Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Reflections: Challenge Part II

How's this for honesty? I was in a horrific mood this morning. ...And it all had to do with those two dreaded words: Writer's Block.

Ugh... isn't that one of the worst feelings? (The best way to accurately describe 'writers block', in my own humble opinion, is to compare it to something that is rather untasteful to mention here... suffice it to say, a remedy for this common ailment involves lots of prunes. Heh.) There was so much that I wanted to say, but I just couldn't do it. Sometimes my writing strategy is to start completely raw and unfiltered-- to jot everything down "stream-of-consciousness" and pour through it later-- drawing out and highlighting the good (sensical) things.... leaving (or smoothing over) the rest.

But today?
I couldn't even get started. I just stared at the blinking cursor for a while; typing a few words and then hammering down the "backspace" key, feeling progressively more dejected and more and more grumpy. ...Until finally, I did the only thing left that I could do. I got up and left. And you know what? ... 25 minutes later I had come back to life.

This is why :)

This is what's it's all about for me.

This is what inspires and drives me.

This is beautiful. And this is why I write:

And with that said, I am pleased to announce to you that I am planning to do another 21 Day Challenge (Challenge Part II, if you will.) I've been reflecting about this a lot lately, and I've found that I really took a lot away from the first edition of the Challenge.

Now, I'm not delusional :) ... I am pretty sure that the quality of my photography did not improve very much (I have no idea how to manipulate light to my advantage. I don't know what terms like aperture and shutter speed mean, and my small but servicable point + shoot is at least 5 years old...) ... but I think maybe my quality of life did.

By challenging myself to find a single image (or sometimes when that was too hard, several images) to adequately capture the beauty, joy and complexity of my day, I began to see things differently. I began to really delve into the emotions that a picture provoked, and (though I like to think I always saw it it my heart)-- I began to see the beauty in the minutae with my eyes. And that was so valuable.

I am a girl who craves beauty. Like, I crave it to the very depths of my soul. I believe that each day has glimpses of the divine within the terrestrial and the mundane of the "routine" -- and that, in fact, routine has a unique beauty all its own. I believe that it may be key to my survival that I recognize and celebrate these good things.

I'm still young, and if you've been reading along with me for a while, you know that I am still trying to figure it all out. Who I am, how to live my life and all that ;) Well ... maybe it isn't as complicated as I've been making it (I am starting to realize that things hardly ever are) ... Maybe, like so many other realizations (2x4 moments?!) that have come to me in the past year ... my reassurance and my answer is right here in front of me.

I've always loved the passionate call to action behind the phrase "Carpe Diem!": Go forth! Seize the day & live life to the fullest! But I've always felt a bit paralyzed-- How can I make the most out of this life when I don't know where to step next?

Well... there's this delightful little principle called momentum. It states that motion breeds motion... and therefore, it comes to reason that, while it may not have been visible to me... I have been moving forward this whole time. Each decision, each tear, each prayer and each promise (kept and unkept) ... all these things propel me forward. And what's more: all these things matter.

...And needless to say, that was so much better and so much more than I could have ever expected. ...Let's see where it takes me this time :)

Friday, September 10, 2010

Catch Up

Goood Friday morning, bloggies! (*yawns*)

I hope your week has been treating you well, and that you have a beautiful Friday with exciting weekend plans to look forward to.

... A great tragedy befell us Westervillians this morning, as the local Starbucks (which just so happens to be the one on my way to work) is closed for remodeling-- which means that all the good folks (including me, of course) who look forward to their "Fall Friday Pumpkin Spice Latte fix" either had to (a) get up a little earlier and track down the next closest S-bux, or (b) go without. Seeing as I am a chronically late riser (but only on work week days! As you know, I get up early on weekends to seize the day and experience every blissful moment of my days off ;)... I fell into category (b), and am now slurping a warm-ish cup of office coffee and thinking 'nutmeg-gy thoughts'. Sigh. Note to self, find a fantastic local coffee shop to frequent (like this lovely lady).

Anyhoo... the important thing is that this coffee does contain caffeine-- and I have lots to tell you. It's been a really inspired week for me, which means I'm practically bursting at the seams with ideas, and I'm composing and compiling blog entries in my head more often than not ... but it's also been a really busy week for me (How does that happen?! It seems to me that 4 day weeks are paradoxically short & long .... each day feels like it lasts forever because of all that needs to be packed in...)-- case in point-- I was up at 11 pm last evening mopping my kitchen floor. Seriously.

And now (predictably) I'm having a little bit of deciding where to start... But really, isn't it only fair that I start where I left off? ... And how better to catch you up than with a good list & some pictures?!

Good List:

1. J. He will always be first in my heart and on my "good list".
2. WE OWN A GRILL! (Sorry for the all caps, but this is exciting, friends! I mean... I've only been dreaming about having a grill since... oh, April, when we moved into our house... Heh.) For J & I, our Saturday excitement centered around buying this grill (and for J-- the set up, as well. With furry supervision, naturally....) We may not have gotten around to dinner until after 8pm, but the waiting was sweet: It was a perfect fall evening for us to sit together outside and bask in the scent of our new charcoal grill warming up. Heaven. ... And those burgers? I think they were some of the best I've ever had ;)
3. Beautiful, race courses, friendly volunteers and small races. My parents and I did the inaugural (btw: I definitely had to look up how to spell that word...)
Emerald City Quarter Marathon on Sunday, and I think it may have been one of my favorite races. {Side note: at some point, I'd like to really think back each and every one of the races I've done in the past couple years... I'm not sure I really have any that I flat out didn't like... but there are definitely some races that stand out as The Best.) The course wound through Glacier Ridge Metro Park, and, the weather was perfect (and I know I've been saying that a lot lately... but it's true. Clear blue skies, sunshine, and just the slightest bit chilly.) Here we all are after the race:

Photo courtesy of my father

4. ...And after the race, I went apple picking. Mmmm. Macintosh. I love eating apples "straight up", but I also have all sorts of other delightful recipes in mind for these beauties. Good thing I bought the half bushel bag!

Hello, Lovely

5. And then after lunch (which was, for me, a tomato sandwich on an asiago cheese bagel... bagel courtesy of the race. ... I think that sandwich may have been the definition of perfection... Yum;), Gracie & I snuggled in bed with a book.
6. ... And after that, we headed over to J's parent's for the Labor Day celebration. I always feel so blessed at these events because (honest to goodness) everyone just really enjoys each others' company. Summertime gatherings are always the most fun, because the kids ("kids" being a relative term ... Aiden is 14 mos old, but the rest of us are in our 20s and 30s.... pending the newest addition, coming in December :) are able to eat outside, and sometimes (Sunday included) we walk to the neighborhood playground between dinner & dessert. This year was especially fun, because Aiden was big enough to sit in the baby swings. He squealed with delight every time he swung past his father, and the rest of us had a wonderful time watching his serious "assessment of swing safety": he couldn't quite decide if he had enough courage to let go of the front of the swing to wave & blow kisses to his mother.

(With that, I'm done with beginning my good things "...And then..."-- I promise! But really? Sunday was pretty much a perfect day :)
7. Cinnamon & Spice. I ma
Savvy Julie's Peach Butter on Monday, and the house smelled heavenly all day.
8. A perfect run (or, several of them). Wednesday and Thursday evening of this week I went for a run (now go ahead and pick yourselves up off the floor. ... or maybe some of you predicted that my break from running would be short-lived?) Ahh, and it was, dare I say?, nice. I didn't take any music with me,but rather I just focused on breathing in the perfect fall air. The weekdays have (as a whole) been pretty stressful-- and this was exactly what I needed. 15 lovely minutes of solitude, gratitude, and peace.
9. Now to the other end of the spectrum from peace (but in the best way possible) -- I love the joyful anticipation of having company -- even the 11 pm mopping was cheery. J & I are having our 'Friday night Friends' over this evening... and I have been "bouncing off the walls excited" about it all week. The fact that I didn't start cleaning until... um... last night... is completely irrelevant :) Even better?-- tonight I'll have my camera!-- that way the memories can live on.

10. "Courage is fear that has said its prayers." - Dorothy Bernard
(This quote actually popped up on my facebook feed as a friend's status. I thought it was a wonderful thought for the day-- fear is real; God is bigger.)

Okay... That's all for now... must go be productive :)

Your Turn: What are your weekend plans? Do you have any good apple recipes to share with me? Do tell :)

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

I believe

I believe ...

I believe in crisp dewy mornings and large cups of coffee.

I believe in sapphire blue skies and clouds so cottony and low-lying that you'd swear you could touch them.

I believe that our spirits rise as the mercury drops.

I believe in cozy sweaters and riding boots.

I believe in football Friday nights and bonfires with friends.

I believe in chilly, whispering winds and crunching leaves underfoot.

I believe in s'mores, ghost stories and hay rides.

I believe that the scent of cinnamon and cloves can welcome your heart home.

I believe in vivid sunsets and glasses of wine on the porch in the waning light.

I believe that the glossy, vibrant beauty of 'that one perfect apple' is proof that there is bountiful beauty and hope in the world.

I believe in pumpkin spice & mulled cider with donuts.

I believe in long walks and breathing in the beauty of the season. Truly, I can't get enough.

I believe in drawing close to loved ones as another year draws to a close.

I believe in wonder; in the incredible smallness I always feel as the seasons change and life goes on.

I believe in Autumn.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Beautiful Morning (Saturday a.m.)

Why, hello, Saturday morning... I didn't think I'd get to see you this weekend :-/

Gah. The small fuzzy masterminds behind my early morning wake-up call are currently snuggled up in the recliner, bellies full & eyelids drooping -- but I'm awake for the long haul*, and snuggling in on the couch to enjoy some precious Saturday morning solitude.

* I cannot guarantee exactly how long "the long haul" is. Taking an afternoon nap is an imminent probability possibility.

...But even in my rather sleep deprived state, I am blanketed by an overwhelming sense of happiness. It's been a good little week, after all :)

Actually, Tuesday through Thursday were pretty down days for me (which I will attribute to extreme fatigue and the post race 'let down" -- you know, the " well what do I do NOW?!" feeling....), but Friday was oh, so sweet.

After all, yesterday morning had a pretty perfect start-- I made it out the door 10 minutes early, and was able to stop at S-bux for my 1st pumpkin spice latte of the season. Oh delight! Sweet warmth & spice! Be still my heart! (I told J later that, thanks to the latte, I was riding an autumnal high for the rest of my day :)

Of course, work was work, but then last night J & I went out!! A good friend is back in Ohio (from Japan!) for the next week or so, and she gathered up "the whole group"-- friends who used to religiously meet every Friday evening after work, and who would often talk and laugh until almost midnight. (The split began when S. had to move back to Japan ... and then J & I moved across town...)

And friends? ...Last night did not disappoint :) I laughed so much that my voice got croaky, we caught up after months apart, and we took pictures (uh. clarification: pictures were taken, but not by me... I left my camera at home, and didn't realize it until we were all ready on the freeway.... sigh).

Generally, we just Really Lived last night-- taking the night and it's possibility and really gleaning everything we could from those few precious hours.

It was a fantastically fun get together, that may or may not have included a late night stop for burgers & fries on the way home ;) (Hehe.. consequently, today I am in detox mode....)

...And now here I am, Saturday morning, perhaps robbed of a few hours of sleep, but oh so abundantly full of happiness :) Furthermore, every single thing I have to do this weekend, I am looking forward to. ..Which is a good thing, as the Amy-Do list is about a mile long :) Hehe. See for yourself:

Amy-Do List (Labor Day Weekend Edition):
  • Grocery shopping
  • Buy immersion blender
  • Make some peach butter, a la Savvy Julie! (oh my... I've been looking forward to this all week! )
  • "Deep Clean" the house. (this includes a thorough mopping & vaccuuming... Yes, I am even looking forward to this :)
  • Maybe another pumpkin spice latte?!
  • Date with J (this week it will include catching a movie together -- Inception?!-- and then hitting up a new (to C-bus) fro-yo place, Menchies! ...Yes, I've been looking forward to this pretty much all week, too :)
  • My "favoritest" apples are available for U-Pick this week! Mmmm... MacIntosh...
  • Emerald City 1/4 marathon (6.55 mi) on Sunday!! Woohoo! I'm thinking that the impending race day, coupled with the delicious weather, necessitates a nice long walk with J this afternoon .... as soon as I get this canning stuff under control.
  • ....And also, with this lovely fall-like weather, I am totally craving a pot of chili.... I'm not sure if they sell canned pumpkin yet, as it can be a seasonal item (my favorite chili is pumpkin chili, thanks to Bobbi :) ... but I'll make it work!
  • J & I are thinking about buying a grill this weekend! (hm... which reminds me.... I need to take a couple steaks out of the freezer, in anticipation of "breaking it in"...)
  • Family Labor Day Celebration on Sunday
  • Laurie will be home tonight -- and I know she's got a couple things in mind to do together!
  • And I've got a really fun (fluff) book to read.
Good stuff, I tell you :) ... And now I guess I'd better get to it (perhaps after a cup of coffee :)

Question of the day: Are you a morning person, or a night owl? Do you have any fun (holiday) weekend plans?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Quick "Hello"

Why, hello, little blog (& lovely bloggies!) I've missed you this week!

It's been good but crazy over here (read: this week has been wearing me into the ground... thank goodness we're coming up on a 3-day Labor Day weekend!!)... so tonight's post is going to be a quick one... but I'll be back tomorrow with some more for you-- including pictures (I will tell you this... I miss the 21 day challenge... I am definitely going to look for excuses to take pictures every day & post them... I miss blogging every day, too... I'm back on schedule as of tonight :)

But, even a quick post can be meaningful if it includes good stuff :

Good List:

1. J. Every once in a while I am reminded that my husband may be my biggest fan... and, to me, that is everything. It meant so much to me to have him at the finish line of Sunday's race-- cheering me on, and catching up with me at the end. It lightened my step to know that he'd be there ...
2. Happy September! Bring it on, fall... bring it on :)
3. J & I went on a double date last night, with some really good friends, who we haven't seen in way too long. We laughed and told stories for hours!
4. Pumpkin Spice.... Oh. Yes. Please. I've all ready gotten out the "sweet cinnamon pumpkin" candles-- and I'm looking forward to a pumpkin spice latte tomorrow morning :)
5. I FINISHED PAINTING!!! (Ahhhhh! ...and the angels sang :)
6. Snuggly kitties (named Gracie) , who prance around on your chest in the middle of the night before finally curling up on your shoulder.
7. It's football season again! GO BUCKS! (I have more thoughts on this -- I'll share with you tomorrow :)
8. It's also race season... I have something going every single weekend this month... and I'm so excited (again... will fill you in later...)
9. Family. Celebrating joyous blessings together, praying & dreaming together, and realizing how lucky we truly are to have each other.
10. "Autumn is a second spring where every leaf is a flower." - Albert Camus

Have a fantastic Thursday night, friends :)