As Promised…..hello January

Here’s hoping you will behave yourself this year, dear January. Let’s be friends, shall we?
And for all of you, as I promised

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Yes, my friends, we made it.  Way to go.

And while I realize this won’t have the impact or cause the excitement that the announcement of American Girl’s new Girl of the Year doll has created (oh yes, we live on a street with several girls ages 6-10–this is BIG news in our world, y’all), all the same, here is my word for the year…..

*with*

*with*

With.

And the thoughts that touched my soul and put this word on my heart can be read here.

Being with people means I can’t leave messages for them on their phones, at a time I conveniently know they won’t be there.  I can’t do good deeds for them and go home.  In fact I can’t do anything for them: I have to abide with them–even if for ten whole minutes–and allow them to abide with me. 

–Sara Miles

That is challenging and uncomfortable in a whole new way.  Yep, I need to do some stepping outside of the proverbial box.  Abiding with.

It reminds me of a quote I heard years ago in my Spiritualty class.  I fell in love with it then, and it has come back to me over the past few months.  For a reason, I suppose.

When sitting, just sit,

Above all, don’t wobble.

         –Zen poem

Just being with is pretty powerful, I think.  Sometimes that is the greatest gift we can give another person–our brothers and sisters in this world, the ones we know and the ones we don’t–just being.  With.

Contemplating what that will look like in my moment by moment life–

Love to all.

(and yes, it’s still Merry Christmas!  Merry Eight Maids-a-milking!)

if you’re not feeling the whole new year party thing…..

Here it is.

December 31.

I’ve been asked so many times, “Big plans for New Year’s Eve?” or “What are y’all doing for the Big Night?”  (and they say it just like that, capital letters and all)

Ummmm, not so much.  Hope to be in bed before the ball drops.

Then there are the well-intentioned folks who ask about New Year’s Resolutions.

Yeah, I don’t do those either.

Sometimes, when I share that I don’t make resolutions, I am then asked the question, “Well, what are your plans and dreams for 2014?”

No.  I once did that, but not anymore.  It’s just too much.

This year I am having to treat today and tomorrow as just another day.  Because that’s how I have to take things to cope, to be able to keep breathing.  One day, sometimes one moment, at a time.  If I sit down and reflect over this year or wax poetic about the turning of the calendar, the ticking of the clock, Father Time and all his ways, then I will break down.  I just cannot go there.   Not and be able to get back up again.

I used to make a big fuss over New Year’s Eve.  One of the best ever was on NYE of 1999.  That’s right, ringing in the Y2K.  Quite exciting actually, not being sure if the power would still be on or our identities would be wiped clean at 12:01 a.m.  Just to be safe we’d stocked up with every snack imaginable–mostly in the beige food group so loved by people age five and under.  That’s right, it was me and my Joyful sisterfriend partying like it was 1999 with our three girls–two who were age four, and then there was Baby J, who had just turned two.  I’m talking serious partying, people.  So much so that at 10:00 p.m. we told them it was midnight, gave them some sparkling cider, rang in the New Year with whistles and cheers, and sent their precious little selves to bed.  Best night ever!  Me and my sisterfriend and our girls–just the way it was so often during that time of our life.  That is a memory I will always treasure. Another favorite NYE celebration was in 2005.  It was me, Mess Cat, and my two girls–one ten and one a year old– partying with the Disney Channel countdown.  We partied right that year too, y’all.  I miss those Disney countdowns.  During the Times Square one tonight I kept having to ask Aub who the artists were…..so I finally gave up.

Last year, I was hopeful.  Literally–filled with hope.  We had made it through a year without my Daddy.  It had been a hard year, but Mama was making plans.  Plans for the future.  And I felt strong enough to do some of that too.  I had my “word” for 2013 picked out, and I was ready, if not eager, to move on into the new year–2013.

So much for that.

2013 came at us, after us it seemed, with twists and turns and pains and heartbreaks that we could not have anticipated.  Yes, there was some joy too–a real, not very much fun roller coaster of a year.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.  I’m not reflecting on the year tonight, remember?

So no resolutions.  No plans.  No dreams.  Just a day to day coping.  Some days that’s as good as it gets.  And I’m okay with that.  I will honor the traditions of New Year’s Day that I was raised with–I won’t do laundry AT ALL, I will eat blackeye peas and greens, and I will try and love on folks because whatever you do on New Year’s Day, you’ll do all year long…..y’all knew that, right?  But other than that.  Just.  Another.  Day.  It just has to be.

This and homemade guacamole--our attempts to make it a party.

This and homemade guacamole–my attempts to make it a party for my babies.

For the sake of my littles, I tipped my hat to today and its significance with a little party fun, and they decorated their ice cream cone trees tonight.  (Yes, we are a week behind, thank you for noticing.  It’s been that kind of Christmas season.)  They laughed, they decorated, they snuck candy, and they are STILL AWAKE.  I am thinking a replay of NYE 1999 might need to come into play.  *sigh*  This Mama is ready to call it a night.

Tonight I am thankful for sisterfriends and sisters who love for a lifetime, who remember, and who show up when you need them most.  I am thankful for the freedom to not celebrate tonight–the gift of another quiet night at home with my family, even though the homemade guacamole was worth a whoot whoot or two, if I do say so myself as shouldn’t.  Most of all, I am thankful for the good memories I have that I can wrap myself in like a blanket to keep me warm in the cold days of January.

As my Mama often said, “Happy Everyday!”

 

When I still lived at home, I would always point out on New Year’s Day that I hadn’t had a shower since last year, so I’d better go take one. *insert your uncontrollable laughter at my razor wit here* Since moving away from home, each year I would call Mama on New Year’s morning and say something cheesy like, “Mama, I haven’t talked to you since last year!  Hey, how’ve you been?”  I will miss doing that.  So if your phone rings and it’s me and my cheesiness on the other end, please don’t roll your eyes or sigh too loudly.  It’s a tradition, after all. 

What Does January Smell Like?

To embrace the seasons, since about October, I have enjoyed a scented candle from time to time.  I have had two big jar candles that I have alternated, depending on my mood that echo the sounds of the seasons, except you know, they smell like the seasons–a Maple Bacon (yes, I’m for real, and it is wonderful!) and a Gingerbread.  I just love the warm, vibrant, comforting scents of the fall and Christmas.

The sad end of my Gingerbread candle

The sad end of my Gingerbread candle

As good as the Maple Bacon smells, the Gingerbread must be my favorite because it, ironically enough, burned completely out last night.  I looked to see if I had another one and found that I do not.  *sigh*  I guess it’s time to let it go, isn’t it?

I love the way the smells trigger memories.  I read somewhere that smell is strongly related to memories.  I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I do know that certain smells can carry me back in time.  I smell a certain spice, and I think of my Daddy (don’t ask me why).  The smell of a certain lotion brings back hugs and Mama’s hands.  My Great Aunt comes to mind when I smell white Dove soap.  The smell of squash cooking in the summertime carries me back to the summers of my childhood.  The smell after a cool rain in the evenings takes me back to softball fields of my youth.  And so many more.

Today as I was finishing up a knitting project (yes, FINISHING! whoo hoo), I had a Christmas movie on the tv.  Despite the fact that this station is still playing Christmas movies, their advertisers have definitely moved into the New Year.  Not a single “After Christmas sale” advert–but they were abundant in diet and weight loss commercials.  Oh boy.  That makes me nuts.

So yes, January is well on its way, bringing with it a new number to remember when we write the date.  And it also brings with it all kinds of good intentions and pressures to change our ways.  Never mind all that this year (or next, as the case may be).  As I’ve shared before, I’m going to make January all about “Congratulations, you’ve made it!” instead of “How will you change all of your wrong ways about you?”  January and I are not close enough, never have been, for her to be asking me questions like that.

As I was cleaning up the kitchen earlier, I looked at the empty Gingerbread candle jar.  I wondered what scent I would look for now.  Which one?  I mean, really, what does January smell like?  Crisp and clean?  Subtle and light?  Nothing at all?

I have no idea.  But I’m pretty sure it’s not Maple Bacon.  If you have any ideas, please do share.  I have three days left to figure it out.  I’d really like to enter the New Year with light all around me.  I have a feeling I’m going to need it.

Merry Fourth Day of Christmas!  Love and light and good memory-triggering smells to all.

Dear January, You Need an Image Makeover

It’s been a long week.  Full of emotional ups and downs.  The kind of roller coaster that leaves you spinning and queasy after.  (Here I am acting like I know what it’s like to ride roller coasters.  Right.)  Still, yes, that kind of week.  Laughter and joy, sorrow and tears, worry and fun, peaks and valleys.

Last weekend we were able to get our tree home, put up, and decorated.  It took a couple of days all in all, but I was feeling, as my Mama and Great Aunt would say, mighty sanctimonious about it.  We did it.  No, I don’t have it in me to put all of our Christmas things out, but yes, feeling pretty good.  Despite everything, I felt like I could handle all that this season might throw at me.  I had my feet back under me again at least.

And then this blasted (excuse my language) thing came this week.

What?  I mean, just.....What?!?

What? I mean, just…..What?!?

It’s obviously the January issue of this magazine The Fella signed me up for (free for three months) through a special offer.  Which I appreciate.

But seriously?

They don’t know me like that.

They can’t just focus on one thing for us to work on?  To try?  They gotta get all in my chili?  I feel like they’re throwing things at me from all directions. I mean, did they leave ANYTHING untouched?  Finances…..body……eating…..parenting…..my things…..my clothes…..and my skin….really?! Everything except my house and my heart and mind.  But wait, check out the table of contents inside.

Wait for it.....yeah, now they've covered it all.

Wait for it…..yeah, now they’ve covered it all.

Oh honestly.  I’m not even handling December very well.  Just like that, my confidence and satisfaction with how I’m doing this holiday season were kicked to the curb.  January is trying to butt in and kill the joy.  And who writes this stuff anyway?  Notice that we shouldn’t worry about being the “perfect parents” anymore.  Now we should stress because we want to be perfect.  And apparently that’s an inappropriate goal for us to have.

*insert major eye roll here*

Y’all.  What are we doing?  Why do we do this to ourselves?  Expect ourselves and others to recreate and change ourselves/themselves just because a calendar year has changed?  No wonder January and I have never gotten along very well.  It’s dark, it’s cold, and people are all about asking you what your “New Year’s Resolutions” are.

Just no.

Maybe it’s not all January’s fault.  Admittedly it is following a couple of months of partying with a capital P.  Joy with a capital J.  The season of rush and busyness and quiet meditation and candlelight and twinkling lights and festivities and remembering.  Who would want to walk through the door after that guy?

Not me.

Still I wish January could come up with another motto, another thing to affiliate with–you know, maybe get an image makeover.  I mean, wouldn’t you rather get a beautiful, colorful magazine (did you notice the neutrals with just a touch of color on the cover of this one? *sigh*) with a message scrawled across it in eye-catching font that says:

CONGRATULATIONS……YOU DID IT.

that is all

And then it could be filled with stories about great experiences people had during the holidays or ways to be kind to yourself, as in celebrating who you are in this very season, at this very moment.  January, don’t be all about the change.  Why not be about giving ourselves a big ol’ hug after all the stress and overwhelming beauty of being with people we love and making every effort we can to bake, to cook, to buy, to make, to read, to share, to love and to orchestrate the best possible magically muchly delightful Christmas for those we love?  Yeah.  Why not that, January?

I bet then you’d be proud to walk through the door after Party season.  Because I think quiet reflection and celebrating who and where we all are beats out managed chaos, magical madness, and teetering sanity every single day.

That’s a magazine I’d buy and hang onto for a long, long time.

Whaddaya say, January?  Will you at least consider it?

Love to all.

Thank you all for your prayers for sweet K.  She continues to fight and is in critical condition.  Please keep her and her family and the Wesleyan community in your thoughts and hearts and prayers.  All are appreciated.  ❤