Friday, January 31, 2014

today's the day!

Did you wake up this morning and tell yourself that something wonderful is going to happen today? Perhaps your mind went to the exact opposite place and your first thoughts were of some difficulty or dreaded task you have to face. Either way, at the end of the day you were probably right. 

Your early morning thoughts set the tone for your whole day.  If you expect something great to happen you’re likely going to find that yes indeed, something happened today that brought you a big smile.  So why not put the odds in your favor? One of the worst things we do is to set ourselves up for failure in this way. We should approach each day as the gift that it is and appreciate the opportunities that each day brings. Don’t worry about having control, don’t worry about making mistakes. Don’t doubt yourself, don’t doubt your dreams and abilities, don’t hesitate. Realize that waiting around for something great to fall into your lap is a lot less effective than taking some initiative. If you do nothing to advance yourself or to move towards making your dream a reality, then you’re practically guaranteed that nothing is exactly what you’re going to get. 

So take a leap. Create your own opportunities and best chances. Expect the best and tell yourself that today, something wonderful is going to happen!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

corner view: motion

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane (Spain) and curated by Francesca (Italy), where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme.  The theme this week is "motion".

I was a kid when I first realized I had trouble with motion. It didn't hit me until my middle school years. Early on I did get to enjoy the feeling of flying like the wind on my bicycle, riding the Ferris wheel at the shore and swinging as high as I could on the playground. Then it ended. I found that sailing with my friend's family was a queasy nightmare, swinging as high as I could on the playground left me shuttering, and I had to forget about carnival rides altogether. My high school gym teacher used to give me a really hard time during gymnastics when I was required to do a forward somersault or flip of any kind. I'd have to do it of course, but each and every time, it left me quivering flat on my back until the world stopped spinning. Turns out, it has something to do with crystals in the middle ear but I didn't learn that until years later. How I wish I could vindicate myself with that gym teacher who gave me such a hard time! Though this motion issue is a bit of a bother it does come with some giggles as well, like when I'd try to play racing or flying style video games with my young son and would find myself tipping over onto the ground if my character turned too quickly or hit a bump in the road. I'll admit, it was kind of funny. Then I discovered that I could capture motion with my camera (and not fall over!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

a break in the weather - a walk in the woods

The weather finally broke yesterday. After weeks of abnormally low temperatures, frightening wind chills, and grey skies, the sun broke through, the winds died down and the thermometer rose above freezing.  We threw on a couple extra layers and headed outside for a walk in the woods. All along the paths we met other folks, cheerfully greeting each other with exclamations of relief at the break from the cold.
It's been too long and is very unusual for our area.
Normally perched in the shadows, this barred owl was taking full advantage of the sun, warming herself in front of excited hikers who tip-toed and whispered quietly so as not to scare her off.
In all my years here I've never seen the lakes and creeks freeze over like they have this month. It made me laugh to see the ducks and geese fly onto the lake, only to skid across the ice until they could come to a stop.

 Finding the tiniest sliver of water in the middle of the lake, the geese all crammed into the rivulet while the more curious ones strolled nearby.
 A red-bellied woodpecker takes care of a little home improvement
now that the winds have died down.
 The mist from the falling waters created gorgeous ice sculptures. Since the temperatures remained low night and day, the forms built up over time. So pretty!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

corner view: the colors of january

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane (Spain) and curated by Francesca (Italy), where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme.  The theme this week is "the colors of January".

January can certainly evoke a "bleak midwinter" sort of feel. The leaves have fallen from the trees, people have taken down the bright holiday decorations of December, but it's really just that the world has taken on a new look to carry us through to Spring. The colors may be more tame to match our pull to settle in until the season changes and temperatures begin to rise again. 
The mini poinsettia on the sill, giving a splash of color,
to contrast with the more muted scene outside my window.
A frosty window pane is a beautiful crystalline overlay
and warns of extra chill in the morning.
Different colors can be seen in the birds that migrate through the area or over-winter here,
escaping the colder temperatures up North.

If we're really fortunate, a January morning such as this one, brings the sunrise gift of a dusting of snow. By noon it will be gone so an early morning walk is definitely in order today.
But we welcome the sunny days when we can get outside, hike the trails and see the beautiful bones of the trees that we don't get to see when they're in full leaf, and the brown grasses that seem to make the sky even bluer.

Friday, January 10, 2014

getting back to "fine"

It was sometime in college that I began to notice that when you asked someone how they were doing that the reply from them was almost always “fine” whether they actually were fine or not. Over the past couple of years though I’ve noticed a definite shift. Instead of “fine” I usually hear “busy.” The sad thing is that I think that they really are busy. Too busy.

People are working harder than ever, more hours than ever, scheduling themselves to the point that there’s no time for rest, and they’re filling in what should be quiet moments with e-mail, social networking, pinning, texting and more. The result is that our kids aren’t getting the time they need with us, we’re not getting the time to truly connect with our spouses each day, our parents aren’t hearing from us as much, and we’re living in a constant state of stress. We need to rethink this way of life because it doesn’t have to be this way.
Over a year ago my own daily schedule took a big turn as I made the choice to leave a job that was eating away at me and the external pressures became a lot more than I could allow. My own stress was spilling over onto my husband. My health and well-being were on their way to being compromised and I needed to do something about that.  It was a job that followed me home every evening and required my attention 6-7 days a week, and it was a really stressful job. I loved the actual good works of the job and didn’t intend to leave until I grew old, but the plans we make don’t always work out. So rather suddenly, I went from being too busy, over-committed, my personal and family resources stressed and being over-exposed to having all the time in the world. Honestly, it was a shock. It was too quiet and at first, it was really lonely. The financial impact of that change is something we still are working on. As the painful emotional toll of this decision began to pass I realized that I now had the unique opportunity to completely rebuild, from the ground up, how I spend my time and what the focus of my life will now be. Talk about your wide open spaces!
Is the default state of being busy really a good thing? Many physicians report that 75% or more of the patients that walk through their doors each day are there because of stress. The number of prescriptions being written for anti-anxiety medication, anti-depressants and sleep aids is sky-rocketing. It doesn’t have to be this way.
Realize that “busy” shouldn’t be your goal and isn’t an achievement to be flaunted. It’s not the big prize. Really, honestly, take a look at the focus of your days and decide what really is important. In the long run, at the end of your life, what is it that you did that really mattered and importantly…did you spend enough time in that pursuit?

You don’t have to stay busy. It’s important to build periods of rest and quiet into your daily routine and at the very least, into your weekly schedule. You can make the conscious decision to be unbusy for a little while. Oh, and during this time, disconnect from the internet and the TV. Most of us don’t even realize what a distraction, what a time thief and how much of an ambient stressor these are.
Think about decluttering your home. The fewer “things” you have sitting around the house, the less time and money you’ll need to spend on maintenance, not to mention that the added visual space in your surroundings will help to declutter your busy mind.
On the inevitable busy days, make sure to take breaks and make sure you’re eating well. Eating your sandwich while working at your computer or munching on fast food while you’re driving to your next destination is not good for you. Build in down-time and guard it…no excuses.
Learn to say “no.” People will likely try to spill some of their “busy” on to you, getting you to take on some of their own obligations. Just say “no.” That doesn’t make you a bad person. It means you are taking care of yourself and that’s a good thing.
Start your day quietly. Don’t pick up the newspaper, don’t flip on the TV news. Just sit quietly, take a long shower or take a slow walk and gently begin your day.
Busy does not have to be your normal state. Hopefully we can get back to the days when we’ll ask someone how they’re doing and their response will once again be “fine.”

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

corner view: darkness & light

Corner View is a weekly appointment - each Wednesday - created by Jane (Spain) and curated by Francesca (Italy), where bloggers from all corners of the world share their view on a pre-arranged theme.  The theme this week is "darkness & light", and comes from Dorte (Spain).
Blue Ridge Mtns, Blowing Rock, NC

Monday, January 6, 2014

on riding out the storm

Sometimes, life can get really hard. You’ll be thrown into circumstances where you seemingly have little control. People may try to take advantage or put you in impossible situations. Money woes become even more of a challenge and you don’t have the answers you need. Medical issues may arise that overwhelm you or you may have lost a loved one and your heart is breaking. All of us face a really tough life struggle at some point and feel like it’s going to crush us. Sometimes it will and sometimes it justs give us a real bruising.

Yes, your life has been shaken and your instinct may well be to run away, to hide, to cut yourself off from people. You may be feeling a great deal of fear and anxiety, maybe even the beginnings of depression. But that’s no way to live. You are an amazing person and a one-of-a-kind person. You probably are learning things from your struggle, things about the world, about other people that may be really lousy, but at some point you’ll also be able to recognize that you have great strength because you can withstand this storm.
So when you’re facing an overwhelming struggle, take the hand of someone you love and trust. Allow them to guide you for a little while through the storm and to be strong for you when you most need it. It’s ok to let down your guard and to take rest in the comfort of that other person. This is the time to slow down and breathe. Know that with each breath, whatever it is you’re going through is moving past. Taking a breath will calm you, even for just a moment. Slow your racing thoughts and the thinking that traps you in a negative place. Distract yourself. Remind yourself that there’s a lot of life going on around you: people living their lives, kids going to school, dogs enjoying a good walk, art being created and work being done.

When you come out of the other side of this darkness, you’re going to find that you’ve learned a few things. You’ve stayed true to yourself and held on to your core values. You’ve fought, you’ve felt a lot of pain along the way, but you’ve made it. You’re stronger than you thought you were. You’ve probably shaken off some people you thought were friends and added some good people who stood by your side. Your faith, your passions, your vision of your world may be altered and life may never be the same, but for the lucky ones: in its place may be something even better or at the very least you may now have a better understanding.

So give yourself a lot of downtime – as much as you need. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and eating well. Spend time with loved ones, whether you feel like it or not. Get outside and breathe fresh air.  When you’re ready, find new meaningful ways to spend your time. Surround yourself with positive people. Create art and follow your passions.  You are a gift to the world and to the people that love you.

Friday, January 3, 2014

in this year to come...

I hope that in this year to come, you make mistakes.
Because if you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.
You’re doing things you’ve never done before, and more importantly,
you’re Doing Something.
~Neil Gaiman