Saturday, December 21, 2019

Entering a Season of Slow

winter oak tree with blue sky

Even before the holidays were upon us I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed.  For the past several months any time I was doing one thing I felt like there were 5 other things I should be doing. And overall, I just felt like I was getting very little done of value.

I think the poetic description I'm looking for is a chicken with its head cut off. 

There are seasons of life and for the past few years, I've been in a season of hustle and saying yes, and abundance. A couple of years ago my motto was "Let the opportunity reveal the path." I trusted that God or the universe was bringing the stuff my way that was meant for me. It's how I got my job.
This followed a season of rest, saying no, and striving towards minimalism.

Neither way is right. We can feel that way if we don't acknowledge that life has seasons. It seems like such a natural cue to take from nature. In winter we embrace the stark landscape and long dark nights. In summer we revel in more daylight to get things done and explosions of color. In spring and fall, we transition.

Your season may last a month, a literal season or several years.

I 've been thinking a lot about what I want for 2020. I had a birthday. One that is a speed limit. Life has thrown a curve to our son. Our daughter is expecting a baby. The end of the year lends itself to thoughtful assessment. Winter is a natural time to embrace the slow, tend to our hearts, and reflect. Here's what's become clear to me as some of the reasons for my overwhelm and scattered thinking.

After several years of thinking how I could make every moment productive, I need some time for quiet daydreaming.

It's time for another household purge. There's too much stuff. Also, the things I own must be better organized.

I'm spending too much time on social media. It's making my thinking fractured and keeping me distracted.

If you need more information about social media and how it is affecting and not affecting our lives here's an enlightening talk from Cal Newport. 

I'm not reading enough books. I used to routinely read four or five books at a time. Now I go weeks without reading anything. My introvert brain needs to recover by sitting with words on a page.

I need more silence. I do not constantly need to be listening to a podcast or audiobook. My mind feels overwhelmed because it is.

I'm not writing enough. Writing is how I sort out my thoughts and get those clanging ideas rattling around in my head out of my brain and give them someplace to live. It's the reason for this blog. So why have I been doing so little of it?

Should I have a year of slow living or do I just need a month of recovery and stillness?

I don't know if my season of slow will last all of the new year or if it will just be a January necessity. It may only last until spring awakens the spring cleaning-garden planting maniac that I usually am in March. We'll see.

That's the thing about slowing down, we don't have to have all the answers or any. We aren't becoming monks or hermits, but taking a while, however long it ends up being, to get a grip on some thoughtfulness and regain our footing.

How about you? Do you ever suffer from overwhelm and scattered thinking? What season are you in? A summer season of busy and hustle? A winter of stepping back to regroup? A spring transition gearing up to the new thing? Or a fall transition winding down from a season of busy?

XOXO Y'all.

Tuesday, December 17, 2019

25 Things I've Taught Myself

Many years ago I decided to teach myself one new thing each year. Here's a post all about it. Often when people ask about this I rattle off a few I remember or that were my favorites, usually followed by "Someday I'm going to write them all down."

Well, today is that day. Here they are in no particular order. I didn't use to be as good about documenting things as I am now. The ones that have corresponding posts are linked. 

1. Cross stitch                                                               
2. Cooking/baking from scratch
3. Sewing
4. Baking bread (yes, it had its own year)
5. Designing a homeschool curriculum
6. Quilting (one and done)
7. Photography
8. Raising a puppy/training a dog to get the paper
9. Knitting
10. Refinishing furniture
11. Italian (Enough to get through 9 days in Italy)
12. Setting up a blog
13. Greek (A course)
14. Composting
15. Raising Chickens
16. Planning a wedding
17. Beekeeping
18. Being a docent at an art museum
19. Creating homemade skincare products
20. Singing in public 
21. Becoming a master gardener
23. Public speaking
24. Soap making
25. Garden design.

And here are some things I learned how to do that were never an official thing: ski, raise a kitten, use a computer, pack a suitcase, organize stuff, make a braided rug, create vision boards, eat healthy, snorkle, plan a trip, create a potting shed, meditate, do simple upholstery, yoga, render beeswax, paint a floor, and do Zen Tangles.

And of course there are the things that came and stayed: gardening, beekeeping, photography.

Morse Code is still on my list. You just never know when you are going to be taken captive by the Taliban or a drug cartel and have to blink your eyes in a grainy video to send out a message to the CIA or FBI. A girl likes to be prepared. 

Here's a challenge for you: Make a Ta-Da list. Write down a bunch of stuff you know how to do! I'll bet you have a lot of skills that you haven't taken inventory of. You would probably be surprised at how much you have taught yourself even if it hasn't been an official goal. Maybe you became a good traveler or a wonderful letter writer. I'll bet you have at least one dish people always ask for or you can throw a killer party, make a craft cocktail or grow the best tomato. Did you learn a new skill for work? Take a workshop? Master Instagram?

Go ahead and write it down, it's okay to give yourself a little credit. 

XOXO Y'all!