Saturday, December 29, 2012

reflections and intentions:: 29 december

Captivating light, NYC
I look forward to this post each year, because it feels like a "clean slate" time to me.

Over the past, oh, six years or so, I've been on a quest that, at its core, has always been two messages:: simplify. (and, i think, causing and/or resulting from that:: balance).

I'm not going to frilly this post up. It doesn't feel right. What feels right, this my first night home after nine days of traveling, is to just dump my brain here, like I did for my grocery list, my "projects" list, and the list of places I'd like to go this year (which I may share with you later).

I would like to spend much less time online on a daily basis. In 2012, I really started this ball rolling by reducing my facebook "friends" from 600 or so to closer to 100. It's still too many, eventually I'd like to have less than 50 I've always said that was my goal. Less friends, much less Facebook feed to scroll through mindlessly. I do like some inspiring things on there, like purposefairy and the knitting pages and the Rumi Quotes. But overall, instead of the computer being part of my essential nightly routine, I'd like to engage with reading novels and knitting much more, and, more marginally, sewing, playing the banjo (these last two I did nothing with in 2012, really the time just hasn't been right). Engaging with life. Yes, that sounds so right!

I used to fall asleep reading by candlelight at least once a week. I baked my own bread. I unplugged on Sundays and went for daylong hikes with an amazing packed lunch. Or I stayed home, got all the affairs of laundry and cooking for the week in order, then around 6 pm or so I uncorked a bottle of red and just sat. and drank. and got lost in my thoughts or just the pleasant reverie of total calm. I want to pick those things up again. They feel right.

I'm essentially a slower-paced person who does not feel the pressure (or, let's say, does not succumb) to constantly have my face in a nook-kindle-tablet-smartphone-what have you. I want to accept this and love this about myself and stop comparing myself to "most people." I have decided to make my cell phone a personal line only, and to give parents at my school the option to contact me through the school office line or e-mail. Teachers often do not draw a dark enough line between their personal and professional lives, but I think doing so is absolutely essential to performing your job at your very best and not growing bitter towards it.

To this end, I also intend to continue experimenting with how to fit in all those essential non-school-hours hours of work -- rotating materials, updating lesson plans, keeping up with classroom supplies, reviewing lessons to give, refreshing the book corner, making materials, etc .... without compromising a very necessary private intimate (with John) and inner (alone) life. With having to get up early in the morning and having a half hour commute, I need to keep tweaking until I find a system that allows me the most balance. I'm confident I will come close this year, and perhaps come close to perfecting it next. I don't know. We'll see. This one is a constant work-in-progress ....

I'd also like to start a simple Montessori blog documenting what's going on in my classroom. I think this would be a nice way to keep a record of the art and practical life materials that come and go, and the children's interest in them (or lack thereof, which happens too!).
homemade peanut blossoms. a family favorite
Definitely I want to eat healthier and work out more. I want to look and feel my absolute best, and hopefully be ready to produce a baby sometime in the semi-near future :-) To this end, I'm going vegan for two months starting Jan. 1 and seeing what happens come March. But regardless, I'd like to re-commit fully to healthful vegetarianism (no meat or fish, and very limited dairy) after my seven-month hiatus (during which I still went weeks at a time without eating meat or fish). It's just what feels best to me, for a number of reasons. I want to do more yoga and pilates, and focus on both cardio and weightlifting at the gym.

I want to be a better listener (I tend to talk too much when I have Things To Say), and be more open to simply accepting the things in my life partner that make him feel, well, essentially him (and that usually have nothing to do with me, and why should they?). Even if I don't like or understand certain things. I find that like the work stuff, this, too, is in constant evolution. Doesn't that make for happy marriages though? Never being complacent, and trying to remain open to growth. I'm not perfect, he's not perfect, but right now I feel like we're in a really good place. We certainly love each other more deeply than we did just over a year ago.

I would like to cultivate more quiet in all areas my life. That feels as natural as breathing. I want to be slower, talk less (but not think or do less, let's be quite clear!). Notice more beauty and see things that I fear from a more realistic perspective. Not sweat the small stuff, just flow with what is and what is going to be regardless of my efforts to control it. To not initiate needless conflicts, or escalate what does not need to be tampered with. I know these sound nebulous, but the principles apply right now to different aspects of my life at present. I hope you can understand.

Oh, and I certainly would love to subscribe to Taproot Magazine .... and um ... save more money. That about rounds me out for now, I guess.

I hope you have a blessed New Year. I am getting us some yummy appetizer treats and cheap champagne and we'll just be at home with each other for one more delicious holiday day.

Love and light from we to you.


Friday, December 14, 2012

angels:: 14 december

Just a quick post to let you know about a yarn shop in Tennessee working on sending a huge batch of easy-to-knit prayer shawls to those affected in Connecticut today.

I grew up in Connecticut, and I am a teacher of young ones. I want to help. Will you please pass the word on all your blogs? Can someone definitely pass this on to Soulemama to help? I don't know her personally but I do read her blog every day. I know she's a fabulous knitter.

I can't wait to hug my children close on Monday morning.

Anyway, here is the link:: ... Just check out their posts for the info. Here is the link to prayer shawls. Interestingly enough, I think the creator of this pattern was interviewed by young journalist me some years ago. And she's in CT. I'll try to find this online ....
anyway, here:

Here are the articles I wrote!!

If you are not a knitter and know someone who is, just pass on the word.

Thanks ....

love and blessings and safety to you.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

reflections:: 9 november

mulling spices, Thanksgiving 2012

While I struggle with my time here in super-rural Virginia (mainly a lack of cohesive town structure, small-town gossip and politics, free community events, and places that have importance and meaning to us), I am also grateful for so many things it's bringing myself, and John. Time for me to gain a nice solid chunk of experience in a Montessori classroom, time for us to get used to living together without noise and distractions, time to enjoy wildlife (I've seen FOUR bald eagles in flight this week!) and the sereneness of the bay. And really, to save a little chunk of money for the future.

This is the first time in a long time where I've felt able to settle in and really take good care of myself from within. We are both blessed to have our own spaces in this house that we can really make our own. They're not perfect, but they're ours and I've set mine up just how it works for me. I do believe that when it's time for us to leave here, it will be the right time -- newly married and ready to move into our future, whatever and wherever that will be. It's funny -- my whole life, I've always thought I'd grow up and settle back into New England. But the more years which pass and I am living in a milder clime, the more I think I could get used to spring-like days in December. I am trying to remain open and accepting that there are two people making the decisions now. I am glad that I have some awesome summer trips to plan. I am hoping to visit friends in Vermont, as well as make a combined trip to Louisville and Asheville, NC (we're considering it as our semi-permanent home base), and a week renting a house in cute little Chincoteague Island just up the road from us an hour or so.

We have not gotten deep into wedding details yet, but we know the basics, the big stuff, we are just going to spend January finalizing it before going more nitty-gritty. But really, at this point I'm not feeling stressed. I want it to be fun and if it's not fun, I just want to let it go. Because weddings are supposed to be joyous and fun.

Would you mind if I post here some new year's intentions I am working up in my head? I know it's early, but I seem to be so contemplative this year and I'm happy to write about it just when it comes. Life is just better that way, I think. Flow with the energy as it happens. So .... here is what I'm thinking right now::

Start a Montessori blog to chart progress in the classroom and keep track of art projects, etc. in a visual way.

Write more often to close friends.

Become a more frequent and more accomplished knitter, stretching myself to learn new things.

busy, happy spaces ....

all the lights we can afford so far this year. It's still a happy tree.

makeshift shelf with an unexpected windfall of yarn

just doing this as I feel like it. 

Practice the banjo.

Be more kind and gentle with John. Less rough around the edges. More accepting of things, and more letting go of fear. I want our friendship to grow as well as our love. It's so easy to be egocentric. I don't want to be easy on myself (though I don't want to be too hard on myself, either!)

Re-commit to vegetarianism (unless I want to continue after my two months of vegan!). It's a diet that has served me very, very well for the last 6 years (with one 6 month hiatus of trying grass-fed and pastured meat). Animal cruelty has trumped even health as my number one reason. I just cannot stomach  it (literally).

"sides"giving at a friend's, it was all gluten free! This isn't even half of what ended up being put on the table!!
Much less screen time. This is an ongoing issue for me. Luckily, in my case, it's just time spent on the laptop. I've never, ever gotten into "smart" (ugh) phones or kindles, nooks, tablets, televisions, etc. It overwhelms me. So yeah, less dreaming over others' blogs and more doing the things I want to do.

Save a lot more money. I'm proud of where I stand on this (despite being behind on my graduate students loans currently) at the moment, I just want to spend the next year and a half really kicking it into high gear. Obviously, things are going to get in the way (I have a $600 car repair staring me in the face next month) sometimes, but all the same I want to set aside as much as I can each month. I don't even know what it's for, just that I have a strong desire not to spend it. I want a nest egg, and I want it to grow! Being nervous all the time about money just isn't fun, especially when kids are looming on the horizon.

bedroom, finally got more "sprinkle" paint to eliminate those stressful pink walls forever! You can see this color next to the black edge of the mirror. 

I'm sure a few more things will come up as the season progresses. Lately, I've been doing little bits of housework daily to keep a peaceful, clean, calm environment at home, cooking and baking a fair bit (I'v started on the Christmas cookies!), working on my recipe binder, knitting, taking walks to appreciate the Christmas lights on homes, listening to Christmas music, wrapping gifts and filling out cards at my leisure, shopping for a child in need, flying through one novel after another (currently reading The Last Song of Dusk, which is really entrancing and rich), practicing yoga at least once a week, going to the gym nearly every day, getting lots of sleep most days, trying not to stay after school more than twice a week.
butter balls, family recipe

any excuse to use enamelware is a good one!

Here are some "lately" pictures from around here. Enjoy, and blessings and light for your new week ahead. It's our last full week of school before break, culminated by a luncheon with staff, students, and parents next Tuesday. Then, we'll hit the road for 10 days or so (including one in NYC!) to see family. Then home for a quiet New Year's.

veggie burgers from scratch

fried in coconut oil

rosemary braided bread

the best soup in the entire world, full of cumin and turmeric. vegan (except for the parm sprinkled in at the end)

i've made a couple of pies

ready for roasting

amazing vegan spicy butternut squash soup (gluten free too!)

stove-popped organic corn


breakfast, locally-made cinnamon rolls, and a bowl of almond milk yogurt, fresh frozen mixed berries, homemade granola, flax seeds, pecans, maple syrup, and locally-roasted coffee with almond milk. We love almond milk in this house. 

John told me he loves "our little life." I agree. I said, "it's simple and joyful."

Good things to remember this Christmas season.

our new (and first!) Christmas tree skirt, from Etsy.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

new year's intentions review:: 4 December

I'm wanting to get things done a bit early this year, so I'm reviewing these now. I do not want our 9-10 days traveling to feel stressful, either during or at either end. In fact, for the first time ever, my Christmas shopping is DONE! I did it in one day last weekend (one LONG, 12-hour day...). I kept it simple. Tomorrow I took a personal day to get a lot of odds and ends that have been hanging out from my life too long accomplished. My plans include figuring out how to spend the time in terms of relaxing and baking. Maybe I'll write a few postcards, figure out a charity to donate to, and start wrapping presents. 

Oh yes, our tree is also up but it's only halfway decorated. Aren't first trees always like that? It sure is pretty though. I'd have a picture for you but I still don't have my camera back yet! It makes the house so cozy. I just love the look and smell of a real Christmas tree! 

And let's review those intentions::

write a letter or send a package once a month (i didn't do this last year and REALLY want to try this).

sadly -- this did NOT happen this year. 

join the postcard project (google it ... very cool idea!).


go back to portland to visit my best friend

no. way too expensive, unfortunately. 

cook a recipe at least once a week (i had added that later)

I actually do feel that I accomplished this, thanks in part to starting a permanent recipe binder and participating in a friend's online whole foods worshop, which was both inspiring and transformative (thanks Heather B!). 

learn to sew (grr this one keeps getting carried over year to year!!)

no, but I have recently made a commitment to better my knitting. baby steps. 

faithfully save 10 percent of each paycheck

umm, no. no way. there is just so much that gets in the way every time I try to save (like expensive car repairs). but there are a couple hundred dollars in the bank that i have been trying really super duper hard to hang onto! the rural lifestyle does have its perks! 
do yoga regularly
with all the transitions i've been through, no. but i've recently started trying to go once a week. it's hard, because it's far away, but it's an important commitment to me to keep up with for my health! 

Stay tuned, a new list is coming soon ......