back to basics

Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography
Photo Credit: Angie McMonigal Photography

You don’t need to look at the calendar to know that it’s January – around these parts, at least. We had our first real snow last night and I spent 30 cold – but strangely meditative – minutes shoveling this morning. I just received an email announcing that school is cancelled tomorrow. And we boots are lined by the back door, leaving dirty puddles on the floor. Something tells me I should complain about all of this, and I’m sure that in a few weeks I will be fed up with the shoveling and the snow days and the wind chill, but right now, it seems fitting and appropriate. As it should be, I suppose.

The sunlight was bright today, unlike yesterday when a blanket of gray spread across the sky. Hunker down, the weather seems to be saying. I can’t say that I disagree.

Something about winter – particularly post-holidays winter – tells me to settle in. If summer is about looking outward, exploring, and stretching our wings a bit, winter beckons me to look inward, huddle together, and tend to the roots.

I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I do feel a calling to get back to basics this time of year. To simplify, weed out the excess, and find contentment. Or at least a jittery-but-hopeful kind of pseudo-contentment. Because, let’s be honest, that is the only kind of contentment I am capable of right now.

Even though I don’t do resolutions, per se, I do look at the changing calendar as a chance to push the reset button. And after three weeks of airplanes and road trips, houseguests and family gatherings, celebrations and planning, and a what-day-is-it-anyway kind of disorientation, I am ready to hit the reset button. Regular bedtimes. Less cookies. More vegetables. Writing regularly, daily even.

Yet as much as I know that I need to hit the reset button, part of me is mourning the magical, other-worldliness of the past few weeks. I’m dreading the return to homework and deadlines and monotony. And part of me is scared that this back-to-basics approach won’t achieve the physical and spiritual tune-up that I need, but that it will only cause me to feel stuck.

I may not make any resolutions – not on January 1 or any other time of the year – but I have words, mottos, and quotes that I use to guide me. Let it go. Act with love. Work hard and be kind. I have decided the 2015’s word will be Patience. Patience with myself and with others. Patience with the unfolding of things.

If you know me, you know how hard – brutally hard – patience is for me. I don’t do waiting. Whining and complaining and go-getting? Yes. Waiting? Not so much. So along with patience, I think that might also need to throw in Breathe and Be gentle.

The fresh white snow from last night has already muddied the roads and turned to hard, gray ice rocks. The crisp and clean is fading into dirty and messy. I suppose that might be what happens when we look inward, huddle together, and tend the roots as well. Because as uncomfortable as it is, I’m not sure it’s possible to get back to basics without getting a little messy in the process.

Patience. Breathe. Be gentle. 

And repeat as necessary.

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Goals? How about a word/motto to guide you through the year?

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P.S. If you haven’t heard, there will be a BOOK LAUNCH CELEBRATION on January 24 from 6-8 and you are all invited. The event is free and open to the public so bring your friends. And friends of friends of friends. As part of the celebration, I am also giving away two copies of Open Boxes via a Goodreads Giveaway. You can find all the information you need about the launch party and the giveaway here.

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