Winter Break

wintersparrowOK..I know…when you are retired it’s ALWAYS “break”…whether winter, summer, spring or fall!

I am more talking about the weather.  Sunny and chilly, bright blue sky today after a snowstorm that missed us but hit the coast pretty good. In this kind of weather, you need to keep the feeders filled as the birds use up a lot of energy to keep a sustainable body heat. The weather calls for more snow Thursday night and Sunday night – we will see.

Good days for sorting through photos, catching up on reading, planning future retreats.  Life is good when you can sit back in a comfortable chair with the hot drink of your choice and have some armchair adventures.

Where will YOU go today?

Our “Ordinary” Lives

Quote SacredOne thing I am sure of…in my years of living and observing life…is that this quote is about as “right on” as you can get.

All around us, every day, miracles happen.  The rising and setting of the sun, the progression of the seasons, the diversity of life on this planet and the vastness beyond.  Right down to the detail in a snowflake or the cell structure of leaves life itself is amazing.  But so many times we get so busy we can take it for granted. And in our busy-ness we might miss out on the greatest show on Earth.

There is always some place you can go to reconnect with nature.  Places that won’t cost you anything but time to just go and BE.  John Burroughs wrote “I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”   Not to the mall, not to a nightclub but to nature.  Where you can open up and slow down.  Just open your eyes…and your heart.

The miracle of the everyday…the sacred does lie in the ordinary.

Resolutions, wishes…and all that stuff

fluffDid you start your year off with resolutions?  I didn’t.  A few years ago, I tossed that habit because most times by now they would be forgotten, or I would have found reasons why they just were not going to work.  So, I gave up on resolutions.  At least…in the way we tend to think of them.

Instead, I pick something positive and attainable…something that would not only help me improve, but have a longer lasting effect.  Like reading up a little more on something that interested me, and putting it into practice.  Setting aside a time for “retreat” and sticking to it. (If you think that is easy, just see how many things seem to clamor for attention when you have made plans). Maybe planting a different kind of flower in the garden and observe it’s growth, or finally replacing the old bird feeders. Simple  pleasures/victories. Things like that.

It might sound silly, but after a few life altering things in the past few years I realized the importance of having “doable” goals.  Workarounds.  Something to look forward to.  We might find we can’t do things we once loved, so, how can we do them in a different way?  It helps your mind cut new pathways – and learning and growing can thrive again.  And while we are at it, tossing out “can’t” and find how “can” is still there, just in a different form.  It makes life happier and life IS to short to be unhappy.

Turn your resolution into restoration!

Halfway through January

P1130998little treeWe spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives… not looking for flaws, but for potential.” ~Ellen Goodman

Funny how, after January 1st (at least around here) we tend to think less about the potential that is waiting for us in January.  In these short cold days we not only have the potential to clear out accumulated “stuff” in our homes but in our lives as well.

Is there a project you’ve been thinking of starting, or a painting you thought of creating?  Perhaps beginning to keep a journal or learn something new?  When it is too cold and blustery to go out (or for my friends in the southern hemisphere…too HOT to go out) you can carve out a parcel of time and give it to YOURSELF…and in that way you can enrich the lives of others.  Time to plan, learn, dream…time to grow.  Like the plants that lie in wait under the winter snow.  No excuses – you are as important as anyone else that you care for.  Do you believe it?

Just do it!

Lookin’ out my back door

after the berriesIt is always amazing how much activity I have right in my own back yard.  Having bird feeders, a bird bath with a heater for winter and a lot of cover for creatures it’s no wonder. I tend to leave the seed heads on the flowers until spring and some of the evergreens set up their own fruit.

This euonymus is one example.  I used to keep it clipped into a nice neat mound but then noticed it liked to climb amid the trumpet vine and spread out.  It also has berries that the birds and squirrels love.  Here is one of my ambitious visitors making short work of whatever it can reach.  I can’t help but wonder if this is not the connoisseur who ate every flower on my fuchsia plant until I moved it.  “Wild Kingdom” still runs in a small suburban garden in the great Northeast.  Life goes on no matter what the weather on the outside, bringing a smile to my heart inside.The best cure for cabin fever is to look (or GO) outside the cabin.

A simple way to a happy life.

Frost and Chill

frost womanWith the colder weather the past couple of days, I am back to taking some frost pictures.

I had posted a couple of them to another site, and a friend reminded me of this photo that I posted abut 3-4 years ago.  Frost can be created in feathery, beautiful patterns and every now and then…come out almost like a picture.  This looked like a young lady – perhaps looking out a window or through garden branches – and I had forgotten all about it.  Until yesterday.

Every season has something beautiful to offer.  Winter has its share of headaches as pipes freeze, or cars skid but it is also a season of incredible beauty.  The sparkle of sun on new powder, the art of icicles, or the patterns in frost.  The juncos come back to the feeders, and the flash of red as a cardinal swoops down into the yard can warm your heart, if not your hands and feet.  Beauty is all around us…

What will YOU see today?

Zero…and below

P1110866_crWe have had light, dry, on-and-off flurries the past couple of days and the stage is set for our first below zero temperatures tonight.

This is the time of year when hot coffee/tea/cocoa are at their best.  A good time for hearty soups and stews.  Crusty breads. The house feels cold around the edges and I pile the pillows high on the day bed and add a fleecy blanket to tuck around me as I sit and read.  My cat snuggles in, or dozes on the radiator cover where the heat is most concentrated.  I have 2 new books to read… just finished 2 other books…and when I am not reading I am sorting through pictures on the computer or cleaning closets and drawers. I fill the feeders and watch the birds as they jockey for position, sharing the seed that falls to the ground with the squirrels.  You can love or hate winter but it doesn’t make it any shorter.  So you might as well enjoy what it has to offer and give thanks for warm homes and the lights in the windows of the homes around you in this season of early darkness. Below the ground, the garden sleeps and I dream of Spring.

It WILL get here in its own time.  It always does.


Settling in – to Winter

juncoThe other day, I wrote about a storm we were waiting for.  The storm DID come in with a burst of snow starting a little after 2 PM and toward 6 PM it turned to sleet and freezing rain.  The roads were pretty messy and the leftovers wet and heavy.

Yesterday it got into the 40’s, the mess cleared up (IF you got out there and cleaned it up) and today it is much colder and the wind is blowing up a gale.  We have had squalls and Wednesday night should be our first below zero night, with a predicted 7 below. It’s been fairly mild on all accounts up until now so it feels colder.

The backyard is really busy most times but cardinalwhen the  snow comes in and covers the food sources for the birds, the feeders become a critical source of fuel.  The bird bath heater was employed a few weeks ago so they also have a source of open water as ponds, lakes and streams freeze over.  It’s worth the time, effort and $$ to have these beautiful creatures brighten up the yard (along with the antics of the ever-present squirrels)

Inside, I put the kettle on and pull out the lap blankets and some good books.  I sort through files on the computer.  I think of lots of things I can do around the house and I might even DO them.

But first…another cup of tea.

Pick Your Word

wordstonesWe are 4 days into 2015.  And in going through some of my photos I came across this picture I took of some stones in a basket right at a checkout counter in one of my favorite places to browse and shop.    At home, I have a smooth round polished black stone with the word “Gratitude” printed on it in gold lettering.  Such a wonderful reminder to stop and consider a word or concept that has meaning for you.  Picking a word is a great way to kick off a new year.

Our word may change from year to year. A friend who has a Facebook page and also a website invites us each year to select a word for the year ahead.  It’s a great idea, and one that gives you a centering point when things get crazy, or just something to reflect on when the sailing is smooth.  A word is a powerful thing.  A motivating thing.  A healing thing.  It depends on how you use it.

We can share our words with others, or hold back on words when it is more charitable to remain silent.  But choosing ONE word as a short, personal  mantra for the year ahead is a gift for you alone.  Write it down…paint it on your own selected stone…find a way to have your word present to you and give it some thought each day.  You don’t need to let anyone know what it is, but let its true meaning be revealed to you over the next 12 months.

I have my word.  And I invite you to pick YOUR word.