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YEE HAW– heels over head into the new year AND a day of reckoning

January 28, 2011

howdy.  may i just admit that i am quite smitten by our new pony boy?  i absolutely love the little fella.  it’s been a lot of years since we had a horse, and this one was meant to bring that horselessness to an end.  he is a joy.  do not be misled into thinking that he embodies perfect behavior or completely effortless handling, as that would not be true.  he can be quite the little stinker at times, which (unfortunately?) makes him well-qualified for membership in this family.  yup, fits right in.   the wonderful thing is that he is FILLED with joie de vivre and prefers nothing more than being ridden and/or turned out with his new best-bud, fiddler.  what a hoot to watch those two, upon being set free,  gallop madly halfway across the pen and then both drop to the ground for a good, long, self-indulgent roll!  we’re loving the fact that he is social with both humans and beasts.  but we’re still going to work on picking up those back feet on the first try and learning how to walk past loose hay without dislocating your handler’s arms, sunny.  got that?

just down the lane is a little filly who could easily be sunny’s twin.  the two of them are quite something together.  on this particular evening we were walking sunny to cool him down after a ride, and the filly went nuts following along the fence bucking, kicking, snorting and sending up clumps of mud as she galloped the fence line.

so 2011 is off to a fine start.  my word of the year is “open”, as in both being open to new ideas, experiences, viewpoints, and perspectives as well as opening myself up to others and withholding less.  the beautiful thing about a word of the year as opposed to new year’s resolutions is that i inevitably let myself down when i fail to keep a resolution according to my standards (usually by about, oh, january 2), whereas with a single word to guide me it’s easy to keep on track by periodically asking myself how my actions align with that vision.  it works.  it is not, however, foolproof.  which brings me to my day of reckoning.

i work halftime.  i owe this privilege to my dear husband, b., who supports me in this opportunity.  i well remember from my many years of full-time work how cherished free time was, and how i envied those who had more of it than i did.  in my mind other people used that free time very well, accomplished incredible things, and existed in a way more relaxed and refreshed state than i.  so yesterday, at noon on wednesday  as i was leaving school for the week, i passed a fellow teacher in the hall who stopped and smiled at me and asked me genuinely, expectantly, what i was planning to do with my free days.  her eyes were wide with anticipation.  as i opened my mouth to speak i had a moment of reckoning.  i owed her a decent response.  it’s a small price to pay for the freedom I have.  and yet i stammered.  because even though i have taken christine kane’s uplevel your life program, even though i am well aware of self-defeating habits and time wasters, even though i am at liberty to make my own choices and have the resources to do so, i have been guilty of laziness and failure to set intent.  and i know better.

so this morning, after waking at a decent hour (and getting started on those exercises right away), i sat down at the table with a segmented orange fanned out on a blue and white china plate and the best cup of French press coffee that i think i’ve ever made, and i had a little meeting with myself.  and i set my intent for the next few days.  and i constructed the response that i wish i had given katie yesterday.  katie, this is for you.

more than anything else, i try to love my life aesthetically.  i try never to lose sight of how beautiful life is and never to take it for granted.  to this end i employ photography, writing, and any other means available to capture moments that could so easily go unnoticed.  like the flaming sunrises and sunsets that we are blessed with almost daily along the front range:

i try to notice the details, the contrasts, the juxtapositions of opposites by remaining aware, especially when those opposites can be noticed outside one’s own window on the very same day:  (yes, these were really taken on the same day)

i take art classes.  currently that includes a number of online photography classes with lk ludwig,  an online class with misty mawn called stretching within that has me drawing, painting, collaging, and simply playing again, and classes with local ceramic artist katy diver making garden totems like this newest one:

i spend time outdoors daily appreciating the splendor of nature and being inspired constantly by the intricacy of what surrounds us.  whether that is fox tracks in the snow across a frozen pond,  gazing through the dark silhouettes of branches against the vivid blue sky, finding air bubbles trapped in the ice along the gutter where i walk, or noticing my horse’s ears flick back and forth as he attends to what’s around him and listens to me talk to him when we ride the trails, i work to retain a childlike sense of wonder about this world.

i make books.  some of them are made by hand, and some of them I publish online.  my goal is to leave a legacy for those who follow that will someday inform them about who this ancestor was and what her life was like.

I bake.  i’m not the cook in this household, per se, but generally speaking i am the baker.  whether that’s sourdough loaves, dinner rolls, fruit pies and crumbles, or batches of tasty homemade granola, i love to spend time in the kitchen creating wholesome foods that will fuel the two of us for the coming week.

i follow bloggers who generously share their worlds and their ideas with me.  i am enormously curious about the lifestyles, fashions, and designs of people who make very conscious choices about what they let into their lives.  i learn from them.  i admire them.

and yes, i do laundry, scrub floors, clean cat boxes and a million other chores that make this household run.  but i do not want these to define me.  i want to live a life governed by the intention to live each moment fully.

that, katie,  is how i spend my days.  thank you for asking, and for allowing me the opportunity to be accountable to myself.

happy new year to all of you.  this year is going to sparkle.  giddy-up, sunny!

p.s.  um, katie?  please ask me again next wednesday, so i do not forget…

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Katie permalink
    January 29, 2011 6:59 pm

    Dear Janet,

    What a lovely surprise it was when I opened your blog and began to read this morning. What a personal moment of “reckoning” for me, as well, when I read on to see that my inquiry into your daily doings caused you your own moment of reckoning! I smiled to myself when I thought back to our brief conversation in the hallway. What you don’t realize is just how much intent is behind your speech each and every time you share words with others. I walked away that day thinking of climbing into a saddle, slipping leather reins between fingers, and bumping along with a friend beneath you. You told me you would ride your horse. I continued to walk and I pondered what the inside of your home looked like, because you told me you had a couple art projects in progress. My curiosity was peaked as I wondered … could I paint some day? So, Janet, thank you for the thoughts and thank you for the questions. You gave me quite a gift and you didn’t know it. You live how I’d like to live, in a reflective and appreciative state of all that is aesthetic and all that is calling out to be learned. Sadly for me, I live these moments more in isolation than I do in constancy. So here’s my attempt at slowing down and appreciating all that I see from my simple kitchen table …
    I attempt to awaken my senses first and smile to myself as I hear the deep and rhythmic breathing of my six year old beagle. I watch as the sun from the small window above the sink dances on the graying fur beneath her snout. Dogs exude a simple gratitude for life, a comfortable rug, a pat on the head, and an occasional rambunctious howl at a squirrel hopping the fence. The sun alerts me to the light in the room, and I look to the willowy plant that my husband keeps healthy with TLC (a green thumb I am not). I cannot see the pot from which it thrives, but I do see four branches extending themselves to the light. The top leaf is bathing in sunny glory; I think the others are jealous as they droop a bit lower. I look out onto the backyard to see a stubborn patch of snow hiding in the shadows of the deck overhang. The thermometer reads 51 degrees and the date is January 29. I think to myself, what would I do with strength like that? I think this snowy patch is hanging on until the soil beneath it is ready to drink it. For now, it waits. Finally, I look at the nail of my middle right finger. The finger that I curl beneath itself when I write in front of people because it is dented and cracked and has never recovered. On this morning, I’ve decided to look at it differently. I’ve decided that this, too, is an aesthetic part of my life because of what it says: that I work hard and I use my hands to do so. Thanks, Janet. And I will ask next Wednesday.

  2. wingedpaths permalink
    April 21, 2011 1:03 am

    I recognize some of these things as how I spend my own free time, and others that I would like to do. None of them, however, are things that I do on a daily basis and I am often guilty of laziness myself. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

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