Splash of Inspiration- 2/3/18

I have become allergic to clutter. For instance, I hate mail. I loath it. Every night Keith brings in a pile from the mailbox at the end of the drive. For a decade, I’ve had a filing system to handle the montly deluge. While I’ve always had plan to manage it, somehow the work of following through on that plan has fallen to the wayside. So, each night I sort the junk from the bills and the “I don’t know” envelopes and shove them in the cupboard where I once organized the bills. They stack up by the armfulls.  Continue reading “Splash of Inspiration- 2/3/18”

What made January better?

I’m not a fan of January (or February for that matter). The cold winds and dreary days of winter sap my energy and leave me feeling the need to hunker down and wait for spring. This January was no exception. In my mind, snow days, sub-zero cold, and the darkness that accompanies deep winter must simply be endured. This year, however, after so much travel and upheaval in my life I found that January can also be enjoyed, just a little.

When the plane landed on January 1st, I was so happy to be headed home to my little cottage in the woods, I forgave the fact that it was actually -13 degrees. When we unpacked our bags and began to settle back into our lives, I found that the forced seclusion of winter, fit very nicely into my need to be home tending my soul. Winter pajamas, flannel sheets, and warm stews also helped to make me feel cozy at home. My very favorite part of winter is still our beautiful wood stove. Its heat warms my soul and creates a space for life and relationship to flourish. Within the comfort of my home, I found several things that made life better.

Friendships: We welcomed friends into our house to share a meal and catch up on life. We reconnected and renewed our commitments to each other. There are few things I enjoy more than gathering people I love and listening to their stories. We caught up with friends on a blustery Friday night at a local restaurant and laughed over stories and longtime friendships. We made plans for an upcoming Saturday lunch. As the calendar turned to the new year, we prioritized friendship and made a place for it on our calendar.

Financial Literacy: Keith and I have been listening to audio books for months. We’ve covered topics deep and wide. For January, we committed to reading a book about financial literacy. It was hard. I had to listen only on the way to work, the ride home was far too dark and weary for the topic. Unlike other books, I did not sit in the driveway listening to the end of the chapter, but I did learn a lot. It made me consider how little I really know about handling our finances. It made me think about why I didn’t make this more of a priority. I don’t know that I will apply all of the suggestions in this particular book, but I am committed to continuing to learn.

Simplify: I’m not entirely sure why I have this strange urge to order a dumpster and throw away everything we own… but I am resisting it for now. Instead, I am committing to moving methodically through my life looking for ways to simplify our lives. I’m starting in my bathroom. A couple of weeks ago, we spent an hour planning out the shelving and organizational tools I need to make our bathroom work better for us. Keith, as always, is on it! So, we will be culling the stuff, simplifying the design, and making every part work better. And this is just the beginning.

Wool hats: I’ve never really been a winter hat kind of girl. Mostly because I’m not a winter outside kind of girl. If I can simply make it from the house to the car and the car to the _____ fill in the blank, I’m good. My new job, however, makes that a bit more complicated. I work on a college campus with buildings sprawling out across an urban hillside. Getting from point A to point B in the winter has brought a whole new set of challenges. Wool hats have been a lifesaver. I may still arrive at the meeting with tears running down my face and a red runny nose, but at least I have not had frostbite. Who knew how useful these things can be? Not me. Until now.

So, we are deep in the throes of winter, here in New England. What made January better for you?

Spa day…

In early September, I met with a group of friends over dinner. We caught up about our lives, our families, and our jobs. We sipped red wine and sopped up the sauce with good bread. It was a midweek treat. The conversation eventually wandered toward my 50 before 50 list. Margaret suggested, with a twinkle in her eye, “Why don’t we join you for one of your adventures? You select the activity and we’ll join in. Continue reading “Spa day…”

Splash of Inspiration- 1/27/18

One of the only parts I hated about taking care of a growing family was the nightly question of “What’s for dinner?” I don’t mind shopping, carting, or emptying bags of groceries. I count the scars I gathered shopping with kids, you know the kind that happens when a child slams a cart into the back of your heels, as marks of honor. I love cooking, the smell of onions in the hot oil, the tactile pleasure of knife and board… it feels like home to me.  Continue reading “Splash of Inspiration- 1/27/18”

Making connections…

I am a connector. There is nothing I enjoy more than bringing people together. I do that around my dinner table, through small groups, scheduled meals, and impromptu gatherings. For many years, the main way I accomplish this has been through weekly gathering. We’ve opened our home for the better part of a couple decades to small groups of people who make room for each other and prioritize connection through a weekly meeting. These small groups weren’t our idea, we first were gathered up in a group that opened up the world to us as a young family. We found that we weren’t alone. We found that behind the Sunday morning smile, other families struggled to figure it out too. We found company for the fun days and friends for the hard ones. We remain deeply connected to many of the people who have done life with us through these life-giving groups. Continue reading “Making connections…”

Creating calm…

So much of the time, I feel as though I’m being pushed around by my calendar and the myriad of commitments it reminds me of daily. I tend to be a rule follower. I like to check the boxes and line my ducks up neatly in a row, but the crosswinds in my life seem to be trying to keep me off balance. I started many of the past decade’s Jaunarys with a long list of goals I intended to keep. Each year, I begin again with my list of ways I want to shape my life. Usually, they are additions to the already swollen list of commitments I hold. I’m going to write more, I’m going to make special time with family a priority, I’m going to ensure I don’t lose track of treasured friends. Continue reading “Creating calm…”

A splash of inspiration- 01/20/18

One of my favorite winter (ever) pastimes is to dive into a really great book. Since I learned to read, I’ve handled stress, adversity, chaos, and challenge by escaping into books. I feel like winter in New England incorporates all of these elements! There is no place I’d rather be when the temperature drops to unreasonable numbers (-35 is not a number I can live with) or when the winter winds whip snow and ice around my doorstep… than somewhere else.   Continue reading “A splash of inspiration- 01/20/18”

Pottery class…

I’ve been dreaming about getting my hands in clay for years. I imagined the feel of the pliant clay running through my fingers as I shaped the soft block into a useful container of my choosing. In my daydreams, I envisioned hours spent calm and centered before the wheel. I was inspired to register for a class at my local art center last fall. The first night, I walked into the unfamiliar space eyeing the wheels set up in two rows facing a center shelf. We gathered around the glazing table and quickly received the basic instruction. We needed clay, which came in 25-pound bags and we needed tools, a small sponge, wire cutter, and various wooden and metal hand tools. The smell of clay filled the space. Continue reading “Pottery class…”

Two words …

As I look at the year ahead, there are dark clouds looming. There are lots of things I cannot change at this moment, and yet there are things I can influence. So, that is where my focus has been for the past few weeks. What do I want and/or need and how will I prioritize these things in my life. It has taken years to be able to answer that question for myself. What do I want or need? Years ago, I began to ask myself three questions in my journal most mornings. The process of asking and then answering these questions has been life-giving. Continue reading “Two words …”

A look back…

The departure of 2017 has left behind a welcome calm. As I navigate the first weeks of the new year, I have spent quite a few hours tucked under my fuzzy blue blanket in my worn overstuffed chair. Usually, the week between the holidays is mine to reflect, evaluate, and plan. This year, those days were given over to people I adore, as we flew across the country to spend precious time with my Oregon family. So, I’ve redeemed slow Saturdays, a snowstorm, and quiet mornings catching up with my soul after a year of turmoil and transition. Continue reading “A look back…”