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Anything but Bitter, In the Bitter Cold

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Anything but Bitter, In the Bitter Cold

I’ve noticed a bit of a change in North Dakota the past couple days.

We are through the holidays and on to the new year. We have taken the time to celebrate and rejoice. We took down our holiday decorations and braced ourselves for bone chilling cold of deep winter.

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We watched the temperatures drop. Not just to 0 or even -11. But to -27.

When the wind blew it felt like -55 in our backyard.

Yes, that is cold. Bitter cold. But are North Dakotan’s bitter? Not at all. If anything, I get a sense of optimism as I connect with people.

They know there is peace and they know there is hope. I am beginning to think this has something to do about how we manage to survive such harsh winters.

It gets cold. We wear layers. We invest in good socks.

We find ways to enjoy the winter. We bird watch. We ice fish. We take photographs. Ready to fish

We build our networks. We strengthen our relationships. We spend time with the ones we love.chilly kisses

We find excuses to stay inside. We find good reasons to turn on the oven.

We cook. We create. We read. We plan.

I am really beginning to enjoy the peaceful renewal winter brings.

We embrace it because we know it won’t last forever.

We let ourselves soften.

We look to our dreams.

We appreciate the moments we have.

We look toward the light of warmer days.

One day, spring will bloom again. We will plant the garden again. And it will grow.

 

Recovering a Sense of Faith

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Last year, I began reading “The Artist’s Way.” A friend recommended it to me. She thought I might appreciate some of the exercises and inspiration as I tried to love being and artist (again.) And I did!

Artist-Way

Julia Cameron soon made it into my blog posts. I wrote about my experiences.

Recovering a Sense of:

Safety 

Identity

Power

Integrity

Abundance

Compassion

Connection and Strength

Self Protection

And then, I got stumped. “Recovering a Sense of Faith.”

I read the chapter. It made no sense. Faith is a sticky subject for me.

I reread it a month later. I was simply confused.

Then reread it again six weeks later. I couldn’t quite get what relationships and boundaries have to do with faith.

Then again two months later. I let it go.

In time, I began to work on my own underlying issues. I worked on boundaries and barriers. I explored trusting my own judgment. I began valuing my own time. My priorities became important. I began valuing myself.

I began to see myself as a part of something bigger. For so long, I felt more like apart from something bigger. I began thinking about the economics of the living. Not how to make a living (although I admit, I think about that too). But truly, how to live our lives in a way in which we are living.

For so long, I felt like I was bogged down. Carrying too much. As my dad would sometimes say, “It’s like you’re trying to carry 10 gallons of crap in a five gallon bucket.” My vision of myself carrying TWO five gallon buckets overflowing with crap came through in brilliant Technicolor.

Clearly, I could not go on like this forever. Even as I tried to reconsider my relationship with work, the image of myself still held true. No wonder I couldn’t quiet get the idea of a sense of faith.

I couldn’t let go. This is one of our greatest challenges in life. After all, we are infinite beings living in a finite world. Our spirit craves infinite communications of love, acceptance, joy, and peace. Yet we hold on to so many finite things. Why can we not learn from the trees that let go of their leaves each autumn?IMG_0337

As we go into winter, are there things that simply won’t serve our well-being anymore? Do we really want to share our sacred space with things that no longer serve us? Would it be better to let the material objects move to another space where they can either be appreciated or perhaps break down into the earth again?

Letting go of my first pair of hikers was a difficult challenge. But after 11 years of holding on, it was time.

Letting go of my first pair of hikers was a difficult challenge. But after 11 years of holding on, it was time.

As a family, we had gotten used to being overwhelmed. We struggled to make room for laughter, learning, creativity, communication, joy, peace, and tolerance. And then we starting letting go of things we held on to. Like my first pair of hikers I purchased in 2002. Like the broken toys and unnecessary papers. We examined relationships that were no longer working for us and began to set boundaries. We understood and accepted our short comings, and let our sweet energetic puppy go to another home on a farm, where she can run and play to her hearts desire. We let go of the images that we have to be overly busy to be okay. We continue to open ourselves to ideas and clarify our priorities in life.

We created space for more infinite qualities to fill our home. The universe responded to this space in our lives and offered us a gift. A piano!  A free piano!

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We easily found the physical space for it in our home. And the infinite qualities that emerge from exploring the world of music of the family cannot compare. In the first days, I settled in to teach myself a special song.

This song, my dad used to sing along with my boys’ musical toys. He’d prepare his silly voice and sing, “Tell me won’t you please. Why the leaves, have furry leaves.”

Knowing very little about music, I simply thought he was making up words to be odd and funny. When my siblings and I were faced with the unexpected task of selecting music at his funeral, all I could think was how important it would be to have the “Furry Leaves” song. I knew it was a classical composition, but had very little way to communicate what this song would be. Luckily, a friend who was helping us with cleaning and planning knew a little about music. I sheepishly tried to hum the tune.

“Oh, that’s Furry Leaves.” She said.

I looked at her. Certainly Dad hadn’t sung the Furry Leaves song to her. She wrote it down for me and I laughed. It was Beethoven’s Fur Elise. My dad had probably made up those words when he was a child learning to play the piano.

So on Sunday night, I got to work. And I learned to play the first little bit of Fur Elise. Just enough to sing the words.  I now feel as though I have both received and given a gift of infinite proportion.

And I may finally have an understanding of Julia Cameron’s final chapter.

A Good Day

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A Good Day

Today is a good day

I’ll only do what I can

Today is a good day

Despite the messes and frustration

Today is a good day

Even with pain and tears

Today is a good day

It is what it is

Today is a good day

Other things will wait

Today is a good day

I am pretty sure

Today is a good day

With patience and grace

Today will be a good day

 

Steps toward a well designed life

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Steps toward a well designed life

 

I sometimes have to remind myself of the steps I have made to re-design my life.

They haven’t been easy.

First Steps

But they’ve been huge steps in reclaiming joy and peace in my life.

Me and my boys with our new baby ducklings.

Me and my boys with our new baby ducklings.

No more 60 hour work weeks.

Rarely 40 hour work weeks anymore.

Through contracts, projects, and writing I make enough to allow me to keep on building my business and paying my bills.

But more, I have enough time to make room for living.

To make time for life.

Time to enjoy my children.

Time to grow a garden.

Time to sell jams, jellies, and sunflowers at the local farmers market.

Time to listen to the world.

Time to hear myself.

It is worth every penny, every hour that I get to call my own.

It is worth living my life.

And I am grateful. reflection