October 9, 2012

Absense, and Wisdom

It appears as if I fell into a black hole from late June through to early September. I guess I did, in a way, but there were a lot of things going on in there. It was more of a Wonderlandesque rabbit hole than just a black one. Here are some of the more important items:

1. I moved into a new house in the city. I made the move during that weird summer storm that knocked out everyone's power; tumultuous weather seems to like to crop up when I'm making major life changes (at least it wasn't a flood this time...). I'm currently sitting at my new desk, surrounded by open windows, enjoying the sound of church bells and gospel wafting over from the church on the corner.

Mackie: the best dog in the history of the world.
2. I said goodbye to a beloved pet, Mack. Mom got him from the pound when I was maybe sixteen. I remember the day Mom brought him home. He was so excited to be out of the kennel that he spent the entire afternoon wearing a circle into our backyard. As with all good things, he could be a little high maintenance, but he was incredibly loyal and loving. When you looked into his eyes, you saw a human inside him. He was just one of those special dogs that felt more like family than anything else. When I moved back from Australia, our walks together through the woods was the only thing I derived any real pleasure from. He used to run ahead and look over his shoulder, smiling, wanting me to run with him. I miss him every day.

3. I had some incredible and unexpected adventures in new places. I spent a lot of time outdoors and in awe of the world. Here are some of those places:
4. I started a new job that continues to challenge and inspire me. I feel pretty privileged to be a teacher. And that I get to make vocabulary crowns. And that my students actually wear them.

5. I wrote the first draft of my third book - in four months. Yikes!


I recently had a few days off to celebrate Rosh Shoshanna. While I'm not Jewish, I enjoyed the opportunity to reflect on all of the things that've happened this year. To think about the things I've learned, and the things I'm looking forward to. It was nice to take a breath and appreciate how far I've come. Here are some pieces of random wisdom that popped up during my reflections:

1. Don't feel guilty about taking time out for yourself. There will always be something you need to do - work, school, bills, whatever. Enjoying an afternoon doing something you love can be just as important as getting 'stuff' done. Sometimes even more so.
2. Using buttermilk in baked goods is always a good idea. It makes them fluffier and less likely to be dry.
3. Travel, travel, travel. Even if it's just a state away. Even if it's only an hour away.
4. When you're feeling uninspired, go outside. When you're feeling frustrated, go outside. Being outside and moving makes everything a little clearer.
5. It's good to have a hobby that's yours and that you can do no matter where you are or what's going on. Writing is that thing for me; doing it always makes me feel grounded within myself, and that's a valuable thing to carry with you.
6. Slow down long enough to crunch those shriveled leaves on your sidewalk, to take a picture of the sunrise before getting in your car, to smell your coffee as it's poured. Otherwise life is just a series of moments rushing by, rather than a series of memories.
7. Try putting cinnamon in your coffee. Try putting Aleppo pepper in...everything.
8. Take the time to write people thank you cards. Not just the big thank you's, but the little ones. Thank people for being encouraging, or for doing the deeds that usually go unnoticed and unremarked upon. You wouldn't believe what an impact it can have.
9. Never miss the opportunity to go for a swim in natural bodies of water - regardless of whether you brought a bathing suit.
10. Unplug yourself from time to time. Step away from your iPhone and listen to the rhythm of the world as it breathes.

Currently writing to: Mumford & Sons - "I Will Wait"