As the Year Turns

December 31, 2014

Photo courtesy Juskteez Vu

“There was a sighing, soft and cold, as if the year turned over
in his sleep.”
—Rose Macaulay, Personal Pleasures

Isn’t that a lovely description of the turning of the year? My favorite way to see in a new year is quietly, thoughtfully, with a book, my journal and maybe a glass of wine to keep me company. (My husband is there, too, probably reading in bed… We lead such wild and crazy lives!)

Here’s to a healthy and joyful 2015!


The Weight of the Year

December 29, 2014

I know the calendar is an arbitrary division of time, but I feel the weight of the old year bearing down on me. The weight of goals achieved and not achieved, of challenges met and unmet...the days and weeks and months of 2014 feel heavier each moment. A new year is about to dawn, and it feels like a weight will fall off my shoulders with the passing of the old year. Do you feel that way too? The endings and beginnings of this time of year feel like a good chance to shrug off the old and look forward with optimism to the new. But before I go all philosophical on you, let me just quickly review the public challenges I set for myself in 2014:

 Reading Challenges
I succeeded in all three of my reading challenges—click here to see the results. I am just finishing up that last Mt. TBR book, but it will be done by the end of the month. I managed just one bingo, but I filled a number of other spaces—just not in a line! And I read all the “required” classics, and one of the optional books.

For 2015: I plan to read from my shelves again, since (surprise!) I continued to buy new-to-me books in 2014. I did end up with a small reduction in the TBR pile, but I still have many, many books secreted on my closet shelves.  I’ll also participate in the updated classics challenge here and once again in the Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge.

30-Day Gratitude Photo Challenge
I’m so happy that I completed this challenge—it was fun, uplifting and gave me the boost I needed to take on…

31 Days of Sketching with Belle from Belle, Book and Candle starting Jan. 1. She plans to post her art on a separate blog (address to come), and I’m not sure yet how I’m going to post mine. I’m still working out the details and collecting prompts so that I’m never at a loss for what to sketch. My goal is to make sketching an activity rather than an event.

This year has been a year of emotional stress and upheaval (and dying computers and dogs going to the emergency vet), though I haven’t publicly written much about it. It was also a year of seeing old friends and family, reading good books and discovering Doctor Who. I’m grateful for the gifts 2014 has given me, but I want 2015 to feel different—less frustrating and anxiety ridden. I can’t control what happens to me, only how I react. Optimistically, I turn towards 2015, hoping for a happier and more successful year. But hoping will not make it so. If I want 2015 to be better than 2014, and I do, I will have to make some changes—in what I do and how I think. I’ll share what I learn in hopes that it will help and encourage you, too. As always, I’m especially grateful for all of you who have taken time to read my words and share your thoughts with me.

What gifts has 2014 given you? What do you look forward to in 2015?

Ada V. Hendricks

The Heart of the Holidays

December 24, 2014

May you have the gladness of Christmas which is hope;
The spirit of Christmas which is peace;
The heart of Christmas which is love.”
—Ada V. Hendricks

No matter which holiday you celebrate, I wish you a season of hope, peace and love!


There Is No Right Way

December 19, 2014

Despite my best efforts at simplifying, I’m stressing a bit right now. In case you haven’t noticed, Christmas is almost here. And even though we’re having a quiet family dinner, we have a bare minimum of decorations (see last year’s “Link Love: Holiday Edition” for the reason why), and we have what I consider a quite reasonable list of people to exchange gifts and greetings with, I still find myself dashing around—this morning, a trip to Costco is in order and my gas tank is running on empty, so I’ll have to stop and gas up, oh and while I’m out, I think I’ll have one of Chik-fil-A’s holiday peppermint chocolate chip milkshakes (a simple pleasure I missed last year to my great chagrin)… See what I mean?

The problem is, life wants to happen at the same time I’m busy making Christmas plans.

My challenge is to take the pressure off by doing only what is meaningful to our family, not getting caught up in what other people do this time of year (no matter how fun it sounds), and letting some of “life” slide for the time being. Not that this is news to me, of course, but I seem to need to be reminded again and again. There is no “right” way to celebrate the holidays, nor is there a “right” way to be happy. There is only the way that is right for me.

I hope you are having a joyful and stress-free holiday season! If you have time, share some of your favorite holiday traditions in the comments section below.

God particles

The Smallest Things

December 17, 2014

Introduction by Ted Kooser: I flunked college physics, and anything smaller than a BB is too small for me to understand. But here’s James Crews, whose home is in St. Louis, “relatively” at ease with the smallest things we’ve been told are all around and in us.

God Particles

I could almost hear their soft collisions
on the cold air today, but when I came in,

shed my layers and stood alone by the fire,
I felt them float toward me like spores

flung far from their source, having crossed
miles of oceans and fields unknown to most

just to keep my body fixed to its place
on the earth. Call them God if you must,

these messengers that bring hard evidence
of what I once was and where I have been—

filling me with bits of stardust, whaleskin,
goosedown from the pillow where Einstein

once slept, tucked in his cottage in New Jersey,
dreaming of things I know I’ll never see.

American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation (, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2013 by James Crews, whose most recent book of poems is The Book of What Stays, University of Nebraska Press, 2011. Poem reprinted from Ruminate Magazine, Issue 29, Autumn 2013, by permission of James Crews and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2014 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.