Lingering In The Moment

One of my mantras lately is to linger in the moment, whether I’m enjoying going out for breakfast before work, reading my book during lunch or anything else that I’m particularly enjoying.

This is distinguished from savoring the moment.  According to Wiktionary, savor means “to appreciate, enjoy, or relish something”.  Linger however, means “to stay or remain in a place or situation, especially as if unwilling to depart”.

Clearly I am savoring the moment if I decide to linger in it.  But for me, lingering in the moment is to stretch it out just a little longer.  If I’ve gone out for breakfast before work, I’ll stay for a few more minutes to visit with my favorite boy toy before going.  If I’m reading during my lunch break and finish eating, instead of running back to my desk, I sit there a little longer and enjoy more of my book.  My walks stretch out more on a nice day, I fondle the dog’s ears longer when I pet them, and I stand outside looking at the sunset and let my mind wander without rushing right into the house to get more done.

I’m finding myself more relaxed, more enjoying the moment, and overall just happier.  I don’t know why I started doing it – probably on a particularly bad day I took a few minutes longer and enjoyed it so much it became a habit.  I’m glad I do it though and I’m glad I’m reminding myself to do when possible.  As with anything, it has to be done with discretion.  My employer expects me to come in and get my work done, chores have to be done (especially if it involves feeding the dogs!), and life lived.

But each day has some enjoyable moments and it’s worth hanging around with them for just a few more minutes when I find them.

This lovely picture is from Colonial Williamsburg last month.  I took a vacation day and spent the day by myself taking pictures, eating out, and sitting by the little pond in the Governor’s Palace.  All day I lingered in the moment and came home in a wonderful mood.  It was a beautiful cool day with low humidity, so instead of taking the shuttle bus from the visitor’s center, I walked into the historical area and walked everywhere else I wanted to go.  I enjoyed the beautiful weather that day by staying outside (even to eat) and turning my face to the sun everywhere I went.

This week has gotten hot and humid; the heat index has been in the upper 90’s all week.  I’m glad I enjoyed the gorgeous day when I did.

Bridge along the footpath from the visitors center into Colonial Willliamsburg. You don’t see this bridge if you take the shuttle bus.

This picture was stylized using Topaz Labs filters to give it a dreamy look.

Joy In The Outside

The February Joy Dare earlier this week was to find gifts in three things outside.  Easy peasy, I thought.  And it was.  I found more than three gifts, which made up for the day I couldn’t find three gifts when bent over(!).

  • The brilliance of the full moon shining into the skylights in the early hours of the morning.  The backyard is so bright, there are shadows.  I find it beautiful and mysterious and could look at it for a long time without thinking any particular thoughts.  The beauty of a bright night is enjoyable just as it is.
  • A heavy frost on the cars and roadways.  I’d rather not scrape the frost off the car, but the roadsides were pretty for my morning commute.  More heavy frosts (and some sustained cold) would also help kill some bugs before summer comes.
  • A pale and delicate sunrise, with tints of silver, orange, and lavender.  The sun was behind thin clouds, giving it a translucent yellow appearance.  I was driving and had to pay attention, but this is something else I could look at for a while simply to enjoy.
  • A clean car!  My favorite boy toy showed me the new car wash in town – very nice!  It was well worth the money and I had a nice waiting room as my Honda Civic was vacuumed and wiped down afterwards.
  • Gorgeous clouds all day.  They were very wispy and curly, not what I usually see during my lunch walk or from the windows during work.  Something else I could stare at for a long time.
  • The full moon again at night, shining from behind thin, filmy clouds.  The clouds were moving quickly.  Even if I’d wanted to photograph the moon, the clouds would have made it all a blur.  I’d love to have recorded it though.

The Psalmist tells us:

When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them,
human being that you care for them?
Psalm 8:3-4 (NIV)

When I look at the moon and the stars, the clouds and the frost, I do consider God’s graciousness in caring for us and providing for us.  I thank him for a day of beauty and that everywhere I looked, it was good.

Over at A Daily Life, a new post links to The Simple Woman’s Daybook.  The daybook has prompts to use in recording your life at the moment, making a mini-time capsule in your diary / blog.  There is also a post about why a field trip can help your blogging and photography.

Here’s one of the cloud pictures that I talked about in today’s post.  Double click it to get a better look at the sky.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Joy in Blue Things

Today’s January Joy Dare is to find joy in three blue things.  As with the three yellow mercies, I had to think that over a while.

Blue sky – that one was easy!  It’s easier to be cheerful when the sky is blue.  When I’m cheerful, it’s easier to be hopeful, encouraged, productive, joyful and grateful.  There’s something about a blue sky (and getting sunlight) that  helps my mind and body.

Blue travel mug – this is an extension of my breakfasts at Cracker Barrel.  This travel mug is fairly new; my beloved Caribou travel mug had a glass liner and eventually met the fate of thermos’s everywhere when it fell on the floor and broke.

I received this as a gift from the partner of a consulting firm that I use, so their name is on the side.  I don’t care.  It’s the right size and my iced tea stays cold for most of the morning.

Cracker Barrel has a wonderful policy of offering coffee / tea to go.  By using my own mug, I save a cup, lid & straw from the landfill.  Because we’ve gone to this Cracker Barrel for so long, the staff asks where my mug is when they don’t see it on the table during a last refill.  I appreciate that they make an effort to make sure I have my tea when I leave.

Blue Araucana eggs – I buy these at the farmer’s market.  Araucana eggs are slightly smaller than regular eggs on the outside, but they must have less air.  When I crack them open, they provide as much volume as any store bought egg, but with a much creamier texture and taste.  It’s like the TARDIS on Dr. Who – bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Others know how good they are – I go to this farmer as my first stop.  If I wait too long, they’ll run out.  A different farmer has started raising them, but last year the eggs were very small due to the hen’s immaturity.  I didn’t care – I bought them anyhow.  He was surprised – he knew they were worth it, but he was having trouble convincing his customers to buy a substandard small egg even with a marked down price.

Here’s a sky shot from mid-December.  This tree has since lost more of its leaves, but is still pretty to see in downtown when I take my walks during lunch.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

Taking A Walk In January

I got off work early enough on Saturday to take a walk at the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens.

Not too surprisingly, the gardens were fairly empty.  The temperatures have dropped considerably and the wind had a bite to it.

I hadn’t intended to wear my winter coat to walk, but did so as I’d left my lighter fleece coat at the office from my lunchtime walks.

I was glad for the coat; shortly after I started walking, the clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped more as the wind got stronger.

The leaves have been gone for a while; the pitcher plants have died back.

But there was still beauty to be found.

It was rather bleak though and I found my mood matching it.

Which made no sense.  Work had gone well.  We’re over the worst of it.  My co-workers continue to be a strong team.  We care for each other and encourage each other to hang in there.

But I was tired and needing a nap.

I couldn’t resist looking at everything though, even if I didn’t know what it was.

It was nice being in the fresh air.

It was nice paying attention to look for beauty, even in winter.

I saw things I hadn’t seen before.

There was still a lot of green, from the pines to the ivy to the red berries.

As tired as I was, I went into the greenhouse to see what was there.  It was warm and there was no wind.

The Christmas tree was still up, but the flowers made me think of Valentine’s Day.

Then I came home, kissed my husband, cuddled some dogs, and took a nap.

Other walks are posted for March, April, October, and November.

For other ideas on taking a walk, visit A Daily Life to see examples of how others do this type of a post.

2011 Accomplishments

Over the years, I’ve evolved some formats to use around January 1 to celebrate my life and accomplishments, as well as set expectations for the New Year.

Here is the format I’m currently using:

  • List 25 Accomplishments from 2011
  • Choose my top five accomplishments from 2011
  • List three ways I have grown over the last year
  • What didn’t I do that I wanted to do or should have done
  • What I need to change
  • Contemplations & prayers as 2012 begins
  • Goal ideas for 2012

Understandably, this can take a while to work through.  I find it satisfying for several reasons and worth the work:

  • It reminds me that I did in fact accomplish a lot despite all that remains undone
  • I review it frequently for encouragement and as a reminder of what needs change
  • It helps me prioritize my time better

Over the next few weeks, I’ll share parts of this.  For today, I wanted to share my top five accomplishments from last year:

  1.   Started a blog and posted daily to it – woo hoo!
  2.   Improved my photography through practice

  3.   Evolved my relationship with my daughter

  4.   Went exploring and adventuring

  5.   Put together 5 photo albums to record family & other events

When rechecking my journals from a year ago, I was surprised to see that last year, it took two tries – TWO – to put together a list of five accomplishments that gave me satisfaction and feeling like I had a purpose in life.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t a big surprise.  I felt 2010 was a pretty lackluster year for many reasons and my first choices for the top five accomplishments were equally unimpressive.

Thankfully my second try to list the top five accomplishments gave me somewhat more satisfaction, but I knew I wasn’t about to repeat that in 2011.  And this year, my top five pretty much flew to the list.  I am satisfied with them and with the creative outlets they have given me.

As for the relationship with my daughter, it’s always been a good one.  This last year though, as she’s faced a number of disappointments and had to make hard decisions, we are relating to each more as adults than we did in the past.

I noticed this the most in August.  I’d taken a few days of vacation to visit her, then worked from her home the rest of the week so I could spend more time with her.  I’d had a really bad morning with phone conferences and a super secret project I was working on.  I met her for lunch that day and found she’d had an equally bad morning.  We spent the hour venting to each other about the problems at work.  More than once I’ve looked at her and wondered when she grew up into such a smart person.

Small Stones

My small stones entry comes from breakfast at Cracker Barrel yesterday morning:

pecan panacakes, brown and beige
butter skims the smooth surface
the syrup over all

the fork cuts left, right and across the end
to lift it to my mouth
and explode the flavors against my tongue

yum yum – sweet, salty, smooth and crunchy
do I dare pour more syrup?
and how much should I eat from such a plateful?

Blog Header & Photo

With the New Year, I changed my blog header.  This oak tree is at the end of our lot line.  I’ve taken many pictures of it throughout the year and love its stark beauty in the winter sky.

© 2012 dogear6 llc

2011 Blog Review

Wow, I cannot believe New Year’s Eve is here already.  So, how did I do with my blog?  Here’s an interview with myself:

Why did you start the random word challenge?  One of my personal goals this year was to write, write, write,  Seriously, that’s how I set the goal.  I’d tried on-line journaling before in a different forum, but never got any traction.  I was impressed with the quality of the blogs I’d been following and wanted to try it again.  When I found the random word challenge, it appealed to me as a way to start blogging and have to show up every day.

Describe the state of your blog at the time you started the challenge.  I’d set up “Living The Seasons” in 2008 but never did anything with it.  Prior to starting the challenge, I’d done a few posts in early 2011 but nothing consistent.

How did your blog evolve over the course of the random word challenge?  My first posts were mostly a definition of the word and a picture, with maybe a paragraph as to why I picked that picture.  Slowly I began writing better content to where the posts meant something to me and were something I wanted to share to encourage others, amuse them, or point out beauty.  I got really discouraged in early July because I had so much I wanted to share but the random words restricted my choices so badly.  I realized that I had to be more creative in using the words while posting the topics I wanted.

Did you post as often as you had hoped?  I never expected to post every  day and was thrilled that I did so.

What type of blogging strategy works best for you?  I like to do some research on my topics.  It gives me ideas to expand my own thoughts and helps me ensure better accuracy.  I didn’t research extensively, but I often did research several times as I wrote each post.

If you could go back to the beginning, what would you do differently?  Oh man, there are so many things I’d have done different.  I’d have started right away at Living The Seasons, instead of thinking that My Life In Photos at dogear6 would be a throwaway.  I’d have purchased the domain name at the start, instead of later.  Also, I’d have been more careful on the categories and tags, especially when labeling the family stories.  It’s hard now to go back and find things.  I need to redo them one of these days.

What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?  That I wrote as much as I did.  I’m also proud that my family subscribes to and reads my blog, and that my blog has been a way to stay in touch with old friends and make new ones as well.  I never dreamt that my Jaimie, my friend’s daughter, would be so enthralled with my blog and its photos.

What surprised you about the challenge?  That as I improved my content, it took me so long to write each night.  My longer posts needed about two hours each to develop, write and edit.  It was a great way to end the day, but my reading and other hobbies have fallen way off.  The housework is behind too :)  I was also surprised at how some field trips helped not only my photography, but also gave me content to write about.  I didn’t expect that.

What advice would you give to others who want to blog regularly?  A challenge is a great way to get consistency and there are many of them out there.  The daily prompts from WordPress are another great way to get ideas until your own muse becomes more reliable.  I did not use them, but many of my fellow bloggers did and I think they helped a lot.

Any favorite posts from 2011?  I am really proud of my body of work, so it’s hard to pick just several.  I’d say three favorites would include Culture Norms Are A Pile of Moose Muffins (about my cousin who had Down’s syndrome), Phase of the Summer (about fleeting days), and Come To Me & Leave Happier (making other’s days a little brighter).

What are your blogging goals for 2012?  I’m reducing my frequency and do not plan to post on the weekends unless I’m doing a challenge.  I have several challenges lined up for next year, including the 2012 River of Stones which starts tomorrow.

Thank you everyone for reading my blog, leaving comments, liking my posts, and giving me encouragement!

Happy New Year Everyone!

This picture was taken at dusk tonight.  The sunset was non-existent; I found these clouds when I looked behind myself to the northeast.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Detect The Music Of Nature

The author, Kate Chopin, once wrote:

I wonder if anyone else has an ear so tuned and sharpened as I have, to detect the music, not of the spheres, but of earth, subtleties of major and minor chord that the wind strikes upon the tree branches. Have you ever heard the earth breathe?
One of the things I’ve loved about being outside so much lately is the slowing down of everything, the opportunity to just enjoy fresh air and feel the warmth of sunlight.  It is a music of the universe.The botanical gardens have a giant wind chime in one of the trees.  It’s a pleasant enough sound, but not as pleasant as listening to the wind through the drying leaves of fall, the insects still chirping, the birds who are still singing.

I would encourage all of you to enjoy the last days of autumn’s warmth and the sun on your face.  Already there are days when the wind is too chilly to stay outside very long.  Parts of the country have had snow and will have more soon.  I’m not ready to come in yet, but I don’t think I have much choice about it.

Surprisingly, I took this picture on the way home from work.  As I watched the sunset unfold, I pulled into a school parking lot and grabbed my camera.  A sunset like this is also a song of the universe.

© 2011 dogear6 llc

Word for tomorrow – BULK.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Opposite Buildings Are Photographic

I didn’t start 2011 with the goal of taking a photo every day.  It wasn’t until February that I started to do it, although when I checked my inventory of the year at that time, I’d taken a picture of something nearly every day anyhow.

Here’s one I took shortly before I consistently took a daily photo.  These are the buildings opposite to where I work.  It appealed to me that night because of how strong the colors were and how very yellow the light was shining.  This photo is unaltered – if I ran it through Photoshop, I could probably improve it more.

I’ve always been fascinated with these buildings opposite me.  I tried for several weeks to watch when the sun set.  At what moment did the light stop shining on the buildings – when did the shadows totally take over?  I never did see it happen – I’d blink and the light was gone.  It was like watching when the sun actually sinks over the horizon.  You never see exactly when it happens.

I hope you’re enjoying your weekend!  Mine will be busy with chores, but there should be time to relax, even if it is too cold to read out on the deck.

Word for tomorrow – ANNIVERSARY.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.

Weekends Are Busy Adventuring

Bill Watterson (creator of the comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes), once said:

Weekends don’t count unless you spend them doing something completely pointless.
© 2011 dogear6 llc

For my favorite boy toy and I, it’s going wandering.  We never know what we’re going to find.  One of our best finds (several years ago) was a large and gorgeous dog park south of Minneapolis that I loved taking the dogs to.  I missed it so much when we moved away.

This weekend, we went to see the ocean, visiting a little town called Kilmarnock.  My sweetie found an art gallery that he is returning to on Monday to submit for an exhibit.  We also took pictures at the historical Christ Church.  Its claim to fame is the architecture with which it was designed in 1735.  There are so many historical things in Virginia and we’ve had a great time learning about the struggle for independence as well as the the Civil War.

Here’s a picture I took of the ocean as we drove over it.  Enjoy your weekend!

Word for tomorrow – BOY.  If you prefer to work ahead, see the list for the week under “A Word A Day”.