Easing into the year.

Dear friends,

hand2

I’ve been away from this space for a while.

It’s been nice in some ways, the extra time, a bit of cocooning, figuring out new ways and adjusting to evenings at home alone now that Mr. Mom has gone back to work.

(By the way, despite my invitation to my readers to rename Mr. Mom, I just can’t do it. He may be working outside the home now, but the care and attention he gives our family will always be worthy of the “Mr. Mom” pseudonym.)

I normally launch myself into the new year with a long to-do list and at least a couple of well-considered resolutions. This year — I pretty much skipped it. Or maybe I should say I was a little kinder, allowing myself some time and space to ease into 2015 without rigid expectations.

Part of it was by necessity. I came down with a dreadful upper respiratory bug right after Christmas and spent five feverish days in bed. Then just as I was getting into the swing of January, I threw out my back and was sidelined for another week.

Perhaps there’s nothing as leveling as health issues, even minor ones. I think the universe wanted to remind me that it’s okay to slow down, even when our culture screams “New year, new accomplishments!”

But here’s the thing I really wanted to tell you: I have been meditating regularly. I started back in November after attending a “Mindful Leadership” conference. Then I joined a local Sangha. Now I am taking an 8-week course in Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction.

I want to say so much about my meditative experience but that will take time and more than one post. For now, just this: A couple of weeks ago I felt I was having trouble adjusting to evenings on my own. I even chided myself for too much time in front of the television and the laptop. “Good Lord,” I thought to myself. “I’ve got to do something more productive with my evenings!”

Then last night, I came home from work and in less than three hours I made a homemade dinner, cleaned the kitchen, completed two homework assignments for my class, read the mail, and sat for a 30-minute meditation. As I readied myself for bed I caught myself thinking “Good Lord, that was a fast evening! I’ve got to slow down and enjoy myself.”

Which is precisely why focusing on mindfulness is a very good thing! Our busy, busy minds play all kinds of tricks on us. One minute Mind is scolding us for being lazy; the next minute Mind is screaming slow down.

The irony of a busy, busy Mind — that quite literally can’t make up its mind — reminded me of a beautiful verse written by Martha Postlewaite:

Do not save the world

or do anything grandiose.

Instead create a clearing in

the dense forest of your life

and wait there patiently

until the song

that is your life

falls into your cupped hands

and you recognize and greet it.

Only then will you know

how to give yourself

to this world

so worth of rescue.

With gratitude {for anything resembling a clearing, no matter how modest},

Joan, who invites you to tell her what tricks your Mind has been up to lately

When life hands you snow . . . think spring!

Dear friends,

It’s been snowing endlessly ’round my place.

snow

The temps have been frigid for weeks and, just when the sun comes out and we think we might warm up (where warm equals anything above 40 degrees), the arctic air sweeps back in and brings snow or sleet with it.  Today’s snowstorm is the just the latest in what has been a long winter.

I took a couple of days of vacation to bookend my weekend and celebrate spring break, only my break is decidedly un spring-like.

So as the snow piled up Sunday, I did what any pajama-clad, home-bound vacationer would do: I cooked and crafted.

Earlier today I made biscuits and gravy, bacon, and Pioneer Woman’s eggs in hashbrown nests. Right now I’m waiting on the short ribs in my oven to finish braising so I can smother a big dish of polenta with fork tender ribs and their gravy-of-goodness.

In the mean time, I’ve been re-styling my buffet and mirror from a Valentine’s vortex to an Easter epiphany. Here’s a wreath I made after seeing a similar one on Pinterest.

wreath_Snapseed

It took all of 15 minutes to make. It’s just a Styrofoam wreath wrapped with “eyelash” yarn. The flowers are cut from lace trim and held on with pearl-tipped pins. It makes me long for a lush lawn and the opportunity to romp barefoot with the dogs.

In addition to this wreath, I added some paper lanterns, some Easter egg garland, and a S-P-R-I-N-G banner I made from a bit of leftover burlap, rickrack and twine. Here’s an artsy-fartsy photo of all that (where artsy-fartsy equals a Snapseed edit on my iPhone because I’m so lazy these days I hardly ever get out the Nikon).

springinal

The snow’s really piled up now so I think I’ll adjourn for supper. I hear those short ribs calling my name.

shortribs_Snapseed

With gratitude {for any excuse to stay home and putter},

Joan, who wonders what spring projects you’re preparing to tackle

To do or not to do.

Dear friends,

Guess what I’m doing today?

I’m home alone. My family left early and won’t be home until very late (thanks to the wild lure of Monster Energy Supercross). I have an entire Saturday to myself.

My agenda? I made a list. I’m a list-maker from way back. (Did you know list-makers are eternal optimists?)

I made this list Friday morning when I was still under the influence of home-alone-Saturday anticipation. By Friday night, I had a glass of wine in my hand while watching 30 Rock and found this list hilariously ambitious. FAFSA when home alone? (That’s totally a weekday lunchtime task.) Ironing? (What’s one more week when I’ve put it off a month.) And that whole forms review thing? (That’s a work project that, upon further reflection, can best completed on Monday between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm.)

Because right now I’m really busy drinking coffee, surfing my favorite blogs, reading the NY Times, watching the Food Network, and planning tonight’s take-out supper — all at the same time. It’s super-important stuff that requires my full attention. I know you understand.

With gratitude {for the glorious, unbroken horizon of a day alone and an imprudent to-do list that’s already in the trash},

Joan, who cannot believe she is admitting that the series Sweet Home Alabama has pulled her in hook, line and sinker and could easily consume her entire weekend