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January 2021

More and Less

So . . . on Monday I talked about setting intentions and goals for the year. And on Tuesday I explained about how I play around with my "word" at the beginning of the year. Today? I've got another kinda fun little planning/intention setting thing to tell you about. If that's not your jam (as Adriene would say), just scroll to the bottom of this post and you can look at my current knitting project.

For the rest of you? Let's go!

This is a fun little exercise that is always included in Ali Edwards' One-Little-Word January prompt (which tends to focus on getting to know/exploring your word). I call it . . . More and Less.  (I've done this every year since 2011.) The basic premise is to think about the year ahead by asking yourself two simple questions:

  1. What do I want MORE of?
  2. What do I want LESS of?

It's easy, kinda fun to think about, and . . . you get pretty close to your inner motivations and intentions by doing it! Here's what I came up with for myself this year:


If you haven't already done something like this for 2021, now is a perfect time. It's a full moon (always a great time to review your intentions and check in with yourself). It's the end of a month. It's almost the beginning of the month. And it's still very much the beginning of a new year.

Give it a try! Let me know what you think. And if you've already done this exercise, what are some of the things you want more and less of in 2021?


FYI - If you're into this kind of thing, Mercury goes retrograde starting tomorrow (through February 21).


And for those of you just here for the knitting . . . here you go! (I think it'll be finished later today.)



Here's to a weekend filled with just what you need . . . nothing more and nothing less!



Seasonal Diversions

"There are two seasonal diversions that can ease the bite of any winter.  One is the January thaw.  The other is the seed catalogues."
                    -  Hal Borland

So it's been an exceptionally mild winter here in my corner of the world. 
Cold. But not THAT cold.
No significant snows to speak of.
Even more sunshine than usual.

(This morning. Looking down - through a screen - at "Tom's garden" below.)

I mean, sure. Today . . . when I look out at my garden, it's pretty bleak. There is a bit of snow. And there's ice on the streets and in my driveway.  It's definitely winter out there. But it's not that kind of winter where you just resign yourself to not seeing the ground for months and months yet, y'know?

Those kinds of winters - the ones with snow that never stops and temperatures well below freezing for weeks and weeks at a time - make it hard to be a gardener, trapped by winter. But I actually think it's easier, too, in a way. Sure. You get super sick of winter and dream about your garden all the time when it's a winter like that. But you also know it's gonna be a long, long time before the snow melts enough to be able to get out there! There is a certain . . . resignation . . . to the whole season.

This year - in a mild winter? It's even harder, I think. Because - most days - I can SEE my garden. I can think about being IN IT in a much more tangible way than is typical for a January around here. There is no resignation this winter! Just . . . a longing. And a wondering. Will spring come early this year??? Will I really be able to get out there next month, maybe? Or will the other shoe still drop, weather-wise? 

My itch to garden is starting even earlier than ever this year.

So, Hal? Your famous list of  "seasonal diversions" just isn't cutting it for this gardener this winter! First, we haven't needed a "January thaw." (Nothing much to "thaw," really.) And although the seed catalogs did just started arriving (right on schedule), I'm going to add a third thing to your list . . .  

Garden inside!

Which helps.

I finally broke down and ordered one of these. I've been thinking about it for years. Every winter, actually. (About the time I run out of the "basil bombs" I made and stored in my freezer during the previous summer.) Erin got one earlier this year. She shows off her fresh herbs to me often enough that . . . I took the plunge and ordered one for myself.


It arrived earlier this week, and I set it up "gardened" yesterday. Soon (relatively speaking), I'll have fresh thyme and basil, dill and parsley! I can't wait. 

And then, earlier this week, Vicki introduced me to Horti . . . and I fell right into that rabbit hole! (Can you say . . . Sign. Me. Up?)

Despite the mild winter here, I know it's still going to be months and months before I can REALLY get out and into my garden. I'm happy for "seasonal diversions" wherever I can find them.

Maybe there's no dirt under my nails at present. 
No smell of fresh earth. 
But this is just what I need right now!

(As they say in gardening . . . right plant, right place.)


If you stretch your imagination and squint a little bit, you can see this is a Three on Thursday post. Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday fun.

Danger Zone

I have a problem: Dysfunctional "Craft Room."

I have a solution: Get in there and Do Something About It.

I have a plan: Shiny new plastic tubs and bins!

So yesterday afternoon, I stepped boldly into the dysfunction.
Which means . . . entering The Danger Zone.
The Danger Zone of Distraction!

IMG_2388 2

Because Tom found me a couple of hours later, sitting on the floor, weaving a potholder.
(Surrounded by EMPTY, shiny new plastic tubs and bins.)

(Please tell me I'm not the only one. . .)

Word Play


Each year, when I start to explore my one little word, I begin by just . . . playing around with the word itself.

What does it look like?
How does it sound?
What does it mean?

I look for quotes, and begin a collection. I listen to music, and I start a playlist. I seek out poems and books and symbols. Sometimes I start some sort of journal, and sometimes I don't.

(This year, I did.)

It's a nice way to - gently - invite my word into my world.

Lately, I've been thinking about all the ways my word - root - comes up in my everyday thoughts and language. As a gardener, I regularly think about/talk about roots as they pertain to things that grow, so my initial thoughts started there . . . in the garden.

Healthy roots.
Root systems.
Pulling up weeds from the root.
Digging up and dividing and transplanting roots.
Fertilizing the roots.
Watering at the roots.
How plants take root.

But . . . root . . . doesn't stop with gardening!

My daughter had a root canal back in December. So there's the teeth kind of root.
There are the tell-tale gray roots of someone who dyes their hair.
We've seen (first-hand, lately) . . . that trust is at the root of democracy.
And we've all heard that money is the root of all evil.

We like to get at the roots of a problem.
And, of course, many of us want to find our roots by connecting with our ancestry.
We develop close ties to our personal environments by putting down roots in a community.
Roots can also be that essential core - or heart - of something, as in . . . the root of their relationship was a shared love of [insert thing here].

There are square roots, in math.
Root words, in language.
Root directories, in computer science.

We dig around and root out whatever is . . . underneath.
We root for our favorite teams.
We open our root chakras.
And, of course, we root-to-rise in yoga!


I've had a lot of fun playing around with my word this month!

Now . . . I'm ready to dig in and get to work.


How about you? Have you been exploring your word yet?

Be sure to hop on over to Carolyn's this week. She's hosting our monthly word round-ups this year with a link-up.



Start Your Engines . . . With Goals and Intentions

Good morning!
Grab a cup of coffee and join me to chat about . . . goals and intentions.

Begin cup

So, you say. Here we are on a Monday morning . . . in late January . . . and the topic is goals and intentions???


Sure. Why not.

I mean, I know we’re all much more interested in that topic at the beginning of the new year. But . . . January 1 is just an arbitrary date, y’know? It’s ALWAYS a fine time to set your intentions and goals! Any day works!

"Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans."
        --- John Lennon

So. Let’s start here:

What’s the difference between . . . a resolution, a goal, and an intention?

A resolution is something you determine to do from this day forward. Example . . . “Starting today, I will get in shape.”

A goal is focused on a specific achievement or destination in the future. Example . . . “I will run in the Capitol City 5K in September.”

An intention is focused on the inner relationship you have with yourself, here in the present moment. Example . . . “I am active and healthy.”

In other words, intentions reflect how you want to BE; how you want to live your life. They provide integrity and unity in your life right now, in the present moment. Goals are all about an outcome, getting you where you want to be in some future moment. (And we’re just going to let resolutions sit right where they are . . . in the bottom of your champagne glass back on New Year’s Eve.) 

You need both. Intentions AND goals. (Also strategies and habits and a plan for how you’re going to get there, but that’s for another day.) Your goals and intentions should line up. If your intentions reflect what matters most to you, and your goals align with your intentions, well . . . you have a much greater chance of success at achieving your goals! (And you’ll be happier along the way, too.)


As for me . . . I spend quite a bit of time throughout the month of January each year figuring out what I hope to do during the months ahead (my goals) -- and then plugging those goals into my personal intentions. While I do review my intentions in January, too, I find they really don’t change much from year to year. Then, as the year rolls along, I review my intentions and goals with each new moon cycle to see how I'm progressing.

For the last several years, my overarching intention has been to . . . Live my best life for the rest of my life. (I like it. I haven’t seen any reason to change it.) Then, I come up with 8-10 “mini-intentions” to support it. (I try to compress my intentions into the fewest words possible that still support my meaning.) My goals for the year plug in to at least one of my intentions.


It’s a process that works for me. I know what I want to do (my goals) . . . and I know WHY (my intentions). That “why” part? That makes the goals much more likely to happen -- or, if the goals need to be changed or released or expanded during the year, it doesn’t throw me off so much.

(Those photos above are from my "root" journal for the year. You can see my overarching intention on the little envelope in the first photo. The envelope is filled with the cards you see in the second photo -- those are my "mini-intentions" for the year. On the back of each card, I've written out some of my goals for the year.)

So I’m curious.
What do YOU do?
What’s your process when you think about setting goals and intentions for the new year?
And does your process work for you?

Share your tips, suggestions, and frustrations in the comments. It's never a bad time to set (or review) your goals and intentions!


Want some more information about goals vs. intentions?

The Heart’s Intention by Phillip Moffitt from the website Dharma Wisdom. This article is a bit long, but does explain the differences between goals and intentions really well.

The Science of Setting Goals by Nadia Goodman from the website This article is more about setting good goals and the interplay between goals and intentions.

The Way It Is

I don't know about y'all, but I am worn out! This release of emotion . . . after all the carrying of the stresses-and-tensions of the last four years . . . has just exhausted me.

All I want to do right now is nap.
And be endlessly entertained by Bernie memes.


(My current favorite.)

Have a good weekend, everyone.
We all deserve some rest!

Who Knew

I knew . . . I'd feel better when that other guy disappeared.

I knew . . . I'd be relieved with a violence-free transfer of power.

I knew . . . I'd be supremely satisfied to see Kamala Harris sworn in as Vice President.


I was absolutely not prepared, though, for the intensity of my emotions yesterday. My swell of pent-up patriotic joy at seeing all that red, white, and blue hanging so boldly on the Capitol building. My awe at the impact of all those little flags and beams of light on the Mall. My pride in watching Kamala Harris step into her place in history. My utter relief of seeing Joe Biden sworn in as our new president. Lady Gaga. Fire Captain Andrea Hall. THAT POEM! 

I was a total puddle through it all. An absolute puddle.

It was more powerful than I could have predicted.
Way more emotional.
And absolutely cathartic!

It was a balm for my soul . . . that I hadn't even realized I needed.


I also didn't realize I needed to spend time with Tom Hanks on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial last night! I tend to avoid TV generally, and "cheesy" TV specifically. Yet there I was, Tom beside me, enjoying every freakin' minute! It was total release!

Who knew . . . I needed Katy Perry and all those fireworks???


But I did!
(And I slept all through the night last night, too.)


(Want to watch the highlights from yesterday again? This is a great highlight reel.)

A Change is Gonna Come

Well. Here we are!


Oh, there been times that I thought
I couldn't last for long,
but now I think I'm able
to carry on.
It's been a long,
a long time coming
but I know a change gonna come.
Oh, yes it will.
                --- Sam Cooke, A Change is Gonna Come

I'm full of hope today. Hope and celebration. Because a change . . . is gonna come.


For a full schedule of inauguration events - and how to watch them, click here (official Biden-Harris inauguration site) or here (New York Times; this link inludes even more streaming links).


And if you want to hear Sam Cooke singing A Change is Gonna Come, click here.

You can also listen to Leslie Odom, Jr.'s version here. (Now fixed; thanks, Vicki.) (He plays Sam Cooke in the new Amazon Prime release One Night in Miami. Highly recommended!)

Take A Bite

Read With Us

Some books are just . . . chewier . . . than others.

A little grittier.
Harder to swallow.
Stuff gets stuck in your teeth.

They're the kind of books you may not like, exactly. But you keep thinking about them. And you really want to talk about them with anyone else who's read them.

In short, they're perfect for a book group read! Because there's usually quite a bit to talk about with one of those chewy books. Ideas to work out. Blanks to fill in. Endings to ponder. That kind of thing.

Well. Have I got a book for you!

Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind, by Rumaan Alam, is our current Read With Us book selection. And it is definitely a chewy one!

A true "genre-bender" (NPR calls it a "slippery and duplicitous marvel of a novel"), it defies categorization. Thriller with dystopian overtones? Satirical comedy of manners? Coming of age/hero's journey tale? Check. Check. Check. The novel lulls us into thinking we're headed in one direction, when it suddenly veers in another. And pretty soon, we can feel the walls closing in. Or maybe it's the ground falling away under our feet.

However you categorize it, it's definitely unsettling.

Anyway. It's a book worth reading - and it's especially fitting, given The State Of The World.

You've got plenty of time to read the book. (I read it almost in one sitting - it's very compelling and not very long at 256 pages.) We'll be posting our blog book discussion questions on Tuesday, March 3 -- and we'll be hosting another Zoom book discussion later that same evening at 7:00 pm Eastern time. (I know that makes it early if you're in the Mountain or Pacific time zones, but Bonny, Carole, and I all live in Eastern time -- and we turn into pumpkins if it gets to be too late.) I hope you can make plans to join us for the Zoom. We had a great discussion last time - and it's fun to get together with blog friends, too. 

Because the book is still new and popular (given it's timely "buzz" AND as a finalist for the National Book Award), you might encounter a longer wait if you're on hold at the library. If you're interested in getting a copy for yourself, the book has recently come out in paperback, and it's currently available on Kindle for $12.99.

I do hope you'll join us.

Take a bite.
And chew!


PS - If you're wondering about the lower ratings for the book when you look at Amazon or Goodreads, I'm just going to say . . . a lot of people don't like the ending. At all. (Chewy, I tell you. And good for discussing with other readers.) If you'd like to check out some other reviews before reading, you can click into the NPR link in the post above. Here are a few others for you:

From The Guardian

From The Washington Post

From the LA Times



Weather Report


This will surely be . . . A Week, my friends.

Take care of yourselves.
Keep your balance.
Find ways to settle and rest.

And . . . carry your umbrella!


(PS. We did find Tom's Air Pods last Friday. It turns out  . . . there is a "secret" layer of fabric under our couch. To catch things that slip between the cushion and the back of the recliner mechanism. And so secret that you don't even know it's there until you flip the couch upside down!)