Friday 29 January 2016

What I Am Into - January 2016

What I Am Into :: January 2016

It's been a grey and rainy January, as January tends to be in this corner of our country. The first few days of 2016 were filled with extended family and belated Christmas celebrations and oh yes, plenty of turkey. Since then, we've been finding our rhythms and routines again, some old, some new, always shifting to fit the needs of the season. This season has been a quieter one, close to home - not quite the hibernation that December was, but slow and homey nonetheless. It's perfect right now, but I'm starting to feel that itch for spring and sunshine; oh, dreary approaching February, we will find joy in you somehow.

On My Nightstand:

I finally read Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See, because I simply grew tired of seeing it recommended by everyone. It's certainly well-written but equally heart-rending. It might have been better at a time when I was feeling more emotionally prepared for it, rather than the dead of rainy winter in the post-holiday hibernation stage. Regardless, it lives up to all the recommendations.

I also read through most of Gaiman's Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances - again, simply because I saw it recommended so many times. Not sure this one lives up to its recommendations, but the writing is excellent, anyway. The stories are just a bit too random and strange for my taste.

I finished Rigg's Library of Souls: The Third Novel of Miss Peregrine's Peculiar Children, which was not as good as the first one, but still an engaging read and a satisfying conclusion to the story.

I'm currently well into Stephenson's Seveneves. Highly intriguing so far, although a very slight bit on the slow side. On the back burner is Gottman's Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child, which was excellent thus far but got set aside in favour of a library hold.

On the Screen:

The husband and I have been spending our evenings watching Star Trek: The Next Generation. Make it so! Ah. Picard. I'm a little bummed that I have to sit through Deep Space Nine next, before we finally get to Janeway in Voyager. (Janeway was my childhood hero. My childhood crush was Sully from Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. I cannot decide whether those two choices are a bit...unusual for a child.)

In My Ears:

I haven't been playing a lot of music around the house lately, so really I've been listening exclusively to my 165-180 BPM playlist while I run. Creating that playlist was one of the best things I did for my running. It takes all the thinking out of it for me; I just run in time with the beat, and my pace stays steady and reasonable. My running pace has improved from 5:56 min/km at the start of January to 5:28 min/km at the end. Nothing fabulous, I know, but the steady personal improvement makes me happy. I'm currently running 5K three times each week.

What We're Learning:

We finished our history book (Hillyer's A Child's History of the World), much to the kids' disappointment. Our next one (Gombrich's A Little History of the World) arrived a few days later, but in the meantime they had been requesting re-reads of the chapters on their favourite people and events.

Kai asked why the moon looks different some nights, prompting an interesting exploration of that question. We made this model of earth's orbit around the sun and the moon's orbit around earth. We used this video and this comparative model to consider the actual scale of the sun/earth/moon. Then we talked about the phases of the moon, went into a dark room with a globe and a flashlight and a ball to get a better visual of it, and finished things off by making this interactive model of the phases of the moon.

Then they asked me to print off more of the orbit models and proceeded to make up their own planets and stars, each one with detailed (and usually quiet dangerous) characteristics. So many scraps of cut paper on the floor. So many.

Organizing My Days:

I am in love with my daily planner this year. I am using the Sacred Ordinary Days planner, a liturgical planner which satisfies my soul's need for rhythm. Each of the changes in the church season is accompanied by a guided reflection. The daily pages have space for three daily projects, journaling, the daily schedule, to-do list, daily office readings, and white space for whatever. It's beautiful. I love it. I use it as my personal planner, with journals and prayers and doodles and reflections and various personal things I want to track, as well as a basic daily outline of our schedule. It has become a lovely way to start and end each day.

What I'm Looking Forward to in February:

February starts off with a celebration of our ninth anniversary. Considering how healing the past year has been, this makes me smile. Lacking a babysitter (seriously, how do we still not have a babysitter?), we'll likely order some pizza for the kids, set them up with a movie in the living room, and enjoy a nice quiet dinner (sort of) on our own.

Well, friends, that is What I've Been Into this past month. What about you?

Linking up to What I'm Into with HopefulLeigh...

Monday 25 January 2016

The only way to do it

Sometimes my kids don't want to do the things that they need to do.

Shocking, right? I know. I'm the only one with kids like this. They don't want to empty the dishwasher or tidy their toys or work on something challenging.

So out comes the Mom Voice and I tell them, every time: The only way to do it is to do it.

The only way to get that dishwasher emptied so you can go play is to empty it. The only way to get through that task that feels big and difficult and overwhelming is to get started. These are words to carry you through life, kids.

But this isn't really about my kids. Because for every time I remind them that the only way to do it is to do it, I have to remind myself of the same thing about a half dozen times.

The only way to get out of bed in the morning, self, is to get out of bed in the morning. The only way to run is to lace up those shoes and go run. When faced with a new client and five years of overdue taxes and no useful records, the only way to get through it is to do it. I can stare at it and dread it and whine all I like, but it's not going anywhere until I begin.

Goodness knows that as a perfectionist, procrastination is my constant temptation. If I can't do it perfectly right now, then it's best to just not bother at all, right? Put it off until I have the perfect combination of time, silence, skills, desire, space, mental clarity, everything - then, maybe, we'll talk.

Four kids and homeschooling and working from home and housekeeping and caring for my own self too, however, means that things never go well when I try to wait for the stars to perfectly align. I'm learning to be more creative with my time. I'm finding the things that work best for me: the preparations that make the biggest difference, the small pockets of time that can either be wasted or used, the disciplines and habits that bring a sense of peace and confidence and usefulness to our daily rhythms.

All those things help, yes - but ultimately, always, the only way to do it is to do it. So I sit down to my work and hear those words in my head and I begin. I put on a load of laundry. I take out the sewing machine. Turn on the oven. Pick up the broom. the book. the pen.

The only way to do it is to do it.

Thursday 7 January 2016

Light {One Word 2016}

Each year, in lieu of resolutions, I choose an idea to focus on for the next 12 months. The fluidity and holistic nature of this word fits my spirit better than one specific resolution. They flow one year to the next, Grace leading to Joy leading to Presence, Intention leading to Rhythm leading to Habit, the culmination of all of those Opening my life wide for what may come. Then, a hard year, a decision to simply Go Forward bravely, one step after another. The year following demanded that I Fearlessly rebuild and heal and live.

Now another new year has arrived, and my focus is shifting once again.

2010: Grace and Intention
2011: Joy and Rhythm
2012: Presence and Habit
2013: Open
2014: Go Forward
2015: Fearless
2016: Light

I don't know precisely how this focus on Light will play out this year - my word always ends up surprising me, applying itself in unexpectedly perfect ways - but I do have a general vision to guide me in the weeks ahead.

Live Light

I want to Live Light this year. I want there to be less stuff. Less clutter, less consuming, less purchasing. Less visual chaos creating inner chaos. Less demands on my time and attention, taking away from the better things that could be. Lighter schedules with plenty of margin. It's all beginning to feel like a burden, all this stuff to move around and tidy and sort and organize and care for; I will keep the useful and the beautiful, but so much of the rest needs to go.

Seek Light

Claiming the early hours of the day as my own has provided me with a renewed steady diet of God's Word, and I want to continue to Seek the Light there. His Word is freedom and comfort, guidance and wisdom, a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

Building on that source of Light, I want to more intentionally Seek Light in my own spirit. I am easily burdened, heavy under the weight of the world's pain, frequently wrestling away despair and anxiety. I need to care for my soul - put on my own oxygen mask, if you will, that I may then be able to better love others.

Caring for my soul means loving my whole self, body, mind, and soul, continuing to prioritize the things that help me to feel strong and free and grateful for this gift. It means running, resting, sleeping, eating, all of it joyously and with gratitude. It means acknowledging my needs and meeting them as best I can where I am right now. It means pursuing both the creative and the intellectual. It means prayerfully releasing burdens and receiving hope, the only rescue from the temptation to despair.

Be Light

With a lighter life and a lighter spirit, I am better equipped to Be Light to others, to share blessings and kindness and love. For too long I have allowed my anxiety and perfectionism to bind me, afraid that my attempts at kindness will only end up being a burden, unwanted, insufficient, just not quite right. I wish to shed those restraints and offer what I can, however imperfect or small those offerings may be. In a world that can feel so dark, even a small Light is welcome.

I want especially to be Light here in this home. Words and acts of kindness, grace, and compassion are never needed anywhere more than in one's own home, kindling love and security, raising up more love and Light to go out into the world.

Live Light. Seek Light. Be Light.

Do you have a One Word this year? a resolution? a new goal or habit? I'd love to hear about it.