in a winter garden

In a winter garden, I plan next season’s plantings. Reflecting carefully, of course, on last year’s harvest.

Now is the time for imagining the ideal. The time for optimistic enthusiasm before the rolling up of sleeves and the dirt of hard work and effort and hope collects under my fingernails. A season of dormancy. A renewal of strength, purpose, and spirit.

In this season of life and living, I’ll determine what’s important to plant. Which fields in my life to let lie fallow in rest. There’s preparation to be done. Research. Trust. Faith in the future. A belief in the cycles and pace of my own nature. Knowing the truth that all is as it should be: living in the cold, wind, and darkness of winter as necessary precursors to light, warmth, and germination.

I winnow through expectations, weeding out what I’ve got to let go. Sow starter seeds, watchful for what takes root. Which seeds prosper? Which seeds – promising as they may be – were never really meant for my own little patch of soil? Some seeds, I know, only sprout after repose.

How will I nourish myself? Gather strength? Coax growth?

In a winter garden, I reap what’s happiest in today, hopeful tomorrow’s garden will grow in it’s time.

lessons from a still life

make time . . . look for the light . . . appreciate shadows . . . find beauty in the ordinary . . . take one thing away . . . experiment and learn . . . change the lens . . . try again . . . focus on what’s right in front of me . . . move for a new point of view . . . think through problems . . . simplify . . . make adjustments . . . trust my eye . . . work is pleasure . . . it’s okay to make a mess . . . to create is to hope

when finally

Oh, when finally I feel better, the promises I’ll keep. The good will I’ll spread and gratitude I’ll share.

I’ll remember how I feel about most things. I’ll know how to string several words together to express a coherent thought. I’ll read fluently, keeping track of plot or ingredients or news. I’ll remember decisions I made when I was was well, when I was able to think clearly, when what was on my mind and in my heart was more dominant in conversations than my symptoms.

When finally I feel well, I’ll buy balloons for no other reason than balloons make it a party. l’ll revel in good health and confetti the floor, toot-tooting the New Year – no matter how many days late I am for the celebration. Big, red balloons. Full. Luscious. Bright. Happy. Healthy. Whole.

When finally I feel fine, the big, beautiful breaths I’ll breathe … fully and with utter appreciation. I’ll fold up my fatigue like a quilt at the end of my bed, ready – as it should be – for the very end of my day, not throughout it. I’ll taste. Smell. Smile.

Oh, the walks I’ll take, the hope I’ll feel, the life I’ll live.

When – finally – I feel better.

in thanks

When I open my eyes each morning, I will open my heart as well and begin with thank you.

When the list is long, and I’m not sure what to do first, I will start with thank you.

When life feels impossible, or heavy and hard, I will remember the ease of being thankful.

When I think I can’t, I’ll know I can. And feel thankful.

When I’m worried, may gratitude take me under her wing in comfort and hope,

When jealousy whispers all I have not, may gratitude sing joyously of all I do have.

When the day slows and darkness returns, may I find my heart open still and end with thank you.

silence

I’ve been craving a bit of silence.

Is there such a thing as sound fatigue? A resounding societal din I’m no longer able to tolerate?

Last week I sat outside after dark. It was cold and raining. Rainfall, I thought. A sound to soothe the dissonance. A remedy.  

Maybe peace on earth begins with a little bit of quiet. 

One second of silence between drops of rain. Or an overnight swaddling of snowfall. Or the soundless caress of candlelight.

Deep, restorative, necessary.

Helpful.

Hopeful.

here is my day

Here is my day.

What will I do with it? What attitudes and expectations will I bring to it? What goals, dreams, or ambitions do I have for it?

Or, shall I simply live it?

Come what may.

Life’s complexities are often of my own making – or perhaps my own participation. It’s likely, life’s simplicities can be mine as well.

Here in this day, may I be mindful of simple living. The choice of simple living.

What does this simple living look like? How will I know when I’m living it?

Maybe it’s in the noticing and then the appreciation.

Appreciating the burst of black crows against a blue sky. The prayer of a pair of leaves roadside. The ability to hoist my own socks after a debilitating few weeks of back pain. The first few flakes of snow adrift on a breezy afternoon.

A year’s worth of accumulated hope.

So is simple living walking one step at a time on the day’s path? Expecting nothing but noting everything? Delighting in each minute’s arrival and feeling grateful as it departs? In the moment, of the moment, and most especially . . . author of the moment.

How grand to watch the sun travel across the sky, taking great pleasure in the simplicity of being here to see it.

How glorious to greet the first star as night falls, grateful for living today and wishing on that star for a simple tomorrow.

reminders

Pen on notebook. Notebook under keys. Medication next to the sink, next to the soap I use to wash my face every night. (If I remember. Which I do. Now that my medication is alongside.) Moisturizer at home atop the dresser from which I pull my clothes every morning. A list of daily important-to-mes tucked nearby as I ready my face to greet the day. Just this morning, I dropped a single tissue on the stair landing so I’d remember to add tissues to the grocery list.

Whatever it takes. However to manage in this life full of never-ending and persistent distractions.

More than ever before, our home is organized, room by room, item by item, so each possession has a home, a place where I’ll know exactly where to find it time and again without a hunt and seek. Take it out. Put it back in the same place, over and over and over. And I’ve weeded our things. Fewer possessions to manage. If it doesn’t meet a purpose – function, beauty, meaning, memory – and won’t in the future, out it goes. I store like with like. I’ll find what’s needed where it’s most often used. Clear surfaces calm me, freeing my thought paths to help me remember whatever it is I almost forgot.

These days, I find hope – and comfort too – in the familiar, the known, and routine.

So, I set reminders. Reminders to do what’s good for me: a water glass next to the fridge. Reminders to meet responsibilities: a timecard left on my computer. Reminders for function: glasses on my book, lunchbox in front of the door, masks in the car. I own many too many notebooks – an organizational problem I’m helpless to overcome. Still, I love to list. And list. And list. There’s remembering in the writing.

I’ve even texted myself on occasions when I absolutely must remember to do something and don’t entirely trust myself to remember to do it. What about you? String on your finger? List on the fridge? Timer on the stove? My husband used an elastic band on his wrist. What’s sensible for me, might not be at all practical for someone else. I think I feel most successful when I find my own solutions.

If I’m to have any hope of managing all that’s on my mind and in my heart, strategies are necessary. If I’m ever to keep myself whole in an increasingly fractured world, I’ll need to remember – somewhere way down deep inside me – just what being whole feels like.

take good care

Yesterday I let myself feel all the day long.

If it sounds easy, it was not. Grief. Worry. Loss. Some sort of nondescript longing which comes and goes as an aspect of aging. I felt wistful. Wary. Proud. Driving in my car, windows wide open and I too open wide, singing along with the radio, wind in my hair. Up one side of emotion, down the other. I felt it all.

Some days, it’s easier to pretend I don’t feel what I feel. To push feelings away or replace them altogether. Shopping as panacea. Scrolling as anesthesia. But I’m learning I can care for myself in these times of strong feeling. I can allow myself the good grace to be exactly who I am. And feel.

Sit here, right here, I speak to myself.

Go ahead, cry. You need no reason or because.

Feel free to feel. You are a living, breathing, feeling human. So honor you. Care for you. Tend to you.

And feel.

It’s a vulnerability I simply must allow myself.

Today, I am refreshed and ready. Hopeful and happy.

Take good care.

begin again

Begin again. And again, and again, and again. Begin again until I finish what I’ve started, until I feel what I wanted to feel, gain whatever it is I thought to gain. I’ll begin again until I’m — finally — who I’d hoped to be. Begin again as long as doing so matters to me. A promise I keep to myself. A belief in my own possibility.

A new beginning is its own kind of victory; its own small reward. There’s learning gained between the last start and today’s. I grant myself no guarantee, of course, but a new beginning is a new opportunity nonetheless. To learn what I’ve yet to learn.

Maybe after all of these beginnings, all the starts and stops, all the do-overs, I’ll discover that reaching a finish line was really never the purpose. All that learning. All that effort, enthusiasm. and growth along the way . . . in the end, perhaps that’s the whole point, really.

I’ll begin again because one step forward, no matter how tentative or tiny, is not standing still. All that moving forward counts toward the greater good of me, even if — maybe especially if — I take one step backwards.

Begin again. For the health of it. For the pride of it. The power of it. Begin again for the happiness and the hope of it. There’s hope to be found, after all, in any beginning.

Face to face in the mirror, I will cheer myself on. I will be patient with myself. I’ll be gentle, and loving, and kind. I’ll applaud my efforts. Forgive my missteps. I’ll show up for myself today.

And begin again.

notice

At the top of a morning, I notice the energy of possibility. Hope, wide awake and willing, greets the day face-forward. Counting on roadside petals, life loves me and I love it right back. How fairy-taled the deep green velvet of a moss-covered path. How gladly sunlight dances with daisies and trumpets daylilies. How fun to chick-a-dee-dee-dee with chickadees and honk with geese flying over the lake. How gently the fog lifts as the day warms. How delicate a thread of web stretches from flower to flower to flower, a tell-tale trail of one spider’s travels. I marvel at the intricacy of a gravel road, two miles into my day. And returning, notice now how I feel right this very minute, tip-tapping on keys. Happy.