2012 Practices to Enact

The year has flown by, and an inordinate amount of change has happened in 364 days.  Many weddings, including my own.  Potential home ownership.  New friends.  Loss of family.  I hope to do more of a recap similar to my journaling last year of the good, the bad, and the flat out ridiculous, but in the meantime, here are my 2012 Practices to Enact, in illustrated form.


In thinking about what I’m desiring more of and want to keep at the forefront of my awareness and focus of in this next year, spirituality, creativity, and wellness are far and away the foundational concepts that spring forth.  In contemplating the relationship between the three, it made sense that wellness emerges from spirituality and creativity rather than the other way around.  Plus I enjoy nature metaphors for life 🙂

More details to come, including specific practices for each element.  What will you focus on for 2012?  How can we all hold each other accountable to living those ideas and practices through the whole year?

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November, where have you gone?

I’m finally nearing the end of two months of constant busyness (I hope), and my December calendar is beautifully clear (in comparison), which hopefully will mean more frequent blog posts and writing in general.  All of my journals have been feeling empty these days…

In the meantime, a brief update on a number of things I’ve written about before:

  • I did not do NaNoWriMo.  This was a good decision.  I still want to write a book though, at some point in the future.  It will likely be about the home search, or something like it.
  • I am enormously thankful for many things, among them: wonderful friends that will both attend my crazy parties and entertain my wild musings, access to delicious local food and a system that supports its continued expansion, the health that comes from the latter as well as bicycling every day, and my wonderful Benjamin– we really do balance each other beautifully.
  • Yesterday was a glorious and much needed relaxation day.  Apart from shopping at the co-op for tons of fruits and veggies- I’m doing a cleanse between Thanksgiving and Christmas, sort of a combination of this and this– I napped, went on a walk, finished The Heretics of Dune (the marvelous fifth book in the Dune series) and watched Pirate Radio, now my most recent favorite movie.

Be good to yourselves this holiday season, friends.  Drink tea, visit with friends, and relax into the naturally slower rhythms that winter brings.

Movements of the Moment and a Happy List

Between the Occupy movement and the Keystone XL Pipeline protests there has been much as of late to get excited about.  At the very least important progressive issues are taking center stage in the media, and at best real change in our world is fermenting.

As I spend hours in a tantalizing mixture of passionate conversation, media research, and imagining ways that we might actually, finally, start asking the important questions about our society rather than ‘how can we sort of balance the budget while still maintaining the status quo, and thus neglecting all the important programs that make people and culture thrive?’, I’m finding internal tension building.  I’m forgetting to breathe, and I’m tending toward anger and blame rather than compassion.

To rectify this, or at least make small internal movements toward calm and compassion, here is my present moment happy list, a resurrection of a delightful pasttime my high school BFF Susan and I undertook quite extensively.

1. Brief glimpses of glorious autumn sunsets from the windows at work before I head into an evening meeting.

2. Coco Rosie.

3. Weddings, somewhat in spite of myself, and the ensuing emotion.  I finally posted the album of my own celebration.

4. Winter squash, large and small, from the tiny gourds that I used as the cake topper for my brother in law’s wedding cake last weekend to the enormous Cinderella squash they let us take home from the decorations stash.

5. Reading graphic novels again, and finding series on my own (though your past recommendations have been marvelous, Caleb, and I do enjoy receiving Locke and Key from you), and discovering the relatively extensive collection held by the Hennepin County Library.

What is your happy list these days?

Recycling project: wedding cards.

Finally going through our wedding cards, and as much as I appreciate the sentiments, it’s really very silly to keep a bunch of cards that Ben and I are never going to read again.  Thus, it’s DECONSTRUCTION TIME!

We kept the bits that have writings from people, along with the leaves we had available for little notes at the reception.

The fronts of the cards will find a new life in future recycled cards and other craft projects.

Grand total from the collection:

  • 3 butterfly
  • 4 bird
  • 3 other animals (dogs, bear, wildcat kitten)
  • 4 bicycle
  • 9 flower
  • 5 religious
  • 6 what I would call ‘traditional wedding type card’
  • at least 9 art or local artist made
  • 2 poem
  • and, what I would argue is the very best of the bunch, two recycled, in very different ways at that:

This is from my dear friend Breanna, one of the craftiest people I know.  I aspire to her level of aesthetic appeal in my future recycled cards.

This gem is from Ben’s friend Dan.  He and his wife just had a baby, and rather than buy a new card for our wedding, they ‘rewrote’ one they received.

It’s crazy how easily the Hallmark message transcends any particular meaningful event, and props to Dan and Jill for being able to see the silliness of mass produced greeting cards.

May you all be empowered to recycle all the cards you’ve received over the years!

In a word, perfect.

Simple.

Sustainable.

Beautiful.

Quirky.

And joyous.

To all our friends and family, thank you for being the most important part of such a spectacular day.  To all those getting married in the coming months/years, know that it truly is possible to celebrate with everyone you love in a simple, sustainable, beautiful and quirky way without tons of stress and expense.  Remember what is important:
THE PEOPLE.

Just in Time for the Wedding

I’m very nearly done with my hand-stitched quilt, just in time to gift it to the intended family member that I’m not going to name at present just in case they are reading this…  My quilting class is a happy memory at this point because my present-moment brain space has been thoroughly absconded by the final weeks of wedding planning.  But we were a lovely group, don’t you think?

Photo from my co-quilter’s great craft blog

I’m finding that the last week or two of planning the wedding (happening near you- if you’re in the Twin Cities- this Saturday!) have been less stressful than the month or so before that.  Maybe because we’re now past the big decision making and all that’s left is relatively simple things (at least in the decision making camp, probably not so much in the labor requirement camp) like purchasing candles, finding daisies for my hair, and making sure we have enough cupcakes for everyone.

Certain large-ish pieces have waited until the last minute, such as collecting everyone’s readings for the ceremony and, er, the final language for Benjamin and my vows.  At times I’m almost tempted to do it impromptu style, because all of the words and feeling are there, and are expressed to each other so often in our daily life.  But I suppose for the sake of our wonderful friends and family that will be in attendance it would only be fair to actually collect said words and feelings beforehand so that our declaration makes sense to someone other than Benjamin and me.

Please think sunny thoughts for this weekend!

Challenging vs. Taxing

I’ve been busy lately.  And by lately, I mean for the last few months.  Too busy for my own good, I think.  The abundant activity of the Minnesotan summer has begun, both of my jobs have their own ‘adventures’, and don’t even get me started on negotiating the last weeks of wedding planning while still trying to be true to my wedding mission statement.  However, despite being waist-deep in to-do lists and stress, I’m discovering I don’t feel challenged by most of what life is throwing at me these days.  I feel taxed.  And the cavernous gap between the two is essential, and was described perfectly by the message from a member of the Quaker meeting Ben and I attended this past Sunday.

“The activities of our lives can be divided into four quadrants,” began this Friend’s testimony, “that which is important and urgent, that which is neither important nor urgent, that which is urgent but not important, and that which is important but not particularly urgent.  The first two are relatively easy to identify: your child getting hurt is both urgent and important, and dusting that decorative shelf in the dining room is neither important nor urgent.  It’s the final two categories that are difficult to discern.”  This friend went on to explain how she spends so much time doing the urgent but not important, ie. laundry, while often unintentionally neglecting the important but not urgent aspects of life, ie. building relationships; I do much the same thing, and am guessing that many others do as well.

The urgent but not important tasks are our to-do lists.  They are what suck our energy, what consume our time, what make us feel like we’re accomplishing something when really we aren’t attending to the deep desires and fears of our selves.  So much of my time as of late has been spent on the urgent but not important, the taxing unending series of details that demand my attention.  I would even argue that most of the wedding planning would fit into this category, because while being married and celebrating with friends and family is important, the details that make up the event are not.  Same with my work as a community organizer; bringing people together and sharing ideas and making change is important, but ordering the right amount of cookies and having every possible flyer copied for every person is not.  These urgent but not important tasks keep us busy but do not bear fruit in the long term.  They are not rejuvenating, they are depleting.  They are taxing.

The important but not urgent is the opposite entirely.  It is maintaining friendships over time.  It is reading and conversing and engaging on the issues and ideas of the world.  It is creating something for the sake of creation.  And it is so easy to let go by the wayside for the sake of the urgent but not important.  Attending to the important is challenging, especially when there is no action list to work from, when the future is an abstract vision.  But it is so so essential, because that which is challenging rather than taxing may require our energy in the present, but it will rejuvenate us in the long term, will create a better life and world for ourselves and others.

For now I must attend to my commitments.  I must finish wedding preparations and make good on my responsibilities to my job.  But in time I will move my activities and focus to the challenging rather than taxing, the important rather than the urgent.

What urgent but not important tasks hijack your time?  What important but not urgent aspect of life might you be neglecting?  How can you attend to the latter in the coming weeks and months and move your energy to the challenging rather than taxing?