Fridays in April: Reserved for Poetry

It's April . . . National Poetry Month.  
And you know what that means.  
Every year in April, I share some of my favorite poems and favorite poets on Fridays.  

I also encourage you to give poetry a try.  

I know many of us had rotten poetry teachers in school, which got us off on the wrong foot with poetry.  We didn't get it.  No one could explain it to us.  We felt like freaks if we DID happen to like it.  We were made to memorize poems we hated and thought were gross.  It was a "unit" in a literature course that only lasted 2 weeks, and we were happy to have behind us.  

That kind of thing.

But my guess is your rotten poetry teachers never shared the right poems.  The ones that did resonate with us.  Poems like this one . . . 

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A Jar of Buttons
by Ted Kooser

This is a core sample
from the floor of the Sea of Mending,

a cylinder packed with shells
that over many years

sank through fathoms of shirts –
pearl buttons, blue buttons –

and settled together
beneath waves of perseverance,

an ocean upon which
generations of women set forth,

under the sails of gingham curtains,
and, seated side by side

on decks sometimes salted by tears,
made small but important repairs.

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Ted Kooser is a poet from the American Midwest best known for his accessible, conversational style of writing.  While his poetry is rooted in the Great Plains of the United States, his poems resonate universally - grounded as they are in humanity.  He served as Poet Laureate of the Library of Congress from 2004 - 2006, and is currently a Presidential Professor of Poetry at the University of Nebraska.  Ted Kooser also writes children's books.  You can find out more about him here.

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The annual Poem-in-Your-Pocket day is Thursday, April 18 this year.  Think about sharing YOUR favorite poem with your friends that day.

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The poem Jar of Buttons is from Delights & Shadows, published by Copper Canyon Press in 2004.  Poem copyright Ted Kooser.


Wearing Inspiration

I love finding little labels-of-inspiration in things I'm wearing or using. 

Every time I put on this shirt, it reminds me that . . . 

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getting myself outside every day . . . is actually one of the five daily "things" that bring balance to my life.

And I smile whenever I put on this cap . . . 

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knowing that these wise words are right there -- pushing into my brain while I wear it.

And I love to open my wallet to find . . . 

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poetry!  
(Plus - "vexes" is one of my all time favorite words.  So seeing it every time I use my wallet just brings me extra joy.)

But.
I can't quite figure out how these words on the waistband of one of Tom's favorite pairs of pants inspire. . . 

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Thoughts?

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Today's post sort of qualifies for Three on Thursday (let's just say . . . it's three inspiring labels with an extra bonus goofy label and call it close enough). Be sure to hop on over to Carole's today for more Three on Thursday posts!

 

 

 


Digital Unraveling

In November 2017, I decided to rethink my relationship with Facebook.  I was a very regular Facebook user back then. . . posting and like-ing and sharing pretty much every day.  But I got disgusted.  With myself . . . for spending so much mindless time scrolling.  And with Facebook . . . for being Facebook.

I didn't completely let go of Facebook, but I did remove the app from my phone.  I figured I didn't want to give it up completely -- but maybe I could get that scrolling habit under control if it wasn't available on my phone.

The first few days were hard.  I got antsy . . . just wanting to scroll.  But it only took a couple of days, and I found I wasn't missing Facebook at all!  In fact, even though it was still available to use on my laptop, I just . . . lost interest.

Like completely.

And it was a simple decision for me to deactivate my account once the Cambridge Analytics story broke.  (After a year, I reactivated because I thought I wanted to be part of a "group" -- but found I never even looked at it.  So I've deactivated again.)

Anyway.  I proved to myself that (1) I wasn't missing anything by not spending time on Facebook, and (2) it was easier to break that scrolling habit/addiction/tendency than I thought it would be.

Which may explain why this book appealed to me so much. . . 

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(This is how I read library books --- with post-it flags.  The number of flags indicates how much this book resonated with me.) (I ended up with a 9-page Word document of notes I took with this book.)

This book is not . . . anti-technology.  It does not bash smartphones.  It does not recommend getting rid of all your apps.

It does, though, explain the obvious -- that "new technology" has changed our lives dramatically in the past decade.  It explains some of the reasons why.  It points out a few of the rather devious practices employed by social media companies to get us to use our smartphones even more.  But mostly, it encourages us to examine our own technology use (and especially our smartphones) . . . to see how, exactly, we're using them.  Where our time goes.  And how to make our technology WORK FOR US.

The author, Cal Newport, recommends doing a 30-day "digital declutter."  Nothing drastic or draconian -- just a 30-day break from "optional" technologies.  And the first step is . . . to determine your own rules.  You get to decide which of your technologies are "optional."  Then, after the 30-days, you get to re-evaluate.  Which of the "optional technologies" do you want to reintroduce for yourself -- and under what conditions or rules?  (It's sort of like a digital version of the Whole 30 concept.)

I started my own "digital declutter" on April 1.  My goal is to cut down on mindless scrolling (which still happens, of course, even without Facebook).  Here are my rules and conditions for my 30-days:

  • I removed the Instagram and Pinterest apps from my phone.  (Although they are still on my laptop, I don't plan to access either for my "declutter" time.)  (Yep.  That means no Instagram or Pinterest for 30 days.)
  • I have de-activated email on my phone.  (I tend to constantly check my email on my phone, but I never reply unless I'm at my laptop.)  (So why am I checking it on my phone????)
  • I removed all news headline apps from my phone.  (These are a great source of click-bait for me . . . and it never makes me happy.) 
  • I have blocked certain websites (from my phone and laptop) that just distract me mindlessly.  (I'm looking at you Tom & Lorenzo.)
  • I have set up my own rules for using Ravelry.  While I can still use it for adding projects (should I finish any during the 30-day period) or to look up a pattern I already own, I will not allow myself to scroll through the "hot right now" patterns for 30 days.

I also set up my own rules for which apps I can still use.  (Most of these are useful, not optional, or for whatever reason don't tempt me to keep scrolling.)  (Banking, for example.  My meditation app.  The weather.  Evernote.  Goodreads.)  Other not-optional activities for me:  texting, calling, blogging, and listening to audiobooks.

(It's all very . . . intentional.  Y'know???)

It's Day 3 of my "digital declutter."  And I'm not missing a thing.

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How about you?  Have you ever thought about doing a "digital declutter?"


If It's Tuesday It Must Be Time to Talk About Wellness

Two weeks ago, I (rather boldly) declared that I was going to explore various dimensions of wellness on Tuesdays this year here on the blog.  (As you may remember, I had an epiphany last month that in order for me to "live my best life," I needed to focus on wellness - in an holistic sense.)

So.

It's Tuesday.

And I'm here to begin my deeper-dive into one of the six dimensions of wellness as described by the National Wellness Institute.

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(This photo has absolutely nothing to do with this blog post, but I decided to include it because it was such a lovely surprise to see this swan on my walk with the dogs yesterday.)  (And, yes.  Spring in Michigan is very brown.)  (But at least it's not snowy.)

I've decided to begin my exploration into wellness with . . . the physical dimension.

Why?

Well.  Because that's the dimension I think I'm doing best in (of the six) -- although there is always much to learn.  And, hearing from you, it's a dimension of wellness that many of you struggle with.  So I thought it would be a good place to begin.

According to the descriptions from the National Wellness Institute, the Physical dimension of wellness includes the following elements:

  • regular physical exercise
  • proper diet and nutrition
  • discouraging tobacco and drug use, and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption
  • following safety precautions, practicing medical self-care, and using medical systems appropriately

Further, they provide two basic tenets of physical wellness:

  1. It's better to consume foods and beverages that enhance good health rather than impair it.
  2. It's better to be physically fit than out of shape.

Further, I would argue that physical wellness is even more important as we age!  If you've spent any amount of time caring for an aging parent or relative, you're already aware of how quickly our physical bodies degrade with age.  It's a fight against gravity from here on out, folks!  My thoughts?  We should do whatever we can to stay as active and independent as we can for as long as we can.  And physical wellness plays a huge role in doing just that!

I totally get that it's hard to focus on fitness . . . when you've never really focused on fitness.  We're fighting all kinds of barriers when it comes to physical fitness:  Discomfort.  Boredom.  Inertia.  Time.  Money.  Procrastination.  

It's just . . . so hard . . . to make fitness a priority.  (The New York Times reported recently that 1 in 4 adults over age 50 are essentially sedentary -- meaning they only move for "essential daily activities.")  (That's not good.)

I'm here to encourage you to make a change.  To make physical wellness a priority.  (For Future-You if for no other reason.)

It's never too late to begin working on our fitness.  In fact, becoming more physically fit in our 50s/60s/70s will help us stave off chronic illness and overcome injuries quicker in our later years.  Improving our core strength, balance, and flexibility NOW will help us prevent falls, pick ourselves up if we do fall, and keep us moving long into our older years.

I'll admit it.  I'm sort of a fitness zealot to begin with.  (I think Future-Kym will appreciate all the time I spend at the gym.)  But that's what zealots do -- they spread the gospel.  So over the next few weeks, I'm going to try to make a case for upping your physical wellness game along with me.  

Don't worry.  I won't try to convince you to join a gym or start jogging or anything.  But I will share information and tips with you.  I'll describe what I'm doing to continue to challenge myself with fitness goals as I age.  And I'll be your biggest cheerleader if you decide to become more fitness-minded.

Let's all start living our best lives . . . by feeling good!

(Stay tuned.)

 

 


New Month . . .

new bucket list!

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I put together a little mini "bucket list" every month.  It's just easy things I want to be sure to do during the month.  (And sometimes hard things.  Like removing the wallpaper in my upstairs bathroom.)  Writing these things down helps me take them seriously enough to actually get them done.

How about you?  What's on your "bucket list" this month?


The Truth of It

There was probably a time in my life . . . before I had cancer, surely . . . when I might've been upset at the thought of turning 60.  Or, at least, felt melancholy and pensive about it.

But now?

I say . . . BRING IT!  MORE BIRTHDAYS!!!!

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Tomorrow, when I wake up to my first day as a 60-year-old, I don't anticipate feeling any different or looking any different or acting any different than I do today -- my last day as a 59-year-old.

I plan to fling my arms wide to embrace the day . . . and enjoy every moment that comes my way.

Because living to celebrate another birthday is a gift.
And I am so happy to be here.

"I decided if you're lucky enough to be alive, you should use each birthday to celebrate what your life is about."
                    ---Mary Steenburgen

 


Birthday Butterflies

As part of my birthday-week celebration (60 on Saturday!!!), Tom took me to the Butterflies are Blooming exhibit at the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids the other day.  

The exhibit is the largest temporary, tropical butterfly exhibit in the country -- and it comes every spring to Meijer Gardens.  Watching these exotic butterflies flutter all around you . . . in a truly beautiful tropical conservatory . . . is just magical!

But first, there was a Monarch butterfly exhibit.  As you know, I'm a huge fan of the Monarch, so I loved finding all the caterpillars munching away on various milkweed plants, and seeing the caterpillars actively forming their chrysalis.  This one was close to emerging.  (You can see the distinct Monarch colors/pattern through the chyrsalis.)

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Here are three cool things about the tropical butterfly exhibit:

1 - Feeding stations.

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The butterflies were just flocking around various feeding stations set up throughout the exhibit.  The butterflies in this photo are Postman and Pink Cattleheart, all from Central and South America.  (We were there in the morning, and these are all "morning" butterflies -- they like the bright morning sunlight.)

2 -- Beautiful butterflies we don't see locally.

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This blue butterfly is the Common Morpho (also from Central and South America), and I'll tell you . . . it didn't seem "common" at all!  It's big -- much bigger than a Monarch; kind of . . . bat sized.  It was just amazing to see them floating around.  The blue was much more brilliant and iridescent that my photo shows.

3 -- Hatching station.

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The exhibit featured a hatching station where we could see all the types of chrysalis for the butterflies included in the exhibit.  It was fascinating to watch the butterflies in various stages of "hatching."  I loved watching them emerge.  

It was a fabulous way to spend a morning!

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Be sure to visit Carole today for more Three on Thursday posts.

 


My Wabi Sabi Bunny

Are you familiar with the concept of wabi sabi?

The Wikipedia definition of wabi sabi is this:  In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is "imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete".

There's a lot more to it than that simple explanation, but that will suffice for an introduction. (I've been studying wabi sabi this year -- it's something I'll be writing about more in the future, I'm sure.)

Anyway.

I'm embracing the wabi sabi with my first little bunny.

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He's adorable.  But flawed.  In a delightfully wabi sabi way.

I am using scrap yarn to knit him, and I ran out of the main bunny color after knitting the first hand.  So one of his hands and both of his feet don't match his body or head.  (You can't tell so much in the photo, but in real life it's quite obvious.)  One of his ears is bigger than the other.  (I miscounted somewhere along the way.)  His head is crooked.  (Picking up stitches for the body is trickier than it looks.)  And he has a loose stitch at the tip of his nose.

But I'm embracing the wabi sabi here.  (And I know the recipient will, too.)
I think it adds to his charm!

How about you?  What are you making this week?


Your Life is Your Life

(With special thanks today to Juliann . . . for hosting a monthly one-little-word check in over on her blog . . . . and for keeping the conversation going all year long.)

your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
    --- Charles Bukowski, the laughing heart

Intention.

It turns out this is the perfect word for me . . . right now, this year.
I'm having a great time exploring and thinking and connecting with my word.

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Three months into 2019, where has intention pulled me?

  • I've been doing a lot of thinking about why I do what I do.  (Knitting, for example.)
  • I've become much more aware of "Future Kym."  (Like . . . how she's not a stranger at all, and how I ought be making more of my decisions with her in mind.)
  • I'm discovering that wellness (in a holistic sense) is key to "living my best life."  (For the rest of my life.)

I've also begun compiling an "intention journal" filled with quotes and images and ideas that resonate with me as I explore my word.  This month, I added 3 poems.  This one, by Charles Bukowski, particularly fits my word . . . for me.

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the laughing heart. charles bukowski

your life is your life
don't let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the odds will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can't beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

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How about YOU?  What are you learning about your word this year?  I'd love to hear about it.

 


Sometimes Mondays

. . . look pretty mundane; all too ordinary.

Same old stuff on the calendar.
Same old items on the to-do list.
(Especially when you procrastinated doing them last week.)  
(Just sayin.)
Same old same old.

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But maybe . . . not really so mundane; not necessarily ordinary.

My challenge?  To seek the patches of blue in the puddles of my day!

(Happy Monday.)