Sunday, November 27, 2011

Day 16,853 Gratitude

And so this long weekend of thankfulness comes to a wet and sleepy close. There was plenty of time with family and friends, but also ample time for quiet contemplation and much needed rest.

For the last week, Dan and I have been using Livestrong.com to help us safely navigate our way through the start of this holiday eat-and-potato season. Their iPhone App has been an unbelievably helpful tool. See, I never worked off the weight that I gained last winter and then I added more since. Considering my family history of high blood pressure and high cholesterol, I would much rather make lifestyle changes than take medication for a lifetime. So here I am now, reading labels and being sobered by what one serving really looks like. All for the best, though ... all for the best.

I am eagerly awaiting my shipment of copper wire so that I can get back to wrapping. Things the last few months have not gone as planned, but that in no way implies that they've gone wrong. I have a feeling that it will all be well worth the weight wait.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Day 16,842 Gratitude

They say, "There are two lasting gifts that we can give our children. One is roots and the other, wings." Well, I think the very same advice can be applied to marriage ... "children" interchangable with "spouse."

Over the past two decades, Dan has generously given me roots and wings. There are so many opportunities, endeavors and adventures that I never would have accepted or attempted without his unwaivering support, encouragement and triple-dog-dares. Not once has he ever questioned or doubted my ability to go for whatever I've wanted, regardless of how crazy unconventional those whatevers have been. Best of all, he knows exactly how and when to bring me back in for a safe landing, despite the turbulence sometimes faced upon re-entry.

I'm a very lucky and grateful girl. And I can only hope and wish that I've returned the favor.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Day 16,841 Gratitude

Yesterday, as I was backing out of the driveway, this clematis bloom caught my eye. The mother plant resides at the northwest corner of our backyard. Every passing dog pisses upon it and yet every May it blooms profusely without fail. Well, um, it's not May right now and by all appearances the mother plant is dormant ... except for this bloom and the tendril that spawned it.

I hadn't sketched anything in my sketchbook journal in almost six weeks. Sure, I've written in it. A lot. And I've adhered to and embedded in it the precious bits and symbolic pieces that make up the current puzzle of my life. But a sketchbook journal needs sketches, so I decided to force try my hand at capturing this bloom.

What I am learning, every time that I put pen and brush to paper, is that what I try to capture will show me how to capture it ... and through that how will be revealed the why. The same can be said for photography, I suppose, but that's a much faster and more superficial flirtation. When I sketch something, I have to be willing to sit with it, study it and invest the time it takes to get to know it first, before it allows me to really see it and its essence. Once revealed, there is always a message for me there.

Today is my Chelsea-versary. Six years since her passing. For 18 years, she was my friend and familiar. I still wake up at night with space for her above my head. It gives me some comfort to know that Fred is with her now and yet their absence gives me paws, um, I mean pause.

For November, its gravitation pull inward, its anniversaries and essences ... I am so deeply grateful.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Day 16,829 Gratitude

Yesterday, before sunset, my husband and I took a walk around Withrow Nature Preserve which is just a few miles from our house. The trail around and through this little pocket of wooded and meadowed goodness takes about 45 minutes to navigate. I emerged from it with a full heart that had felt shrivelly small upon entry. It is becoming clearer and clearer to me that walks outside this winter is the code cracker. They will be the key to keeping myself centered. I won't always want to do it and the weather will provide ample excuses to avoid it, but the better I am at rising to occasions to get outside and do so, the better off that I will be emotionally in the long run.

Other things for which I am feeling grateful today ...

Fridays on Thursdays and the goodness that is a three-day weekend.
The welcome return of oatmeal and raisins for breakfast.
Blank canvases and second chances -- not always two different things.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Day 16,828 Gratitude

And so it begins ...

Dark time. The stretch from November through February is tricky terrain for me in terms of emotional stability. Ever-lurking is the seasonal tsunami of sadness awaiting the opportunity to sweep me out to a tear-filled sea. Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic, but each year I do wonder, in all seriousness, if it behooves me to get professional support for my SAD. Asking for help when needed is one of the kindest things that we can do for ourselves but, mind you, one the hardest things to do as well ... especially if you are an "I-can-do-it-myself" kinda girl, like me.

I bought this lightbox back in 2006 and it has made a huge difference in my winter well-being. I use it every morning from Autumn Equinox to Spring Equinox for at least 30 minutes. When the heaviness I feel can't be correlated to anything relevant or the blues come on so fast, so thick, that it nearly knocks me off of my feet and straight into bed, despite sunshine and blue skies, it's my queue to go to twice per day sessions.

I felt this shift on Monday without the slightest fair warning. I have scrambled to get my plan in place. The appropriate adjustments have been made to my vitamin regimen. I have to make a point of getting at least one walk outside every single day. With heavy emphasis on outside. But treadmill at time at the gym can still be worth its weight in mood-enhancement gold when the weather is inclement. I will soon stock my freezer with single portions of homemade soups and do my best to keep green smoothies in my daily plan. Genuine nourishment, in all forms, is so important right now. And it is imperative that I keep my carb consumption in check during this time, as it only feeds the problem. I'm looking right at you refined sugar ... with your pumpkin pies and your Christmas cookies!

I do my best to always have plans to look forward to during this time. Lunches with friends and artist dates really do keep my wheels on the wagon at this time of year, when I am prone to staying cooped up at home and circling the bed with longing for yet another hibernatory nap. This year I am making a priority of regular body work, so every other week through February, I will be receiving a one-hour massage or a one-hour reflexology treatment. It's definitely an investment, but this level of self-care is an immune system booster that may be priceless in the long run.

I know that this winter and how well I weather it has a lot (if not everything) to do with the stories that I tell myself about it, but I also understand that these feelings are very real. Self-soothing techniques and distractions can go a long way toward helping, as can offering myself the same care, kindness and compassion that I would to a loved one. But I share all of this to remind myself (and YOU) that there is abundant help and support available in a variety of forms and none of us ever has to go it alone.

And for this I am so grateful.