Sunday, January 31, 2010

Gift of a Letter

Letter writing is the only device for combining solitude with good company.
Lord Byron

My husband has two aunts that still believe in the written word and post office. They even have e-mail accounts. Yesterday I trudged through the snow down our long driveway to collect the trash bin and mail. To my delight there was a card postmarked from Colorado by Aunt Karen.

After getting comfortable in the house I gently opened the card. It had a painting of a beautiful pink orchid and green hummingbird on it. Inside was a letter to say hello and describing her Victorian doll house project and recent orders from seed catalogs for the upcoming spring.

This card is sitting on my desk and has brought me joy. Unlike an e-mail, I can pick this card up, ponder her writings, and enjoy the painting. Now it is my turn to "write" her back the real way. I encourage you to surprise and brighten a friends day with the gift of a letter.
Shine your light,

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Artist in Residence

This is why I blog the most. It is a little space for me and a positive outlet. My house is not serene, calm, and orderly. I do my best. My mom recently told me my blog does not reflect the chaos of my life. I told her it is a blog for joy and gratitude, not of complaint.

My lively and curious two year old son keeps life interesting. These days we have more than one bubble bath per day due to potty training and his love of "art". Last night he found a green marker and colored his toenails. He was so proud of this accomplishment! Since he is my fourth, I know not to give these small things too much power and attention. This will pass like all the other bizarre stages.

Like I tell my kids before they play a ball game or try something new.
Do your best and have fun.
I will take my own advice.
Shine your light,

Monday, January 25, 2010

Glimpse of Blue Sky

Give Thanks
Do the work
Go the extra mile
Give thanks again
All shall be well

As I write the sky is gray and pregnant again with soft giant snowflakes gently falling. The river is raging with white caps due to all the rain, snow and ice we have had lately.

Yesterday something special happened. As my daughter and I were driving to the grocery store, the heavy clouds parted and we got a glimpse of the bright blue sky. Seeing the vibrant light blue sky swirl with soft white clouds felt magical and uplifting. A few warm rays of sunshine even shone through briefly. The bright sky did not last long as more snow clouds rolled in but it was long enough to give us and everyone we saw a little more spring in their step.

Feeling the warmth and vibrancy of nature gave me a boost of energy. Also a feeling surfaced that its time to tie up some loose ends. Spring will be here in a couple of months and the natural pace of life will pick up. My intent is to go through some of those lingering piles of paperwork, rotate some outgrown kids clothes, and just tend to the house with more vigor and care.
One more cup of coffee and then I will begin.
Shine your light,

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Baking the Blues Away

If you're afraid of butter, use cream. Julia Child

To help lift my winter blues I have gone on a baking spree. Who better to turn to than Paula Deen's Lady & Sons Cookbook for some bright and buttery inspiration.

Since yesterday my hand mixer has been busy whipping up Deen's Aunt Glennis's Blonde Brownies, oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, and as I write the smell of Gooey Butter Cakes are baking in the oven. I added some coconut and chocolate chips just because.

There is something definitely intoxicating about mixing butter, eggs, vanilla, and sugar together. For me it can be an instant shot of joy. No candle can compare to the actual scent of fresh baked cakes in the oven. The whole house smells delicious.

Now, back to those butter cakes.
Shine your light,

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Dark Days

I won't be made useless, I won't be made idle with despair. I will gather myself around my faith, for light does the darkness most fear. Jewel

Sometimes I wish I could just sleep during the entire month of January. That is what my body wants to do. These cold gray days are heavy and long. We have had a long stretch of "frog" -freezing fog which has not lifted or let any light through. Nothing seems to lift my spirits. I know it is the depths of winter and this too will pass.

I also feel heavy with sadness for the people in Haiti. My heart goes out to all the people suffering from such massive earthquake damages. The loss of life and hardship is daunting. My thoughts and prayers have been with these brave people constantly. May God be with you.
Keep shining your light,

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Stacking Firewood

To live well is to work well, to show a good activity. Thomas Aquinas

I was born and raised in the suburbs but feel more at home in the country. I love the wide open spaces that make way for room to breathe. My husband and I have been living out in the country for almost eight years. A dream we both shared.

Our home has an efficient wood burning stove that heats the house in the winter. My husband spends a lot of time and energy hauling fallen trees out of the woods and cutting and splitting them for firewood. Thankfully his tractor has a log splitter that makes things go quicker.

I have been his assistant in helping stack the wood on the side porch. We burn a lot of wood so there is huge pile to stack. This past Saturday evening I bundled up in my favorite old goose down coat and worn in chestnut Uggs and began stacking. The air was clear and crisp, the snow was bright white and thick, and the logs heavy.

Back and forth with an armful of wood. Through the snow and up to the porch.
Back and forth as my nose starts to drip....
Back and forth as the air pierces my lungs...
Back and forth as I look in the window to see the kids watching TV...
Back and forth as my lower back aches....
Back and forth as I hear a coyote howl in the dark night...
Back and forth as my body works and my mind empties...
Back and forth as I begin to feel peace...

The more I stacked the more soothing it became to my soul. It was a repetitive moving meditation of such surprised delight. I was physically exhausted yet mentally uplifted. A feeling of exquisite joy overcame me when I stacked that last log high upon the pile. I came in to the house and sat by the warm fire with a new appreciation for an accomplished task that turned out to be an unexpected gift.
Shine your light,

Thursday, January 7, 2010

In the moment

Realize deeply that the present is all you ever have.
Make the now the primary focus of your life.
Eckhart Tolle

We are burrowed in as winter weather has taken the Midwest by storm. On this cold and snowy winter night there is no place we need to be except home. Being here now made me contemplate living in the now.

Kids are good at living in the moment. They don't have huge responsibilities, pressing schedules or running to-do lists. This picture I snapped of my son says so much of just enjoying the present moment. Instead of scurrying to the car he wanted to stop and taste the snowflakes.

This moment is the best moment of your life. It is now. The past is gone and the future is unknown. Are you living in the now? Do you slow down to look others in the eye when they talk to you? Do you taste your food? Today I decided not to check my e-mail while eating my lunch. I just focused on eating my tortilla soup and how the flavors tasted. It was delicious and filling.

In the process of "being" rather than "doing", life can be so much richer and connected. Eckhart Tolle writes chapters about this in his book, A New Earth. I highly recommend it as many light bulbs went off when reading it. Enjoy the moment.
Shine your light,

Sunday, January 3, 2010

2 X 10 4 ME (Meditation and Exercise)

Surrender and Just Breathe..........

It is a day before three of my kids go back to school and I am already feeling the tension build. Coaches have called about tournaments this month, I am overdue for tumbling registration, and the homework, PTO duties, and Scouts will begin the day after tomorrow.

As I sit here and take a deep breath I decided to make two small goals.

1. Sit quietly to breathe for ten minutes each day. This is hopefully a small but attainable dose of meditation.

2. Exercise for ten minutes each day.

Hopefully ten minutes should not be too difficult to squeeze in. I could stretch, do jumping jacks or a sun salutation, and jog up to my mailbox and back in ten minutes. If I do ten minutes each day that adds up to 60 minutes per week of exercise and 60 minutes of meditation.

Let's begin. Do you want to join me?
Shine your light,

Friday, January 1, 2010

New Decade

Happy New Year and Happy New Decade!
Ten years ago we rang in 2000 with fears and questions about Y2K. I still have a small Y2K survival box with Sterno cans, matches and MREs somewhere in the pantry.

Ten years ago we found out I was pregnant with our first child. For me the past decade has been defined as the baby years. Pregnancy x 4, childbirth x 4 (3 natural and 1 C-section), breastfeeding, exhaustion, joy, depression, (did I mention exhaustion?), and growing up and into parenthood. "Friends" dear to my heart have been Baby Mozart, Elmo, Barney, Brown Bear, Polar Bear, Madeline, McQueen, and Pooh. I could write a book on this paragraph.

My husband and I once tried to figure out how many diapers we had changed over the years. How many "wipes & dipes" trips to the store..... How much money we have spent on baby essentials. We are still making diaper runs so we are not totally out of that stage but will be soon. After a decade I will not be too sad. I look forward to hopping in the car sans diaper bag, sippy cup, and stroller.

This decade my car will be full of backpacks, sports gear, folding spectator chairs, crayons, activity books, and hopefully vacation bags.

I also look forward to catching up on a decade of movies. I recently watched Love Actually and realized I need to discover more good ones from 2000 - 2009. Please e-mail me with any suggestions.
Shine your light,