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little things

November 29th, 2010 | Comments Off on little things

For some reason, I’ve been thinking a lot about the little things in life, you know, those tiny aspects of your day that maybe you don’t always think about, but doing them makes you happy and feel better, and not doing them kind of stinks.

Such as…..

~~ always having something in the car for a snack. I like Clif bars. They work in a pinch when you’ve over-stepped your errands or some other outings and you’re really hungry. And they keep for ever. Bonus little thing in the car- water. I like to always have some on hand as it tends to help quell hunger too.

~~taking the time to do something just for yourself. Make some tea, do some deep breathing or just get up and stretch for 10 minutes. Stop everything necessary for just a bit. The world will not come crashing down if you do.

~~smiling at everyone. Come on…. how hard is this one? You’d be amazed at how it makes you feel, even if you think no one notices.

~~saying ‘Please’ and ‘Thank you’. Again, not hard, but necessary. I’m always surprised at how much quicker something happens when you are polite and sincere.

~~being patient. I know this one is hard, but it helps make everyone’s day better. Lines don’t move, elevators take forever, stories get drawn out…. it happens.

~~and to go with that patience….. being tolerant. Everyone around you has some kind of battle, and that person who is crabby, rude or taking up two parking spots might just be having a really rotten day. We all need a little grace. Include yourself, too.

~~apologizing when something just doesn’t go right. And most importantly, apologize to yourself. We’re imperfect and we have days that simply crumble at the seams. Let it go and try again. Being perfect is unattainable.

~~complimenting someone. Anyone. I saw an elderly woman at the grocer who had a big brooch on her coat, the kind my Grandma wore a lot. It made me think of her, and I told the woman her brooch was lovely. She beamed like she’d won the lottery. Not difficult at all, and it made both of us happy.

~~eating slowly. Savoring the taste, the flavor, the texture. This may be hard if you have little kids, but if you don’t eat every single meal with them, when you can, take your time. The best part? You fill up without over-eating.

“Every time you appreciate something; every time you praise something; every time you feel good about something, you are telling the Universe: “MORE OF THIS, PLEASE!” You need never make another verbal statement of this intent and, if you are mostly in a state of appreciation, all good things will flow to you.”
~Esther Abraham-Hicks

That’s what’s on my mind today. Thanks for listening. One more day left of NaBloPoMo!!

Embracing winter darkness

December 18th, 2009 | 3 Comments »

This time of year it isn’t unusual to find the long winter shadows start to appear around early afternoon. With the swift approach of the Solstice, the darkness seems almost interminable. But the nice thought is, after Monday, the days grow progressively longer. And Spring will be three months away.

Are you one of those, at least those of us in the grasp of a northern hemisphere Winter, that feel the night descend so hard that the 7:00pm darkness can often feel like midnight? Like we need to be going to bed instead of finishing up the dinner dishes and thinking about how to manage the evening ahead? We’ve been plagued with that quite a bit at our house. And I’m never sure how to get past it except to just roll with the changing light and keep in mind that the tilt of the Earth always brings us back to warmer weather, dripping eaves and bare brown patches that miraculously change into green again. And up until recently, I never considered actually embracing that darkness. It was always about trying to get away from it. Then I read this essay by Jeanette Winterson. And I read it again. It struck a chord in me and suddenly the coming darkness that evening didn’t seem so daunting.

Winterson’s essay is all about the enjoyment of darkness for many things considered normal in our lives. She speaks eloquently of the effect of the night on love, cooking, thinking, creativity and all manner of human purpose. Most of it I’ve never considered at all, especially the cooking aspect, at least not in the way that she explains it.

She talks about how our culture has phased out the night, treating it more like failed daylight than a time of slowness and silence, which she urges us to acknowledge as a correction of the day. I especially loved how she talked about the slim hour of time where the day and night meet, where the darkness slowly envelops the light.

City or country, that sundown hour is strange and exhilarating, as ordinary spatial relations are altered: trees rear up in their own shadows, buildings bulk out, pavements stretch forward, the red wrapper of brake lights turns a road into a lava flow.”

In the wintertime, this twilight, or “blue time”, as a friend of mine has coined, is my absolute favorite moment of the otherwise dark and chill that surrounds it.  It’s perfect for reflection, a cup of tea and the rather soothing way that the shadows turn the snow from white to opal to purple and then finally to the deepest blue-black of a December night.

Sometimes, if we’re lucky enough to lift our eyes to the sky, we can be rewarded with sunsets like this:

Which, to my utmost surprise on this particular evening, not only painted the western horizon in this creative and colorful light, but tossed pastel tinted clouds all over the eastern sky as well….

And the sight of it all nearly gave me whiplash as I spun back and forth trying to catch the prime moments happening on both sides of me. With this kind of beauty ushering in our winter darkness, it almost seems a shame to turn on the lights and chase away the winter night. But that’s what we do. Most of the time anyway. For one night, while the guys were gone, I decided to defy that urge and do what Winterson suggests. Sit among the dark, with a fire and candles, and relax in the moment. I actually looked forward to the hours ahead. But I cheated just a little in terms of light though, loving the twinkling look of this bakers rack that resides in the corner of our kitchen.

Fortified after an intense outing on my cross country skis, I made sure that a simple dinner was on hand. A baked sweet potato and a cabbage salad seemed perfect for a solitary night with a few candles and the fireplace. I wished the evening was temperate enough to be out at the fire pit, enjoying the crackling of a true wood fire. Our gas fireplace as all the ambiance of watching a bunsen burner, but the warmth it puts out left the room cozy and comforting. The cats settled on the sofa with me, the contentment seemingly catchy. The flickering candles had a soothing effect on my thoughts, and I found that I had no urge to push through the hours until I could go to bed. It was a nice surprise to find that I really was enjoying myself. With 2010 bearing down on me, and a less than stellar 2009 fading in the rearview mirror, I welcomed the opportunity to reflect and look forward to starting something new again. I enjoyed my simple meal, and more importantly, my own solitary thoughts. I likely will repeat this in the coming months. Anything to break up the monotony of those long, dark hours. I hope it instills in me a new appreciation of these inevitable winter months.

“Food, fire, walks, dreams, cold, sleep, love, slowness, time, quiet, books, seasons – all these things, which are not really things, but moments of life – take on a different quality at night-time, where the moon reflects the light of the sun, and we have time to reflect what life is to us, knowing that it passes, and that every bit of it, in its change and its difference, is the here and now of what we have. Life is too short to be all daylight. Night is not less; it’s more.”

And it was more, for one night anyway.