Friday, December 31, 2010

January 2011: Lay the Foundation

It's not enough that we do our best; sometimes we have to do what's required.
Winston Churchill



A lĆ  Happiness Project, I have decided, for this month anyway, to compile a list of goals around a theme and track them every day. Gretchen Rubin was kind enough to send me a copy of her resolutions chart and it has been immensely helpful to this process. I don't know her personally or anything, she'll send one to anyone who asks. Check out her site here.

I haven't figured out the rest of the months, yet, nor am I sure I have completely finished January's list. The theme I've adopted is "Lay the Foundation" and unsurprisingly, this month will be all about taking care of myself: getting enough rest, eating well, fitness; and the house: tidying, staying on top of my chores, clearing out.

(I just requested her book from the library again. I'm #72 in line for it. I think I'll have to hunt down my own copy after the holidays.)

So, to get to it:

Plan the day
Use the Morning Routine Checklist
Exercise
Use the MM Cleaning Checklist
Put three meals on the table
Keep a food diary
Drink 3 pints of water
Follow the One minute rule
Tackle a nagging task
Do the dishes
Go to bed by 11pm


The Reverb folks sent out a wonderful link to this post full of links to tools you can use to track your goals. I haven't finished looking through it yet, but the Ben Franklin chart looks very similar to the one Rubin used in her tracking. I use 43 Things to send myself two emails every day: one tells me to declutter, the other to exercise. I think that about sums it up.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Morning Bound Train

Last night, the hubby and I watched "Winter's Bone." Fascinating. Gripping. Desolate. Over-full of silence. Men and women exist in separate worlds, yet a woman needs a man to stand for her. It's a violent, honour bound world. It's a place where too many words can be as unbearable as fists.

There's a moment or two where a band plays. The banjo is so sweet.

I heard this today: and it's nothing like the Ozark music--not really--though it shares the same roots and the same instruments, and even, the same tradition.

But how much more robust.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb #11: Things

December 11 – 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

*This became epically long. As I was crafting it, it began to feel like the blueprint for my life in 2011. Skim if you wish--or just say "Good luck" in the comments. I know you'll mean it even if you haven't read all the particulars!

Eleven things I don't need in 2011: can each of those things be ten pounds? That would be wonderful!

OK, OK. 11 things to get rid of: should these be physical things? Concrete things? Or just noun-things?

When I contemplate physical things, the following comes to mind:

1) My scanner. I listed it for sale on-line last fall. It didn't sell.

Plan of elimination: take it to the depot the city runs for worn out electronics.

How will it change my life: I will have room to put away the waffle maker and the yogurt maker hubby and I got for Christmas. That, in turn, will make the kitchen table useable again. And that will lead to less stress and less pain in my life. And more joy. Honest. Keep reading.

2) My son's Tae Kwon Do sparring gear. I doubt he's ever going to get back into it.

Plan of Elimination: Research prices and list it for sale.

How will it change my life: Well, not much, actually. It will give my son more room in his closet which may help keep the dust bunnies under control.

3) My hair. I'm hoping it will make an 8" pony tail at the nape of my neck: that's what's needed to make wigs for cancer patients.

Plan of elimination: Get hubby to measure it tonight! Then wash, cut, and send off.

How will it change my life? My hair will be so much easier to take care of! I had short hair most of my life: it fits my self-image better.

Well, that's it for the straight forward nouns. Now for the interesting ones:

4) Sloth. I have everything I need to do everything I need to do each day: the laundry, tidying/decluttering, dishes, and housework. I just need to actually, physically do it.

Plan of elimination: (sigh) Just do it. Follow your routine checklists. You can do it. (Hint: Find a carrot).

How will it change my life: Less stress. A lot less stress.

5) Boredom. I am extremely bored with my life. I keep thinking I have to get *this* managed and *that* done before I am "allowed" to do anything interesting. Of course, I *cheat* and read interesting books while the dishes and laundry pile up around me: but I do feel guilty about it. Come to think of it, I could use less guilt, too.

Plan of elimination: Find a few projects to work on. Some are on this list already. I'll keep expanding my reading list, too. I recently read "The Biology of Belief" and while I have strong reservations about most of its message, learning about cellular biology was fascinating.

How will it change my life? Well, we'll have to see if it does, won't we.

6) Pain. Simply, it hurts to carry about 100 pounds more than I ought.

Plan of elimination: Shed 40 pounds by June 30th. I think that's reasonable. I know when I was 40 pound lighter the Fall before last (Really, it was that long ago? How does this happen?) my back pain was gone. Kaput. Like it had never been.

How will it change my life? Well, life is just so much easier without pain.

7) Fat. Not just mine, but my son's too.

Plan of elimination: My intent is to exercise every day. (Since I made this resolution, I have done so 14 days out of the last 19). As for my son's exercise, I'm not sure what to do. My husband was paying him to use the exercise bike: but now the novelty has worn off, it isn't working. Now that I'm reading Daniel Pink's Drive, I understand. I do wish we'd never started.

As for the eating side of the equation, I'm not entirely sure what to do. I have read Ellyn Satter's materials--I've requested them from the library again and will re-read them. At the very least, I can put three healthy meals on the table every day for the both of us. I confess, I haven't been doing that.

As for my eating: well, I followed a 1600 calorie portion control plan in the past and got rid of the weight in relatively short order. Then, I gained it back. I am scared to try this route again--even though it wasn't the eating --but the total lack of exercise which was the major factor in my re-gain. On the other hand, I don't know any other way to get it off except to eat less and move more.

How will it change my life? Well, I will worry less about my son. I will have less pain: and we can save some money. We recently renewed our term coverage (and upped it for my healthy husband). But the Life Insurance company aged me by 10 years because of my weight--and our premiums are out of this world (partly) as a result. Soooo ironic. I quit smoking to bring our insurance rates down.

8) Stress in our homeschool. It is a battle to get my son to start working. It is a battle to get him to keep working. Personally, I would like to be finished our day by 4pm. Given that we often don't start until 1 or 2pm, it doesn't happen.

Plan of elimination: I honestly don't know. It's really a discipline issue and reading Pink is confusing me more than ever. Perhaps the next author I need to read is Alfie Kohn.

How will it change my life?
Well, not to overstate the case, but it just might bring joy back into my life.

9) Debt.

Plan of elimination: I have an idea of how much we need to pay on the credit card and the line of credit to make them go away. What I don't know if whether we can live on what's left over given all our other bills. I will have to figure that out.

How will it change our life? Honestly, I don't know. I don't really stress about it. My husband does. Maybe he wouldn't work so much over-time? (Somehow I doubt it. He was dirt poor growing up. I doubt he'll ever shake the insecurity that seems to accompany that.)

I am beginning to feel quite overwhelmed by this list.

10) Processed Food. We don't eat that much of it. After buying our meat and vegetables and other foodstuffs from the supermarket (rather than the Organic food store, or the Farmer's Market, or some other more politically worthy location) we purchase the odd frozen pizza, ice-cream, frozen battered fish, yogurt, Eggo waffles, Cheerios, Shreddies, arrowroot biscuits, hot dogs, and peanut butter. I suppose condiments are considered "processed food" are they? And what about canned beans? Oh, and I buy bread, rather than bake our own, though I'm tempted to try. Yeast scares me, though.

Plan of elimination: Start with the waffle maker--find a great buttermilk waffle recipe (and make up batches ahead of time to freeze and toast when wanted). Then, move on to making our own batches of yogurt. I'm planning the garden more aggresively this year too.

How will this change our lives? I think we'll enjoy eating more--especially in the summer/fall when the garden begins to produce. I hope our bodies will feel better nourished.

11) Long blog entries.

Plan of elimination: Actually, I am seriously considering abandoning this blog entirely. It has become completely unwieldy. I want to re-do many of my categories and expand things to include more of my life: but in a less overwhelming fashion. Somehow. I'm thinking of learning and using the type-pad platform. I'll let you know, for sure.

How will this change my life? Well, I doubt it will, actually. But, you never know.

As a bonus, here's a self-portrait from my new camera today.

Yeah--bring on 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Yummy Muffins

I did a google search for "light muffins." This site with this scrumptious recipe for Lemon Blueberry muffins came up.

I modified it to 1/2 whole wheat flour = 1/2 white flour (as I always do) and added probably 3/4 cup of frozen "Feildberries." (blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and yes, blueberries).



Heaven.

(PS. This post is really just an excuse to show you a photo from my awesome new camera!!)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Calendar


I cannot believe how long this took me.

I bought a kit in the interests of saving time. I'm not sure it really saved that much: but it did cut down on the mess involved, it was easy to tidy away after each work session, and I certainly made fewer decisions than I would have had to make had I done this from scratch (as I have always done.) I make one "hard copy" version which I give to my Mom--then scan in the pages and make the calendars for two more which I send to relatives. I have the pages coil bound at Staples.

I chose this 2011 Calendar kit by Basic Grey. It's 8x8.

The page backgrounds are pretty much as you see them here. What I attached were the cut-outs and dimensional elements--and a few strips of paper (not very many).

I wound up using just about everything in the kit: very little was left over. Because I wanted to include the tags with the quotations, I sized my pictures to 3 1/2 x 5 (though the instructions call for 4x6). It is to the kit's credit that this caused no difficulties whatsoever--well, OK, except for April. That one was tough.

I used the instructions as a guide. The black and white instructions which came with the kit, though, were fairly useless. Fortunately Basic Grey makes a version in colour available on their web-site.

Without further ado, here are the pages:

January to April:



May to August:




September to December:

(I have no idea why cupcakes were included as the "theme" for September, nor what were supposed to be celebrating, but by the time I got to it, I didn't really care.)



Notes to self:
Punching out diecuts, cut outs and organizing the little bits: 5 hours
Assembling pages: 2 afternoons and an evening (say 13 hours)
Scanning: 2-3 hours
Making up the calendars for the other two calendars: an afternoon (say, 3-5 hours)
Printing two sets of the pictures plus the calendars: 5 hours.
Total Time spent: 28-31 hours
(This does not include choosing the pictures, having them developed, and finding the quotes.)

Friday, December 17, 2010

Someone from my past popped into conciousness today

For a donation, he received the privilege of picking something for us to listen to on the radio this afternoon.

It was our privilege to listen. This is what he chose.



Thank you Al.
For expanding my mind when it needed to grow
For educating my ears
For challenging my heart
For being the first boy I ever loved
and lost.
Thanks.

And thanks again.

Reverb#10: Wisdom


December 10 – Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)


I'm not sure I've made it yet.

I am strongly considering hiring a trainer to help me through this upcoming metamorphosis of bringing forward the one I call "The Thin One Within." When she gets here, she is never, ever to leave. I'm considering hiring someone like Scott Abel: I think he has the right focus. He seems to understand the mind/body/emotions connection (he calls it the triangle of awareness) and he just may be able to help me do what needs to be done physically, mentally and emotionally. I have a few questions and issues to resolve (for example, I don't believe in the "law" of attraction, and I don't believe in a "higher self" if that is meant in any way to be separate from God, --but I am looking for someone to address the metal and emotional aspects of excess weight along with the physical--and he does that. Do you know of anyone else who does that?

Other than that, the wisest decision I made this year was to cook my morning oatmeal in a small mixing bowl. In a cereal bowl, it just slopped over the sides when I nuked it. So, now I can eat it every morning with a tablespoon of pecans and a handful of dried fruit. Wonderful stuff.

Was it wise to send Aurelia to public school this year? It seems so. But I don't know yet. It may be the kind of thing I may never know.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Reverb #9: Party

December 9 – Party Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)


My daughter's 10th birthday party was fabulous.

I loved shopping for the party favours and decorations with her. Her "theme" was "purple spa."

We cruised the dollar store looking for anything purple. We found purple "straw" bags to put things in like nail clippers, headbands, and washcloths.

We decorated with purple:



My daughter had her own ideas for party games.




Cupcakes being all the rage, I baked some chocolate ones: and then let the girls decorate them. So, Aurelia had a very unique "birthday cake."



My absolute favourite part? The facials.

Reverb #8: Beautifully Different

December 8 – Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Author: Karen Walrond)

What makes me different?
Different from what?
Other people?
I have no idea what makes me different from other people.
I don't know other people: at least I don't know them like myself.
I can't answer this question.


Let's see.

Yes. I must limit my answer to what I can observe: I want to stay away from the land of assumptions.

what is unique to me?

my sense of humour--
That is an assumption, by the way. Has anyone even seen my sense of humour lately? Could we recognize it if we did see it?) But everyone's own sense of humour is unique, so that's safe.

my body shape--
Yep, that's unique to me. No doppelgangers or identical twins running around as far as I know.

But Karen, yech. blech. No, not that. Not beautiful.

Functional (most of the time), serviceable, loyal. Man, is it loyal. No matter what crap I throw at it, it gets me up out of bed and through each and every day. I had ice cream the other day for supper. Then I did a work out. Surprise, surprise, I was fatigued during the work out. But we kept going. Poor body. I can be quite mean to it. But it is faithful to me. I had back pain so bad last week I could barely stand upright. What did I do? That's when I started my walking work outs. I took it easy, just got the blood flowing. Within three, four days I was pain free. In the right frame of mind, I could be persuaded to say I love my body. It is a good body when I treat it well.

But beautiful?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Reverb#7 Community

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)

Hands down, the community I discovered is the one over at Simplify 101, led by Aby Garvey and Jean Manis. The ladies there, leaders and participants alike, are exceptional in their acceptance of others and their care and concern. I have learned so much from all of them. Here's a bit of it.

1) I had no goals whatsoever. I set a few and actually saw some come to fruition.

a) planting and harvesting a vegetable garden


b) going to new and interesting places:

(Writing-On-Stone Provincial Park)

I also had the goal to write my Canadian Homeschooling curriculum this year and though I took steps towards that goal, it didn't work out.

2) I started developing habits that will allow me to keep my home and its clutter within my comfort zone. I wrote out what I should be doing as part of my morning, afternoon and evening routines. My attitude shifted enormously. I no longer resent that these things need to be done. Well, not all the time, anyway!

3) I developed a system for handling paper. Hooray for this one. This has been invaluable. No longer do stacks of paper have to sit there because I do not know what to do with them. I have a plan, a place and peace of mind.

4) More than anything, I feel able to move on. The house will or will not stay picked up, clutter-free and clean: that's up to me and what I choose to do at any given moment. But, whatever happens, I am done trying. Either I will do it, or I won't. No more gnashing of teeth, nor more wrestling with the emotional baggage (but my Mother never taught me to keep house), no more pondering my "issues." With the help of the wonderful folks at Simplify 101, I've done all that and it is done.

The future community?

Oh, I'd love to join a group of believers who, still, nonetheless, yet question. Andrew Sullivan expressed it best in his book, The Conservative Soul, I believe. I read it some time ago. It would have to be local, it would have to be inclusive and it would have to be Christian: yet, somehow, some way, also include both the Catholic and Protestant traditions. And it would also have to be open to what I am currently calling the practices of the Mystics about which I know nothing except they practiced something called Contemplative prayer. I don't know how to frame it--mostly because I haven't thought enough about it.

Another community I'd love to be a part of is one in which individuals are changing not only their bodies, through diet and exercise, but their minds, their thoughts and their beliefs about all that which seems to manifest itself in the body as well. I am reading A Course in Weight Loss by Marianne Williamson: I need a community of fellow readers to discuss and explore the weighty issues within the book. Perhaps. A small group dealing with an intense topic can be pulled apart by the extreme neediness of any one person--so, yeah, it could be kind of tricky to do. Emotions are such a big part of this (at least for me) that it is perhaps best not pursued as a group exercise without a qualified group therapist at the helm.

So, that leaves me without out a lot to go with at the moment: yet a lot to look for in the coming year.

"Community" is one candidate for my "One Little Word" this year, as is the phrase "reaching out." So we'll see.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb#6: Make


December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin)

Hooray for Gretchen! The last thing I made was a pound cake about an hour and a half ago. It is for a special dinner I'm making for my Mom tomorrow. Shhh, don't tell, but we're going to have a "simple and easy" Trifle with our Roast Beef. (The Trifle was supposed to be made with pre-made Sara Lee pound cakes, but I checked two grocers here and neither carried them (or, indeed, anything remotely plain like a pound cake.) Nothing for it but to make my own. I had planned on doing that with my daughter as part of her "baking class" but she was at a Girl Guides Pool Party tonight.

I followed this ratio recipe. I loved the simplicity of it. And yes, I weighed out the butter, sugar, and flour--just to be in the proper spirit of the thing.

Is there something I want to make?

Absolutely.

How about Days 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and 11 of my December Daily?

(Yikes, typing it all out like that is awful. I hadn't realised I was that far behind! I've gotten very discouraged with my current camera though.)

I have also been working on the calendar project: and I need to get that done and put in the mail yesterday, too.

I will catch up on Sunday and Monday.

Yes. That's the plan.

Thanks Gretchen!

Free Falling: A Follow up to Letting Go.

The chorus of this song is what's powerful: the verses make only minimal sense. The idea that being free is also to be in a state of free fall is exhilarating: we have to be willing to be untethered from everything safe and familiar. That's my take on it anyway.

In other words, ignore the girls, watch the skateboarders.

The Happiness Project



From Gretchen Rubin's site:
A “happiness project” is an approach to changing your life. First is the preparation stage, when you identify what brings you joy, satisfaction, and engagement, and also what brings you guilt, anger, boredom, and remorse. Second is the making of resolutions, when you identify the concrete actions that will boost your happiness. Then comes the interesting part: keeping your resolutions.

I find it difficult to explain Rubin's book: "The Happiness Project." I just finished it yesterday. I loved it.

Reading it felt like listening to a friend chat about her life. She is warm, engaging, personable, humble, self-aware, honest and straight-forward. It became one of those books I didn't want to finish, because to put it down would feel like losing a friend. Fortunately, she has a blog.

The book is about a year of her life when she decided to become "happier." As she says herself in the book, it's a sub-genre of non-fiction called "stunt" non-fiction. And rather than get upset about it, (as was her first reaction) Rubin writes, she decides to "re-frame" the situation as look at it in a positive light. And that's exactly how the book stops simply becoming a lively and engaging chat, or a memoir and becomes something else. It's not really a self-help book, in the way we understand those things. But it also sort of is; by showing us her own (quite approachable) journey of transformation it lays down the path for the rest of us (though we will all travel it our own way, as we must).

Rubin decided to work on one area of her life per month, and each month is a chapter in the book. (She follows the same scheme on her blog.) To give you an idea of what she explores, here's the table of contents.

  • January: Boost Energy (Vitality)
  • February: Remember Love (Marriage)
  • March: Aim Higher (Work)
  • April: Lighten Up (Parenthood)
  • May: Be Serious about Play (Leisure)
  • June: Make Time for Friends (Friendship)
  • July: Buy Some Happiness (Money)
  • August: Contemplate the Heavens (Eternity)
  • September: Pursue a Passion (Books)
  • October: Pay Attention (Mindfulness)
  • November: Keep a Contented Heart (Attitude)
  • December: Boot Camp Perfect (Happiness)

A introductory chapter and epilogue frame, explain, and follow-up the project nicely. There's also a small blurb about setting up your own project and a fantastic book list.

Within each area Rubin sets herself resolutions to follow, things to do to make herself happier. Along the way, she discovers her own personal truths, (Secrets of Adulthood), some principals to guide her life (Gretchen's 12 Commandments) and some deeper, meta-truths about happiness and its relationship to life in general: The First to Fourth Splendid Truths. (All of which are on her blog).

I am quite tempted to make "Happiness" my one little word for 2011 and using Gretchen's template, transform my life with an eye to becoming happier next year. I think that would be marvelous. But I also have the feeling that that's not exactly my path. We'll see. It could simply be that I am not defining "happiness" broadly enough. As Gretchen's book demonstrates it is a pretty big umbrella.

Nonetheless, reading the book and creating your own happiness project would be a worthy means of self-transformation. I highly (and happily) recommend The Happiness Project to everyone.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Food for thought (and the holidays!)

Hooray for Scott Abel. He's a fellow who writes on fitness --and mostly writes critiques of the fitness and diet industry. He talks sense.

When people are told over and over again to subtract their enjoyment of food from the traditional celebrations they have known their whole life, then there is no more safe-haven. And then there is no more a place to ground oneself into being and feeling whole; embracing joy. Without being able to psychologically embrace the whole experience of the holidays, including food indulgence, then more is lost than gained. If you want to measure that and judge it on a bathroom scale, then I say even greater is the loss.


and,

You can never own or have a truly positive experience with anything that generates fear, stress, or anxiety.


Read more on his blog..

I found this on You-Tube. It's Desiree Walker, a woman he trained for a fitness competition. In another article he talks about her "athleticism." I now see what he meant. The best part? The huge grin on her face.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Reverb #5: Letting Go

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)*

I had all sorts of answers for this one until this morning.

I had all sorts of thoughts swirling in my head. I could answer: I let go of perfectionism this year. "Best is good. Better is best." It really is--and it is a daily practice, a daily ritual of reminding myself that it is so.

I could talk about how I let go of my investment in homeschooling my daughter and let her go to school. That one still smarts.

I thought about keeping things light and breezy and talking about how I got rid of hundreds of pounds of stuff with various de-cluttering projects this year. I could have deepened that with a reflection on how de-cluttering can be a spiritual practice: a "warming up" as it were, of the way to shed attachment to any particular identity (as expressed by the items we keep on display) .

I thought about discussing my anger and unforgiveness, still, towards certain family members and how I'm slowly realizing that that's really my anger and unforgiveness of myself projected onto that person(s).

But this morning, I re-listened to Session 5 of Richard Rohr's Lecture series called, "The Art of Letting Go." (Yes, I know. It hadn't even occurred to me until this morning that that was what I was listening to.)

And I was struck anew with a truth I have learned before: that growth requires dying. The mustard seed must die before it becomes a tree. You must lose yourself to find yourself. All that. I knew that.

What I didn't know is that the current hell I find myself in is just the death throes of another growth.

(And just what does "hell" look like, at the moment?
Well, there's the yelling.
The fear my son needs more help than I can give him.
The shame of being fat.
Loneliness.
The disconnection from any spiritual life at the moment.
and, here's the kicker, my sense of powerlessness to do anything about any of it.)


Since I devoured Brene Brown's recent book, "The Gifts of Imperfection," I have been aware that I need to find others to help me get through the crap I am currently stuck in. Brown writes that in order to process shame, one needs a "safe place" to share it--a person who has earned the right to hear the story and hold it.

I have been thinking two parallel thoughts (1) I need a therapist, and (2) we need to find another Church. In both, though, I'm looking for the same thing: a person, a woman to model what the next stage looks like, someone to ease me into the surrender to God that must happen if I am not to regress into a further self-centered, egotistic brat.

I know, deep down in my gut, that I am not sufficient to carry myself through the current crises. I've been in crises for over a year. I'm doing my best. I've been reading books, listening to Richard Rohr, even! I've started journaling again and (obviously) using this space to tackle more complex topics that simply organizing, de-cluttering and housecleaning (as important as those things are). But no matter what I do, I am not going to get myself out of the current darkness.

So, I really don't think I can progress beyond my current state of stuck-ness without others. And that kills me. Furthermore, I have developed a severe mis-trust of women, generally.

But, I can't do it on my own--and right now, I cannot see how I can do it with others, let alone who this person is supposed to be and how I am supposed to find her given the state of extreme emotional isolation I currently live in.

So, there we go. I haven't done it yet, but this is my (public) promise to continue to let go; to let go of my fears and mistrust and move on.

*I realise I am quite behind in my reverb writing. Other than perhaps making it difficult for folks to find certain prompts, it doesn't matter at all.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Reverb #4: Wonder

December 4 – Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Did I cultivate a sense of wonder? Should I cultivate a sense of wonder, different or better than the one I already have?

What, exactly, does Davis mean by wonder?

Is it to stop and look at a pretty sunset or sunrise when one happens to notice?
Check. I've even been known to interrupt people mid-sentence to say, "Look at that pretty sky!"

Does it mean to marvel at a newborn?
Sorry, no newborns (for me) this year.

But I had an experience last night--I wonder if it was of wonder?

It was the most mundane of situations. My husband and I were grocery shopping. Together. Sans kids. It was the Big Shop. It is difficult to describe just how BIG this big shop is. I'd meant to take my camera and take a shot of all the bags in the back of the jeep, but in the frantic rush to get Aurelia out the door to he Girl Guide meeting at the same time, it was forgotten.

The shopping list was four pages (and a note on the back). C (my husband) had volunteered to go with B, (my son) alone, but I figured I'd better go just to read the list. I could lean on the cart. My back was quite bad--just horrible pain everytime it was jarred or jostled--which basically meant that every step was agonizing. Reaching up for things on the shelves was problematic, reaching down was impossible. So, my husband came with me.

It was fun. He didn't hover. He went off looking for the things I told him to get. I sort of forgot the reason he was with me was to help me--not to help the shopping trip go more efficiently. But, there he was, smiling, walking, catching up, wandering off. He was there. He was helping. It was enough.

And that was just kind of wonderful.

But, you know, if it weren't for this prompt, if it weren't for the awareness, I may never have noticed. I've had my eyes open looking for wonder since this prompt came a few days ago: and that has made all the difference. I feel like I'm on the tip of something important.

I am going to take Mr. Davis up on his offer for the Wonder Guidebooks. Check out the generous offer on his blog here: Tracking Wonder.

and, pardon me, but, have a wonder-full day.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December Daily: Day 3

Another prompt from Shimelle. Christmas Cards. In addition to doing the page: I actually got my Christmas cards done and ready to mail! I'm so relieved.

I hand wrote my journaling* as you can see on a Fancy Pants journaling tag.


Flip it up and there's our annual newsletter tucked into a library card pocket. I'd just used an envelope on the previous page and didn't want to use it again so quickly.


When you flip over the Basic grey "number" tag we have the Christmas card photo I included with our cards--and all the shots I took trying to get it!



I apologize for the horrible pictures of my pages.

This was a lot of fun to put together. I love the fliping up and flipping over. I like the fact that you have to pull the newsletter out. I made the tag and box word art pieces with two fonts: Basic Sans Heavy and Blackjack. I based them on the ones Ali Edwards did.

Here was the original "foundation."



*Journaling reads:
I don't make our Christmas cards simply because I don't want anyone to feel they ought to keep them. I tend to buy my cards during the sales after Christmas, too.
I always personalize them with a photo of the kids and a newsletter. It's difficult to write without sounding like I'm bragging, though!

(On Day 4 we attended a performance of Handel's Messiah. I was moved to tears. Two family members fell asleep, and another drew pictures all the way through. I have to let that whole experience sit for a bit before I can figure out how to approach the journaling.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

December Daily, Day 2



I took the prompt for Dec 2 from Shimelle's clss. Wonderful pages being shown and so interesting as most of the participants are from the U.K.

The weather here has actually been mild. Minus 8 or so Celsius is wonderful at this time of year --in the sun and without wind, of course. And we were lucky to have that today.

On the left, a screen capture of the weather page from Environment Canada. Around it I printed the little ditty (which we first heard in Little Bear.):

Whether the weather the hot, whether the weather be cold,
we'll weather the weather,
whatever the weather,
whether we like it or not.


I included photocopies of our energy/electricity bill and our natural gas bill in the envelope. Behind the envelope, I have the scrapbook "spread." The journaling card is something I made up in word (fonts: Antique Olive and Antigoni Light).

It reads:

For me, surviving the winter is all about the Christmas lights. C (my husband) and B (my son) put these up on Remembrance Day when it was still warm. They're so cheery, we won't take them down until March! I actually turn these on in the morning when I take Aurelia to the bus stop --just so they greet me when I come home.



The original:



As you can see, it isn't bothering me one whit to change things up.
(Though now that I see it again, I may spruce up that envelop with some of that patterned paper. We'll see.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reverb #3: The Moment

December 3 – Moment. Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Author: Ali Edwards)

I saw this prompt last night and I've been thinking about it all day. I may have been a bit hasty saying "I'm not a writer" the other day, for to answer this prompt is to do what writers do.



I was standing here.

At my back is the Porcupine Foothills. Below and before me stretches the long, low, sloping prairie. The wind dulled people's shrill voices to a low buzzing sound, making it difficult to eavesdrop. It is a constant companion here, making my long hair impossible, our tailgate picnics challenging. It has a sound, surely, but not one that seems separate from the body. It seems to come from within, somewhere, inside my head.

The air can't help but be fresh. The nearest city is more than a hundred miles away. Even if there were something, say, a feedlot with its piles of manure, the wind would scrub the air clean.

Behind me, in the shadow of the hill, looking into the sun, the green was as sharp as blades. Before me, great patches of dark and light played out on the land as the clouds lumbered in front of the sun. Colour seemed muted, light rays from an impossible distance, shattering a little, slipping a bit, before they reached me.

I felt my heart lift. Literally. Physically. It rose out of my chest and dashed to catch that wind. It raced, twisting through the grass, rushing out beyond sight to tumble in the impossibly blue sky. It sought those spaces between the light, the places in between. It found home.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Reverb #2

December 2 Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

I'm not a writer.

I took a creative writing course in University. The Prof remarked that my stories were nothing like my personality. Of course, what she meant was that my stories were nothing like my persona. I had a well-developed extroverted persona--some even said bubbly--and the disconnect was in more places than just between my writing and my self.

This past summer, I "auditioned" to write a narrative history of Canada for a homeschooling curriculum company. After two chapter attempts--complete with a chapter by chapter breakdown for the book as well as maps for each of the chapters, I was told that while my enthusiasm was great, my writing was terrible.

And as I mourned the loss of a long-held dream I realised that is was my belief in their pronouncements that killed it: not what they said. I could have chosen to ignore what they said. I could have chosen to believe differently.

But I didn't.

Defeated, humiliated and discouraged. That's where I'm at about writing.

PS: This isn't turning out to be very cheery stuff, is it?

December Daily Day One

Yay! I actually got the pictures formatted and developed last night! My plan is to actually do this only every few days as rushing out to get photos every day won't be all that practical! But, I was thrilled to do these up today so I could share them right away.

Here was the original. I couldn't make the journaling tag work all that well, so I dropped it.



Here is the left page:



And the right:


I think I'd like to add some red stitching to the margins of this page. We'll see.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Reverb: One Word*

(This morning, 8:30am)


December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?
(Author: Gwen Bell from reverb10)

If I were to pick a safe word, it would be change. I started scrapping earlier this year after a long hiatus. I took lots of classes at Simplify 101 to help me change my habits in my household and learn to run it better. On our vacation we went places no one but me had ever been before. And I put my daughter in public school: a huge change I'm still adjusting to. Yep. Change. Safe word.

But I don't like change.

If I'm honest, then the word I have to choose is angry. I am angry. I have been angry all year. Angry that while I did my scrapbooking, life around me fell apart. No one else, it seems, can get meals or do laundry or do all the dishes in one go. There's always something left for me to come along and do.

I am angry that that I broke my foot and was immobile for several weeks. And it's funny. I didn't gain back the forty pounds I lost in 2008 then, but later, after my foot was better. I'm angry about my weight too. Spitting mad, actually.

And I am angry at the fact I had to send my daughter to school. I miss her terribly.

But where is all this anger going?
It attacks my loved ones.
How am I dealing with it?
I'm not. Yelling is not coping.
Not coping well at all.

In a year from now?
What should my word be?
Obvious, isn't it?

Peace.

I have no idea how to get there from here.

*note: I'm not sure I'm committing to this. I may have too much on my plate already. Yet, I want a change, I need a change. So, perhaps I ought to do something different--like be real--or something.
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