in celebration of laundry

Laundry, as a chore – its sorting, washing, drying, folding, stacking, and tucking away – is one of life’s necessaries. It simply must be done in order to be prepared for all of our dailies: work, play, cooking, cleaning, and comfortable rest. Once upon a time, laundry, in all its multi-stepped, never-ending cycles, was almost more than I could manage.

Not so today.

Just now, for me, all those steps are more soothing than stressful. I’ve learned the stress was really more about time and less about the task itself. With four boys – and all their multitude of socks – the drudgery was more about the sheer quantity of the laundry than disdain for doing it.

Today, strange as it may sound, I celebrate laundry.

I feel gratitude for the tidy task of it. The satisfying snap of a towel. Overcoming the dilemma of a fitted sheet. The delight when every sock entering the washer finds it way out of the dryer as well. The small victory of actually washing, drying, folding, and stowing a load all in the same day.

Folding laundry is like a moving meditation. Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack … Pull. Fold. Smooth … Fold. Smooth. Stack. My mind feels free to go elsewhere even as it stays exactly in the moment. I am centered. Calm. Mindful and relaxed in the repetition of movement and years of practice. Some of my best writing ideas come as I pull clean, warm laundry from the basket.

There’s a metaphor for life somewhere in the smoothing of wrinkles. The acceptance of stains. The reliving and memory of the last week through the clothing we wore. Memories of a dinner out. A successful day at work. A granddaughter’s overnight visit.

Maybe the pleasure I feel comes from more time, or maybe it’s a newfound appreciation for the uncomplicated and routine. There’s hope and happiness for me in simple tasks. There’s peace and a sense of purpose found in the curved folds of stacked towels.

A celebration. Sorting my way through darks and lights and cycles. Alone with my laundry, my thoughts and my love.

lesson plans

It’s been 54 years since my first day of school and only 12 months or so since my final first day. This year, there’s an absence. I’m absent. There’s a piece of me missing. A piece, I’m learning, only I can find.

Throughout all those years of study, the milestones I’ve reached and degrees I’ve earned, and the many opportunities for both teaching and being taught – I like to think I’ve always been a learner.  

There’s so much to know, to understand, to experience. Retirement is more than a chance to spend my time in new ways, it’s a chance to occupy my mind, to learn by doing, to think. To extend. Elaborate. Expand. To busy my mind with ideas. Questions. Possibilities and curiosities.

To walk all those talks I gave about being a life-long learner.

I sit, just me and my notebook, and 30 minutes of wondering.

Lesson planning.

What do I want to know and be able to do? What are my essential questions? 

Project-based learning. Experiential learning. Independent study. Education by design. Depth of knowledge. Just Dewey it.

The teaching philosophies I believed in as an educator still apply.  To me.  For me. 

And now, more than ever, I am the student. 

Back to school this fall, after all.

morning glory

I greet the day with a good morning salutation to my life. 

It’s a beautiful day outside my window, but my attention, my gaze is inward. A moving moment with myself, within myself, for myself.

I stretch. Slowly. Almost timidly at first. Loosen and limber my body, open my circulation, lift my face to the heavens.

Let go. 

Feet side-by-side and steady. I focus. Firm my base. Tether the possibilities in my day to the intention of this solid rooting. In this moment, I re-engage with the substance of me, the soul of me. I am tall. Undaunted. Strong.

I ballerina-arch my arms overhead. Both at once and then one at a time, an orchestration in a symphony of movement. Lean to one side, switch arms, and lean again opposite. Tilt my head to and fro. Nod yes.  Swivel no. 

Clasp my hands overhead and gaze upward. Step wide. 

A living, breathing, sign of peace.

Arms down. Palms up. I seek balance. Raise one leg behind me. Lower. Raise the next. Wobble. Steady. Wobble. Breathe in, out. In, out.  Accept the wobble. Accept myself. Understand my limitations and work within them. Sometimes noticing I’m holding my breath. Releasing it, I try again. And again. As many times as necessary.

Faithful.

Kneel. Cat. Cow. Cat. Cow. Arch. Collapse. Breathe in through the nose. Out through the mouth. Deepen. The. Stretch. Just. A. Little. Bit. More.

One part yoga, one part simple stretching, one part whatever feels good. 

My morning glory. 

hello

Hello.

I don’t know why I picked this day, time, and place to write again, but here I am. 

I’m transitioning. Leaving one lifestyle to live in the next as I close my career and cross into the wide-open world of now what? And maybe I should admit right from the get-go that I while have no idea what I’m doing, I’m feeling all kinds of faith that whatever’s next will somehow find me. In the air around me, there’s a sweet-smelling kind of hope like newly-turned soil or just-mown grass. A fresh, first time. A brand-new moment of me.

I’m not sure if I’m in search of a new identity or reacquainting myself with an old one. I’m conjugating … Who was I? Who am I? Who will I be?  I’m not so much making decisions as I am choices, and I don’t think I ever really understood the distinction between the two until now.  

My breathing feels as unrestricted as my day – a deep inhale and a slow, intentional exhale. And I guess that’s exactly where I am right now, the peaceful pause found in the space between breathing in and out, between an end and a beginning.

In the meantime, between all this new-found serenity and possibility, there’s boxes to be emptied, books to shelve, and rooms filled with tasks I’ve wisely left “until I have more time. “  Time I now have. Plus more to read, daydream, walk awhile down the road …

and write.

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.

self-talk

let not the weight of this

bend you

bow you

break you

straighten your spine

lift your head

turn your back to the wind

smile at strangers

and the mirror

wave at whom-so-ever’s in the car

passing you on the road

give

somehow, some way, each day

grow

walk new paths

learn something

create something

breathe

dream dreams

you never knew you had

be you

a new you

but you

still

found time

The passage of time is predictable, of course, as are most of the ways I use my allotment. There’s a rhythm to my schedule and a routine. Some days, you’ll hear me complain about how little time I have. A common theme. It’s difficult to finagle a few minutes to do what I love, to be the friend I want to be, or finally get around to what I’ve been meaning to get done for weeks.

Come to find out: the time’s been there all along. I just needed to find it.

This week, I found time to:

  • walk with a friend
  • chat with my sister
  • photograph an amazing sunrise
  • sit in a bit of solitude
  • continue #the100dayproject
  • pack healthy lunches
  • listen (closely and carefully and completely)
  • run an unplanned errand (without stress)
  • moisturize my skin (not once, but twice)
  • exercise
  • enjoy a meaningful conversation – unhurried
  • soak in a hot bath
  • write
  • read – right there at my desk – in the middle of the day

Find time. Go look. It’s there.

Promise.

full

January’s been … long.

And full. Purposeful. Mindful. Meaningful. Grateful.

I’ve felt powerful: building my physical strength and stamina. Resourceful: planning relevant experiences for my students. Sorrowful: remembering the first anniversary of my mother’s passing. And, of course, hopeful: beginning each and every day this month filling the pages of my journal with gratitude, guidance, goals, and hope for grace.

I’ve lived faithfully: honoring my commitment to #the100dayproject with at least a photograph a day – – showing up at the gym more days in January than not – – devoting time and effort to my health, diet, and overall well being.

There’s been wistful days, joyful days, and stressful days. More ups than downs, thankfully. A few trips and falls, painfully. Many new insights, realizations, and emotional turn-abouts, helpfully.

In other words, life’s been plentiful. And I’m taking one more deep, full breath of January and the fresh, clean air of a new year.

Thirty-one days.

Heart full.

3

drawers, doors, cupboards & closets

After a rough walk-around count, we’ve just about 70 hide-aways in our home. Places where we tuck away the often used, useful, and very nearly used-up. Out of sight and out of mind, these drawers, doors, cupboards, and closets stash our stuff: the flotsam and jetsam, the random, and miscellaneous.

And December seems like as good a time as any to poke my head into each and every nook or cranny to take stock of what we’ve collected. I can knock off a quick drawer or two or even three each day of the month so come January the first – we’ve whittled away the unnecessary and organized whatever’s left. Closets and cupboards take longer, of course, but totally do-able in this long season of indoors.

Refrigerator door shelves need an annual purge of expired dressings, marinades, and forgotten vegetable stock. Medicine shelves need review too. Socks need sorting. Supplies need updating. In the process, the forgotten will be found and the accumulated reduced to the required.

Odds and ends. Bits and bobs. Remnants and paraphernalia. Pieces of our shared lives stored here, there, and often forgotten altogether. Each room, each drawer, closet, and cupboard with its own purpose, stuff, and substance. I’ll be going day by day, room by room, drawer by drawer, and item by item. A fun little focus for a dark, cold month.

Open. Empty. Evaluate. Discuss. Decide. Keep. Toss. Recycle. Donate.

All December long.

time travel

Stepped out the back door with my camera yesterday afternoon, seeking a moment or two in the last of the light. Feeding my soul, I’m learning, needn’t wait. If I’ve a bit of opportunity, an open few minutes, that’s exactly the right time to take the time. Life will wait, the light won’t.

Time travel: soul searching, to soul feeding, to soul filling.

In only ten minutes.

Out the back door.