one thing

The list is long, the weekend’s short. It’s already Sunday and tomorrow’s Monday and even though I’d really rather meander through my day, I guess I’d better hurry.

So where can I find hope in all the hurry?

If I do one thing today, let me love the people I’m with. Let me listen. Smile. Enjoy them. There’s hope to be found in the gift of each other. The giggle of a granddaughter. A husband’s hand to hold.

If I do one thing today, let me take pleasure in simple tasks. Soup making. Bread baking. Sheet tucking. Laundry folding. There’s hope to be found in a warm meal at the end of a chilly day. In clean sheets ready for rest. In tall stacks of towels and socks that match.

If I do one thing today, let me find joy in the happiness of home. The book on my nightstand. The candle on our counter. The last of the zinnias plucked from our garden. The just-about-ready-to-tumble heap of apples ready for pie, or crisp, or sauce. There’s always hope living at home.

If I do one thing today, let me lose myself in the pages of that book. In a walk with our granddaughter down the foliage filled road. In the delight of writing. Of soaking in a hot bath just before bedtime. Hope is where I look for it, so if I do one thing today, let me remember to do just that … look for it.

If I do one thing today, let me slow the hurry.

And live.

small things

A text this week from my youngest:

“I am trying to concentrate on just doing small things to take better care of my body.”

Contemplating health is not new to me. It is to him, however, and a new conversation emerged between us as a result. Health. All kinds of health. What it means to be healthy. How to be healthy.

Mind. Body. Spirit. Soul. Heart. Relationships.

His thought stayed with me all week.

And offered a new kind of hope.

Small things.

One at a time, small things build me, bit by bit, brick by brick, into a stronger person, healthier, happier in my life and relationships.

One small thing which makes me happy. One small thing which feeds my soul. One small way to move my body … fuel my body … nourish my body.

One small action to better the world, brighten a day, honor a friendship.

One small moment to breathe more deeply. To read more closely. To listen more carefully. To decide more thoughtfully. To hope more actively.

Health. Happiness. Hope.

One by one by one.

today will

Today will have its challenges. Meet them. Greet them. Walk with them. Work with them.

Today will have its feelings. Feel them.

Today will see its beauties. Frame them in memory.

Today will smile. Laugh. Or maybe cry.

Today’s forehead may wrinkle in concentration or confusion or concern.

Breathe through it all.

Today needs encouragement. Grace. And a rousing — Go get ’em!

Today works hard, loves deeply, and searches for silver linings.

Today hopes.

a collection of pleasures

A lot of my life’s details are currently unresolved. There’s no clear forecast to be found, and I feel uncertain about almost everything. Like just about everyone else I know. It’s an unsettling way to live day after day after day.

So this morning, I went looking for the known, the constant, the beautiful, and the joyful. It’s a gratitude list yes, but more a gathering of what makes me happy, where I find pleasure … where my day-to-day satisfaction can be found in the midst of all the world-weariness, anxiety, and uncertainty.

In no particular order . . . here are some joys I can count on . . .

. . . washing my face . . . a stack of clean, white plates . . . folding laundry . . . old, wooden spoons and rolling pins . . . the sudden, hot flash of a red cardinal . . . soapy sink water . . . the heft of a camera in my hands . . . the smell of ink . . . learning something new . . . early morning light . . . making the bed . . . a new notebook . . . tenacity . . . chopping vegetables . . . an uninterrupted night’s sleep . . . dogs . . .a toddler’s pout . . . clean sheets . . . unexpected laughter . . . the scuff of slippers across hardwood floors . . . nested mixing bowls . . . bossy bluejays at the suet feeder . . . the annual parade of flowers from the first of the crocus to the last of the mums . . . a new book . . . neighbors chatting on the porch . . . making our own fudgesicles . . . a breeze billowing summer sheer curtains . . . the perfect backhand . . . persistence . . . kicking acorns and hickory nuts down a country road . . . a tidy desk . . . feeding my family . . . the first sip of morning coffee . . . clean kitchen counters . . .the smell of hose water . . . sleeping with the windows open . . . the call of an owl . . . sun on my face . . . knowing someone far away is safe for another day . . . the ocean

Find ecstasy in life; the mere sense of living is joy enough.

– Emily Dickinson

What’s in your collection?

all will be well

I’ve rounded some sort of corner. Life feels less sharp. Softer. There’s an understanding. An acceptance. Maybe it’s an intermission in the grief process, or a bigger appreciation for smaller things. Maybe after 69 days, I’ve come to value a life made simpler by circumstance.

I miss our family most, of course, each housed in our own versions of homestead. Apartments. Shared houses with roommates. One soon to deploy and quarantined in a barracks. We’re all working from home, hovering over screens, managing and making the best we can of a bad situation. Loving as hard as we can from a distance. Blowing kisses to a toddler by phone.

There’s projects and putterings and plantings. We work for the good of the whole, starting each day by asking what’s for dinner and ending it with a game of cribbage. We measure the minutes in between by work and the odd jobs of life at home around-the-clock. I’m writing more letters, listening to more music, and sometimes dancing in the kitchen. There’s joy. Hope. Tears. Fear. And fun too. Homemaking has new meaning.

While each day has a quality of feeling much like the day before it, I feel differently from one day to the next. I’m humbled by the rise and fall of my mood, finally coming to the realization that I can choose to look at the sky as partly cloudy or partly sunny. Of course, warmer weather and open windows help. We gather on the porch or in the yard out back at the end of the day, grateful for the greening of the world around us and the simple pleasures of bird song and chipmunks and the perfume of blooming lilacs.

Neighbors call from across the yard, and we chat with other walkers from across the street. We all feel a little friendlier, more neighborly somehow. Our door’s often unlocked these days because home is safe, and our guard only rises when we need to enter the world beyond.

Last weekend, I pulled my bike out for a ride. Coasting down a hill, I was eight again, and about as carefree as I get these days. Sun warmed my face. Happy filled my heart. All will be well.

life ways

We’re living new life ways.

Even as cancelled and isolated as we feel, I’m finding life’s still a daily balance. I work several hours, clean a little, exercise a bit, and find some freedom in all the confinement. We still have dates and details, things to do, order, and buy. There’s calls to make. Emails to write. Trips to cancel.

And always, always hands to wash.

There’s a new order to things, our living spaces organized by function over form. A hand weight sits alongside the remote in the family room. I’ve clustered all manner of disinfectant wipes, gels, sprays, and hand creams of every kind in the kitchen right where I can reach ’em.

(I’m a little worried about my jelly bean addiction.)

I climb three sets of stairs from my basement to the attic and back down again for a round trip total of 112 steps, and call it cardio. I moisturize after my shower and call it self-care. I add lemon to every glass of water I drink for the extra vitamin C. Each family member dries with their own personal hand towel. Today, I folded and packed away our ironing board and iron -an important fact only in its symbolism.

There’s not much of a routine yet, but there is a rhythm. A time to wake and work and sleep. And while the biggest question of the day is: What’s for dinner? When we get right down to it, no one much feels like cooking. Dinner is catch-as-catch-can most nights. Maybe it’s a lack of motivation, but I think it’s more of a world weariness that sets in by supper time.

There’s daily joys yet. I’m finding pleasure in the way sun splashes my desk. There’s happy industry to be found in the dusting of windowsills. I’ll love in the baking of my husband’s favorite shortbread cookies.

I catch myself humming the theme song from Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood as I work, missing our granddaughter, but connecting to her in that one teeny, tiny moment.

Today, I’ve got plans. Today, I feel strong. Today, I feel like fighting back.

Today, I’m hopeful.

One hopeful day.

blue

Yesterday was a hard day.

I felt layers and levels of sadness I wasn’t prepared for nor able to fully express. As much as Friday was about moment-by-moment change, shock, and disbelief, yesterday was about grief – a mourning for life as I knew it and uncertainty about what kind of lives we’ll all have going forward.

My phone was never far from my hand which perhaps was part of the problem. There’s too much to know, too many affected in ways I cannot yet even fathom, too little comfort, too many opinions to sift through, and too much anxiety. Yesterday, I think, was my peak. At least for now.

Because today, my blue period is over. Today I feel hopeful.

I’m finding ways to be active and interactive. Connecting with family. Friends who check in to see if we’re okay. There’s a better balance between being entertained and informed. Walking. Talking. Texting. And, of course, shopping. Preparing as best I can for who-knows-what.

We return to school tomorrow to plan distance learning for our students, so I’m already listing, searching, thinking, strategizing, and imagining what side helpings of comfort and normalcy I can offer them in addition to the education I’m hoping to provide from afar.

I know I am needed.

Whatever else, this little blog of mine is a place to sort it all out and write it all down. To reflect. Remember. Share. Be. Help. Hope.

Let’s get through this together.

and sleep

Hope almost never visits in the middle of the night. Worries and what-ifs toss my sleep and anxiety turns my pillow. This son. That friend. Events to come. Bills I’ve yet to pay. All of life’s little ins and outs become roadblocks and detours. Daytime lists become nighttime litanies, and I’m more apt to judge my own book under the cover of darkness. 

A hope mantra for the middle of night:

Tomorrow, I will begin again.

If I’ve wronged, I will ask for forgiveness.

If I feel lost, I will ask for directions.

If I feel alone, I will seek relationship.

What’s undone, will be achieved. One task at a time.

If the list is long, I will comfort and congratulate myself in the almosts and not-quite-yets.

If I’m tired and overwhelmed, I will rest.

There is possibility in try-again-tomorrows. Hope to be found softly dormant and waiting for daylight. Breathe. Release. Breathe. Release.

And sleep.

an early spring

Did you know spring arrives earlier than usual this year?

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, the spring equinox falls on March 19th – earlier than it’s been in over a century! For those of us counting – and here in the northeast, we are many – that’s only 18 days away! Not only that, but we’ll turn the clocks ahead an hour only seven days from today as we spring forward into Daylight Saving Time.

For me, there’s no hope quite like spring hope!

Here’s a few fun ways to enjoy, celebrate, and spend your days in positive ways while you await spring’s arrival:

  • Keep a spring flower journal … The arrival of spring flowers is a beautiful progression of blooms to watch and document. I know just where the daffodils bloom next to the foundation at church and spotted a few green shoots this morning. I can’t wait for the forsythia and lilacs to bloom out back, and every year I spend lots of time photographing the neighbor’s iris. Journal your way to spring by keeping a written record, watercolor paintings, sketches, or photographs.
  • Keep a birding notebook … In our part of New England, Canada geese are making their way northward. Bird calls are increasing by the day, and I’m ready to research just who’s heralding spring around here. It’s time to learn how to match the call to the bird … a new project for me!
  • Visit a sugar house … with the warmer daytime temperatures and still cold evening temperatures, the sap’s been running well here in New Hampshire. There are over 350 maple producers in New Hampshire and you can learn about them here. The 25th annual NH Maple Weekend is scheduled for March 21 – 22 with open sugar houses across the state. Visit the Vermont Sugar Makers’ Association here. If you aren’t able to visit in person, visit either of these sites to order syrup or mix up some maple sweetness in your kitchen with a variety of yummy recipes!
  • Bake hot cross buns … a spiced sweet bun with dried fruit and marked with a cross on the top, hot cross buns are a Christian Lenten tradition. I wrote about baking them here and used this recipe, substituting dried cranberries for raisin or currents.
  • Plan your summer garden … no matter the dimensions of your yard or size of your containers, the Old Farmer’s Almanac can help you plan what to grow in it. You can explore their free garden planning trial by clicking here. Hope springs eternal in a growing garden, and you’ll harvest a bunch of health benefits too!
  • March for Babies … According to the March of Dimes, two babies die every hour in the United States and one woman dies every 12 hours from pregnancy complications. Register here to March for Babies and find a local spring march for healthy moms and their babies.