Our neighborhood is so unusual in this day and age of mini-mansions and planned communities and HOAs. It’s not that it wasn’t a planned community, because it is- it’s just nearly a hundred years old. I have to tell you, I think we lost something in translation between then and now, ’cause I’ll take my neighborhood any day of the week. Within our streets off the main road, children ride their bikes freely from their houses all the way to the school park and back. There are always people walking their pets. Adults on bicycles. Older adults working in their garden or sitting on their porches. And there are trees. Every street is tree-lined with mature oaks and walnuts and crepe mrytles and all sorts of things. Why do modern neighborhoods have no trees?Why does it all have to be clear cut and razed before building? The temperature literally drops about ten degrees when you turn in to the neighborhood in the summer between the trees and the fresh air blowing in off the river. If you can imagine the background pictures of the houses in Sound of Music- that’s the style of houses we have here. It is so, so lovely. I still pinch myself that we get to live here in a veritable Mayberry in the midst of what is a rather hard scrabble urban town.
And gardeners! Boy howdy, do we have some talented people in this neighborhood. Just about every house has something lovely growing at every season- a veritable feast of beauty. We try to get out and walk almost every morning, and lately I’ve been snapping a few pictures each day. Our neighbor at the corner has an especially lovely garden and things are always changing. It always feels a bit like peeking into the secret garden each day as we lean over the fence to examine the newest flowering thing. All of the children and I have learned more about plants and trees in the three years living here than we have since they were born!
– poem courtesy of Soul Gardening Journal.
noticing:: the weariness in my soul this Monday morning. Two weeks of on and off sickness moving through my family have taken their toll. I didn’t do self-care well this weekend and it shows.
listening to:: chopin variations. If there is anything true I know about myself, it is that music is a powerful prescription. It says what my heart cannot, and sings to it when I am weary. It helps me get back to center.
talking:: about new paths and plans. I haven’t discussed it much here, but my sometime job as a freelancer has steadily picked up over the last year, organically, by word of mouth. Coming to the realization that new spaces and margins need to be made to make room for this gift, and also to protect the margin of my family we’ve fought so hard to achieve.
thinking:: about friendship, loyalty, and fellowship. About my boys and the men they will become. What it means to live through the thick and thin, the pretty and the ugly, the beautiful and the brutal in community. The skills my children need to build life-long friendships of their own.
praying:: for my dear friend, Rebekah, who lost her mama last week. The hardest part of it all was being so far away and not being able to walk with her. For the repose of her mother’s soul. For a friend who received some brutal news last week; for healing.
cultivating:: seeds of ideas. My word for the year (nourish) has settled into place many of my plans for the year. I’m surprised at how easily I could see my path forward once I put it in the balance of whether it would nourish me and my family. Once it is put in those terms the dreck and the distraction become pretty apparent. I tend towards inspiration overwhelm, but I’ve got very specific ideas about what I’d like to do moving forward and I feel empowered and confident about what I’ve chosen. That’s a very new feeling.
creating:: more project life pages. Maybe some dresses for the girls this week. Definitely making sure there is space in each day to fill my cup in this area.
learning:: new things in the work arena. It’s been nice to stretch the brain cells new directions. It feels up the creativity cup in a different way.
encouraging:: the children in their projects and pursuits. Josiah and I are faithfully making our way through the beginning alphabet and learning our numbers. Isaiah has shifted his math work, and he’s very excited about the change. The older boys are working hard through their Webeleo projects with the additional help of their Grandpa Tom- I hear a pine derby is coming up soon.
cleaning:: my way through the house. We keep a pretty tight rein on clutter and mess in our house simply due to space constraints, but it never fails to amaze me how much gets squirreled away in our storage areas in a ‘just in case’ sort of way. Every year I get more and more ruthless about what is allowed to live with us. Simple, lovely, functional, or you’re outta here. I estimate if we were to move today we’d move with half of what we moved in with. It’s a good feeling.
cooking:: that which nourishes. I’ve watched everyone jump whole-heartedly into new diets and ways of eating as January has drawn on. I myself have been on a journey since July of last year towards healthier eating (and it’s showing in weight loss)…but gracious if all the Whole30 this, Paleo that, clean eating hullaballoo isn’t starting to feel a bit crazy to me. I so appreciate Katherine and Tonia, who are ever reminding me that simple and nourishing are all I need. The cooking skills I’ve learned this last year have made that pursuit much simpler- having the skills to make something from scratch (and quickly!) really change the paradigm.
for life-long friends
for laughter and Monty Python
for the people in our lives that parent and mentor us
for the collective memory of community
knowing this truth::
The planet does not nee more ‘successful’ people. But it does desperately need more peacemakers, healers, restorers, storytellers, and lovers of every shape and form. It needs people who live well in their places. It needs people of moral courage willing to join the fight to make the world more habitable and humane. And these needs have little to do with success as our culture has defined it.
sending:: all my love.
It’s the word that keeps coming up every day as I gently move into a new year. 2013 was a hard, difficult year, and I’m very relieved to let it pass into history. It followed two even more hard and difficult years that were very dark in many ways. I chose the word “illumine” as I entered into 2013. It had deep personal connotations for me, a marker of my faith journey. If there was anything I absolutely knew for sure at the beginning of last year, it was that I desperately needed light to flood into the darkness I found myself wandering in. The idea of illumine suffused my decision making throughout the year, how I worded my prayers, how I formed paths forward- How can I bring light here? Holy Lord, please bring light to my path. Does this decision feel illuminating or oppressive? The corollary, I quickly found, was that to be illumined is to also to learn and absorb. As light shines into a previously dark place, new information arises, new emotions, new things to absorb and hold up for examination. 2013 definitely felt like a year of absorbing so many things- many answers to consider, so very much learning. Learning and healing. There was a moment in 2013 that felt like the darkest place I had ever been, mostly because of my own sinfulness and misguided decisions- and I swore no light could illumine in that moment. And yet it did and continues to. You’ll excuse me if I quote from Harry Potter for a second, won’t you?
“Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.”
– Albus Dumbledore
And so it is true. Carry a light into dark places and healing and wholeness may be found.
This year, I feel like it is time to use what I’ve learned over this last year, the lessons of hard-fought battles, and apply them. To nourish my soul, my body, my family, my world. This idea had begun percolating well before the holidays began, and I can already see how it has changed my decision making. It makes decisions pretty clear once I ask if xyz decision will nourish in these ways; It drove how we decorated for the holidays, what food we prepared, how we celebrated. I look forward to seeing how it shifts my perspective in the New Year.
Do you have one little world that you choose for the year? What are your hopes? I’d love to hear in the comments.
Ali Edwards started the concept of One Little Word, and she’s running a workshop this year if you are interested.
feeling:: quiet and introspective. I love how fall does that to me…autumn has always felt like the first day of the year to me over January. There’s just something about the change of season that leads me to reflection and renewal.
thinking:: through new rhythms and needs in our family. I felt like I had a good balance going over the summer, but now that school has begun it’s all a little bit off. The more obvious things are lagging behind- the laundry especially. Meal planning is happening on the fly and not as effective. It’s leaving me feeling a bit catch-as-catch can. I’m learning to lean into the needs of the day, but some structures clearly need to shift a little.
appreciating:: warmth. I think that’s my absolute favorite part of fall- candles, fires, fuzzy blankets, piling together and snuggling in. Add a hot cup of coffee or tea and I am set for days on end.
anticipating:: a lovely November. The good girl in me wants to say it’s because of family celebrations, and it is, but can we just talk about the wonderfulness that is the weekend of Nov. 23? The Desolation of Smaug, The 50th Anniversary Special of Doctor Who, and on and on. About the only thing that could make it more perfect is if Fox announced Firefly was back in production. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, can you really claim friendship with me? I kid, I kid.
reminding:: certain children to keep their coats on. What is it about this weather that makes boys feel like they can shrug their coats off as soon as they get out of mama’s eyesight? You’d think two bad colds already would make them think twice. Such goofs.
knowing:: this truth.
Peace is a result of retraining your mind to process life as it is, not as it should be.
-Wayne W. Dyer