morning

I am not really a morning person - at least, I've never thought of myself as one. Quite possibly, though, my aversion had something to do with that early morning alarm. Ever since turning it off, I am finding that mornings are - well - pretty awesome. Yeah, really - who knew? Or maybe it was all the rushing around - frantically searching my closet for something to wear. The forest doesn't care what I wear on our early walk up the mountain - and neither does Chessie. Or maybe I just prefer a quiet cup of coffee, unhurried, outdoors - at least until the weather gets too cold. It's the perfect me-time. Hummingbirds are my regular morning visitors as I sit writing in my journal. They will often hover quite near me as if to wish me a good morning. I've given up trying to take their photo, and simply pause to watch as they fly from flower to flower. They are a symbol of finding joy in the little things - I'm okay with that. Last week, I celebrated one of those big round number birthdays - ummmm yeah, I really don't want to talk about it... Needless to say, though, my family spoiled me and it is always wonderful when we can all be together - I am now learning to use my new camera (great big smile) which happily coincides with joining a photography course taught Kim Klassen. Rediscovering my joy for clicking is a fantastic feeling. Also bringing joy - this little peanut. I can't believe how quickly she is growing into a little person with her own big personality. I am finally cleaning out my email boxes, unsubscribing and unsubscribing and unsubscribing, and figuring out where all those obnoxious alerts on my phone are coming from - is it just me, or do random alerts make you nuts, too? I have been ignoring my old work email - as a retiree, keeping my email account is both a blessing and a curse. I told myself that I would give it two weeks before taking a look - but then two weeks flew by and I'm like "nahhhh, girl, you can make it three." I'm on a bit of a digital detox... And so - time is flying by. I really can't believe that Labor Day is upon us - where has the summer gone? Remember all those mountains to be hiked and bike adventures to be had? Yeah... Life truly is what happens while you're busy making plans. And now - it's your turn - curious minds want to know - are you a morning person? Do you mind digital clutter? Have a system for keeping it neat? I hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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Stillness-Part I

I finally made it, transitioning my work over the past two months - and arriving at that uncharted territory called "retirement" "So, what are your plans?" numerous colleagues asked during my last week in the office. Me: "Ummmmm, I don't really have any" Colleagues: blank stares, apprehension Me: "Well, we moved to Vermont" Colleagues: visible relief, smiles, nods - "That's great! Vermont is so pretty!" I don't know - does moving to Vermont constitute having a plan? And, isn't the whole point of retirement to not have plans? - No calendar filled with endless meetings, no barrage of emails, no panicked last minute tasks to fix whatever avoidable problem happens to arise... That was my plan. Creating a plan Driving home from my office for the last time, I pondered my apparent lack of a "plan" - and created one (well - kind of, sort of) Turn off the early morning alarm Wake up early, anyway Load the kayaks in the truck and head to our favorite pond Grab my much neglected camera - check to make sure the battery is fully charged, neglect checking the memory card Paddle to the middle of the pond, savor a hot cup of coffee and revel in the stillness that surrounds me Be graced by the presence of two bald eagles, calling to each other across a peaceful cove (not actually part of the plan - but I am immeasurably grateful that this happened!) Rediscover the joy of snapping random photos (until the memory card is full) Feel at peace with the world, then carry on with a plan-less day What next? Seriously, though, what's next? Well, I am resuming my photo challenge where I left off - "stillness". The month of August will be devoted to stillness - in my photos, my art, as well as my life. Art journaling - I've joined Summer Studio and look forward to delving into the lessons. Maybe I will even be active in the social media that accompanies it - who knows? I signed up for a couple of classes offered by Laura Horn. And then - there are mountains to be hiked, bicycle adventures to be had, family to be visited, a giant stack of books to be read, and more minimizing (so much more minimizing)... Boredom is not in my immediate future. It is time to decompress. Yes - sooner or later, I assume that I will add a little more structure to my days. So many ideas rattling around my head - all on hold, waiting for my okay to move forward. For now, my current lack of plans fills me with contentment. How about you? Do you prefer to have set plans, or do you enjoy making them as you go - letting things unfold?

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If I were a flower

what would I choose to be? This was a recent art journaling prompt. No deep thought - no debate (should I be this flower? that flower?) - I knew the answer - I would be a daisy. Not the flashiest flower in the garden - nor my favorite. Not a choice, really, it just feels right. And as I am mindful of what feels right, I understand that, for me, the question isn't really "what flower?", but "why?" The daisy's beauty lies in its simplicity - the joy of daisy chains - the cheerful yellow and white of wild daisies picked by the roadside, filling a vase. Daisies make me smile. In the language of flowers, the daisy has many meanings, but did you know they also symbolize new beginnings? Neither did I, but that feels right, too. Walking through the room as I work on my art journal page, Greg comments - "that looks pretty" Me: Really? because I feel like it's a bit of a mess. But then, I think it's supposed to be? Greg: That's probably why it's pretty - you're out of your comfort zone. Hmmmm - indeed... Only four more weeks of back-and-forth to Boston - and yes, the countdown has begun! And while summers are usually a bit more relaxed in my office, it seems that there is a lot going on, this year. I watch as everyone scurries about, reacting to "what" is happening; as always, I am much more interested in "why". Is anyone asking "why?" But then, I allow myself (remind myself) to sit back and watch, realizing it's okay to just shrug my shoulders - not my problem... This is a bit out of my comfort zone, too - and yet... smile... This all reminds me of a quote I often see online by Neale Donald Walsch - "Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." Yeah... we'll see... I suspect I will be out of my comfort zone quite a bit in the weeks ahead - so far... it seems okay - it feels right. And now - I'd love to hear from you. How is your summer going? Have you been stepping outside your comfort zone?

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The path chosen

What is it about paths that draws me in? A quick glance through my photo library reveals numerous photos of paths - some straight, some winding - I am particularly drawn to paths that disappear into the distance. The unknown, the mystery, the potential that they hold... And today, as I follow a new bend in my path - or maybe I turned at a fork, I am excited to be heading in a new direction, looking back only to reflect - but never walking backwards. Messaging with a friend about a new ebook by photographer, David duChemin, she also recommended his book "A Beautiful Anarchy: When The Life Creative Becomes the Life Created". Excited to find it awaiting my arrival home, one evening, I devoured it; his words resonating with me from the opening paragraph to the last sentence. "Now might be a good time to start unabashedly asking yourself, 'what do I want?'" Discouraged, I thought to myself, shouldn't I have done this years ago? (Yes - probably) Is it too late, now? (No - can it ever, really, be too late to make plans?) Choosing a path is not always easy, I know. It is often steep and bumpy - or just plain challenging - but then, it is these paths that offer the greatest reward. "There are no guarantees as we head into the unknown. There can't be." I have five more weeks of going back and forth between my home in Vermont and my job in Boston - or maybe six? (I haven't yet begun a countdown - undoubtedly, that will happen soon.) In the meantime - I am enjoying all that summer offers. Gardening, I planted my first small vegetable garden in several years. My deck is a profusion of blooms and herbs as I can't seem to get enough flower-filled pots - the garden center pulling me in as I drive past. On weekends, we have managed to find time for a few hikes - the scenic vistas on this post come from Mount Ascutney. I am also working on a couple new pages in my art journal - smile... Once things settle a bit, I will resume my photography challenge. And that's about it for me. I hope your summer is going well - I would love to hear what you are up to!

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Baby steps and marathons

  I was beginning to feel as though 2019 had gotten off to a slow start. This was to be my year of exploration - of "following my soul" - and really, what was I doing? I felt as though I was marching in place - staying with the status quo. And then - a couple of baby steps set everything into motion. Looking into the possibility of selling our Boston-area townhouse and relocating to our Vermont home, "Away", resulted in a quick, unexpected sale and a frenzied month of sorting, minimizing, packing, and moving. Art Journaling Before this all started, I was playing in my art journal. Our Wanderlust theme was "rivers." The stones at the bottom of the river are meant to represent letting go of the things that weigh us down. I left a few stones on the river bank, knowing there were still some things that I needed to drop into my river. At the time, they felt more like boulders than stones. And then... SPLASH My soul told me to drop that stone in the river and I listened. So - yeah - this is really, real. I am excited. I am nervous. I am a wee bit scared. But most of all - I am feeling lighter than I have in months - pretty darned happy. So - what next? Well - I think we may need a new name for "Away" I have two more months of back-and-forth between Vermont and Boston, while I transition from my job to retirement. Lots of unpacking, Another round of minimizing... And then - All those things I was neglecting before - family, photography, art, journaling, gardening, reading... To kick-start my retirement, I registered for Summer Studio Capturing Moments - an art journaling workshop where my friend Sarah (Paisley Rain Boots) from Twisted Road Studio will be teaching. I have a few ideas bouncing around my mind - but they can wait for now. It's been a long time since my last post and I can't wait to hear what you have been up to. Do you have plans for the summer that you are looking forward to?

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Neglecting…

My blog, my camera, my journals (including my art journal), my family... Which is to say, I've been neglecting just about everything that adds meaning to my life. Sitting in my office the other day after a particularly contentious "discussion" with my boss, I asked myself "what am I doing here?" My mind immediately whispered to me, "Neglecting your soul" And there it is - in the year of listening to my soul... So yes, it's been a bad week - and that's okay - we all have them now and then. And while I've been foolishly optimistic with my "there's a light at the end of the tunnel" mantra, I feel confident that there is, indeed, a light at the end of the tunnel - because, well, I say so. I am listening to my soul. Getting away - food for the soul Life is good, though - truly. As I sit here gazing at the mist on the mountain, writing this post and sorting through photos, I am grateful for all I have. Greg and I managed to get away for a few days, meeting two of his brothers and wives in Las Vegas. Have I ever mentioned how much I love the desert? As in, zen. Hiking in Red Rock Canyon heightened my appreciation. And then - Death Valley - WOW! This particular spot is called Badwater Basin, and at 282 feet below sea level, it is lowest point in North America. Cool - right? (or maybe it's just me) I had so much fun with this adventurous crew! My sister-in-law and partner-in-crime when it comes to exploring all that must be explored - even when it means dragging our husbands behind us. Breathe... An afternoon boating on Lake Mead - and a pretty-darn-cool-view of Hoover Dam. Appreciating life... And then - back to minimizing Minimizing has been on hold for a short time, but nope - I haven't given up. Greg has even joined in the fun; we are in full tilt minimization mode. Really - our home isn't terribly cluttered - so where has all this stuff been hiding? And yet, I think Greg is now on a first-name-basis with the kind folks at our local Goodwill. I feel lighter with each and every box that leaves my home. We're getting there. Ummmm - photo challenge for the month of March? Oh yeah - stillness... to be postponed until I am able to find a little stillness in my life. Or - maybe I should choose a different prompt - like maybe - chaos. And with that - I'll leave you with one of the benefits of my bad week. Feeling the need for a smile, I got the heck off the subway and walked through the Boston Public Garden on my way to work. Make Way for Ducklings never fails to…

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