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.

self-talk

Explore today.

With all its options and possibilities. Should I? Could I? Will I? Why nots and maybe I wills.

Explore today.

With all it’s wrong turns, detours, missteps, and second-guesses.

Follow your instincts. Follow your hopes, your inklings, and intuitions. Follow a map. If you don’t have one, draw one. Others may wish to follow the trail you’ve blazed.

Explore your expectations. Your predictions. Estimations. Remember: What you think might happen, often does not. And what you least expect, often does.

Explore the sky, the ground beneath your feet, and whatever seems just out of reach or beyond the next bend. Find a surprise. A delight. A silver lining. A dream come true. A friend.

Explore today.

For the fun of it, the thrill of it, the faith of it.

on the eve of october

The light creeps only so far now across the grass out back before dropping below the tree line for the night. The pumpkins are all but ready to pick, and the chickens go to roost earlier and earlier. One last, lone daisy stands sentry alongside their coop.

There’s a certain poignancy in the air, a wistful smell of time gone by and the browning of leaves. A cycle completed, the season’s growing weary, silently drifting toward dormancy. Each tree’s a kaleidoscope with colored confetti puddling at its base. One last hurrah and farewell celebration.

There’s poetry in October. Every year I appreciate it more than I did the year before and the year before that, oohing and aahing in all the appropriate places, of course, but also nestling a bit in its nuance – the just so wisp and flutter of a falling leaf and the cacophony of crows, feeling momentary nostalgia for the passing of another September.

Both inside and out, there’s readying afoot and comfort in routines. Burrows blanketed. Woolens hauled from the attic. Wood stacked. The crockpot looks forward to stews and soups as soon we’ll be slow cooking our way through hibernation. We’re getting sleepy, dozing a bit through the game on Sunday and sleeping just a couple minutes more under heavier blankets.

In the increasing absence of warmth, I time my walk for the late afternoon sun on the road. Even as we’re getting ready to pull the rakes out from the shed, we’re eyeing the snow shovels and windshield scrapers, knowing they’ll get their turn before too long.

Still, there’s decisions to be made: when to rake, how to dress the scarecrow, and what to eat at the fair. Just yesterday, I found a rare chestnut, polishing it on my shirt – evidence there’s both finding and losing in this month of October.

I tucked the chestnut – along with a bit of hope – into my pocket on the way home.

from within … to without

I suppose it’s true to say the older I get, the more generalized anxiety I feel – especially as relates to my health. One scare too many, I guess. Near-misses and almosts, thankfully, but they’re the cause and culprit of anxiety that now goes from zero to 60 faster than my car. Covid hasn’t helped, of course. I’m sometimes only one small headache or throat-tickle away from a full-on, full-alert, oh-my-gosh-I-should-get-tested reaction. 

Safe to say, the cause exaggerates the effect.

Walking gives me a moving moment or two of peace, a respite from the thought spiral, a shift of focus from myself to the great big, wide open out there.

A walk from within anxiety … to without.

For me, it’s all in the noticing. Moving from big feelings to small details. An intentional pause to find nature’s bits and pieces I might ordinarily walk by – looking without seeing. The way morning light caresses a leaf. How fall colors brighten the poison ivy first. Berries. Nuts. Seeds all but ready to release and drift aloft. Itty bitty oak leaves. And the tiniest little wildflowers I never did see – or notice before.

And that thirty-minute walk takes me both outside into the world and out of my own head altogether. Call it self-medication. An intervention.

A cure.

One foot in front of the other. Breathe in. Breathe out. Hope.

dear september

I love your windows wide open and the billow of your breezes in my white curtains. I love the last of summer’s flowers, both the gathering and the plunk of them in a pale blue Ball jar on my kitchen counter. A bit worn out, like summer itself, but still up for one more celebration before the leaves begin to color and claim center stage.

September, you need not try as hard as June, July, and August. You’re simultaneously an end and a beginning. No need to be something you’re not – neither summer, nor fall – but summer and fall. You’re a burst of yellow school buses up the road, irrationally blue skies, and a few final barefoot walks around the yard. You’re one more trip to the beach and a bonfire for Sunday’s cookout. 

What would you be, September, without a new notebook? A couple more morning minutes under the warmth of the covers? A final few nights lolling about on the front porch before dinner? 

Just yesterday I saw two geese honk south – early birds – and the green acorns I kick down the road have begun to brown.  Frantic squirrels dash across the road, mouths full. Monarch butterflies are migrating, and I wish them well as our paths cross for a moment, stuck as I am in traffic and surprised by their sudden appearance.  The geraniums cling desperately to their pink even as the mums bloom on the front stoop. 

Maybe we’re all on pause, dear September, not yet ready for what’s next but lingering awhile longer with what was. The thing is, wishing never once made time stand still, and so we move onward into earlier darkness and later light come morning, not without our hardships but hearts hoping, nonetheless.

So September, I’ll tilt my face to the last of the sun’s warmth and lick ‘round my mouth as the juice of apples and peaches and tomatoes drips down my chin. I’ll front porch our pumpkins and shuck all the corn I can get my hands around. Each day I wonder if today’s the last day I tug on my shorts, all the while looking forward to flannel. One day ice cream and the next, apple cider donuts. You’re neither, nor, and both. My favorite month of all.

Dear September, I love you.

hope-filled

I will live -more slowly- in this day.
Without hurrying (and less worrying.)
I’ll skip the self-scolding for what didn’t get done
and celebrate what did
with hand-clapping (and maybe a sticker)
at day’s end.

I’ll pause long enough to smooth the good cream (Morning Mint)
over skin too long, too dry
and one more cup of coffee before work
saving solemnity for some other day
some other me.

I’ll live head up
favoring lovely views over
papers and planners and piles of to-dos
secure in the knowledge I’ll see one thing – maybe more –
I thought I didn’t have time to see.

If you need me,
I’ll be here counting chickens before they hatch
throwing caution to the fool April winds
and looking before I leap
no matter the snow on the ground
there’s pansies in the forecast
and eggs to hide and sure enough,
the sun did come up – after all.

So contrary to popular wisdom,
I’ll not be saving anything for a rainy day
spending all my everything’s today
willy-nilly
come what may
come what will
hope-filled.



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.

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?