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January 2012
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March 2012

February 2012

Secrets of the Universe

When the new year kicked in, I made some New Year's Resolutions . . . and shared them through a Ten on Tuesday blog post.  The resolutions I wrote are not so much about doing things; they are much more about living my life.

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My challenge, now, is . . . how to keep those resolutions!

This year, I want to be intentional and thoughtful about how I live my life.  I understand that life really is limited; that I'm getting older; that time waits for no one.  I know how easy it is to get caught up in the "sturm und drang" of everyday life.  And I know that my life is really, really good . . . just as it is.

I know I have enough.

But, still.  I feel this need to tweak my life.  Not to change it, mind you.  But to heighten my awareness of - and appreciation for - what's already there.

I picked up The Happiness Project, a book by writer Gretchen Rubin that chronicles her year-long adventure of inviting more happiness into her life.  As I began reading in January, Gretchen's voice reached out and grabbed me. . .

"I didn't want to reject my life.  I wanted to change my life withough changing my life, by finding more happiness in my own kitchen.  I knew I wouldn't discover happiness in a faraway place or in unusual circumstances; it was right here, right now." (page 12; hardback edition)

I decided to launch my own Happiness Project during 2012.  It fits nicely with my One Little Word project, actually, and it's a great way for me to keep connected to my earlier resolutions.  I like the challenge of thinking about happiness in the context of my everyday life, and creating the space to invite more happiness into that same everyday life.

When Gretchen Rubin began her own Happiness Project, she first developed her own "overarching principles" (she called them her "Twelve Commandments") and "life lessons learned" (her "Secrets of Adulthood") to provide a framework for her year's work. 

I already do this for myself in my journaling -- slightly different thought process, but very similar concept.  So I enjoyed spending a couple of weeks in January developing my own lists; my own framework for my project ahead. 

As I launch my own Happiness Project, allow me to share my own "overarching principles" and "life lessons learned":

My "Everyday Mantras" (words to live by, everyday):

  • Love is all you need.
  • I have enough.
  • Pack lightly.
  • Celebrate the ordinary.
  • Just start.
  • Let it be.
  • Dance through life.
  • Take delight.
  • Practice kindness.
  • Stretch.
  • Make it work.
  • Color outside the lines.

My "Secrets of the Universe" (things I've learned to be true):

  • There is no bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.
  • If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all.
  • Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're right.
  • Take time to smell the roses.
  • Eat an elephant one bite at a time.
  • Tomorrow is another day.
  • Apologize when you need to - and sometimes, even when you don't need to.
  • Take responsibility for your actions; own your words.
  • Not everyone thinks like you, and that's fine.
  • Some people ARE jerks.
  • You miss 100% of the shots you don't take.
  • Generally, it's not rocket science.
  • Garbage in, garbage out.
  • If you didn't wear it this year, you'll likely not wear it next year.
  • Always verify your sources.
  • Keep your head up.
  • You'll never know what worse luck your bad luck saved you from.
  • Good manners count.
  • Flossing really does make a difference.
  • There are many paths to the top of the mountain.
  • You can lead a horse to water, but you can't do fuck-all if he wants to piss in it.

It was really interesting to spend some time thinking about these two lists -- a very grounding exercise that will serve me well as I strive to keep my resolutions. 

What about you?   I challenge you to think about your own "personal framework."  What are your "overarching principles" for life?  What life lessons have you learned over the years? 

 


Still Growing!

A few weeks ago, I showed you Spot . . . my agave plant that was sending up a bloom.  Unexpectedly.  In the middle of winter.

I thought you might be interested in an update.

Here is Spot now.

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When I last showed you Spot, the bloom stalk was just a little over 5 feet tall.  The pot had been sitting on one of the platforms of the plant stand you can see in the photo above, but last week, I noticed the stalk had reached the ceiling, so I moved Spot to the floor -- and staked him.

Now, he is well over 8 feet tall!  I'm 5'8" . . . and this is my view of the stalk looking up (from my eye level).

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And it's still growing! 

The buds are getting larger and more pronounced.

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It's really quite something!  I can't wait to see what the flower will look like when it blooms.   Any guesses on color?

In the meantime, I've purchased another agave plant (a different variety this time). 

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I wonder what this one will do?

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Looking for something good to read?  I just read my first 5-star book of 2012 . . . and it was FABulous.   Really good.  This one will stick with me for a long, long time!  (Initially, I hesitated about reading it. . . because it is quite gruesome in parts.  I will say now, though, that this is one of those books that is worth a little wading around in the muck.)

Images

 


The Itch

Usually, sometime toward the end of March, it hits.

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The urge to garden.  The desire to dig.  The need to feel the earth.

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The Itch.

And usually, when it hits, there's not a dang thing I can do about it.  Because there's usually still snow.  Or thick ice patches.  And the ground is usually frozen.

But this year?

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Not so much! 

This is the winter-that's-not-really-a-winter; the what-if-they-gave-a-winter-and-no-one-came-winter; the lost season.  The ground is not frozen.  There is no snow cover.  Very bizarre.  And even though I've got daffodils poking through the ground. . .

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and hellebores sending up their blooms. . .

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and sedum . . .

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and ladies mantle already making their appearance. . .

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I can't trust that winter is completely lost.

But The Itch has arrived much, much earlier than is typical.

Jenny smells it.

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This intrepid pansy thinks it's here.

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And the fish* are beginning to be a bit more active in the pond.

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The Itch. 

I don't think I've ever been out in my garden, actually tending and pruning and cleaning up, this early in the year. But I spent a lovely afternoon out there, doing just that, last Saturday.  It was wonderful to get out and get started.  But I think it may just make The Itch even more intense.  Because it can't really be spring yet.

Can it?

*If you look closely, you can see all three fish are still hanging in there!  Boo is the big white one, Simon is the smaller one with the white face just to the left of Boo, and Garfunkel is black and hanging out just below both Boo's and Simon's noses.


On the Grid

It's February. . . a month filled with thoughts of love . . .

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(and chocolate!)

I thought that it might be fun to share some of the things I especially . . . love. . . during the month of February.

I'm not talking about the things you already know I . . . love. . . like knitting and gardening and reading and my family and Jenny.  No, this month, I thought I'd share some of the things I . . . love. . . that you probably don't know about me.

Like. . . I'll bet you'll be surprised to find out that I'm strangely drawn to . . . and love . . . GRIDS!

Grids?

Yeah. 

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For some reason, I find things arranged in grid patterns Most Pleasing! 

I have these lovely ceramic pieces hanging on my living room walls.

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I adore them! 

Everywhere you look in my house, there are grids.

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On the walls.  Propped up on shelves.

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When things are arranged in grid patterns, I'm drawn like a magnet! 

(I even have a Pinterest board called "Grids" . . . where I collect images of grid patterns I especially like.)

My attraction is not just to straight-line grids, either.  I like circle grids.

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And arched grids.

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And grid patterns of all shape and design.

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I'm often pulled to grid-like projects. . .

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like afghans and quilts.

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There's just something about . . . the grid!

I just . . . love . . . them!

And I notice them.  Everywhere!

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Grids.

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Grids.

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Grids.

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Love 'em!


The View From My Knitting Place

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I knit in lots of spots around my house.  Sometimes in front of the tv.  Sometimes in a chair in my kitchen.  Out on my patio (when it's warm and the furniture is in place, that is!).  But, most evenings, you'll find me in my Knitting Place . . .

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one end of the couch in the library of our house.  The lighting is good.  A window looks out into my front yard.  It's generally very quiet.  I can leave my knitting things on the little table beside the couch.  There is an electric outlet to plug in my iPod when it needs recharging.  There is no tv.  And Jenny can get comfortable beside me -- in Her Place (the opposite end of the same couch).

This week's Ten on Tuesday topic is . . . Ten Things You Can See From Your Favorite Knitting Spot.  Here's what can I see from my Knitting Place. . .

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1.  Books!  (Lots of books.)

2.  Family photos, knick-knacks and tchotchkes that make me smile.

3.  Knitting paraphernalia and yarn.

4.  My iPod or my iPad.

5.  A dog toy or two, and probably a rawhide chewie for good measure.

6.  The world . . . literally. . . out the window.

7.  The world . . . figuratively. . . on the globe.

8.  A cup of tea . . . or a glass of wine, depending on the time of day.

9.  Jenny (always).

And, usually, in this chair . . .

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10.  Tom.  It's where he sits in the evening to read . . . or work at going through his glut of email. . . or just to chat with me.  (But, as you can see, his chair is empty right now.  Because he's still in India.)

What can YOU see from your favorite knitting place?

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Join the fun!  Sign up for Ten on Tuesday here.


Ordinary Stuff

Saturday was a day-of-note for me.  The anniversary of my final chemo treatment. 

Three years.

And what did I do to mark the occasion?  Well.  An intense spinning class.  A long walk with Jenny.  A letter to my oldest friend.  Pruning roses.  (Yeah.  It was that nice.)  Chocolate biscotti with my tea.  Vacuuming.  Some knitting.  And a glass of wine.

Ordinary stuff.

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The stuff of life.


It's Like Rain On Your Wedding Day

Sing it, Alannis. . .

 

I had heard of thrummed mittens before . . . and I know they're supposed to be very, very warm.  (For my non-knitting readers, "thrumming" is a technique where the knitter works pieces of wool fleece into her knitting to make an extra-wooly pair of mittens or socks.)

But they always sounded kind of . . . creepy to me.   All those loose ends and everything?  Wouldn't your fingers feel kind of . . . twitchy in among all that wooly fiber?  No, thank you. 

So I avoided the technique, ignored the patterns (and went on to knit Tinker mittens instead).

But then, recently, I tried on a sample thrummed mitten.

Ahhhhhhhh! 

It was comfortable and warm.  Not creepy At All.  In fact, thrummed mittens are EXACTLY what I need when I walk Jenny!  (Because my hands are always, Always, ALWAYS freezing when I return . . . no matter what mittens I wear.)

So I cast on.

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Quick.  Easy.

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Kind of fun.  (NOT fit for a Tinker, either.  Always a bonus!)

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And unbelievably warm and comfortable!  (That's the inside view on the left.)

The ironic part?  Well.  I finished them on the warmest January day in decades!  56° F!  Sing it with me. . .

♫♪♩ It's like raaaaiiin on your wedding day . . . it's a freeeeeee ride when you've already paid. . .  it's the thrummmmmmed mittens on the record-breaking warmest day. . . Who would've thought?  It figures!  ♩♬♪

(Ravelry details here.)


Food for the Soul

Today, I join in the Silent Poetry Reading, honoring the Goddess Brigid, patron of poets and healers.

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The Journey
by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations--
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice,
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life that you could save.

 

Included in She Walks in Beauty: A Woman's Journey Through Poems, selected by Caroline Kennedy

 


Please, Mr. Postman!

Soundtrack. . .

 

In times gone by, before email and instant messaging and Facebook and texts, I used to love writing letters.  I always had a stock of cards and stationery and stamps at hand.  I kept my address book up to date.  I sent birthday cards and Valentines and long letters.  I looked forward to the mail arriving every day.

When I was 12, my family moved across the country.  I kept up a healthy letter-writing relationship with my cousins and Grandparents and childhood friends for years.  When I went to summer camp, I wrote to my parents every day.  When I went away to college, I sent letters and cards to my friends on other campuses and to my family back home. 

Tom and I went to college in different states.  We wrote to each other nearly every day!  It's hard to imagine the lack of correspondence "options" back then!  No cell phones.  No computers.  No Facebook.  No texting.  Just letters.  (And the occasional, expensive Long Distance Phone Call!)  So we wrote.  I had boxes and boxes of his letters and cards, but eventually, I just pulled out The Very Best Ones to save.  Here's a little sample.

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(I have a couple stacks of his letters, still.)  (And he has mine.)

But I rarely write letters any more. 

So when I heard about the Month of Letters challenge, I signed up right away!

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I'm really excited to return to a slower, handwritten style of correspondence.  (At least, for a little while!)

I dug out my notecards, gathered some greeting cards, and bought new stamps (roses!).  I updated my address book and located some festive return address labels (compliments of the Susan G. Komen Foundation, I believe).  I used the Month of Letters calendar to plan (at least initially) my letter writing strategy.

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And so it begins! 

Oh, Mr. Postman. . . deliver the letter. . . the sooner the better!