Friday, February 15, 2013

What do you see? A dreary grey day or a scene filled with lush moss and lichen?

My friend, Moss #pdx #oregon #moss
I realize I haven't shared much in the way of my thoughts for the new year, yet alone my word for the new year. I have been writing about them, just not here on my blog. For the past year, I've been writing a monthly column called, Cultivating Life, over at PQ Monthly. This past month, I wrote about gratitude, and the powerful force of training your brain to practice it.
If I’m to add a new practice to my day, this year it will be the act of practicing gratitude, and I’m doing that by picking up my camera. Not my iPhone camera, but my digital camera. The day of the Newtown shootings, I turned off all media, shut down my social media, and picked up my camera. I carried it with me and looked at the world in a different way that day. It helped me see beauty in little things — like a bright blue sky, the pattern of my leggings combined with the tile floor, and how the steam curls from a freshly poured cup of hot tea. It took my eyes, and my brain, to a different place when it would have been so easy to have been overcome with grief and shock, and I learned that contemplating life, composition, pattern, and the world around me is a form of meditation when using my camera.
You can read the whole thing here, and about what happened the year I decided to say "no." It was transformative, and enlightening.

The rare glow of winter sunshine

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

What kind of gardener am I? I'm not going to any garden shows this year.

I know. Can you believe it? No garden shows for me. Not the Seattle show, not the San Francisco show, and I didn't go to the Portland garden show either. Instead, I'm reading all of my fellow bloggers reviews and take-aways from their own time there (thank you for that!). But I have to admit.  I have no desire for a fountain made from three Weber grills.

What I did instead? Actually worked in my own garden. There's so much to be done out there, and with a stretch of days without rain, we seized the opportunity and got to work.

This may not look like much, but it was a big difference:
Spring clean up in the garden this weekend, before and after. This is one of about 8 beds we cleaned up. #gardening

We probably cleared 7 or so beds this size, and filled the back of a pick up with yard debris.

There's still much to do, including several more beds in the front of the house to clear. Wisteria to prune, bushes to prune, and roses to hack. But damn it feels good to be out there. I'm getting a jumpstart on the garden this year. Let's hope the weeds aren't too.

Monday, February 04, 2013

February is the cruelest month

I've often felt February is the cruelest month. Short, dark, grey, cold and dreary. We often see little if any of the sun during February in Portland, Oregon. The winter greys weigh heavily on my shoulders, and I do have an arsenal to combat the tough month. My tools:
  • exercise—cardio boosts my mood, and combined with blaring of my favorite music while doing cardio is even better
  • vitamins—multi vitamin plus Vitamin D, fish oil, and calcium
  • lightbox—I use the the small GoLite for 20 minutes early in the morning while checking e mail, my calendar, and schedule for the day.
  • escape—to Mexico, Hawaii, or even Southern California. Go to the sun if it isn't coming to me.
  • give in—hibernate in blankets, escape into a TV series (hello Downton Abbey)
But most importantly, get outside as much as possible. I'm not a fan of walking in the rain. I'm just not. I've been a Portlander for 20 years now, and I haven't given in that much. I mean getting out during bouts of non-rain. And if a moment of sunshine occurs, by god, do whatever you can to be out in it.

This is what it feels like to Portlanders when the sun comes out in February:

Oh my god the sun is out in Portland

We are but moles who are blinded by the glowing orb in the sky.

We've been doing a lot of walking and running lately. (Winter carb craving requires exercise.) And Saturday began with fog that then emerged to brilliant blue skies and sunshine. We ventured to a favorite park for our regular loop, and the sun did two things. 1. I could barely open my eyes in the brightness of it all; and 2. I was filled with a happiness of such great proportion that I verged on the edge of crying with gratitude and joy. Gratitude and joy to simply be healthy, out in the world, with the person I love most in the world, experiencing a brilliant day. We did two loops through Cathedral Park, instead of one, weaving under and around the glorious St Johns bridge.

This may sound very silly to people who don't live in the darkness of winters like we do here. A recent Portlandia episode captured it perfectly.

And so it was this Saturday: we were living inside a Portlandia episode. The thrill of sunshine, the brightness of it all, the awakening of our lives from the blue air and dark grey.

I'm going to get through this winter thanks to moments like these, and my arsenal listed above. I'm also counting down the days to Maui.