All lovely images via links.
Color has my attention again. It has to do with how one color plays off of another. It's in the solids...simple shapes...vintage. Nothing looks too precious. It's casual...not taking oneself too seriously. It's for the wearer...like medicine for the soul.
All lovely images via links.
Pay more attention to every moment, however mundane.
Find novelty not by doing radically different things
but by plunging more deeply
into the life you already have.
Experience life with twice the usual intensity,
and 'your experience of life
would be twice as full as it currently is'.
~Oliver Burkeman / 'Shinzen Young'
When I start a new journal, I enjoy taking some time to review the past journal + to think through what I want to bring forward from it. The first few pages of each of my journals contain headings like ritual, zero-waste, home, clothing, food, movement + budget. I enjoy thinking through these topics and migrating lists + intentions onto new pages.
A journal usually lasts a full year for me, but this past year I filled three journals. Those front pages did not make it into every journal. To be honest, these values + systems have felt a bit overwhelming this year. My life shifted a bit + new ways of living were required.
I finally decided to write those pages onto cards that I can move from journal to journal easily. The food card received some revisions + now lives with the reusable bags in my car so I can reference it at the grocery store. I can pull out the clothing card, when the weather is about to change + I need to decide what I need/want moving forward. I can reference our budget goals easily, when I need a jolt of reality or when big decisions need to be made.
Notecards seem like appropriate vessels for these systems. They provide only enough space for the basics. I like to keep my thoughts on these concepts uncluttered + manageable. These cards are simple + succinct reminders of my systems.
Many of us believe that meal planning + grocery list making are helpful parts of eating intentionally. We know that time spent in these endeavors pays off in reducing both our food waste + our grocery bills. Even so, many of us find ourselves at the grocery store unprepared at times. I've found myself in the unprepared category more + more lately, as my previous routine has been interrupted by a new schedule.
When a new challenge comes along, I look for ways to simplify. I've simplified my grocery list, by simplifying the way I think about meal planning. Variety was once high on my list of meal planning priorities, but lately I've let that go a bit. I'm focusing on bowl meals (vegetables + greens + grain + protein), because they are my favorite. A bowl meal could be a salad, soup, roasted vegetables, pasta (Julia's favorite), etc. A bowl meal could skew Japanese, Indian, Italian, Greek, Mexican (variety!), etc. And yet, the concept is simple.
On one side of a notecard, I've listed what we eat for each meal. We are happy to eat basically the same things every day for breakfast + lunch. Supper is a bowl meal. Now it is quite simple to turn the card over + make a basic list of items to stock (in-season fruits, vegetables, greens, grains, lemons, beans, etc.).
I can keep this list in my car (along with the grocery bags). The list is not specific, but it lists all the standard things (including items like soap + toilet paper) we need in order to function + make real meals at home. These two lists fit onto one notecard which makes the whole system feel quite simple + manageable.
I imagine a lot of people shop like this...with the list in their heads. I'm not sure if it is the stress that I will forget something, a chatty companion, my poor memory or a very limited budget that has preventing me from shopping purely by memory. All I can say is that this list is a shift for me...and I think it's working...for now. :)
Sometimes I feel like these actions are so simple that they're not worth mentioning. It almost sounds like I'm twisting regular moments into climate action. I have to remind myself that that was actually part of the thought behind sharing these actions. Highlighting that many of these things are things we are already doing reminds us that climate action can be simple + become automatic.
Recognizing that we already do many things that can be considered climate action reminds us that we can make a difference. We are not powerless. This can motivate us to take a further step...to do something that might be a little bit out of our comfort zone...something that we might not (yet) do automatically.
It's positive to recognize how simple climate action can be and also to gain motivation toward further climate action. With subtle shifts we can make many of these actions automatic choices.
So many choices that qualify as beneficial for our planet have so many other benefits too! Often they are healthier for our bodies, save us money, stretch our creativity +/or move us toward collaboration + community. I love noticing all the benefits!
Ritual was our focus in January. "Ritual" might be a softer word than "habit" + adds a dimension of intention too. This month, rituals as simple as homecoming hugs came into focus as treasured moments of turning + connection.
"The turning" has been a particular spot of enlightenment this month. It started as a name for a moment we take each morning to turn our minds away from all that distracts + toward our intention. I can get so wound up in what I need to do, what others think, how they misunderstood me, etc., etc. Soon my mind has led me so far off track from where I want to be + how I want to think. I need to interrupt it all + change directions.
Some call it meditation. We're calling it "the turning". We sit comfortably, set a timer, close our eyes + sit in silence. Recently, I have been focusing on the statement, "I am breaking old patterns + moving toward love." It's been a particularly beautiful + useful addition to our mornings.
I need some form of this turning multiple times throughout my day. I have a recurring alarm set on my phone reminding me to do it after work, as a transition to my after-work state of being as well. My partner carries an item in his pocket that he can grab hold of in order to redirect his mind as needed throughout his day. It's helpful to be doing this together + to be able to remind each other of how we want to be without fear of sounding preachy. We are at once each other's sounding board, teammate + cheer leader.
We are recognizing some of our other rituals as "turnings" as well these days. Our homecoming hugs (that we intentionally move our bodies + take the time to do) turn us away from our work days toward a time of reconnection. Our extended weekend hike or walk turns us away from so much that occupies our minds + toward nature + appreciating our home place. Drinking tea with nothing in front of us except each other turns us away from devices, news or entertainment + toward "we". Reading a book together turns us away from our individual pursuits + toward shared focus + growth.
The turning...a ritual that captures our attention + opens our hearts in the right direction.
Living in England, as Americans, we were constantly reminded of the different meanings that words could be assigned. "Chips" in the UK are "fries" in the USA. "Chips" in the USA are "crisps" in the UK. I may have thought that there was a finite collection of words that one could learn + move forward code switching between...but it became evident within a day or two that practically every sentence uttered between us needed some sort of clarification. This constant attention to language was and continues to be thought provoking.
The other day, I was (again) considering contentment after noticing, with some annoyance, my inability to keep hold of it. I began to turn the idea of "good"-ness over + over in my mind.
In the UK, commenting that a dessert is "nice" is heartfelt praise. At first threw me off, because in the USA, "nice" is a pretty neutral adjective in the same context. It may even be used to add an element of sarcasm to the comment. I like the British usage far more, and wonder if it might offer us a little insight into our lack of contentment, especially as Americans.
In the USA, we often use words like "nice", "good", "fine" and "okay" as pretty neutral words. As Americans, we strive for so much better than the baseline...better than neutral. We strive for "spectacular", "exciting", "wondrous", "awesome", "amazing", "incredible". While all of that is great sometimes, it sets us up for discontent + dissatisfaction.
It's easy to recognize goodness when we don't have it. When we are sick + can't breathe through our noses, we know the goodness of being able to breathe unobstructed. But even as our noses clear, we are already forgetting to see the goodness in that feeling.
But what if we could truly perceive the goodness of "good"...the okay-ness of ok...the niceness of "nice"...the fineness of "fine"? What if we could wake up to the goodness of having clothing that keeps us comfortable in the elements...the niceness of a warm cup of coffee or tea...the okay-ness of having enough to eat...the goodness of legs that carry us...the fineness of running water...the okay-ness of a roof over our heads...the goodness of the ability to read...
"Good" is so good!
A few days before the end of 2021, we decided to commit to Adrienne's 30 day yoga challenge. It wasn't absolutely clear when we would fit this practice into our schedules, but it felt important to make the commitment to move + stretch with intention.
Like many challenges, the first week went great. Each evening after dinner, the three of us got on our mats + moved along with Adrienne (what a kind teacher). She often prompts us to acknowledge that we've already done the most difficult thing before we've even begun...we've shown up.
As the second week set in, so did the obstacles...an injury, a visit we didn't want to pass up, and overly stuffed stomachs derailed our plans. And here is where a little more kindness comes in. Instead of deciding that we'd failed in our commitment, we decided that the commitment was 30 days of yoga...not necessarily 30 consecutive days of yoga.
I truly believe that this is a better commitment. In our case, it is more realistic...and it just might result in a longer term practice. Some commitments require brutal, unwavering dedication. Sometimes we benefit from a little gentleness. I think we can tell the difference.
Definitions are a vital starting point for imagination.
What we cannot imagine cannot come into being.
The beginning of a new year...a blank slate...an empty page...a time as good as any to reimagine our lives...set intention...and design a pathway forward.
Some questions I find useful:
It makes sense to me to approach this designing in the same way that I approach simplifying my home, wardrobe or calendar. Start with a clean sheet of paper + decide what belongs. The temptation is to look at each item we have + consider whether we want to let it go or not. If we look at each tchotchke, sweater + commitment this way, it is difficult to decide to let go. We may simply consider our attachment rather than its value to our lives. Many of the things we love, both physical + otherwise, can actually hinder our intentions rather than enhance them.
If we instead look at our space + decide how we need it to function (yes, beauty is a function too) + what items support these functions...then we can better understand how to move forward + to shop our own belongings. We can decide to place an extra object (or five) in place(s) of honor...but we may realize that we have many superfluous objects too.
When we design our lives around our highest values, we may find that some things we thought we couldn't give up just aren't serving what we value most. We might decide to say, "no thank you" to an offered promotion...decide to sit out a traditional vacation this year...or remove the pursuit of prestige from a hobby.
I want to intentionally prioritize what I want in my life (love + my primary relationships, for example). I don't want to just squeeze them in around the edges. We know that we cannot eat every good thing at one meal. We do not need to own every good thing. Likewise, I cannot do every good thing at once...and that is just fine. Creating some space around the things I value most allows me to treasure them appropriately. The same thing happens in my home, my wardrobe + my calendar.
Define values often...let the imagination soar...be ready to respond accordingly...live!
on a journey toward zero-waste, simplicity, + compassion :: daring to choose fair one choice at a time