Begin Again

You know how much I love lists. They help me stay organized. They help me feel productive. I love checking things off my list as much as I love making the list. Yah, they drive me crazy too and I can get a bit carried away with the planning. But, let’s not dwell on the negative. The New Year is upon us and this is the absolute BEST time for making lists!!!
These are the things on my TO DO List this week:

  1. Get outside: See the beauty, smell fresh air, listen to the birds, unless it is cold enough for your snot to freeze. Then and only then, stay indoors and watch the travel channel.
  2. Eat the best and most nourishing fresh foods I can afford. Eat less sugar and drink lots of water. My taste buds say, “thank YOU!”
  3. Write someone a letter about how awesome they are and why I thank my lucky stars that I know them.
  4. Feel the way I feel. Yes, I was crying at the cafe counter this morning. Yes, I was overcome with joy eating salmon for dinner. And oh, did I feel strong and defiant shoveling snow!
  5. Make some soup for friends and get them to come over to my house to eat the soup. What is your favorite soup recipe? I am into fish chowder but, up for suggestions.
  6. Write a poem. Read a poem. See a poem. Hear a poem. Poetry is observation. Poetry is paying attention. I notice. I see. I am aware.

Begin Again

I am

breathing

in

the sunshine.

Like a good friend

who sits very near,

to hold your hand,

The sun says,

“Ok, Let’s begin, again.”

Peace & Joy,

Lisa

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I Love You Charles Ingalls

My last couple of posts have been about Christmas and feeling freaked out over it all. And also about how I am coping with the freak out. I think of myself as a fairly calm person, mostly happy- I would go so far as to say upbeat. I know some of my close peeps are laughing right now. I consider myself upbeat, though I don’t pull the punches about what isn’t going so well for me. I tell it like it is. So, if I’m having a rough time, I don’t pretend otherwise, at least, not for long anyway. The conversation might go like this,

Friend: “Lisa, how are you?”

Me: “I’m fine.” Pause. “Well actually, I spent the afternoon on the couch soothing myself with Little House on the Prairie reruns and hot tea with commiseration from my dog. I’m having a rough day but, it is temporary.”

We might go on to talk about the stress and pressures we put on ourselves over the holidays. And we might talk about this being an emotionally loaded time of year for folks. It is no wonder with the decorating, gift buying, social engagements and FAMILY time that people feel a little overwrought, myself included. So, this time of year can make me feel nostalgic and a little sad. The year is coming to an end. The days are short and dark. The expectation and anticipation of the jolly, joyful season can often lead to disappointment. The ‘all the presents are open, now what’ feeling.  And then we will get to the so what’s new about that, part of the conversation. Tell me something I don’t already know.

Me: ” Yeah so, I put a lot of pressure on myself ( see Perfect Christmas post) and I feel more emotional. It’s what I do this time of year. What am I going to do about it?”

And here is where it shifts. Here is where the chat gets interesting.  The question is Do I allow myself to be swept away with What I Have Always Done or do I Try Something New? Let’s TRY SOMETHING NEW!

My SOMETHING NEW LIST:

  1. Nostalgic Cure for Sadness: Charles Ingalls.  I watched Little House on the Prairie for hours the other day. It was so comforting. I loved this show growing up. Pa (Charles Ingalls played by Michael Landon) was so handsome, loving and reasonable. The kids were good but, not too good. Yeah, things were hard but, they had each other. And a tin cup was a darn good present in the late 1800’s in Minnesota. Charles Ingalls will put some perspective on things and he can FIX anything.
  2. The Gift:  We spend a lot of time thinking about others in this giving season. And that is awesome! I love hunting around for something to give that will bring joy to another. Just remember to Be good to yourself, too. Give yourself some extra time if you can. Take a walk or a nap. I have signed up for a Yogra Nidra class at my local studio. All of my joking about yoga and napping– turns out, to be true. How perfect for me? And a relaxing, rejuvenating way to begin a new year.
  3. Feelings: Think about how you want to feel and then do things that make this happen for you. Um, this has been HUGE for me. It sounds simple. It takes some digging and a bit of work to be clear but, organizing your time around how you want to feel will make a massive difference. Trust me on this. Massive. I’m going for Joy-Creative-Affluence-Love-Energized! Check out this link for more on feeling your way through the new year!!
  4. Say No: I thought I needed to say Yes more. But, really I think I need to say No. Saying No to projects that don’t fulfill me. Saying No to anything that feels like a grind. Saying No unless I can fully commit and feel good doing it. It feels so positive to say No!! Try it. You won’t be sorry.
  5. This ones for you. Add something to TRY SOMETHING NEW LIST. I know you have some good ones!

Peace & Joy ~Lisa

The Gift Decider

I have been thinking a lot about giving. Also, a lot about want and need. These thoughts have come from the season, from conversations, from struggles and arguments and from inspiring, hard-working agents of change and good. You will remember last week I talked mostly of the pressure to have a Perfect Christmas. And while this is always there, nagging me, with questions and doubts: Have I decorated enough? Should I make 12 dozen cookies? Will there be enough presents? Did I buy too many presents? Does it smell like CHRISTMAS in this house?? I  work to steer my thoughts toward giving, and giving in ways that won’t add to the over-consumption rampant in our culture. How can I give in a way that feels right?

I am enjoying putting my mind to creative ways to give this year. How can I be of service to folks in need? How can I help a friend out? What are some ways to give without increasing the burden of more possessions onto the receiver of the gift? Here is my gift to you, Dear Reader. It is my wish that this will help you in your shopping, ease your burden and allow you to truly enjoy the season- stress free. I give you the gift decider:

giftdeciderThere you go. Your choices are: buy yourself something, get them something they NEED or Do Some Good. I love the Heifer Project. There you can help end hunger in developing nations by buying a goat or a flock of chickens. The livestock creates a source of income for the recipient, giving families the means to support themselves and break the poverty cycle. When you make a donation, you pick the level of support and you get a greeting card for the family member or friend under whose name you made the contribution. They don’t have a fruitcake to smile about and you can do some real good.  Another way to do a lot of good with your holiday money is to support the Nyaka School. The Utopia Foundation is matching contributions (by 50%) to the Nyaka Aids Orphans Project. Jackson Kaguri travels back to his village in Uganda to assist a generation of children orphaned by the aids epidemic. It is his mission that each of these children have a safe home with food, water and access to education. A donation of $250 supports a child for a year a whole year: food, housing, medical care, uniform and schooling! Instead of ‘thanks for the socks’, your family can be involved in an amazing program to love and educate children in Nyaka, Uganda.

Happy shopping!

Perfect Christmas

I can feel the momentum of the season building and the temptation to give in to old habits pulling at me. I find myself wandering around shops looking for the illusive gift that will be so perfect it will bring peace and joy to all, or at least temporary amusement or a smile and ‘just what I needed’ comment. Anything but, the dreaded, ‘Oh that’s nice,’ with the shifty where do I look eyes.  And my desire for chocolates in all combinations of red and green is going through the roof as I feel the pressure of the Holiday. The house has to look like it popped out of Martha Stewart’s magazine. The lights have to go up. Hang the wreath. God, it’s too big for the door. We need a new door. And then there is the food. I want to eat and drink everything. Why does eggnog taste so good? And I love all of this stuff. I love the over-the-top decorating. I love the presents wrapped with coordinating but, not matching ribbons and gift tags. It all goes together, but isn’t the same, looks effortless but, you know it took all fucking day to make those origami snowflakes. It makes me happy to see all of the pretty things that come out this time of year. But, the effort it takes to achieve at the level I have in my mind makes the process, at some point, become un-fun, un-joyful. I don’t have a staff of creatives to hang the roping with perfect swags. I lose the plot somewhere in wishing for perfection.

I felt it today, perusing the aisle after aisle of decorations saying to my husband- the most tolerant man on the planet,

“I need miniature, snow-covered, fake Christmas trees to make the mantle look nice,”  while gesturing with my hands the varying sizes, and snowiness of these trees. And he said,

“Oh really, You need these? Need them??”  I felt snapped out of a stupor by his question. Oh, yeah, I don’t need them. I need fresh air. I need nutritious food and clean water, a roof over my head and time with my friends and family. I need time to reflect and to feel grateful. Everything else is a want. And at that moment I didn’t want what I wanted anymore. I wanted to make do with what I already had to decorate the mantel. And to decorate as long as I can hum carols in a non-sarcastic way, while doing it. I wanted to remember that this time of year is about reflection, about family and about giving without attachment to outcome. I appreciated the reminder and intend to keep the thought of want vs need in my mind as I go through this season of giving. I think it will help me to feel lighter and more joyous to remember my needs are taken care of and while I want a Pinterest inspired holiday experience for us all, it is nothing to get worked up about, except for finding those trees. I really must find those trees.