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

slow

I will not hurry. No rushing around for me. I will not slave for function over form. I will keep my heart rate at resting, returning to my breath as often as necessary. At the end of today’s living, what I want to remember most is how I felt – – not what I accomplished. I want to whisper gratitudes into my pillow tonight with nary a complaint on my lips. I sometimes daydream about a day to myself, but truth is, each day comes with a demand or two. Much better to live a come what may day, especially since life has a way of working itself out one way or another without much intervention from me. With a little faith, some hope, and a sparkle of fairy dust, I’ll find my way from the top of the day to the bottom by allowing myself to simply BE. Imagine a day – – a slow day – – because I decide it so. Imagine.

one hopeful year

An unusual activity for me, but I did a little math this morning.

In one year, time passes accordingly:

  • 31,536,000 seconds
  • 525,600 minutes
  • 8.760 hours
  • 365 days
  • 52 weeks
  • 12 months
  • 4 seasons

From one season, month, day, hour, or minute to the next, there are so many opportunities to learn. To explore. Experiment. Create. Build. Design. Discover.

Imagine all there is to see, do, conceive, or dream up in the time it takes the earth to travel its 92.96 million mile orbit around the sun.

Think about all I can learn from new moon to full moon. From Fall to Winter and Winter to Spring. What new challenges can I meet from sun up to down? Who will I become from this one hopeful year of my life to the next?

Let’s find out!

Having just turned 60, I’m aiming for 60 new experiences. Recipes. Destinations. Classes. Books. New friendships, new challenges, and goals. New knowledge. Questions answered. Dreams fulfilled.

Maybe 60 is my once upon a time. My someday when. One thing’s sure and certain, it’s my next hopeful year.

As of today, it’s been 604,800 seconds, 10,080 minutes, 168 hours, and 7 days since my birthday, so it’s time to get started. I’ll share along the way … and feel free to offer suggestions and ideas for me to try.

New experience number one: Lemon Blueberry Scones.

sixty

Growing is growing – especially if it’s growing older.

Turning sixty wasn’t as bad as the anticipation of turning sixty. Or maybe now that it finally came and went – my biggest birthday ever, I mean – maybe being sixty is not as bad as the anticipation of being sixty. A mere flip of the page on the calendar. Sunday to Monday. July 10th to the 11th. Fifty-nine to sixty.

Still the same me.

All those years, one added to the next, equal a living sum of who I am right now. Shy. Curious. Loyal. Sensitive. Sometimes weepy or worried. Strong, but anxious. Always hopeful.

Devoted to love in just about any form I find it.

Six decades of learning.

I suppose I thought I’d be wiser in the whys of the world. After all this time. All of my experiences. Relationships. Mistakes. Do-overs and never-agains. After mothering and daughtering. Sistering. Friending. I was a teacher. Still a wife, full to the tippity-top with love for my husband. Role after role, day in and year out.

Turns out, what I know best – now – is me.

It sounds strange to say, “I like me.” But I do. And I guess it took adding up all of those years to be able to say those words and mean them.

Sixty and growing. A great gift, being sixty.

Even better than I anticipated.

on my mind

One way to keep track of what’s been on my mind … is to keep track of my Google searches. Through my recent history, I’m able to see what I’ve been curious about, what I’d like to try, where I need help, what I’m doing, and what I’m learning. It’s been a fun – and a bit distracting – exercise. Given the current state of almost everything and all that’s really been on my mind, a distraction is a welcome exercise in self-care.

So, in no particular order, some recent Google searches:

>>>He asked about my plans for my day off. I told him my most pressing plan was cleaning all the pollen coating just about every surface in our home. It was then he asked if I had any plans to bake a pie? He was joking, of course, but I love him, of course … so pie it was. Strawberry rhubarb. My first. It was worth the search. Recipe here. Full confession: I used a pre-made pie crust. Still delicious.

>>>We’ve been planting, so I wanted to know: What annual flowers attract pollinators?

>>>I’ve not quite recovered from my last visit to the cell phone store, but in a moment of bravery, I Googled: How do you change your Apple ID? I’ll probably get to it when I have more time and remember my current Apple ID.

>>>How old is Queen Elizabeth? Her majesty is a glorious 96 years old.

>>>What is the text of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s The Other America speech? I’ve been reading the OTHER talk reckoning with OUR white privilege by Brendan Kiely which mentions the speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at Stanford University in 1967.

… while the law may not change the hearts of men, it can and it does change the habits of men.

You can read the speech here

>>>How do you line a baking pan with parchment paper? This little video uplifted my baking skill. And then some. A game-changer.

>>>Ever hopeful after yet another overzealous produce purchase … Can you freeze ripe bananas? Mercifully, yes … yes, I can.

Back to the pollen. Turns out, it’s better to clean a flat screen TV with a vinegar and water solution than Windex.

I’m hopeful we’re now past the pollen.

.

feelin’ groovy

Slow down, you move too fast
You got to make the morning last

Laze. Window gaze.

Stretch. Smile. Be.

Here. Now. And nowhere else.

Just kicking down the cobblestones
Looking for fun and feeling groovy

Walking. Talking. Seeking. Finding.

The first wild daisies. My favorite.

“There’s only a handful of days like this in the whole year,” I say.

“Could the sky be any more blue?” you answer.

Ba da-da da-da da-da, feeling groovy

Hello lamppost, what’cha knowing
I’ve come to watch your flowers growin’
Ain’t you got no rhymes for me?

Hello peace and peonies. Peaches and berries.

Hello to the what’s possibles and the always predictables.

Hello to the maybe I wills and the probablys I won’t.

Good morning sun, I see your shine for me.

Hello Monday, make some hope for me.

Doot-in doo-doo, feelin’ groovy
Ba da da da da da da, feelin’ groovy

Thanks to the breeze. The green, the growing.

Coming to be the me I’m knowing.

I’m humbled and happy and couldn’t want more.

Life I love you, I’m ready to soar.

I got no deeds to do, no promises to keep
I’m dappled and drowsy and ready to sleep
Let the morning time drop all its petals on me

Life, I love you, all is groovy

*The 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin’ Groovy) by Paul Simon

spring mandala

Gather. Meditate. Center. Breathe.

Circles and cycles. Bud and bloom. Belief and doubt. Celebration and grief.

Faith.

Move inward, out. Outward, in.

Still. Sacred. Spiritual.

A revolution, a resolution, a plan, a path, a prayer.

A journey.

Start here. Or there.

No destination in mind or notice of arrival. Back where I began, here I am returned. Again. Both renewed and changed by the experience of the walk itself, a guarantee that no matter how familiar the path, I am in fact a different person than I was the last time I walked it.

Spring too, here again. Another spin around for both of us. So familiar, but so new and ever hopeful. Both transformed and transforming.

From the one to the many. From the many to the one.

Here, at last.

good day to you, February

Good day to you, February!

I welcome you to the comfort of my kitchen. I’m warming the oven – and myself – after a long, dark, cold January. I’m baking today. Seven cabinet doors flung wide from the gathering of ingredients and tools and bowls. Evidence I was here. Cookie dough spins in the mixer and the sun just arrived … at 6:58 … same time as last year on this day. (I checked.)

I smile to think of who I am this February compared to last. At 6:58 or any other time. And then I think, how nice it is to smile about such as that, about me as I am. Yes, February, I’ve added the right ingredients: plenty of rest, drinking my water, moving my body, reading lovely books, loving my people as best I can, and of course, hope.

Hope was a little harder to find last February. Maybe sometimes hope is tucked away in the back of the cabinet, behind the molasses, just waiting for me to pull it out, dust it off, and share it with others. Hope, like the cookies I’m baking today, is meant to be shared. And February, you with your earlier sunrises and later sunsets – give hope. Just when we need it most, I think.

So today I’ll be sharing cookies, February. And if you’d be so kind, please share some hope. In your month of love, remind me to love my neighbors, to offer warmth, to welcome … and accept … everyone. 

Open my heart wide, February. 

French Love Cakes

1 cup butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup finely chopped, roasted pecans

Sifted powdered sugar (about 1/2 cup)

In large mixing bowl beat together butter, sugar, vanilla, and salt until fluffy. Stir in flour and pecans until combined. Shape into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 325 ° oven 20 to 23 minutes until golden. Remove from sheet to cooling rack over parchment paper. Sprinkle with powdered sugar. Makes about 30.

-adapted from Country Home Magazine, February 1999

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.