy December. You don't have to think (once you get started, that is). Just knit. It's also a pleasure to use up some lovely skeins I have tucked away deep in my stash.
Like this one from Kim at Woolen Rabbit, which had been "marinating" in my stash for a very long time. It's Opal in the Speakeasy colorway. Very luxurious with a touch of cashmere, although I'm not sure Kim is offering this yarn anymore.
Anyway. According to Tom, it's his New Best Hat.
And now . . . well. I'm clipping right along on another one!
This one's for my sister . . .
I can see myself churning these out for a while yet. . .
January jag, indeed!
How about you?
What are you making these days?
Don't forget to check out other Unravled posts over at Kat's today!
. . . look like GO Time.
For some months now, we've had a major painting project in the works. (Our entire first floor - except the yellow dining room that I love, plus the upstairs hallway.) It's time for change. BIG change. And, all of a sudden, the (only-vaccinated, please) painters are arriving later this week. My paint color choices (which I've had months to think about agonize over) were due on Friday, but since it was New Year's Eve, I figured no one would care until today. So I continued to think agonize all weekend. I still haven't decided on my new living room color. (It's a very dark green right now, and I want to lighten things up.) I'm waiting for sunrise to make the final call, but I'm leaning toward. . . August Moon. (I think.)
And the color choices? Really the least of my worries this week, because I also have to . . . get the rooms ready FOR the painters to come.
So. I've got a lot to do in a short period of time. (Which is how I roll, so no worries there.) I may be back to blog tomorrow, or . . . maybe not. We'll see how things go today.
And Happy New Year.
(When it comes to "begin as you mean to go on" . . . I wonder what it means when you're starting with big changes to your home environment?)
As I've mentioned over the years, when it comes to journaling and planners, I'm All Analog All the Time.
Here's my planner . . .
It's a Traveler's Journal. I've created my own "system" loosely based on bullet journaling, but . . . also not really bullet journaling at all. I've got 3 useful sections: monthly calendars, weekly "spreads," and a random notes section. While not fancy, it works really well for me.
Each week, I sit with the weekly spread and plan out my coming week. I transfer in any meetings and appointments and specific due dates. I plan out my dinner menus. And blog posts. I set up a little weekly "tracker" to follow my progress on the five-elements-I-need-to-stay-balanced. I create my weekly to-do list. I save a space for jotting notes and shopping lists. I plot out my workouts. And . . . for fun and inspiration . . . I find a quote to include at the top of each week's page. (Here's next week's bare-bones weekly spread -- before I start filling in the details.)
I'm quite intentional about the quotes I choose to include in my planner, although I don't get too stressed about it. The quotes usually . . . fit . . . the week in some way. Sometimes it's seasonal. Sometimes it's my mood. Sometimes it's aspirational.
Anyway. As I was going through my 2021 planner as part of my end-of-year review, it struck me that my quotes actually kind of tell the story of my year in a slightly more . . . shall we say . . . esoteric way. So I typed them up for myself.
And then I decided to share them with you.
So. Here are 52 quotes from my 2021 planner, in date order. If you squint a little, you might be able to follow my year . . . in quotes.
“Begin as you mean to go on.”
— Charles H. Spurgeon
“Most of life is showing up. You do the best you can, which varies from day to day.”
— Regina Brett
“Anyone who claims to be a leader must speak like a leader. That means speaking with integrity and truth.
— Kamala Harris
“Life is what happens while you are making other plans.”
— John Lennon
“Nobody has ever measured, not even the poets, how much a heart can hold.”
— Zelda Fitzgerald
“Love is the answer, and you know that for sure. Love is a flower, you’ve got to let it grow.”
— John Lennon
“Whatever our souls are made of, his and mine are the same.”
— Emily Brontë
“Where there is love, there is life.”
— Mahatma Gandhi
“In March, winter is holding back and spring is pulling forward. Something holds and something pulls inside of us, too.”
“March is a tomboy with tousled hair, a mischievous smile, mud on her shoes, and a laugh in her voice.”
— Hal Borland
“By March, the worst of the winter would be over. The snow would thaw, the rivers begin to run, and the world would wake into itself again.”
— Neil Gaiman
“Where flowers bloom so does hope.”
— Lady Bird Johnson
“My life is better every year of living it!”
— Rachel Maddow
“The moon is the queen of everything. She rules the oceans, rivers, rain. When I am asked whose tears these are, I always blame the moon.”
— Lucille Clifton
“Hello, sun in my face. Hello, you who make the morning and spread it over the fields [. . .]
Watch, now, how I start the day in happiness, in kindness.”
— Mary Oliver
“Here comes the sun, and I say it’s all right.”
— George Harrison, The Beatles
“I believe in kindness. Also in mischief. Also in singing, especially when singing is not necessarily prescribed.”
— Mary Oliver
“You can’t make things grow. You have to create an environment where things want to grow.”
— Garden Marcus
“If you’re walking down the right path and you’re willing to keep walking, eventually you’ll make progress.”
— Barack Obama
“Be aware of wonder. Live a balanced life - learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some.”
— Robert Fulgham
“And into the forest I go to lose my mind and find my soul.”
— John Muir
“In early June the world of leaf and blade and flower explodes, and every sunset is different.”
“But tomorrow may rain, so I’ll follow the sun.”
— John Lennon and Paul McCartney, The Beatles
“Live in the sunshine. Swim in the sea. Drink in the wild air.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson
“In summer, the song sings itself.”
— William Carlos Williams
“Everything in life is a vibration.”
— Albert Einstein
“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.”
— David Foster Wallace
“My mind works in idleness. To do nothing is often my most profitable way.”
— Virginia Woolfe
“Life is about using the whole box of crayons.”
“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be made with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
— Iris Murdoch
“As I leave the garden, I take with me a renewed view. And a quiet soul.”
— Jessica Coupe
“In the midst of movement and chaos, keep stillness inside you.”
— Deepak Chopra
“I learned a long time ago the wisest thing I can do is be on my own side, be an advocate for myself and others like me.”
— Maya Angelou
“What matters most is how you walk through the fire.”
— Charles Bukowski
“Wellness is not a ‘medical fix’ but a way of living – a lifestyle sensitive and responsive to all the dimensions of body, mind, and spirit.”
— Greg Anderson
“Great things are done by a series of small things brought together.”
— Vincent Van Gogh
“You don’t get explanations in real life. You just get moments that are absolutely, utterly, inexplicably odd.”
— Neil Gaiman
“Sometimes you just have to jump out the window and grow wings on the way down.”
— Ray Bradbury
“LIfe starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.”
— F. Scott Fitzgerald in The Great Gatsby
“The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper.”
— W.B. Yeats
“I have woven a parachute out of everything broken.”
— William Stafford
“Is not this a true autumn day? Just the still melancholy that I love - that makes life and nature harmonize.”
— George Eliot
“Energy creates energy. It is by spending myself that I become rich.”
— Sarah Bernhardt
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf’s a flower.”
— Albert Camus
“Books break the shackles of time – proof that humans can work magic.”
— Carl Sagan
“Throw open your window and let the scenery of clouds and sky enter your room.”
— Yosa Buson
“In life, one has a choice to take one of two paths: to wait for some special day – or to celebrate each special day.”
— Rasheed Ogunlani
“It is December, and nobody asked if I was ready.”
— Sarah Kay
“A bare tree stands with roots on both ends in December days.”
—- Kiran Bantawa in ‘Bare Trees’
“Winter passes and one remembers one’s perseverance.”
— Yoko On
“Happiness is a vine that takes root and grows within the heart, never outside it.”
— Kahlil Gibran
“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.”
— John C. Maxwell
Thank you for hanging around with me this year.
Your presence, your comments, your support . . . all mean the world to me.
Happy New Year, my friends.
May 2022 be just a nice, "regular" kind of year; balanced, and with not too many surprises for any of us!
See you . . . next year!