Right now I’m loving:
- This gift from my neighbor and its reminder that spring will come eventually
- Gaiters and long johns (since spring is no where near here yet)
- My wonderful neighbors—and their snowblowers
- These cookies (equally good made with coconut oil instead of butter)
- Seed catalogs (more spring dreams)
- Anne Lamott’s Small Victories
- My moka pot
- Our latest batch of chili (in a bowl with rice, as a dip for blue corn chips, or on homemade pizza)
- Seeing people joining me for Write What You Love
There’s still time time to join us. We start tomorrow! Sign up here.
What are you loving right now?
The snow was soft, not crusted over despite the cold, as we trudge-tramped over the parking lot we couldn’t enter with the car, across the field, and up the hill. Trudge makes it sound like hard work, and snowshoeing is work, but enjoyable, rhythmic work.
When we reached the hill, the girls moved steadily up up up. At the crest we turned and looked out over the trail and fields, the late afternoon sun shedding that magical, golden light over the tree tops.
My big girl dropped her mittens; the little one flopped on the ground. I pulled out a narrow silver thermos and poured steaming cups of hot cocoa. The dog dashed and darted sending up snow spray. By the time I turned around, the golden tree tops had turned a dusky purple.
I took a deep, cold breath and smiled. I had almost forgotten that I love snowshoeing. My snowshoes have gotten dusty from little use. The secret to enjoying winter was getting out it in sometimes, but that’s been hard. We’d all manage to get dressed to be out only to have a wet diaper or somebody who needed to go potty NOW. We had little ones crying because they couldn’t walk in the snow that was up near their waist but too impatient and independent to go in the backpack.
But this year? My kids worked on their snow fort today waiting for the school bus. Some days I call them in at near dark. We all go sledding. And now we can all go snowshoeing.
We came back with rosy cheeks and chilly fingers, smelling of cold air. I was energized and yet ready for a good night sleep too. The fire felt especially cozy, that other side of enjoying winter.
Sometimes we need to dust off the things we like to do. If you want to do that, join me for Write What You Love next week. Over three days, we’ll explore in writing things we love and get inspired to get up an do something.
What’s something you love to do that you haven’t done in a while?
Tell me in the comments or use this a writing prompt: I used to love to . . .
The garden is covered in snow and a sheet of ice. Stonework, fencing, the plants I didn’t cut back the only things showing where it should be. Garden books and seed catalogs are stacked by my chair. It’s time to dream
I dream of green:
Lettuce and spinach
I wonder how my garlic, planted in the fall, is doing. I imagine where the tomatoes will go. I contemplate new beds for fresh strawberry plants.
My garden sleeps, and I dream.
This time of year, I read about new projects, new things to grow, new ways to grow it. I choose seeds. I just dream of warm days, moist earth, and green growth. And I wait.
This dormant time, this slow down, this dream time matters. The garden needs it. We do too. I tend to forget this. I need to turn off the computer and get outside for a walk (that one’s been tough lately). I find new energy as I move slowly through yoga again and go to bed earlier. I soak in hot baths and am mesmerized by the fire.
It looks like doing nothing, but a lot is happening. Resting, gathering energy, letting things move within you that are too busy when you are busy busy busy gogogo. Take time to daydream. Let yourself rest and go quiet like the garden does. Let your energy gather for more growth.
Take a walk, in woods or by water if you can. Mediate or do some yoga. Shut off your computer and tablet and phone. Let go of your list. Pour yourself a cup of coffee or tea or wine. Sip. Contemplate.
Then if you want, doodle, draw, or write in a journal.
For your journal
Try one of these prompts or words:
I dream of
- Write the word or phrase at the top of the page and create a list or freewrite starting from it.
- Write it in the middle of the page. Circle it and add other words and ideas branching off it.
- Write it in the middle of the page and spiral your thoughts outward.
Be dreamy, be open. Don’t edit or censor. Just write and see what comes out.
What are you dreaming of these days?
My calendar is empty. I have no to do list.
I won’t be on a phone call with a group I meet with every other week or doing a training a client is offering.
I won’t be Christmas shopping or editing a chapter or paying bills.
And I won’t be online. Emails will wait. Facebook with chatter on without me.
On December 17, I’ll let the quiet settle around me. Settle within me.
I’ll take care of my girls. I’ll be with my family. I’ll be kind to myself. I might walk or read or write a letter. I might work on the needle-felted turtle I’m making for my niece, not because I need to get it done, but because the process is soothing. I’ll see what I’m moved to do.
I leave this day open every year. In the middle of all the bustle and festivities and end of the year wrap up, I make space.
I make space to remember and to sit with what ever emotions come. The emotions are hard, but that space, that quiet is beautiful.
You should try it.
Go ahead. Take a day. Let go of your “should do” list. Shut down the computer. Turn off your phone. Let things wait. Move slowly. Go outside. Soak up the sunshine no matter how weak or trace patterns in the stars. Breathe deep. Walk. Sit by the fire. Do what feels comfortable or comforting.
Let in quiet and stillness and peace.
They sorted through the bags looking for the tags, checking the numbers. This year they can read the numbers on our Advent calendar themselves.
22 . . . 19 . . . 18 . . .12 . . .9 . . . 11 . . . 8 . . . 6
Even before the book is out of the cloth bag, jolly with gingerbread men, they start exclaiming, the little one peering over the big one’s shoulder.
“Oh, I LOVE that book!”
“Me too! I luv it”
And then “Can we read it now?”
I sit on the couch and snuggle in on either side of me, a red head resting on one side, the a blond one on the other. I melt into that middle.
“On Christmas eve, many years ago,” I begin.
My big girl half shivers next to me, anticipating the rest of the story, and leans in a little closer. I smile and keep reading.
I heard the bell for many years, but then nothing. I worried that I’d never hear it again, that Christmas would be quiet and dim in our house.
Even though this month is still full of shadows, light has returned—the gentle glow of the Christmas tree, the warming light of the fire, the dancing excitement in my girls’ eyes.
They run around the house sometimes singing “Jingle Bells” and shaking the bracelets they made with tiny bells pipe cleaners. It’s a tinny sound, but in that enthusiasm, I can almost hear the richer, magical tones of that other bell.
When I’m done reading, we sit for a minute in the warmth and light and quiet before, I prompt them, “Time to get ready.”
The sky, and with it the room, has brightened. The bus will be here soon. In the bright kitchen, I stir oatmeal and call out to the girls to get dressed, but throughout the day there is that moment of peace and warm light and maybe a little magic.
Do you hear the bell at Christmas?
In the comments, share something that gives you comfort or joy this time of year.
Three kids went home sick from my daughter’s class yesterday. One threw up at school. I’m obsessively washing my hands, reminding the kids to wash theirs, and trying to remember not to eat scraps off their plate.
Still, this morning, my stomach felt off. I don’t know if I’m on the verge of something or if I’m just fearful of getting a stomach bug.
I’ve been thinking about fear and the trepidation with which I approach December every year, and wondering if some of that is just habit.
December pulls me hard between dark and light, joy and sorrow, birth and death. All year I hold these things together, but in December, the tension is strong.
Next week I will celebrate my older daughter’s birthday. A few days later, her little sister will blow out her own candles.
And on the 17th, we mark the day Henry died.
I still feel trepidation when this month rolls around. My body tenses as we move into December, wrapping tighter as we move closer to that day.I feel the pressure of birthdays and holidays on either side of Henry’s day. I feel that weight sinking in the center between them.
I have slowly reclaimed this month. I moved from having no tree to putting up a mini tree to telling my girls the stories of the ornaments as we hang them together on a big tree. I’ve slowly reintroduced traditions like baking cookies and making ornaments. I’ve added new traditions like our Christmas story advent calendar.
Along the way, I’ve found light again and joy. My girls have helped a lot with that, their enthusiasm and excitement lighting my way. I want to follow their light, bask in it’s glow.
I want to let go of the trepidation this month brings.The weight, the darkness, the sorrow may come—surely will—but I don’t want to give it extra time.
The past few Decembers have been about building—adding in traditions and celebrations. This year, I want to start to let go of anxiety and anticipation, so even more light can come in.
What can you let go of this December? What can you make room for?
Maybe you’ll let go of a tradition you never liked or an event you grumble about every year to make room for a new tradition that brings you peace or joy.
Maybe you’ll let go of getting “perfect” gift and enjoy spending time with loved ones instead.
Maybe you’ll cull your Christmas card list and write a note to a few friends.
Maybe you’ll throw out the to do list and sit by the fire and sip your eggnog.
Not sure? Try journaling about what you love most about the holidays.
Whatever you do, I hope you find more joy and peace and light in this season.
Share in the comments what you want to make room for this month and one thing you can let go of to get there.