Friday, January 24, 2014


Many of you have recently read my grumbling about January. There's another thing about January that I don't love.  It's the resolutions, the determination and the focus on self improvement that irritates my sensitive mood.  It's a month of packing away the Christmas tree, which always feels like a painful stab in my heart.  I must have stored childhood memories in the old ornaments.  I remember being small and having my parents and my brothers all in the same room together and it hurts to put those memories back in the box.

But January is also the month when we get to write the number one.  In the simple writing of one, I began to notice the symbolism of this number.

One is the individual, but one is also more than what it seems.  In the month of January, after focusing so intently on others in December, we begin to focus on ourselves, and what we can do to improve. It is tough to look at ourselves as one person needing improvement.

Self improvement to me often feels like the punishment of Sissyphus, that mythical King forced to roll a boulder up a hill that Zeus repeatedly sends back down.

 But self discovery.....that, I can do.  So instead of a resoultion to improve my one self in the context of many, I decided to investigate who I am instead of what I can or should do about the one me.

This personal knowledge about the one me cannot be found online, no matter how many hours I devote to reading and socializing and listening in the land of free advice.

So the middle of cold freezing January, I've thought about the one me. I discovered that I'm an introvert who is learning to be more outgoing. I'm also reward sensitive and like to give myself things for doing the most ordinary tasks, like stuffing my face with handfuls of Lucky Charms after two hours of trying to figure out how to help my son can join a Minecraft server and play remotely with his best buddy (technology stresses me OUT!).  I'm so reward sensitive that when I'm in the middle of cleaning out rooms and closets, I like to reward myself by buying little things to redecorate with.  When I go out, I like to bring something back home.  When I eat dinner, I like to reward myself with second helpings.  When I was a smoker, the slightest little task would be rewarded with a cigarette.  Wash the dishes?  Go have a smoke.  This reward sensitivity is something that thankfully hasn't led me to be a compulsive gambler, but it has affected my life.  I recenlty had NO cavities at the dentist and felt like I deserved a reward.  Then I realized that having no cavities IS the reward.

I learned that stress is an enemy when you are trying to lose weight.  But trying not to be stressed is stressful too.

I also learned that when I am totally resistant to writing my book, which happens almost every day, that making a craft can free the writer's mind and help me to approach the blank page.

 I rediscovered that one full hour on the eliptical strider makes me feel like flying, and that I need that one hour in my daily life.

But the most important thing I learned, the ONE message that I needed, is that simply looking at my husband's face brings all kinds of loving feelings to the surface.  If I have been annoyed by something and I'm struggling with anger, I need to remember to look at his face.  I can't exactly describe what happens to me when I am mindful of the shapes and contours, the curling hair around his earlobes, his eyes and the texture of his skin.   When I look at his face, I feel love, and there's no room for anything else.  The same thing happens when I look at Elliot and Emily's faces.  Even a picture will have the same effect.  So next time I'm gearing up to be really mad, I need to remember to focus on the face of my loved one.  I followed this discovery with with action; now our stairwell has an abundance of family photographs.

I also learned the positive effect of one thing leading to another.  Writing one chapter of a book leads to another.  One stanza of a poem leads to another.  One action, in whatever direction, leads to the next action. One uplifting idea can produce the feelings possibility and potential, two birds which I am personally inviting into my heart to make a nest.

January feels different to me now. It's the first month, and it will lead into the next.  By the middle of the year, I'll probably be longing for the simplicity and the symbolism of One that came with it.  I very nearly missed the importance of it.  By some random chance or intentional purpose from above, I heard one song on the radio which filled my spirit.  Maybe it wasn't a coincidence at all.

  We are one, but we're not the same, we get to carry each other, carry each other.....

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Five days of cleaning and a very bad cold

You wouldn't know this by looking at my home on an average day, but I actually do enjoy organizing and cleaning.  I despised it as a young person.  I thought it was slavery to dust.  Cruel torture to clean a closet.  Death to scrub a bathtub.

The pleasantness of middle age is that one can actually be lifted up by the chores once resisted in youth.  Having a home to clean is actually a privilege.  A gift.  A blessing.  But normally I don't see it that way.  It's only when I have a large block of time to actually make a dent in it when it feels good.  The up side of having a temporarily sick child is that we don't have to go anywhere or do anything important.  We can just be.

And when things get cleaned out, there's suddenly room for imagination.   Perhaps I had another reason for going on a sorting spree.  The book I'm writing can be avoided if I have to do another pressing task, like sorting socks, which suddenly feels super important with so many ideas and nothing to write!

Today we're going to enjoy the results of having the laundry caught up and the closet space under the stairs cleaned out.  On a whim, I thought it would be fun to make a hideaway out of the new space.  Letting go of the need to be a packrat, I let some things go in order to do this:

Feel better soon, Elliot!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Looking back and going forward

Recently we spent a fact... saturated and flooded... weekend indoors, compounded with a weary virus.  I did small projects when I felt a little burst of energy return.  I reorganized the kitchen cabinet shelves and decorated the tiny bathroom off the kitchen.  I also wrote a few more pages in the story I'm writing, but that is an inch by inch, frustrating activity.  I wrote one great line, but the rest feels like junk.

For one whole day, we did nothing but rest in our house.  It was bliss.  Richard ventured out and brought home Chinese take-out, and we dined by candle light in the kitchen while Elliot slept through a fever.

He slept so much that I really missed him!  Here are some pictures of my sweet boy who keeps growing taller but also more loving.  I appreciate the gift of his sweetness, his silliness.  What would I do without his spontaneous energy for life?  When he woke up today, he seemed taller, and older, and I just had to go back and remember his little boy face in order to handle the reality that we must all go forward.

He just won't stop growing up!

And I'm thankful for that, because look what happens:  friends keep coming into his life.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

New Year, New Light

Today is so


 The lights are still up, and for New Year's Day, my candle is lit, but the silence that comes when loved ones return to the lives they must live is resting here in the corners. We had a beautiful, happy Christmas together and I am thankful for so much love.

I am writing what may become a book, and this is something to carry me into 2014.  I'm a little superstitious about it, afraid to kill it by discussion.  Maybe a new blog address and header will be a part of this process.  Like a fitness goal, I'd like to reward myself with a fresh look and a new purpose when I've done the work that must be done.

 Blessings and peace to you as we journey into longer days and new seasons, with hope and anticipation for the ordinary goodness that comes with each day.

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