Arrival

We have arrived. Summer has finally unfolded itself into being the ripe, bright, generous season that I know and love. The morning light is soft and enveloping at 5am, and the cool breeze that seeps in through open windows shivers my bare shoulders in bed at night. And the sunsets: oh please, soak up those sunsets.

Summer solstice is coming up, just as I have finally stopped looking over my shoulder for a snow storm (sadly, I truly mean that). Our peonies are blooming, I harvested my first round of spinach, my daily wake-up routine is serenaded by birds, and Saturday mornings are all about the farmer’s market. Oh, yes – we have arrived.

With summer comes the anticipated shift in gears; the urge to move faster, do more, lap up all the goodness with wild abandon. However, as it just so happens, this whole growing-a-baby experience has been forcing me to slow down. Chill out. Relax a little. It’s a tough thing for me, and I’ve only recently started to settle into my new speed. I told my doctor at my last check-up that running has been making my hips and back ache, but I was worried that “just walking” wouldn’t get my heart rate up and provide an adequate work-out. She smiled that tiny, curt smile she does so well and told me, “Getting your heart rate up  isn’t the goal right now. Movement, fresh air, and getting your blood moving is what you’re going for. Walking is perfect for that.” There was a small part of me that wanted to kick her in the shin for saying that, but I just nodded instead. Alright, conversation over.

“Embrace the thing that is asking you to change.”

Mississippi

I was introduced to this saying by a yoga teacher of mine, and I’ve been repeating it to myself on my evening walks. Surprisingly, a subtle and curious thing has begun to happen. My walks have started to feel like a reprieve; life renewing and soul satisfying. They are a place to think and a time to dream. I’ve also started to take note of the way the wind feels against my neck, the glistening sound of the leaves against each other, the shifts in temperature the closer I get to the river… all the things you can only notice when you slow down. I am letting this ripe, bright, generous summer carry me forward when I go for my walks. Summer has arrived, and I am arriving with it. Who would have guessed?

Tell me: what change have you been embracing lately? How has summer swept you off your feet?

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The Beastly Month

Winter comes in gradually where I live. Early autumn brings hazel colored light, long shadows, blazing red and yellow leaves, and a crispness to the air that feels most welcome after a summer of heavy, sticky heat. By Thanksgiving, the ground is (hopefully) frozen and mornings arrive with a soft frost over the grass and bare branches. The sky, when it’s clear, turns a milky blue, and the chill of the wind strengthens it’s bite. By Christmas, we (usually) have snow, and the heaps of white reflect the glow of streetlights and helps to make the deep darkness of the evenings feel a bit more soft and gentle.

January is when the hammer drops. January is a cold, hard, beast of a month.

As a lifetime Minnesota girl, I’ve come to know this cycle well. Yet, only over the past few years have I started to learn how to relish the stillness and peace that come with winter, particularly after the glitter of the holidays has settled.

On the coldest days, when the sun is shining, it’s like you’ve never seen the anything so brilliant. Standing in it, drinking it up, is like pouring water down into the thirstiest part of your soul.

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I got home from work a little early today, just in time to catch the sun as it crept out of the clouds on it’s way to a pink sunset. I live close enough to the Mississippi River to walk to it’s bank, one of my favorite places in the entire city, so I scrambled out the door to get there in time to soak up the last bits of light.

You know what I realized on my way?

The days are getting longer.

I didn’t need to scramble. I didn’t need to rush.

I lingered on the bridge, on the highest point of the arch, where the fierce river wind was whipping but the sunshine was strong. I stood there for awhile, taking turns looking down at the half-frozen water, upstream towards the city skyline, and back to the sun, whole and wide in the January sky.

I couldn’t have asked for anything more satisfying.

Back down by the bank of the river, shielded from the wind, I stood on the frozen spaces between the rocks. The ice creaked and moaned. The city sounds were muffled. The light had faded to a pale grey.

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These moments are the generous, comforting, soft pockets that get me through the raw Minnesota winters.

There’s a Canadian front coming in next week, and we are looking at highs of -3 F. I’m praying for some sunshine.2013-01-16_1358376035

Do you live where it’s cold during the winter months? What’s your tonic to the winter winds? 

Creating Space

At a previous job, my boss held weekly team meetings which gave us all a chance to re-cap our workload and update each other on the status of our projects. During particularly stressful stretches (which were more often than not), my colleauge would close her updates endearingly with a sweep of her hand and the brisk statement of, “Well, moving on!”

This statement sums up how life has been feeling for me lately.

My last post was December 20th, and since then Christmas, New Years, and the re-entry to working life have all passed. Life feels like it’s barreling forward, and I’m all but trying to keep up. During this particular time of year, with the richness and indulgence of holiday gatherings followed so closely with the reflection and contemplation of New Year’s; how could a girl not feel a little out of breath?

I intended to write a whole post about Christmas, which included a shift in traditions that left me in tears after brunch on Christmas day. It was the first time I had ever split my Christmas to attend someone else’s family gathering, and I came to realized that from here on out my holiday traditions will be evolving and changing. Sometimes I face changes boldly, and other times they break my heart. Even though I was warmly welcomed joining my partner’s family for their festivities (which included caroling and an improv Christmas play directed by a very special first-grade nephew), I still felt a stab of sadness leaving my own family before the Christmas dinner I grew up with.

Before I could process that whole slew of emotions, it was New Year’s Eve. I spent the day ice skating, wearing clip-on rhinestone earrings, and dancing with my honey in the the living room of new friends.

Now it’s back to work, where we are gearing up for our busy spring season, smoothing out the glitches from a recent technology upgrade, and planning for a huge event in California next month.

And I’ve just been “moving on!” through all of it.

It’s the time of year of resolutions, fresh intentions, and wholehearted attempts at bringing new vigor to our daily lives. I have varied thoughts about New Year’s resolutions, but I usually land on the I-don’t-make-them end of the spectrum. Not necessarily because I don’t believe in them, or am too cynical to think they are useless, but more so because by the time New Year’s Eve rolls around, I haven’t taken the necessary time to reflect on the past year to know what I would like to do differently.

I have a tendency to be in one place, and wish I were in another. To be eating something, and soon wishing I hadn’t. To plan things, and then wish I had the free time. It’s chronic and quite frankly, it’s irritating. It deters me from enjoying where I am, and it takes me away from being fully present. It also makes it all the more easy for me to just think, “Well, moving on!” without pausing for reflection. I did this with much of the holidays, and they ended up breezing on right past me.

I think it’s time to slow down a little. It’s time to sink in and allow more space for savoring, relishing, enjoying, and reflecting. Enough with the barreling forward, relentlessly onward and upward. We’re all moving that direction, regardless of whether we shove ourselves uphill or take it slow and steady.

I’m 8 days late to the game the time ’round, and I won’t go so far as to say it’s a New Year’s Resolution, but I am setting an intention: to catch myself in those “moving on!” moments and work to create more space for dedication to the present. 2013 is shaping up to be filled to the brim, and I deeply want to embrace it all – but I need to learn to pause every now and again and take stock of where I am today.

It’s a tall order – wish me luck!

I’m curious: Do you have thoughts surrounding New Year’s Resolutions? Did you make any this year? If you have chosen to make 2013 goals/resolutions/intentions, how did you decide on what was most important?