do or dream

A few minutes shy of six this morning, I left the early Sunday comfort of home to greet the sunrise. I must’ve looked a character in gym shorts, my husband’s oversized t-shirt, plum-colored windbreaker, and tall, black rubber boots. I cared not. Clutching my keys and my camera, my new tripod, my wallet, and glasses, I left a quick note for my still-sleeping husband. My heart was as full as my hands and off I went.

For me, there’s such a dichotomy between dreaming and doing. I’ve oodles of dreams and years’ worth of intentions. What I don’t have – often – is the daring to do. Or the time. Or the energy. Or the opportunity. Whether one or all of the above, the point is dreams remain dormant until and when I decide to do, to act, to move, to create, to dare.

Dreaming isn’t doing, and many days, all I do … is dream.

But back to the sunrise and me in all my sartorial glory. And while I didn’t much care what I looked like to whomsoever passed me by at 5:59 this morning, I felt a bit vulnerable out there in the wide, open world of what if. Vulnerability or not. I did it anyway.

I’ve often imagined a dawn cresting over the farm down the road. Imagined the sky. Purpling and pinking. Imagined the solitary trees shadowed against the brightening sky. I imagined the horses off in the distance, the greening slope of the hill, and the brown barn. Imagined myself right there, experiencing it all. Photographing it all. I’ve dreamed it. And today … done it.

No matter I chose the wrong camera lens. No matter I couldn’t quite find the angle I wanted. No matter the car idling and blinking roadside (or my anxiety about leaving it there as I wandered away with my camera.) No matter the on-the-fly tripod learning curve. No matter my appearance or as yet unbrushed teeth. No matter my vulnerability. What mattered most was me. Out and about in my little town, chasing a dream and the sunrise.

Doing.

living like I mean it

I’m sitting smack dab in the middle of my comfort zone: summer.

I’m living like I mean it. I’m a shell gatherer. A flower picker. A storm cloud watcher. I’m a bird listener. A porch sitter. Healthier. Happier. Whole.

Around the house, I putter at this and dabble at that. No pressure. Not many have-tos. I make my bed every morning and tumble back into it at night, satisfied. My blood pressure’s down, and my hope’s up. And yes, I have sorrows. But blessings too. So many blessings.

 I thrive in summer. All steam heat and sultry days. Plenty of time and lots of the very best things to eat, see, and experience. In essence, I’m living all summer has to offer.  Just picked fruits and vegetables. Digging my feet in the sand. Estimating the time I have on the hard sand before the tide rises. Endless and awe-filled gazing at our grand daughter.

All the important stuff.

Ive read this book

and this one

and this guide has helped me create more simple and healthier options into our cleaning caddy.

I’m paging through this new cookbook

and so thrilled to be spending more time experimenting with this one.

Feel good about using this sunscreen every day and loving the fresh, summery scent of these lemongrass essential oils  in our laundry.  These reusable produce bags are my new favorite shopping habit.

Cannot wait to try my new tripod (thanks to a couple of Christmas gift cards, a bit of extra time for a road trip here, and a really good deal.) Maybe one of these is in my future?

Yep. It’s summer. And I’m living like I mean it. 

Headed here for the day!

Postcard to follow!

 

the happiness list

I’m a list maker. A note taker. A sometime journaler. A writer in the margins. Scraps of thoughts. A wisp of an idea. The tinkle of a phrase or whisper of a word. I write them all down.

This is the summer of new adventures. I’m driving down roads I’ve never been down before. Exploring. Growing. Getting down to the basics of living a full life. Good health. Gratitude. Beauty. And happiness there for the noticing. Ah. The noticing.

Happiness, I’ve discovered, is not some designated point on the timeline of my life, some ultimate destination, or final achievement. It arrives in single moments – simple moments – and I’ve learned how important it is to be paying attention.

What makes me happy in the course of a single day?

Depends on the day of course. The season. Me. Responsibilities. What happys me one day is circumstantial to the life I’m living right there and then. Such moments pass quickly, easily-forgotten, and replaced by the next, newest, present breath, vision, or feeling.

Which is why I’m keeping a list.

For me, happiness is all wrapped up with a bow of gratitude, so maybe a happiness list is a lot like a gratitude list, but whatever I call it, I want to be sure my days, my newest adventures, and the smallest, happiest moments of my life are recognized and recorded.

Like a child emptying my pockets of treasures at the end of the day, here’s the happy list from just one afternoon in Vermont:

  • the lush green of trees bordering a hiking trail
  • the sound of rushing water
  • still pond reflections
  • wildflowers
  • a forest floor full of ferns dappled by sunlight
  • the smell of just mowed hay
  • sun on my face
  • Vermont’s state colors: verdant green, the deepest sky blue, barn red, and crisp, white clouds
  • the curve of fence posts up toward the horizon
  • baby sheep
  • curtains billowed by the breeze

I want to live a wonder-full life, awestruck and gratitude filled. Celebrating the regular alongside the unfamiliar and unexpected. Using all of my senses to experience the day I’m living right this very minute. Breathing deeply. Smiling. And satisfied.

What’s on your list?

measuring time

I’ve been measuring time in flowers. Watching spring unfold petal by petal. Open. Warm. (Sometimes.)

After the dormancy of a long, difficult winter, the beauty is there for the noticing in real time. The first unfurl of a leaf, a sudden bright shock of forsythia by the side of a salty, winter sand-covered road, and just now the peonies by the front porch, plump and ready to burst.

Life cycles, of course. Even within a season. Memories attach to events and flowers mark places along a continuum. I wonder if I’ll ever again see an early crocus in bloom without remembering a friend, lost too soon this spring. Or breathe another lilac perfumed breeze without remembering Mother’s Day. In the spaces between, I’m mentally tracking time in tulips and daffodils, following spring’s slow but steady march until summer comes.

Hope follows despair as bloom follows an empty landscape.

Summer’s about ready to take her turn, and just today I discovered wild daisies! Already. Almost before I was ready. The iris in front of that yellow house down the street is in bloom. Those iris always bloom the week before the last day of school. Another flower on the timeline and a consistency I can count on.

The point is, I suppose, is to know where you are at all times. More aware. More present. Equally intentional and spontaneous. There are flowers to count time by and tides rolling in on schedule. Places to go. Things to do. People to meet. I’m always optimistic at the crest of a new season. More ready to begin again, make good on promises to myself I may have broken in seasons past, itchy to explore all my life has to offer.

Lots to do … before the sunflowers rise.

wabi-sabi

Each spring flower lives a temporary, but individually beautiful life. Asian bleeding hearts placed on my mantle lost their vibrant pink days ago, melting into purple, now white.

But are faded petals any less graceful, less photogenic than those in first, full bloom?

Or more so?

Like finally placing a face with a name, today I linked my photography aesthetic with a centuries old art form.

Wabi-sabi originated as a concept and visually appealing ideal from a 16th century Japanese tea master, Sen Rikyu, who revised the Japanese tea ceremony to a new simplicity. In every detail of the ceremony from tea house to tea garden, he honored the pure, the plain, the imperfect, and impermanent.

According to Encyclopedia Britannica, wabi is defined as deliberate simplicity in daily living and sabi is an appreciation for the old and faded. Another definition explains wabi-sabi as finding the beauty in imperfection.

For me: it’s inspiration.

mend and make do

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We spent the summer nesting. The kind of nesting, apparently, one does when the last of the children leaves and you’ve suddenly inherited a wealth of space previously occupied. It’s a wistful sort of nesting, at first. But we eventually found our way into a groove of happy home-tending.

As such, we’ve worked on all things home this summer. A little remodeling here. Some new furniture there. Paint. Flooring. All with an eye toward how we really intend to use the rooms in our home at this point in our lives. We’ve also planned ahead for when the children, and later the grandchildren, visit.

We’ve spent some hot, summer days in the attic and in the cooler basement: tossing, sorting, debating, and deciding. Paring down possessions accumulated in our 20 or so years as a family. What’s needed? Relevant? Beautiful? Sentimental? Worth hanging on to? Still useful?

While I wouldn’t classify our final decisions as utterly ruthless, we did take a good hard look at our life with stuff. And quite clearly, we have just about everything we need. And then some, probably.

Most of the time, making do simply involves taking a look around to see what I’ve already got. And I guess, that’s what I’m learning. Mend or make do is less about frugality, exactly, than it is recognizing what’s useful and purposeful and helpful among my possessions and banishing those which aren’t any of those things. It’s about retraining my brain from mindless and somewhat habitual consumerism to consciously evaluating wants, needs, and the altogether unnecessary.

New curtains after painting downstairs? Not necessary. Shift the bedroom curtains and rehang some sheers we found in the basement. New area rug? No need. Do si do the rugs in the entry and family room, and it’ll work just fine.  We removed our old kitchen counter and sat it atop some sawhorses downstairs. Et voila! A new workspace emerged for printing and framing my photography.

Maybe it’s time to find a cobbler for those boots I love, so the worn out heels can be restored. It’s a good idea to remove photgraphs I no longer display from the frames I could use for photographs I intend – one day – to show and sell. That old rattan planter makes a nifty wastebasket in our new office space. And I promise I’m finally going to hem that dress which was always an inch or so too long.

It’s a mind shift. A habit shift. A throwback to the days when folks used it up, repaired it time and again, or just plain wore it out before the thought ever occurred to buy new.

Feels good right about now, and I’m discovering …. less really is more.

summering the alphabet

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We’re summering our way through the alphabet again this year.

Not letter by letter in order, of course, that would be far too constricting. However, the structure the alphabet provides is some sort of reminder to get out, go out, find out, and do something with the lovely (and fleeting) days of a New England summer.

In no particular order, we’ve summered the alphabet so far with:

S: strawberry picking

H: hiking

T: tennis, both at home and away (our racquets travel with us)

P: picnics

Some letters fill up quickly, and others are a bit of a challenge.  Last year’s Y: yard sales will likely be this year’s as well since I’ve got a new classroom come fall and find myself in need of several solid bookshelves. It’s okay. Repeats are fine. I impose no rules or restrictions when summering the alphabet, although I usually only document those people, places, and events we meet, visit, and experience together as a couple.

I’d rather not summer solo.

We add the destinations we reach like some sort of alphabetical post card documenting the places we’ve dreamed about visiting throughout the long winter while waiting for summer to come.

E: Ellacoya State Park, Gilford, NH

C: Calef’s Country Store, Barrington, NH

M: Merck Forest and Farmland Center, Rupert, Vermont

Of course, V is for visiting Vermont in all her fine, full-on summer greenery and the bluest skies I’ve ever seen. We’ve stayed with our favorite Vermont family at I: Inn at Manchester (which incidentally also appears on our fall and winter alphabets,) and for the first time ever, we’re also summering at the Woodstock Inn in Woodstock, Vermont – which of course means W is all set.

The alphabet’s filling up fast this year … it’s not even July, and we’re almost halfway through. Maybe this summer we’ll experience a letter or two more than once.

And won’t that be fun?