Monthly Archives: January 2016
My parents are 80 years old. My Mom had her birthday last month and my Dad is this spring. It is becoming more and more apparent I won’t have them around forever and so the time I spend with them becomes precious.
My blogging buddy Andra Watkins speaks about the importance of making memories. She walked the Natchez Trace with her Dad, and then wrote a book about her experience: Not Without My Father. She’s got a twitter feed at #makeamemory where people share their stories.
When we asked my Mom what she wanted for her 80th birthday she said she wanted to go out with just her girls. This isn’t as simple as it sounds. There are schedules to shuffle, kids to arrange for, and some history of unpleasantness between us. But it’s what she wanted, so I got on the phone.
We kept it a secret until Mom’s actual birthday. Then my middle sister (the one who lives closest) gave her a card with an “invitation” inside. Lunch with your daughters, January 2nd. She was SO excited! We didn’t “do Christmas” until just this past weekend so it was nice for her to have something to carry her through the actual holiday.
Even on the day we had a few minor scheduling issues. I volunteered to pick up my little sister and forgot she’s outside of the GPS maps so we were a little late arriving. My middle sister was babysitting and needed to drop off her Grandson “on the way”. She was driving Mom, who also wanted to stop and pick up a few groceries.
In the end we all made it to lunch. The waitress snapped a photo to prove it. It was a pleasant leisurely afternoon. We sat and ate and chit-chatted about nothing important. We kept it all light and friendly.
My Mom was thrilled. She still talks about how wonderful it was for us to do that for her. She says finally, for the first time in her life, she got exactly what she wanted for her birthday. We made her a memory.
For me, it’s not the lunch that’s the memory. It’s being able to make my Mother so happy, with such a simple thing. Aging is hard for her. She struggles to continue to be relevant, to be heard, to participate and she does better than she thinks. But this day, for her birthday lunch, she could be the center of attention, “the Mom”, and not have to work at all.
The latest Anthology has been released!
The Pagan Leadership Anthology edited by Shauna Aura Knight and Taylor Ellwood published by Immanion Press.
This book is filled with essays written by authors from the Pagan community. Many of them I know and respect both as writers and leaders.
This may seem like a “niche” market book, but I think it has a lot to offer outside the Pagan community as well.
The leadership models in Paganism tend to be more collaborative than hierarchical. The community as a whole is already “outside the norm” and so its members are practiced at stepping away from systems they don’t like. We often tease that leading Pagans is like herding cats!
We demand a great deal from our leadership and vote with our feet. Sure there is hierarchy and there are occasionally cults of personality. Sometimes personal issues and interpersonal dynamics interfere with the effectiveness of a leader in a larger group. But these kinds of issues also play out in corporate and other community settings.
I am proud to be a contributor to this anthology. Although the examples are clearly Pagan, the principles are applicable in any leadership situation.
It’s finally starting to feel like winter. We’ve had enough snow to cover the ground and temperatures are falling. In Minnesota we are known for being the “frozen North” but most of December our temperatures remained above freezing. This is nice in theory.
The warmer temperatures did make getting out and about a little easier. Navigating sidewalks wasn’t a problem as there was no build up of snow. On street parking was available and none of the commercial spaces need to use their handicapped parking spots as the “logical” place to pile the snow shoveled off the lot.
On the other hand, there was no White Christmas. The magic of the season, the lights the sounds, are all shifted when there is a crispness in the air and snow on the ground. Instead of clear starry nights we had clouds and sleet. Many people I spoke with were having a hard time finding the spirit of the season, and I blame that on the weather.
The snow cover protects our plants in the frigid cold that January often brings. Because most of our precipitation has been rain, that snowy blanket isn’t as effective. We can hope that we will continue to remain warmer this season, but there is a difference between climate and weather.
The climate is shifting. The lines for gardening zones have moved quite notably in my lifetime. But in any given year we can see any kind of weather. I complain that the forecasts often compare our temperatures to the “average”. Here that is meaningless.
When temperatures on any given day from the highest high to the lowest low range anywhere from 40-80 degrees what’s 5 or 10 degrees above or below “average”? I suspect there are days when the “average” high or low is a temperature than doesn’t exist in the historical listing for highs and lows on those days.
January often sees days below zero. It is not uncommon to see weeks where temperatures never rise above zero. We’ve had three-week stretches of unrelenting, bone chilling weather. Finally we’ve dropped the temperature to a point where maybe we can remember what winter is really like.
I’m not the only one blogging about the weather this week. If you want a warmer POV check out Monica’s Tangled Web.
The holidays are over, at least for most of us, and it’s time to get back to the daily grind. I suppose those New Year’s Resolutions are supposed to help with that. All those good intentions with the opportunity to put them into play. I don’t bother with them anymore. They seem to just lead to great disappointment when, by February, I’ve forgotten them completely.
There are still leftovers in the fridge. The last of the sweets are around the house. The decorations get packed up this coming weekend. It’s cold, and dark, and a little bit sad to see all the sparkle go away. Resolutions don’t do it for me, but this is the time of year when I lean heavily on Daily
Daily Practice can mean a lot of things. A diet requires daily practice, as does an exercise program (or physical therapy). Most spiritual systems encourage some sort of daily practice. Writing, learning a new language, honing a skill all good candidates for daily practice. And I’ve done them all, at least for a while.
When it’s dark, and a little depressing I use daily practice to “prime the pump”. I find some very small thing that’s easy to do, even if I have to quick do it before I go to bed because I’ve forgotten or put it off all day. Then I just commit to doing it.
Lately my daily practice has been making the bed. This is not a hardship. I have a duvet (and right now an extra blanket/bedspread). There are no hospital corners involved. All it takes is a quick tidy. I can do it in less than a minute. There is no excuse not to make my bed. I just never did it before.
This one small thing doesn’t seem like a spiritual practice. It doesn’t look like much of anything, but it makes a huge difference in my day. Every time I walk into my room and see my bed made it makes me smile. It makes me feel special, like I care about myself. It makes me want to be better at all the other things that need doing.
It does exactly what I’m looking for from Daily Practice at this time of year. It gets me started on the right foot. It sets me up for a productive day. It primes the pump.