Seeking Joy

For the past 18 months, my husband and I have been quarantined. I joke that I am old, over-weight, and asthmatic…a perfect candidate for a really horrific struggle with whatever is the current variant of the virus. But the reality is that I have been genuinely scared. In some way, I think I have “folded in” on myself, if that makes any sense. For the first 70 years of my life I was out-going, friendly, and fun-loving. I was a “hugger”. Today, I am fearful, and that makes me sad.

While home, I have stayed busy with projects, chores, and curbside pickup, but my focus has been on the world outside my bubble. Like you, I have been bombarded with news of the pandemic, racial tension, wild fires, war, global warming, and hate-filled politics. I have relied on social media to keep me in touch with family and friends, but social media platforms have become political battle grounds and, well, there is a lot of anger and hate out there. Pretty depressing, right?

I hate feeling depressed, so in light of all this, I have decided that this is the perfect time for me to shift my focus inward. I want to indulge in self care, and the September Self Care Challenge is a perfect fit; I was sooooo excited to join all of you. Self-care will most likely mean something different for each of us, depending upon our specific needs. For me, this will include being mindful of the food I eat, beginning a gentle exercise routine, and practicing gratitude.

In my excitement for our Self Care Challenge to begin, I put together a packet to help me stay organized and focused on this journey. This includes things I will use to set goals, organize my tasks, and set myself up for success. I am happy to share it with you. You are welcome to use it or modify it in any way so that works for you. I look forward to taking this journey with you. Stay happy and healthy.

To everything there is a season…

aut12_pileofleavesAs a child, I would get so excited for Halloween; costumes, candy, how can it get any better?  I would look forward to this one night for a month!  The month of October was a blur of excitement! This same pattern would repeat itself for the entire month of December. What child doesn’t love all the excitement of Christmas? The month of December raced by! Leading up to the big day there were Advent calendars, cookie exchanges, gift shopping, gift wrapping, tree trimming, enchanting store windows, and finally Midnight Mass.  Basically, December was another blur!

Nestled between October and December is the month of November.  November allowed us to glory in the Earth’s brightest smile. November is when we all took a breath; we relaxed and focused on gratitude and the blessings we enjoyed. We raked, jumped in leaf piles, put on sweaters, and went enjoyed bedtime stories more because it was dark outside.

As though November wasn’t already perfect enough, it brings us Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving is such a perfect holiday; it is all about food and friends and family.  It is calm. There is no racing about, no shopping frenzy, no chaos.  The worst thing that happens is a post-turkey tryptophan-induced nap.

Somehow, we seem to have lost Thanksgiving.  Christmas decorations show up in the stores before Halloween.  Christmas music is played all day everyday beginning November 1 and Christmas movies are on every channel.  By the 2nd of November, my Facebook and Instagram accounts are filled with pictures of Christmas trees that are twinkling in my friends’ living rooms. And then there are the teacher accounts…teachers bemoaning the fact that though it is only November 3rd, the Christmas frenzy behavior has already begun.  And why wouldn’t it?  Everywhere children go, all they see and hear is Christmas.  Not the religious meaning of the holiday, but the glitz, glamor, and greed.

So, yes, I miss the “over the river and through the woods” Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving reminds me to be grateful for what I have and to do for others…to be the good in someone else’s life.  During November, the Earth slows down and settles into the coming of Winter. Days are shorter, trees drop their leaves, animals hibernate or migrate. Nature knows it is time to settle in.  November is a chance for us all to step back, take a deep breath, and focus on how we fit into the world. Everything calms down, so why do we race into December and all the “crazy” that seems to go with it?

Let me say again, I refuse to ignore Thanksgiving.  I love shopping for just the perfect, plump turkey. I get excited to smell pumpkin pies baking. I make bread for the stuffing, I simmer autumn spices in the potpourri pot, I fill my house with pumpkins and gourds, and I relax. I spend time focusing on my gratitude…and I have so much to be thankful for.

Will I enjoy Christmas?  Absolutely, but I refuse to sacrifice this time to just be still.  December will come and I will put up a tree, wrap gifts, and enjoy the twinkle.  For now, I am content to be fully present in my November. 

God’s Paintbrush

A Perfect Balance ~ Beautiful, not Barren!

IMG_0765My sister is headed home to New Mexico today.  I miss her already! I am already counting the days until I am on my way to see her! Every time I head to New Mexico I am amazed at the landscape. I live in south Georgia where it is hot, humid, lush, green, mosquito-filled, and slow moving. New Mexico is where the rest of my family lives.  As I fly into the Albuquerque Airport I always marvel at how brown the landscape appears. However, in spite of its seemingly drab appearance, the desert is anything but boring or barren. It is dotted with some of the most amazing structures nature has ever produced.

I’ve decided that the desert is a misunderstood landscape. During the day it is barren and dry and hot. People avoid it. I know I associate it with scorpions, snakes, bad Westerns, and thirst. Yet, each time I visit New Mexico I am reminded that there is a reward at the end of a day in the blazing desert heat … sunset. The sun sparkles off the desert sands and produces some of the most breath-taking sunsets I have ever seen. I feel as though the sunset is sort of your reward for suffering through the heat of the day.

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The sun glistens and sparkles as it hits the many different minerals that make up the desert soil and the reflections create amazing and vivid colors. The mountains, plateaus, buttes, and other craggy landforms make stark profiles against the blazing colors of the early sunset. As the sun recedes, the colors fade to soft, beautiful pastels. Our Universe is in perfect balance.  Yes, I love New Mexico because my family is there, but also because God’s paintbrush has swept across it in a most wonderful way.