In Transition

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I’m transitioning.

Just back from a visit to Vermont, I’ve been unpacking bags and settling back into home.

And I know I’m transitioning because I feel a little itchy, a little uncomfortable in my own skin – like I always do when there’s some growing needs doing.

But it’s more than a change in geography or a return to routine.  I’m transitioning from a season of fear, a winter of wondering what’s next, and much too much time in the lonely circle of my own uncertainty.  Maybe winter really is a time of hibernation. A time when hope’s on holiday.

Who am I – now – in this next phase of my life?

There’s really nothing like walking around out there in some world other than my own to open me up a bit. The same old me walked unfamiliar streets in my old, black boots, but I felt all sorts of fresh, like I’d discovered new air to breathe.

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And just like that I knew promises I’ve made to myself could be kept – after all.

There is in life a perpetual promise of spring. Season after season and year after year, hope wakes just when we need it most. Buds unwrap on tree-tips, crocus struggle up from thawing soil, and sap drips steady as a second hand from sugar maples.

It’s the light. I swear. Minute by minute, we’ve all got more of it.  Thankfully.

And I’m ready to make every second of it my own.

These books are guiding me down new paths of creativity:

DARING GREATLY  by Brené Brown and BIG MAGIC: CREATIVE LIVING BEYOND FEAR by Elizabeth Gilbert.

Fresh air and mountain meadows aside, I owe these women some credit for my new-found bravery.  If you find yourself in need of some courage-in-a-book, those two are a great place to start.

 

Girls Just Wanna Have …

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Pretty nails?

Well… some do, some don’t.

For those that do, here’s a fun nail polish bouquet DIY.

Think bright, bold, and beautiful … just like all  those women and girls in your life.

I created this bouquet in a little more than an hour for a Valentine’s Day gift.  Easter’s coming and Mother’s Day just after that  … but really, any girly kind of gift occasion will work for this big  bunch of happy.

You could even give out single, long-stems to each go-to-girl in your group.

How fun!

You’ll need:

  • nail polish – round bottoms look best
  • wooden floral “stems” – about 8″ long
  • green floral tape
  • floral foam – sized appropriate to your container
  • colorful muffin liners
  • scrapbook paper – coordinating to your polish color
  • glue gun
  • raffia
  • container

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What to do:

This took me a few tries because my first idea – what I see in my mind – doesn’t always work. No worries. I wasn’t giving up.

  • Cut holes in a couple of muffin liners and slip the polish cover through the holes. Hold with one hand, pinching a bit. Tape to hold in place with scotch tape.
  • Attach the cover of the polish to the flower stem with scotch tape. It doesn’t matter if you can see the tape because you’ll cover it.
  • Wrap the cover and stem with floral tape. This will double-wrap your polish to the stem and make it more sturdy.
  • Cut hearts from scrapbook paper.
  • Attach in random formations with the hot glue gun to the polish and the muffin liners, layering as you go until you’re happy with how it looks. I layered some hearts right side up and some upside down.
  • Curl “petals” a little with your fingers.
  • Floral foam goes in the base of your container. I used a pretty pottery crock from Hobby Lobby because it’s surely reusable long after the polish bouquet is dismantled.  A tall, tightly-woven basket would work too.
  • Be sure you cut your stems to different lengths and “arrange” them as you would regular flowers. I tucked a little stuffing around the floral foam to be sure everything stays secure inside the container.
  • Surround the stems with natural or coordinating raffia – I had the red on hand! Lucky!

Best bet: Have fun with it … because after all … Girls Just Wanna Have Fun !

 

 

 

 

I Can Do Better

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It’s cold outside. And it’s getting colder. Tonight and tomorrow, temperatures are predicted to fall to -40 with the wind chill.

We’ve needed to be tucked in.

And we’re alone with our thoughts a lot. Sometimes too much. After awhile, for me, my thoughts cycle and spiral downward. From time to time, I tell myself things which simply aren’t true.

Like I’m not good enough.

A recurring thought for a woman who somehow, somewhere internalized a message that perfection is possible. With the onset of menopause, I wake at some point every other night or so with an unnamed anxiety sitting hard in that spot right under my rib cage at the core of me. I toss, turn, and tell myself all kinds of middle of the night misinformation.

Maybe it’s my teaching. Or parenting. Or partnering. Might be something I said. Or should’ve said, and didn’t. Could be my body. My age. The wrinkles under my eyes. The workout I didn’t do, the call I didn’t make, or the mess I left overnight on the kitchen counter.

Maybe I didn’t get enough done or only half done or maybe I never started at all. This morning,  I found last Saturday’s list and see I never did a single thing about any of it and now carry it all over to this Saturday. No forward progress. No box checked.

No doubt tonight’s anxiety could very well be last Saturday’s list.

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As if it mattered. Any of it.

The words I speak to myself are bad enough, but I’m learning this perfection message filters down to my children too. Over the past week, my oldest son’s struggled with his own self-talk.

It wasn’t hard to miss:  he sounded just like me.

No amount of love we receive from others is powerful enough to overcome the self-love and respect we fail to give ourselves.

All the evidence about who I am is to the contrary of what I’ve told myself in so many words for so many years.  All I have to do is look for it. The reality of who I am is right there in front of me.

And that’s what I told my son.

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You know how you sometimes feel as a parent that you might as well be taking to yourself for all they’re listening? This was one of those times – but in a good way – because I was talking to myself too. Bonus points to me because my son was listening carefully as well

I can do better.

I can speak kindly, think kindly, write kindly. Judge not.

I can treat myself … the way I way I want to be treated.

And I hope to perfect it.

 

 

 

Comfort

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I’ve had a hankering for soup. Some kind of warm my bones, my spirits, and my heart soup. It needed tomatoes. And rice. Definitely chicken. And a sprinkling of Parmesan. Because nothing ups my downs like melted cheese.

I often find comfort in the kitchen. Cooking smells and steam and a soapy sink soothe just about whatever ails me. And sometimes, I just need to reassure myself that normalcy exists. Yesterday, I found some solid ground in the chopping of vegetables and the boiling of rice.

You should know: This is not a real recipe. It’s a use-what-you-have and add some leftovers kind of thing. Comfort Soup’s best when it’s free-flying and relaxed – all the parts simmering together into one warming and delicious whole.

So here’s what I did:

  • Soft boil some chicken in a quart of chicken stock for 30 minutes. I used boneless, skinless thighs.
  • Cover and set aside for another 30 minutes while you hunt for and gather whatever else looks good.
  • I sauteed some leftover stir-fry veggies (summer squash, broccoli, and onions) in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until just soft. I also shook a bit of oregano and garlic powder in the mix. Oh. The. Smells.
  • I found a large can of diced tomatoes and a can of corn in the pantry.
  • That’s when I noticed the box of rice pilaf. I didn’t hesitate or question this choice. I felt inspired. And may have told myself I was brilliant.  Prepare the rice according to the directions on the box.
  • Bring your chicken and stock back to the burner on low. Shred the chicken (which is oh-so-tender by now) with two dinner forks. Add about a cup and a half of water (I used the empty corn can.)
  • Here’s the fun part: in no particular order – slip all that stuff you’ve found in with the chicken and stir gently. Add some salt. Ground pepper. Heat until warm enough …

To melt the cheese you sprinkle on top.