Yesterday, when I was doing my weekend journaling, I wrote down something that resonated with me so much that I found myself revisiting it today. I wrote:
This is just one chapter of my life. Neither the first, nor the last. When this one ends, there will be many more. The goal is to savor this one while it’s here. Savor its gifts and celebrate its magic. This one chapter will not ever come back exactly the way it is now.
I wasn’t really writing about this as a concept. It was in response to something different but it just stood out to me and I found myself thinking about the idea of looking at my life in chapters.
If I think of life as a journey and destination, then a misstep can impact the whole journey and, specifically, the destination. One bad step here and now can mess everything up. Whereas thinking about my life as chapters automatically lifts that pressure up, for me. It makes everything disconnected in a positive way. It creates this setup where there’s no actual destination.
Think of it as an interconnected short story collection. Each of the chapters of my life stands on its own. There’s an overarching thread that holds the book together but any one chapter isn’t making or breaking the book. And while each story contributes to the whole, none of the stories singlehandedly determines a specific destination. And without a destination to focus on, there’s no “messing it all up.” There’s no wrong. And there’s no right either. It just is. This is one of the stories in my life. Nothing more, nothing less.
All I have is this story. This chapter. And all I can do is maximize that. With what I have now, with where I am now, how do I increase my fulfillment?
Imagine if you were selected to write one of the stories in an anthology. You don’t get to even see the other stories. All you can do is really focus on the one story you’re writing. You work on it to get it as “perfect” as possible. You make every word count. You take this one chance you have and you give it your all. Maybe it sounds high pressure when I put it that way, but, to me, it sounds more like there are barriers. I cannot control the future or the past, I just have my one story I’m living now and this is the one I get to have. So the focus falls fully on this one.
It might not work for you, but for some reason, the idea of thinking of my life in chapters creates a quick link to presence for me. It makes it so the past and the future are not as pressing as they seem otherwise. It creates a focus on the now without the pressure of causing permanent harm.
I am not sure if this makes sense.
But I am not sure I care. Because what I’m realizing is there are very few Truths in life. Most of us don’t know anything for sure. (And if we think we do, we are often proven otherwise. Certainty seems to be the fastest way to ask for trouble.) None of us can tell how the future will unfold. And, so, whatever helps you get through this life with the most joy, the most fulfillment, and the most presence is a gift.
And, for today, thinking about my life in chapters is doing the trick for me.
How about you?
Here’s this week’s gratitudes and celebrations:
it says: is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?
it’s really shiny, see:
and here’s what the page looks like with all the gratitudes and celebrations:
Just another excuse to create art and remember the present that is my life.
Gratitude Journal is a weekly project for 2013. You can see a detailed post on my goal other details here.
this week’s gratitude is for coach jackson who teaches PE on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
there we go. more next time.
Nathaniel’s Gratitude Pages is a weekly project for 2013 with my almost four-year-old son. You can see a detailed post on my goal other details here.
Here are some snapshots from our week:
We went to Pacifica to checkout a greenhouse and have some food by the beach.
David brought his camera there and took tons of photos .
the buildings were wonderfully colored.
love Nathaniel’s face here.
David taking a photo of himself.
the flowers were amazing.
i took a mirror-shot.
and one of Nathaniel.
he liked running, of course.
we came home with a venus fly trap (or chomper as the kids like to call it.)
Nathaniel loves watching David play.
it’s a bad photo but Nathaniel’s putting his plaque in the book he donated to the school library on his birthday.
David reading his science fiction story to his class.
and my wonderful husband.
Nathaniel was being funny of course.
he made me laugh and laugh.
i couldn’t even tell him to be serious.
here is the only “serious” shot I got.
and tickle time of course!
and here we go. so grateful for my life. i hope your week was lovely, too.
Weekly Diary is a project for 2013. You can read more about it here.
Before this week’s art here’s the important reminder: Please remember, this is personal and hand-made and thus imperfect. If you want perfect art, do not buy mine. Also one more reminder that these are pretty small. 5.5inches by 5.5inches. That’s about 14×14 centimeters). You will just get the original piece of watercolor paper with my art and signature in the back. No mounting, no frame. I don’t want to misrepresent anything. I will put a paypal button under each (you can pay with credit card or paypal.) the button doesn’t update so you will have to click through to see if it’s sold out. I will try to update them as quickly as I can and remove the button if it’s gone, but just in case. Each piece will be $35. That’s US dollars. If you have questions please leave a comment and I will reply as fast as I can.
With that here’s this week’s art:
it reads: choose to forgive yourself. let go.
SixBySix is a weekly project for 2013. You can see a detailed post on my goal and other details here.
and here’s this week:
This week is all about Nathaniel’s birthday! (sorry the photo just wouldn’t come out clear.)
See you next week!
The Savor Project is a weekly project for 2013. You can see a detailed post on my goal and other details here.
I appear to be too tired to share something pithy with you today so instead I will leave you with my April assignment for One Little Word.
The sentences are:
- be present in joy
- be present in this moment
- be present in accomplishment
- be present in celebration
- be present in love
- be present in victory
- be present in adventure
- be present in beauty
- be present in delight
Love the photos but the phrases really do allow me to go deeper. All of these sentences are good reminders for me daily.
I knew I was going to read Days of Blood and Starlight the minute it came out. I loved the first one so very much and couldn’t wait for this one.
But this was much much different.
Heavier, bloodier, harder to swallow.
I stuck with it and I am glad I did. The last third of the book is great and as far as I am concerned she redeemed herself and I can’t wait for #3 now. I loved it.
Now only if she could write faster.
Here’s this week’s card:
It says: look through the windows of your soul, let its light guide you.
This card uses a template from The Crafter’s Workshop (as well as a few others.) and acrylic paint.
Gratitude PostCards is a weekly project for 2013. You can see a detailed post on my goal and the postcards I use here.
I spent the better part of 2012 and 2013 reading Young Adult novels. I am of the strong opinion that there’s no such thing as a “bad” book to read. In my opinion, any kind of reading is better than many other things you could be doing. So I had no shame or embarrassment about focusing on Young Adult. Some of the best books I’ve ever read have been in the genre as well as some of my most favorite authors. And I will continue to read Young Adult for as long as the high quality stories continue to be told. This genre is exploding at the moment and I am thrilled about that for both myself and my son.
However, I was disappointed that I couldn’t find any General Fiction books that held my interest. Each of the ones I picked up seemed to be full of horrifying acts or deeply depressing plots. And, in early 2012, I had vowed not to read anything super-depressing anymore. This meant that (with very few exceptions) I couldn’t find a single non-young-adult book I liked to read. My struggle continued for a long time and I was starting to lose my faith in books. I couldn’t understand if it was the books or me. Would I never enjoy them again?
Since I still read a lot of novels, I wasn’t deeply worried about this but it became a nagging question at the back of my mind.
And then, suddenly, a few weeks ago, things shifted again. I was reading some of the upcoming books for my book club and I read Seating Arrangements (which was okay) and Where’d You Go, Bernadette (better that the other one). And then I went to the next one which was March by Geraldine Brooks. March had been on my list for a long time but I hadn’t managed to read it. To be honest, I sort of dreaded it because I knew it was historical fiction and thought it would be slow-going.
It wasn’t at all.
I read the whole book in a day and absolutely loved it. And, I’m not sure why, but it reignited my desire to read more. I then read Life After Life (quite interesting but also sad at parts) in a day. I decided I wanted to go back and finish the Delirium series (i love this author but the series left me a bit empty) and then read The Great Gatsby in preparation for the movie. As well as Lean In (very interesting), The Dinner (quite unusual), Before I Go To Sleep (also unusual, made me think of Memento but not as good a story), and The End of Your Life Book Club (absolutely magnificent). I also read Wonder for another book club (absolutely excellent.) All in the last two weeks.
And now I feel like I can’t get enough. It’s like all the books I’ve been putting off, and wanting to read at some point, are calling to me and I must read them all right now.
I went through Amazon’s Book of the Month lists for the last two years and some of what’s been on my to-read list forever and made a list of books that I plan to read while I am in this wonderful place. Here’s what’s on my list at the moment (in no particular order):
- The Sound and the Fury (haven’t read since high school and determined to re-read)
- The Woman Upstairs (reading right now)
- The Reconstructionist
- Caleb’s Crossing
- Ready Player One
- A Discovery of Witches and The Shadow of Night
- The Dog Stars
- The Mirror Chronicles
- The Vanishers
- Defending Jacob
- DaVinci’s Ghost
- The Flame Alphabet
- Office Girl
- The One Good Thing
- The Thief
- Shine Shine Shine
- An Uncommon Education
- Magic Hours
- The Empty Family
- The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman
- The Violinist’s Thumb
- Me Before You
- My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece
- How Literature Saved My Life
- The Humanity Project
- Beautiful Ruins
- An Invisible Sign of my Own
- Why We Broke Up
- Mr. Fox
- The Interestings
- The Weird Sisters
- Sweet Tooth
- The Signal and the Noise
- When It Happens to You
- Light Between Oceans
- Amelia Anne is Dead and Gone
- The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry
- In One Person
- The Magicians
- The Family Fang
- Rules of Civility
- The Leftovers
- Girls in White Dresses
- The Art of Fielding
- The Orphan Master’s Son
- Moonwalking with Einstein
- Behind the Beautiful Forevers
- The Age of Miracles
- The Beginner’s Goodbye
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You
- Steal Like an Artist
- The Red House
- Binocular Vision
- The Scorpio Races
- Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls
- The Burgess Boys
- Carry On Warrior
- The Disappearing Spoon
Yes, I know it’s long. I also know it contains several Young Adult titles as well as some Non-Fiction and some Mystery and whatever else. But I love this list. It seems more like me: a variety.
If you’ve read any of these and have strong recommendations (either positive or negative) and/or if you haven’t but have other great recommendations please do let me know. My book postings on Thursdays are a bit behind so you won’t see these mentioned for a while but they will appear eventually. And let’s see how many I get to while this lovely, savoring mood is still with me.
(Ps: sorry I was too lazy to link each of them, but I am confident you can look them up if any of the titles sound enticing enough to you.)
I’ve had many hobbies throughout my life and I’ve loved them all, but the one thing I’ve never ever stopped doing is reading. Books are food for my soul. And this recent bout has felt more like coming home and slowing down and exploring all at the same time.
My goal for 2013 is to make three sketches a week. If I make more, great. If I don’t, that’s ok. Trying to keep the pressure low while still encouraging myself to draw.
Here are the ones for this week :
that’s it for this week.
Sketching is a weekly project for 2013. You can see a detailed post on my sketching journey here.
I’ve been grumpy lately. Actually, that’s not accurate. I’ve been down. I’ve noticed that these cycles seem to come and go. I wake up one morning and just seem to feel low for no apparent reason. And then my perspective shifts so that I am seeing everything with negative-eyes.
Which only serves to perpetuate my sadness.
I’ve learned that, at any moment in time, there are things that make me happy and things that frustrate me. The contents of the list might change but both lists are active at all times. How I feel about my day, and life, depends on which list I am focusing on. On the rougher days, I look at the “happy list” but none of the items seems to penetrate through the wall of sorrow. I feel like they are all fake or things that can be taken away at any moment in time. Whereas, on a happy day, the things on the “frustrating list” seem completely surmountable or insignificant.
While I know it’s about my perspective (or maybe hormones), what I don’t know is how to tip it from one to the other. What’s even more frustrating is that when I am in this not-so-positive space, I sometimes do things that disappoint me. Like eating things I know aren’t good for me. Which then perpetuates the bad feeling. So I get stuck in my own cycles.
Since it’s been more than a week, I am agitated and completely ready to snap out of this place. If I could force or shame or even cheer myself out of this place, I totally would. But none of those seem to have worked. So, this morning, I went to my intentions cards from the One Little Word, so I could see what I’d originally chosen for May.
It said “Physically Present:” Go outside. Breathe. Breathe more. Can you do more to be healthy? What needs attention now?
At first I thought, none of this is helpful. Then I thought, why not. Maybe this is exactly what I need right now. To get out of my head. And what’s the best way to get out of my head if not being more physically present? I’ve decided I am going to take long-ish walks every day this week. I’ve also decided to take two days off and be more physically present at some of the events at my kids’ schools and see if these help me get out of my head a bit.
So there we are. If you have these cycles and have ideas on what helps to snap out of them, I hope you leave me a comment. I am up for trying creative solutions at this point.