Filling what’s empty and emptying what’s full.
― A Hat Full of Sky
I have spent a year contemplating full and it has been a wise use of my time! I used Mary Oliver’s Summer Day as my starting point, and particularly these lines:
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
And so I began… thinking about how to fill my days and, more specifically, what to fill them with!
It soon became apparent to me that being full was a thing in flux…full, filling, empty. Full is not a “one and done” concept and that in order to appreciate full – I needed emptiness as well.
And, likewise, I quickly learned that there was little to appreciate in being “overly full.” Leaving space for more enhanced full…tremendously.
And so the sweet spot of filling became a thing I thought about every day… not just the filling, but the things I filled my day with!
But this does not end my journey with full… I will continue on and I am so excited about how full will fit with my new word for 2023!
I want to thank Carolyn for her continued inspiration in the power that a word can do for your days, weeks, months, and yes… years!
See you back here on Wednesday as I unravel my year of reading!
I spent much of this month in quiet *internal* contemplation. To start, there was lots of debating with myself but eventually the debates gave way to an exercise in finding joy… and really, what held the most joy of all!
What am I talking about? Well, the Great Christmas Decorating of 2022 (and beyond!)
And all this thought showed me that while some “things” help usher in the season, it is really more than that. And so today I will begin my decorating with a much pared down list…so much pared down!
And I confess… I am a bit nervous. Sort of like that feeling you have when you know you are forgetting something, and don’t realize what it was until you get to your destination. If it is *absolutely necessary* you go and buy a replacement and you have a wonderful time or you realize that you did not really need that something and you have a wonderful time.
Either way – I will have a wonderful time. And if I find that something is *absolutely* necessary, I can get it out!
And in the midst of all this angst, I realized that my year of pondering a full life was….well realized!
Living a full life means choices. Saying yes to things… and saying an equal number (if not more) of no’s as well!
Living a full life means having priorities… but ones that are not set in stone so that when something intriguing appears on your radar, you can switch gears and try it! (Watercolor Painting… I am looking at you here!)
And, perhaps best of all, living a full life means that at the end of the day, the week, the month, the year… you can look back and know that you did all the *absolutely necessary* parts and, most importantly, you had a wonderful time!
Oh… and for those wondering about those things that “made the cut” for my holiday decorating… here is my brief but spectacular list:
- Outside lights, because Christmas is something to share.
- The Christmas Tree… singular. One with lights, because Dark December, but with only those ornaments that hold the most special place in my heart.
- One candle on the dinner table (it is out already!)
- My Year of Gnomes gracing my mantel. I did pick up one fun NEW thing for this last Gnome… stay tuned for peeks into how they are all anticipating her arrival!
Finally, I want to thank Carolyn for hosting us all to share our Word Inspiration. Each month I am amazed at what you all teach me as you work through your word.
I have one final month to contemplate Full… and I am so excited about how I am going to close out this year!
See you all back here on Wednesday for a Welcome to December Unraveled!
I did not have any idea of where I would go with my word this month. I was absolutely feeling like I understand the concept of how to fill your days with things that matter.
But leave it to Krista Tippett to show me how to take what I have learned this year and fine tune it. Full 2.0, as it were! So this month I have been putting into practice the things she talks about in the first three episodes of her short “Foundations” podcast series.
She starts by asking the listeners to become alert and reverent of the everyday ordinary. This was just the prodding I needed to take the concept of a Full Life deeper… Was I alert during my days or was I tuning out on the ordinary. The reality is that I absolutely was tuning out – frequently! So I began honing my Full Life to be more alert and reverent of the everyday ordinary. This is not easy… it is seriously one of the hardest things I have worked on. Because… tuning out is a natural occurrence (for me, at least) Make coffee… tune out. Make dinner… tune out. Steve is complaining about work… tune out – big time. As you can see, this will be an ongoing process and right now I feel like I am constantly reminding myself to “tune in.”
The second installment brought an easier task and one I was happy to circle back on. Yep… Krista encouraged us to “live the question” which is a concept that Rilke talks about. For me, living the question is such a freeing task. It reminds me that I do not need the answers to everything. Uncertainty is okay! Really!! And when I coupled trying to be more alert and reverent during my day with living the question… I had too many “a-ha” moments to share here. But one thing I found much easier was when I am consciously “living the question” I am much more aware of the everyday ordinary and it was easier to allow the ordinary fill my days rather than tuning them out. As I said above… I was so happy to circle back on this way of living! Perfection? Not at all, but the journey this month has been so enjoyable.
The third installment settled me into a lovely concept… becoming critical yeast. As a baker, I found this analogy for life brilliant! You see, baking without yeast… is well, flat, tough, and yes… hard. This week I have been thinking about how very un-yeasty I am in my day to day life. And so as I fill my days with living the question, being alert and reverent of the ordinary… my focus has been on asking myself the question: Am I bring any yeasty-ness to life around me? A new way to fill my days! (Are you seeing a common theme here? I sure did this month…. even when I think I am living a Full Life, there is always more room!)
There is one final installment coming this Thursday and I am very eager to see where Krista will take me then! This little series has provided such good things to think about as this year begins to draw to a close… and with all this pondering, I am noticing a new word has been showing up regularly in my days. I am enjoying these word visits and am contemplating this word in my morning meditations. It feels early for a new word to “show up” but I am glad that this month I have been thinking about being more present and alert so that I have noticed its arrival!
As always, I am so grateful that Carolyn provides a space for us to share our Word Work! I am excited to see how others did with their words this month!
I hope to get caught up on all your blogs this week – be patient with me! And!! I have a painting to get done before Wednesday! Yikes!
Happy Monday everyone and I will be back tomorrow (what?!?) with a November welcome!
Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams. — Ashley Smith
This month, Allie Edwards team had a brilliant suggestion for my word this month… take photos! And so each day I captured some photos of what filled my days. It was fun… and very different from what I did way back when I captured one photo of my day. I made sure that photo was the perfect setting… edited for more “perfection” and when I look back on all those months of photos I feel very removed from them, as if I am an outsider looking in. They absolutely did not bring to mind the day or what happened that day or what I did that day.
This exercise, however, felt entirely different. They are not “perfect” photos… but I feel very present in these images and I hope that a year from now when I look back on them I will remember more of the day, what happened, and what I did… that this exercise will actually help cement the month in my memory!
I noted the changing light.
I did lots of spinning.
I picked so many tomatoes.
I made pitas more than once.
I knit my “gninth” gnome!
There was painting and more painting.
Poetry…every single morning.
There were happy hours! Ha!
And, of course, Sherman.
All this is not to say that it was a perfect month… it wasn’t because there were struggles as well. I tried to remember that being a listener is better than being an advice giver… so I let my ears fill up and worked on keeping my mouth shut! (Sometimes I succeeded even!)
But!! There is still five more days in September and I am eager to fill the coming days with good things!
As always, I would like to thank Carolyn for providing a landing space for us all to share what we learned, how we grew, and how our word showed up for us each month!
See you all back here on Wednesday!
I mentioned earlier this month that I was feeling “done” with my word. And then I really settled in and spent time with Ali Edward’s team as they invited me to look at my word as if I was beginning again but from the perspective of how beginning in August looks so differently than it does in January.
Welcome to the deep breath of August… words that spoke to my heart. These words became my mantra this month especially as I began again contemplating what a full life might be.
I took a cue from a friend and made myself a daily reminder on my iPhone to sit down and spin. It is working so beautifully because I am almost done spinning for a sweater I want to knit! A simple reminder to make time to do something that I enjoy so very much.
I prioritized time for me… which is not ever on my list of things to do but this month I made space for me. I read poetry – specifically Derek Walcott. I have made a note in my calendar to spend every August with his poetry. It was so perfect this month…and especially Love After Love – it just fit so perfectly with making time for me!
I also did some knitting and lots of painting! The realization that not making space for myself results in a poorer quality of mental health which might actually be a gift to those around me!
I noted the changing light in the days, the difference in the birdsong, the groaning of my garden as the long string of dry weather took its toll. And rather than bemoan these things… I reveled in them.
In other words, I filled my days with August… and I loved every single second of it!
I want to thank Carolyn for so graciously providing a space for us all to share our journeys! See you all back here on Wednesday (hint!! There will be a Finished Object!!)
Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains. ―
This month was spent on the Great Simple Challenge … something that takes a lot of work to be successful at. It was my daily focus in my meditation time… simplify… and simplify more. And I discovered that simplifying is much easier said than done.
We (Steve and I) don’t live very simple lives. Work for him is stressful and that stress spills over… because of course it does. Family miles away (mine) and family next door (his) are not simple. Trying to drop that COVID 20… absolutely not simple. Learning something new (hello, painting!) so not simple!
So this month I worked hard to “get my thinking clean” to focus on simple.
- No checking what “news” I might be missing.
- No checking what Tweets I might be missing.
- Not caring what, if anything, was posted on Instagram.
- Half listened to the stress spillovers… realizing I don’t have to have a solution, just “listen” helped with that.
- Self-affirming that I did my work on raising my children… they are not perfect, they will all make decisions I would not… and being okay with that. (In case you think this is easy… oh boy, think again… hardest thing ever!)
Instead this month when I felt the complicated creeping in, I stopped and did a bit of breathing (thank you, Nadia for sharing this focus that has been incredibly helpful!) until calm returned. Sometimes just a few breaths, other times… well, the breaths eventually work just keep breathing!
In my ongoing quest to simplify and my successes:
- I found knitting to be my very best companion. Slow, meditative… one stitch after another. I can feel the complicated vanish just picking up my needles.
- I have created a space where I can paint and not feel guilty about the “clutter” that painting brings. It was my huge success over the weekend…I moved all the painting bits and bobs and set everything up. I am very, very ready for my first class this morning! (And so eager to begin!!)
- I stopped myself from “thinking about that next project” and stayed focused on the current projects. When I am itching for “something new” I knit another “pop” square for the blanket. It gets the urge for something new out of my system!
- And I plotted out some sewing time as well!
- I am still washing dishes by hand… and am not at all upset by this. We will eventually get a new dishwasher. I think, lol!
There is one thing on my list that I have not gotten to yet and likely won’t before August arrives. I need to finish the reorganization of the living room and find a better spot for my little e-Spinner. It is in the “out of sight, out of mind” space right now. I want to spin a bit more each week… or perhaps it is better said to do some spinning each week!
Being simply full will be a work in progress… and perhaps one I won’t ever be finished with! But getting a taste of being simply full has been wonderful. I am not sure I have a need to move mountains, but a simple life is so, so, so appealing!
A huge thanks to Carolyn for providing the landing space for us all to share our journeys with our word.
I will be back on Wednesday with some making and reading!