Lighten the Load

Life around these parts has been feeling a little heavy lately. Not awful. Not sad. Not even terribly stressful. Just heavy.

Lots of decisions. Lots of planning. Lots of thinking. Too much thinking.

I attended a funeral last week that got me thinking about the many merits of being joyful. The woman who passed away was an absolute gem in every sense of the word. She laughed hard, loved her grand-babies even harder, shared kind words freely, and being in her company made you feel better about everything.

Following that funeral, I was going to write a post about the renewed sense of value I see in wholeheartedly living out our roles as sister, brother, wife, best friend, co-worker…

But you know what?

That felt too heavy for right now.

Spring is trying so. very. hard. to make its way to Minnesota. But, it’s still icy and snowy and I’m tired of calling 43 degrees a victory. That fact combined with everything else that’s been shaking around these days has got me throwing my hands up in defeat and saying, “Okay, life. Let’s just eat some frozen yogurt and gummy candy and have a good laugh. Sound okay with you?”

Let’s lighten the load, shall we?

This post is a smattering of joyful tidbits I’ve collected on my camera over the years. There is no coherent reason why I’ve chosen any of these except that they make me laugh or smile to look at them. I don’t know why the photos seem to get smaller the further down you scroll. Sigh. Oh, well.

Sometimes life doesn’t make any sense. This is my salute to the nonsense.

Cheers!

My love preparing the Christmas tree lights.

My love preparing the Christmas tree lights. I know the photo is blurry. I don’t care.

A rocking chair in a dry creek bed in Colorado.

A rocking chair in a dry creek bed in Colorado.

Tulips. I'm still waiting for these, too.

Tulips. I’m still waiting for these this year.

That's me driving a ginormous moving van.

That’s me driving a ginormous moving van.

A gummy worm in the peanut bulk bin.

A gummy worm in the peanut bulk bin. Weird.

Peonies outside the co-op. Last year. I'm still waiting.
Peonies by the co-op. I’m still waiting for these, too.

Shirley has her own pen. I think that's awesome.

Shirley has her own pen. I think that’s awesome.

This is Barbara! She introduces me to all things outdoorsy.

This is Barbara! She introduces me to all things outdoorsy.

A dinosaur in with the graham crackers.

A dinosaur in with the graham crackers.

A lovie note on my bike before I left to run a race in 106 degree heat.

A lovie note on my bike before I left to run a race in 106 degree heat.

The most perfect strawberry. Ever.

The most perfect strawberry. Ever.

Dancing in the Idaho farmland at the wedding of two dear friends.
Dancing in the Idaho farmland at the wedding of two dear friends.

That's my sister. She's going to be so mad at me for posting this...

That’s my sister. She’s going to be so mad at me for posting this…

My amazing yoga studio.

My amazing yoga studio.

A scooter I wanted to steal parked by the farmer's market.

A scooter I wanted to steal parked by the farmer’s market.

What’s making you smile or laugh these days? Please share with the rest of us!

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?