Thirty-six hours at home. One hot shower and one warm bath on a extremely cold day. Twenty-eight tidy, white stitches cast on Nana’s knitting needles (with any luck, mittens-to-be for a pair of toddler hands.) Five hardy Red Star chickens in the coop out back. A cluster of six red tulips plucked from a grocery store bucket. Two pieces of homemade pizza for dinner. One rainbow shirt and a wish granted. Two days until the full Wolf moon. Eighteen additional minutes of daylight since the New Year. The hope of a 27 degree heat wave tomorrow.
What can I do in this day?
How can I do better? Be better? Feel better? What blessings have I forgotten to count?
How can I be kinder? More compassionate? More empathetic?
How can I be a better listener? Give more? Smile more? Friendly more?
Where am I needed? Who and how can I help? What’s my purpose?*
What can I do to live with more heart? More hope?
What can I do in this day to strengthen my body? My spirit? My faith?
How do I human -best- in this world? This world right here, right now. Especially right now.
What can I do in this day?
*Thanks to Linda Stoll for finding the word I was looking for.
Browse your bookshelves. Listen. Pull what speaks to you. Arrange in a pleasing pile. Word by word. Title by title. Rearrange until you discover you in a stack of books. A bit of inspiration. A trove of delight. Hope culled from the books you’ve loved and lived with. Read top to bottom – or bottom to top. Write on your heart.
a year of weeks
365 days of wonder
simply living well
- My thanks for today’s poem and life inspiration to Erica Root, R.J. Palacio, Erin Loechner, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Ingrid Fetell Lee, and Julia Watkins.
Never one to rush time, January, suddenly here you are. I, on the other hand, greet you today with much anticipation and the hope of hopes.
January, you are young, but wise. No doubt you’ve seen the beginning of this story before. You’re all new born, but not naïve. Promises. Commitments. Fresh starts.
Still, you never quite know how the story ends, do you? Not for sure?
I suppose that’s what hope is, after all.
All evidence to the contrary, January, your year may end so much better than it began. Your year may hold a surprise … or twenty-two.
Still, there is much work to be done. And I guess I don’t really need to make one more New Year’s resolution. Our weary world needs a promise. A pledge. So January, here’s mine.
Hope, I’m certain, begins with helping.
I love commas. And as I writer, I’m prone to the (probably) overuse of ellipses. It’s the pause I’m after. The breath in between thoughts. No full stop like a period, a comma dangles there in my writing and in my mind offering me a moment of rest.
Sometimes, a moment is all I need.
Today deserves a few well-placed commas. Some intentional ellipses. A deep breath in … … and a slow exhale of release.
My wish for you in all of today’s hustle and hurry … is at least one hopeful pause.
I’ve felt rushed, but I promise to slow down. Greet you properly as you guide me to the end of this year and the beginning of the next. December, hello, thank you for warming me even on the coldest of days.
In all my busyness, bustling about, and bow tying, I must not forget to breathe you in. Your warm teas, spicy simmer pots, our tiny tree.
I must not forget to sing you out. Your glorias, hymns, and heralds. Your faith found even on the longest and darkest night of the year.
I must not forget to listen for your silent nights, your holy nights, and your peppermint winds. I will listen for your laughter and the making of merry. For the good cheer of bells, the crackle of a fire, and the knock of a neighbor at the door.
I will remember to delight in the foraging of berries, and greens, and cones. Each week, lighting a fresh candle of hope, joy, peace, and love – praying the warmth and glow of each lights my way for months to come. I’ll look for your candles in each window, the impossible pink of a cactus flower, and the I’m Home relief of a wreath at my door.
Dear December, you’re long-awaited and much-anticipated. You’re prayerful, hopeful, wistful, and filled to the minute with celebrations, surprises, and traditions. Sometimes, you’re lonely and grieving. I know this too. I live this too. We’ll remember and honor and pray through it together.
Your lists are long, and your days are short, and I have so very much to be grateful for. In all my busyness, I must not forget to give in any way I can, whenever I can, and whatever I can.
Especially, hope, to whomever I can.
Join me for a Thanksgiving gathering of women I’d love to meet, and greet, and seat ’round my table.To say I know them would be inaccurate as I know them only by their Internet and social media presence. I do know of them. Collectively, I know of their kindness and compassion, their ingenuity, and positive spirits. I know how they motivate, inform, and guide. Their how-tos. Can-dos. Why-don’t-yous.
Such relationships with people I’ve never met enrich my life despite never having become acquainted personally. Perspectives and points of view I’d not considered. Products. Delights. Unexpected surprises. Reminders of how many ways there are to be a good person. An intelligent person. Faithful. Curious. Creative. Nurturing. Inspiring. Giving.
I’m thankful for them all.
Meet Elise! Her year-long Make36 project has been a joy to watch! So creative! So fun! A why-not-try-it wonder!
Meet Nicci! A beautiful soul with beautiful products and talents to share! Check out Nicci’s online shop for everything from well-made toys to garden tools to aprons and good, clean skin care. Nicci has informative workshops available for canning and sourdough baking as well! My very favorite place to shop
Meet Erin! Her living-simply lifestyle blog is a beautiful place to pause and catch my breath. A stay against chaos and confusion. A cleanse of my online palate. And … in case I catch myself getting altogether too comfortable, Erin invites me to social action as well … reminding me of my privilege and all I need to learn.
Meet Linda! A true conversationalist! Linda guides me to explore my faith more deeply. Filled with compassion, Linda kindly encourages all from the comforting welcome of her blog’s front porch.
Meet Debby! A kindred spirit. Together, we’re finding our way through a new phase of living, creating, writing, and growing. It’s always good to have a friend who understands.
Meet Julie! Her Maine homestead is a delightful respite in the wilderness of the Internet. Julie puts the home in home sweet home. A farmer, mama, and maker … her homemade gifts…. wow … and those dolls!
Here’s to finding our fill of hope this Thanksgiving!
Linger in the good graces of a morning, over one more cup of coffee, the pages of a book, and couple-talk punctuated by the clink of spoon against cereal bowl. Linger over the iron’s steam, marveling at the smoothing of wrinkles like the righting of wrongs.
Linger at the door to count blessings and gratitudes and hopes. Linger out in the first, startling cold slap of air. Breathe until wide, wide awake. And ready.
Linger long enough to listen for the gossip of chickens out back and the agitation of blue jays at the feeder. Watch for the indecision of squirrels crossing the road and find grace in the spiral of a wind-blown leaf or the dancing sway of a branch.
Linger over realizations, what you thought you knew, but now know you didn’t. Changes and chances and challenges you should have made or offered or taken. Linger not to heed the whisper of regret.
Instead, linger to remember yesterday’s promises and the hope in today. Reach out for the dreams you lost track of or the hand of someone you miss. Feel for the tug of a memory in a lingering daydream gaze out the window.
Stand certain, like the last geranium bud in the pot on the porch, somehow surviving despite fall, and frost, and the fading of warmth. Tall, strong, and lingering … just a little longer.
At day’s end, linger a few minutes more at the table with friends; admire her smile, his laugh, their warmth on a chilly evening. Watch the light linger as long as it can, understanding you will find light elsewhere these dark nights. Returning to bed, remember the day, knowing you did your best. Linger over thoughts and questions and drowsy ideas.
In the last lingering moments before sleep, pray.
Live in this difficult day too. Live in its sorrow, its uncertainty, its trembling hope. Live minute to minute, averting my gaze so as to avoid peering too far ahead of myself. Move slowly among the memories and their unboxing, the wistful wishes and what-might-have-beens, the celebrations and happy remembrances. Feel what you feel when you feel, but breathe in and out of each moment regardless. Because time will pass, and when I least expect it, even the sharpest edges will soften and peace will be made. Maybe it’s best to read the book only a page at a time, making notes in the margins I’ll be better prepared to read another day.
In the meantime, don’t go putting the cart before the horse or look ahead to some other day, imagining or assuming its an easier day to live. I know there’s shadows on the sunny days too, and it’s worth noting that rain doesn’t always fall from clouds. Sometimes hope arrives when I find even a crumpled, old wad of tissue in my pocket when I really need a tissue. Or from taking pen in hand in anticipation of a difficult day.
Come, November. You with your winds and rains. Your passions and gratitudes. Your brisk walks and sparkle-frosted mornings. Come, November. We’ll warm up with your soups and stews, breads and blankets. We’ll be mesmerized by your achingly clear midnight skies pierced for a moment by your stars and the sharp slice of your moon. Come, November. You with your chill and stark sticks. Your reluctant light and bare-boned trees. You, all gray-skied and maybe misunderstood. Come, November. We’ll walk together, thankful and daring, making our way toward winter. We’ll travel by candlelight, firelight, and lamplight. Side-by-side, step-by-step. Disregarding the forecast and choosing instead to count our blessings, knowing nothing is ever as bleak as wasting a single day. Come, November. Let’s gather ‘round your table and be nourished in your company. Hopeful, happy, and home.