The Good We Can Embrace

When I sent out my closing post for Gratitude Week, I shared this quote:

What if, today, we were grateful for everything?
~Charlie Brown~

Ah, the wisdom of sweet Charlie Brown.  And I know some of you may be shaking your heads, thinking immediately of circumstances in your life – or in the lives of others – that one could not possibly be thankful for.  And I get that.  I can think of questionable scenarios too.

Is it possible to feel grateful for everything?

I honestly don’t know, and I won’t try to answer that for you or anyone else.  But here’s what I do know and feel…

It’s hard to feel grateful for forest fires raging in California.  But it’s easy to feel gratitude for all the people working to save the people and the forests, to see the communities that gather to support one another.

It’s hard to feel grateful for gun violence.  But it’s easy to feel gratitude for the people working hard to make a change.  (here’s an easy way for you to insert your voice)

It’s hard to feel grateful for loved ones suffering chronic health issues, but it’s easy to feel gratitude for the families and friends who gather round, for the health professionals who dedicate their lives to alleviating pain and disease.

These are just a few injustices to illustrate the point that, at surface value, some things won’t seem worthy of our gratitude but that, if we shift the place from which we stand ever so slightly (figuratively, sometimes literally), might offer a softening of the heart.  This softening won’t erase anything, but it might make the continued journey – because that is what we do, living here on this Earth, we journey – a wee bit pleasanter.  A tad easier to wrap our brains around, if only for a moment.

I’m not asking anyone to be grateful for everything.  That’s a pretty tall order.  But maybe we can shift the way we understand the interconnectedness of people and things, of life.  So that, somewhere down the line, there’s a glimmer, a spark, a recognition….of the good that is ours to embrace.

always the love, m

 

P.S.  Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving in the United States, or are having a regular day/week somewhere else in the world, I wish you love and kindness.  I wish you strength to shift perspective, as necessary. I wish you grace to rest wherever you are, always.

P.P.S.  There’s still time to sign up for Just Five Things

My Wishes for You

Are you busy right now?  Or are you finding stillness?  Maybe you’re somewhere in between.

So often I find myself in the in-between.  It’s possible to be ridiculously busy and (somewhat) still at the same time.  I find that staying with my breath helps.  Walks outside help too.  As do cups of tea.  And warm socks, slippers, and a favorite sweater.

Whether you are ridiculously busy or somewhat still (or in the in-between like me) in these final days of December (in these final days of 2017), I extend these wishes to you…

happiness
peace
a bit of merry
acceptance (of whatever is)
grace
pockets of quiet
candlelight
love (so much love)
joy (and I know joy can feel like a tall order) (joy is something that can feel like an expectation) (but I hope you can sit with the word and feel its lightness, its possibility, your possibility)

I send you these wishes.  And I send them with love.

Whatever you celebrate this time of year, happy that.
Thank you for being here with me.  I’ll see you in the new year.

 

Sending a little love your way, m

 

P.S.  I have an essay published at Modern Creative Living.  A piece for their Hope and Wonder theme.  I think you might enjoy it…click here to read.

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

25 (Simple) (and Meaningful) Gifts

You know I love lists.  Here’s a list of 25 free (or practically free) gifts you can bestow upon others this holiday season.  Really, they’re gifts for any time of year.  They’re simple and meaningful.  Happy gifting…in a simple and meaningful way.

 

  1. Give a hug.  Then give another one.  Maybe a little longer.  Maybe a little tighter.
  2. Bake cookies.  Share with a neighbor, with co-workers, with friends.
  3. Tell someone something you like about them.
  4. Write a love note.  Pop it in the mail, place it on someone’s desk, leave it on a pillow.
  5. Donate a book to the library.
  6. Do a secret favor.  Don’t tell anyone, just do it.  It’s a secret!
  7. Make something, anything (a card, a piece of toast, a smile).  Give it to someone.
  8. Help without being asked.
  9. Feed the birds.
  10. Write a dozen thoughtful letters to someone and tuck them into twelve separate envelopes. Label the envelopes with each month of the year.  Gift this collection of letters to someone you love, with instructions for when to open.
  11. Be patient.
  12. Donate food to the local food bank.
  13. Hold the door for a stranger.
  14. Donate a toy.
  15. Cook a special meal for someone you love.
  16. Say thank you (and feel that thank you in your heart).
  17. Make a handmade card for someone.
  18. Give a coupon for time spent together (a hike, an evening of knitting, a trip to the museum).
  19. Donate blood.
  20. Clip a few sprigs of evergreen, or rosemary, or holly. Tie them with ribbon.  Surprise someone.
  21. Read a story aloud. With your kids, with a friend.  It might feel funny at first (with someone other than a child), but it’s really kind of grand.
  22. Listen closely to others, and try not to interrupt.
  23. Make someone a cup of hot cocoa. Or tea.  Or coffee.  Sit with them while they enjoy it.
  24. Make an inspiration jar by writing inspirational quotes on strips of paper, tucking them into a jar, and tying with a ribbon.
  25. Give more hugs. Because I don’t believe there can ever be too many hugs in this world.

 

Do you have gift ideas to add to this list of simple and meaningful?
I’d love to hear…

always the love, m

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

:: Randoming ::

Some random things…

This quote.  I remind myself of this, a lot.  From the work of creativity to the work of life.  Also, the book from which this quote originates is in my Amazon shopping cart.  Christmas present to myself, maybe?  Yes, maybe. (thanks, A)

I’m pretty sure I’ve shared this short video at some point.  But it’s worth sharing again.  It pairs nicely with the quote/image above.  A gentle yet insistent reminder.  Do the work.  Keep going.  It’s the only way.  Creative work, life work, all work.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have the patience to make these.  But aren’t they pretty?!

Self-care is something I think about.  This article shares thoughts in keeping with what I think too.  Take care.  Know that it’s in our everyday choices, our everyday power. (thanks, A)

Resting in the openness.  Yes, please.

A dear friend sent me this video after telling me she’d begun taking tap dancing lessons.  After listening to her experience of tap and watching this video, I kinda wanna sign myself up for lessons. (thanks, P)

I have favorite Christmas albums from my childhood…Johnny Mathis  and Bing Crosby are two such favorites.  This one has become a favorite in the last couple years. It’s one I listen to, without tiring, all season long.

I did this same project with my kiddos when they were little, except we did Christmas trees and we simply covered a big-ish piece of cardboard with natural-colored felt.  Super cute.  Too bad I wasn’t blogging back then to share. Hands down, a favorite Christmas decoration to set out every year.

Maybe something for the birds?

And a hot cup of this tea, for you.  It’s my favorite tea this time of year.

Our world is full of magical places.  Truly.

 

Happy clicking.  Happy December!

Sending a little love your way, m

 

 

SaveSave

On Feeling Alive

Last week I finally put the garden to bed.  It was a crisp and windy day, sunny and a little bit glorious.  The raspberry bushes scraped my hands; I didn’t mind. It felt good to be outside.  It felt good to be tackling a job I’d been avoiding.  It felt good (truly) to be alive.

The kids had friends over and they were playing soccer, they were laughing, they were alive.

Later, we had pizza.  And a bonfire.  The kids moved between house and fireside.  I sat by the fire as long as possible.  Until it was time for friends to say goodbye.  Until it was time to put the last dishes into the dishwasher. Until it was time to lay my slightly smoke-scented head on the pillow.  It had all felt so good.

That’s the kind of day I love.  A day where things get done and things are enjoyed.  A day lacking demarcation. A day where moments flow one into the next.  A day replete with simple living.

That was a day where the only markers were meals shared and a moment when I stood beside the hydrangea bush.  That moment when I stared at the blooms.  Just the week before they’d been pink!  And now, with color faded, they begged stillness for a minute (maybe it was two?).  And so I stood, then I stooped.  To look closer.  I think I whispered a prayer of gratitude (I hope I whispered a prayer of gratitude).  To the hydrangea.  To the crisp, windy, and glorious day.  To life.  This life that isn’t always easy, but which is pretty glorious.

I clipped a few of the dried and faded hydrangea blooms.  Brought them inside, and set them on the windowsill in our family room.  They are a reminder of how a day can be, how a life might be.

I’m so very fortunate.  And, if you’re reading these words, you’re fortunate too. What do we do with that…that being fortunate?  I’m not sure, except this: embrace your fortune, and be alive.  Count your gratitudes.  Every now and then, allow yourself to pause and stand beside a hydrangea bush.  Spend an extra ten minutes sharing conversation with someone who needs to be heard. Spoon food onto the plate of another.  And say thank you.  To the hydrangea, to the people who pepper your life, to technology which allows you to be here with me right now, to the pillow on which you rest your head each night.  Say thank you, thank you, and thank you.

Then say thank you again.  And feel alive.

 

Sending a little love your way, m

P.S. For those of you in the United States, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving (a day late, I know)!  For those of you elsewhere in this great world of ours,  I wish you the same.  Because, really, a day dedicated to counting blessings? That’s one we can all enjoy.

*****

I’m putting the finishing touches on my special run of Just Five Things.  It’s a mini edition which I’m calling Grounding for the Holidays.  We’ll gather for just five short days.  Five meaningful days of intention.  Would you like to join us? Click right here.  xo

 

 

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSave

SaveSaveSaveSave

SaveSave

In the Still and in the Merry

656c-treeI always feel quieter this time of year.  There’s hustle and bustle around me, and I’m busy with holiday preparations myself.  But I also feel…quiet.  And decidedly not crazy.  I work (it takes conscious effort) to not succumb to the crazy at this time of year.

There are stories out there about the perfect this and the perfect that.  Thanks to social media, we have a steady stream of snippets (visual and verbal) of what others are doing and having and how they’re being.  And sometimes that’s inspiring.  And sometimes it’s overwhelming.  It’s easy to cross that line.

Nobody’s anything is perfect.  Parts of it might be very pretty.  But guaranteed, there’s grit there too.  As we move towards the close of this year, I’m reflecting on the pretty parts of this past year; I’m also thinking about the gritty parts…the times I stumbled, the times I cried, the times my heart broke.  Those parts colored my experience, and I want to honor them too.

And so, on the heels of Solstice and on the (almost) eve of Christmas, I invite you to take a few moments to look around you.  Take it in…your life.  The dishes, the crumbs on the counter, the twinkle lights, the book you’re reading or writing, the about-to-overflow garbage pail, the sunlight falling onto the floor.  Just get still for a few moments and see the messes right alongside the beauty.

The shopping will get done, the wrapping will get done, the gathering will get done. But will you take these moments to notice?  A pause here and a pause there make all the difference.  They really do.  I know because I’ve learned to take them…am still learning…am still practicing (because I forget sometimes) (and I need to be reminded).

Wherever you call home and whatever you celebrate this time of year, I wish you peace and joy and stillness.  I wish you pause and reflection.  I wish you cookies and hugs and merriness.  I wish you goodness.

Sending a little (extra) love your way, m

 

 

Goodness and Gratitude (and Thanksgiving)

2016_november_20_00132-1

On Thursday (tomorrow), folks in the United States will be celebrating Thanksgiving.  A day to count blessings.  And, surely, every day is a good day to count blessings.  But sometimes it’s nice to have a reminder.  Thanksgiving might be that reminder for some of us.

Having explored gratitude during Gratitude Week with so many of you, having explored life and self with some of you in Just Five Things…well, my heart is full.  I was witness to incredible compassion and beauty.  Blown away (yet again).

I have great faith in the goodness of humanity.  I see ugly things on the news (I know you do too) and sometimes I cry.  Real tears.  But I will always return to my belief that goodness underscores all.  It’s there.

This week, if you celebrate Thanksgiving…this week, if you do not celebrate Thanksgiving…celebrate the goodness around you.  It’s there; honor it.  Whisper a little prayer.  Give a big hug.  Bow your head or lift your eyes.

Take a moment and feel the goodness (the gratitude) move through your body.  Carry it with you.

Yes, good, carry on.

Happy Thanksgiving.  Happy goodness.
To you and you and you.

sending a little love your way, m

p.s. I’m sharing more thoughts (and more images) at ViewFinders. I hope you’ll have a peek.

 

Moving into a New Season

656sedum

It’s the first day of autumn and I’m glad.  Glad for the turn of season and all that goes with it.  The sinking into rhythms with the kids, their schoolwork, their activities. The changing patterns of light in the sky and upon our tables and walls and hardwood floors.  The (intense) energy of summer days giving way to something quieter, something slower, something other.

At a time when growth outside my door is slowing, I feel something building within me.  It’s been building for some time (months, years) (a lifetime).  And I can’t quite put it into words for you.  But I feel it. It’s a vague sense of being on the edge of something.  On the edge of (some sort of) clarity.

Clarity on how to move in this world.  And, of course, I’m already moving in this world (gently, I hope).  But I feel a shift coming.  It won’t be groundbreaking to anyone but me.  But I will break ground.  I feel it.

On this first day of autumn, I write these words and look out at the autumn sedum. The autumn sedum is my herald of autumn, perhaps more so than the first falling leaves.  I’ve watched the sedum over the summer.  Watched their leaves form and their stalks grow tall.  Watched their clusters of tiny blooms form, green in their newness.  Watched and waited.  Waited for those dear little clusters to turn from green to a rusty, dusty, wine-colored pink.  And when they change, I feel my shoulders drop away from my ears.  I feel the release, the turn.  From one season to another, from one phase of growth to another.

Like the autumn sedum, I feel myself moving from that new and green growth to something different and slightly other.  It’s subtle, so subtle that it’s difficult to put into words.  Nothing is crystal clear (I’m not crystal clear), but there is some degree of focus, some quantity of surety.  And then…there’s a bit of blur at the edges.  And you know what?  I’m okay with the edges being a bit blurred.  Am, in fact, welcoming the softness of those edges and spaces.

Who says we have to have it All Figured Out?  Well, I know who says that.  But I choose not to listen, choose not to believe in that way of being.  Rather than figure things out, I choose simply to move through it.  I choose to make time to notice it.  I choose to make space to embrace and appreciate and surrender.  I choose to go with it, with intention.

It? This life, I mean.

Happy Autumn, my friends.
May you turn gently and go in the way that you need to go.

Sending a little love your way, m

 

 

Peace

656eve

Very simply, I wish you delight in your day today.  Christmas Eve or otherwise, may you know love and peace and joy…in your life, in your home, in your heart.

Later today, I’ll be burning this candle.  I will think of you – you who visit me here (thank you).  And I will think of all of us who live upon this Earth. And I will wish for peace.  Peace on our Earth.

And I will begin exactly where I’m standing, surrounded by those I love.
And I will trust in the ripples.

Sending a little (actually, a lot) of love your way, m
Happy holidays!

***
I’ll be back here in the New Year.
In the meantime, registration for 28 Moments is open; we’ll be playing with photography and a bit of journal writing, as we explore our daily doings.  Early bird registration effective until January 1, 2016  (I can’t believe I just typed 2016).  Click right here to read more.