August

Au Revoir, August, Don’t Let the Porte Hit You in the Derrière

August 31, 2018

August is pretty, even though it's hot

Every year I stagger through the summer and I feel surprised when my energy begins to come back in September. This summer is no different. I’m happy to say goodbye to August, and already I feel stirrings of autumn energy (thank goodness) because I have a lot on my plate. For instance:

In October, I’m going to France for three weeks (!) to attend two on-location watercolor workshops with Laure Ferlita. My to-do list has a to-do list, which is part of the reason I’ve been spotty about posting here. Je suis désolé (I’m sorry). 

I’ve been looking for a new boarding barn for my horse, Tank. My longtime barn is being sold so the owners can move closer to family. I found a facility that I like, and at first I thought I’d have to move right away to keep from losing my spot, but that has turned out not to be the case. I’d rather leave Tank with the people he’s familiar with (and who are familiar with him) while I’m gone in October, so this is a good development, if a bit stressful.

Our son is temporarily moving home after his roommate moved out of state. He can’t afford an apartment on his own yet and was unable to find someone he was comfortable sharing with. He’s working on a professional license that should boost his earning power, and is hoping to move out on his own again in a few months. We hope so, too, because as much as we love him, my husband and I have enjoyed it being just us two again.

I’ve been reading some good books, practicing French, practicing sketching, getting my Global Entry approval, and having a yearly physical. Luna continues to be a handful.  I’ve continued writing for America’s Horse, and especially loved writing this piece

Add these things to the usual work and personal obligations, and my own summer doldrums, and well, you get it. I’m tired. I’m more than ready for September! And even though we likely won’t get cooler weather until October or even November, in the meantime I’ll watch the light begin to change and to make plans for fall and winter. To be ready for the burst of energy that fall brings. Since travel also boosts my energy, I should be quite a dynamo when I return from France!

So au revoir August—bring on September!

What have you been up to in August? Any plans for the fall?

John Foy

A Walk in the Woods

August 24, 2018


Introduction by Ted Kooser: John Foy is a poet living in New York whose book, Night Vision, published by St. Augustines Press, was the winner of The New Criterion Poetry Prize. I especially like this leisurely, conversational account of a walk in the woods that just at the end lifts its eyes and looks into a deeper place beyond the particulars.

Woods

I took the dog and went to walk
in the auditorium of the woods,
but not to get away from things.
It was our habit, that was all,
a thing we did on summer days,
and much there was to listen to.
A slight wind came and went
in three birches by the pond.
A crow uphill was going on
about the black life it led,
and a brown creeper went creeping up
a brown trunk methodically
with no record of ever having
been understood by anyone.
A woodpecker was working out
a deep hole from the sound of it
in a stand of dead trees up there.
And then a jay, much put upon,
complained about some treachery
it may or may not have endured,
though most are liars anyway.
The farther in, the quieter,
till only the snapping of a stick
broke the silence we were in.
The dog stood still and looked at me,
the woods by then already dark.
Much later, on the porch at night,
I heard the owl, an eldritch thing.
The dog, still with me, heard it too,
a call that came from where wed been,
and where we would not be again.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (www.poetryfoundation.org), publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2016 by John Foy, “Woods,” from Night Vision, (St. Augustine's Press, 2016). Poem reprinted by permission of John Foy and the publisher. Introduction copyright 2018 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction’s author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Being

Remember the Joy of Being

August 17, 2018

Photo by MI PHAM on Unsplash

“In today’s rush, we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.”
—Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Preparing

Weathering Summer Storms

August 13, 2018


It starts with a grumble in the east. You quickly glance up at the sky—what’s the cloud situation? Is there lightning? The Spanish moss hangs limp from the oak trees and there’s not a whisper of breeze.

It’s still sunny where you are, but puffy clouds edged with gray appear, racing across the sky. A summer storm approaches.

Quickly the blue sky turns gray, the air temperature drops, the rumbling surrounds you. Sometimes the light takes on an eerie green tinge.

The house shakes the next time the thunder booms, and you begin to see lightning flashes. In moments, the rain begins to spatter the ground, speckling the pavement. The rain whispers or rustles or thuds, depending on how hard it’s coming down. If you’re lucky, you’re inside, cozily watching. If you’re unlucky enough to be out and about, you’re probably drenched despite your umbrella. You might take off your sandals so they don’t get ruined, and run through the parking lot to get to your car. (Or is that just me?)

After a few moments—or an hour—the sun may shine through the rain. This is what’s known as a sun shower. Or a rainbow will appear. Your gift for weathering another summer storm.

Sometimes we can see the storm coming from a long way away and we can prepare at least somewhat, as my family and I did last summer when Hurricane Irma was bearing down on us. Sometimes a storm appears seemingly out of nowhere and we’re forced to take cover until the worst is over. Afterwards, we pick up the pieces.

What’s true of the weather is also true of our lives. Sometimes we see the storm coming, other times it takes us by surprise and all we can do is hold on. If you’re in the midst of a storm, know that it will end, and that you may very well find a world made new on the other side. If you’re watching a storm on the horizon, what can you do to prepare for it? And if you’re currently enjoying a stretch of beautiful weather, savor every moment of it, knowing that soon enough, the storms will come.

What storms have you weathered lately?


JOMO

Lazy Summer Link Love

August 10, 2018

Well, it’s August. What more can I say? I’m feeling about as lazy as is possible while still being conscious, just marking time until the weather cools off. But my fingers still work and I have an internet connection, so here are a few links I’ve loved recently:

I’m not the only one struggling through summer. Apparently, according to at least one study, your brain really does slow down during hot weather. Read about it here: “It’s Not Your Fault If You Can't Get Anything Done in the Summer.” 

Laura Vanderkam’s posts are always full of common sense. In “Every Yes Is a No, Every No Is a Yes,” Laura writes, “The upside of keeping this phrase in mind is that it reminds you that expectations are infinite, and time is finite. You are always choosing. A choice to do one thing is a choice not to do something else, and therefore a choice to disappoint someone. So the question is who are you choosing to disappoint, and why?”
“Reclaim Your Weekends” looks at the importance of scheduling time for restoration: “We all need rest and rejuvenation. Without deep, restorative time, we power through jam-packed weekends (or aimlessly surf the net), only to wake up on Monday mornings feeling tired and dissatisfied.”
I’m still exploring Julia’s Bookbag, but so far I’m enchanted. How lovely it would be to receive one of her book boxes! And wouldn’t it be fun to create them?
Read “10 Things to Keep You Going When Everything Goes Wrong,” because it’s not what happens to you, it’s how you respond to what happens to you. Numbers 3, 7, and 9 especially resonated with me.

I just finished reading Quiet Girl in a Noisy World, and checked out the author's Tumblr, “Where’s My Bubble?” The book reminded me that I haven’t been allowing enough recharging time for my introverted self. 
To continue with the theme of doing less and enjoying life more, have you heard the acronym “JOMO”? It’s FOMO’s (“Fear of Missing Out”) cousin, the Joy of Missing Out. Read about it at “FOMO vs JOMO: How to Embrace the Joy of Missing Out.” 
And for the times when it requires too much energy to go to the beach, here’s a video of waves crashing on the beach...


Hope you have a relaxing, restoring, and very happy weekend!

Being present

This Moment

August 06, 2018


Breathe.

I’m an expert at worrying. About the future. About what might happen.

But in this moment, I’m OK. My loved ones are OK. Sure, there will be times when this isn’t the case. But not this moment.

Breathe…

All my worrying, my complaining, maybe my problem is not noticing and being grateful for this moment. This moment is a gift—that’s why it’s called the present.

Hurry, distraction, multi-tasking—these are the enemies of presence and peace.

I want more presence and peace.

Instead of constantly searching for something bright shiny new (shopping, reading yet another self-help book, etc.) to distract myself from uncomfortable feelings I’m practicing appreciating, caring for, and savoring the many gifts I already have.

Will you join me today in stopping to breathe and appreciate where you are? All the things that work in your life? Let all the worries for the future go—poof! Maybe even make a list of 10, 15, 100 things you love about your life right now. Summer is a good time for slowing down to appreciate this moment.

What do you notice when you become present in the moment? What’s best about your life right now? What would you like to change? Please share in the comments!

Habits

Cultivate Habits of Happiness

August 03, 2018

Photo by gabrielle cole on Unsplash

“So many of us believe that to be joyous we need to do a lot of work. But the truth is, our essence is already sparkling with happiness and bliss. All we really need to do is cultivate good internal habits to allow our divine spark be revealed.”
—Tzivia Gover, Joy in Every Moment

What habits do you cultivate to reveal your inner spark?


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