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Last year was rough, probably one of the harder years in my life so far. I managed to get through it, some days I’m not sure how but it’s over now and hopefully this year will be better.
I don’t generally do New Year Resolutions because I feel that they set me up for failure and I’m already good enough at screwing things up on my own. But I also believe in the power of intention and putting those intentions out into the universe to take root. Right now, the current year is a blank slate, what it will become is in large part up to me. So I can choose to allow last year’s patterns to continue or I can choose to make something new and different.
This year my intentions are to focus on making my physical space somewhere I want to be, to feed my spirit by allowing time for things that bring me joy, and to let my creative juices flow. To do this I will:
- Paint at least 2 rooms in my house this year.
- Start gathering photos/frames for the family photo wall
- Set aside project time every week for the creation of things that bring me joy, not just things that are needed (but if making necessary things also brings me joy–that’s a bonus)
- Set aside time at least once a month for activities that have no purpose other than enjoyment.
- Clear my physical space of those things I no longer need or want to make room for those things that will come into my life this year.
Sometimes little bits of luxury are just that: little. The things that you take for granted until they’re taken from you. Things like your health, the ability to see the sun shining, hot water for a shower. A nice bowl of soup on a cold day. The smile of a child.
This week had the markings of becoming a terrible, no-good, very bad week if I would have let it. Nothing was going right. I was off track and off schedule both of which made me off-kilter. I felt out of control. Yet I managed to pull myself back in.
It was the little things that did it: the perfect cup of coffee, the sunlight shining on the snow, those tiny baby giggles. They didn’t cost me a thing. I have coffee, the snow is just outside the window, and the children are an incredible blessing on their own.
So much of life is about choices. We cannot always choose what happens to us. But we can choose how we deal with it. I can be bitter and angry over things I can’t control or I can be mindful of the blessings I have and all the little (and not-so-little now) luxuries that surround me.
We are so used to light now. Thanks to electricity we can have our homes be as bright as noontime in the middle of the night. Light is a wonderful thing. Too much bright light…well, that’s another story.
When I want to relax, the last thing I want is bright light. Even the bulb of a lamp can be too much. Sometimes I’ll turn the lights off and open the curtains at twilight. This lets the natural light softly filter in bringing the colors of night with it. There’s something soothing about the deepening blues and purples and red-oranges that signal the day is over.
When the weather will not cooperate, I use candles. Their flickering flames gently light the world around them. I have several candle holders, depending on my mood. My current favorite is stained glass in oranges and greens. I have a plain pillar candle inside and it casts a beautiful colorful glow when it’s lit. I also have a variety of tea light holders–tea lights are a versatile candle. They come with their own little cups making cleanup a breeze. I put them in plain colored glass, arrange them in front of a mirror, or put them in the little “lanterns” my children made for the holidays.
For those who are not comfortable with real flame, there are now a variety of flameless candles. These little wonders flicker like flame and can set a similar mood. Using batteries instead of fire, they are safe to use in areas where normal candles may not be.
There’s just something magical about relaxing by candlelight.
I have a habit of moving frequently. Ever since I was a very small child, it’s been rare for me to be anywhere more than a year or so. Constantly changing environments bring their own stresses as well as their own joys. Though the years I have learned to create some space for myself wherever I happen to be. I make some space in hotel rooms, camp sites, dorm rooms, and in every new home my family finds. It’s second nature by now. Since I am not tied to any geographical location, I have adapted to bring “home” with me. And at the end of the day, wherever I am, my space is where I go first to center, relflect, and often cleanse myself of all the junk the day can bring.
Anyone can create space. It doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. When I’m moving around frequently or staying out of town, my space is usually some small items of personal meaning that are carried in a small pouch. My last portable space included a cloth, a satin bag filled with stones–some gems, some treasures from my children, some sage and sweetgrass, and a gift from an old friend. What I carry with me depends on my purpose, needs, and how I’m feeling when I pack. It’s not a standard “kit”–it’s something that I can easily tailor to meet my needs.
At home, I have several spots–my desk where I go to think, my tub where I go to relax, and my sacred space, where I can meditate and cleanse myself of all the energy I’ve picked up during the day. I may come in the room, get come comfy clothes on, light a couple candles, burn some incense, turn on some music and just let myself be for a few minutes. I may turn on some different music and burn off some steam. I may just spend some quiet time with my spot and recenter myself.
Everybody should have a spot or two of their own. Somewhere to go when life gets rough, when you are lost in thought, or when you have this great idea that needs to get out. Where do you go when you need to be–to think, to relax, or to create?
I just haven’t been up to thinking about indulgences lately. When your vocabulary starts to include words like: tumor, cancer, intensive care, home nursing, and multiple surgeries (for a family member, not personally) everything else seems to take a back seat while you figure out the big stuff. Add that to some personal health concerns and you get one really unmotivated blogger. I just had to focus on living for a minute–anything else was just too much.
Still, sometimes you find inspiration in the oddest places. Like the family member who was diagnosed with a brain tumor, cancer, and lost their voice box in a very short time frame. Where I think I’d be a wreck, he’s handling things with grace and humor that was unusual before the illness. There’s more laughter and joking–everything isn’t all serious all the time, even though life is serious. All of a sudden the nights spent at home, doing nothing but being at home don’t seem to be the binding chains they once were. They are an opportunity to connect with loved ones and spend time on the little things.
Right now, my children are bouncing on my bed–something that is normally forbidden. They are making pillow caves and testing out their cannonball. They are laughing their little heads off. A few feet away I’m thinking about my dad and the journey he’s on and how that seems to make a little bed jumping not such a big deal right now. Their happiness is a reminder that life doesn’t stop when someone you love gets sick–it keeps on going and it’s really up to you to make the best of it.
Tonight they’ll jump on the bed and have cookies before dinner. They’ll share their joy with the rest of us. Tomorrow when I go to the hospital to visit my dad, I’ll bring a picture of the kids bouncing on the pillows, laughing their heads off–just enjoying life. They seem to know something I do not–the really important moments are *right now*, not yesterday, not tomorrow–one is past and the other is not certain. But right now, now is the time to choose to live.