Only, and Just Barely

DSC_0388 (2)

It’s cold and dreary today. The temperature’s just north of freezing, and there’s drizzle.

In an unusual twist, however, I slept nine hours last night.

In a row.

(Look out world.)

I never know quite what to expect on the backside of a rough week. Saturday morning could arrive all kinds of grumpy and disheveled. Or maybe humbled and weary, but grateful.

This morning, I feel a little like the Cat in the Hat; I pick up all the things that are down … the cake, the rake, and the gown. A week’s worth of dishevelment awaits all around me. But I wander here and there throughout our home, setting things to rights, not in the least bit resentful – surprisingly – of the dishes once again left in the sink or the two-week high mounds of laundry in varying states of dirty, clean-but-not-folded, or folded-but-not-put-away.

Because in this Saturday’s clarity, I understand:  It’s all temporary.

The tough week. The busy. The shifting priorities. The dishes. Even the cold and drizzle.

Because like our ever-changing New England weather, what’s here today will likely be gone tomorrow. And who knows? Tomorrow may arrive sunny with scattered resentment. Or windy with a chance of anxiety.

But that’s for tomorrow to resolve. And it, too, will pass.

Today, I understand that eventually my laundered and folded shirts will nest again in my dresser. If not today, then tomorrow or the day after. Soon.

Today, I pleasure in the smoothing of sheets and the sorting of mail.

Today, my hope remains undaunted by tomorrow’s forecast.

Because this Saturday morning’s arrived hopeful and expectant.

There’s a whole new day out there just waiting to be lived, and it’s only, and just barely 8 a.m.


Making Peace

DSC_0472 (2)

It seems like I shouldn’t have to try so hard to feel peaceful.

Shouldn’t Zen just sorta flow or something?

DSC_0464 (2)

Honestly, sometimes  I turn the most mundane circumstance into Much Ado About Nothing.

So I’ve been working pretty hard to simplify. And again, that feels sort of oxymoronish – should simplicity feel so complicated?

I organize. Purge. Usher all the ducks to their respective rows. And wipe clean my surfaces. (Almost) every morning begins with a clear desk. So to speak.

DSC_0426 (2)

But sometimes finding peace … means making peace. With yourself.

I chucked the very-long-list the other day and went for a walk in the cold, bright blue with my camera.

DSC_0481 (2)

Peace made.

Hot Cross Buns

DSC_0383 (2)

Good morning from the other side of winter storm Stella!

With upwards of a foot of snow predicted, school was cancelled before the storm even started. Snow day! A snow day sometimes feels like a gift, an unexpected (and much-needed) opportunity to slow down a bit and rest.

So I did plenty of that.

But I also puttered around the kitchen. As you’ve read before, nothing centers me quite like baking, and I’ve been looking forward to experimenting with hot cross buns for Lent. I honestly don’t much care for currents or other dried fruit typically found in these breakfast buns, so I tossed some cranberries in the dough to see how they’d turn out.

It was an adventure.

First, I almost broke our hand-held mixer. I really, truly thought I could get the dough to a semi-mixed consistency and hand mix the rest,  but it got too thick , too quickly. It was almost a disaster for that ancient mixer of ours.

Next, I think I added too many cranberries. By following the recipe, I added as many cups of dried cranberries as the recipe called for raisins and other dried fruit. Personally, I think it was a bit too much. Maybe cut the amount by a fourth.

After that, it was all Stella who stole the show because her drama-filled high winds knocked our power out just as I set the buns for their final rise.

Power resumed about two hours later, and by that time, I was ready for bed.

I did what I could to save the dough by refrigerating over night and baked this morning.

Stella’s gone now … and I think these buns are soon to follow suit.

Here’s the link to King Arthur Flour’s recipe for Easy Hot Cross Buns. Follow as is, or try the cranberries for something a little different. Enjoy for Lent … or any random Tuesday morning.

Snowstorm optional.

A Day in the Life of a Woman

IMG_3085 (2)

I work hard. Sometimes too hard. But hard as I work, I almost never give myself credit. No stars on my sticker chart. No atta girls or pats on the back. I’m never entirely satisfied … self-satisfied.

I thought a lot about women yesterday. Me, sure, but me in terms of all the rest of us.

Are you like me? Is well done never quite good enough?

I’ve reached an age where I don’t feel the need to self-psychoanalyze why I am who I am. It doesn’t much matter anymore how I got to be the me I am.  I’m more forward thinking these days and want to know where I’m going next.

But back to the credit. Can’t we all give ourselves a little more credit for all the good we do in the world? Credit for all that gets done because of us? Let’s give ourselves a moment of self-satisfaction for the crying babies we soothe, the corporations we run, and the patients we care for. Let’s tally points in our plus column for the words we write, the dishes we wash, the bills we’ve paid, essays we’ve read, and the fires we literally and metaphorically extinguish.

Let’s thank the women who do what we cannot: the chefs, lawyers, sales clerks, teachers, and child care workers. The all of us. No matter what I do or you do, not one of us can do it all. (Despite our very best efforts.)

I’m so grateful to the kind, young woman at Ulta who steered me in a better cosmetic direction without ever once making me feel old or less than. So grateful. It’s hard to be an aging woman, and she didn’t make me feel like one. Thank you for seeing me and not my age, Ulta woman.

Let’s remember and reach out to the women who feel forgotten, looked over, or invisible. Let’s say hello to the elderly, smile at the mom hauling a dozen birthday balloons from the dollar store, and start a conversation with the woman who looks so sad or lonely on the subway.

We’re all in this together – some alone, others with partners by our sides. Some of us are raising children and wonder about their future just as others of us get ready to retire and wonder about ours. We worry. We dream. We love. We grieve. We think. We vote.

We’re thin and not. Young and not so young. We’re blond, brunette, and chemo-bald. We’re store-bought and homemade. We’re mothers and mayors. We’re sometimes forgetful, always busy, loving, intelligent, brave, and beautiful. We’re a country of women, a world of women, and a culture of women. To try to define us somehow limits us for we are not and will never be a type, a party, a race, or one-size-fits-all.

We will resist judgement, criticism, and definition. Believe me, we’re probably already busy judging, criticizing, and defining ourselves over and over, day after day. At least I am. And I’m probably feeling not quite good enough.

I cannot speak for all of us, and I’m not sure I need to tell you my story. But I’ll listen to yours. I see you. I recognize you. And I know you.

Because I’m a woman too.