Thursday, February 26, 2015

growing onward, not just older

recently i was asked to serve at an event raising money for the local scandinavian heritage society.  those in attendance ranged from their 60's to nearly 100.

one woman i spoke with told me with great pride how she had won "best rose garden" in the city of portland but how she "could no longer tend them because of health issues."  i sympathized with her and proposed maybe someone willing to do the work could garner rose wisdom from her and they could both learn new things about each other in the process.

this interaction made me realize how much i want to align myself for the next decades of life.  middle age is declared to be not the beginning of the end as some might think, but merely the end of the beginning.  others have said, "life begins at 40."

many individuals as well as marriages are praised, and rightly so, for their chronological age.  i can't help but wonder about the quality of time and always hope that it (longevity plus quality) is for people the best of both worlds.

anne morrow lindbergh wrote that mid-life is "...a time of shedding the shells of ambition, material accumulation and ego", which i am finding to be true life tasks at this time.  also, like isaiah the prophet wrote (in my own words) keep walking so as not to faint, keep running so as not to grow weary and keep soaring so as to stay young.  "if you flow with life, every year is a fascinating challenge full of adventure and discovery!"

at 40, i feel twice as equipped to both receive and use the blessings  of life than i did in my 20's and am excited that at 80 i will have the potential to be four times as equipped!  may we all gain in spiritual stature and beauty of personhood.  i think it is fun to think about opportunities to become cuter, funnier, mellower, more tolerant, and more perceptive...as one writer puts it, "growing onward (instead of just older) takes much effort and discipline.  one must work at keeping the whole self alive." --e.b.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

astonished

astonished

when i've last been astonished?
look here at this patch of land
and wonder with me what it was
before

before us, and pioneers, longer
among-the-nameless-trees-ago

before anyone existed to look
upon it except He who hovered
over waters then and sighed a
contented "Good" over what is now

my small and yellow Eden:
a love-brushed blaze of
daffodils

ls 2.12.15

Saturday, February 7, 2015

recipe for beautiful living: discoveries

there's a lot to be said for artful day-to-day living.  here's a few things i've discovered that help me feel great all year long...

1) ten minutes of prayer.  just stopping and sitting for as little as ten minutes a day has helped me decompress, fill up with love and give it away.  in other words, life will continue to have distractions, but i can minimize how distractable i am.  i enjoy writing down one thing in nature i noticed and one thing i'm grateful for each day.  saying or writing "thanks" to people quickly also seems to make me more grateful. when i move fast, i'm crazy efficient.  when i get to be quiet and slow, it's lovely.  when i notice myself not being present or rushing through an experience to get to the next one, i know it's time to sit down and, as a current song says, "...just for a moment, let's be still."

2) coconut oil and vitamin D.  who knew these were so good for so many things?  i love them both.  coconut oil for skin, hair, cooking...instead of many different and expensive products, now i just use one. and, living in the northwest, my daily dose of D keeps me sunny side up even on the wettest, darkest days.

3) daily habits.  i'm actually terrible at these little things, but i'm becoming more mindful of how they're worth it in the long run:  stretching, flossing, breathing deeply, sitting down when i eat, chewing my food, drinking water.

4) sleep.  i don't know how sleep came to be associated with laziness, because it's a miracle!  it's been said, "the innocent sleep.  sleep that knits up the ravelled sleeve of care...chief nourisher in life's feast."  it's my re-boot time to get 8 hours of regular, uninterrupted sleep per night plus naps!  i won't win any overachiever prizes, but i just may live longer.

5) a well-stocked pantry and seasonal synch.  if i wait to cook until i'm hungry, it's too late!  right now a snapshot of my pantry includes:  bob's red mill muesli, flax meal, ten grain cereal, farrow, whole wheat flour and bean soup mix.  my fridge and freezer:  wild caught salmon, nancy's plain yogurt, eggs from my chickens, hummus, almond milk, kale, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, apples, and onions.  i'm choosing to spend a little more to put only the good stuff in my body.  and, when you eat what's in season, it just tastes better.

6) front loading chores and looping errands.  i want to spend my spare time at the beach, kayaking, or trying new coffee shops, not doing everyday chores.  i love doing laundry and dishes mid-week and looping my errands into one big circle so i only have to do them once, instead of having to run out and about several different times. 

7) massage/bath.  the health benefits of massage are invaluable.  and i love my body brush.  exfoliating and letting my skin breathe, especially after an epsom salt bath, is such a treat.

8) budget.  i'm slowly making friends with money.  training myself to have a both-and approach to the green stuff and prioritize what i'm going to pay down first while also saving and having enough to play with has helped me relax. if i'm going to splurge, i spend it on shared experiences for lasting memories (you don't have to dust memories). 

9) bike there.  i feel the best when i bike to work.  it gives me energy, i arrive having already exercised for the day, i save gas money and stay in shape all at once.  keeping my bike ride-ready and my rack on the car when the forecast looks dry increases the ease of getting up earlier to pedal.

10) list it.  from books to events and movies to art projects, i have a small sectioned journal that i carry with me every day.  when i find myself with unexpected free time, i just look at my list and in the time it used to take me to wonder what i was going to do, i'm already on my way to instant fun!

i gave up trying to do all things well and be all things to all people all of the time.  what i realized is, life evens out into a healthy rhythm when you do one thing well at a time.  it just seems to flow better.  these daily, weekly, monthly, seasonal, and yearly rituals bring so much beauty and contentment into my days...i hope they will into yours as well.  what have you discovered that you want to share?


vintage

ok, this story is just too cool not to blog about.  first, a bit of history:  i was born with expensive taste.  as long as i can remember, i have always unknowingly preferred the more expensive of two things when asked to choose.  "champagne taste, beer budget" as the saying goes.

now in my 40's, i truly believe in owning and using a few nice things.  so for a while now, of course, i've been watching the prices of le creuset cookware.  (note:  a doll-size pan, the equivalent of 2 adult bite's-worth goes for $20, you get the idea and on up from there, an average of $10 per square spoonful area).  and, of course, the one i had my eye on the most was over $300...on sale.

(one of the most wasteful stories of note is that a friend of mine knows a lady who has the entire le creuset line and doesn't even cook. hers are for display only!? travesty. i just wanted one.)

i was looking at them just yesterday in fact, while a friend and i were strolling, coffees in hand, decompressing from the work week and just in general perusing beautiful things.  i saw the pot in question and yes, it was still over $300.  i said, "if someone is careless enough to give one of these things to a thrift store, i'm going to keep my eyes open!" 

it just so happened that i needed to drop a load of used items off at the local goodwill en route home, so i thought i'd go in and do a quick lap.  just for fun, i walked down the dish aisle, not expecting anything great.  my eye caught a glimpse of green enameled cookware with cast iron interior..."it couldn't be..." i said under my breath, expecting it to be a cheap imitation.  but when i picked it up and turned it over, sure enough, "made in france" was stamped on the back.  i had found my le creuset!  the poor woman next to me graciously endured my exclamations of disbelief and delight about how i was just looking at these less than an hour before and how could it be that i was finding the very same cookware for $14.99?

it's vintage, for sure.  and i love it.  it's the kind of pot that can do anything; the kind i'll cook with literally until the end of my days, until i'm happily vintage right along with it.

Sunday, February 1, 2015

a dirty life on essex farm

today seemed like a good winter's day to pore over the colorful seed catalogue in anticipation of spring.  i realized that no matter how excellent my seeds might be, they won't grow as well without giving my dirt some much-needed ammenities. like my body, it comes down to good and simple nutrients.

the dundee land here in the willamette valley is wonderful jory for vineyards, and my small corner of the world is wonderful albeit on the clay side.  what my dirt needs is a good dose of sand, fertilizer and peat moss to strike a balance between acidic and alkaline. (i really did learn all about what nourishes us on a molecular level:  nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in just the right mix, like a compost cocktail).

it also seemed like a good day to cozy in and finish reading kristin kimball's "a dirty life" about their 600 acre essex farm in new york that supplies the full range of not just organic produce, but grains, dairy, meats and even their own maple syrup!

i paused my reading  to collect our own eggs for the day (8!) before finishing her epilogue and asked myself some honest questions, such as "would i be able to do what she does?" answer:  not if i want to do any other things at all ever (which i do), because you don't ever truly own a farm, it owns you.  

kimball by no means sugar-coats the harsh realities of farming. for those of us like me who would like to think of ourselves as "homesteaders" because we drink out of canning jars or have a compost bin, her book is a reminder about what separates the women from the girls.  i can imagine our acres here, but not 600!  they battle weeds, livestock diseases, escaped pigs, frost, rats and a host of other real-life arch enemies of the farm on a grand scale but persevere through it all to provide weekly food to well over 200 members.  for more about essex farm, visit www.kristinkimball.com


superbowl alternatives

this is my version of the superbowl:  a simple entry about why i love hockey.

1.  it's fast.  you can have all the excitement of offense and defense in two hours or less

2.  skating skills.  i mean, really, i wish i could skate like that!  forwards, backwards, in circles, all the while keeping track of a tiny frozen black puck, it's impressive

3.  ambience.  skates on ice make cool sounds; the lights, announcer, music, crowds and prizes create a genuine feeling of excitement

mostly, though, i love hockey because the games are something i go to with my dad; the game's Canadian and so are we! (go winterhawks!  their win over everett silvertips last night 6-3 was a crowd-pleaser for sure).

what's your favorite superbowl alternative?