I turned 53 a few days ago. My family and best friends gave me some really thoughtful gifts: books that they know deserve a place on my shelves, a new colorful reusable water/tea/coffee bottle, and consumable teas. It was just perfect.
I have no major changes or goals for the coming year. I’m in a good place and healthy this year.
Advent — Here is last year’s blog post on Advent. It is much more my philosophy and this year’s post is more pragmatic.
Since renewing my commitment to live a small and regenerative life I notice areas where we are doing ok, but could definitely make some improvements. This year, Advent is getting a slight makeover.
Last year: Advent wreath with paraffin candles, and plastic bits and bobs attached to a wreath frame.
Not too bad, but I wanted to look at how the candles of Advent could be carried forward through the year, how we could use non-paraffin candles, and how the wreath itself could be changed for one that could reflect the seasons.
What I’ve come up with is a wreath made from our grapevines, sitting on cardboard, with glass candle holders, beeswax candles, and seasonal decor filling up the spaces between the candles. Ideally (and ultimately), I want Kelly to bring in a round of wood just the size of the wreath so that it becomes its own little table/stool/home altar.
I melt beeswax into little plastic tea light cups (that I use over and over again). I do have to buy the wicks, but I try to find the hemp ones. About 4 years ago I bought 2 pounds of beeswax and we are still using it for candles and salves. Bees are hopefully getting added to our little farm sometime in the next few Springs. That should make the beeswax even better!
Each evening of Advent, we light the candle(s) and this year we are reading David Cole’s A Celtic Advent..It is a quiet, peaceful transition into the darker evenings. It lends itself to less television and more reading. Just the way I like it!
What I’m reading: The Celtic Way of Prayer, New York 2140, A Celtic Advent
What I’m listening to: The Last Star and Harry Potter 1 (Sad, but true fact: When we first got Jasper we listened to HP audiobooks every night as a family. Jasper always fell asleep and I would carry him to his bed and then go to bed. Now, he sleeps best if Jim Dale is reading in the background.)
What I’m watching: Nothing this week
What I’m learning in Welsh: Lots of vocabulary, a bit of grammar.
- plus a ton of review
What I’m thinking about: Rainwater collection systems, gravity fed household water supply, designing a “sustainable village” for an author, and Advent.
Another year older, hopefully a bit wiser, hopefully much kinder, and definitely more grey — in essence the same.
I’m still pondering the song “What kind of world do you want?” and still singing “Crazy Horses”. I still love Matt Smith as the Doctor (Doctor Who). My favorite kind of veg-out book is still post-apocalypse.
What I’m reading: Harry Potter 3 in German, The Celtic Way of Prayer, Becoming
What I’m listening to: The Ghost Hawk
What I’m watching: Doctor Who, The Good Place
What I’m learning in Welsh:
- Dillad: cot law, jîns, teits, crys chyws, fest
- brecwast, cinco, swmper
- Bwyta: caws, mefus, cig,
- tegan // teganau
- ffermwr, nyrs, athro, meddyg, mecanic, actor, athrawes
- trio, cofio, mynd, mynd i, ymarfer, sut, sut i, angen, dal, gwella
- fedra I ddim
What I’m thinking about: Raised garden bed logistics, seed orders, tree orders, and finishing up Christmas gifts.
Forest Church: A Field Guide to a Spiritual Connection with Nature
by Bruce Stanley
Read October 2018
This might be the most important book I could ever recommend to a Christian environmentalist or someone wondering what we ought to be thinking and doing when it comes to creation care.
It isn’t technical. It doesn’t lay out the answers. It doesn’t tell you to change your lightbulbs (although you should).
What it does is inspire you to take your connection to creation one step further. Just one step . . . But, my goodness where that one step might take you.
Ch 1 — Why Go Outside?
- thin places = places where the boundary between heaven and earth is at its most transparent.
- First Nations — mountains, water, woods, rock, and river
- The Food Story and The Sacred Land — This might have been my favorite section. It breaks down belief, lifestyle, and impact of forager/hunter/gatherer vs food producer. I actually got a lot of good ideas for our little farm from this section.
- Eco-mindedness and biophilia –embracing our environmental challenges is an urgent issue that we must address.
- NDD — Nature Deficit Disorder the only cure is go outside
- Flow — the end of activity where your skill level in in balance with the challenge lever
- gapped for air we;;-being
- walking, cycling, drawing, climbing, foraging, playing, gardening, reading, knitting, journaling, photography,
Cha 2 — Reading the Second Book of God
- Nature-a wild place, “other than human place,” but size is flexible.
- 3 ways into Nature/Creation:
- awe: Isn’t it amazing? deep sense of connection, as we is the beginning of wisdom
- study: academic exploration, “What is it?”
- meaning: search for insight and relevance, imagination.
Ch 3 –Participating with Nature
- Pg 53: Ps 115:16, but “Im not sure were up to the responsibility.
- Permaculture–people care, earth care, and fair share
- value in nature should be recognized and protected
- higher value –>primary use
- example: pure water –> cook, drink, wash :: grey water –> flush, etc
- example: energy –>solar or wind :: No to fossil fuels
- example: tree –>oxygen, shade :: limbs, dead wood –> heat home
- Be with nature rather than going “into” nature. i.e. participate
- From Dominator to Participant
- Dominator–nature exists to support humans, raw materials for profit
- Steward — still seen from human perspective, recognize that their are limits to natural resources, entrusted with use not consumption
- Partner –nature as ally. Animals as allies. life as an interplay of life forms.I am separate but conscious and ethical. Sustainable, organic, ecological care
- Participant — I exist within the mix of interdependent and interwoven life forms, I am part of nature, respect because of intrinsic value, eco-centric, set limits. Be regenerative not just sutainable
- Which am I? How can I move toward participant? It is imperative that we move to being a participant.
- Regenerative because we have a long way to go to get back to where our systems were actually sustainable.
- pause before you enter a wild space
- slow your soul
- be aware when you intervene in nature
Ch 4–Developing Your Wild Side
- well being accumulates daily through nature connection
- more by walking, eating, sitting, working, reading outdoors
- sit spot, journaling, giving thanks, wild camping, distance hiking, growing your own
- following nature’s rhythm: day/night, lunar months, Light Half/Dark Half of year (equinox and solstice)
- The only equipment you really need is;
- comfortable footwear
- decent jacket
- water bottle
- first aid kit
- phone / camera
- notebook with pen or pencil
I am planning a series of posts where I explore these ideas more in depth.
What I’m reading: Harry Potter 3 in German, Cherringham #11, The Celtic Way of Prayer
What I’m listening to: Arthur
What I’m watching: Doctor Who, The Good Place
What I’m learning in Welsh:
- Yn well
- Yn waeth
- wedi blino
- Pwy dych chi?
What I’m thinking about: regenerative eco-mindedness . . .
My best-est friend, since second grade, and I got together for a two day trip this week. We always have such a lovely time together . . . talking, eating, and talking. We spent our time together at Spring Mill State Park in IN.
Weather: mid-upper 80s, partly cloudy, but dry
Activities: walking, talking, and eating
- wearing: t-shirt, cardigan, shorts, unders/bra, trainers
- in the bag: pjs, t-shirt, unders, yoga pants (for lounging), swim suit, sandals (for pool), sun hat
- 3-1-1: shampoo/soap bar, face serum, deodorant stone, toothbrush, toothpaste, lip balm, eye drops
- Iberian Cube: altoids, Rx & supplements, comb, phone charger, ear buds, mini first-aid kit,
Tom Bihn Co-Pilot in Aubergine 525 Ballistic and Northwest Sky 200 Halcyon.
Dimensions: 11.8” x 10” x 4.9”, 10 liters, 1 pound
My first reaction upon opening the box was, “Wow! That’s really tiny.” In no time at all I was pushing stuff into it just to see what would fit. And I was AMAZED!
After the amazement wore off, I began to think more deliberately about what should go in this bag for a short trip. Here is the list of what fit and in the picture below they are laid out in the same general way they went into the bag.
- Total weight packed: 8 pounds
- Main back pocket: jeans (size 8), 3 t-shirts (size small), yoga pants & tank top (PJs), 3 pair of socks, 3 pair of underwear, 1 bra, barefoot sandals
- front left pocket: 3-1-1 bag
- front middle pocket: water bottle
- front right pocket: Iberian cube with comb, soap, deodorant crystal, toothbrush, prescriptions & supplements, flashlight, floss, mini first-aid pouch,
- back zip pocket (this is so cool, it unzips to create a sleeve that can go over a roller bag handle or it is a open top pocket): Aubergine Cubelet with technology stuff (charger, stand, earbuds) and my Kindle
In my purse, also Tom Bihn, are my glasses, wallet, phone, etc . . . normal purse stuff.
Below are pictures of the bag completely packed. It’s not too bulgy. I added the Co-Pilot to “The List” because it is just that amazing!
More Simple . . . Less Stuff meets my Closet!
I have tried eight ways to Sunday to make my life and closet fit into the 333 parameters. You know what? It won’t. To lump April, May and June into one season in southeastern Indiana is pure folly.
Why, you ask? Because it might be 40* on Sunday and 84* on Monday. Our temperatures and humidity vary so widely from day to day. Six years ago (the day of our tornado) we had a Friday high of 82* and a tornado at 3:30. That night we got 4 inches of snow. No power, no windows, no roof — and snow! It was a mess. Truly. By Saturday afternoon the temperature was back up in the 50s.
It is late March and I have taken all my warm weather things out of their storage tote, washed, hung to dry, and spread out over my bed in piles. I have created some questions and done some research on body shapes, color analysis, and spent way too much time reading style blogs.
Here are the results —
Body Shape and Type:
1. I am petite (under 5’3′).
2. I am “busty.”
3. I am a figure 8 if you look closely at my lines: shoulders and hips are the same number of inches, clearly defined waist (although it is also where I hold weight).
4. I am equally proportioned head to leg-break and leg-break to floor. Within that I have a long neck, short waist, and long shins.
Best Colors to Wear:
1. I am a cool (veins in my wrists look blue not green).
2. My hair has definite ash tones (Courtney, who cuts my hair, says I am going silver not gray.)
3. I have pink tones in my skin and I blush something fierce!
4. I look better in clear, rich (saturated) tones. Pastels and yellows make me look ill. Although, I look pretty good in my neon yellow bike shirt. I used to wear a lot of brown (before my hair started turning), but now it makes me look tired, especially if it is a tan or orangish brown.
5. Black and pure white look pretty good on me. I always get compliments when I wear a bright emerald green, cobalt blue, or some reds.
6.. I “think” that makes me a winter. — Cool Winter probably, but it might change a bit as my hair continues to gray.
My Lifestyle, Roles, and Activities:
1. I am a stay-at-home gal: cleaning, gardening, reading, writing, coaching clients, etc
2. I exercise: walks, yoga
3. I run errands, go to church, go to my Spiritual Companion Group, doctor appointments, lunch out with friends/family
4. Also as my vision loss continues, I need everything to match everything else. No outliers to trip me up and make me look like I got dressed in the dark.
What Do I Like, Dislike?:
1. I like comfort, natural fabrics, flat shoes, cardigans, weather appropriate, soft, fitted (but not tight).
2. I dislike: buttons (arthritic hands), to feel constricted, anything stiff, anything itchy, tags, being hot or cold, deep V necks, deep scoop necks, heels
I want to be . . . My favorites make me feel:
1. I want to be: tidy, clean, down to earth, steady, calm, neat, capable, friendly
2. My favorites make me feel: slim, confident, comfortable.
Therefore my basic style is relaxed and casual. With proper accessories and a few special pieces relaxed and casual can be chic when appropriate.
Dressing as a busty 8:
1. Keep details above my waist.
2. Vertical details below waist.
3. Keep lower half straight (with a slight flare below the knee if at all).
4. large chunky jewel-line necklaces or a grouping of smaller necklaces.
5. All volume above bust.
6. Thin, lighter scarves
7. soft, knit blouses and sweaters
8. Shirts stop at natural hips
8. Best neckline are V-necks and crew neck (below collar bone): no high buttons, no high crew necks, no thick cowls, no pockets on chest, no turtlenecks.
10. Think columns of color : black pants, black cardigan, colored t-shirt or blouse, and black shoes. Dark wash denim pants, navy cardigan, colored t-shirt, blue shoes). Also reverse columns — although to this newbie, this isn’t as easy to recreate with a limited wardrobe size, which is a priority for me.
1. Take everything out. Everything!
2. Try on everything. Everything!
3. Ask: Does it fit? Is it in good shape? Is it one of my colors? Is it right for my body shape and type? Is it right for my lifestyle? Do I love it?
Any NO means it goes in the donate pile! Although I kept a few things that were “no” for garden work.
That’s enough for today. I’ve done all the above and now it is time to hang everything up and have dinner. More next week when I get practical.
Living small . . . because there isn’t enough time to do it all.
I have a category here on the blog that I call living small. I’ve used this term to mean living simply and living with less, but I’ve never been satisfied that those two ideas are “exactly” what I mean. It is a word that often comes to my mind when I read about people living big lives — doing big things, writing big books, having a big following on their blog or on social media.
Maybe it is the way I’m wired (INFJ, 5w4), maybe it’s my family situation (adult son with autism), maybe it is my health (auto-immune disorder), maybe I just don’t have ambition . . .
Maybe. Or maybe it is because I am not called to live a big life. Maybe I am called to living a small life— but living a small life really well.
I think it is what was stirring when I decided to blog about my family’s journey. I think it is what I was reaching for when I decided to long-form journal and blog. I think it is what I was sensing when I decided to stop living life so “quantified.” I feel like exploring this idea and seeing where it takes me.
I’ve chosen a few areas where I want more, where I want depth, where I want to focus. And I’ve chosen a few areas where I want less — less distraction, less luring me away from mindfulness, and less novelty of the new.
I want more:
I want less:
* social media
**Photo taken by me in New Orleans, right outside the aquarium.**