Category Archives: time

2011: The Year of Living Simply

I’ve been naming my years now for a while. It’s more than a resolution, it’s a reminder to bring more lovingkindness, more awareness, more sweetness to life. In naming my years, and in holding those thoughts in my head and in my heart, my outlook changes.

In 2011, I vow to live more simply.

What does that mean? To travel less for business. Maybe just travel less.  To only go where my dog can come along. She’s not getting any younger, either, and every day in a boarding facility is just that. To make fewer commitments. To acquire less stuff and to give more stuff away. To appreciate what I have rather than spend time and energy thinking about what I want. To not busy my schedule out a year in advance. To do more of the things I really enjoy and fewer things I dread. To not please people, but to please God instead. Pleasing people is exhausting. Pleasing God is simple.

To do more art. Both in writing and knitting and living. I heard not too long ago that if we, by our countless tiny decisions, make each day a work of art, by the time we’re finished, we’ll have created a masterpiece.

That’s for me. That’s what I want for 2011 and beyond. To build a simple masterpiece, day by day.

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Filed under Aging, goals, Joy, knitting, Possibilities, Prayer, Reading, Spirituality, time, Writing

What is a Prayer Shawl?

We can cook!

A prayer shawl is a soft item of comfort. It can be an actual shawl, or it can be a scarf, a chemo cap, a hat, a pair of socks, mittens, gloves, a quilt… Anything that is hand made with the intention of bringing peace, comfort and love to someone who suffers is, in my world, a prayer shawl.

Last Sunday afternoon, seventeen women got together at Textiles A Mano to knit, crochet and sew soft items of comfort. We talked, we laughed, we ate (boy oh boy, can we cook!) and we combined our spirits, and our positive healing energy to infuse the items of love in our laps.

This, to  me, is a sacred act. For seventeen of us (eighteen, if you include Paul Shang, who baked and brought over an amazing cheesecake) to lay down our lives in the service of those who suffer, whether we know them personally or not, is a wonderful act of love, mercy and ministry.

Most churches have prayer shawl ministries. Two of the women who came to Sunday’s event knit prayer shawls every week with a group at their church. These are the world’s unsung heroes. These are the members of The Global Conspiracy.

It didn’t take much time or energy, you know, to organize this event. I found a place to hold it (the last one, last February, was held in my living room), sent out a few emails, bought some cheese and crackers and people came. I like to think that in those four hours, we generated a great amount of calm energy to contribute to uplifting the spiritual tenor of the planet.

It was easy to do, and you could do it too.

I hope you will.

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Filed under Goodness, knitting, peace, Prayer, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, time

Too Busy

I’m too busy.

A variety of things have converged on my schedule for the last three weeks and for the next three. This six week period is the busiest time I can ever remember. This is when my training of “one day at a time” really comes in handy.

But really. What does “too busy” mean? Too busy to do what? To meditate? I make time for that. To appreciate my husband, my home, my health, my life? I make time for that. To work in the garden, to play with the dog, to buy groceries? I make time for all those things. To have lunch with my girlfriends? To read? To study? I make time for those things, too.

When I say I’m too busy, what that means is that I busy out my schedule just enough so that I don’t have time to do the things I find most distasteful or inconvenient. I don’t enjoy bookkeeping chores, so I put those off until it becomes a project, and then it looms larger and I would rather kill the beast than to have the bulging file folder stare at me a single minute longer. There are other things I don’t particularly enjoy, and my excuse is: “I’m too busy.” But that’s no excuse at all.

Except for right now, of course. Right now I really am too busy, but there is an end date to this crazy time, and I swear upon all that is holy in my life, that I will never let my schedule control me the way it has these few weeks. I don’t like what it does to my mental health, or my physical health. I tend to not exercise (low priority…). I make mistakes, and then I have to clean up after myself, adding more stress and using up more daylight.

I heard the other day that if you want to live in the material world, you have to speed up, and if you want to live in the spiritual world, you have to slow down.

A friend sent me a link to this fabulous timer. I’ve downloaded it to my desktop. It serves either as a timer or as a random reminder. Every morning I set it to go off randomly every 7 to 15 minutes, and when the gong sounds, I sit back, close my eyes, and take a moment for myself, to remember that I am a beloved child of God, no matter what. This helps slow me down and reminds me of what’s important.

Are you too busy? Or is that just a good excuse?

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Filed under peace, Possibilities, Spirituality, Stress, time

We Choose Our Lives

Those of you who are parents have undoubtedly said to your pre-teen or teen, “You’ll remember these times as the best times of your life.” We worry that they want to grow up too fast, cutting short many childhood experiences, in quest for the more alluring adult activities. I was one of those kids; perhaps we all were. Eager to get out of high school and get a job, get out of the house, get on with life.

Well, the same holds true for today. Now that I’m “of an age” I’m in no hurry to get older, but am I taking advantage of who and where I am right now? Am I enjoying my life today to the degree that some day I’ll look back and say, “Man, those were some good times.”? Or am I too busy worrying about this and that and making appointments and meeting deadlines and paying the bills to stop and think: “I’ll never be a human again. I’ll never be in this type of material body with its strengths and its difficulties. I’ll never live on such a magnificently beautiful planet like this again. I better literally stop and smell the flowers.” It’s true that I don’t know what lies on the other side of the veil any more than anybody else, but I have my idea about that, just as you have your idea about it. My point is, from every place I find myself in the future–whether it’s next week or a thousand years in the future–I want to be able to look back and say, “I took advantage of everything that was offered to me back then.”

We’ve also probably counseled our children not to burn bridges or close doors on our options, because they don’t know what the future holds. The same holds true for us. We don’t know what doors we’re closing on our future when we act irresponsibly.

There are long ugly stretches of my history that I would just as soon forget, but those are long behind me and that is not the way I choose to live today, or tomorrow, or for the rest of my days. I want to be conscious, aware, engaged, happy with who I am and what I’m doing. I want to be able to look back and know that I was present, not pining for what was, nor spending my days daydreaming about what could be in the future. There’s value in some of that, certainly, but I believe that we will some day have the benefit of perspective on our lives that we currently have on our childrens’ lives.

We’re only here once. Let’s do good works, be kind to one another, and be proud of who we are today.

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Filed under Aging, Death, dreams, Dying, Fun, Goodness, Possibilities, regrets, relationships, Social Consciousness, Spirituality, time, years

Bored in the Kitchen? Not Any More!

Alert: This is a not-quite rave review of a new-to-me product.

The product is e-mealz.

For $5 per month (3 months at a time), I download a weekly 5-dinner meal plan, complete with recipes and a shopping list.  If I shopped at Wal-Mart, they’d even tailor the weekly recipes to Walmart’s sales and include prices. This is pretty incredible.

I don’t shop at Wal-Mart, so that doesn’t apply to me. And, truth be told, not every one of their meals suits us. (I will personally never eat tilapia, no matter how it’s dressed up to look like real fish, but that’s a different blog for a different time.)

What is true is that I’ve been in such a terrible rut when it comes to cooking. For years! It is absolutely the last thing on my priority list. I cook out of necessity, and my poor husband has to eat whatever I put on the table, which isn’t much, and usually isn’t good. And it’s the same thing, week in, week out.

No more.

I’m cooking delicious things now. Things I would never imagine I would prepare, would never think to prepare, recipes that blow my mind with their simplicity and tastiness. There are always leftovers for lunch the next day, and in fact, sometimes we’ll have an evening of leftovers. Of the five recipes per week, I probably make four.

So we’re eating well (and much healthier), my shopping is so efficient that I’m saving at least $15 per week on groceries (probably more), I’m not spending any more time in the kitchen than I was before, and the food is much better and the variety is delightful.

I’ve rediscovered my kitchen, and am surprised to remember at how satisfying it is to put a plate of something good is front of my husband.  So give it a try. If you don’t like it, it’s easy to cancel. But at least give it two weeks before you do that. I was sold after the first week, but the second week really sealed the deal.

E-mealz. What a great idea and for me, a great service.

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Filed under Marriage, time

Two Keys to My Kingdom

Many years ago I read an essay that said, “If you have more than two keys on your key ring, your life is too complicated.” At the time, my key ring was so heavy I was afraid it was going to damage the ignition of my car.

Today, for the first time ever: Two keys. One for the house and one for the car. 

And I have to say, my life is a lot less complicated.

I’ve had keys to storage lockers (the last one surrendered this afternoon), to my mother’s home, to post office boxes, to other peoples’ houses, to other vehicles, on and on and on.  Lots to keep track of. Lots of responsibility. None of it necessary. The only other key I employ on a regular basis is for my bicycle lock, but I keep that in my bicycle ditty bag. It doesn’t count because it’s not on my key ring.

Another indication of a life too complex is the amount of mail that arrives on a daily basis. There was a time when it took me an hour a day to process the mail. If I left town for a ten-day writing conference or retreat, I had ten hours worth of mail waiting for me when I got back.

Made me want to not come back.

Today’s mail brought one bill and an advertising flyer.

A life simplified.  Nobody owns me any more.

And because I don’t have all that flurry of questionably meaningful activity and responsibility, I have the time to concentrate on the important things. Study. Family. Leisure!

How many keys on your keyring? What would you have to give up in order to get down to two?

It’s a worthy goal.

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Filed under goals, Joy, peace, Possibilities, Stress, Symbols, time

Has Summer Destroyed my Work Ethic?

I’m out of practice. Out of sync.

And I think it’s because I don’t have a deadline.

Normally, I get up, get coffee, and get to work. I stop briefly for breakfast with the husband and dog, and then I’m back at it until I’ve either finished my page count or am ready to shoot myself because the words won’t flow. Fiction, nonfiction, school papers… I get up and go to work.  My deadlines are met, my papers are in on time, and I get books written.

Not any more. This summer I seem to have begun to hone the fine art of fiddling around. Like now. It’s 10:40: prime writing time for me, as I’m my fictional best in the morning and the worst in the afternoon, and what am I doing? Blogging. Sweeping the kitchen floor. Doing the dishes. Brushing the dog. Hanging out on Facebook.

Frittering.

Well. The summer will soon be over and I’ll have not only my thesis to write, but school papers, not to mention the current novel in progress, which I’m deeply into in my mind, but clearly not on the page. So this has been a nice summer break, puttering in the garden and making delicious home made bread for Al’s sandwiches, but the time has come to get a renewed grip on myself.

Henceforth: I will get up in the morning, get coffee, and get to work, and I will not fritter until my page count is in on fiction or I have accomplished a nonfiction goal.

This is the way things get done in my office.

This is the way my books are written. Not by inspiration, but by daily page count.

Here we go…

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Filed under Coffee, My New Novel, time, Writing