Going into the new year…

… Not quite like a boss.

As an overwhelmed, dearly-loved friend of mine said, “It will take years for me to catch up from this last year. How am I supposed to ‘pick a word’?” Incidentally, her past year was hard in an ongoing, dragged-out fashion that had only a little to do with Covid, and mostly was just a series of unfortunate events similar to the Biblical account of Job.

I read through some of my recent writings and found too many times that I used “weird” to describe a thing. My writing teacher repeatedly instructed us to use the Thesaurus and never to use the same descriptive word twice in a paragraph. He pushed us to vary sentence structure and to find exact and vivid ways to express our thoughts. I’m sure he would not approve of so much “weird”.

So. That’s a somewhat-resolution I made. Stop saying “weird” so much. Thesaurus, don’t fail me now.

I need this reset to help me look for God in the you-can’t-make-this-stuff-up parts of life. He is there. All I have to do is observe, and maybe tell Him that I see Him so that it becomes a habit to notice. Maybe this situation I think is odd isn’t so weird at all, but Providential.

Recently I read how Mr. Rogers’ mother taught him to cope with scary things in the news. “Look for the helpers,” she would say. “You will always find people who are helping.”

Those are the two attitude shifts that I am working toward. I don’t have a specific word, but I do have the assurance of the kindness of God and His good intentions toward me.

I bought a cheap planner yesterday, four days late, but my old one finished out the week until Sunday, and I found I could cope. I jest. My planner is mainly my events diary, and the place where I write appointments that may or may not happen. (Some, like the filling and crown I was supposed to get yesterday, I do not mind rescheduling due to “staffing issues”. That’s code for The Dentist Has Covid.) The most important requirement is that my planner is big enough to write about three sentences every day, and small enough to fit into my purse. I like to have a month-at-a-glance page for appointments, (although my husband and I share google calendars so that we know who is coming and going). Having waited too long into the new year, the stock was very picked over, and I came home with thinner pages than I prefer to write on, and a nondescript blush cover with golden polka dots. Last year’s planner had a floral theme with wise sayings sprinkled through, and a thick notes section in the back that I hardly used except to feel glad that it was there in the event that I wanted to write notes. I have tried elaborate organizers with weekly meal planning sections and grocery lists and fitness goals all in one lovely book. In fact, I was looking at a simply gorgeous one online, with a reading plan, Scripture memory section, liturgical prayers, etc, and then I saw that it cost $48, so that deflated the optimistic moment that had me thinking I could compartmentalize my life so neatly. I want to be that kind of person, but I usually end up feeling like a failure at strategy, so I do not actually want it badly enough.

I find myself on a schedule to take my vitamin D, because my doctor was alarmed at how low my levels were and prescribed a mega-dose twice a week. I put that on my google calendar with a reminder that repeats obnoxiously until I do it. That is a goal I have set: swallow the pills.

In that same vein, I have determined to step outside if there is any sunshine at all. I find they were not kidding when they said that winter is cloudy here. Last week there was one day in the forecast with a window of partly sunny. I told the girls we would take scooters and bikes to the park as soon as schoolwork was done, then I looked at my weather app again and amended the plan to “let’s go right now.” It took us fifteen minutes to load up, and would you know, the clouds beat us to the park. I learned my lesson, because that was the only sunny hour in the 10 day forecast. From now on, kids, if the clouds crack, we are out of the house!

One of the most obvious ways I can feel that it is January is in my cravings for bright flavors. Living so close to a lovely produce section or two, I am buying a lot of fresh herbs and lettuces and citrus. We are having broth-based soups, or tacos and purple cabbage slaw sprinkled with lime juice, or cucumber sandwiches and ginger tea. It’s weird strange that the general malaise of wintertime energizes my cooking, but I consider it a good antidote to all the holiday feasting. Every year I wake up on January the first and just want to eat pink grapefruit for a month. If you have a recipe for some exciting dish you love in wintertime, please do share. Bonus points if it doesn’t include flour, but I’m open to anything you have.

Also, I would like to share an inspiring view with you, a frontier yet unconquered here on our property. The contractor who was going to put in a natural gas line from our house meter to the shop had a window of time to bring an excavator two days before Christmas. This is now what we have off our porch. Be jealous.

When it snows we have this outside. The light strings I had on hand didn’t reach very far, but I love them in the snow. Oh Lord, please let it snow!

I have a quick concluding story of the week before Christmas. Our elderly neighbor brought a plate of cookies to our door and in tentative 2020 fashion I invited her inside if she felt comfortable with that. She was happy to step in and chat while I brewed tea and showed her around. She told me about her family and how she has decided not to have any medical intervention if she gets sick, because she is ready to go. “There are things that are worse than dying,” she declared. And she is right. So that’s my final aspiration for this year: to live all in, with my home open to anyone who cares to walk the blue carpet to the door.

You are welcome!

4 thoughts on “Going into the new year…

  1. I loved an inspiration from Sally Clarkson several years ago about how she picks a verse for the year. Not being one who picks a word for my year, I did love the verse for the year idea. Last year my verse, He that is faithful in that which at least, was so fitting. My verse for this year is, A gracious woman retaineth honor. I want to become more and more gracious, and in my head I already have replaced the word, woman, with mother, quite a few times already this year 😉

  2. I’m glad I am not the only one who buys cheap, weird (wink) planners because of the reality that I won’t get my money’s worth out of the fantastic ones with the hefty price tag. The downside is that I really really liked that cheap, Dollar General find last year and of course it’s impossible to find a duplicate….

  3. I don’t remember how I found your blog, but it has been a delightful experience to follow your adventures. I have never commented before, but today your warm welcome to “walk the blue carpet to the door” tickled me. And your inspirational view off your porch made me laugh, but I’m sure that’s not funny in real life. At our house and in our yard we have some unsightly places that are bothersome, but hopefully temporary. It happens to all of us. Thank you for reminding me to see the humor in it.

  4. Thanks for the chatty update. 🙂 It’s good to hear from you in your new home and to know you are hanging onto the rope, one knot at a time. Look what all you’ve come through in the past year- you will also need “a few years to catch up”. But hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

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