Winter warm-up

Watching the snow melt

It is a beautiful, sunny, warm day here in the Bogs.  The cats have been following the sunshine around the house, immersing themselves in the warmth and the light.  I’ve been doing some sun worshiping, too.

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127: Musical interludes

(Airiness.)

One of my resolutions this year is to include more music in my life.  To sing, to dance, to listen.  I have been turning on the radio every day while I exercise or clean.  Or I go to blip.fm if I’m in the mood to make my own playlist or listen to something specific while I’m at the computer.  Or I visit Radio WTH for a dose of “Just Damn Good Music.”

Today as I was dusting (somebody’s gotta do it) it occurred to me that M and I have a mighty fine music collection of our own that I could be listening to.  While we do have plenty of vinyl (and a turntable to play it on), I decided to start with the CD’s.  I realize CD’s seem to be almost as obsolete as vinyl now that most people have some version of an MP3 player, but our CD collection is fairly up-to-date within our range of likes.  However, being a pretty extensive hodgepodge of music, pulling one at random meant a blast from the past.

Today’s CD:  The Pat Metheny Group’s Still Life (Talking).

It’s been a long time since I last listened to Pat Metheny.  The music took me back to our time in Chicago and a summer night lying on the grass listening to Pat Metheny at an outdoor venue (the name of which escapes me at the moment and I’m too lazy to look it up).  I was not too lazy to wander over to his website, though, and spend a little time listening to Pat Metheny radio.  Head on over (click here) and check it out.

Outdoor adventures

M and I went to Quail Hollow State Park yesterday for an hour of cross-country skiing.  The trails were a little slick.  Not really icy, but with hikers having packed down the snow by walking all over the ski tracks, our skis would slide all over the place in spots.  Most spots.  It wasn’t comfortable skiing, especially when the legs slide in different directions.

(In the woods at Quail Hollow.)

We haven’t seen the sun since the weekend.  It has been dark gray and gloomy.  The snow had taken on some of the grayness but we’re getting a fresh coating today which has brightened it up.

(Skiing at Quail Hollow.)

I’m heading out in a few minutes to do some skiing around Breezy Acres.  I need the practice, and that will help me meet my outdoor commitment for today.  Even when it’s gray and gloomy, I gotta get out there.


105: Commitment

(Sunset by the frozen reflection pool near the U.S. Capitol Building.  Washington, D.C.)

It’s been kind of a crazy day today.  It feels like I’ve been trying to catch up with myself all morning and into the afternoon.  I finally took a few deep breaths and decided to start where I am and work from there.  Really, there is nothing else I could do except stress over it and what’s the point in that?

(Same as above, different angle.)

Today’s outdoor time was all about running errands and doing chores.  The only photo I have for you in regards to today’s outdoor time is the daily view of the pond:

We had some flurries overnight and into the morning.  The ice on the pond is now snow covered.  This is bad for ice skating as the snow will likely to stick to the ice.  If the ice was a little thicker (therefore safe to walk upon), we could go out and shovel off some of the snow.  But since the thaw, it hasn’t been cold enough for long enough to make the ice safe for human foot traffic.  Some of the animals, however, have found it perfectly safe and are leaving their little tracks all over the place.

I resolve…

To continue to honor my 365 commitment to step outside and enjoy the great outdoors every day.

(Trees at the edge of the meadow.  Taken yesterday.)

Some of you might be thinking I’m cheating with this one.  Stacking the deck, as they say.  Maybe.  But not entirely.  You see, I’ve learned that with some long-term commitments it’s a good idea to re-commit every now and then.  This is especially true with promises I make to myself that involve things that will (seemingly) not affect others if I should decide to give up.

When I quit smoking I had to recommit every day for pretty much the entire first year.  The first year is the hardest, no matter what the so-called experts say.  It takes that long to come around to a new state of “normal.”  I think that’s because it takes that long to cycle through most of the circumstances a smoker normally associates with smoking.  The first winter of being an ex-smoker is different than the first summer.  Or spring or fall, for that matter. The first year of quitting smoking is a year of many firsts.  Exciting, if you look at it in a positive way.  Recommitting daily helps most on those days when it doesn’t seem exciting, and positive thoughts are difficult to find.

I still recommit to my Quit every now and then, usually when I feel the urge or craving to light up and take a few puffs.  The recommit keeps me from following through on those urges or cravings.

(Visually climbing the tree.  Taken yesterday.)

Anyhow.  I have decided to start applying that lesson of recommitting to other commitments I make, especially those of the self-improvement variety.  My outdoor commitment is a good place to start as it has brought with it self-improvement side-effects including (but not limited to) those benefits I get from exercise, fresh air, sunlight (for that all-important Vitamin D), and stress relief.  Bonus:  Some of the blustery and cold days can be more invigorating than caffeine, helping me cut back on my tea intake.

I have 260 days to go with this commitment.  Hopefully recommitting from time to time will keep me moving forward with it.


103: A sunset

We had a lovely sunset yesterday.  If it hadn’t been so cold (and I hadn’t been so lazy), I would have taken the tripod and camera and gone out to the meadow to take a few shots of the gorgeous colors in the sky.  Alas, both conditions prevailed and this was the best I could do from balcony.

I resolve…

To practice gratitude.  I have already started a gratitude journal, something I’ve done in the past that I know works quite well in helping me focus on the positives in my life.  However, I want to take it a step further this year by pausing occasionally throughout my day to center myself with a quiet “thank you” or two.

For example, while washing dishes this morning I said a silent thanks for the clean, running water I am privileged to have available to me.  Many of us probably take that sort of thing for granted.  I know there are times when I do.  But there are millions of people in the world who would find clean water a luxury so I wanted to be sure to acknowledge how lucky I am to be able to turn on a faucet and have fresh, clean, potable water.  So lucky, in fact, that I can use it for washing.

This line of thought then diverged to being thankful for the dishes and for the food that not only dirtied the dishes but nourished us.  Taking the time to do this turned a chore into an act of gratitude.  It no longer felt so chore-like and I was happy to be doing it.

(Note:  The flower photo was taken at the U.S. Botanic Garden.  My camera was cold from being outdoors.  The heat and humidity in the garden caused the lens to fog up.  I took a few photos while I was waiting for it to clear just to see how they would come out.  I processed this in Photoshop to give it a more painting-like feel and to reduce some of the noise caused by the fogged lens.)

Clear and bright

We have been gifted with another bright, sunshiny day here in the Bogs.  Not a cloud in the sky.  Of course the clear sky means cold temperatures since there are no clouds to hold in the heat.  It was 16 degrees when I rolled out of bed this morning, but a balmy 34 when I stepped outside in the afternoon.

I planned to skip going into the woods today since I took the high meadow path.  I thought I’d hang out there and by the pond.  But as I came around the back of the pond I looked down into the woods and saw great sheets of ice where the creek had come up over its banks.

I noticed  a variety of patterns and shapes in the ice.  I even found a few interesting ice formations sparkling in the sunlight.

Although it’s still early winter, I’ve already started looking for (and almost craving) spots of color…

… or patches of sunlight in the shady spots.

Sometimes I get truly lucky and find both.


96: Moving right along

(Winter in sepia.  Taken at Quail Hollow State Park.)

This is the time of year when I start sorting through the goals I made for this year to see how far along I made it in terms of actual accomplishments.  I know many others will be doing the same as this week goes by and there will, no doubt, be lots of blog posts about resolutions, goals, and commitments.

(Winter in sepia II.)

Themes

One of the things I started doing a few years ago was establishing a theme for the year.  One or two (or three, if necessary) words to define what I hope to accomplish over the year.  For 2010 the theme was:  Simplify.

I have not outwardly done as well as I hoped to when I set out to simplify my life.  The past two years have brought a lot of transitions (birth, death, marriage) and it occurs to me that 2010 brought an inward kind of simplicity that will help me along the way in 2011 when my theme will continue along the simplicity path:  Declutter.

(Opening up.  Potter Furniture.  Lancaster, PA.)

There are some things I can and have easily removed from my life.  “Fat clothes,” because I don’t want to go back.  The kitchen gadget that seemed like a good idea when I purchased it but was only used once or twice because I found that doing things by hand is quicker and simpler.  Items that are worn out and need replaced.  Getting rid of that sort of stuff is uncomplicated and relatively effortless.  Donate, recycle, or throw away.

(Making change.  Potter Furniture.)

There are other things I have had to learn to release.  Books are a good example.  I have been known to hoard books.  This past year I’ve given away a lot of books, and plan to keep giving them away in the coming year.  I finally realized that most of the books I’ve kept over the years, carried around from move to move, are not books I will be reading again.  There are millions of books I haven’t yet read and life seems to be getting shorter as I get older.  It’s time to read and enjoy new stories, and even new ways of telling stories, while allowing others to enjoy the stories I’ve already read.

Not as easy

This year, I think, will be about learning how to let go of the sentimental.  There are things I cling to because they represent people and/or or events from the past.  If I make use of these items, they are part of my present and there is no reason not to keep them.   Many items, however, are tucked away and ignored until I start sorting and decluttering.  The tablecloth my mother crocheted.  Craft projects made by my sons when they were children.  Cards my husband gave me over the years.

(Toys without children.  Potter Furniture.)

Some of those things can be given away to family, friends, or even strangers who might want and use them.  Others I have plans for in terms of my own art.  Repurposing.  It will be both fun and interesting.  The key is to make sure I do use them in some manner.  Otherwise, I may end up back at start with boxes of stuff I’m saving for a future day.  In other words, hoarding.  Not on a horrific scale but still, it’s hoarding.

(The wheel of time.  Porter Furniture.)

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