Little Nudges

IMG_5446You know how the universe sometimes conspires to send you a message?  Well, I’ve been pondering an issue for the last few days and the universe is busy throwing answers my way.

This weekend we hosted two artists who were displaying at our local art fair.  Listening to them talk about their art (both make jewelry) made me yearn to be more proactive about allotting time for my art, making cards.  I felt a little frustrated that even after focusing on card making during my 366 Somedays and again a couple of months ago, card making is still a “someday”, with the exception of the ones I make for friends and family.

Then, my second son read me a passage from The Fellowship of the Ring:

Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea.  That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all’.  Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.

My son clearly feels this describes our home, Toad Hall, but the quote made me feel a little sad.  That was how I felt the first summer I was here.  After a winter of intense work on our new house, I spent the summer luxuriating on the deck, reading and writing for hours and relishing the eclectic qualities of the house that brought me joy.  Since we didn’t yet actually live here, there weren’t the homeowner’s chores staring me in the face.  It felt like a summer-long vacation.  For the last two years we have actually lived in this house.  I still enjoy the beauty surrounding the house and the views on my daily walks never get old, but I’ve lost the feeling of relaxation and “just sitting and thinking best”.  I’ve let my priorities shift to the do, do, do.  I need (want) to sit and think.  I want to be creative with my cards.  I want to write and read.  I want to bring back those feelings of relaxation and bliss.  But how?

As I pondered this throughout the weekend, I began to feel even more sad and I knew I would need to address this situation and find an answer for myself.  Well, my pondering brought some answers.  I unpacked a bag from my last trip to Portland and discovered two books I’d bought at a garage sale while there.  Both are on the topic of women and creativity.  Then, I picked up a magazine that’s been sitting around for almost a year and I opened it to an article titled, Be Your Own Life Coach, with five steps to begin sorting out the needs, the must-dos, and the wants.  I had just been in the kitchen discussing my sadness with my husband and then, BAM, there were these books and there was this article.  I thought about this upcoming weekend when I will be out-of-town with my husband while he is working and I suddenly realized this is the perfect opportunity to do some thinking, to take stock of where I am and where I want to be.

And then yesterday morning I opened a gift bag I’d been given as a thank you for volunteering for an event.  Inside was a lovely little tea towel with the words, “Do what makes your soul happy!” emblazoned in gold.  I hung it in my bathroom where I will see it regularly.  I need to remember to make the time to let my soul be happy.

Little nudges, little reminders and I’m listening!  Yesterday I enjoyed my coffee out on the deck, I made cards, I took an evening walk, and I’m writing.  My soul is happy.

Just Try!

Here I am on the last day of my 366 Somedays and what have I learned?

I have learned not all “Somedays” are meant to be.  Once attention was finally given to some, they just didn’t fulfill the expectations.  The activity was not as fun as anticipated or the amount of work to accomplish the “Someday” was beyond what I was willing to expend.  Speaking Italian fell into this category.  I’ll still dream of living in Italy and conversing fluently with my neighbors, but the reality is I’ll never live in Italy and I’ll never speak Italian – fluently or otherwise.

I have learned goals can be achieved with steady and persistent effort.  My “Someday” to complete the physical challenge of walking or running 1200 miles in a year required me to focus on getting in miles almost daily.  There were times I would have preferred to sit out a workout due to rain, snow, heat, or just plain laziness, but I didn’t – I kept at it for twelve months and I achieved my goal.

I have learned that tackling some “Somedays” leads to the accomplishment of other “mini-Somedays”.  This month, as I’ve been working on restoring my carousel horse (no pictures yet – it isn’t done), I’ve also been painting (with the same paint) a decorative mirror which I’d planned on putting in a specific spot in our home, but which has been sitting in a garage closet for the last two years waiting to be painted and antiqued.

I have learned most “Somedays” cannot be completed within a month.  My very first “Someday” of writing a book in a month was way too ambitious!  The book still isn’t done and the reality is, that may not be the book I end up finishing.  I’ll still write and, eventually, a book will be completed, but it would be disheartening to chastise myself for not finishing in one month.  This has been the hardest lesson to accept.  So many of my “Somedays” aren’t finished and, at first, that bothered me, but all of the “Somedays” I tackled are started and that, in my opinion, is a win.

I have learned some “Somedays” resonate more than others and that is joyous.  Yoga, a “Someday” not chosen, but which I probably would not have attempted if I weren’t going through this journey, has quickly become part of my daily routine and I wonder why I didn’t open myself to it years ago.  Knitting also brings me joy and, while I don’t sit for hours and knit, when I do pick up my needles, I feel a calm wash over me.

So, with successes (1200 mile challenge), failures (speaking Italian), postponements (gardening – the space is finally ready and I’ll try planting this spring), and continuations (writing a book, restoring my carousel horse), perhaps the biggest lesson of this year has been that it’s okay to fail, to not enjoy, to set aside, but it isn’t okay to not even try.

Love the One You’re With

img_4137When I started my “Someday” of knitting back in November, I chose to start with a learn-to-knit kit I’d purchased on clearance several years ago.  I started out strong and was pleased the pattern would allow me to learn several different techniques by the time I was done.  The pattern is for a scarf and hat in a style I wouldn’t wear.  The yarn is a denim blue, a color that doesn’t appeal to me.  I liked the activity of knitting, but I was uninspired by what I was knitting.  Still, not wanting to waste the kit, I kept plugging away at it – slowly and without much enthusiasm.

One day, in a craft store, I looked at some beautiful, soft yarn and thought how nice it would be to knit with that yarn.  A few days later, as I sat trying to finish another row on my scarf, the Stephen Stills song, Love the One You’re With came to mind.  I never really liked the lyrics because I didn’t think one should simply settle for the one “right next to you” and I realized I didn’t need to settle for the learn-to-knit kit.  I could knit something I wanted with a yarn that brought me pleasure in its look and feel.  I ordered the lovely yarn and I’ve started a blanket for myself.  Every time I pick up my knitting needles, I feel a little bit of joy as the soft blanket that’s taking shape settles into my lap.

So, another lesson learned:  sometimes the “Someday” can be right, even when enthusiasm is lacking.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of finding the right outlet so you can Love the One You’re With.

Yoga: The “Someday” Not Taken

Way back toward the beginning of this 366 Somedays journey, I had to make a choice between two “Somedays”:  yoga and meditation.  I felt the two were too closely related to do both as valid “Somedays” on their own.  I ended up choosing meditation because I know my mind pings out of control too frequently.  I have not continued a daily meditation practice, though I have used what I learned so I’m able to sit meditatively for five to ten minutes in the morning on days when I feel overwhelmed.

Yoga was still sitting out there as a “Someday”.  As it’s hovered there in my desires, I’ve found myself increasingly stiff.  This stiffness began a few years ago and it has just continued to get worse.  I felt I needed to stretch more, do more strength training.  My body was feeling old and I was grasping at straws without really making the effort to grab them.

Then, earlier this month, a friend’s blog on quilting popped up in my email inbox as having a new post.  I clicked on it and read what I think will be a life-changing account of her decision to commit to 31 days of yoga and to pursue becoming a yogi (one who regularly practices yoga).  My friend is using Yoga with Adriene’s online (free) YouTube videos for her 31-day commitment.  I checked it out and immediately signed up, sequestered myself from the rest of my family, and did the first session.  I’d like to have some witty words for how I felt, but all I can come up with is, “Wow!”

I’m two weeks into the program and I feel great!  I am light years away from being able to do the poses and transitions like Adriene does, but I’m moving along and I can tell I’m making little steps of progress and, best of all, I am not feeling nearly as stiff as I was just two weeks ago.  I’m not taking my yoga practice out in public.  The sanctity of my private space is perfect for my humble attempts at graceful movement, but I will continue this practice.  Am I sorry I didn’t make yoga an official “Someday”?  Not at all.  If I weren’t taking this journey and allowing myself to be open to new activities, I’m not sure I would have so readily jumped on the bandwagon when my friend wrote about it.  It seems silly to pose this as a “mini-Someday” because it’s definitely not “mini”, but I’ll take it as a “mini” or a “monthly”.  I’m excited where this will take me and that really is the purpose of this journey.

A Zebra CAN Change Its Stripes

Change is hard.  I’ve experienced how hard it is during this journey.  It’s hard to change habit, manner, and routine.  That’s the basis of the sayings:  A zebra can’t change its stripes and a leopard can’t change its spots.  Unless you’re Al Gore and then the zebra can’t change its spots, but that’s an entirely different discussion.

My “Someday” for this month is to restore my carousel horse (zebra).  She was fine as a zebra, but she’s my carousel horse (zebra) and my heart called for a red horse, not a zebra.  So, she’s been undergoing transformation and, though it’s a lot of work to change, she has changed her stripes.  There’s still one more coat of red paint to put on and then a lot of detail work, but here’s a progression of how she’s changing:

Here’s the “Before” picture.
A close-up of the dirt and decay that had to be cleaned off.
One coat of red paint — she’s beginning to change.
After a second coat, the morphing continues.
Third coat — I thought we were almost there.
Fourth coat — Transformation not quite complete.
A peek at what she will look like as a red horse, not a striped zebra.

So, zebras, like us, can change their stripes, it just takes a lot of work.


img_4050Throughout this journey of “Somedays”, I’ve tried to use the purposefulness of the process to help me stay productive in other areas.  I’ve tried to accomplish mini-“Somedays” along the way.  I’ve written about some of them, but others, like organizing the kitchen cupboards, drawers, and pantry were just little (or sometimes big) accomplishments that I feel good about.  Yesterday, I completed two mini-“Somedays”:  two little plaques I’ve been wanting to make for our home.

I’ve had the intention of putting these together for months; however, putting aside the time to do them just never seemed a priority.  Once I had them done and mounted on the walls, I wondered why it had taken me so long to get them done.  It took less than two hours to make them and that included img_4057searching for the antique white frame I knew I had somewhere.  Just two hours!  How many hours do I squander on inane activities?  Why do I not harness those hours and make them productive?  The thought was eye opening.

And now, with eyes open, I’m going to look around to see what other mini-“Somedays” are waiting to be done.   I had such a sense of accomplishment yesterday!  It was a level beyond the effort I put in, but that’s okay.  I like the feeling and I’m willing to accept it even for small projects.  Bring on the To-Do list!

This Journey’s Final “Someday”

I don’t remember when I rode my first carousel, but I know I love the feeling of freedom that rushes over me as the carousel goes round and round and my horse goes up and down.  I feel exuberant, free, and innocent whenever I’m on a carousel horse.  Years ago, after finding out I was receiving a significant promotion at work, a department manager invited me to use her office to call my parents so I could share the news with them.  I still remember that phone call, standing next to the carousel horse she displayed in her office.  This past spring, I took my oldest grandson on his first carousel ride.  I will strive for the rest of my days to attain the level of joy that burst forth from him as the carousel began to turn.

img_4024I’ve always wanted a carousel horse, but the real ones, even the reproductions, are too expensive.  A few years ago, I came across this carousel horse (zebra) in a thrift store.  It’s actually a child’s rocking horse that has been refashioned into a carousel horse.  I like the idea that it was, perhaps, used by a family’s children and then, once they were grown, crafted into a carousel horse for display and memories.  I’m also a little saddened as I wonder why, then, would someone donate it to a thrift store.  I bought it with the idea of refreshing its look “Someday” and giving it a new home.

I’d like to have the kind of house someday where a carousel horse wouldn’t be out of place in the living room.

–Jay McInerney

I have the kind of house where a carousel horse wouldn’t be out of place in the living room, but I’ve reserved a spot in my bedroom for my carousel horse.  There’s a large ledge across one side of the room that can only be seen from the other side of the room – where my bed is.  My carousel horse will sit up there where I can see it each night before I fall asleep and first thing in the morning when I awaken.

As I thought about what “Someday” I would tackle for this final month, I realized I wanted to do something that would bring me joy.  Refinishing the carousel horse feels joyful in two ways:  the act of refinishing it will be creative and I like being creative and the finished horse, sitting where I can see it every day will remind of the joy and freedom I feel while riding a carousel.


Going for the Joy

Last month’s “Someday” of getting my website up and running is still in progress.  I hit technical difficulties that derailed me, but I haven’t given up.  Once again, that “Someday” was harder to accomplish than I anticipated.  So, that work will stay in the background and now it’s time to tackle my final month’s “Someday” as the 366 days come to an end.

I had been planning to have this month’s “Someday” be to learn to swim so I could complete a mini-triathlon later this year.  Completing a triathlon has long been a goal of mine.  I can run, I can bike, but I cannot swim well enough to complete the swim portion, so my “Someday” was going to be taking swim lessons and learning to swim.  However, as the beginning of the month approached, I was more and more agitated about the idea.  The reality is, I don’t like to swim.  I don’t like getting my hair wet every day.  I don’t like the idea of swimming back and forth in a pool as a type of exercise.  I haven’t enjoyed swimming since my junior high days when the activity wasn’t so much swimming as jumping around in a pool with friends on a hot summer day.

I’ve learned throughout this year there are some “Somedays” I no longer want to pursue, i.e. speaking Italian.  I’ve also realized lately many of the “Somedays” aren’t providing me with joy.  Even though I thought they were something I wanted to do, doing them doesn’t give me the happiness I thought they would – this is the category in which I’d put swimming.  I want to complete a mini-triathlon, but the idea of swimming fills me with dread, not happy anticipation.  So why do it?  Why subject myself to a regular practice that doesn’t offer me something positive?  Maybe one of the lessons from this project is it’s okay to not do everything.  It’s okay, when given the choice, to choose joy and happiness over some nebulous idea of what I should be doing.  Do I really want to complete a triathlon?  Maybe, but if I don’t want to do it strongly enough to eagerly anticipate the accomplishment of learning to swim, then maybe a triathlon shouldn’t be on my To-Do list.

Something else I’ve learned this year is I like creative activities.  With that in mind, I’ve chosen my final month’s “Someday”.  I’ll unveil it tomorrow.

1200 Miles — Woo-Hoo?

milesYesterday I crossed the finish line of my January “Someday”: running and/or walking 1200 workout miles during the calendar year.  I put in miles on the treadmill last winter and early spring and again late this fall when the weather turned bad.  I put in miles in snow, rain, and heat.  I put in miles in Central Oregon, Southern Oregon, Portland, Seattle, The Redwoods, Las Vegas, the Oregon and Washington Coasts, Los Angeles, New York, Rome, Cortona, and Venice.  My monthly mileage has been right around 100 miles except for October when we were in Italy much of the month.  I quietly finished yesterday with three miles on the treadmill before dawn and then a three mile walk on our snowy paths.  There was no finisher’s metal, no finish line crowds; in fact, my husband is the only one who knows right now that I made it to my goal.

So where’s the woo-hoo? Surprisingly, I feel a little ambivalent about completing this year-long quest.  I did it.  I’m glad I did it, but I don’t think I’m taking away from the experience the excitement and enthusiasm I expected.  The reality is, I did this as a physical challenge, but my physical condition is worse than when I started.  I weigh more and my flexibility and strength have declined due to decreased stretching and weight lifting as I’ve dedicated more of my workout time to running and walking.  I’m actually relieved to be done so I can go back to a more rounded workout routine.  I’ll still be on the treadmill or the paths almost daily, but without the need to maintain a 4-mile per day average, six days a week and I’ll also be able to add in more varied workout activities.  So, woo-hoo for me!  I completed my goal.  Maybe sometimes an achieved “Someday” isn’t all we expect it to be.  Maybe it’s true you can’t do it all and a commitment to one thing means you can’t do something else.  As time goes on, I think I will be more proud and more gratified of doing something healthful not many people have matched.  For now I am going to take the best of this – the motivation to be healthy – and apply it to 2017 and the rest of my life!

December’s Someday: Embrace the Crazy!

embrace-the-crazy-logoNew month, new Someday!  I’m late getting this written, but I’ve started working on my December Someday:  getting my website up and running.

It all started a few years ago when my oldest daughter’s boyfriend was trying to plan an event to use as the backdrop for his marriage proposal.  Plans were secretly made, but my daughter kept changing her own plans not realizing she was creating havoc for her poor boyfriend who had to keep changing his plans.  At one point, knowing my daughter as I do, I said to him, “You better learn how to embrace the crazy!”  Embrace the Crazy quickly became a catchphrase in our family.  For Christmas that year my husband even began the process of trademarking the phrase.  My second son then developed a logo for us, I set up a website, we purchased some starter Embrace the Crazy items, and then….  Well, the website is still in the development stage, up until yesterday the items we’d purchased were still in their boxes stored in our garage, and my other ideas for ETC are still just ideas.

This month, that will change.  I’ve already brought the boxes out of storage, I’m researching packing boxes and mailing options, and I’m working on the website.  My plan is to have it ready to launch by January 1st.

I hesitated to take on this Someday this month when life is already so busy because of the holidays, but, what the heck, I’ll just Embrace the Crazy!