Fresh Starts

With the New Year well underway I wonder how many people have decided they need a fresh start. Perhaps you are looking for a fresh start with your physical health. That seems to be a big priority at this time of year.

My husband always laughs at the fact that prior to the holidays the ads everywhere; are all about food. They show Christmas cookies that can be made. There are recipes for new side dishes at Thanksgiving and lots of ideas for beverages for the New Year celebrations.

After the holidays are done; all the ads seem to be for gym memberships, weight loss plans, exercise equipment and on and on. I must confess my mind was running along those lines this year.

After all the celebrations, my clothes were feeling a bit snug. I am too tight to buy new clothes for my “fatter” stage. I started pondering on the fact that perhaps I should move a bit more.

There was a simple challenge put out by Young Living for it’s members. They call it #NewMeIn90.  The idea is to intentionally move 30 minutes a day. They want you to make small workable changes that will leave you, not just in better health, but feeling better about life in general.

As I was thinking on this concept a friend, Kim, put out a challenge and a link to a 30 day journey into yoga. She did this on Facebook. I quizzed her by asking if this was something an out of shape (very out of shape) older fat woman could do. (I figured I had best start out the year being honest!) She assured me it was doable.

This week I set out to give it a whirl as I figured it would benefit my balance, flexibility and strength. I am happy to report it was going well…..till I hit Day 6. Day 6 is titled, Ignite.

Adriene, the yoga gal (who shall now be named YG) told us we were going to ignite the fire in our belly. I mumbled under my breath that the last 5 days had already been doing that, as I was starting to discover my long lost core. (I had previously not been sure I even had one anymore.)

Day 6 did not go well. After three, crunch- leg and head lifting type things (that started a roaring bonfire in my belly) I gave up that move. She ended that session with smushing up into a small ball with her knees tucked under her and her forehead on the ground.

I am here to tell you, that last pose was another move that didn’t quite work out properly. When you have extra mass around your middle it gets in the way of smushing and doing the deep breathing that YG kept reminding us to do.

Plans are to finish that 30 day challenge. It might not be done gracefully, but I have Kim holding me accountable and that makes me keep going.

It is good to have someone to hold a person accountable. Maybe that should be my goal this year. Be accountable. Do what I say. Finish what I start. Do what I can with what I am given and realize giving your best is good enough.

Perhaps the fresh start the New Year gives us is not just about getting into better physical shape. Perhaps, it is about persevering…..taking the next step….doing the next pose and keeping on even when life is hard.

Maybe YG is right….maybe just taking the time to breathe in and breathe out and being still is a great goal. Maybe it gives us the time to hear that still small voice. Maybe it gives us the space to really see what our Creator has laid out before us. Just maybe, it gives us the peace we need to embrace the gifts we have been given….whatever they might be.

Let us take this fresh start and receive it with joy.  Let’s relish the gift of life and delight in the steps along the way. Let’s take our cue from children….they don’t worry about tomorrow….they just live in the space that is now and enjoy that time.

When you dance,
your purpose is not to get to a certain place on the floor.
It’s to enjoy each step along the way.
-Wayne Dyer

 

 

Happy New Year

New Years 2019

It is hard to imagine that 2019 has already come and gone. I have a feeling I say that every year…..but every year it always does surprise me that another year has come and gone.

This past New Year’s Eve we celebrated; as we always do…with friends. Each year 3 of the couples are in charge of coming up with the evening’s theme, food and games. This year we chose the 20s as we were ringing in the 2020s.

The photo does make me laugh, as our parties are held in our church youth building and alcohol has never been involved. I also have to grin about the candy cigarettes dangling from some mouths. We had candles on the tables that could not be lit, as no one had any matches or lighters…..no one smokes in this group!

Through the night we discovered many new facts about the 20s…..games that were introduced during that time (Yahtzee & Bunco), foods that showed up (Baby Ruth candy bars, Oreos and Red velvet cake), and what people were famous for (I had no idea Corrie Ten Boom was also famous for being the first licensed woman watchmaker during the 20s).

There was lots of laughter and the sharing of stories. The conversation flowed easy, as is normal when friends get together. There are so many memories with this group of people.

Through the years we have shared parties, births of children and grandchildren, deaths of family members, sickness, surgeries, health, weddings, funerals and everything in between. We have shared life and been made better people for that sharing.

The older I get, the more I value friendships. Friends…true friends…get us through life’s hardest moments. Friends know when to help “fix” things and when to sit and listen.

Friends share joys like the joys are theirs and grieve when you grieve. A really good friend allows you to be stupid and doesn’t let you look stupid alone. Friends are family of the heart. This group of people are those type of friends.

May the new year find you with friends. Friends that “stick closer than a brother.” (Prov. 18:24). May you be richly blessed with relationships of the heart and bless those friends in return.

Happy New Year my friends!

 

The greatest gift of life is friendship,
and I have received it.

Tangled

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It is already December 13 and the tree is finally up and it actually is totally decorated…..except for the candy canes that will get put on at the last minute. For some reason Christmas decorating at our home seems to take a while to wind up and get started.

I am thinking it is because I kind of hate to take down the fall decorations and give in to the fact that it is the winter season. But…..the day arrived and my husband retrieved the totes that held the tree and all that is needed to make our house festive and lit for the holiday.

As I took the strands of lights out of the freezer bags I had stored them in; my husband started laughing. He thought my balls of light strands resembled something from the movie Christmas Vacation. Since he was right on that thought, I let him share in the joy of untangling those strands of lights.20191211_165750125099464.jpg

My Thanksgiving holiday and Christmas holiday seem to tangle all through each other and this year has been no exception. As I was making Christmas cookies I was also finishing up baking out my pumpkins from the garden.

I can probably justify the pumpkin baking as I do make a pumpkin pie for dessert for Christmas dinner. We have some die-hard pumpkin pie lovers at our house that day.

There is something wonderful about the tangling of seasons and holidays. It seems to reflect the tangling of life and the tangling of days. At least my days and my life sometimes resemble that strand of lights that come out of the bag as a ball.

It takes patience to unsnarl that strand of lights. It takes a gentle touch and a sense of calm. There is a lot to be learned when untangling strands of Christmas lights. Things like handling life with patience.  Treating others with a gentle touch.  Remaining calm when faced with situations that look impossible to straighten out.

Let’s take time this holiday season to deal gently with those around us…..you never know what they are dealing with or how snarled their life is. Let’s be patient and calm when the world seems to be going to fast and seems cruel…..let’s untangle those strands and let our lights shine.

 

I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a man
by the way he handles these three things:
a rainy holiday,
lost luggage,
and tangled Christmas tree lights.
~Anonymous 52-year-old,
quoted in H. Jackson Brown, Jr.,
Live and Learn and Pass It On, 1991

 

 

 

 

Points of View

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Steam rising from the river

Yesterday did not go quite as planned….at least as I had planned. I had planned to rake leaves. And I had planned to do some more last minute Fall outdoor things.

When I woke up yesterday I noticed the gleaming sheen of ice on our porch. There were a few flakes drifting around and I still thought I would be able to rake the thick coating of leaves off the grass in our front yard…..later in the day.

As the morning wore on, the wind started to howl, the snow came down thicker and I realized that lawn raking was not going to be happening. My husband informed me that I could still rake if I wanted to. I assured him that raking a leaf/snow mix was a bad idea.

I had let the girls out in the morning and saw that they were safely tucked into the small shed where they love to dust bath. I vaguely wondered if they would figure out to go in once night came around or if they would not want to walk on fresh fallen snow.

Come about 5:00 in the afternoon I had the answer to my wonderings. When it came time to lock the girls in for the night I was missing five Rhode Island Reds. I went to the house and got a flashlight and trudged back.

Under the non-working pickup in the shed, there were the five birds. Back to the house I went and grabbed a broom. Using the broom I started tapping on the pickup….loudly…and then swinging it around underneath to encourage those girls to make the journey to the coop.  It worked for two of them.

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Enjoying the day after the snow

The last three decided to make life difficult. I would go one way around that vehicle and they would run the other. It didn’t take long and they had wedged themselves behind a large panel of wood.

I would say I was exasperated, but it was way beyond that.  I was to the stage of muttering under my breath about chicken soup tasting good….drumsticks and name-calling. For a space of time, I was starting to think I should be riding that broom instead of using it to try herd chickens.

Fortunately my husband came home and with the aid of a fishing net; the three birds were nabbed and safely installed in the coop for the night. It was too late for me to make it to my Bible Study group…which was a sad thing because I really really needed to go to Bible Study after the chicken chasing event.

I have a feeling those last three girls were scared of something they did not know. The first snow of the season left them feeling uneasy and out of their comfort zone. They did not want to walk on something that was not familiar.

I get that feeling….I don’t like being out of my comfort zone either!  I also do not like taking a path that feels different. It is too scary and you never know what you will encounter when you are asked to go through things that are not the same as before.

It would probably do me good to remember that, when I am asked by my Creator to do something different; it is for my own good when I am herded to the coop…it might be for my safety that I am asked to walk unfamiliar paths. I wonder how many times I am the one upside down in a fish net, squawking up a storm?

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Beauty in the Morning

I also have the feeling those chickens have no idea how beautiful the morning after a snowfall can be.

The fog rising off the river….the trees decked in sparkling ice….and the hush that comes with a small layer of snow.

They cannot appreciate the crunch of icy pellets underfoot and the cold air as it makes your fingers tingle.

This morning was a good morning. I made no plans dependent on weather. The girls were once again enjoying being outdoors. The trees were beautiful. The leaves just might stay where they are, till they disintegrate next spring, and it is all good.

I will try not to squawk to much when guided down unfamiliar paths. I will, instead, try enjoy the view set before me….even though it may be different than I had planned.

 

“There is a sense of danger in leaving what you know,
even if what you know isn’t much.
― John William Tuohy

Summer’s End

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In the past few days there have been several indicators that Fall is fast closing in. Canning season has come to an end. The garden is no longer beautiful and lush.  (It was looking bedraggled and spent so we cleared the debris and my husband pulled a disc through it.) The tall grasses that line the river bank are turning brown and the trees are fast losing their leaves.

The sound of the mornings are even different than a month ago. There is no longer a choir of birds singing at high volume in the gully to the south of us. Wind does not blow softly through the leaves on the trees. It seems to be gaining that winter howl…though I am glad it is not accompanied by snow…….yet!

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An End to Summer Fun

I took the pool down a few weeks back because we were having high winds and they said cooler weather was coming. I figured I should take it down while the weather was nice enough to deal with gallons of water that would probably be landing on me.

It was my concession to the fact that the seasons were indeed changing and I had best be prepared. I had been dragging my feet on that task as I do like the warmer weather, better than snow and cold and ice. It does feel kind of like giving up when I take it down.

I had not really planned on taking a few weeks break from blogging, but it just seemed that every time I was going to sit down and work on a post, another job seemed more pressing. Between the canning, prepping the garden for winter and preparing for the harvesting of our soybean field….time just slipped away.

The neighbor came over and combined the soybeans for us this past week. It is a good job to have finished for the season. There is a comfort in having those bushels safely tucked away at the local elevator.

There is something satisfying about the look of a harvested field. At first glance it looks like an ending. When you take a second glance you see that it is the first step in the preparations for planting next year. It is a beginning.

I love the fact that farming is like a dance. There is an ageless rhythm to the passing of seasons. There is a harmony to the preparing, planting, maintaining and harvesting those fields.

There is a beauty to the golden ripe crops and there is a beauty to the stubble left behind after the combine has done it’s work. There is a rightness to the cycles of the passing seasons and it is so evident as I watch the fields change.

Those fields are so like life….there is beauty in all seasons of life. Sometimes it may seem like giving up as you enter that next season. In all reality it is just a preparation for the next steps of the dance.

Let’s enjoy that change…let’s embrace the ageless rhythm that is life. Let’s open our eyes to the beauty of each step we take. Those endings just might be beginnings…..much like taking in the harvest in order to prepare for planting.

 

“Live each season as it passes;
breathe the air,
drink the drink,
taste the fruit,
and resign yourself to the influences of each.”
— Henry David Thoreau

Days That Are Keepers

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Some days just start out good and just keep rolling along that way. The weather today is beautiful….sunny, dry and the tinge of fall in the air.

It is really a perfect day to turn 62. Yep…I just told you my age because I really don’t care!  I know they say a lady never tells her age, but this lady does, because to me…it is just a number.

On my way to town this morning the sky was so pretty. The clouds against the blue of the sky and the sun shining through. The sight of it made me  a bit late for meeting one of my sisters. I just had to stop and take a picture because beauty like that does not last all day.screenshot_2019-09-27-13-42-391442967960.png

My sister took me to Le Meilleur this morning for the most amazing pastry. It was a cinnamon roll made from a croissant. Our tea was the perfect beverage to go with it.

Le Meilleur is a small bakery in our small town. Unfortunately it is moving to the south of us; to the town where my sister lives.

I am glad it is not going far as I would miss this fun meeting place! The fact they have delicious pastries is a huge bonus as well.

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The day just kept getting better. Once I returned home a package arrived in the mail for me.

I had totally forgotten that I had put my name in a drawing at the Veteran’s Booth at the Clay County Fair a few weeks ago.

Today, I found they had drawn my name and I had won a beautiful stitched American flag!  I was thrilled and it was even better that it arrived on my birthday.  I have not yet mentioned to my husband that I just may need a flagpole to fly this flag.

I did have to take some ribbing from my husband this morning. I showed him a birthday wish a friend had sent on Facebook. The post included fireworks. My husband commented that of course there were fireworks. With that many candles any cake would blow up!

He also reminded me I am now eligible for Social Security.  I reminded him that I had finally caught up with his age! (I am also kind of hoping I am like a fine wine and just getting better with age.)  That may or may not be true, but I kind of like the logic.

One thing I have learned in my 62 years is to make sure to live while you are alive. Maybe I have learned more than one thing….I also know that it is good to find joy in a  sky filled with beautiful clouds and streaming sunlight.

I know that each day is a gift because I am not assured of the next. I have learned that life is good…if you let it be…attitude counts for a lot and there are good people everywhere.

I pray that when I am all done with my birthdays and have reached the end of my days…that I am greeted with the phrase, “well done…good and faithful servant.” And I pray that when my friends and family think of me….it brings a huge grin to their face and maybe leaves them wondering….just a bit.

 

And in the end,
it’s not the years in your life that count.
It’s the life in your years.

-Abraham Lincoln

 

Porch Conversations

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It has been a bit since I posted. For some reason life just got in the way of writing anything. Somewhere between gardening, canning, sitting with a family member in the hospital, birthday parties, baking cakes for birthday parties, family reunions, picking beans, canning again, splitting wood and pressing apples for cider…..a post just never got written.

The other morning my husband and I had a chance to sit a bit and reflect on the busyness of the past weeks. We were starting our day, sitting on the porch, having our first of the morning cups of coffee and tea.

It was beautiful…a bit chilly for this time of year. It was quiet with only the migrating blackbirds to disturb the peace. It was the kind of morning where porch conversations take place….those conversations where everything gets discussed.

The past weeks were rehashed and relived. Some we laughed about and thought we should do again. Some we decided we really didn’t want to repeat. Porch conversation meander (at least ours seem to). They seem to take their sweet time and sometimes end up in places you had no idea they would go.

We pondered on contentment. We wondered why it seems some people never are content; and how those people always seem to want more. For the life of us, we cannot understand that thought.  I am kind of grateful we don’t understand that concept.

It was decided that, perhaps, we viewed life more as a cross country race than a sprint. When our sons were in cross country we noticed that winning was important…but even more important was beating your own time….running your own race…but running it better than the race before.

We kind of liked that thought. The thought of living life; to live it better than the day before was kind of good. It seems to be a way to live without competing against everyone else and without comparing yourself to others.

Living life by just trying to do your own stuff better, really frees a person up from wanting what everyone else has or wanting more than everyone else has. Maybe time on a porch just makes for being content. Maybe it is the slower pace that sitting on a porch seems to bring.

There is just something about sitting on a porch, starting your day with a good cup of tea/coffee and connecting with someone you love; that lends itself to a very content state of mind. Whatever it is….I am all for it.

May you have time to sit with a loved one this weekend. May your conversations meander and bring a smile to your face…..and if you can do this on a porch….may it bring a sense of contentment and a feeling that all is right with your world.

 

 “Contentment is not the fulfillment of what you want
but the realization of how much you already have.”
Anonymous