2015 was my year to open. 2016 is my year to connect.
This year I will connect:
- with my family more closely by wrapping up and stepping away from my computer
- with nature with more time outside
- with what I love—the garden and cooking and friends (and I’ll connect those things that I love too)
- with creativity through regular writing and crafting and space to think
- with new clients in this new work I’m focusing on.
- with other moms running businesses to share and learn and collaborate
- with my world by getting out in my community, going new places, trying new things.
This year too, I want to connect the dots between the different pieces of my writing—the copywriting for clients, this blog, other creative writing that’s happening slowly (and I’m trying) regularly. I’m not sure these pieces fit together, but I’ll explore how they intersect or how to make sure they all get the space they need.
The most direct route to doing most of this is to be offline more (she says while online to blog). I haven’t figure this part out yet. I run an online business, so simply checking out and getting off line all the time isn’t the answer. Taking a break might be. Setting not-connected zones of time might be. My struggle to shutdown is one of the reasons I’ve resisted a cell phone for years. I know that when I take time off line, I read and get outside and sleep better. It’s (just) figuring out how to do it.
This past week, I’ve been busy connecting with clients after a break, connecting with potential new clients ready to dive into action in this fresh new year. I’m also connecting with the reality that I can’t do it all at once.
Today, I was tempted to sneak a little work in while everyone else is out tiring out the dog, but what I really needed to do was to connect back to my intention to make space for writing.
So here I am, coming back to this space, to connect.
Do you have a word of the year?
This morning when I stepped out early, the grass was crispy with frost. I could see the squirrel’s nest in the tree down the driveway. A single crow perched at the top of the dying tree that threatens our car. My eyes find squirrels in the trees, movement more than color or shape in the skeletons of the stripped down trees.
It’s a month of paring back. Simplifying. Stripping down.
Apparently I’ve stripped away words. While one of my friends tries to write a novel for NaNoWriMo and another blogs daily for NaBloPoMo, I’ve been absent here, writing less, not more.
It’s not that I haven’t been writing. I’ve finished an essay and, just this morning, an article. Both have been lingering in half-forgotten folders on my computer and dusty corners of my mind. But in the mornings when I’m up, I find myself just sitting. I crave stillness and quiet. I wrap my hands around a mug of ginger tea for warmth. I slowly breath in the steam rising from the cup. It is the closest I come to meditation.
I find myself standing outside feeling the sun on my back, watching the clouds scuttle across the sky or peering down at the bees crawling all over the pale pink mums with their yellowed centers, still working. Like the squirrels in the trees, it’s the motion first that catches my eye. And I watch.
There are leaves to get up, wood to move, flower pots to tuck away in the barn. There are stories to tell, words to get out, but right now, I’ve pared back. I get still. I watch. Getting quiet, noticing. This is my work too.
The words will come back, like the leaves, but right now is a time to find out how much there is to see when everything is stripped down.
Last weekend we had a killing frost. In the Saturday morning chill while my big girl got ready for soccer, I trotted up to the garden. I filled a plastic grocery bag with jewel-toned chard, crimson and gold threading through deep green leaves. I picked a quart of green beans, a handful of jalapenos and miniature bell peppers. I left the carrots and the beets in the ground; they’d be fine. I considered the basil, but it was looking anemic.
Just before I got in the car to head out for the weekend, I cut flowers—bright red dahlias and zinnias—orange-red, pale to deep pink, more red—and filled an old canning jar. There will be mums still and asters, but it’s my last cutting of these brilliant hues.
It’s a time of endings in the garden. Wrapping up.
And yet, cilantro is sprouting all over. Johnny-jump-ups raise their little smiles. And garlic is ready to go into the ground, with hopes for the spring.
While I worked on clearing the limp, blackened plants from the garden, my girls raked the yellow leaves that blanketed the yard, hoping for a huge pile to jump in. The wood piles grow. Dinner is less about grilling and salad than something that can go in the oven—shepherd’s pie, pork and apple pie—or simmer for hours on the stove—pea soup, squash soup.
It’s a time of endings, but it’s a beginning of this next season too. Snow flew briefly on Sunday. The girls ran out to greet it. I didn’t welcome it, not yet. This season on golden and crimson leaves will end soon enough, shifting to the brown of oaks. Even the cilantro and parsley and mums, holding out for now, will succumb to the cold. And then I’ll welcome the snow (though maybe not too much of it?). Then I’ll shift from cider to cocoa.
But for now, I’m cleaning up from the summer I’ve already said good-bye to. I’m embracing the smell of chilly mornings and wood smoke, and rotting leaves. I’m soaking up the sun and watching the busy bees, knowing I have much to do too, but feeling lazy.
Last night I sautéed some of that chard with mushrooms and my own garlic. I added white beans and grilled eggplant and bright roasted squash. I toasted bread and rubbed it with more of my garlic, sprinkled it lightly with salt, drizzled thickly with olive oil. Bright colors, rich and earthy flavors. The last of my garden bounty becomes one of my favorite fall meals. An end, a beginning.
What’s wrapping up for you right now? What’s beginning? Write about a time of transition whether it’s seasonal or something shifting in your own life?
Right now I’m loving
- bursts of color, not in the leaves where I expect it this time of year, but in my garden where the zinnias and dahlias, cosmos and mums are peaking
- bringing bits of that color inside on my desk, the windowsill by the kitchen sink, the top of the bookcase
- noticing the spreading color in the trees, a little more each morning, when I step outside first thing while the coffee pot drip-hiss-sputters inside
- coming in from the cool morning to that hot coffee
- using the garlic that I grew and waiting for the delivery of my seed for next year
- the warmth and comfort of my bed as I anticipate sleeping outside on the hard ground for a couple of days
- anticipating an adventure, the kind we haven’t had in a long, long time
- this post by Jess Ryan that helps me remember why I love this kind of adventure (I’ll consider the metaphors later)
- getting bags (and bags and bags) of clothes ready to hand-down or donate
- knowing the new Louise Penny book is ready for me at the library—even if I can’t get it just yet
- writing letters again
- time away from the computer
What are you loving right now?
Tell me something now—and write about it next week with Write What You Love. It’s free and you can sign up here.
“Let me take your picture before we eat,” I said imagine chocolate smears from the muffins all down her first day of school outfit.
As I grabbed the camera (I still don’t have a cell phone), she raced to the stand in front of the flowers where her sister had stood for her first day of school picture last week.
“Only with K!” she demanded wanting her sister in there too. Then quickly she changed to, “I wanna take a selfie.”
My preschooler wanted to take a selfie.
I didn’t go to preschool, but when I was in school, I didn’t know the word selfie because it didn’t exist. When my first day of school pictures were taken, my mom took them with a camera. With film. Long after school started, when we finished the roll and remembered to drop off the film and remembered to pick it up, we got that film developed and actually saw the pictures.
These days, my kids want to see the picture practically before I take it. “Let me see. Let me see!” Digital means you know if you got a good shot or not, but there’s no waiting, no anticipation. Sometimes it feels like everything is RIGHT NOW all the time.
But last week, my big girl headed off to school on Monday and the little one turned to me as the bus pulled away. “I’m bored. There’s no one to play with.”
Despite everything feeling “on-demand,” she had to wait for more than a week for her school to start. But today was her day. She was up early and dressed in the outfit she had picked out, the one that wasn’t my favorite on the rack, but was so her, bright and bold and sassy. She was all big grins that she had the same kind of muffins her big sister had had for her first day of school.
She waved her sister off and then hurried to the car. It was her day, and she was ready to start.
Both my girls are back in school, and I’m settling back into my own routine, including writing more regularly.
Are you writing today?
Think about what’s different now than when you were a kid. Make a list or zoom in one change. How do you feel about this change?
I don’t know where to start, so I’ll start here, with this cool morning that made me pull a sweater over my pjs, at least outside on the porch. I curl my hand around the smooth glaze of my coffee mug, the curved walls fit my hand perfectly. I feel the warmth, watch the steam rise up.
I take a bit of bagel, crisp then chewy and taste the sweet then bitter peach marmalade. More coffee. My eyes are still grainy with tiredness. I know more coffee isn’t the answer, but it’s warm and says wake up if only by routine.
There is a high, vibrating noise in the distance. I think alternately coyotes and a swarm of bees, but now it has settled into music, closer. And then again, far away, the high pitched yelp, and above me, “Caw, caw, caw!”
I’m distracted by cold feet, but I won’t go get socks, not until the kids wake up. I want this quiet time, but still, that vibrating hum far away, and within me. I’m restless, feeling the change in the air, school starting, new routines. I’m ready to settle in, get back to writing, back to running or walking, back to knowing when my work time is. And I’ll miss the lazy mornings, when we stayed in pajamas and read book after book and wandered out in the dewy garden.
I look up from my journal. The paint on the porch is peeling, white chips fallen or waiting to fall, patches where it’s been scraped already. It’s supposed to be painted this summer, one more thing of the endless to do list. Over the railing, the garden waits to be weeded. I see the last zucchini plant, shrived and brown taken down by powdery mildew.
And then motion. A bit of red. Hummingbird. I watch it hover, wings abuzz. Does it ever get tired of so much motion?
I hear the feet on the steps before the, “Mom?” at the screen door. And then it opens and a new part of the day begins.
I’ve been reading Madeleine L’Engle’s A Circle of Quiet, and she talks about five-finger exercises and how even the pages that you throw away have purpose. This idea that writing is like running or playing the piano or any thing you do that you need to practice and keep up with isn’t something new. It’s something I know, something I’ve said, and sometimes I still need that reminder.
It’s been a busy summer and I’ve fallen out of practice with many things, writing among them. So I’m here, doing my finger exercises, getting back into the habit of sitting down and putting words on the page. I almost didn’t come here today. I thought, “Next week, when both kids are in school,” but I’m tired of waiting. I’m doing an exercise challenge with my sister, and this morning I can feel in my legs handful of lunges I did last night. I need to feel my writing muscles again too. So I’m here, and I’m writing.
What are you warming up to do again?