Welcoming The New Year: Happy 2017

Happy New Year (Photo by Edd Sowden via Flickr Creative Commons)

In the circles of magic and superstition, special attention should be paid to your actions on January 1st. Each action you take is an invitation to get intentional and align yourself with the New Year Mojo.

Whether you believe in magic – or not – why not give yourself over and create a very intentional kind of day? Why not choose what you eat, drink, say, write, buy and do as an action on this day to help with those goals for a 2017?

So what do you want more of in 2017? What do you want less of?

This morning, I woke before John and spent those first waking hour of 2017 in quiet personal time doing what I love at the beginning of the day: I read a little, wrote in my journal, drank lots of water, and had a little snack. Most of this was done in The Chair and each little action held power.

If I’ve learned nothing during this past couple of weeks, it has been made abundantly clear to me that I need personal quiet time. I need to sit and think and just BE.

Reading is like breathing to me, and I can’t imagine my world without books and letters and taking in the wisdom of others. I love my coffee and wine, but water is life. And frankly, as much water as I drink, I’ve gotten lax as the weather has cooled. And what would a year be without intentional writing?

There was no getting on the computer, no working, no mindlessly scrolling through social media….

Ah. And the snack. To be honest, I am the worst when it comes to breakfast on the weekends (or when John is home). I typically wait for him to be hungry, which often means I’m S-T-A-R-V-I-N-G and irritable. I operate best with a little protein, so choosing to nibble on a couple of sausage balls was about the intention of tending my needs as a priority. (And, pork for Good Luck in the New Year).

When John began stirring, I crawled back into bed with him. There’s nothing more critical in a couple’s relationship than tending intimacy. We cuddled and made love – both good omens for our year ahead together. (Maybe TMI, but an important component to my personal life: sex, intimacy, quality time)

After we both got up and moving, it was time for coffee our Normal Morning Activities.

Check email, read the news, the side-by-side companionship of coupledom. Couples need quality side-by-side companionship. We need the ability to be able to BE together and be happy doing our own thing.Far too many couples miss the importance of this, or believe if you aren’t actively interacting, it’s not special….

I had one purchase to make, a token if you will: a new journal. There’s nothing worse for a writer or a successful year of writing than to not have something to write in, is there? Since shifting to the “nice” journals, I make it a habit to have a stash of empty journals ready and waiting.

What better intention for 2017 than to ensure that the first penny I spent in the New Year was for my creative life?

Speaking of Creative Life…

I opened the Scrivener files for both of of the Books I’d like to birth in 2017 and spent a little time with them. I read some of what’s already there, added fresh content, and did some research. My timeline for one of the books feels pretty aggressive….

Tending and nurturing this work feels important today. What better action to take on the first day of 2017 than to write towards something that matters to me?

Then, it was time to get physical!

We made our way into our home gym soon after some writing time (for me) and some XBox time (for him). We have a series of stretches given to John by the Physical Therapist the last time his back went out and we do those together. He was in a helicopter crash in the 80’s and sustained damage to his back and shoulder, so he should be stretching daily. After stretching, I did some weights while he did his pushups and some cardio.

I need to get back in shape this year.  Honestly, so does he. This was a good intention to carry into 2017: working out together.

Sure, I’d like to lose about 15 pounds as a part of that, but mainly, I want more umph in my step. I want more stamina. I am a high-energy kind of gal, but I’ve noticed that my energy just isn’t as long-lasting as I’ve aged.  And, I also know that if I’m in better shape, my immune system will be more resistant. This Christmas Cold is almost over, yet honestly, is at day 8 of not being “well”.

I thrive in routine, so if I make working out a part of the norm, I will be more successful. The goals are small for January: weights twice a week, stretching of some sort daily, and walking three days a week. This past week, we purchased a Bike Trainer (to use our existing bikes indoors) as well as a top-of-the-line treadmill (which they should deliver and install it by the end of this week or early next week).

After our workout, I threw some laundry on and then I showered.

The act of fueling our bodies with intention.

I made a late lunch / early dinner. All traditional foods: pork medallions, sauerkraut, sauteed spinach, black-eyed peas and cornbread. All of the ingredients were well-sourced. We ate at the dining room table, lingered over a glass of wine and chatted. Then, we cleaned the kitchen together.

Nice, healthy meals are important to me. Allowing him to help is a biggie, too, because far too often, I just take-over and Do It All My Way. A nod to being willing to be helped….

And, to be honest, I kind of fell out of love with my kitchen this last year, relying on my back-pocket recipes for most of our meals.

We are ending the day with quiet time.

I’m sensing a theme for me this year: more quiet time. Grace requires time to BE and Think. I can’t be Unbound if I’m always busy. A solid entry into 2017 almost demands this of me.

So, this evening, I’ve done some reading. I wrote this post, set my 2017 Reading Goals over at Goodreads. I’ve looked in on my Social Media spaces. I made hot toddies for us to sip and did my evening routine stuff: setting up the coffee pot for the morning, took a peek at our laundry hampers to plot tomorrow’s laundry, and ensured the bed was neat and tidy and awaiting us.

I’d say that the entry into 2017 has been a great one. What about you?

The Weekly Round Up: Black Tie Edition

Late on Friday afternoon, I donned evening make-up:heavier than usual base, smoky eyes, heavy brows and even mascara, which I don’t tend to wear. I had been to the hair dresser earlier in the day to tame my curls. Then, it was october_dresseduppursetime to slip into clothes.

I say “slip”, like it was easy, but when’s the last time you “slipped” into a strapless bra? Being rather endowed, my strapless bra has an industrial level band with five hooks and it must be as tight as possible. Sometimes, help is involved in this step. Then, it was time for pantyhose – silky nude control-top pantyhose – which I know is old fashioned these days but one of the things this Southern Gal hasn’t shed yet. Then came…the dress. Floor length, cornflower blue chiffon. Help isn’t an option here, but a necessity. It’s impossible to zip on my own.

Ah….then for the final touches. High heeled patent leather pumps. Sparkly jewelry. Bold lips, thanks to treating myself to a new L’Absolu Rouge Définition lipstick from Lancome in Le Pourpre.

A break in primping to assist JB…who has been showering, shaving and dressing while I was…he’s in his tuxedo pants and shirt, cummerbund in place, and a holding a bow-tie in need of tying, which I do after watching a YouTube video a couple of times.

JB grabs his jacket. I grab my evening bag, which only has room for my phone and a lipstick, but nothing more. I toss an elegant black shawl across my bare shoulders. And we head out the door to attend the National Aviation Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.

We arrive at the museum at 5:30 and begin with wine and mingling. We shake hands with Gene Krantz, and inductee october_alldressedupand greet another man being honored that evening, Jim Lovell. We greet our table-mates and enjoy stories and conversation…and then, the ceremonies, where there are more stories, from family members and friends and the inductees, including an escape from the Nazi’s through the underground tunnels of Paris from General Robert Cardenes.

Then…home around midnight. Where I am too wired to sleep, so we have a glass of wine and share our impressions of the night.

What I’m Writing  (& How it Dovetails with Work)

I am deep within an editing phase, and frankly am still not writing. Well, of course, I am writing some, like a blog post and newsletter, but eeking out any other fresh words has been an ongoing challenge. I have the pressure of some deadlines and those deadlines are wrapped around editing.

My most urgent deadline is the Make Your Inner Sex Kitten Roar book and associated workbook. I am on the 3rd draft of this book and finally got all of my formatting issues worked out so that my Table of Contents appears the way I desire it to…. And to be frank, this project took the lion’s share of my attention last week.

I got a letter from my girlfriend yesterday and it has me thinking in different terms still about my soul-level need to put words to paper. In some ways, my need to successfully complete these projects within their timeline is hampering that next step for me.

Quotes-From-Elizabeth-Gilbert-Big-MagicHow can I take that next step if I haven’t successfully closed the open projects?

What I’m Reading

I fell in love with The Paris Key by Juliet Blackwell. The story of family and coming home to ourselves.

I began reading Big Magic this past week, but put it down in pursuit of editing. I can read fluffy fiction when I am feeling all the pressure from my deadlines, but am feeling more challenged to read for inspiration or education.

What We’re Eating

I’m still in pursuit of more veggies, so they are making their way into eggs in the mornings and drinkable pureed soups at lunch. I shared a cauliflower soup recipe in the newsletter this week. I made the exact same soup with broccoli, too.

What’s I’m Shaking My Head At

The latest round of school shootings and lost soldiers is hurting my heart.

What I Am Obsessing Over

It’s BULB time. All those bulbs I ordered earlier this year need to be planted. It was a lot easier ordering a couple october_lovellandkrantzdozen of this variety, and a half dozen of that….but when it comes to planting them, all those dozens begin to add up. Especially when you realize that yep, each one of those bulbs needs it’s own little hole dug into the earth.  Earlier today, I planted 64 tulips in the front. Then, I ran out of energy.

I still have around three dozen tulips to plant in the back along with 2 1/2 dozen daffodils. And, I need to buy chicken wire, to hopefully guard all those bulbs from becoming lunches for the neighboring squirrels and chipmunks.

What’s Really Floating My Boat

It all comes down to story. The highlight of Friday night, of course, were all the stories from the individuals being honored, the folks around our table, and even the stories behind an airplane here or there. Stories are the juice of living…

I had such a delightful evening with JB. Dear, Lord, that man excites me.

And I know I mention it almost every week, but the letter writing experiment is still inspiring me. Forcing myself to not go for the instant gratification of a response…forcing myself to dig a little deeper, be more honest and more vulnerable is a daring and loving adventure.

What’s been the highlight of your week? What’s floating your boat? What are you reading?

Five Things About Me

My August Break Entries for Days 5 to 7

Day 5 – Citrus

Call me crazy, but I love grocery shopping (a link to my May 27th Newsletter about it). That wasn’t always the case, of course.  I snapped these two photos at my favorite grocery store, Dorothy Lane Market. It’s a local store with three locations and I can’t tell you how grateful I am to be able to buy locally sourced produce, meat and dairy alongside cans of soup and bags of rice.

We use lots of lemons. In water. As the base of dressings and mayo. Both the zest and the juice in the prep of fish or baked goods….

   

Day 6 – Notebooks

Funny that the prompt was “notebooks”.  I wrote about keeping a journal in my work blog this week and will be following up next week with how I managed to get enough courage to go back to writing on paper full time.  I could have photographed a single journal, or a stack, or a close-up of these spiral-bound paper I use now.  (For the curious, I use Strathmore Sketch Books for my journals as it allows me to write large or small – and can stand up to a collage or mini-vision board.) Instead, because I see words as sacred, I let people see my sacred space – my altar space. Nothing goes here unless it means something.

Day 7 – 5 Things about Me

I dug back into my archive of photos a bit to get all these images.

The first is one of my favorite photos of JB. I took it in January when we were on vacation and seeing him relax on this catamaran just made me fall more deeply in love with him. I took the photo in either St. Croix or Martinique.  I came face-to-face with – and played with some of my edges of –  around my fear of water. He was there beside me, witnessing and helping me through it. But that’s a story for another day.

The second photo was one taken while we were in Kauai in December. The lesson that love is the answer took years for me to learn, and I am ever grateful. The third? My new morning routines and rituals, taken just this week.

The fourth photo – the middle one – was taken this past October in Paris at a sidewalk cafe. It was an adventure. JB was working in The Netherlands and I had tagged along….but took a side trip. I hopped a train to Paris, spent a couple of days exploring and met up with a friend that was in Paris at the same time (Kayce Hughlett). Then, I left Paris to head back to The Netherlands.

The 5th and final photo is from the flowerbed surrounding our little pond in the backyard. I love sitting out on our deck or our porch and being a part of nature. I also dearly love flowers. I love cut flowers in the house and the magic of planting bulbs in the fall to have spring beauty.

 

I can’t tell you how much I’ve missed writing in this space.  As a part of my seeking of new discipline around the writing parts of my life, I know that eventually, I need to come up with goals for writing in this space. Because, without goals and deadlines and guidelines, I’d never get anything published. 😉

on Being a Better Custodian

I promised myself that 2015 would be the year that I focused on being a better custodian of myself and my life; it’s a word that feels more challenging than the hardest word of the past, the year I chose faith. It would be so easy to IMG_20140627_164705ignore (or pretend) that I am doing a bang-up job at becoming devoted to the myriad of ways I can nurture the areas of my life that need to be nurtured, yet to say so would be a lie.

I am a good lie detector when it comes to others, so there’s no sense in trying to lie to myself and say that I’ve done an awesome job so far. It’s been a daily struggle because the trio of Inner Furies (Critic, Fear and Doubt) have built a fortress in head.

What I know for fact, however, is that by choosing to write about it, I can better process and build my courage for battle, I thought taking electronic pen to paper would be more useful than even journaling. So, here’s a midyear update on some of the ways being a Custodian is surfacing this week.

When it comes to my body…

When JB got his blood work back from his physical, he was told his cholesterol is too high. We eat a fairly healthy diet and his good cholesterol was great (due to all the Olive Oil and Fish in our diet) but he still needed to lower the bad cholesterol. I’ve struggled with cholesterol myself and my next round of blood work isn’t until September. So, it would be good for both of us for me to get a little more serious about it.

I prepare every meal we consume so it was time to take a deeper look at what we’ve been eating and sure enough, there’s a lot of foods that can be cut out (goodbye bread every night) and I need to pay closer attention to the amount of fiber in our diet (hello oatmeal and more fruits and veggies).

And let’s be honest, being more aware of the meals I create for us as a family only lends to me putting healthier foods into my own body.

But the number one thing the Mayo Clinic says you can do to lower your cholesterol is exercise. So, it was time to put more effort into moving our bodies. When he lived in DC, he rode his bike about 20 miles several times a week, but our lifestyle here has gotten a bit more sedentary. We’re riding at least once over the weekend and trying to get to the pool to swim laps as well.

11038987_1069106339795790_7745881067331900848_nThough I can’t force him to exercise, I can certainly make sure that I get my own butt in gear. I’ve been out on the bike twice this week and out for a long walk twice. I’m learning that if I don’t get out of the house by 9 AM (on average) for some exercise then it just isn’t going to happen.

I felt my best when I was running a couple of days a week, meditating regularly, doing basic body-weight exercises (like push-ups)  and I need to work back up to that.

I’m not noticing a different number on the scale, however I feel better and am better able to manage my stress and my emotions when I exercise.

When it comes to my mind and soul…

I’ve been reading a lot this year. I hadn’t really bothered to keep track in the past of how many books I was actually reading, but I can tell you the the pace of reading has increased. I set an initial Goodreads Goal of 52 books this year and at present I am at 83, so this week I reset my goal for 2015 to be 147 books.  I am reading a lot of “cozy mysteries” because they are like comforting mind candy – a grown up Trixie Belden – and I’m enjoying them as balm for my mind and soul. I’m still reading a fair number of “Best Sellers” and books that feed my mind so that I am a better coach.

I’m also diving into well written TV. I’ve long been a fan of Major Crimes (a spinoff of TNT’s The Closer) as well Rizzoli and Isles. I’m also enjoying a new TNT Series, Proof, as well as a summer series on CBS, Zoo, which is based on one of James Patterson’s novels.

When it comes to my talents…and time…

Writing has been a challenge this year, yet all signs continue to point to the fact that I need to write. I’m feeling a lot of internal pressure to Write Something beyond my regular consumables for work, yet by the end of the week, I’m planningcalendar1exhausted creatively.

This is one of those weeks.

We are traveling tomorrow for ten days and I don’t want to spend all my time in the hotel working while JB is teaching; I want to get out and explore. I want to stand in Louisa May Alcott’s bedroom and walk to Walden Pond.I want to visit Curly Girl’s little shop and revel in her creativity.

That feels like a better use of my time than sitting in the hotel doing work. Or worse yet, distracting myself from working by scrolling through Facebook.

So, I doubled up my writing for work this week and, in addition to this week’s blog post  and newsletter, I have solid drafts for next week’s that just need to be edited. I also have two drafts in the hands of my YourTango editor that will publish in the next ten days.

To be honest, I’ve missed writing HERE. Well, not specifically here at “DebraLoves.Com, but writing in my own personal space without regard for needing to stay “on brand” or running my work through the software that penalizes me for using a passive voice. I’ve missed writing about the big and little things that create our lives.

In recent years, I’ve denied myself this regular space for writing, even when I most needed it. But like the blank pages of the sketch pads I use for journaling, I also need the blank canvas of the web and a personal space to write. To make it more inviting, I need to do a bit of design work here to go beyond the initial basics of the theme I installed.

When it comes to my business…and relationships

That my business needs to shift and evolve isn’t anything new. My business has always been an integrative part of my Fridayworkdaylife as well, whether I am coaching or writing. So that means it has to feed my satisfaction with my daily life just as much as my nourishing daily life inspires and feeds my business life.

I’ve been mulling over how to best manage the different facets of my business and how I want to bring forward each of my programs. I had a long talk with JB about how I am feeling and what I am desiring and where I’m frustrated. Having is support on Whatever I Decide To Do humbles me and sends me to my knees with prayers of gratitude as I’ve never had that kind of support until this relationship.

I had a great session with Theresa Reed yesterday, who is not just a wise woman, but wicked smart when it comes to managing an intimate business. It helped to walk through every piece of my business with someone else. I am an extrovert and that means that sometimes, I have to talk in order to think.

I’m not ready to announce my plans yet, but I will be soon. It will be necessary soon.

And on that note, it’s time to close the computer, hop in the shower and dive into the necessary pieces of my day. I have a hair appointment and need to make one last run to the grocery store before we leave. I have a book to finish so that I can return it to the library before we leave (Nemesis by Catherine Coulter).

I also need to finish the business pieces I want to set in place before this trip and will do so while JB is off working on a new venture for him. And, there’s that half empty suitcase waiting to be filled.

Here’s to a happy and loving rest of the weekend.

100 Days of Fiction: Days 4 through 8

Though I am doing this project and some writing, I am officially on sabbatical so am not on the computer as much.  Here are days four through eight.

Day Four

Day Five

 

Day Six

Day Seven

 

Day Eight

And the Special Prompt Posted on Day 8:

 

Southern Comfort

The radio alarm pulled me out of dreamland at 5 AM. I drew closer to JB, rested my head on his chest and listened to the thump thump of his heart as he stroked his hand down my back. Even on the nights we sleep entangled into each other, the twilight between dreaming and waking biscuitsandgravytogether are sacred.

But there was no time to linger this morning. JB is managing a class this week which calls for being out the door before six. I was ahead of the curve this morning and was halfway through my first cup of coffee when he exited the bathroom, leaving behind a cloud of steam and the scent of shaving cream and Old Spice.

It’s a busy week for both of us, actually. In addition to my coffee, what I am needing is food.

What I am seeking is comfort.

We spent the Thanksgiving holidays with his family in Chicago. His family is big and boisterous and funny and overwhelming. Yet, I am growing used to the fact that dinner with the immediate family means twenty-five or so people. There is a huge difference between being one of two – who seem to have no commonalities as adults –  to being one of five – most of which talk to each other daily.

His family seeks reasons to celebrate and be together. My family saw holidays in a haze of “musts” and “shoulds“.

It was our fifth Thanksgiving together and with each passing holiday, I am less homesick for soft slurring voices than I was the year before. I’ve become accustomed to the nasal twang of the Midwest accents, a preference for pumpkin pie over pecan, and appetizers of crackers and cheese over a traditional cheese-ball studded with pecans.

What I miss, though, is my mother’s cornbread dressing and giblet gravy.

Once my grandmother stopped cooking, my mother was responsible for bringing the dressing and the gravy to Thanksgiving. She never allowed us to help with the cooking, so I remember watching from afar as she crumbled cornbread into a pan and mixed in a host of onions and celery cooked in a stick of Parkay and heavy handed dashes of sage. I remember that the consistency of the dressing was like that of a cake, which means there had to be lots of chicken broth in there, too.

I don’t have the recipe. My mother was notorious for hiding her signature recipes – or else leaving out an ingredient (or two) if you were able to pry it from her. Neither my sister or I have traces of the recipe anywhere. My mother’s oldest sister is still living, but she is approaching ninety and is forgetful. I’ve tried to replicate the recipe and the closest I’ve found is a recipe from Southern Living, but the flavor profile is missing something. And the gravy? Yep, haven’t figured that one out, either, though I know it had not just turkey giblets, but a boiled egg in it.

I don’t miss the drama the holidays inevitably brought around in Texas, but at the end of the long weekend with people I love, yet still haven’t quite accepted me as part of their family, has me craving comfort.

So, after JB left for work, I quickly dressed and by 6:05 AM was seated at Cracker Barrel. Though I am thinking about my granny’s okra fried in cornmeal and my mother’s sage dressing drenched in gravy, I know that any facsimile will just make the longing deeper, so I settled for a Southern Breakfast: fried eggs with sausage patties and biscuits with cream gravy.

I was seeking the comforts of childhood. I needed a taste of being a child, before I understood that my mother was just a little crazy. Oh, I guess I always knew that my mother was a little delicate (the Southern way of saying she was unbalanced), but there was always comfort to be found in the form of food. Despite the normalcy, it was my normal.

Biscuits and gravy was what I needed this morning. A touchstone to my childhood and the comforts that food can bring us. I needed the comfort of the past as I move into my day of writing and errands and household chores. Because when the harder memories weigh on my mind, I remember the warmth of JB next to me in our morning hours and know that even though there’s no cornbread dressing, I am wholly loved for who I am.

And I am safe.

Continual Improvement

One of the beliefs that seems to be floating “out there” is that coaches have all the answers.  And that on the path between here and there, that we must be there.

In my personal opinion, that’s a bunch of baloney.

As a coach, I have my brilliant days. My instincts lead me along the path of suggestions and nuances and tweaks that others can make in order to love themselves and their lives. One of my biggest talents is assisting someone in pulling apart the pieces and reassembling them into a life that feels right.

The truth behind my talent is that I lived it.  My world shattered and I found out that if I wanted to be happy, I was the only one who could figure out where each piece of the puzzle needed to go.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that there is no official there.

Yes, you create goals and you reach them. That is a sort of “there”.  But to believe that there means that everything is perfect every moment of the day?  Nope.  That there doesn’t exist.

In my consulting days, much of my professional expertise centered around Quality Systems.  While quality control is a part of that, the theories behind quality systems and planning are slightly different.  Learning the difference between “continuous” and “continual” was huge for me, and it’s a concept that can be applied to life and this whole “there” idea.

Continuous would be like a straight line while continual improvement allows more flex.  Overall, Continual shows an upward trajectory, but it’s not even.  There are sharp spikes and gentle spikes and sometimes a dip, but never does it dip to where it began.

Life is not about being “there”.  Life is not about always having to be bigger and better each day.

One of the keys to a happy life is learning and embracing the concept of Continual Improvement.

We create goals and we strive to reach them.  Once a goal is reached, we revel in that success and celebrate it.   When you are growing, things aren’t exactly comfortable.  But in order to catch your breath and prepare for the next leap, you may need to coast for a bit and revel in what is comfortable for a time. Sometimes we need to lean into the comfort of space and time and love and being.  Only after a time are we ready to begin to make new goals.

It’s the quality process of Continual Improvement: 

Plan♥ Do♥ Check♥ Act.

There is no there.  It’s simply a wonderfully imperfect journey. Doesn’t that sound like more satisfying way to approach life?

Farewell 2010 – Welcome 2011

IMG_20101231_153315 Thanks to the blessings of Mother Nature, we were presented with a treat for the last day of 2010: warm breezes and temperatures in the low-sixties. JB and I began the day right with breakfast at the Pancake House, where we have become regulars with our weekly jaunts for eggs, bacon, and strawberry pancakes.   As we settle into life here in Ohio, I find that, for me, I need the comfort of familiarity, and making a ritual of weekend (or holiday) pancakes is one that combines many loves: time with JB, good food, and people watching.  The early afternoon was spent bumming around The Greene, where we were able to indulge in the glorious and unseasonable warmth while window shopping. After returning home, we did some chores around the house, including the set up of the fire-pit on the patio. While JB did some work on the car, I indulged in a little reading while enjoying the breaths of warm air and the sounds of golfers.

Long past my regular bedtime, we got all dressed up and headed downtown to Sidebar, a local dining establishment that had a special New Year’s Eve celebration planned with a five-course menu of delectables with a champagne toast at midnight.  As I dressed for dinner, I began to wonder why I don’t do it more often:  get dressed up to go out. In fact, why don’t we get dressed up on the days we stay home?  But I digress.

Dinner was certainly an adventure as we sampled items we likely wouldn’t have ordered on our own, finding things we likely wouldn’t order in the future, though mostly finding treats we would order should they appear on the menu.  Try as I like, I don’t think I’ll ever be a big fan of lobster when it’s still in the shell.  The people watching was great to see the variety of humanity in Downtown Dayton.

After dinner, we headed home and shared a few quiet moments before heading to bed, where we slept in until a luxurious 10 AM.

We kicked off the new year with a brunch of traditional New Year’s foods:  pork and sauerkraut served with black-eyed peas and cornbread.  You can take the girl out of the south, but baby, you can’t take the south out of the girl.

I hope you were given the opportunity to pay proper homage to the end of 2010 and greeted 2011 with feelings of gratitude, hope, and love.

(Photo is mine, taken 12/31/10)

Reflections on Our First Christmas

IMG_20131217_073806It’s a beautiful Christmas afternoon in Ohio.  The fireplace is softly glowing, our little tree is sparkling, and I have a fresh cup of coffee at hand.  (The coffee, by the way, is in a holiday cup, thanks to my last minute acquisition of a couple of place settings of Christmas dishes – Holiday Garden from Martha Stewart.)

I arose early and spent some time in quiet as I began to draft this post and pulled stock photos for this and future posts. JB slept in –  all snug in our bed, with visions of pumpkin bread and coffee with eggnog floating in his head.

To be honest, I woke with words bouncing around my brain, itching to write , really write, for the first time in weeks.   It was one of those mornings where the pull of his warmth and the weight of covers could have enticed me to linger, however,  the pull to words was stronger.  I’m experienced enough with my bouts of writer’s block to know that if I don’t  get back in the saddle soon, the weeks of quiet will expand like a crack in hard earth in the Texas heat:  too large to fill and would eventually be avoided until spring storms arrived.  I can’t allow myself to fall into an expansive crevasse of a creative drought.

The sharing of what is held close to my heart today is the place to begin.

We decided to stay home for our first Christmas.   We had discussed driving to Chicago for the holiday, but the potential snowfall and the fact that I had covered over 1000 miles this week when I drove my car from Texas to Ohio left us with the conclusion that it would be nice to not travel, no matter how much we would have enjoyed some time with JB’s family.  The season is harder than I had imagined, this being the first Christmas without my mother.   No one could ever say that the relationship between my mother and I was all roses, but there it is undeniably:  grief.  It certainly doesn’t make sense to my logical brain.  JB has been incredible in his understanding and support.   When we discussed it the other night, he suggested I write:  he too has noticed that I have been avoiding my writing.  Like a good partner, though, he hasn’t chastised me, only provided quiet encouragement to get back, in some way, to my craft.  In a way, I digress as I’m not at the moment feeling the grief or loss, but contentment, love and peace.

Yesterday, we arose to enjoy breakfast at our favorite breakfast place,  The Pancake House, where we worked out way through scrambled eggs, bacon, and pancakes topped with fresh strawberries and decadent whipped cream.  We returned home to handle some chores and then spent the rest of the afternoon and evening simply enjoying each other.  We watched a couple of movies, enjoyed wine, a dinner of homemade chicken soup with cornbread, eggnog with brandy for dessert and the smells of spice and pumpkin as I baked some pumpkin bread to enjoy later.  Though I was beginning to feel the pull of sleep, we instead donned our coats and headed out to Midnight Mass.  The Adult Choir did a half hour of holiday music before mass and Father Ryan had a lovely homily.  I was so glad that we went.  I feel very blessed to have a partner who shares my appreciation for attending Mass.

christmas-snowfallAs we exited the church, a soft snow had begun to fall so I felt we had truly been given a treat to share a fresh snowfall, ensuring our first Christmas together was white.  As I mentioned earlier this month, I’m sure that I will tire of snow towards the end of winter, but in this moment, freshly falling snow is akin to magic to this Texas girl.

How blessed am I?  To have such a perfect moment of peace, love and magic?

When we arrived home, we had a glass of wine and a snack and watched a bit of Meet Me in St. Louis before we found our way to bed.

Today has been wonderfully quiet.  We had a lovely Christmas Brunch of scrambled eggs with peppers, onions, turkey and cheese along with toast, pumpkin bread, coffee, orange juice and eggnog (this time, without the brandy).    JB is off in the office doing whatever it is he does in there while I stretch out on the couch and write.    As soon I’m done with this post, I will pull the beginnings of Christmas dinner together.  On the menu tonight:  spinach stuffed pork loin.  I’m debating the choice of roasted potatoes or a baked sweet potato, but I think that the potatoes are winning for the simple fact that I can roast them in the crock-pot with the pork loin.    I’m also planning on fresh rolls and salad.

We have another movie (or two) waiting to be watched, more eggnog, wine, and pumpkin bread.   And no where we must go today nor anything that truly must be done.

Certainly a first Christmas together filled with warm memories of peace, love, and contentment.  I hope you are feeling the love and blessings of Christmas wherever you may be.

(Photos:  first photo is mine….  second photo is stock, thanks to MorgueFiles)