Monday, December 27, 2010

romantic notions

All things considered, I've experienced some pretty amazing romantic moments this past year. Side-by-side beach front massages in Mexico on my birthday. A day trip to Tofino, complete with a surprise visit from the chocolate bunny on Easter (duh!). Fireworks - and a spontaneous cold shower - on the 9th tee of the Victoria Golf Club on the Fourth of July. An unexpected visitor from afar who showed up just because. They were all magical moments. And at the end of the day, that's really all they were - wonderful, but momentary. 

I'm now gearing up for New Years Eve and what promises to be a truly romantic night celebrating the wedding of K&M and as I started writing the toast to love I've been asked to deliver, I am really aware of 2 things - the vast ground between romance and love, and ... nope ... apparently the second point was the same as the first. 

Romance is an interpretation in the moment - there is no 'romance' in reality, it only occurs in how we experience something. For me to interpret something as romantic, it has to have an aspect of spontaneity and creativity - which really seems like a lot to ask of someone who essentially just wants to spend time with me. Even worse, what's romantic one time (roses on our monthiversary - how sweet!!) soon becomes routine (let me guess ... roses again). Everytime some poor guy scores a romantic point, the bar is reset higher for the next time. 

I remember when Shiney and Mr. Nich first started dating and he bought her a cordless drill for her birthday. She phoned me with such excitement in her voice. It was surprise, yes, but it also showed how much attention he'd been paying, that he knew she'd use it in a way that would make her DIY single mom day. We both agreed at the time that it was the most romantic gift we could think of. But now I can see that really it was a gift of love. A gift of knowing - something that would make a difference for Shiney, that she would love but never spend the money on  for herself, that no matter what others might say or think would be a great present for her. 

And that, in a nutshell, is love. Knowing (and accepting) someone and speaking to that knowing when you interact with them. And letting them know and accept and speak to the real you. 

I expect I will have many more romantic moments in the months and years to come. And they are valuable in their way. But I think I'm finally realising how much more valuable those moments of love are than moments of romance. 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Z - Zzzzzzz

Shiney commented somewhere along this alphabetical journey through advent that she was looking forward to seeing what I did with the letter Z, and I thought at the time 'ya, me too.' After a bit of thought and a brief abortive Google search, the list of Z adjectives I came up with was zany, zealous, zesty, zippy and zonked. Not exactly inspiring, but at midnight on Christmas Day I can honestly say that the most accurate Z for me is Zzzzz.

I hope to sleep in tomorrow. And for the 8 days after that until I return to work. I found this personal blog challenge interesting, and I'll be considering a new direction starting January 1. But for now, nothing appeals more than turning off the light and sleeping in heavenly peace.

Merry Christmas to each and every one of you. I hope today was filled with joy and that you spent it with people you love. XO

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Y - Yikes

Ha! I couldn't remember what the Y theme was until I looked just now. If there's ever a moment for YIKES! it's a fabulous Christmas morning with a precocious 2 year old and 8 doting, reactive relatives. While Mr. Adorable is certainly an incredibly well behaved boy, he is still through and through a 2 year old boy - excited, expressive and bouncing from one present and person and moment to the next.

To get to share in the joy of Mr. Adorable's third Christmas is truly fun, and a great reminder of what's available when we live in the moment. He was a very able and amiable Santa's helper this morning, handing out the gifts as Grandpa read out the names, and sometimes assisting with the removal of wrapping paper as needed. Right up until he was done, at which point he said "no Grandpa, it's time for hugs" and climbed up into Grandpa's lap to rest for a few minutes.

And then the next round of the sugar buzz would kick in, and he'd be off rolling on Grandma, playing every song in the sing-along book multiple times, and checking on his quieter big cousins to make sure they didn't miss anything.

Mr. Adorable put the Yummy in Christmas morning. And any minute you expect something to come crashing down, but it never does. Knock on wood. ;-)

X - Xenial

NB: this is my first blog post from my iPhone, so it may be a bit short & relatively unedited; I just didn't want to miss posting on Christmas Eve.

So ... A few days ago I mentioned on Facebook that I was a bit stumped about what I'd write for 'X' and TrapperShell suggested 'Xenial,' which I shame-facedly had to Google, and then discovered it's perfect! The word 'xenial' relates to being hospitable, particularly towards strangers. It's a lovely word, will be awesome in my next Scrabble game, and is something so pertinent to Christmas! Well done, Shell!

I wonder how accurately I can ascribe the term to myself, however. I've certainly benefitted from (and am right this moment enjoy the spare bed of) friends and family. And I truly love to have people in my home. But can I imagine making room for a stranger? Not so much, to be honest.

When Joseph led Mary on a donkey to give birth in a lowly manger, the barn's owner was being xenial. Or at least I assume he was - it's possible he was a grumpy old sod who demanded an outrageous payment, but I like to imagine he took pity on the weary young couple in an act of hospitable generosity.

Knowing the theme of today's post was looming, I have been looking for opportunities to be xenial. But I've seen that the farthest I'm willing to go with strangers is to be generous - I will support their comfort & well being, but not in my own space.

Even today as BB2 and I headed up island towards our family Christmas, I had a momentary impulse to be xenial and talked myself out of it. A smiling young couple were hitch hiking on the side of the road. They looked cold and wet - but harmless - and for a moment I considered stopping. But the moment passed and I rationalized about our lack of space & safety concerns. I wanted to stop and didn't.

I'm left wondering - where is the line at which compassion & generosity stop & fear & cynicism take over? Let's find it and stamp it out.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

W - Wandering

What's your star? 

When it comes to wandering and Christmas, the most obvious association seems to me to be the three kings following the star of the east to Bethlehem to worship, give gifts to, and ultimately save the life of the Baby Jesus: 

... after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, "Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage." ... [Herod] sent them to Bethlehem, saying, "Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage." When they had heard the king, they set out; and there, ahead of them, went the star ... until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw that the star had stopped, they were overwhelmed with joy. On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then ... they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they left for their own country by another path.
Matthew 2:1-12
What always strikes me about the wise men is that they didn't question the star. They did nothing to create the star. They didn't argue the route the star provided for them. The simply recognised that that star was the star they needed to follow, and they followed it. 

How often in life do we ignore our stars? How often do we know, really, what calls to our innermost sense of knowing, and try to hush it up with reasons and being 'practical'? If I just look at my career, it's a winding path with a delayed start and some backwater detours, but some part of me has always known what I really needed to be doing, and it was a form of hell when I wasn't doing it. And so I sing, with Bebe and Cece Winans, 'Give me a star, just one star to light the way. And I'll never walk alone again at night.'


V - Vivacious

I meant to write this last night, but by the time I thought of it I wasn't 'feeling' vivacious. And then I remembered, vivacious isn't something I feel, it's something I am - lively, energized, attractive and animated. 

I noticed it yesterday while I was doing a little Christmas shopping. Other people in the stories looked harried - particularly the service clerks - while I was just excited to be out on a beautiful blue afternoon looking for tangible expressions of what the people in my life mean to me. 

I went to a 'village' - as stand-alone shopping areas are called in Victoria - I haven't visited before and popped into the most charming cupcakery, where I actually giggled and exclaimed at their delightful Christmas creations. I shopped local quality toy stores and stocked up at my favourite green grocer all without that draggy desperate feeling that seems so often this time of year to be just around the corner. 

It's three days before Christmas, and yet I can shop and explore full of glee because if you can't be lively and animated at Christmas, you are REALLY kind of missing out :) 


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

U - Unfurling

"And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom."  Anais Nin
Two years ago as I approached the ripe old age of forty more than one woman who had gone before me told me how freeing passing 40 is, how you come into your own as a woman, how it is accompanied by a sense of knowing yourself and your power. They were right - the woman I am in my 40s has a much stronger sense of what matters, a new ability to say yes and mean it, and to say no and mean it. I have the feeling that at long last the bud has taken the risk to blossom. 

One way that has shown up this Christmas is in letting go of how things should be. Last year Cowboy and I gave the BBs netbook computers. This year there is no Cowboy and they will get something small. Something heartfelt. Something that says, from me to them, I know you, I cherish you, I want you to have the life of your dreams. I have not done one butter pat of baking. No shortbread. No rosettes. No chocolate coated anything. I don't have a tree. I'm not getting presents for my sisters and brother in laws and nieces and nephews over the age of 2. 

And it's perfect. This is the Christmas that this year calls for. It's not been an easy year; it's been an unfurling year. And this is not an over-the-top Christmas. This is a peaceful Christmas. A Christmas for connecting and blossoming. 


T - Things I ♥: Tradition

Okay, so normally it's Things I Love Thursday, but it's Monday and this is the letter of the alphabet we're on, so this is the theme ... 

Ask 12 people who know me well to describe me, and I am willing to bet you a ham sandwich that the word 'traditional' will be nowhere on the resulting list. And if you asked me to list my own top 20 attributes, traditional would also not be on that list. And yet, at certain times and seasons - Advent/Christmas, for example - I can be as traditional as it gets. I like my Christmas decorations red, my Christmas trees live, and my reading of the Christmas story King James Version. I like Christmas carols, not Christmas songs. And I like a mandarin orange in my stocking even if there's a big bowl of them on the table. 

But I'm also traditional in a more personal sense. Ever since BB1s first Christmas I've tried to continue some of my family's traditions while creating some of our own. Perhaps rituals is a better word. These little actions that remind us each year of who we are, and that reconnect us. 

I come by it honestly. My Grandma Fuller, who would be 109 this week if she were still alive, was someone who, like the transformed Mr. Scrooge, "knew how to keep Christmas well if any man alive possessed the knowledge." Born in 1901 and raised on a farm in rural Manitoba, Grandma was a distinctly practical woman. Although she was extremely tender-hearted, you wouldn't maybe have guessed that from talking to her. Grandma was a woman of action and solutions who rarely stopped cleaning and baking muffins and darning and crocheting. 

But at Christmastime, the little farm girl came out. Grandma told me a story once, on the occasion of her giving me her treadle Singer sewing machine, about sneaking home from school just before Christmas and seeing her oldest sister May making doll clothes on the machine for Grandma's Christmas present - and as she told the story all the years and distance melted away. 

Most of my growing-up Christmases we spent with my Dad's side of the family. But on the years when we were with Grandma Fuller, we got to experience one of my favourite traditions - Christmas crackers. I don't actually much like the popping noise, and I think the novelties are mostly crap. But man I love wearing a silly paper crown. And I love remembering Grandma, dressed in a pretty dress for dinner, with a cock-eyed crown atop her silver curls. The other tradition we only had with Grandma, unless she mailed us some, was carrot pudding with brown sugar sauce. Nothing compares. It is not figgy pudding. It's carrot pudding, which somehow managed to be both as light as a cloud and as rich and dense as fudge. With brown sugar sauce that was equally tasty on the pudding, on ice cream or off a finger. 

It's hard to believe that Grandma has been gone six years. And yet, in the silly paper hats, the puddings and sauces, the rituals and traditions she taught us, she's still here. (don't even ask me about the candy popcorn tree. :) 


Sunday, December 19, 2010

S - Social

We had 'Q is for Quiet' on a day full of people and music and joyful expression, so why not have 'S is for Social' when I was blessed to spend the entire day with just BB1. What bliss! He had come to town for my choir concert on Friday, and stayed an extra day just so he'd have time to spend with me and his friends. ♥

And now it's evening. My home has the quiet hum of any electrically-run establishment, and I am reflecting on the wonderful weekend I just had. If quiet contemplation is a part of Christmas, how much more true is that of being social - spending time with family and friends who we may not see often enough through the year. Perhaps it's in balancing the two that we remember Christmas.  

This weekend I got to have it all - singing with my 70 choir mates to 820 family, friends and strangers. An afternoon exploring and shopping with my parents. An evening of sequins and satin and sparkles and dancing with 100+ friends and acquaintances and friends of friends and acquaintances of acquaintances. And spending today with BB1, recovering from our social Saturdays, wandering, cleaning, visiting, drinking hot drinks that were too hot, and just being together. 

With my halls decked, a relatively quiet week ahead, and the warm memory of dancing with some of my favourite people last night fresh in my head, I can say I'm finally feeling the full on festive spirit. And I am very much looking forward to more social time right through until New Years Eve. 

Those of us at the Gala last night may have had fancier outfits than these kids, but I think we matched them in freedom, joy and connecting in a group - the more the merrier is really very true.

I'm sorry the video is not better quality video. By the way, I kinda dance like the little girl with the thin hair and the pink dress (she's a twin) - and I always end up with a sore neck. HA!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

R - Reading

When my BBs were little, I wanted to instill in them a love of reading as rich as the one I have. And so their bedtime routine consisted of two things for as long as they would let me - a song and a story. In the month of December, the song was always Away in a Manger, and the story was always Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas.

I don't remember having read The Grinch a lot as a child. I remember Dr. Seuss' A B Cs and The 500 Hats of Bartholemew Cubbins and Horton Hears a Who, but my childhood memories of The Grinch tend more towards the animated film from 1966 that we would watch in the Don Titus elementary school library.

Be that as it may, I bought a special anniversary edition of How The Grinch Stole Christmas in time for BB1's second Christmas and a tradition was born. Some years the reading on Christmas Eve included their cousins, all of us in pjs on our big couch. And one year BB2 got so focused on the story, as he is wont to do with interests, that we read it and sang Away in a Manger for about 6 months.

By the end of that time we all pretty much had the story memorized, and even now, 10 years after I last read it to my now 'too big for stories' boys, I can recite a lot of the beginning:

All the whos down in Whoville liked Christmas a lot,
But the Grinch who lived north of Whoville did not.
The Grinch hated Christmas - the whole Christmas season.
Now please don't ask why; no one quite knows the reason.
It could be, perhaps, that his shoes were too tight.
Or maybe his head wasn't screwed on just right.
But I think the most likely reason of all
Must have been that his heart was two sizes too small.
But whatever the reason - his heart or his shoes -
the Grinch stood there on Christmas Eve hating the Whos.
They're hanging their stockings, he snarled with a sneer.
Tomorrow is Christmas - it's practically here! ...

I loved those times. The BBs correcting a misplaced word, or reading along. BB1 eventually wanting to be the reader. And, it worked. I have never since referred to a chunk of meat in the oven as anything but 'roast beast,' and my sons both love reading as much as I do. They have active, capacious minds that seek to be filled. And, even better, we all have a soft spot for that funny looking green man whose heart grew three sizes that day.

Some traditions are time limited. Your children won't always sit on Santa's knee or want to read a story written in rhyming couplets. But they'll always remember that that's what you used to do, and so the traditions live.

Q - Quiet

It's a little bit ironic that today's theme is quiet when I've just come home from singing the roof off of a magnificent concert hall with the 70+ other voices of the Victoria Soul Gospel Choir. And it's even more ironic given that singing like I did tonight is absolutely one of the number 1 ways that I experience being fully free and self-expressed.

And yet, I love quiet. I love sitting by the ocean and watching the light dance. I love wandering a forest and hearing the trees sigh. I love being in my home with the television and the stereo off and nothing but the white noise of the outside world seeping through my windows for company.


Even when I'm in company, I often prefer the quiet - to sit back and observe the interactions around me. Or to sit in comfortable silence with someone when no words need to be said is a special form of luxury. Sometimes people seem to think that there's something wrong with my occasional hush ... maybe they just don't know about the contentedness that accompanies quiet.

Tonight I sang. Loud and free. And I loved it. But I also crave a quiet day to be with my thoughts, to scavenge the forest for the last Christmas decorations, and to write my Christmas cards to the people I know and love without distraction.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

P - Peaceful

I nearly forgot to post. I had been thinking about it all day, but knew I'd have more time and space this evening so didn't want to post from work. And then I got home, and the dishes weren't done, and the floors were dirty and I needed laundry for tomorrow ... and and and. The next thing I knew I was about to collapse on my bed and there's still P is for Peaceful to be written.

For me Peace is one of the most essential elements of Christmas surpassed only by, but also so integral to, love. And the way we do Christmas these days, it's often one of the most overlooked aspects of the season. When I tell people that I haven't bought any of my presents yet, they look at me with something akin to telling them I intend to chop off my big toe and serve it for dinner. But the mania is just so ... man-made. And, I enjoy just wandering the malls and enjoying the displays and when I see something that's right for someone I'll buy it. Sometimes when I see a harried mom or an irritated husband I smile and send them a little prayer for peace. The things we do for love should never be things that wear us down.

I mentioned the other day crying when listening to Silent Night, but there's another Christmas song - one I listen to all year round - that really gets me because it speaks to me of what I wish there was more focus on at Christmas - peace, and for each one of us to cause it.

This one is for BB2 (and I'm sorry they aren't Canadian soldiers):




Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.
Let There Be Peace on Earth,
The peace that was meant to be.

With God as our Father
Brothers all are we.
Let me walk with my brother
In perfect harmony.

Let peace begin with me,
Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry step breath I take,
Let this be my solemn vow:
To take each moment and live
Each moment in peace eternally.
Let there be peace on earth
and let it begin with me.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

O - Open

I've been dreading this post. The whole point of the 'open' tag is that it gives me permission to tell the truth about myself when I might otherwise want to gloss over things. It allows me to show my warts. And it allows you to look away. But wart showing and honesty at Christmas are not always encouraged. It's a time of good cheer, whether you like it or not. Unless, of course, you are our often-immitated friend George Bailey.

Like George, I've often wondered if the people I care most about would be better off without me. I've never attempted to do anything about it, but the thought alone scares me. I was first diagnosed with depression when I was 16, and fought it with exercise (half-heartedly), and community, and counselling and finally medication. It wasn't until 2006 when I was diagnosed with Celiac disease and started to recover from my resultant malnutrition that I actually got some relief. In fact, within months I was feeling like the me I'd forgotten - gregarious, optimistic, in action, and out to save the world.

I definitely still have down days, but that's because I'm human, not because of bad brain chemistry. But lately, for the last month or so, I seem to be having more bad days. And right behind every one of them is the threat of the wall of grey ascending again and obscuring what's really so in my life.

Life is incredibly good right now - one might even say 'wonderful.' I have a job that I truly love where I get to be part of something so much bigger than myself. I have a boss and coworkers who love and encourage and pray for me. BB2, having battled his own grey clouds, is working harder than anyone I've ever known to create the life of his dreams, and he even appears to be having some fun doing it. BB1 doesn't want me to talk about him, but he's safe and well and taking on his future as well. I have friends old and new who love and support me.

And yet, it's hard to shake the feeling that every silver lining has a cloud. It's been 4 years, and still the fear is right there. I don't want to be that person again. And at Christmas more than ever, I just have to remind myself -

It's a wonderful wonderful life
I guess I always knew
It's everday in what you do
That makes a wonderful life.



(PS - I found this video in a YouTube search for the appropriate scene from the movie. I can't believe I'm saying this, but I think this music video is even better than when Clarence gets his wings).

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

N - Nourished

I kept wondering today how to differentiate N - Nourished from H - Healthy. And what I realised is that being healthy is something I do for myself, but that in large part being Nourished is something that my community provides for me. Both relate to my whole life being, but being nourished is in some ways more rewarding because it also reminds me of all the other things I am - loved, supported, encouraged, cared for.

And, since Christmas is the time when people we love come together in a feast of giving and connecting, it's the perfect time to feel and be nourished. And to nourish those we love.

From Miss Lady making the best Gluten Free Pizza in the world for me on Saturday, to two man friends coaching me on letting my guard down and letting love in, to CoachK giving me a loving reminder to take care of myself, to my choir cheering for me at rehearsal tonight I am as filled up in my heart and soul as I am satisfied with my cantaloupe and chef salad lunch.

Being nourished comes in many forms. And tonight I'm truly grateful for all of them.

Monday, December 13, 2010

M - Musical

Finally, an obvious connection: Me & Music & Christmas. Music has been a big part of my life for ... ever. Some of my favourite moments with my sisters were singing around our piano and in our church. Singing then was both a bonding thing in our family, and a way to explore, develop and express my faith. Singing has ultimately become one of the number one ways that I feel free and myself. I love music - not only creating it but also listening. It seems like whenever I am stuck for words or trapped in my head, there's a song available that says what I can't.

Yesterday I attended a Christmas concert with the City of Gardens Chorus - an all women acapella barbershop quartet style chorus. They were a bit blinged out for my taste, but the music was perfection. And when they sang Silent Night in 5 part harmony, I teared up. Silent Night for pete's sake! I've probably heard it 20 times already this season, and have sung it every week for the past eight at my own choir practices, but there they were - tears, sniffles. And I realised that what was buried beneath all my enjoyment of the night was the loneliness that's been an unusually constant companion lately.

I told DivaMoe about it last night and she set me to rights, "music is the sound of heaven ... and you've always been moved by music.... you were just at a 'quiet' spot where you could feel." She's a wise woman, that DivaMoe, and to be honest I kinda like that I'm someone who loves and is moved by music. And having so much great music flooding my life at this time of year is even better.

By the way - want to hear a little bit of my choir as we get ready for our Christmas concert this Friday? Check out this video on our website. If you like what you hear, tickets are still available. :)

Sunday, December 12, 2010

L - Loved

After spending yesterday struggling with my post about being 'known' and trying to link it to Advent & Christmas, I thought that perhaps today would be an easy one. Christmas is to love as mint is to candy canes. There is simply no separating them, in my world. But the tag isn't 'love' the verb or the noun; it's 'loved' - the experience.

It's a quiet Sunday. A sleep in. Some light cleaning. A lot of Facebook. And, some of that light cleaning was on Facebook as I removed 75 connections. More importantly, I realized that in a list of more than 350 remaining connections - including family of varying degrees, new & old friends, co-workers past and present, one time lovers and professional connections, I am interested in hearing about each and every on, and I believe they are interested in hearing about/from me.

Yes, as Christmas and New Years Eve approach I do still have to constantly remind myself that it's okay that I'm single again. And to stop comparing it to a very different Christmas last year. And I'm getting ready to rock New Years Eve But even though I won't have an extra present under the tree this year, I am still very clear I'm loved. Gifts and stocking stuffers and treats aside, Christmas means family time, and nothing means love to me like quality time with my friends and family. We could skip everything else and just having my sons in the same place for 36 hours will be magical.

I am often lonely. And I am always loved.

K - Known.

I have struggled with this post all day. And even part of last night. There are two issues - how do I link the topic of being 'known' to the theme of advent, and how do I write about the experience of being known when I'm feeling so not-that.

At a girls' pyjama party tonight I mention my dilemma and someone said two things - 'what do you mean by known' and 'the day isn't over yet.' Solid points, both of them.

1. When I say being known, I mean being really gotten, understood and heard by someone. I mean having someone see, acknowledge, and accept me, warts and all. I had a small moment of that experience last night on a date - L'Homme figured that in my past people had said things about my appearance that still stung, and that I couldn't hold that against him. He was right on both counts, and in him saying that, I saw something about myself that I'd never seen before. But that insight didn't leave me with the experience of being known because I didn't feel like it's okay that those earlier hurts still sting. I know the value of true empathy, and I cherish it.

2. In a room full of amazing women at tonight's party, women who really have heard my stories, who have been with me through ups and downs, and who have shared their ups and downs with me, I could have felt like being 100% myself would be okay. But for some reason I didn't get there.

In my Master's thesis of oh-so-long ago, I argued that an integral part of someone integrating a trauma into their identity and moving forward from that moment instead of being stuck in psychic limbo is the experience of being heard and believed. And for me that just hasn't been there this weekend. All of the people I've mentioned care about me in their way. But never have I felt like it's 100% okay for me to just be, warts and all. Maybe that's my fault. Maybe I don't let people see me clearly enough. But the yearning is still there.

I'm tired now, and even writing this post feels like a Herculean task. To try and make the leap from 'Known/Unknown' to 'Advent/Christmas' feels nigh on impossible. And so for tonight I will leave you with this, the ultimate Christmas acceptance

'It's not bad at all, really. It just needs a little love':

J - Joyous

My office door is wrapped in the most cheerful wrapping paper I've seen. It's tied with a big fat red velvet ribbon & bow. My 3 office windows are festooned with beautiful silver glass ornaments hung from more red velvet ribbon. At home evergreen swags drape my living room window, buffet and piano, all of them swathed in more red velvet ribbon. Why so much red velvet ribbon? Because it's traditional, and timeless and deeply deeply cheerful.

When I think of joy and Christmas, I don't think of the 30 or so relatives piled knees deep in my grandparent's living room, all yelling and laughing on top of each other. For me, Christmas joy is quieter.

I think of a little blonde girl in a white cotton dress tied with a red velvet ribbon and singing from the depths of her heart 'This Little Light of Mine' at her Sunday School Christmas concert. I think of secretly sewing Christmas stockings for my sisters one of the last years we all lived at home - and the first time we didn't use Dad's wool socks with the red stripe for our stockings. I think of one of my favourite traditions - turning all the lights off except those on the tree after everyone has gone to bed on Christmas Eve and sitting up watching the lights, saying a prayer for everyone for whom a gift waits under the lights.

Christmas joy is deep. It runs quietly through icing the sugar cookies and practicing for choir solos. It's in the quiet moments of connection and peace. This Christmas, I wish you joy.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

I - Interconnected

I'm missing some of my favourite people today. Well, two in particular - BB1 and Shiney. Life is really extra-ordinarily good right now, and I wish they were nearer by to share in it. We love the people we love all year round, but at Christmas time the yearning to connect with loved ones is even stronger.

While one aspect of modern life is that we move more often and further than previous generations tended to, we have, in fact, also designed some pretty great ways to stay connected. I know that Shiney is only a carefully timed phone call. In fact, having typed that I realised she is actually just a text away, so I sent her one. She's also just a facebook message or email or Christmas card away. And while none of those things are as good as tea and tears and laughter with my best friend, they are all part of the reality of being best friends who live mountain ranges apart.

I hope the people I love know I love them. And, I'm going to use whatever means of connection I have at my disposal to make sure that they do. Because, as my favourite Ghost of Christmas Present likes to say "You know wherever we find love, it feels like Christmas"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

h - healthy

Advent is not a time we often think about our health. The period between December 1 and New Year's Day, or if you are American between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, is one we salivate over all year. Parties and dinners and receptions. An over-indulgance here. An evening on the couch there. And rushing about, eating on the run, skipping sleep. None of this really adds up to the most wonderful time of the year being great for our bodies.

Except, this year I thought I'd do something a little differently. Since November 25th I have, with 3 delicious exceptions, only eaten fruit, vegetables and lean meat. It turns out that fruits, vegetables and lean meats include some of my favourite foods - roasted root vegetables, spaghetti dinner made with spaghetti squash, fruit smoothies, bison steak. Those who know me know that giving up dairy for a month (all of my exceptions have been dairy temptations I didn't resist) is even bigger than giving up sugar for a month. But when I look at what I am eating, it's hard to feel like I'm denying myself anything.

Ideally I'd like all this, and it really is quite a radical change for me (I've saved about a present's worth in on chocolate already - a bar a day at $1.50 to $3/bar = $22 - $45 dollars), to result in an instaneous flat stomach. But instead what is happening is a slow shift in my body. Not huge pounds dropped, but visible definition in my arms and legs. The reappearance of small bone structures that had gone missing (I keep playing with my collar bones - they're kind of cool) . Energy. Vitality. Steady emotions. Glowing skin. Restful sleep.

The idea was that, aside from Christmas Day when all bets are off, I would continue like this until New Years Eve. But I'm so enjoying the way I feel that I think I might just consider this a permanent change. It's been pretty easy. Yes, I will always love sweets. And L'homme can expect that I will beat him soundly in a nacho-off soon! But I've learned that I can do quite fine without the my supposed comfort foods, and the days of snack food comprising most of my meals are over.

Now if only I could convince myself to walk to work on rainy days!

G - Growing

I went to bed last night after an evening that didn't go quite how I had planned. It was a great evening, aside from my not listening to myself at two crucial points. Ironically, all day I've been thinking about my post for today. About how much I've grown in the last few months, and about how much greenery and new birth are a part of advent and Christmas. But laying there in bed, suddenly remembering I'd forgotten to post, and reflecting on the two times tonight that old SCWInk ruled over new SCWInk, I kind of wondered.

I guess it's true that there are seasons. That growth sometimes happens in spurts, and sometimes it slows for a while. Sometimes we even forget how far we've already come, and lament how far there is to go. The 11 year old who can't wait to be a teenager forgets he was once a toddler.

I'm disappointed in myself tonight. I neglected someone who matters to me. But when I remember that I was once a toddler, I can allow myself a little grace. And that's a lovely G word as well.
 

Monday, December 6, 2010

F - Forthright, or maybe Faith

In the world of this blog, F is for Forthright. But when I think of Advent & Christmas, the F that comes to mind is Faith. I pondered this this morning - my intention with the ABCs of Advent was originally to incorporate my blog themes. And then I realised, I'm not always forthright about my faith. It's not an either/or world.

Yesterday I talked about the dedication of Mary, of Joseph, of Jesus himself. And it struck me as I was writing that that it might surprise some people to learn that Christian beliefs are alive and well and living in my heart. I don't blog about it often, or talk about it often, because for me faith is the most intimate and personal of conversations. And because I have worked hard to get beyond the dogma of my religious past to the grace of my actual beliefs.

Yes, I believe. In Christ, in the virgin birth, in the Bible as God inspired and man recorded. I believe in heaven and hell and salvation. And it's okay with me if you don't. 

And, at Christmas-time, I also believe in magic. In love. In humans uniting for good. I have faith that everything will work out in the way that is best for all concerned. I believe in peace. And possibility. I don't believe in Santa Claus, but I do believe in you.


Sunday, December 5, 2010

E - Excited

Christmas and Excited go together like turkey and stuffing; like Frosty and a top hat; like sugar cookies and coloured icing. I haven't really been excited, though - I've been more nervous. Perhaps even trepidatious. I didn't know how thing were going to go, who would be where. I kind of wanted to pretend it wasn't Christmas - that I was just taking a week off in December because I like winter so much.

But all of a sudden, it's here. The trappings and the music and the hubbub. And also the expectation of magic around every corner. And the delight and wonder of surprises. And I for one am excited, not just about the season but about everything new and wonderful that's happening in my life.


D - Dedicated

When I think dedication and advent the obvious connection to me and likely other Christians is Christ coming to earth as a baby, giving up His Godhood knowing that eventually his life as a man would meet a brutal, humiliating painful end. I also think of Mary being willing to carry and raise the son of God. Or Joseph honouring his commitment to Mary and raising the son of God with her. I don't know that I ever really understood all of what the Christmas story meant until I heard this beautiful song:

That's what I mostly think of. But I also think of my friend Christina, who every year for the past 20 has created a magical Christmas feast for the people of Victoria who wouldn't otherwise have one. Please check out Christina's blog and find out what you can do to help her give.

I think of the doctors, nurses, orderlies, paramedics, police officers and fire fighters who know that part of the job is not being with their families on so many of the important days including Christmas. The emergency workers at the shelters who will be on call and on site making it safe for clients to smile, and

And I think of all the parents who make a budget that doesn't quite stretch at the best of times reach all the way around the stockings and the treats and the presents and decorations in order to teach their children about magic. 

So to all of you - who do a little more at Christmas so we can all experience a little more magic, God Bless You Everyone.

Friday, December 3, 2010

C - Creative

Strolling to work this morning I was pondering what to write about that fits with the themes of creativity and advent. I wrote just recently about the creative spark, about starting with nothing and bringing into existence something.  Yes, there are certain aspects of Christmas that are inherently creative - finding a present that reminds you of a loved one. Making gifts and treats. Matching the perfect ribbon to the ideal paper to create an object that shows your love. Christmas oozes creativity, but in this year of change it also requires some fresh approaches.

At lunch today I was talking with a co-worker about the Christmas traditions she's building with her children, and I told her about the traditions the BBs and I have enjoyed. And I thought about how different it is this year. They aren't here. And it seems really pointless to do all the things we've always done by myself. It's a little sad, except that what they are doing so well.

So, how does a recently mostly-empty-nester sustain traditions? It'll be a little trickier since BB1 is not even in town, but BB2 is here. And he asked just a week or two about about the advent calendar we've had since he was 5.

No, I don't have two little boys clamouring down the stairs in the morning to fight over the chocolates shoved in the pockets, but I do have one big boy wondering what the plan is. So this year the advent calendar has only one chocolate in each pocket, and it's hanging on his apartment door waiting for him to come home tonight. And when BB1 tells me which tradition matters most to him, we'll make sure that happens when he comes to visit. Or ... maybe we'll start some new traditions. Because a new tradition is a true test of creativity.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

B - Balanced

There's a reason that I have 20 blog posts about being inter-connected, 88 book reviews, and only 8 posts on balance - it's just not an aspect of life with which I feel overly familiar. Unlike abundance though, I'm less likely to complain about balance missing from my day to day experience.

Take today for example. A rather extreme and unusual example, but salient to this discussion.

Today I got up an hour and a half earlier than I normally do. Last night I had stayed up late completing my notes for a speaking engagement at 7:30 and I needed to stop by the office to print them out. I then proceeded to said speaking engagement/breakfast before heading in to the office for a regular day. After work I went first to the Chamber of Commerce CEO Holiday Reception and then to SALTS' Christmas Party before going to an evening seminar (not work related). There was no time for breaks between points A, B, C and D, but there was food at the Chamber reception and SALTS. I got home at 9:50 and am now blogging before I head to bed at my regular time.  

On paper it looks extreme. It could even be considered out of balance. Except, it just doesn't feel that way. I had time in my day to connect with friends over lunch. I met both work and personal commitments tonight. I took care of my own well-being by choosing carefully what to eat at the parties.

Sometimes I think we think balance has to be equal amounts of everything, and nothing to the extreme. But sometimes balance can just mean jumping straight in with both feet knowing that everything is taken care of. My body was nourished. I will get enough sleep tonight. I kept my word.

Maybe balance is a state of mind, not a state of schedule. I'm going to ponder that in my sleep.

A - Abundance (a.k.a. Thing I Love at Advent)

I tend to spend a lot of my time thinking, talking and blogging about what's missing in my life. The lack of a partner. The lack of enough money for everything. The restricted diet. But yesterday, in a snippet of time between running errands with BB2 and an evening appointment, I stopped for a quick bite and a short glass of wine to regroup, and suddenly I was transported by a window seat, some live jazz, a crisp glass of Pinot Gris, succulent island scallops in a peppery wine reduction. And an elegant, peaceful lounge to enjoy it all in.

I can't imagine a more abundant, decadent way to enjoy 45 minutes. The pure luxury of tantalizing food that is on my fairly intense current diet. And the pleasure of being alone and still with my thoughts. It was lovely in every way and not a single person or thing was missing.

It was the perfect way to welcome December. To begin my advent. And to remember just how abundant my life is.

The ABC's of Advent

As I've mentioned in years past (on my previous blog) - when I was growing up our church didn't particularly celebrate a traditional advent. It wasn't until I married into a slightly more stayed Baptist family that I experience the lovely practice of lighting a candle each Sunday before Christmas to read and pray for peace, for hope, for joy, for love.

With the BBs out of the house, I've been wondering what to do with our little felt Advent calendar that has brought them so much chocolate over the years ... that is yet to be determined. And I can't quite abandon the thrill of anticipation that advent brings me.

What I am going to do, though I meant to start last night, is to blog every day between now and Christmas Day the ABC's of Advent. Yes, that doesn't really add up. And there will be one day in addition to today where I will have to come up with multiple posts. But by Christmas morn the ABC's of advent will, I hope, have reminded me - and you - of all the best of this time.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Bombshell Strides Again

Just toodling along this afternoon running some work errands, and since one errand was right beside one of my favourite consignnment stores I thought 'why not just pop in and see what they have in nice dresses.' Just to look. Maybe get some new ideas for New Years Eve. After looking at picture after picture of gowns but mainly trying on cocktail dresses, I just didn't know what I wanted.

And, I wasn't feeling particularly like my fabulous Blonde Bombshell self after some unsuccessful shopping on Sunday and a disappointing trip to the scale this morning. But jaded and cynical with a piquant hint of hope, I went in. Quelle surprise! There were 5 gowns in my approximate size. Not all of them were stunning, but you really can't tell until you put them on so into the tiny change room I charged while the excited shop lady handed me more stuff through the curtain.


Item the first - black georgette slip dress with beautiful shimmering black beadwork flowers and a scalloped split front hemline to die for. It was soft and drapey and feminine. Sure, it needed a nip here and a tuck there. A little lower neck line. Some different support. But it could have worked. And been lovely. And 're-wearable' which I really don't remember being a criteria, but the shop lady thought was worth mentioning.

Item the second - flowy navy georgette with spaghetti straps and top band beading and a front slit and full A-line skirt. It was long and flowy even when I slid into in-store shoes to test for height. It cried out 'that lady's going dancing' (that a quote from the last time my 2 yo nephew saw me in a dress). Elegant, but understated. And let's be honest - we hate understated as much as we love dancing.

Item the fourth - when you step out of the dressing room and the only man in the store says "WOW" you don't keep looking. And when the va-va-voom gown comes matches some very NEW YOU va-va-voom shoes you say thank you very much I'll take it all. .

No description. You'll just have to see it when it's time. And don't even try to guess - it's not at all what I was expecting and exactly what I want. Funny how life is like that.

I want to squeal. And do a little chair dance. And especially I want to wear those shoes and that dress and see jaws drop. Eeeeeeeee! The bombshell is back baby, top to tail!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

plus none

I'm going to an exquisite wedding on New Year's Eve. I've been very excited about it since the very bride called and let me know a few months ago, and then I got the elegant invitation this week and was inspired all over again. It's going to be a full-on celebration of love and music and cocktails and dancing, and way back when I first got wind I promised myelf that I would go with someone who loves, adores and wants to create a relationship with me, or stag. No seat fillers need apply.

I've been shopping and planning and scheduling. I have dress ideas (see below) and shoe ideas and hair ideas. I have before plans and after plans. I haven't eaten dairy or sugar or grains in a week, and will continue that for another 33 days. I'm planning to be my absolutely most stunning, confident me.

I am not going to settle for less than everything I've pictured. And yet, I wish I'd checked +1 on the RSVP. I wish that I knew that there'd be someone to dance with me. Someone remembering where I put my camera down, and carrying the room key since there's not room left in my beaded clutch. Someone to put his hand on the small of my back as we walk out of the room at the end of the night and guide me safely home.

It's going to be an amazing night. I look forward to celebrating the beginning of my friend's new life. I know it's going to be magical. And ... I wish I hadn't checked Plus None.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

TI♥T: Epiphanies

Picture me, sludging home on the snowy, slippery sidewalk this afternoon - my hat low over my eyes, weighted down with bags and a swirling mind, and insulated from life around me by layers and blinders. I was stuck in my head swirling with anger and sadness and hurt and disappointment. Composing in my mind all the things there are to say. And all the things I wish I'd said and haven't yet, and all the things I want to hear. Just when I was about to give in and start saying those words, I experienced the simplest magic.

Just ahead of me at an intersection, an elderly lady couldn't manage the incline from the edge of the road to the divider that separates the turning lane from the main road. The curb has been lowered for accessibility, and the resulting slope, covered in compact snow, completely stalled her. After two slippery attempts, she seemed afraid to even move for several seconds. 

Instead of just driving by, or honking, or being frustrated, the gentleman in the car she was blocking put his car in park, put his hazard lights on in the turning lane, and got out to help her. There were 4 or 5 cars behind him, but no one honked or revved an engine. It was the most generous and spontaneous act of humanity I've seen lately. And then he saw me about to cross as well and smiled. 

That was all it took. He smiled. I took her other arm and helped her across the street as he drove on. The lights changed when we were mid-intersection, and again it seemed as though all the drivers had all the patience in the world for us. The sidewalk on the north side of the street was clear, and my charge assured me she was only going half a block down the street, so I let her go.

She thanked me profusely, but I really think I ought to have thanked her. All day I've kept having to rescue myself from the swirl of my own petty imaginings. And for the cost of a helping hand in the direction I was going anyway I was given an epiphany: in any instant I have a choice to be caught up in myself and my petty concerns and bullshit or I can look around, seewho needs me, and lend a hand. 

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

that girl & that boy

When I was a young girl, and even into my teens, it never occurred to me that I couldn't be or do whatever I wanted to be or do. That thinking just didn't exist. My parents were very clear that my sisters and I could have any future jobs and lives we wanted. They encouraged us to be open, to explore the world, and to try anything that interested us.

For me, that often looked like disappearing into the worlds created in books, which had me excel at school. But I also played a wide variety of team and individual sports with fair-to-middling success. I took piano lessons. Played the flute. Acted. Sang. We hiked and did farm chores and pretended to drive Dad's Willy's Jeep. I skiied at 5, and fished at 7. If I wanted to try something, by and large the access was there, and I was encouraged and supported in making it happen.

In all of those amazing experiences though, one was always missing. There was never a time in my life when I got to be 'that girl.' In grades 10, 11, and 12 I spent much of my social time with a group of three guys (Snake, Mongo and Blinky - seriously!) who treated me like any one of them. I was never sure they knew that I was there because I wanted Snake to notice me. Like, really notice me. We'd hang out at each other's houses. Cook dinners en masse. Study. Act/direct in the senior play. Snowmobile in the winter and hit the lake in the summer. And the whole time I was just one of the guys. Being 'that girl' in that environment wasn't an option. I graduated High School having never been on a date.

You'd think that'd be something you get over eventually. Snake and I reconnected a few years ago and he apologized. He said he knew, that he'd wanted to be with me to, and that he had his own things going on back then that kept things the way they were. It was a great conversation that cleared a lot up for me. And yet, it's been a lifetime (or at least several decades) and I still wonder - will that story that I'm just 'one of the guys' ever go away? 

I know who I am. I know I can be and do anything I set my mind to. Some people think I should be happy with that. But I want to be and do everything AND be the girl who gets the boy. Not just any boy - THAT boy. Until this week it's never occured to me that I could be THAT girl and get THAT boy. I thought it had to be one or the other, and that even then he probably wouldn't be THAT boy.

But guess what. I want to change the world and come home at night to someone who makes me smile and laugh and sometimes cry and who finds me in his sleep everytime he moves. And when THAT boy is ready, I guess I will be as well.

Monday, November 22, 2010

How To Rock a Snow Day, and in the Process Fall in Love

  1. Preempt the snow day by getting an infection and creating a sick day. Go back to sleep.
  2. Wake up only when darned good and ready. Listen to the wind howl for a while from the warm nest of your bed.
  3. Have a long, hot vanilla-spice scented bath. While you're there, finish a novel you've been reading forever. Frequently add more hot water.
  4. Create an urban-bunny snow warren: weather-proof an open-ended box by putting it in a garbage bag and lining it with a towel you never intend to dry human skin again; place beside his outside pen; shelter the whole thing with a bath mat. Spend a moment being glad you're not the rabbit.
  5. Bundle up (long wool coat, fleecy snow boots, mitts, scarf) and sally forth into the world. Trudge through snow, uphill both ways to drop-in and get a prescription from the doc. Since you're now only a block from Home Depot, pop in and buy stuff to weather-proof your very drafty bedroom window. Find and drink something hot and steamy (and preferrably spicy)
  6. Buy a really cute hat and prove to your BBs that you are so a hat person.
  7. Have a conversation or two with people you love and adore and who love and adore you right back.
  8. Stock up on victuals - you never know how long this weather might last!
  9. Flirt with and be flirted with by the charming pharmacist you didn't know worked just a block away. Decide you have a new favourite pharmacy.
  10. Bring bunny in early to thaw out. Replace his ice with liquid water.
  11. Fall in love with your city, your life, and yourself all over again.
  12. Turn off all electronics, open a bottle of pinot grigio & cuddle up with a steaming bowl of chicken veggie tikka masala and a steaming TV of Mad Men.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

The Heart Knows

Sometimes I want to say more than I feel capable of translating from feeling into words. This is one of those days. I want to share with you what I'm learning, and ... I'm fumbling. How do I say what it was like yesterday to have a stranger look me in the eye and tell me what I thought no one saw? What do I tell a friend who stopped by for dinner and reset my groove? I don't have the words.

I'm  slowly and steadily, catching up with the loving, vivacious, fun woman I sometimes forget lives and breathes inside me.

But I have the knowledge that there are people who know and see and accept and cherish me, hairy warts and all. And when I shush my chattering mind and listen to my heart, those people are easy to recognise.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

TI♥T: Flirting

You know how the other day I mentioned I was back?. It's been a summer and autumn of changes, of stressors and releases, of ups and downs and hopes and follies. Of forgetting who I am and letting others forget who I am. I stopped doing the things I do consciously for me - walking to work, minimizing my sugar intake, going to bed on time. I stopped taking care of myself. 

But I also stopped doing the things I unconsciously do. And because they are unconscious things, I didn't know I wasn't doing them, I just knew something was missing. 

Until last Sunday. Until a smile flickered in my eyes, and an unbeckoned lilt lit my words and I knew. And, I'm gonna guess, so did the man I was speaking to.

I am a flirt. I'm a girly-girl who likes being girly when I interact with manly men. I like to tease and banter. And to be teased and bantered with. I miss having hair long enough to play with as desired. And I love the heat of a blush - in my cheeks or his.

Until it came back I didn't realise that for a while I hadn't been flirting. It's not something I think about doing - it's just there a lot of the time. Until it wasn't. And now it is. And holy doodle did I miss it. It gets me in trouble sometimes, but chances are good that at 42, I'm not going to outgrow it.

I am a flirt. And one of my favourite moments this week was when I recognized that rush of lightness and playfulness that came with the batting of my long eyelashes and the sassy tilt of my head.  

Thursday, November 4, 2010

TI♥T: Spontaneity

It's been a great week. Okay - half week. Being an all or nothing kinda girl, since getting my wind back I've been booked every night and working extra hours to catch up. Today I was looking forward to an art night with some new friends, and it was cancelled.

AND I WAS SO HAPPY!

I'm really excited about having new friends to be creative with. But having a whole free evening pop open meant that I got to pick up some chicken & salad, head to SC2's house, and sit around in comfy clothes watching TV. It was so spontaneous and easy and fun.

Sometimes the unplanned are the best plans. It almost makes me want to throw out the multiple calendars and the spreadsheets and the strategies and ... oh heck, who am I kidding. :)

PS - I'm the guest blogger & 'Lovely Lady' on my friend Jodi's blog today - exploring my vivacious side and trying to get comfortable with the camera.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Aaaahhhh, that's better

I don't know what happened the last couple days, but all of a sudden I'm me again. Powerful. In action. Happy. Dancing and singing and taking no guff me. I hate when that goes away, but boy is it great when I start to shine again. When everything shines.

Which (you saw this coming, didn't you) reminds me of a very me-in-this-moment song from my favourite newfies :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

just one thing

There are a great many blogs out there that I enjoy - some I've listed on the side panel, some I pop over to when I think of it. Some I click when I see the link on Twitter. Some I stumble down a rabbit hole, read voaraciously and can never find again. But there are only two blogs that I have delivered to my email so as not to miss an update, and the king of those is the handsome and erudite Jonathan Fields.

Today Jonathan addressed one of my pet peeves - bucket lists. It's not that I have anything against bucket lists per se. It's just that in the last year or two they seem to have become so commonplace as to be cliché (and there's nothing I despise more than a cliché). Too often they are either, as Jonathan addresses, a someday/maybe kind of experience. Or, the worse offence in my opinion, they are simply an occassion for pretension to being learned, being adventurous, and being accomplished. They are yet one more modern expression of self-indulgence. I've rarely seen a bucket list that says something like "I want to be the kind of friend someone can say anything to and know it is safe," or "I want to comfort a grieving widow just by listening to her stories," or, "I want to inspire someone to finish or return to school."

This may sound like sour grapes, to some, and I'm sorry if you hear that. I've actually had some pretty amazing experiences in my life and I look forward to a great many more of all sorts. But as much as I love being a world-travelling adventure, it doesn't define me, and writing out the things I am looking forward to experiencing won't inspire me to do them any more than buying organic produce inspires me to eat well (what's with that??).

/End Rant/

You can imagine then that when Jonathan's post titled "The Bucket List Lie" arrived in my inbox, I was already a believer. My favourite blogger blogging against my pet peeve? This I had to read! Although I'm less convinced than Jonathan that few people manifest the items on their bucket lists, we're on the same page overall. Even if people do cross off some items, I still see the medium as fundamentally flawed. And that's where Jonathan comes in. Never one to condemn without offering a solution, Jonathan suggests a great alternative: the List of One:
... make a List of One. A single, meaningful action you’re going to take before the end of the day to move you one step closer to a single, deeply meaningful quest.
Don’t go to bed tonight until you’ve completed your List Of One. And done one other thing, made your List Of One for tomorrow.
Do this every day for a month, long enough to begin to inculcate the habit.
If it feels manageable, turn it into a List Of Two. And so on, and so on.
Execute on your list consistently over time and you’ll begin to make magic unfold. Not “someday,” but everyday.
The timing is perfect. I had been looking for a personal challenge to take on in November that would move me closer to my goals of being healthy, wealthy and wise. And since I have a tendency to take on 14 things with vigour and then give up, and REALLY wanted to avoid that this time. The List of One is simple. Elegant. Perfect.

Just one thing. One act of love and generosity. One moment of self-care. One item crossed off the list of things I normally ignore. One step in the direction I intend my life to go.

So I declared my One Thing for today and went for it. I half succeeded, and felt the joy of playing. And I will play again tomorrow. And tomorrow. And tomorrow. Just one thing.

Now, if you could do Just One Thing tomorrow, what would it be?
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