Today is the last day  of 2020.  I can't say I'm sad to close the book of this year.  However, I'm not going to dwell here on the sorrow this year brought.  We all have lived it, some much more harshly than others, and many did not survive.  Some good things have happened in spite of all the terrible, and we still have much to be thankful for.  I'm going to tether my thoughts to those things as I head into the new year.  Not to dismiss or deny the negative - I won't pretend that when the clock strikes midnight that things will magically change - but to simply keep moving forward, day by day, into what I hope will be a year that brings more light and hope to all.

I don't want to create resolutions, or even intentions, as I did last year, but I hope to choose making daily decisions led by intuition for continuing on with or adopting some new practices that not only feel like who I am but like a real connection to the rest of the natural world.  We are all interconnected, after all.  

I spoke of my new-year journaling in a recent post, and I've gone back and read my "intentions" from last January.  A few of them I would still like to pursue:

  • Practicing patience - with people, and also with circumstances.  I feel I made good progress this year, but this is an ongoing battle for me. 
  • Don't take things personally.  My sister loaned me a book in the '90s, The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.   The very simple but very wise advice has stuck with me but I haven't always been able to live by it.  I would like to take on all four equally, not just this one.  They are:  1) Be Impeccable With Your Word.  2) Don't Take Anything Personally.  3) Don't Make Assumptions.  4) Always Do Your Best.  Simple, right?  
  • Making more of my own clothes, not settling for things I don't like or things I know don't have a good source of origin.  I would say 95% of my clothes are thrifted, which I love and can't imagine shopping any other way after 30-some years, but there's a creative spirit that I would like to bring out by choosing the materials and hand making the things I wear.  Perhaps a superficial thing but one that would bring me joy.
  • Be more generous, in every way.  For me, this largely means time.  I tend to want to reserve my spare time for me, for what I want to do, and am resentful when something interrupts that.  As a very solitary and introverted person, open generosity of time - and I could also include so, so many other ways I could be more generous -  doesn't come especially naturally for me, but I want to change that. 
  • Learning more about plants and herbs, learning how to make things, weaving a connection with them into my daily life and learning how I can share them with others.  I've taken two courses, one last year, and (still currently) one this year that will go into next.  I'm thrilled to be pursuing this. 

As for those intuitive daily decisions ... I can't predict those right now, but there are so many areas I would like to grow in and gain understanding of.  

I'm not addressing the issues of the world here - these are things that are purely personal - but I do hold such hopes for those bigger issues in my heart, and how I may be able to take part in doing some good, however small.  Change begins with individuals, does it not?  Small ripples become a tide.  I hope we can all do better by each other and the planet as a whole.  I hope we can all try to love and respect each other more. 

As I said many years ago and seem to say again at every new year:  Be Gracious.  Be Kind.  Be Grateful.  Be Love.  Be You.

See you on the other side, friends.  ♥︎ 

Pictures:  Trips to the coast, up the Santiam Canyon, and to our own back yard, where camellias are blooming and bonfires are happening when possible.  Of great comfort to us, my cousin's wife was able to be on my Dad's surgical team!  It was so good to know that someone he knew and loved was with him.  My kitchen was kept warm with lots of cookie baking and bread making.  I tried my hand at making crumpets from sourdough discard (yum), and yesterday I made my first sourdough loaf using the Tartine recipeIt's far and away the best loaf I've made yet.  The texture is chewy and just wonderful.  Progress.  

turn and return


Happy Winter Solstice!  We begin our journey back to the light.  I am still reveling in the darkness - the dark months are my favorite of the year - but I am always ready to welcome the light and life back as it slowly returns.  This morning I went on a long walk, eager to breathe in this magical day, but also keeping my eye out for something that would speak to me about the day.  It wasn't until I got back home and went into our backyard that I saw it.  One of the huge camellia bushes had a single bloom in the palest of pinks.  That's when I noticed that the entire bush is loaded with buds, all looking like they are about to open.  What a beautiful reminder of the cycle of life and the turning of the wheel.  Tonight we will have a fire and raise a glass to winter and the return of light.  

This last Friday my beloved Dad had a heart valve replacement.  It had been planned for a couple of months after having some mini heart attacks, and all those weeks seemed like an eternity.  I'm so glad it is behind him now and that he is back home and doing well.  

We've been trying to get out for walks outside our neighborhood.  These pictures are from Minto Brown here in Salem last Tuesday, and a park in Albany we went to Saturday.  We took a trail at Minto Brown I hadn't been on before and ended up at the walking bridge downtown as it started to get dark.  Such a magical time of day.  The park in Albany had a bit of sad feel.  The trails were really muddy and there was a lot of garbage around.  But, there were also gorgeous lichen and ducks and nettle and moss, and, charmingly, little blue Christmas ornaments hanging from tree branches here and there.  

For now, I just want to say I hope you are enjoying, as much as is possible right now, these last few days before Christmas.  I know that it can be a sad and stressful time of year, this year even more so since so many have lost loved ones or are not able to get together with loved ones.  I'm sending you love through the darkness and reminding you, and me, that life grows from dark places.  

by mlekoshi