The Five-Minute Challenge

When I began my blog, I planned to post twice a week, with more theoretical philosophy of life type posts on Tuesday and practical, hands-on posts on Thursday. I knew that I would be posting about time management occasionally. It’s a challenge we all face, and I consider it one of my areas of expertise. The problem is: Does it belong on Tuesdays because time is a theoretical concept, or does it belong on Thursdays because, although not hand on, it is certainly practical.

Practicalities forced me to post about time on Thursday this week. Practicalities also forced me to drop the idea of posting twice a week. I started a new job, so I less time that I can write. Every other week I will post a practical idea on Thursday; the other weeks I will post a reflection on life on Tuesday.

Today I want to talk about a little technique I use to break up overwhelming jobs into bite sized chunks, avoid wasting precious time, and make sure that certain tasks get a little attention every day. I call it the five-minute challenge.

I came up with the idea when faced with a very messy kitchen. It was so bad I didn’t know where to start. I decided to set a timer for five minutes and challenge myself to clean one section of the kitchen in that time. When that was finished, I moved on to the next section.

I discovered that the challenge gave me motivation to keep moving. Racing the timer gives a little adrenaline. I also found that I have an easier time facing five minutes of an unpleasant task than I do an unspecified amount of time, even if I know I am going to have to set the timer a few times to finish the task.

And it’s useful for other things too. There are those in between times like when you need to leave the house in 8 minutes. It’s not enough time to take on a project, but there’s usually something that could be done. If you wash 5 minutes worth of dishes now, that’s five more minutes you have to tack onto a project later. And the timer helps you keep from being late.

Then there are those everyday tasks like keeping your house clean. It’s good to keep somewhat on top of them, but you don’t need to do a thorough housecleaning every day. I use a daily five-minute challenge or two to keep on top of things like that.

What can you accomplish in five minutes? I’m going to see if I can do those breakfast dishes before I have to run out of the door.

Facing Our Brokenness

It’s not easy to face our brokenness. When I look inside, sometimes all I can see is a cracked pot.

But an old, cracked pot, doesn’t need to lie forgotten in the snow. Put it together with some old, dried weeds and you have a bouquet.

Likewise, our brokenness, when we embrace others in their brokenness, takes on a new meaning. Even if the cracks remain visible, we become whole and significant.

An old, cracked pot, doesn’t need to lie forgotten in the snow. Put it together with some old, dried weeds and you have a bouquet.

How to Savor Nature Through Art

One of the best ways I have found to train myself to observe nature is to make a chronical of what I see through writing, photograph, and art. Winter is a good time to practice on houseplants, pets, and whatever you see out of your window. You may gravitate more to writing or visual arts. The nice thing about writing is you can use it to develop your all your senses. I gravitate to writing but enjoy visual arts as well.

I did a study of an orchid through writing, photography, and watercolor. I will use it as an example of how I observe nature through art.

Write about it.

Your writing can be practical or creative. A garden or nature journal is a good way to keep a record of what is or isn’t working for you. A poem is a good way to observe the color, form, and the emotions evoked.

If you go for creative writing, don’t get hung up on form. You don’t have to turn it in to your English teacher. I invite you to post what you write in the comments, but I promise I won’t grade it unless you ask me to.

What are some descriptive words you can use? Can you think of a metaphor? What are some poetic devices you can use?

Here is my orchid poem:

Winged flower flying
Glides over green
On slender stalk.

Roots reaching:
Skyward, Downward

Dance of delight.

My poem doesn’t follow any set structure. I made use of alliteration, metaphor, parallel structure of opposites, and short staccato lines. I didn’t try to fit it into any poetic mold, other than I wanted the lines short. The point was the orchid, not the poem.

The poem and my favorite of the photos with a little help from Photoshop. Unless you want to add a poem to your image, you can get beautiful photos with your phone without any photo editing.

Photograph It

You might not have a camera, but you probably have a phone. Most phones today have good cameras. I developed a love of photography playing with the camera on my phone. I have an expensive camera now, but my phone started me on that path.

Pick a subject for your study or just go outside and look for interesting subjects. If your subject is a houseplant, take pictures in different light and with different backgrounds. Arrange it with other objects. (If your subject is a cat, watch for the way it arranges itself with other objects.) Try different angles. Lie on the floor. Set the plant on the floor. Try different things till you come up with something you really like.

Don’t worry if most of your pictures aren’t that great. I took 34 pictures of the orchid and only liked about 5. The point was the orchid, not the photography.

Draw It or Paint It

I had an amazing art teacher in high school who taught us, among other things, that if you can see, you can draw. The biggest part of learning how to draw is learning how to see. And I believe she was correct. Seeing teaches you to draw and drawing teaches you to see. When you practice drawing you will be better both at the seeing and the drawing.

One way to warm yourself up to really seeing an object is to do a blind contour drawing. Look at the object and draw the outline without looking at your paper. Seriously. No peeking allowed. Don’t expect a masterpiece, but you might be pleasantly surprised. I often find the results strangely appealing. The best thing about the exercise is it gets you to focus on seeing rather than on producing a product.

Beautiful isn’t it? Contour drawings also cure you of the idea that every time you put a pencil to the paper you need to produce something awesome.

Now choose a medium and create your work of art. Water color is my favorite medium, so that’s what I did. If you don’t hoard art supplies like I do, just use what you have. Use a pen and printer paper if that’s all you have. Just enjoy.

It doesn’t need to be a masterpiece. I actually like my photo of the painting better than the painting itself.

Your Turn

Pick and activity. Give yourself at least 15 minutes to observe and create.

What did you do? Were you happy with the results?

Sewing, Photography, Botanical Embroidery? What Is Your Kind of Creative Genius?

One of the main reasons I wanted to start a blog was to encourage other people to explore and develop their own creativity as I explore and develop mine. Everyone is gifted in a unique way. We often know what some of our gifts are but not others. I believe we all have hidden talents. I believe that we get funny ideas about what we can and can’t do that just don’t match reality. If you tell yourself you can’t paint, you won’t paint. You probably aren’t good at painting because you never gave yourself permission to try. If you don’t like painting, fine. But if you ever had the thought, “I wish I could paint like that!” Give it a try. Take a class. Watch YouTube videos. Your first paintings might disappoint you, but if you enjoy it, keep trying. You will get better with practice. But even if you get very good, you might never “paint like that.” You have your kind of creative genius; it never will be the next guy’s creative genius.

How do you find and develop yours? It is important to give yourself space to develop, nurture the things you genuinely enjoy, and learn when to let go of activities.

Give yourself room to develop.

I find that I sabotage my own creativity in two ways. I don’t give myself time to develop, or I don’t give myself mental permission to develop.

  1. There is never enough time to do everything. There is always something to do. Right now my house is a mess. I could convince myself that the most important thing for me to do right now is take out the compost, clean the bathroom, and clear the jumble of clothing off my bedroom floor. I could easily convince myself I really shouldn’t be writing right now. In order to make time to write, the other things have to wait. It takes a conscious effort to give myself permission to write.
  2. The other way we don’t give ourselves permission to be creative is that we get it in our heads that creativity is some rare gift that only a few people have. Maybe you were told you’d never be good at something, or maybe you just decided that on your own. Maybe you really won’t ever be great at something. If you enjoy it, why not develop it anyway?

Where do you thrive?

  1. Some people enjoy one thing and specialize in that one thing. Maybe it’s music. Maybe it’s painting. Maybe they enjoy both but specialize in one and dabble in the other. That’s great. These folks enrich the world with their mastery.
  2. Then there are the all-purpose creative people. I’m in that category. Name something creative, and I’ve probably tried or thought about trying it for at least 10 seconds. And I get pretty good at things. I’ve developed all five senses through conscious observation and practical exercise. I am an observer before I am a creator. I am fairly good at a lot of things but haven’t specialized enough to be truly great. And that’s great. People like me enrich the world by singing in church and community choirs, bringing tasty meals to potlucks, knitting people sweaters, and creating eclectic blogs.
  3. Then there are people whose talent is for things not generally considered creative. Maybe home organizing is your true art. Then there is city planning, engineering, coding, running a department store… These are arts. They are necessary. And they really are creative. Sewer systems are not glamorous, but the lack of them is even less so. Aren’t you glad someone thought of them and figured out how to bring them to the world? If that’s your form of creative genius, you are fantastic!

Learn how to let go of the things that aren’t right for you.

  1. You can’t do everything. I’m still trying to learn this. I genuinely enjoy trying different things, so it can be hard for me to let go. In some ways, the Internet made it easier for me to give some things up. I’m constantly bombarded with ads for crafts, and Pinterest has more ideas for me every day. It’s overwhelming. My sanity requires me to say, “This is fun to look at, but I’m never going to do it.” Then there are the things that I enjoyed in the past that I never get around to anymore. These are harder to let go of. But there just isn’t time for everything. Life has different seasons. I find the greatest happiness in living in harmony with the season of today.
  2.  You won’t enjoy everything. I don’t like quilting; it’s easy for me to let go of. I never got into scrapbooking either, but I tried to talk myself into it because someone gave me a handmade book that was for scrapbooking. It took me years to say, “I’m never going to do this.” I used the book for a sketch book instead. Don’t let other people’s ideas of what you might like or how you should use your talents make you feel like you should be doing something that just isn’t right for you. You are the steward of your own talents.

What is your kind of creative genius?

I’m always going to challenge you to do something at the end of each blogpost. And I do really hope you will try some of the things I recommend. But I’d rather inspire you to find your creative niche than to have you follow my footsteps. If I suggest drawing, and you take up botanical embroidery instead, fantastic!

Your task for today is to think about where your creative genius lies. Do you fit in one of the three categories I mentioned? Do you feel it lies in an area that I didn’t mention? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Is there something you’d like to try or try again? Find a way to make it happen. I’d like to hear about that in the comments too.

Three Ways to Enjoy Flowers in Winter

I was planning on posting about flower arrangements, fresh and dried, when my angel wing begonia and my hellebore burst into bloom. That got me thinking about all the ways I enjoy flowers in winter: bouquets, house plants, and hellebore.

Bouquets

I tend to think of winter as the season for dried bouquets. I plan my winter bouquets in fall. I’ve been learning by trial and error which flowers will still be beautiful through the winter and even into the next year if you hang them upside down. It’s too late for that now, but it’s not too late to go out and scavenge for dried seed pods.

The only other option here in the North is to buy flowers. I don’t often indulge in purchasing fresh flowers, but I do enjoy them on occasion. I can get them at a reasonable price at the grocery store.

I’ve never had any classes on flower arranging. I developed an eye for it over time. Until recently I never cared much for my arrangements, but the nice thing about flowers is they are always going to be pretty. They are a good way to develop your artistic sense.

Here are some good things to keep in mind when arranging:

Choose a vase that complements the flowers. A tall bouquet looks good in a tall vase. A full bouquet looks good in a rounded vase.

Be conservative about how much stem you cut off. You can always take more off, but you can’t put any back on.

Go for balance in the overall shape. Having a tall flower or seed pod add a dramatic effect, but the shape of the rest of the bouquet should parallel or complement the tall form. A tall flower sticking out of an otherwise round bouquet will look out of place.

A few dollars and about ten minutes of arranging the flowers adds color and cheer to a dreary month.

Houseplants

Orchids are stunning. They like diffused light. Be careful not to over water them.

I used to kill houseplants, but I recently did a little stint of living in town. The apartment was bright and sunny, and several people gave me plants. There were gorgeous hibiscus. Unfortunately, these got a whitefly infestation that I never managed to control, and they died. But the orchid and angel wing begonia flourished.

There are plenty of beautiful houseplants available. Why not give them a try? Just because you didn’t do well with them in the past doesn’t mean you won’t in the future. Or maybe you didn’t have the right variety for your conditions. Some plants are easier to careful than others. I find begonias easy. Orchids need indirect light and need to have air get to their roots. They are sometimes said to be difficult to care for, but I didn’t find them difficult. You just have to be careful not to over water them.

The big things to remember with houseplants are: don’t tell yourself you will kill it, pick a plant you like and that will do well in your lighting conditions, and water at the recommended frequency.

Hellebore

Hellebore does well in the shade and blooms in winter. This flower is currently blooming in my woods.

As far as I know, these are the only plants you will find blooming in January and February in my part of the world. You can plant them in the shade. They make a beautiful evergreen ground cover. They require very little care, and they bloom in winter or very early spring. What more can you ask for?

Enjoy

I encourage you to try houseplants or flower arranging even if you think you can’t. But don’t stress yourself out over it. That would defeat the purpose. Enjoy the winter flowers even if you do nothing more than look at ones in the store.

The Refreshing Silence of Winter

Today I invite you to drink deeply of the golden silence of winter. Think of a snowy night when the traffic is minimal, and folks are at home where it’s warm. Snow muffles what little sound there is. The silence invites you. Step outside and breath in the cold, quiet air. Let your self be revived if only for a moment.

Maybe your conditions are not as I described them. Maybe your winter is gray and rainy. Maybe you are reading this as you procrastinate from a task with a looming deadline, sirens are going down the street, and your teenager is blasting the kind of music you hate. Never mind all that. If you procrastinate a few more minutes, it isn’t going to make much difference. You might even find yourself revived enough to finish the task at hand. Your teenager won’t die if you ask them to turn down the volume. (They might think they are dying and act like they are dying, but it won’t actually be fatal. Maybe they need an invitation into reviving silence too.)

One way or another, step away from the noise even if you can only do it in your mind.

Speaking of your mind—when you step into silence, your mind can sometimes become very noisy. A thousand thoughts may crowd into your head. Stepping into silence, ironically can be like stepping into a noisy party in your head. A few dozen thoughts can suddenly start trying to talk over the background music. We never heard them when our attention was turned outward, but now they see their opportunity to get our attention, and they all start to yell.

Ask them to be still for a moment. It is important to try to keep them at bay and give silence its place. Like whitespace on a page that makes it possible to read the written word, silence is the background that makes our thoughts intelligible. The silence will let them be heard when the time is right, but that is a subject for another day. Today we are making space for the silence.

Silence is like the winter rain and snow that refresh the earth so that life can spring up again when the season changes. If the plants spring up too soon, they are killed or set back by the frost. Let yourself be refreshed by the silence before you let your thoughts spring up.

When the winter rains and snows come, don’t curse them. Bless them: They are inviting you into blessed, refreshing silence.

Enjoying Winter Vegetables: Meet the Parsnip

Parsnips are one of my favorite vegetables. They are easy to grow and easy to store. And I think they are delicious.

Direct sow the seeds in spring. You can plant them early because they are cold-hardy, but I find they germinate better when the soil is warm. I plant them around the time of the first frost free date. Because they are slow to germinate and grow, I sometimes plants radishes or turnips along with them to mark the row. The turnips and radishes will be harvested long before the parsnips are full sized.

Parsnips are best harvested after a frost or freeze. You can leave them in the ground until you are ready to eat them. Dig them out all winter as long as the ground isn’t frozen solid. I usually dig a few out in the fall to place in storage; either a cellar or a refrigerator will do. They remain good in the ground throughout winter, but we can’t always count on a thaw in winter where I live. Dig whatever is left first thing in spring. They go to seed the second year and aren’t good after they start growing again.

If you haven’t had parsnips before, give them a try. They are available in most grocery stores. Add them to soups and stews. They give a nice fragrant flavor to the soup. You can also parboil them for a few minutes and saute them in butter. My favorite way to enjoy parsnips is to oven roast them alone or with other vegetables.

Oven Roasted Winter Vegetables

Peel and chop any combination of winter root vegetables, such as parsnips, potatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, and beets.

Pre-heat your oven to 400.

Place your vegetables in a roasting pan. Coat with olive oil or melted butter. Season with salt and pepper to taste. You may also add herbs to taste. Thyme, rosemary, and garlic are good choices.

Bake until vegetables are tender and beginning to brown. This usually takes about an hour. Parsnips and carrots take a little longer than onions and potatoes. I usually put them in the oven to get a head start while I’m chopping the onions and potatoes. If I’m including Brussel spouts, I add them after the the other vegetables have cooked about 15 minutes.

This is a very forgiving recipe. I’ve roasted at a lower temperature when I had other things in the oven. Adjust the cooking time if roasting at a different temperature.

Feel free to be adventurous with ingredients. I even threw in apples the last time I made it. The apples cooked about 20 minutes; I added them at the end.

Be adventurous! This roast includes parsnips, caorrots, onions, potatoes, sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts, and even apples. It pairs well with any type of meat.

Taking Inventory in the Root Cellar and in Life: Is It Time to Make a Pie?

I found a moldy squash in my closet a few days ago. There’s nothing unusual about that; it happens to me all the time. I practice the ancient art of live storage of vegetables. In the days before refrigerators, people grew vegetables that would keep in a cold cellar or attic. If the proper handling and storage conditions are maintained, a nice variety of vegetables will keep well into the winter. I’ve had squash keep into the spring. The thing is: with live storage, you can’t just tuck your fruits and veggies away and forget about them. Some things will go bad. You have to go through the produce in storage from time to time, make use of the things that are likely to go bad soon, and dispose of things that have gone bad. One rotten apple really will spoil the whole barrel.

It’s not a big loss if you catch it in time. The rotten apple or squash goes to the compost heap, returns to the soil to nourish growth in a future year. It may come back as a flower, or tomato, or weeds. It will probably also come back as a squash. Some of my healthiest plants are volunteers that come up from seeds in the compost heap. If you neglect the things in storage, however, you very quickly will end up with a mushy rotting mess. That too will go to the compost and come back in time, but you will lose a lot of your harvest in the short term.

That rotting squash got me thinking: Life is a lot like keeping produce in live storage. Our minds and our hearts are like attics and root cellars. We store a lot of things in them. We have to have some care as to what we are putting in storage and how we handle it when we put it in. Not everything deserves a place in our minds and hearts. We should have some care what we read, listen to, or watch and who we hang around with. And even if we take care about having the right things in our hearts and mind, we still have to clear things out from time to time. We store up dreams, ideas, things we want to try. We make bucket lists. There’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, I think it’s healthy.

But the problem is we tend to hold onto things until they get moldy. They were good when we put them in, but they can stay there past their time. If we keep on hanging on to them after that, they ooze out onto the other plans and dreams and make those go off too.

Is it time to go through the things that you have stored away in yourself? Are there apples that are starting to get wrinkled? Maybe you should a pie with them before they go off. Do you have a squishy squash that needs to go to the compost? Don’t let it make your prize pumpkin go bad.

I’ve found that letting go of dreams or ideas when it’s time is a remarkably good way of making my mind a fertile ground for new intellectual, creative, and spiritual growth. Sometimes a dream gets reworked into something else. Sometimes a fragment appears in a new setting. Sometimes letting go of one thing make time and space for a new and better thing.

The art of finding the proper time is essential both for live storage and for a fully lived life. Your vegetables, dreams, ideas, and plans may have all been sound when you stored them away. But maybe you left them there a little too long. You missed the optimal time. Nevermind. Let it go. If you compost it, it will still enrich your soil. Maybe you stored away a little too much. You could have given a little of that squash to the neighbors. Maybe your idea was there to inspire others, but you kept it for yourself, and it went off. Nevermind. Let it go. If you compost it, it will enrich your soil. Maybe it was only there to enrich the soil in the first place. The important thing is to let it go without fretting. Fretting is just another way of keeping the rotting squash in storage. It’s time to let go.

Or maybe you have an idea that is still sound and will keep until a new season of your life. Don’t be afraid to keep it in storage while you attend to the things that need done today. The time will come when the other ideas are spent. Then you can bring it out and make use of it. If it gets moldy. You know what to do with it. Who knows what seeds it carries to spring up from the ground and bear new fruit.

What is still sound and ready to use today? Is it time to make and enjoy a pie? Is it time to roast some root vegetables? Better do that before the time has past.

Your challenge for today is to take 5 or 10 minutes to ask yourself: Do you have in your life that you need to take to the compost heap? Are there things that you need to make something of now before the ingredients go off? Are there things that your spending time on that you could keep in storage a little bit longer? Write it down or tell someone. And take the appropriate actions.

Enjoying Your Garden in Winter

I have a hard time getting myself outside in winter, but it is always worth the effort. I do enjoy going for a walk or messing about in the yard or garden with various clean up projects. I love the subtle beauty of winter with or without snow. Sometimes it takes a little extra effort to see the beauty that is there. That makes winter the perfect time to train your eyes for seeing nature and to plan for the upcoming growing season.

A winter garden takes some planning ahead. Now is the time to do it. One of my favorite things to do in winter is to snuggle next to a fire and read seed catalogues. As I’m are doing that, I dream about my summer garden but also think about plants I can continue to enjoy in winter.

 There are few vegetables that will survive into January in my location. On rare occasions, Brussels sprouts and kale will make it. Parsnips will make it through the winter, but if the ground freezes solid, they can’t be harvested. I can’t count on being able to dig them in January, but there is something especially rewarding about winter harvesting when it is possible.

Some ornamentals plants remain beautiful even after a frost. These include ornamental grasses and plants with ornamental seed pods or berries. What fun to go out in the snow and pick a bouquet of seed pods to grace your house in winter! Some weeds such as teasel and cattail can also contribute to a winter bouquet.

Weeds and seed pods for a winter bouque include teasel, mullein, goldenrod, hibiscus, rosehip, Japanese iris, and baptisia.

Here is your challenge for the weekend.

Go out in your back yard if you have one and notice whatever beauty is there. If you don’t have one, take a stroll through your neighborhood or a local park. Do you see anything that retains ornamental value in winter? Do you have trees of shapely form or gnarly bark? Can you identify them by their form and bark? Do you have any interesting weeds? Do you see anything you can gather for a winter bouquet? (If you aren’t on your own land, make sure you have permission.) Are your neighbors’ gardens more interesting than yours? Do you see anything that you might like to try growing in your own garden?

Resolving to Start Living Simply

Have you ever wanted to leave everything behind and go off to the wilderness and live in a shed or a tree? Do you like reading about people who do? What is the fascination of the simple life? Even people who would never dream of living in a shed themselves seem be fascinated with people who do it. Think of all the novels and chronicles that have been written about surviving in the wilderness and the like, not to mentions all the how-to-guides. There seems to be a human need for simplicity, yet we live in a complicated world. For most of us, the choice of a simple lifestyle is going to mean something other than leaving everything behind to go live in the wilderness. Are you are thinking of making a New Year’s resolution to live more simply, more sustainably, or more in tune with nature? I have learned from bitter experience that you are more likely to have success if you keep in mind two guidelines: Don’t make simplicity too complicated. Do make your goals clear and attainable.

Don’t make simplicity too complicated.

The idea of living off the land has fascinated me since I was a kid. I grew up in the country, surrounded by Amish neighbors. I read things like the Little House books, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s account of growing up in a pioneer family, and My Side of the Mountain, Jean Craighead George’s novel about a boy who ran away to live in the New York wilderness. I didn’t just read novels; I read how-to books. I spent hours of my youth pouring over Reader’s Digest’s Back to Basics, which told you how to do just about everything. My career goal was to be a subsistence farmer. 

But life in the 20th/21st Centuries doesn’t quite work the way I think it should. Even the Amish are moving away from farming and finding trades. We have to find our own compromise between the need to engage with the modern economy and the desire for the simple life. I’ve tried numerous little experiments of giving up elements of modern convenience to be more in tune with nature. Those experiments have varied in intensity. One happened when I was living in Washington, DC. I give up electric lights, ate frugally, and wrote my notes about the experiment on paper grocery bags. Another experiment involved attempting to live in a shed on the back of my sister’s farm while growing my own food. I was in direct contact with nature, but…

The DC experiment was the simpler of the two. Database management by day and candlelight dinners by night is simpler than life with dairy animals and produce. Notes from the DC experiment describe the restfulness of allowing the sleep mechanism to be controlled by natural rhythm of daylight. Notes from the shed experiment express exasperation of a life controlled by the necessity of making butter, cheese, cheese, and more cheese.

I have discovered that you don’t have to do anything drastic to live more simply, more in tune with the natural order. Radical changes are seldom sustainable. Success depends on making the sort of choices that you can live with in the long run. Most of us wouldn’t last very long if we gave up heating our houses in winter, but we can live with the thermostat set a little lower. None of us could live without food, but we can live without many of the food frills that we accept as routine. The truly simple life makes time and space for happiness.  

Do make your goals clear and attainable.

Vague goals are not going to motivate you. Furthermore, you won’t know if you reach them. Impossible goals are not going to motivate you. We are motivated when we can anticipate success. The clear, attainable goal gives us something to look forward to. We know when we succeed and when we need to try again, try harder, or try something else. Having clear goals also gives us clear milestones. We can celebrate little successes along the way. Those little celebrations encourage us to go even further.

I’ll admit that I have a hard time setting clear goals. I am very much a process person and get as much excited about the doing of a thing as I do reaching a specific goal. Furthermore, I’m very queued into the fact that the world has a way of changing: The unexpected happens. The thing I count on doesn’t happen while the thing that I don’t even think of ends up saving the day. So I hesitate to make things too set in stone.

However, the best times in life have been the times when I said, “I will do X.” Sometimes I actually did X. Other times, X led to Y or Z. And that was as good or even better. For example, one year I made a New Year’s resolution to walk a half marathon. I did it. The next year I had the same resolution. Life got in the way. I never competed in the marathon, but I stayed in shape and saw many beautiful sunrises in the process of striving towards the goal. But as soon as the concrete goal wasn’t there, I got lazy.

Let’s make some goals right now.

If you are serious about about making in changes in your life, don’t wait until another New Year has come and gone. Set a goal right now before you navigate away from this page.

  1. Write your goal down. Anything. Start off vague if you want.
    •  Here’s mine: I want to start a blog about living a happy, natural life. That’s a nice vague goal; I’ve had it for years; I have a few articles in reserve and a great many more ideas. It isn’t quite as vague as “I want to start a blog.” At least it has something of a target audience and focus for content. But I could have stayed in the mode of “I want to start a blog about connecting with nature” for another 20 years. I had to get more concrete as things went along.
  2. Make it concrete and give yourself a deadline.
    • I decided I would start my blog at the New Year. So the blog isn’t exactly my New Year’s resolution. It was a resolution I made a couple of months ago. The New Year gave me a timeline and a theme to start with. That was concrete enough to get me started.
  3. Tell someone about it. Tell someone who will give you encouragement and accountability. If you don’t have anyone, tell me. You can do it in the comments or by contacting me at mary@journeybymoonlight.com.

Enjoy the Journey.

There is a lot of work left to be done. Life is a journey. It often feels like a journey at night, a journey by a light that waxes and wanes, a journey by moonlight. The more I choose to adapt myself to whatever light (or any other limited resource) is there and continue the journey the happier I become. The more I tune into reality outside myself, the more I become who I am.

I invite you to join me in a journey of discovery and personal growth through connection with nature. I’ll be sharing with you some of my own journey and discoveries, but I want you to make your own journey and take delight in your own discoveries. So I will always encourage you to take a concrete action. Today I want you to make a goal, give yourself a deadline, and tell someone about it.

And subscribe to my blog.

Happy New Year!