Starting over

He looked at me with sad eyes. There was no smile when I came in the door from my morning walk. Where was that happy little man who greets me each day? I chatted with him – he babbled back, kind of. Then just silence.

We moved to the table for me to eat a bit of breakfast and for little man to play in the high chair. He picked up toys and they fell from his hands. He made a few sounds but not his usual banter when sitting up in his chair.

I decided it was time to change his pants. He did not agree. You could tell by the noise he made as we headed up the steps. We changed pants – he is little so I am still in charge for now. He grumped and made unpleasant faces as we finished up and headed down stairs.

Grandpa meet us with a bottle which little man took, gobbled it down, burped once and dropped his head on my shoulder and was sound asleep.

Someone was too tired to start the day. A good morning nap of about 30 minutes and his eyes pop open with a smile on his face.  There is the little man I know so well!IMG_0036.JPG

There are some days we just need to go back to bed and start over – even if you are seven months old.

Happy Tuesday! Hope your day started with a smile!

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Making through Winter –

We are at mid January and I am on the count down to spring. I know it is too early when you live in Minnesota to be thinking of spring but I can’t help myself.  The snow is beautiful as if fall and covers the garden beds. The ice crystals sparkle in the morning sunlight but …

This winter has brought snow, then deep cold, then warmth ( mid 30’s). This jumping up and down in temperature has given us snow, rain and sleet. If you think about it your realize that this means ICE! It is on the sidewalks, the streets and crusted on the top of snow piles.

This ice glistens on the snow and shines on the streets as your drive at night. It is wonderful to look at but the walking and driving are crazy. My daily walks are not happening unless I drive over to the shopping mall and join all the other old folks my age walking around in circles hoping to get a bit of exercise without falling and breaking anything.

I am trying to be positive about these four months of cold, snow, ice and short days. I really am but it is now working. I am watching the grey clouds. I am sadly looking out the window at the garden beds buried in snow. The garbage cans have no place to be since the snow banks are taking over. It just is not a lot of fun right now.

So to counter this issue I have gone down to the basement and set up the grow lights. IMG_9890.JPGI found my left over seeds and I am now growing lettuce, spinach and basil in the laundry room.

I go down each day to water them – they really don’t need daily watering but it gives me a chance to open the top of each growing tray and smell the moist air. It gives me a chance to take in the damp soil and watch small green plants emerge from the ground.  It is wonderful!

Will any of these plants get bit enough to really make a salad?  who know – I hope so. It may not be a big salad but enough to add greens to a sandwich or two. It does not really matter – I am gardening!  Well, sort of!

Growing salad is step one. Tomorrow I will begin step two.  All the seed catalogs will IMG_5565come out and I will plan out this years garden, order seeds and prepare for the next round of planting.  The veggies won’t start this early here but I could easily start some of the flower seeds since they take a long time to grow and longer to flower.

I will make it through this winter – I really will! I just needed a little help from my friends (the plants)!

What do you do to help you through the long winter months?

 

 

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One little word – 2020

images.jpgWhere to go with this idea of one little word is any ones guess this year! 2019 turned into a year of struggles and fears. We are still on that journey. Watching your child battle cancer is not for the fate of heart that is for sure. We can look great on the surface but the underlying fears are powerful and all consuming.

Tonight I thought I had this emotional rollercoaster under control when more information came rolling in. Not a change of health status but my own deeper understanding of how toxic the treatment is and its long range side effects. I don’t know what to do with the information that is now rolling in my head. I know that my daughter is dealing with all of this. She does her research and she is the one having this poison running through her system. The practice of using a poison to chase a wild out of control set of cells in your body is amazing and scary all at once. It is all pretty crazy.

I don’t know how to find one word to lead me through the next year as she heals and finishes her treatment. I want and need my thinking and actions to be positive, productive and also seeking less stress. What word can hold all of that?

I have no idea!

Breath is one I have been using for months now. Just breath!

Release is another thought – do not become attached release the emotions through slow and steady breathing.

Non attachment might also work for a word this year –

In Yoga we find the Practice of non-attachment. Practice means always showing up to do the work. Putting forth effort. Non-attachment means letting go of the outcome of that work. Letting go of the things that prevent us from seeing ourselves clearly – fear or pain, expectations or pleasure.   (Thanks K.S. for this passage)

Forward is also a word that seems to fit. The idea of taking one step at a time. Not projecting into the future with thoughts that may or may not come about.

Trust is another word that fits and goes with the phrase below. Trust in myself to handle what is before me. Trust in others to also handle and more forward in good health and care. Trust can also fit into the wide context of our world and country. Trust that we will find a way through the issues before for us.

There is the phrase that I got from one of my co-workers –  “Let your faith be greater than your fear.”   I know that she is a very religious person. A person with a strong faith in her church. I am a person with a more spiritual back ground that encompasses a wholistic view of faith not tied to a church. This phrase still works for me on many levels. I like that it pushes faith in a positive way to over come the fear and negative that we so easily more towards.

This is certainly a phrase I will hold onto this year but still seeking to have a word – short and sweet that helps me each day as I walk through the ups and downs of IMG_8295health, healing and the growth and joy of a new grandson along the side of all this.

I could ramble on but have no answer this week. This is a question I think I need to live with for another week or so.

How about you?  Do you have your guiding word for the year?

Wishing you all a Happy and Healthy New Year!

 

 

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End the year with a Smile

I thought this morning that today I needed to say something important or profound. It seems like a big deal the coming to the end of a decade. There have been many other decades in my life but they just moved on with no fan fair. Not sure why I think this is different. Something about 2020 – the roaring twenties are before us.

The roaring to set this world back on its feet. It feels like we have been tilling more and more out of control – the loss of empathy and care for human, and nature is out of control. We seems to have lost something over the years.

I headed out for a morning walk to think things through. I was hoping to find some words that are worth typing for this day. It is sunny and peaks of blue sky are out after three days of dark clouds, rain, wind and snow. The air is brisk and cold. It feels IMG_6051.JPGlike it is about 8 degrees and the snow is sparkling, every tree is draped in snow fluffs, wild grasses are bowing down with the weight of snow and the heavy wind of last night. My four raised garden beds are once again covered in a blanket of snow to sleep the winter away. The world is white with touches of brown oak leaves and dark green pine trees. It is quiet in my neighborhood this morning.

I trudged along through unplowed sidewalks and over icy crusted snow banks listening to winter birds, and the distant sound of shoveling or the start of a snowblower. The neighbors were waking up to clear and start their last day of this year. What were they thinking about this day? This year? This Decade?

I left these thoughts behind as I turned west into the wind and the unplowed walks. I slowed down and realized it is not about the words. It is about the experience – it is the feel of cold air on my face, wind in my lungs, and the glory of colors, sights and sounds around me.

The green of the pine trees has darkened with the cold, and the coppery brown oak leaves are laying spread across the snow having been pulled from the branches in the wind. The cold makes my boots crunch over the ice and snow that were left after the storm. The sun, at least for today, give a promise of spring in the distant future.

We may have forgotten the little thing, the things that we share together and that make us whole and one.

  • the giggle of a child in their sleep,
  • the sun after a storm,
  • the sparkle of a snowflake,
  • the touch of a warm handshake,
  • the smile of a neighbor who is shoveling
  • the sound of birds hiding in the Arborvitae bush

For me it is the little experiences that make me happy and whole. The experiences that we all can have and hold.

So I wish you all a moment of watching the little moments – take time today and tomorrow (maybe through out the new year) to find them in your life – the moments that make you smile.

This way you can walk into the new year and decade with a smile on your face and peace in your heart!

Happy New Year!

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Time – how I want to use it

images.jpgTime is an interesting concept. It can move very slowly or fly by. Days can feel like years or they can happen and you are not sure where they went – gone in a blink of an eye. This year I have thought a lot about time. Not only how slow or quick it can go by but more importantly how do I use my time.

I am not a spring chicken nor am I an aged old lady. But my seventies are a couple years away and I am aware that I do not have decades ahead of me. Maybe it is due to the turn of this decade as we slip into the “roaring” twenties, as my cousin said, it has me thinking about the use of time. The use of my time.

It is a big topic and an exciting one. It forces me to look closely at the things I am doing. I need to make choices about what I want to continue to do. What do I want to spend my days doing? Do I have things I really want to learn or do before I find it more difficult to accomplish these things? I know that in another 10 to 15 years I might not be as active as I am now. This thought changes how I look at my days.

So I begin as I always do with a list.

  • What are the things I am doing right now?  (These are the big events not the laundry, cooking, cleaning, etc.  These things need to keep going so I do not include them here.)
  • Then I think about if there are things I am not doing but want to do.

 

Then I am on to the process of deciding can I do all of this?  If the answer is no then some things need to go.  I also think about the impact of others when or if I say no to at activity that involves those around me. The cost of these activities also comes into play.  Do I want to spend money doing this item? Is it the best use of my income at this time? The little questions that come into play in this process are amazing to me. I also know that this list may look very different a year from now. This is not a long range plan that I must stick to. It is a guide to help me make choices over the next months or a year.

A few examples are:

List of activities I do

  • caring for my grandson
  • working at the school part time
  • developing skills around botanical drawing and painting
  • gardening

List of activities I what to do

  • redesigning and redo the basement/laundry area in the house
  • travel more
  • spend time in the woods
  • develop a nature journal

From these lists I found that I did not list my work with children’s books. This helped me realize the things I left off the list also told me something about where I am going and what is important to me now.  As I thought about this I had to admit I was reading more non fiction and adult books – moving away from my work with and around young children. The books I want to read have to do with nature, forests, environmental issues and the how to do botanical illustration.  (not to say I will stop reading young literature it just is not a big focus any more)

As I began to create my list of what I want to do it help me determine that taking the color class for botanical watercolor illustration from the Minnesota Botanical Schoolimages-1.jpg of Art was important to me. I want to use that skill in creating a Nature Journal. The work around the Nature Journal is a connection to my grandson and what I would love to share with him as he gets older. It connects to my thinking and concern around the environment. I am beginning to see a change in my focus and how I want to respond to that change. Lists can be amazing.

The support of my Grandson will continue because – geez – how could I give up that opportunity plus the stress on his family would be super hard right now. This works for them and makes life fun for us.

These two items – grandson and botanical drawing led me to thinking it was a good idea to see if we can really afford to redo the basement. The space has not been upgraded since we moved in over 30 years ago – think a 1950’s basement, white wood panels, an old and stained carpet and a laundry room that is small and crowded with a cement floor. This area of the house could be used in much better ways and will be important for our grandson, my husband and I as we spend more time in and around the house.

As I write out this example I realize the item I have not mentioned is working at the school. The little bit of extra cash is nice and I always love talking to teachers and seeing kids but it takes time. More time than I realize and now more time than I really want to spend. Leaving home to go test a few kids is not a high priority for me any more. It has been a great job for the last 6 years but it feels like it is time to let this one go.  I will finish out the school year since I do not want to leave a school and kids without this support.  (Although it has been less support this year.)

As this month comes to a close I will work through my lists, reflect and set a new direction for 2020. I have a feeling this will also help me set my One Little Word for next year.

How do you organize your time?  Are you doing the things that are important to you?

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The blank page

imagesI am drawing a blank – the page is before me and I have no words. It has been a long time since I have found myself with nothing to write. The topics that run through my head are things I have written about over and over again. The daily events are small and would only take a line or two. The thoughts in my head are crazy and jumbled – little snippets of emotions, thoughts and feelings. Nothing that I feel I can really write about.

I thought of a book review but I am in the middle of three books – one a reread, one for my book group in another week or so and one that is non fiction about the environment. All good but I am not far enough to really share much about them. Well, the reread is a book I read in the dead of winter every year because its action happens in the summer. (This year our winter has come early so I am reread this book early. Hmmm – what will be my summer read in January?)

So here I sit with ideas tumbling and no where to go with them

  • there is daily life with Mason (my 5 1/2 month old grandson)
  • there is my health and how to keep moving in ice and snow
  • there is the need to clean out a basement full of history and re do it to bring it up to current times ( it is a basement out of 1950’s)
  • there is my observational drawing and learning to watercolor
  • there is the concern and worry about my daughter and cancer
  • there is the thought to do something good for someone each day of December (I have made it all two days)
  • there is the plans for the holidays and how to keep it simple, family fun and not over the top gifts and things

As you can see my thinking is all over the place. I guess it is that time of year when life is busy, and thoughts go running.

My goal is to make it day by day through December and look to the last week of the month/year to slow down, reflect and take stock in all that happened this year. I want to take that time to close out this years journal writing, reflect on my One Little Word ( Evolve). Then set a coarse for next year.  Wish me luck!

( While looking back at last years last posts I found a set of interesting questions that I asked myself – I will share those next week. Interesting to review last years posts.   Do you return to your posts at this time of year?)

 

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A matter of choice

It was Sunday morning – cloudy, a bit cool, damp from an overnight rain. Do I walk or remain comfortable on the couch with the Sunday paper?

I walked, for I know both my physical heart and my emotional heart will be happy with me. Happiness is what I am all about these days. Not the happiness that comes with over partying or too much drink. I am thinking more of the word joy or gratitude here that settles into your system and you just smile. Deep Happiness!

So out I go. A matter of choice. I am working through sore muscles in my back and neck so the first 1/2 mile is all about reminding myself to stand up straight, lift my head and pull my shoulders down and back. Then my mind finally slows down and and I hear the birds, see the multiple shades of brown in the frosted plants and smell the moist cool air of late fall. We have had a first snow but it melted over the last few days leaving us with muddy pathways and slippy wet leaves to walk on. The cool crisp crunch of autumn is missing. We are in the fall mud season that hits just before the deep winter freeze that leaves us with solid ground and mounds of white stuff. It also leaves us with the choice to enjoy this moment or complain about the cold, wet mud.

I mush my way through the short path at the end of Grass lake. This is a medium size pond in our neighborhood that gives a resting place and summer home for ducks, IMG_8149.jpggeese and heron. As I come out of the wooded area and down the back alley way I spot the ducks that I thought had left for the winter. They are huddled in a small ring of open water on the far eastern side of the pond. I wonder why are they still here. We have had temperatures as low as zero, the water is freezing quickly and there they swim or stand on the ice. What is the signal that tells them to fly further south? It appears to be a choice for them – how long do they stay? It was warmish yesterday and today but we could take a deep dive into freezing temps really quickly and they would be stuck with no open water. So do they sense the water temperature? the air temperature? the length of daylight? or do they wait till there is no more open water? There are choices they make and they seem to do it as a team and without the mental angst we humans tend to add to our choices. A matter of choice.

I ponder the idea of choices as I move down the alley way. Ducks and geese choices, my choices, and my daughters choices.

I make choices as I walk. One side of this alley is all water, trees, shrubs and waterfowl. If I walk on that side of the alley I can feel like I am completely in nature. Away from the business of the life. The other side is the back of houses, driveways, garbage cans, recycling bins and neatly placed pine trees or gardens full of native plants carefully fenced in so that nature does not get too close and nibble on them.

Each time I walk I make a choice – not always a conscious choice but I walk on one side or the other depending on what is happening in my life in the last few hours or days. There are days like this last week when I needed the trees and water. I needed to step away from the concerns at home, politics, city and just breath. I needed to find the positive thinking.

But there are days when I have been to quiet, too withdrawn and need to know what is happening in the hood. Did the guy at the south end of the pond put up his 15 bird feeders for the winter, what new plant went into the native garden and have they finished that construction project that started last June?  (no, by the way, they have not finished construction! and yes, the bird feeders are up! and I know she planted something but there are no tags. I will have to wait until spring to see what emerges.)

I am home with tea sitting at my deck and I make choices about the water paints I will use to complete the Dahlia I am painting for class. It is a deep rich complex red with many shades – light to very dark. I make choices between the cool Crimson red and the warmer Cadmium red – a medium hue. It becomes a matter of blending them with a very light touch of Cerulean blue. It is a matter of choices.

As I weave my way through the weekend or week every day is full of choices. Most are tiny and I make them quickly and with ease. Then every once in a while really big choice stand in front of me. Choices that have the potential to make big changes in my life. The decision to retire, the choice of treatment for an illness like breast cancer or heart disease, the decision to move or stay in ones house as they get older.

Those decisions are hard. They take time to process and to handle. They often need a friend or a group to help find clarity when making those choices. It is what life is about. Choices, decisions and how we approach them.

This year my decisions have been the tiny kind. The do I take a walk, do I need the city walk or the walk in the woods – type of choice. They have been choices with little consequences afterwards. Either choice is a good one – just different.

However, I have watched my daughter make monumental choices all year. Choices that make big changes – does she try for natural childbirth while being three months M and M.jpginto a breast cancer diagnosis; does she have a lumpectomy or mastectomy and/or radiation; how much can she work during all of this; the list of choices/decisions goes on and on. The choices sit before her and I know they swim in her head daily and nightly with fear, and yet she has taken the power and thought this through with her partner and family. She slowly and surely makes positive choices that are right for her and her small family of three. A woman of strength and power.  It is a matter of choice.

A matter of choice – each day we find ourselves making big and little choices. These decisions are what move us forward in life. These choices lead us down positive, negative and sometime neutral pathways but we make choices that move us forward. We decide and sort out our life with each choice.

I am grateful that I learned and can make big and small choices for my life. I admire my children who now make these big and small choices for their lives.

Making good choices is something we need to be sure we can and are teaching ourselves, our children and our students. Our lives depend on these choices – it is all a matter of choice.

 

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” Viktor Frankl, from “Man’s Search For Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy”

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