We’re halfway through January. It has been a very strange time, so much snow and then so mild. And now so grey and foggy. We’ve already had at least a week of it and a promise of more to come. I’m not complaining, merely stating the facts. It is hard to be an energy bunny under these conditions. I try to be a ski bunny most mornings at the Wildwood Golf Course. By habit I am now always eager to hit the tracks. It was a slippery slope this morning. My skis were ready to slide away without me.
Suprisingly, I haven’t been blue or brooding. Perhaps it’s these morning outings that are saving me. It is really beautiful and wonderful skiing in what feels like a fairy tale wonderland – the grey lit up by the hoar frost on the trees. I never get tired of the scenery. I never get tired of snapping a photo. There’s always something different of the same. The light changes and the sky is never the same. I want to capture everything, even knowing I can’t.
My morning activity sustains me. Having stepped out the door each day is a testiment that I am still alive and vibrant. I can’t sustain it all day. Mornings are wonderful. Afternoons I droop and sag. I try to fight it but I lose. I give in to the natural rhythm of the day and my body. I can wait for the sun. Meanwhile, I can peck away on the keyboard, one letter at a time, a word, a sentence, a paragraph and finally a post. I will not worry about word count but will proof read for errors of all kinds.
I’ve made some progress on the book Babel. Though it is fantasy and not my usual genre, I find it quite engaging. Firstly, it is written by R. F. Kuang, a fellow Chinese. She is young, beautiful and very accomplished. She is very fascinating to me. The book starts in Canton which is near where I am from. So can you see why it holds a lot of interest for me? Anyways, it is a good book to get a little lost in while I’m waiting for the sun.
January 31, day 31 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. I don’t know what the fig happened. I was awol (absent without official leave) for a few days – January 28, 29 and 30. I didn’t mean to. Really, I didn’t but my days got shorter. I ran out of time. I ran out of energy and I never had a plan for those kinds of days. But I am showing up to wrap up the month and the challenge. I will have a beginning, a middle and an ending to the month and challenge.
Did I fulfill my goals for this month and the challenge? The answer is yes and no. I did not show up every single day. I did not worked through the whole Unravel Your Year workbook. I looked back on most of 2021 but not ahead to 2022. I am not much of a planner. It shows up in different areas of my life. Maybe it’s something I should work on, eh? If I had a plan B, maybe I could have shown up here every single day. No use crying over spilt milk. I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water.
I’ve come back over and over. I have done the best I could. Life is about flexibility. It’s a little of this and a bit of that. It’s a potpourri of successes, failures, boredom, elation, stumbles, falls and everything that is possible and imaginable. I am very happy that we have the UBC platform wherein I can do my mumbling, stuttering and sharing. It’s a great place to meet others from different parts of the world and in different walks and stages of life.
I’ve taken on more than I can bite for this January. Besides the UBC, I have a weekly online adult learning course from our university. The subject is on the goddesses of India. There are no examines but the subject is very new to me. I have also signed up for an in-person watercolour class. It seemed like a good idea at the time. It still is but it’s 2½ hours every Saturday for 8 weeks. Learning something new is very exhausting – for me. After the class, I’m no good for anything cerebral. I ski to unwind. Then I am done for the rest of the day. I have 3 classes under my belt now. I’m starting to have a feel for that sweet spot. It is also very easy to fall down and into making mud again. I try not to feel too elated or too downcast. This life is a journey of ups, downs and monotony. They all contribute to the texture of my days.
Today I say farewell to January and the UBC. Much thanks to Paul Taubman our maestro and to all the members of this community. I appreciate all the visits, reads and thoughtful comments. It’s been a fun and rewarding month.
Day 29 of the Ultimate Blog Challenge. Tomorrow is the last day. I’ve had a full day baking bread and doing laundry. Baking bread always seems like a simple thing when I start out in the morning. You add, mix, let it sit, knead, yada yada. The steps and stages add up before you can get the loaves in the oven. By the time I’m finished everything, I felt like I’ve washed everything twice over. The loaves are chilling on the rack. I have yet to bag them and take them down to the freezer. I am feeling a little fatigued. Do I have it in me to talk about what where I’m heading after this challenge?
Since I don’t have a business to promote, I will take a rest from my daily tapping. I’ve had a good run this November. I’ve missed 2 or 3 days. It’s good to be flexible and not to be obsessive. When the going gets tough, it is ok to step off. There is no point in forcing. This is not a race. I am learning a bunch of stuff this month and that is one of them. We have a wealth of knowledge among the group. Mary Elizabeth O’Tool’s posts on minimalism gave me a push to get started. Florence Callender’s posts on dyslexia are a great help and encouragement. I’m working better at slowing down and concentrating. So I will probably be back on my keyboard in January.
December is a good month to slow the pace and hunker down. I am looking forward to joining in Susannah Conways’s December Reflection on Instagram. It’s right up my alley, posting a photo/day to a word prompt. It’s how a see things – words and pictures. It’s a wonderful way of easing into the holidays. It’s probably not a popular thing to say but I don’t do Christmas. It doesn’t work for me anymore. Not that it did before but now I’ve dropped the facade. I don’t miss the rushing around looking for perfect gifts Christmas Eve. And I am not so sure about the meaning and spirit of Christmas. Shouldn’t it be like that all year long – the kindness, generosity, celebrations, family time, friendships, goodwill to all men..?
In January I’m taking an in person watercolour art class. That will give me something to write about. I hope I won’t get too frustrated listening to directions and taking steps on how to’s. Mostly I’ve been winging it. Sometimes I don’t even use a palette. I took a quilt class a long time ago. The instructor was very fussy. You had to cut, sew and iron precisely. I found it quite stressful and had to do some yoga before I went. But I did end up with a beautiful sampler quilt. I’m hoping I’ll paint some beautiful watercolours. I think the class goes into February. By then the days will be getting longer. The greenhouse will be warming up. I’ll be starting seedlings and maybe planting. I won’t be lacking for things to do. I’m also hoping for lots of snow so we can cross country ski all winter long into March.
A bright sunny January afternoon. The temperature is still frigid at – 32 C. No complaints from me. I’m enjoying the last of the afternoon sun, tapping on my keyboard and sipping on a decaf. My busy Wednesday is over for another week. I’m doing proud. I’m staying on top of things. With a temperature of -36 C this morning, I did entertain thoughts of staying in pjs, having cups of hot chocolate and staying home.
I didn’t. I dressed up, bagged up and did the gym thing. I could have been more enthusiastic but I wasn’t. It didn’t affect the results. It was a good workout. Lots of sweats without smiles. Then it was home to cook some rice in the Instant Pot, throw some hamburgers on the frying pan and tossed a couple of slaw salads. I make do with what I have. I surprised myself with how organized I was. I caught the Number 6 bus to the U of S without having to run for it.
I’m making progress! Half way through the month/challenge, I have not faltered. I’m dotting all my i’s and crossing all my t’s. It feels good to pay attention to details, rules and such. I aspire to be as calm and unrushed as the instructor for my class on Buddhism. Even though someone banged on the classroom door, poked her head in and loudly ask if he will be done in 10 minutes, he kept his calm demeanor. Was not upset. Did not rush but calmly finished within the time. He is a Buddhist as well as an instructor.
It is very helpful to have a living person to emulate. More so when he is right in front of me. I’m paying attention, trying to catch all his words. It’s a perfect place to practice focus and listen. My mind tends to wander and meander every which way. Has it always been this bad? I find it difficult to concentrate. My ears are listening in different directions, my mind and brain thinking in another.
I feel like I’ve been munching through the month of January. And I have. It’s not a serious problem yet. I can still get into my clothes and the month is almost over. This January has been HARD. I hear other testimonies to that fact. It is not just me. I’m fortunate that at least I’ve been physically well. I do take care that I am. Despite however and whatever my mood may be, I’m out walking Sheba every day. Thank God for our fur babies. I’m not at all sure that I would walk on my own even in nice weather.
It’s a true wintry windy January today. The snow cling along the edges of the windows in the sunroom. It’s nice weather to wear those warm hand knit sweaters. Good to curl up with a book. I’ve curled too long. It’s hard to let go of a murder detective story. I’m bad again, skipping ahead. I have no patience. I can’t seem to help myself but it was just a few pages. I didn’t skip to the end. But my head is messed up. My tapping is not rhythmic. I feel another snack urge coming up. I better make a cup of decaf.
I’m back with my coffee, toast and jam. I’m lacking in resolve and determination. Once an idea/urge comes, I can’t resist. My coffee is black and just a smear of butter and jam on my toast. I do things sparingly. It’s my natural tendency. Maybe it’s to compensate my lack of will. Will, resolve, determination – those words are so harsh for January. That’s why New Year Resolutions mostly fail. They should be allocated to a month that is more gentle and conducive to success.
I’m not completely spineless though I felt so this morning. It was so wind swept ( 50mph with gust 61mph) and dull. I gave into my feelings of lassitude. I experienced and luxuriated in all the sensations that came with it. There, I got it out of the way! Funny how my feelings can deceive me. Though I was moving at the speed of a wet noodle, I did not fall behind. I put in a new zipper in the guy’s jacket, saving him $40 if done professionally. And I used my new Bernina. First I had to google how to sew a zipper on a Bermina. Then I consulted my manual. I had forgotten how to turn it on. I am pretty damn pleased with the result. And I had lunch ready on the table at the regular time. Pretty amazing to me!
I have to say along with my virtual spiritual counsellor, Caroline Myss, that this is the happiness time of my life. That’s big considering I haven’t felt such a difficult January as this one. I’ve felt more bad and moody this last month than previously. The difference this time is that I have access to a pause button. In that pause I choose my reaction. Some pauses are longer than others. Sometimes I have to chew on things for awhile.
I am thriving in my now. I have the ability to choose. I love Wayne Dyer’s quote: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look change. It took me a long time to experience that change. The change has loosen me up to be more creative and objective. I am not as judgemental. I am excitingly experimenting with creative mediums – paints, words, fabrics, yarn, cooking, silence, habits. Good habits are great substitutes for will, resolve and determination. The worn path developed is not such a struggle to travel in the month of January.
These days everything feels difficult and messy. Life, painting, writing, organizing – the list is long and endless. No amount of tools can fix things. I just plod along, one foot in front of the other, my eyes on the ground. I don’t want to stumble and fall. If I can’t make progress, at least I can stay status quo and not regress. I am not suffering or in any acute distress. I’m just saying. Is it a bad habit? I try to keep it here in my own space, sanitized and contained. I don’t want to pollute myself or anybody else. So even if I’m not on cloud nine, I can put on a good face and smile.
How’s it for you this January? I find it extremely strange and unsettling to see black dirt and grass showing. Nothing is like it used to be. Have you notice? I think we/I better get used to that. The world has gone amok, topsy-turvey, crazy, mad, awry and me with it. It feels like demons are coming out of the woodwork, every girl/woman has been sexually molested and every man is a predator. What happened? Did someone open a can of worms? Was it the Donald?
This is really not smiling or putting on a good face. Today I’m lacking the tools and the skills. I better just pull up my socks instead. But I did put in a good day. Got up, dressed up and showed up. I made some roasted chicken and stir fried cabbage wraps for lunch and tended the household chores. Sheba and I put in a couple of hours at the guy’s workshop. We stirred expoxy mix for his fiber glassing the boat. Now I’m struggling finding words but I’m doing my best.
January 14th, 9:30 am. The sun finally shows itself. The day is supposed to be longer. It’s only so minusculely, lengthening by mini seconds daily. Patience and fortitude are the words necessary for this month. I picture myself sitting stalwart and at attention like the lions guarding the entrance to the New York Public Library. They sit proud and strong, through thick, thin and smog. They do not waver. They endure in sun, rain, sleet and snow. That is how I want to be. That’s how I can be. I have knowledge. I have training. I have tools.
I am sitting in sunshine, in the warmth of my space, starting a new day. I’ve gotten up, dressed up with make-up and earrings even. I’ve smarten up, pulling up my pants and bootstraps. So it is January. It is cold, dark and difficult. What can I do about it? I can turn on the lights, crank up the heat and put one foot in front of the other. I don’t have far to go. I don’t have to go anywhere at all, except to the bathroom now and then. I got tired of listening to my same whiny words. Maybe they were just thoughts nobody heard except myself.
I do believe in the power of words and action. If you don’t like something, do something about it. I find it troubling yesterday posting for Gentle January 2018 for the prompt I WANT. All that I could feel was the emptiness of wants. I do not hunger or lust after any material wants beyond those of shelter, clothing and food. I wonder if a psychologist would label me depressed on an interview. I am not even othered much by Sheba’s hair and muddy paw tracks on the floor. Imagine! Muddy paws in January. It’s no wonder I am depressed if I am.
But wait! I do lust after a cup of tea/decaf, a sit in the sun with a good book. I am not totally bland. I still feel that dull gnaw of ugh in my being. I keep it on these pages only. Who could possibly understand ughs? Oh, certainly not those perpetual joyful souls. I tried to smooth out my whines with my little index card paintings. Sometimes I can eke out some slivers of comfort and joy with brushstrokes in the night. Time is not wasted in sleeplessness, tossing and turning. I have something to show in the morning. Life can be dang challenging. But I did say I like challenges, didn’t I? No worries. I’m going to bake them away making Toll House Squares. There’s nothing like the smell of chocolate baking to chase the blues away. How about you? Do you get the blues?
A week have gone by since I’ve been here. I haven’t abandoned ship. I’m still with the program. January has been HARD. I’m lacking luster, inspiration and drive. My Tinker Bell with her magic wand and fairy dust has been taking a long coffee break. It’s about time she returns. I miss the flutter of her wings.
In the meantime, I have been working hard, putting one foot in front of the other. I am trying to do different, making new ruts instead of falling into the same old. My brain fights for the comfortable and familiar. I fight to keep it awake. I’m taking an online art class and trying stuff that I didn’t think I would care for – like doing a collage. In the process of doing, I find that it is pleasurable, almost exciting. I’m learning about new techniques, different paints, art supplies and tools.
I am also learning about story telling. This exercise is about using a power animal for healing. I chose the snake in a Chinese Legend of the White Snake. Thinking of all the positive attributes I want her to have, I wrote them on the page. I’m incorporating, breathing in these attributes as I paint a background for my snake maiden. Since it is my mother who told me the story, she is my White Snake Maiden. I did a sketch of her from a photo when she was a young woman.
I am discovering that I could enjoy new things – things that I thought I wouldn’t like. I am kicking my lazy brain in the butt. It is hard. I want to sleep. I want to snack. It is January, winter, the time for the hibernation instinct. I cut myself some slack. I have a snack.
My collage is not yet done. It’s taken a new story. The story will have to wait till next time.
So today is the twelve day of January and it is cold outside, baby. Seems like long ago that Sheba and I headed out to the park no matter what. Today she is equally happy to languish with me in the warmth of the sun room. I guess we are both getting soft with the years.
But isn’t it an awesome picture of her, so full of energy and happiness? I KNOW that she is in my life for a reason….to lead the way when it is dark, to get me up when I’m down, to lean on when I am weak, and to love me when I feel forsaken.
We will head back to the park soon. We will run and leap down by the river. We will hear the crunch of snow beneath our feet and see the steam from our mouths. But on this 12th day of January we are happy to languish and loll.