Start Your Engines

Revving Up . . . for October

October is here!  A month full of beautiful fall landscapes (at least here in the Northern Hemisphere), pumpkin spice everything, and tempting miniature candy bars. Seriously, October is one of my favorite months of the year.

So let's get our October engines revving, shall we?


On the first Monday of the month, I share random things that have 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 world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper."
            --- W.B. Yeats

Every week, I find a quote that suits my mood and I write it in my (old school) planner . . . right at the top where I am reminded of it each day. This week, I want to acknowledge the change-of-seasons magic I'm seeing all around me. I want to tune my senses into the sights, the smells, the sounds, and all the feels of fall. (And maybe I'll even grab a PSL . . . so I can enjoy the taste, too!)



Let's move on to some . . . book talk. If you're a Reader, you probably love this time of year. Fall is always reserved for the biggest book releases of the season (lining up with most of the major literary award deadlines AND the holiday gift-giving season) -- but this year, there are EVEN MORE big book releases than usual. Why? Oh, because of the pandemic, of course. (What hasn't it impacted, huh?)

Anyway. Lots of books! Lots of really GOOD books.
But how to decide which books to read first?

Well. Literary Hub has put together a little flowchart to help you decide!

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(And . . . stay tuned for the latest Read With Us book announcement coming tomorrow.)
(HINT: It's a book on the flowchart.)


Next, I've got a little-bit-factoid, little-bit-try-this. Last month, I read a horrifying little article in the New York Times about The Cotton Tote Crisis. As in . . . how did an environmental solution (reusable cotton tote bags) become part of the problem?


Cotton tote bags (like the three I have hanging on the back of my bathroom/dressing room door here) have created an entirely new environmental problem. It turns out that ONE organic cotton tote . . . needs to be used 20,000 times to offset its overall impact of production. That's DAILY use for 54 years!!! (And I have 3 bags just right there on that one door handle, and that translates to daily use for 162 years.) (Yikes.) What's the deal, you ask? Well. Cotton . . . is very water intensive to process. And there are, of course, the forced labor issues. And . . . you can't recycle or compost most textiles, including organic cotton.

What to do? Here's an article with a few simple suggestions for what to do with your resusable tote collection. My strategy from here on out? Not to grab any new bags (because apparently I have enough to last for several lifetimes as it is).


In the Express Yourself Department . . . did you know that there is a World Emoji Day?  (I totally missed it, but apparently it's celebrated on July 17 each year.)

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Anyway, Adobe Products released their 2021 Global Emoji Trend Report on World Emoji Day back in July with some (not so surprising) results: People like using emojis to express their feelings and show empathy in a world of digital communication. You can read the results here. And you can see all the new emojis coming out sometime in 2021/2022 here. (My favorite is the melting face emoji. . . )


Are you looking for something pumpkin-y to make this fall? (And I'm not talking food.)


Here are three fiber-y ideas for you:

Here's a sweet little pumpkin pincushion to make (which would also look very cute and festive without any pins) (just sayin) from Doodle & Stitch. It's a simple design - you don't need pattern pieces - and the directions are included in the post. You just need felt and some stuffing! (Stitching can be done on a sewing machine or by hand.)

If you feel like knitting up some pumpkins, there are tons of patterns on Ravelry. I've made this one before (BONUS! It's a freebie!). If you're looking for something a little more . . . complete . . . this one is is adorable -- and you could create an entire pumpkin patch (not free). And I love the shape of this pumpkin pattern - available with a knit AND a crochet option (another freebie!).

Or maybe you want to try your hand at sculpted needle felting? Pumpkins (like the ones I made, above) are a great place to start! You can nab a kit (with everything you need to make more than 3 pumpkins, including detailed instructions and access to a video tutorial) from Felted Sky.


And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us.

Happy October, everyone.



A September Start

If ever there was a Monday . . . okay Tuesday . . . that calls for a fresh start, a new chapter, sharpened pencils and a brand new notebook . . . it's the Tuesday after Labor Day, y'know?

Let's get those first-MondayTuesday-in-September engines revvvvving!


Sometimes, on Mondays (or Tuesdays!), I share random things that have caught my eye recently. Interesting articles, factoids, and inspiration 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 . . . 

"Great things are done by a series of small things brought together."
            --- Vincent Van Gogh

Every week, I find a quote for myself and I write it in my planner . . . right at the top where I am reminded of it every day. This week, I'm hoping these words from Vincent can help me to remember that every little bit helps. I may not be able to fix the world, but maybe I can fix something in my own little corner of the world. I may not be able to complete a big task, but maybe I can make progress by taking a few small bites. That's what I'm hoping for this week.



I know this might sound kinda crazy, with my love of gardens and flowers and all, but during the summer, I rarely cut flowers to bring inside! I do sometimes, but not very often often. I think . . . it's because I spend so much time outside in the summer, surrounded by flowering containers on my patio, or maybe because I have lovely garden views from every window in my house during the spring and summer. As my garden goes dormant for the season, though, I start bringing more flowers inside -- from my garden when I can, but also from flower shops or nurseries or the grocery store, too.

When I do cut (or buy) flowers to bring inside, I want them to last as long as possible. I found this article with tips about keeping cut flowers fresh longer. Basically, there are 5 things to remember:

  1. Change the water in your container every two days.
  2. Give the stems a fresh cut - on an angle - when you change the water.
  3. Clean your vase before adding flowers.
  4. Keep your flowers cool. (Not in direct sunlight; not near a heat vent)
  5. Remove most of the leaves before putting the stems in water.

The article also includes for a list of flowers that last the longest when cut for a bouquet.

How about you? What are your favorite flowers to enjoy inside? And do you have any tips for keeping them looking fresh?


I'm always on the lookout for news that makes me feel good. Here's something I heard recently, and I though you might enjoy it, too. It's a quick, 4-minute listen from NPR about Sister Doris, a 72-year old Franciscan nun who claims to be the "world's last nun brewmeister." 

photo by Lena Mucha for NPR

You can click in to read the story and see more photos, or you can opt to listen to the 4-minute broadcast. Either way, it's a delightful story about a Bavarian beer-making nun.



I love to sit and knit . . . and just let my mind wander. I've never seen this as a "problem" at all, and in fact, I think it's a great way to center myself -- kind of like a moving meditation of sorts. Well, here's a little article that actually encourages mind-wandering, linking such healthy thinking with happiness.

The article, which appeared in The New York Times Magazine a couple of weeks ago, suggests that we try to "facilitate unconstrained thinking by engaging in an easy, repetitive activity like walking" (or, I might add . . . knitting!). Research shows that "freely moving thoughts" increase the alpha waves in our frontal cortexes, an area of the brain associated with creative problem solving. In our culture - where productivity and efficiency are so highly valued - researchers are finding that creating the space to . . . just think . . . is a good way to replenish you; to feed your soul.


I've shared some of Ann Wood's charming patterns and designs here before, I know. I just love her whimsical style! Last week, she released a new free pattern and tutorial over on her blog.


Happy Cats!

Wouldn't it be fun to stitch up a basketful of happy cats? Check out Ann's blog for all the details, materials, pattern -- and plenty of inspiration.



Lastly, here's a little reminder for you: Our Read With Us book discussion is coming up a week from today - Tuesday, September 14. Bonny and Carole and I will be posting discussion questions on our blogs next Tuesday, and we'll be hosting a book group Zoom meet-up later in the evening (7:00 pm Eastern time). I hope you'll be able to join in! (There's still time to read the book. It's a fast read. . . ) To make a reservation for the Zoom, just comment here -- or send an email to me (email address in sidebar), Carole, or Bonny.


And with that, we're OFF!
Here's to a great week for all of us.

Happy September, everyone.






New Week, New Month

A perfect time to . . . 


. . . with some of the flotsam and jetsam in my Evernote files.


Let's begin with some practical information.

Summer may be rolling right along, but there is still plenty of time to hang out near the water.
With your phone.

This article from Asurion, the phone-insurance "arm"of Verizon, explains just what you should do to save your phone from water damage, should it go for a swim (or a nice soak in the tub). I found it informative and helpful. Maybe you will, too.

(Although I hope your phone stays nice and dry, and that you never need to heed this advice.)


Looking for something to watch on TV?

I don't know about you, but I'm finding it hard to wait each week for the newest episode of Ted Lasso (season 2) to "drop" on Fridays. And . . . for the first time in my life, I don't seem all that interested in watching the Olympics (is it just me?). If you're looking for something summer-"light" and a little bit fun to watch, maybe you'll enjoy this list of the 60 Best Romantic Comedies of All Time

(Which rom-com is your favorite??? And did it make the list?)


Interested in tracking your reading in a deeper way?

I know quite a few of you (like me) use Goodreads to track the books you read/want to read.

I also know that several of you want a little bit . . . more . . . than Goodreads provides when it comes to keeping track of your books and connecting with other readers. Although I'm not really in the market for new ways to slice-and-dice my reading (I have developed my own system for note-taking, and I find Goodreads' listing tool sufficient for my needs), I thought this article about four new and unique reading tools was really interesting -- and might be fascinating for many of you.

(Just curious. Do you keep track of the books you read? If you do, what's your preferred method?)


Tired of throwing away "fresh" produce, now past its prime?

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but this does happen to me. Way more often than I'd like it to. (Looking at you, petrified limes . . . languishing there in my fruit bowl.) I found this article from Wirecutter about How To Keep Your Produce Fresh for Weeks really helpful. I'm determined to do better!

(That link is a Wirecutter/NYTimes link, and I'm not sure if it can be opened if you are not a NYT subscriber. My apologies if that is the case. If you are interested in the content but can't open the article, please let me know and I'll find a way to get the info to you.)


For your listening pleasure.

Okay. So I tried every which way to embed a music video here, and I can't. (This time it is YouTube, not my blogging platform.)

Let me just say . . .  you will not be disappointed if you take the time to click here to watch the video I WANTED to embed in this space. And then, check out more Vitamin String Quartet (they're fabulous and worth the trip down the rabbit hole) on YouTube or Spotify.


Here's to the start of a great week - and a great month.


It's Been A Long, Long Time

I haven't done a Start Your Engines post in a very, very long time. I keep an Evernote file, and when I come across an article or link that might be interesting and fun for Start Your Engines, I file it away. Over the weekend, I decided to take a peek and see what I had saved. There actually weren't very many things that were relevant or timely, and I guess that doesn't surprise me too much. Things get outdated quickly in that sort of file (use-it-or-lose-it), and most of the stuff I had saved . . . was well past its shelf life! 

But. There were a few things in there that are worth sharing.
It's Monday. Time to . . . 



"Everything in life is a vibration."
            --- Albert Einstein

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Getting the Words Right


Earlier this month, I read this Guide to Gender Identity Terms from NPR. I found it to be an especially helpful, useful resource -- and I thought you might like it, too. I think understanding and using proper terms for gender identity, including pronouns, is an important signal of courtesy and acceptance. And that's my goal in all things. This guide is worth a read -- and worth saving as a reference.




So. Here we are, sort of at the other end of the Covid-Times, and maybe . . . ready to entertain again. Maybe? Tom and I weren't quite ready to jump in with our annual (well, it used to be an annual event) Summer Solstice party, but I did have a friend over for lunch a couple of weeks ago. Anyway. If you're thinking about dipping your toe into the waters of having-friends-over-for-dinner again, here's a timely article from the Washington Post from earlier this month, with tips for hosting a post-vaccine dinner party. There are recipes, too . . . but I'm really sharing it here for the post-vaccine entertaining tips.


Make Something Kinda Futzy

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Okay. So I'm a total sucker for the futzy-knits, I know. But when I saw this free pattern show up on my Instagram feed, I just had to share. Because . . . knitted cacti! So much fun! (It also doesn't look as futzy as some things.)



On Reading


I see that many of you are just flying through the books this summer! So many BINGOs already! It's absolutely dizzy-ing! If you're interested in picking up your pace even more -- or if you goal is just to read a little more, even if it's not speedy -- check out this list of "reading more" tips from (very cool) author Austin Kleon. (And pay special attention to the first thing on his list. Just sayin.)



And with that . . . we're off! 

Welcome to Monday.
I hope yours is off to a great start!

Wrapping Things Up

After last week’s “deep dive” into spring cleaning, it’s time to get going. 

Yep. It's time to …

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. . . with a spring cleaning wrap-up post full of (what else?) a few more tips to motivate you and possibly make your spring cleaning life easier.


First, just as I was putting the finishing touches on last Friday’s post, The Atlantic came up with a special spring cleaning playlist! You can read all about it here, or jump right to Spotify to start listening.


Next, many of you shared terrific spring cleaning tips and suggestions last week. As promised, here’s a summary of blog-reader tips for you to try:

  • Kat suggests doing a two-for-one when it comes to spring cleaning chores (although I won't say she enjoys doing it. . . ). She takes her curtains down for a good washing in the spring, and while she’s at it, she tackles the blinds. 
  • Vicki likes to bring the spring sunshine in by washing her windows - and especially the kitchen window. 
  • Carole swaps out her curtains and changes up the décor on her shelves and mantle, and she opens all the windows to air everything out.
  • Carolyn opens the doors and windows for fresh air, too. She adds that she does a good porch-scrubbing several times a season. (She also mentions that hosting parties and guests is a good motivator for her to clean her house, but that hasn’t happened in a while . . . ) (Same here!)
  • Mary tells us that having your house’s interior painted is a great way to organize and deep clean, no matter the time of year. She also suggested a @gocleanco (Instagram) for great cleaning tips and hacks. (I see that @gocleanco will be hosting a 6-week spring cleaning challenge beginning . . . now. Check it out.) (FYI - I printed out the free download. This is a 6-week cleaning challenge with each week focusing on a different area of the house. It is far less intimidating than some of the lists I shared last week.)
  • Sarah and her daughter do a seasonal closet switch-over in the spring. Sarah says it’s a great time to figure out what still fits her growing daughter, and helps them figure out what new clothes she’s going to need for the season ahead.
  • Margene offers some great advice: Do the best you can!
  • Dee mentions turning on some music!
  • Jane likes to approach her cleaning a little bit at a time all year long. She also hires outside help to clean her windows (because none of us need to be up on ladders anymore) (and neither do our "helpers;" leave this one to the professionals).
  • I included a tip last week about keeping track of the expiry dates on your makeup and skin care products. Kat added that it’s also a great time to clean your makeup brushes (here’s a link to makeup brush/sponge cleaning how-tos from Good Housekeeping), and Mary told me that she sets up a reminder on her phone whenever she opens a new mascara so she knows when to replace it with a new one. (Wondering how often you should switch out your mascara? At least every three months! Here’s a great list of replacement dates for all kinds of personal products and makeup from Everyday Health.)
  • And, lastly, Carolyn sent me an email that included some great housekeeping advice: "If I don't like to clean it, or clean around it, I get rid of it." Carolyn followed this up by explaining how she switched out her glass shower door (fussy to keep clean) with a shower curtain (easier to keep clean). I think this is great advice -- if something is too hard or too maddening to deal with . . . get rid of it! 

"Housekeeping is like being caught in a revolving door."
   — Marcelene Cox

Thanks for coming along on my spring cleaning adventure last week. I hope you’re motivated -- at least a little bit -- to tackle your own home projects this spring.

Here’s to a good (and productive!) week for all of us.


Links to other posts in my Spring Cleaning series:

An Introduction and Some History of Spring Cleaning

Rolling Up Your Sleeves and Coming Up With Your Strategy

Finding Your Organizational Style

Taking Care of Closet Business

Spring Cleaning in the Garden

Mark the Day


"There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish."
    --- Michelle Obama

Today . . . is International Women's Day. I thought it might be fun to celebrate the day together.

International Women's Day (celebrated every year on March 8) is a United Nations-sanctioned global holiday celebrating women’s contributions to society, raising awareness about the fight for gender parity, and inspiring support for organizations that help women globally.

While you've probably heard of International Women's Day, you might be surprised to find out that it's been around (in some form) since 1909. Yep. Back in 1909, the Socialist Party of America took to the streets to honor garment workers who had protested against inhumane working conditions the year before. They called it National Women’s Day, and it took place on February 28. The following year, the Social International established Women’s Day in Copenhagen to celebrate those working for women’s rights and universal suffrage. In 1911, Austria, Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland celebrated the first official International Women’s Day on March 19. More than one million people attended rallies focused on suffrage, representation, education, and workers’ rights. Over the next few years, more countries in Europe marked the holiday on March 8. It wasn’t until March 8, 1975, when, during International Women’s Year, the United Nations celebrated it as an official holiday. Since 1975, the holiday has gained awareness around the globe as a way to recognize women.

This year, the theme of International Women's Day is Choose to Challenge (#ChooseToChallenge), which highlights the importance of challenging biases and misconceptions in the interest of creating a more inclusive and gender-equal world.

Today's Google Doodle. . . 

How can you honor and celebrate the day? Well. I have a few ideas for you!

You can learn more about International Women's Day by clicking here. This link will take you to the official IWD website, where you can learn more history about the day and find out what's going on around the world.

You can find - and stream - events happening around the world celebrating International Women's Day. One of the "silver linings" from the pandemic is that we all have greater access to events through sharing and streaming. Click here for a comprehensive list of events happening today - and all month long.

You can pick up a book and read. Click here for Lit Hub's list of 33 Life-Changing Books in Honor of International Women's Day. Or click here for The Independent's list of the 8 Best Books to Inspire Change this International Women's Day.

You can celebrate the stories of strong women around the world right on your own television.  Click here for a great list of movies and TV shows you can stream all month long.

You can make a financial gift in support of organizations helping women and girls around the world. Click here for a list of 10 worthy organizations to consider. Some other organizations you may want to consider: ACLU Women's Rights Project, Women for Women International, Girls, Inc, or the National Women's Law Center.

You can do a little shopping . . . while also giving back. Click here for a list of 33 product/non-profit organization partnerships. There are some pretty cool products in the list. (I'm tempted by the RBG-themed wine trio myself. . . )

And . . . after all that . . . you can toast the day with a beer! Click here for a list of 40 women-owned brewers in the United States.

"Every woman's success should be an inspiration to another. We're strongest when we cheer each other on."
    --- Serena Williams


Happy International Women's Day!
I wish you a happy Monday -- and a great week ahead.



Love in Action

Love Week continues.

Love week

My mom was not a forceful woman. She was quiet. Very loving. She laughed easily and often. And she was very, very kind. To my sister and I, for sure, but to all the people she interacted with. This didn't mean she liked everyone she interacted with. (Because she didn't.) But she was always, always kind to people. 

She used to say two things over and over (and over) as I was growing up:

Treat others like you want to be treated.

You catch more flies with honey.

Oh, how I hated it when she would repeat these mantras. Because as a middle-schooler (for example), I didn't find them to be true. I WAS nice. People weren't nice back. (Such is the way of adolescents.) But I did listen. And although I had hurt feelings a LOT of the time as I was growing up, I did embrace her mantras (even bestowing them on my own children when the time came). I tried hard to be kind. I still do.

Because that's what my mom was talking about.
Simple kindness.


Kindness and empathy help us relate to other people (even strangers) and help us have more positive relationships with our friends and family, too. I'm sure that's not news to any of you who regularly read along here. It's common sense; it's life sense. (And I'm betting my mom wasn't the only one with those mantras, either.) But did you know that acting with kindness . . . is also good for your health?

  • Kindness releases feel-good hormones. When you do something nice for someone else, you get a little hit of serotonin (the neurotransmitter responsible for feelings of satisfaction and well-being). Kind of like when we work out, altruism releases endorphins . . . so we feel better emotionally when we do something nice or helpful for someone else.
  • Kindness helps ease anxiety and stress. I don't know that an act of kindness can stop a panic attack, but it has been proven to ease social anxiety. A study on happiness from the University of British Columbia found that participants who engage in kind acts displayed significant increases in "positive affect" (positive moods like joy, interest, and alertness). The study found that even small gestures can make a big difference when you're feeling a little anxious. Additionally, helping others helps us take a little break from our own life-stressors.When we can get "outside ourselves" - even for a brief period - it helps us build coping mechanisms for dealing with the stresses in our own life. "Prosocial behavior" (any behavior that builds your relationships with others) is an important component of coping with stress.
  • Kindness is good for your physical body. Sure, acting with kindness can "warm your heart," but it also turns out that it can affect the actual chemical balance of your heart. Kindness releases the hormone oxytocin, and according to Dr. David Hamilton, "oxytocin causes the release of a chemical called nitric oxide in blood vessels, which dilates the blood vessels. This reduces blood pressure and therefore oxytocin is known as a 'cardioprotective' hormone because it protects the heart (by lowering blood pressure)." Oxytocin also reduces inflammation in the body, which is associated with also sorts of health problems. Studies have shown that you're at greater risk of heart disease if you don't have a strong network of family and friends in your life. When you're kind to others, you develop more meaningful relationships and friendships . . . which, in the long run . . . can help you live longer.

Bottom line?
My mom was right!
It's simple: Treat others like you want to be treated, and you catch more flies with honey.
Kindness . . . is love in action. So . . . 

  • Be kind to yourself. (We all make mistakes and take missteps.)
  • Lead with compassion. (Recognize our shared human condition.)
  • Choose kindness. (We can't control others, but we can control the way we respond.)
  • And remember that kindness begets more kindness! (Be a good example.) (Which was another of my mom's mantras, actually. . . )

"Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. And the third is to be kind."
 --- Henry James

Have a great weekend, everyone. May it be filled with love and kindness!


In my research for this post, I discovered that February 14-20, 2021 is Random Acts of Kindness Week. You can learn more about the week by clicking here (Random Acts of Kindness Foundation). The site includes several ideas for specific acts of kindness you can plan for the week, including writing "love notes" (thank you notes) to people who have changed your life for the better and creating "blessing bags" to distribute when you encounter someone in need (filled with small items that might be useful to someone temporarily displaced from a permanent home, for example). 




Love: Philosophically Speaking

Love Week continues!

Love week

There's a well-known Margaret Atwood quote out there . . . 

"The Eskimos have 52 words for snow because it is so special to them; there ought to be as many for love."
    --- Margaret Atwood

Well, Margaret. There may not be 52. But the Greeks have at least 7 words for love!

Eros (which is named after the Greek god of fertility) represents the idea of sexual passion and desire. Lust. Pleasure. Romance. Passion. It's driven by attraction and sexual longing. Think of this one as . . . falling "madly" in love; losing control, sort of . . . dangerous and fiery! The Greeks were a bit afraid of Eros love. (Too intense.)

Philia is friendship. Loyalty. Sacrifice. Sharing. This one is deep friendship -- the kind forged through intimacy and knowing; it's a soul-mate kind of friendship. Which could be with a platonic best friend or a romantic partner. This type of love was most revered by the Greeks.

Storge (related to Philia) is unconditional, familial love. It's the protective and kinship-based love you experience with family members. It's based on allegiance to family. You many not like your brother, but you still love him . . . it's that kind of love. Storge can also describe patriotism toward your county, or allegiance to your favorite team.

Ludus is that playful, flirtatious kind of love. Infatuation. A fling. Having a crush and acting on it. It's casual, sexual, exiting . . . and there are no implications of any future obligation. It's love . . . but "light."

Philautia is self-love. There are two faces to this one. When it's a healthy, feelin'-myself kind of love, it's all about postive self-esteem - and that's a good thing. But Philautia can also be a selfish, me-first kind of love, overly focused on pleasure or fame, highly concerned with status and what other people think. Philautia . . . can be the root of narcissism - not a good thing at all.

Pragma is longstanding love. It's the kind of love that's built on commitment, understanding, and long-term best interests. Think . . . mature, realistic love commonly found in long-established couples. Maybe it started as Eros, rooted in romantic feelings and passion . . . but, over the years, it morphed into Pragma as a couple grows to honor, respect, and cherish each other, accepting differences and able to compromise.

Agápe is selfless love -- the love we extend to all people, whether close to us or distant strangers. ("Agápe" was translated into Latin as "caritas," which is the origin of our word "charity.") It's a general feeling of empathy and love toward humanity itself. It involves caring for and loving others without expecting anything in return. Agápe is the foundation of great societies, communities, and most religious traditions in the world.


The Greeks considered Philia - deep friendship - to be the most valued kind of love. Aristotle further classified Philia into three categories:

  • Friendships of pleasure, which bring people together based on a shared hobby or activity. When the shared activity ceases, the relationship does as well.
  • Friendships of utility, which offers a tangible benefit to both parties. When the ability to meet the shared need is gone, so is the relationship.
  • Friendships of virtue, which draws people together because of the quality of their character and their selfless best wishes for each other. It takes time and intimacy to form, but it's powerful and enduring. This type of friendship is the most valued.


What do you think? Did the Greeks get it right?

And where do you think the love of . . . things, actions, pets . . . fall into this scheme?


"True love is singing Karaoke 'Under Pressure' and letting the other person sing the Freddy Mercury part."
    --- Mindy Kaling

It's Love Week!

Here we are . . . in February.
It's cold and still dark and winter and, well . . . spring feels a long way off right now.

At least there's Valentine's Day!

Now, I'm not a true fan of Valentine's Day. There are many things about Valentine's Day that make my skin crawl. (The whole commercial focus. The over-emphasis on having a "valentine" in a romantic sense. The feeling "less than" if you don't. That kind of thing.) But. I AM a fan of letting people know you love them and that you're thinking about them. I'm a fan of kindness. I'm a sucker for cute little hearts.

I also think it's a good idea to have all that red and pink show up in the middle of winter, y'know?

Anyway. This week? It's gonna be all love, every day here on my blog!

Love week

I'm just going to start by asking you . . . What do you think of Valentine's Day? Fan? Not a fan? Happy memories? Painful memories? Don't like red? Do you send valentines? Do you like to receive them? What are your best memories of Valentine's Day?

For me, I loved Valentine's Day when I was a little girl. My mom used to put red food coloring in all the milk in the house (right in the containers), so when we poured it out on our cereal in the morning, the milk was pink! She always feigned surprise in a Most Convincing way -- and told us the cupids must have done it in the night, spreading love. My sister and I were delighted! Every year. (She did this with green food coloring on St. Patrick's Day, too . . . claiming the leprechauns must have visited in the night, making mischief and and turning our milk green.)

I also loved designing and making my Valentine mailbox for my classroom party -- the shoebox, the construction paper, the doilies; so much . . . possibility! And I loved pouring over my little cards, deciding just who to give which Valentine card to (you didn't want to send the wrong message, y'know?). It was such a fun day for me. Until about 5th grade and it all began to unravel. But we don't need to go into that.

Once I did find my romantic "valentine" (who is a very low-key kind of celebrator when it comes to any holiday or "special" day) and I had kids of my own, I kept things simple. Wear red. Cupid-milk. Heart-shaped candies. And an emphasis on love. (And, as Erin reached middle school, kleenex for the hurt feelings.) (In our house, there were some serious gender differences when it came to Valentine's Day. . . )


Last week, I started thinking about the "Five Love Languages" (remember those?) Dr. Gary Chapman has created a whole "thing" (I hesitate to use the word "empire," but that is the word that first came to mind) around this love language concept, positing that "relationships grow better when we understand each other." He suggests that there are five basic ways people prefer to give and receive love -- the "love languages" - and that when we understand them, we can communicate love to each other in better and more effective ways. I have actually never read his original book, but I've heard and read enough about the concept to understand. I think there's something to it.

I took the quiz last night.

Turns out, my primary love language is "Words of Affirmation." I'd have to agree that it's . . . spot on. (My quiz showed zero points for "Receiving Gifts." Also very accurate.) (Lucky Tom.) Basically, then . . . tell me something nice, and I'm good to go!

How about you? Have you ever taken the love languages quiz? And if you did, what did you think of the results?


So. There you are.
Welcome to Love Week!


"Love is the answer, and you know that for sure. Love is a flower, you've got to let it grow."
--- John Lennon



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.