You've Got Mail!

I've always loved receiving mail.

Real mail.

Hand written.  Cards, stationery, or legal pad.  Tucked in an envelope.  (Or not!)  And with lovely stamps.

I always love it when February rolls around, with Month of Letters fun to motivate me to sit down and write a note or a card every day.  But I've discovered another fun way to keep me writing year round:  Postcrossing.  You can read all about Postcrossing by clicking the link -- but, basically, it's all about writing and receiving postcards from all around the world.

I've been signed up for Postcrossing for a couple of years now, but I wan't very active at first.  It was just after the 2016 election, and I just didn't have the heart to send postcards to people all around the world.  (I mean . . . what was I going to say . . .  "I'm so sorry?")  But about a year ago, I decided to go All In and send happy, kind postcards to show people in other countries that Americans are nice and kind and eager to learn about the world.

Now, as of today, I've received 279 postcards from . . . everywhere.  (And I've sent slightly more than that number.)  What does that even look like?  Well. . . 


Like a big basketful!

I love going to my mailbox every day.  I get postcards several times a week now.  Even my friendly postal delivery person gets excited about my postcards.  One day, she asked me all about it when when we met up at my mailbox -- and now she's signed up herself.

The cards themselves are a treat, as there is so much variety.  But the real prize for me turns out to be the stamps (and I've never been interested in stamp collecting).  They are mini works of art!  Here are a couple I received on postcards this week . . . 

From China:


From Latvia:


If you like sending and receiving mail -- or if you'd like to serve as an unofficial-mini-ambassador of the United States out there in the greater world -- consider signing up for Postcrossing this month.  
It's fun.  
It's easy.
It doesn't take much time.  

And you get really cool stuff in your mailbox!

It's My Life

Today is a special day for me.  An auspicious day, in fact.  A private anniversary.  

You see, ten years ago today - February 4, 2009 - I walked out of my last chemo treatment.  I was weak, exhausted, wrung out -- but in remission.  I felt relieved and fragile and pretty raw. 

Here I am today.  


Ten years later.  Healthy.  Moved on.  Ready for whatever comes next -- but always remembering what came before.

In those first days post-chemo, I chose a theme song . . . (hit it, Jon) . . . and I've been singing it ever since. 

It's my life.
It's now or never.
I ain't gonna live forever.
I just want to live while I'm alive.

Today, I'm celebrating.
It IS my life.
(And I'm really glad to still be here.)





Hello, February

So glad you're here!  

I'm happy to report that The Siege has finally ended.  It's 14ºF outside right now.  Which is nearly 35º warmer than it was yesterday at this time!  While 14ºF sounds pretty darn cold, trust me . . . it feels downright balmy compared to -19ºF. 



It's Friday.
It's not snowing.
And it's above 0.

Let's TGIF!

T - Thinking about . . . gardening.  Yeah.  I've still got a couple of feet of snow in my back yard, but it's February.  And that's when I allow myself to start thinking about next season's garden.  The nursery and seed catalogs will begin arriving any day now (now that the postal delivery service has resumed - yay).  The days are getting longer.  Spring is just around the corner.  (Sort of.  If you squint real hard.)

G - Grateful for . . . snow plows, furnaces, and wool.

I - Inspired by . . . Month of Letters -- which starts today.  (Let me know if you'd like to exchange letters or notes this month.)

F - Fun . . . Although not everyone enjoys severe winter weather, my dogs have been having a great time out in the snow.  (Well.  Not when the polar vortex was in full swing.  Those sub-zero temperatures are even too much for my snow-loving dogs.)


Here's to a good weekend, everyone.  Stay warm.  Or carry an umbrella.  (Basically, be ready for anything!)

Flowers are Magical

. . . and especially on Day 4 of The Siege!  

When it's cold outside, I like to Think Spring on the inside.  Here are three blooms that have me smiling on this super cold (but not snowing anymore so yay) day:

1 - I have blooming amaryllis . . .


2 - I have anticipating amaryllis . . .


3 -- And I have impulse-purchase-grocery-store-hyacinth (the smell is divine!) . . .


I hope you have some magical blooms in your day, too.


Be sure to stop in over at Carole's today for more Three on Thursday fun.


The Siege: Day 3

Other than a brief sojourn in Texas, I've lived all my life in climates where winter is brutal.  Snow.  Ice.  Blizzards.  Cold.  I've seen many a snow day.  I remember schools canceling because of super low wind chills.  I've experienced white outs and black ice on the highways.  


But never for days and days in a row!  
(And I've never heard of a state calling a "state of emergency" from winter weather, either.  But it's happened here in Michigan this week.)

So.  Yeah.  

First, we got a snowstorm.  

Then, we started getting hammered with lake effect snow.

Then, the wind picked up and brought in the polar vortex.

And now, it's brutally cold.  (As you've no doubt heard.)  (Or are experiencing for yourself.)  

And still snowing.


Things I never thought would close . . . are closed.  There is no mail delivery.  No garbage pickups.  Our streets haven't been plowed in days.  Same with my driveway.  (We hire a guy.  I don't know where he is right now. . . )  I have a library book due today, but the library is closed.  (I hope they forgive my fine.)  The courts are closed.  Dentists offices are closed.  Restaurants are closed.  Pretty much everything that isn't a hospital or grocery store is closed.

It really is kind of like a siege.
(But a great opportunity to read and knit and binge-watch The Good Place.  So there is that.


But no worries.  I hear it's supposed to rain by Sunday!


"Don't die with the music still in you."
      --- Wayne Dyer

After choosing one-little-words for myself for nearly a decade now, I'm still amazed at how these words manifest themselves in my life.  I always discover things about myself and how I experience my world, and each year I look forward to the new lessons I'll learn (teach myself?) by digging in . . . to my newest one-little-word.

The words I choose usually just kind of . . . bubble up.  Some concept or direction starts clamoring for attention in my head.  Or my heart.  And something makes me listen and grab hold.  This year, it was this one:


In the beginning, I always find it helpful to figure out . . . why.  Why this particular word?  Where is the source?  What am I trying to tell myself?  I usually spend the month of January figuring that out.  


Why intention?

It's a concept that's been bubbling up for some time now, actually.  Since dealing with my mom's death a couple of years ago.  And the aftermath.  And going through her things.  And then helping my dad downsize and move.  You see, before my mom became ill and died, my words (shine - surprise - possibility - journey - risk) had really been about finding myself -- reconfiguring the notion of ME . . . post-cancer and post-active-mothering (after my kids launched and left the nest for good).  

After my mom got sick, though, after her death, after the dealing-with-the-details and coping with my own grief, after moving my dad . . . well . . . everything shifted for me.  In a big way.  I mean, thanks to my cancer experience, I'd already come to terms with the fact that life is never certain.  I already learned that our days really are limited.  But there was something . . . even more . . . about the fragility of life that hit me after my mom died.  

My word in the year following my mom's death was balance.  (And, boy, did I need some!)  Once I found my own balance again, I was able to be more introspective.  How was I spending my time?  Where did the days go?  What was I doing (in the words of Mary Oliver) "with my one precious life?"  It was becoming more clear to me that I no longer needed to find myself -- what I needed . . . was to figure out how I wanted to spend my time.  Because days are actually . . . finite. With that in mind, last year I began my in-depth exploration of focus.

Now, at the beginning of 2019, it seems that my new word - intention - is simply a natural extension of my last couple of words.
Balance ==> Focus ==> Intention.

Here I am, a nearly-60-year-old, 10-year-cancer-survivor.  I am hyper-aware that I'm not going to live forever. I know I'm currently experiencing "peak" mental acuity, physical fitness, good health, energy, and clarity of mind -- not of my entire life, mind you, but certainly of what's left of my life.   Sound morbid?  I don't think so.  But it is a bit of a wake-up call.  Yes, I'm only (almost) 60.  I plan to have many, many good years ahead of me, and I plan to make them the best I possibly can.  But. . . finite.

So, I don't want to waste a moment.  But I DO want to . . . 

  • make deliberate choices
  • act on purpose
  • be clear about who I am and why I'm doing
  • live less out of habit and more out of intent
  • accept aging with grace, humor, and a bit of kick-ass
  • live my best life every day

In other words . . . I want to live with INTENTION.

And that's the why of it.



The Snow Day Curmudgeon

Yep.  That would be me.
(And I don't even have kids stuck in the house.)


On Monday, there was a snow day because temperatures were WAY below zero.  On Wednesday, there was a snow day because there was nasty freezing drizzle and too much ice.  Today, there is a snow day because . . . actual snow.


(And, really, not all that much.)

When my kids were in school, these were the days I dreaded.  (Because after the first couple of magical snow days, they do get old.)  Now I just turn into a curmudgeon.  Because my art class was canceled on Wednesday.  And my kickboxing class was canceled this morning.

Oh, well.  This gives me time to get back to organizing my sewing room. . . Onward!

Happy weekend, everyone.


Making Room

Over the weekend, I started cleaning up/clearing out my "sewing room" . . . which is technically not a room, but a designated corner in our basement (albeit a room-sized corner.)  Technically, it's not a "sewing room" either, because it houses much more than just my sewing stuff (like . . . all my yarn and stitching stuff is in there, too.)  

Anyway.  I'm lucky to have chosen this particular corner for my "sewing room" . . . because it has a built-in storage space along one wall with a small closet, several drawers, and a cupboard.  I should be able to keep my stuff neat-and-tidy with all that built-in storage space, non?  Ha!  Of course not.  Because that storage space is storing stuff that is (mostly) not sewing or knitting or stitching related.

And therein lies the problem.  In order to properly clean up/clear out my "sewing room," I first need to tackle that built-in storage space with a little Kon-Mari action.  

And therein lies the other problem.  Most of the stuff in the closet . . . is sentimental stuff.  The flotsam and jetsam of my kids' childhoods.  Old school papers and mementoes and art projects.  Stuff I've been dreading sorting through for years and years now (and especially since I took an initial pass through much of that stuff in preparation for their high school graduations; I'd seen the enemy . . . ).

Last Saturday afternoon, though, in the midst of a snowstorm, I plunged in!  It turned out to be quite a nice trip down memory lane, actually.  I culled the best and most representative samples of my kids' school papers and artwork and programs and awards to curate a little pile of memories for each of them -- and I recycled the rest.  Along the way, I photographed several things to share with them immediately, and together we decided on some items that were on-the-bubble.  It ended up being . . . not so bad.  And - BONUS - I have freed up a huge amount of storage space in that closet area.

Want to see a few things I found in the closet?  (3 things maybe . . . since it's Thursday?)

1 - I found lots of wonderful school papers and drawings, mostly from the elementary years.  Eventually I came to understand the folly of my ways in keeping all the stuff, and by middle school and high school, I was much more particular about what I saved.  But those early papers brought back so many wonderful memories -- and the kids loved seeing how they wrote and drew as young children.  One that brought laughs to all 3 of us is this gem from Brian.  He made an alphabet Mother's Day book for me in second grade.  Here is his entry for the letter R:


Yep.  I am the proud mother of a kid that doesn't reek.  (And that alphabet book made it into Brian's pile of papers to save.)

2 - I had several boxes filled with art projects from the elementary years.  Some were from school; some (especially from Erin) were projects they made at home.  (I will just say, in retrospect, it is amazing how many things kids can make from construction paper, cotton balls, glue, and glitter.)  Here is a wooden nutcracker that Erin made with my Dad in his workshop one winter:


Sadly, this one didn't make the cut!  Erin and I decided it was time for this guy to go.  (Along with a pottery "tray" she made that weighed about 30 pounds, and a matching "mug" with a handle heavy enough to deliver an upper body workout with every lift.)

3 - I also had stashed and saved boxes of memorabilia from various special events over my kids' school years.  Concert programs, academic awards, newspaper clippings, announcements, party invitations -- the kind of stuff that you think you're going to want to save forever, but really . . . not so much.  I kept the best and most meaningful of the bunch and recycled the rest.  I also found about 20 copies of the newspaper with this article:


Twenty years ago, Erin (along with her special "Fluffy French Toast" recipe) was featured in the monthly Grand Rapids Press Cooking with Kids segment.  It was a Big Deal . . . and I had (almost) forgotten about it.  I saved a copy for Erin, and the rest went in recycling.  (20 years . . . and Tom is still motified by the highlight of his quote.  "Did I really say that?" he asked when he saw it.  Yep.  He did.)

I'm glad I finally just got in there are tackled those boxes of kid-stuff.  It was quicker, easier, and way more fun than I expected -- and now I have all that room in my closet.

How about you?  Have you sorted through the sentimental memorabilia in your closets?  Or are you better at culling through that stuff from the get-go?


Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday fun.


And . . . if you are interested in Erin's recipe for French toast, let me know.  I saved that, too.