what can I do in this day?

What can I do in this day?

(A meditation.)

How can I do better? Be better? Feel better? What blessings have I forgotten to count? 

How can I be kinder? More compassionate? More empathetic?

How can I be a better listener?  Give more? Smile more? Friendly more?

Where am I needed? Who and how can I help? What’s my purpose?*

What can I do to live with more heart? More hope?

What can I do in this day to strengthen my body? My spirit? My faith?

How do I human -best- in this world? This world right here, right now. Especially right now.

What can I do in this day?

*Thanks to Linda Stoll for finding the word I was looking for.

spine poetry

Browse your bookshelves. Listen. Pull what speaks to you. Arrange in a pleasing pile. Word by word. Title by title. Rearrange until you discover you in a stack of books. A bit of inspiration. A trove of delight. Hope culled from the books you’ve loved and lived with. Read top to bottom – or bottom to top. Write on your heart.

a year of weeks

365 days of wonder

chasing slow

daring greatly

becoming

joyful

simply living well

  • My thanks for today’s poem and life inspiration to Erica Root, R.J. Palacio, Erin Loechner, Brene Brown, Michelle Obama, Ingrid Fetell Lee, and Julia Watkins.

promises to keep

Never one to rush time, January, suddenly here you are. I, on the other hand, greet you today with much anticipation and the hope of hopes.

January, you are young, but wise. No doubt you’ve seen the beginning of this story before. You’re all new born, but not naïve.  Promises. Commitments. Fresh starts.

Still, you never quite know how the story ends, do you? Not for sure?  

I suppose that’s what hope is, after all. 

All evidence to the contrary, January, your year may end so much better than it began. Your year may hold a surprise … or twenty-two. 

Still, there is much work to be done. And I guess I don’t really need to make one more New Year’s resolution. Our weary world needs a promise. A pledge.  So January, here’s mine.

Hope, I’m certain, begins with helping.

pause

I love commas. And as I writer, I’m prone to the (probably) overuse of ellipses. It’s the pause I’m after. The breath in between thoughts. No full stop like a period, a comma dangles there in my writing and in my mind offering me a moment of rest.

Sometimes, a moment is all I need.

Today deserves a few well-placed commas. Some intentional ellipses. A deep breath in … … and a slow exhale of release.

My wish for you in all of today’s hustle and hurry … is at least one hopeful pause.

greetings december

I’ve felt rushed, but I promise to slow down. Greet you properly as you guide me to the end of this year and the beginning of the next. December, hello, thank you for warming me even on the coldest of days. 

In all my busyness, bustling about, and bow tying, I must not forget to breathe you in. Your warm teas, spicy simmer pots, our tiny tree.

I must not forget to sing you out. Your glorias, hymns, and heralds. Your faith found even on the longest and darkest night of the year.

I must not forget to listen for your silent nights, your holy nights, and your peppermint winds. I will listen for your laughter and the making of merry. For the good cheer of bells, the crackle of a fire, and the knock of a neighbor at the door.

I will remember to delight in the foraging of berries, and greens, and cones. Each week, lighting a fresh candle of hope, joy, peace, and love – praying the warmth and glow of each lights my way for months to come. I’ll look for your candles in each window, the impossible pink of a cactus flower, and the I’m Home relief of a wreath at my door.

Dear December, you’re long-awaited and much-anticipated. You’re prayerful, hopeful,  wistful, and filled to the minute with celebrations, surprises, and traditions. Sometimes, you’re lonely and grieving. I know this too. I live this too. We’ll remember and honor and pray through it together.

Your lists are long, and your days are short, and I have so very much to be grateful for. In all my busyness, I must not forget to give in any way I can, whenever I can, and whatever I can.

Especially, hope, to whomever I can.

gathering

Join me for a Thanksgiving gathering of women I’d love to meet, and greet, and seat ’round my table.To say I know them would be inaccurate as I know them only by their Internet and social media presence. I do know of them. Collectively, I know of their kindness and compassion, their ingenuity, and positive spirits. I know how they motivate, inform, and guide. Their how-tos. Can-dos. Why-don’t-yous.

Such relationships with people I’ve never met enrich my life despite never having become acquainted personally. Perspectives and points of view I’d not considered. Products. Delights. Unexpected surprises. Reminders of how many ways there are to be a good person. An intelligent person. Faithful. Curious. Creative. Nurturing. Inspiring. Giving.

I’m thankful for them all.

Meet Elise! Her year-long Make36 project has been a joy to watch! So creative! So fun! A why-not-try-it wonder!

Meet Nicci! A beautiful soul with beautiful products and talents to share! Check out Nicci’s online shop for everything from well-made toys to garden tools to aprons and good, clean skin care. Nicci has informative workshops available for canning and sourdough baking as well! My very favorite place to shop

Meet Erin! Her living-simply lifestyle blog is a beautiful place to pause and catch my breath. A stay against chaos and confusion. A cleanse of my online palate. And … in case I catch myself getting altogether too comfortable, Erin invites me to social action as well … reminding me of my privilege and all I need to learn.

Meet Linda! A true conversationalist! Linda guides me to explore my faith more deeply. Filled with compassion, Linda kindly encourages all from the comforting welcome of her blog’s front porch.

Meet Debby! A kindred spirit. Together, we’re finding our way through a new phase of living, creating, writing, and growing. It’s always good to have a friend who understands.

Meet Julie! Her Maine homestead is a delightful respite in the wilderness of the Internet. Julie puts the home in home sweet home. A farmer, mama, and maker … her homemade gifts…. wow … and those dolls!

Here’s to finding our fill of hope this Thanksgiving!

come, november

Come, November.  You with your winds and rains. Your passions and gratitudes. Your brisk walks and sparkle-frosted mornings. Come, November. We’ll warm up with your soups and stews, breads and blankets. We’ll be mesmerized by your achingly clear midnight skies pierced for a moment by your stars and the sharp slice of your moon. Come, November. You with your chill and stark sticks. Your reluctant light and bare-boned trees. You, all gray-skied and maybe misunderstood. Come, November. We’ll walk together, thankful and daring, making our way toward winter. We’ll travel by candlelight, firelight, and lamplight. Side-by-side, step-by-step. Disregarding the forecast and choosing instead to count our blessings, knowing nothing is ever as bleak as wasting a single day. Come, November. Let’s gather ‘round your table and be nourished in your company. Hopeful, happy, and home.

gathering

outside

lift nose to breeze, face to sun

rustle leaves, greet squirrels, bid fare-thee-well to geese

feel grateful, feel open wide, feel hopeful and free

think: this is what glorious feels like

collect treasures, nature’s loose parts

colors, textures, leaves, nuts and needles, berries and branches

tuck pleasures into pockets

walk home

outside smells follow inside

pink cheeks, fresh-air ruffled hair

empty pockets

admire wealth spread across a tabletop

acknowledge time and its impermanence

arrange the bounty, the beauty

partner colors, plop berries just so, fan pine needles, nestle nuts

please the eye, pleasure the soul

focus the camera

freeze time and memory

of gathering fall one October morning

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.

it’s about time

Now that I have more time, I see so many good choices for how to use it. Should I do this? That? The other? Even – nothing at all – is a choice.  I can fritter time away with the best of them, and after an initial period of dilly-dallying and lollygagging, I’m living more energetically. I’ve never, ever had so many minutes all to myself, and it’s been a bit of an adjustment. A luxury, to be sure.

Questions I’ve been asking myself: How do I want to feel throughout my day? And especially, at the end of it? What choices will happy me? Fill me with pride? Hope? Wonder? Strength? Purpose? Contentment? Creativity?

It’s now my someday when, so I’ve shifted focus from achievement to enjoyment.  I’m delightfully – and perhaps a little selfishly, for now – focused on what I most need or want. And I’m as much guided by what I don’t want as by what I do. I will no longer sacrifice peace of mind for productivity. I’m after whatever choices make me stronger in mind, body, spirit, or relationship. 

Once time-crunched, chores have become relaxing pleasures. There’s so much joy to be found in the simplest of tasks: the sweep my hand makes erasing dust from a tabletop, the tuck of a clean sheet, the chop of a fresh vegetable from our garden. Routines are emerging, but slowly, and with a nod to the weather forecast.

The laundry keeps coming, and the bills, and the dishes. But truly, I tell you, what doesn’t get done today will tomorrow – or it won’t, and surprisingly, that’s okay. I work when I’m scheduled, rest when I’m tired, daydream often, walk most mornings, and sometimes simply sit still and listen to all the sounds of summer.

Unhurried. Unworried. Hope-full.