Apricity

I came across the word apricity when Justin forwarded me a little “article” he thought I’d like. He was right.

I love this word. Love it.

It means “the warmth of the sun in winter.” Isn't it awesome?  We’ve all experienced that sublime sensation- to stand outside on a frigid winter’s day and turn so that the sun warms your face is one of life’s great treasures. The juxtaposition of cold air and warm sun rays, the way it makes us close our eyes and pause for just a moment despite the chill. The way it allows the cold air to fill our lungs with freshness without feeling as though the chill will settle in our bones for all eternity. It sings to the parts in us that love winter AND that love spring and somehow makes space for the seeming contradiction.

It’s not a word that necessarily has a place in everyday vernacular…it’s not commonly known, so to use it means risking sounding like a pompous ass. But I hold it with me, as much a reminder to look for the sunshine and warmth on my cold, dark days, the sunshine and warmth in what can sometimes feel like a cold world, as for the loveliness of the word itself.  

We are still on the road and head over to pick up Kippee tomorrow morning. Cross your fingers for us as we have no idea what we'll find after five months of her sitting forlorn and alone in the Nevada desert. From there we head toward Tucson and Justin begins work on Monday. We've spent the last week or so sleeping in sub-freezing temps outside, re-acquanting ourselves with life on the road, with the sensory experiences of hunger and thirst and cold and exhaustion. It's lovely, actually. A little discomfort brings us fully awake, engages us in ways our usual insulation doesn't often allow for and I'm grateful for each moment of it. I'm also grateful for the shower I'm about to take (the first in, ummmmm, too many days...) and the Reno friends I'm going to see tonight. This life can so often feel a bit untethered, but these are the moments that ground me right back down and remind me of the connections it offers as well. It really is warm sunshine on a cold winter's day.

You are my apricity, y'all. Thank you so much for being here. 

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There was no apricity on this fine day, but Hollis never looks prettier than when fat flakes are falling and it felt like the perfect au revoir as we departed this sweet little town we've called home these last months...

Sustainability

Happy New Year to you all! Thank you for being here and for including me in your life as we begin this year together. I so deeply appreciate the time you share with me out of your full lives and I strive to make this blog a place worthy of you.

How do you approach the new year? Do you set a laundry list of resolutions? Do you do some careful reflection and goal setting? Do you see January 1st as the same as February 1st or August 1st- simply another new month in the ongoing rotation? Or have you let go of all such notions and find yourself liberated from the yearly ritual? I’m honestly curious…what works for you?

Over the years, I’ve arrived at some kind of new-year-new-you middle ground. I admit that I relish a sparkly new calendar and the sense of “clean slate” that comes with one year sliding into the next. As I said recently, I like to mark time, to bring my awareness to the days and months and years as they pass. And I like ritual, whether it’s taking a few moments to cup a steaming mug in the mornings or lighting a candle and pausing to say thank you when I sit down to meditate each day. And piled on top of both of those things is my inherent and fervent belief in our ability to begin again and again and again, that we are always able to start fresh whenever we are ready and willing to take on the work. This applies, of course, to any day of the year, but I can’t help but believe there is a natural inclination toward new beginnings in this season in particular. After all, in addition to it being a new calendar year, we’ve also just celebrated the solstice, meaning that the days are growing incrementally longer and the promise of spring and growth lies ahead. These long mid-winter days and that promise would lend themselves to reflection and planning even without the turn of the calendar, but the fledgling year just begs us to to take stock and think about what we want.

I mentioned a few years ago that I don’t really do resolutions anymore, but that I choose a “word of the year” instead (btw, that post has some great resources at the end if you are looking for some extra tools...). That’s not entirely true. I do set resolutions…I resolve once again to do my work-  to continue to strive toward greater kindness and compassion, greater understanding and openness, less fear (and certainly fear-based decision-making), to be fierce in my love and my passion and my honesty and my integrity, to find humor and lightness tucked in with heaviness and pain. These are standing resolutions and I will always have work to do here. I also set goals for the year, both personal and professional, as well as review what worked and what didn’t in the year behind us, where I grew and where I stalled. But the “word of the year” continues to be a cornerstone of my approach to the coming year. 

I love the process of figuring out my word. Trying to find a single, succinct, encompassing word that will act as a filter in each decision I make. I’ve used Susannah Conway’s word-finding tool in the past, but I find that I haven’t needed it lately. When I allow myself a little time and space, it seems that the word I need most tends to present itself (or, you know, scream at me from my subconscious at the top of its lungs). As you may have guessed by now, this year, my word is SUSTAINABILITY.

Sustainability.

With every decision I make, from how I approach my work to the energy I give to relationships to whether or not I make time for my run in the woods, I will ask myself, “Is this sustainable? Am I creating sustainable habits and practices?” To proceed, the answer must be yes. I find myself decidedly uninterested in short-term results, in superficial band-aids. I want to build a life that is sustainable over time, that has a strong foundation of intentional decision making, clear and reasonable boundaries, and that prioritizes the truly important things in my life (as opposed to the simply “urgent”). This means being okay with things taking time. This means being okay with people sometimes being disappointed or irritated with me. This means being okay with saying no to projects and opportunities that don’t move my life and work in the direction I’m going, even when they are appealing or I could use the money.

This also means choosing to trust in the idea of abundance and to continue to let go of the fear that comes from a scarcity mindset. The life I build is only sustainable if I recognize that I have enough (food, friends, love, money, talent, ideas, etc etc etc) and that I am enough. It’s that last part that is a doozy for me. But I am. And you are. And when we really and truly let go and believe that, whoa nelly- hold on to your hats because magic happens. And work, of course- so much work- but work that is thrilling and energizing, work that fills your tank and lights you on fire. I’m not just talking about professional work, I’m talking about life work. The work of relationships, the work of self-care, the work of growth and adventure and dream chasing. We have it within us. We are enough and we have enough to make the necessary choices to build truly sustainable lives.

So that’s what I want as I move into this sparkling new year. That's my primary goal. That's my word.

Sustainability. 

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Can you guys believe I'm still sharing photos from our trip east from Reno? A few more will be heading your way (Glacier and Wind Cave and Badlands National Parks after these last few from Yellowstone!)...just think, by the time you see all of these, I'll have more for you from the next leg! Ain't traveling grand?!?

Carry Me

We just needed some time outside. Some quiet hours spent among trees and rocks, where the dings of "smart" phones and the glare of computer screens couldn't quite reach us. And we needed to see mountains. Any mountains, so long as the earth rose up to touch sky.

So we went. 

We skipped the traffic jams and the gathering around food. We skipped the football games and political arguments. We skipped the time with family and friends. We traded those things, some of which we love, for a dirt road that ended at a trailhead and a path that led up.

It wasn't an impressive hike. Tumbledown Mountain is an absolutely wonderful place with the incredible reward of a stunning mountaintop lake at the top and is one of my very favorite day hikes in Maine. But on this day, the skies were a flat grey, the leaves had fallen, and the snow was a mediocre dusting that only hinted at the winter glory to come. 

Our dog, convinced that walking outdoors for more than ten minutes is an act of torture that we concoct solely to inflict pain upon her, wanted no parts of our plans. We put her little booties on her delicate paws, but around the half-mile point, she began to sit down and refuse to walk- she does this when she's decided she's had enough. So we carried her (and by "we" I mean "Justin", of course). 

Up we inched, intermittently putting Tessie down to "let" her walk at her crawling pace. There is simply no hurrying this dog, so we let go and slowed down. We looked around. We talked. We dreamed. We made plans. We laughed at our pathetic dog. We paused to watch as the snowflakes began to fall, just a few at a time. We saw no one. We heard no one. Our phones didn't ding or beep or ring. Only the wind and the trees and the little brooks of bubbling, half-frozen water broke the silence surrounding us. 

Even carrying her, we were moving too slow to be able to make the short hike to the top and back before darkness fell, so we turned around short of the mountaintop lake on whose banks we'd planned to eat our peanut butter and jelly feast of thanksgiving. But we laughed at our fluffy excuse for a mutt and snuggled her as we walked and held hands as we made our way back down. 

Because it was never really the summit or even the lakeside view that we were really after. It was quiet. It was slowing down. It was the beauty found among the trees even in their "ugliest" season. It was uninterrupted time together. It was laughter. It was a break from technology. 

It was the moments that carry me through the rest of my days, through the busy-ness and demands of work and life, that we were seeking and it was those moments that we found, once again, at the end of a long dirt road where a trail led upward.

The Giving of Thanks

This week I plan to dig deep into the practice of gratitude. Not a trite platitude for things which I know I should be grateful for, but to let the real truth of the beauty in my life sink deep into my bones and to fully and unabashedly acknowledge the gifts I've been given. 

I begin today. I begin with the overwhelming gratitude that I feel for the basic fact of my very existence. I am a survivor of cancer, of violence at the hand of another, of heartbreak, and of my own poor decisions. But I am here. And I am whole. And I am enough.

And that is enough.

And for that I am so, so, so grateful.

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Pssst...have you heard about REI's Opt Outside campaign? Consider trading competitive consumerism in for a day spent outdoors this Friday!

Which Way The Wind Blows

We went looking for open spaces yesterday. We went looking for mountains and for the bitter wind in our faces. We went looking for ourselves and for each other and for those versions that burst forth when freed from computer screens and email dings.

We went looking yesterday.

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What have you been looking for lately?