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Archive for the ‘One Dozen’ Category

It’s become my Monday night ritual … settling in to one of my favourite writing spots with a treat and a beverage close at hand, spending time checking in with my cross-country writing group, then disconnecting for about an hour to write.  Lots of that writing has ended up here in one form or another, but much also never sees light beyond its place on the pages of my notebook.

Tonight feels a little different.  It’s Monday night, I’m settled in to one of my usual spots, and I anticipate catching up with my writing buddies shortly.  The thing that makes it different is that it’s December 17th and today is my birthday.

As he always does every year, my dad asked me if 43 felt any different.  Nope was my not very awake response.  It was truthful.  43 today doesn’t feel any different from 42 yesterday.

But 43 today from 42 a year ago?  That’s a different thing entirely.  It’s not about the my age.  It’s about so much that has changed over the last twelve months. I could never have imagined what this year would bring, but I am grateful for so much.

See Dreams

So here is my year of gratitude.  Much of it has already been shared in this space, but I didn’t always realize at the time how each little change and discovery was going to lead me through the year.  Seems appropriate that this is actually a baker’s dozen.  The list needs to include both Decembers in order to be complete.

  1. December – For recognizing unconditional love and allowing that reality to sink into my soul.  For reminders from unexpected places and shiny people who make the world a better place simply by being in it.
  2. January – For a job that I enjoy, that allows me space outside of work for other creative pursuits, that provides security, and that allowed the purchase of my new car Suzy.  Almost a year later and it still makes me grin when the car payment comes out of my bank account.  She’s a little more fully mine and I love the freedom she brings.
  3. February – For the end of our writing apprenticeship and the beginning of something new. We didn’t want our time together to be over, but it was time for us to take what we’d been learning and keep growing. For inspiration, accountability and challenge to keep writing. For writing buddies who are now dear friends.
  4. March – For choosing to own my story.  It’s not a part of my faith story that I felt I could talk about when I was a youth pastor.  I was ashamed and embarrassed. It made me want to hide.  Telling it was the first step of finding my way to a faith that feels like I can belong, just as I am.
  5. April – For rediscovering my love of writing poetry.  For the faithfulness of long-time friends. For new friends with unexpected things in common. For learning that sharing my writing can be beautiful and healing. For support and encouragement sometimes from surprising sources.
  6. May – For celebrating the wedding of my dear friends Hunter and Chris.  What a privilege it was to be asked to help officiate the wedding ceremony of two of the sweetest people I know.
  7. June – For first glimpses of a spiritual practice that fits. For plans changing at the last minute. For wisdom shared. For learning to sit with my own shit and name it honestly.  For admitting anger at God. For trying and embracing new things despite fear. For discovering that a non-bendy person can do and enjoy yoga.
  8. July – For five magical days spent with a beautiful group of women in Garrison, New York. For our Creative Joy – Flow small group. For a continuing circle of women who will always be a place of coming home no matter how far apart we live. For leaders who shared their hearts, their sorrow and their joy and helped us stretch and bloom in ways we never imagined.
  9. August – For the lessons learned during August Break.  Taking one photo a day seemed like such a trivial exercise, but it helped change the way I see the world.  There is so much beauty in this world but it is so easy to miss out if we’re not deliberately paying attention. Oh, and for new haircuts!
  10. September – For finding a path beyond anger and through hurt. For re-discovering faith in a creator who calls us beloved and invites us to respond in kind. For guides along the path to remind that we’re not pointlessly going around in circles. For spirals of learning that gently allow us to dig deeper with new perspective each time around.
  11. October – For finding comfort in practicing yoga at home.  For learning to be gentle with and accepting of my body exactly as it is.  For yoga teachers who are kind. For discovering the joy of meditation.
  12. November – For a new sense of community found. For friends who draw us out of our comfort zones and help us find new places where we belong. For creative expression of all sorts.
  13. December –  For friends old and new, in person and online. For family, biological and of the heart. For realizing that this year’s birthday greetings resonate differently than they ever have before. I know the spirit of them hasn’t changed, but I can hear them now in a way that I was afraid to trust before. This year they made my heart sing with the joy of being known and loved. You are held so close to my heart.

I am truly blessed and so very grateful.

Notice Love

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Furry Toe Washing

Ever had your toes licked by a furry friend?

A year ago I spent time with a dear friend back in Ontario and her dog Colin took a shine to licking my toes anytime they weren’t in shoes or socks.  I nearly squirmed out of my skin the first time his cute little tongue took a swipe.

The more he licked, the more I got used to it.  To my surprise, I discovered that there was something kind of soothing about his attention.  As squirmy as it made me, when we came home from a walk or shopping at Ikea, letting his little warm tongue quietly slurp away felt … good.

When I was looking for a picture to go with this post, I realized that even saying the word vulnerability makes me feel the same was as that first damp contact of Colin’s tongue.

But the practice of vulnerability … that’s a different thing all together.

I admire people who choose to be vulnerable, but I completely admit that the idea of choosing to be vulnerable scares the crap out of me.

The thing is, the more I discover about myself, the more I seek to live authentically, whole-heartedly, the more I realize that being vulnerable really is the key piece to living my life to the fullest.

Contrary to how I tend to feel about it, being vulnerable doesn’t have to mean being a doormat for others to walk on.  It doesn’t have to mean allowing people to take advantage of me. It doesn’t have to mean opening myself up to be hurt again and again by the same person.

But it does mean allowing my heart to be seen. Opening up to share the things that are closest and dearest to my heart. Risking not being good enough. Trying even when I might fail. Knowing that the choice to be vulnerable may lead to hurt and disappointment and choosing to live that way anyhow.

I picked boldness as my word for 2012.  Little did I know that choosing to be bold would also mean choosing to be vulnerable.  As squirmy as the idea of vulnerability makes me, learning to choose vulnerability in the little moments of day-to-day life feels … better than good.

There are so many people who have been inspiring me with the power and grace of their vulnerability.  I thought I’d share a few.

  1. The View from the Vortex of Suck – When your website is called Blessing Manifesting, people might be inclined to think that you only write what one friend used to call “bunnies & light”. But sometimes life just isn’t like that and Dominee can be counted on to be real.
  2. The Permission Slip – Sometimes I need someone else to remind me that I have permission.
  3. Feeling Empty on the Inside and Ugly on the Outside – Showing Up Anyway – The title of this blog says it all “Simply Woz”.  The courage of this post brought me to tears.
  4. I’m not liking myself and I’m not doing anything about it – I value this kind of honesty and self-knowledge that sometimes you just need to be where you are without trying to change things.
  5. Have I told you how much I adore Ellie Di?  From here (Scattered Thoughts from a broken and healing marriage) to here (Becoming myself: new site, new direction, new story).  I love her never-ending quest to be more fully herself and her willingness to share that journey.
  6. Art in Motion: Sunshine Piece – I love Kelly Rae Roberts’ artwork.  It was her calendar that hung on the wall of my work cubicle throughout 2011.  Quietly and subtly, her art snuck behind the walls I’d built and reminded me that there was a different way to live.  Sharing her creative process behind such a personal piece made me want to dig the paints out.
  7. There are so many posts from Marianne Elliott that I could include here, but Chickens really hit home for me.  When I think of some of the free writing things I’ve done as part of writing workshops, I find it hard to imagine posting them … without a lot of editing!
  8. I am beauty by Kyeli – So simple and powerful.  In case you haven’t been following Kyeli’s 30 day no-necklace trial during September, watch here, here and here to fully know why this poem of all that Kyeli writes and blogs had to be included in this list.
  9. Can’t forget the book that challenging me more with each chapter … Daring Greatly by Brene Brown.  I’m thoroughly enjoying the read-along she’s hosting on her blog.  It really isn’t just me who struggles with that “vulnerability” word.
  10. Trust Changes Everything – When I need a gentle reminder, Kristin’s illustrations and words are a great antidote to fear.
  11. This list wouldn’t be complete without posts from my Monday night writing buddies. In so many ways, we’re so different, but in so many ways, we’re just the right fit together. They challenge me to keep stretching my comfort zone with gratitude and wonder. So here’s A Time for Celebration by Tara, and …
  12. A story about a ring from Joanna.

May their offerings inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

Hugs, Karen

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It might be the middle of September, but I’ve still been thinking about what I learned during August Break.

chalk art lizard

  1. Taking at least one photograph a day really did change the way I see my world.  I noticed so many things that I might have missed.
  2. Even when I thought I would look silly stopping to take a photo, no one else actually seemed to notice … even when I took photos of the sidewalk.
  3. We’re more alike than we often realize.  When I wondered if anyone else would understand why I thought a moment was worth capturing, there was always someone else who understood.
  4. Paying attention  + savouring the tiny moments = more gratitude.  It’s really that simple.  The more I paid attention and enjoyed each moment, the more grateful I was.
  5. There are fun adventures to be had, day or night.  Those adventures become even more fun when shared with someone you care about.
  6. I can start a project and be consistent until completion.  I’m good at starting, but I can be easily distracted by the new and shiny thing that looks more interesting.  It’s was an amazing realization when I got to the end of August and realized that I had posted every day and had a new photograph almost every day.
  7. When at first you don’t succeed and it’s something you really want, keep trying.  Persistence eventually will pay off.  In this case, I finally got a photo that captured the feeling of a place that I love.
  8. There is beauty in unexpected places.
  9. Committing to something that I want to do doesn’t have to turn into a dreaded should. Even when it’s something I want for me, I’m prone to should-ing myself (“I should go write that blog post”).  Then, that thing that I wanted to do for me, not because anyone else thought I should, becomes something that I will create any and every excuse to avoid. I paid attention to the words I used in my own head.  When I started to say “I should …”, I reminded myself that there were no rules about August Break and I could post or not as I wanted. When I asked myself what I wanted to do, the answer was always a resounding “Post today’s picture!”
  10. I really enjoy photography.  I’d forgotten how much.  I love having the phone on my camera because it’s always in my pocket, but there were times I wished I had a better option available.  I think it’s time to start saving.  I think it might also be time to dig out my dad’s old cameras that are in the closet and buy some film. It lacks the instant gratification of a digital camera, but I always loved the excitement of getting film back from the developer.
  11. If I’m not deliberate about being mindful and paying attention to my world, I can quickly and easily stop paying attention.  I stopped being deliberate about taking a photo a day when September arrived.  I assumed I would easily keep that habit. While I’m more willing to capture a moment that grabs my attention, I haven’t been looking for those moments and I know I’ve missed out.  No judgment, just observation.  I miss how August felt. So while I’m not going to post a picture a day, I am committing to myself that I will continue to take a photograph a day.  I haven’t decided exactly what I’m going to with them yet, but don’t be surprised if posting them becomes a weekly event.
  12. One more reason why I adore Susannah Conway.  Thank you so much for creating another beautiful thing that inspires and makes the world a better place.  I’m already looking forward to August Break 2013 =)

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Ever noticed how a tiny pebble thrown into the middle of a pond can have ripples reaching farther than you imagined possible?

That’s how the last couple of weeks feel. My copy of Susannah Conway’s This I Know arrived and while the book is clearly meant to be savoured and reflected on as you read, I couldn’t put it down. I devoured it over the course of a weekend. (Don’t worry Susannah, I’ll be going back to it time and again to savour every moment of it!) New Favourite - This I Know

Right now, I’m allowing one tiny part to soak in. In one of the reflections at the end of each chapter, Susannah wrote these words:

Where are you right now?

What’s touching your skin?

Take time to explore what it feels like to be inside your own skin as you move through your days this week. Put freshly laundered sheets on your bed and sleep nude tonight, reveling in the sensation of cotton against your skin.

I love the feeling of slipping between freshly laundered sheets, just after a shower with cleanly shaved legs. It’s decadence, even when the bed is my own and the sheets are cotton. But I almost never take the time to have those three things happen at the same time. It’s not like there’s any real effort involved (well, other than the leg shaving part!). The sheets need to be changed and laundered. A shower can happen as easily before bed as in the morning. But I don’t do it. If it happens, it’s by pure chance.

That weekend, thanks to that tiny pebble, I planned it. It was time for laundry, so I took my shower and shaved my legs before bed. Slipped on a freshly laundered nightgown and crawled under the covers.  I had a fabulous sleep. I was later to bed than usual but I woke up before my alarm clock, feeling fully rested and content with my world.

I made a decision that morning. Those little acts of self-care? They are valuable. It’s worthwhile to make them happen. It’s not self-indulgent or silly. It doesn’t matter whether anyone else thinks they matter. They matter to me. I’m worth the effort.

My world feels different. Not in large tangible kind of way, but something is clearly shifting at the core. It’s early in the process of learning this lesson, but I feel more content. I feel more capable. I’m paying more attention to the world around me. I feel more at peace. At the core of my being, there is a bubbling sense of joy.

Is it all related to those little things? Probably not. There are lots of other things going on as well, but they feel like little tiny streams of water that are working their way through the hard, stony, dry places and bringing the essence of life.

Today’s dozen is my list of little things that are making a difference.

  1. Making fresh laundered sheets, clean shaved legs and just out of the shower happen before bedtime. Not all the time, just when it’s time to change the sheets. (Thanks for the reminder of how much I love this, Susannah!)
  2. Throwing out that underwear that lives in the back of my drawer. You know the stuff. Those ones you never want to wear but you keep just in case? I decided I never need to be that desperate.
  3. Tucking the sheets in on the bottom of my bed. I’ve always told my mom that I like them better un-tucked (perfect excuse for a teenager), but if that’s true, then why do I like them tucked in when I’m at a hotel so much?
  4. Reading before bed. I love the feeling of reading snuggled under the covers. Probably comes from all those years of reading just a little bit more after the lights were supposed to be out.
  5. Taking photos of things that bring me joy. I often see things that catch my eye, but I don’t take time to stop. I love the ability to capture those moments on my phone. Who cares if someone wonders what in the world I’m doing? Will the minute it takes really make me late?Courtyard Blue Hydrangea
  6. Folding the laundry as soon as it’s done. It’s so easy to put off. There’s always something else I’d rather do, but there is something satisfying about seeing the drawers full. Apparently my mom was right about this one all along too! Who knew moms were so smart?
  7. Making loose-leaf tea just for me. I love tea. I’ve got more varieties at home and at work than any one person really needs to have. If I’m making tea to share, I almost always choose a loose-leaf tea. If I’m making tea just for me, I normally quickly grab a tea bag, because it’s not worth the hassle for one cup of tea. Crazy part is, I’ve even got great tea brewing options that make loose leaf tea for one quite easy.Angelwater Tea
  8. Saying no. It’s easy to want to say yes to everything. I hate risking disappointing someone. But sometimes no is the right choice. It’s about honouring who I am and what I most need at a given time. Might mean saying no to plans on an evening when my body wants to stay home. Might mean returning a library book unread when I realize that as much as it seemed like a book I wanted to read, it’s not, and renewing for another 3 weeks isn’t going to change that.
  9. Using conditioner. I tend to grab the shampoo on its own or the 2 in 1 version. It’s quicker, but I like the difference in how my hair feels when I take the time to use the conditioner too. How much extra time does that really take in the morning.
  10. Flowers. I don’t have a green thumb. I still remember a series of plants that graced my childhood bedroom. Drought or flood did them all in. There was never a happy medium. But I love flowers. Today, I bought myself a treat, cut flowers to sit on my desk. It won’t be an everyday thing, but why not buy myself flowers when I see ones that make me smile?Flowers for my desk
  11. Breathing. I know. Everyone has to breathe. It’s necessary for life, but today, I spent my morning coffee break, just sitting and breathing with my face turned toward the sun. It was like breathing in joy. (Thanks for the idea Rachelle! I’m already loving this month’s practice for Flock.)
  12. To be determined. I’m still figuring this out. I’d love to hear your favourite little acts of self-care. There’s so much we can learn from each other on this journey. What makes takes very little actual effort, but let’s you enjoy life more?

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Wow!  How did it get to be two weeks since I posted?

In the past, after writing a post like An Apology and An Invitation … assuming that I ever managed to hit publish and tell people it existed … I would have gone into hiding mode, filled with regret and anxiety about how people would react.  Writing would have been the last thing I wanted to do.  I’d have been too scared of what else might appear on the page before me.  I’d have been doing my emotional imitation of a turtle or at least an ostrich.

While you haven’t seen anything in my space here, I haven’t been doing that.  I hit publish and I felt so free.  Vulnerable?  Yup, definitely.  But more importantly, I felt empowered.

The last two weeks have just been really busy in an awesome way. It still is, but I promised myself that this week I was going to make time for writing and resting in the midst of the crazy busy-ness. There have been so many things and people that help make my world wonderful. I thought it was a great time for another dozen.

In no particular order … and definitely not a comprehensive list! …

One Dozen: Things I Adore

  1. Sustainable passion. Those aren’t words you often hear  together.  They might actually count as an oxymoron, but when I read Rachelle’s post on Magpie Girl, my heart felt at home.   I want to “dance in that glory for a lifetime.” How about you?
  2. My new cat, Toes.  She found us and decided to call us home early in December.  She cracks me up with her antics.  Her full name is Mobius Hoover Toes.  I’ve never seen a cat sleep in sillier twisted positions. She can inhale treats faster than any vacuum. She has the cutest little white toes.  She can’t replace SkitSkat, but she warms my heart.Mobius Hoover Toes
  3. Listening to Michael Nobbs’ One Thing Today podcasts as I walk to the bus each morning.  In the midst of my cubicleland day job, that reminder helps me find time during the day to be creative, whether it’s writing on my breaks or stopping to take a photograph of something that catches my eye.
  4. Cherry blossom time.  Need I say more?  Maybe just a picture of the tree in our front yard.  It’s a little sad that the petals have started to fall, but “pink snow” on the lawn is still awesome.  I do admit I don’t exactly adore the petals on the hood of my nice red car, Suzy.  Time for a car wash.Cherry Blossom Time
  5. Liona Boyd’s Seven Journeys: Music for the Soul and the Imagination. My dad has had her albums for years, but I fell in love with her music during her concert in Chemainus last fall.  This album has become my favourite music when I sit down to write and I adore how she has created a new story out of adversity.
  6. I adored this picture enough that I’ve managed to keep a browser window open on my phone for about 3 weeks. Every time I see it, it makes me take a big deep breath and sigh with contentment and peace.
  7. creativejoy150-2Creative Joy. Doesn’t that phrase immediately bring a smile to your face? I can’t wait for my vacation time. I’m heading to New York state for the Creative Joy retreat. Let me know if you’re going too. Last thing I checked there was still space. If your well of creative joy is feeling dry, the retreat leaders have also assembled a fabulous and free workbook that is juicy with inspiration.  You can download it here.
  8. I know I’ve seen this poem before, but when I came across it the other day, it made my heart sing. Imagine if we all lived our lives believing that “God Says Yes” to each one of us.Wildflowers Everywhere
  9. They say April shower bring May flowers.  I’m loving the flowers that are everywhere.  From the wildflowers along my path to the bus or the planters downtown, there are blossoms everywhere. I adore the riot of colour.Riot of Colours
  10. The 3rd annual World Changing Writing Workshop. The 2nd annual workshop rocked my world.  This blog wouldn’t exist without it and the writing apprenticeship that I did with Kyeli just after was seriously life-changing. Registration for the 3rd year opens tomorrow and I can’t wait.  I already know I’m going to adore it.
  11. Ice Cream Sprinkles … or cupcakes sprinkles for that matter.  They’re just so happy and fun, even the thought of them brightened my lunch break.  Drat!  It’s kind of late for ice cream at 11:15 pm.  Tomorrow =)
  12. I did save the best thing for last.  On Saturday, I had the amazing privilege of helping officiate at the wedding of two very dear friends.  They had a marriage commissioner there to do the legal stuff and make it official but they asked me to lead the rest of the ceremony.  There are few things in life more special than that.  The day was beautiful and the ceremony was everything we wanted and planned it to be.  I also had a lot of fun making a crazy number of cupcakes. Congratulations Chris & Hunter! Thank you.  I adore you both.Chris & Hunter Panda Cake Toppers

What makes your world more wonderful? What do you adore?

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In case you wondered, no affiliate links here.  I adore them so much I had to share the good stuff.

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