The Hurrier I Go….

Christmas Past: My sweet kitty under the tree.

Christmas Past: My sweet kitty under the tree.

It’s at this time of the year I remember my mother’s wisdom most. Our family was really busy at Christmas time with 2 stores to run and all of the holiday’s excitement as well. And yet Mom always made Christmas special – she loved it and created an amazing experience for us from food, to decorations, to presents, to fun things to do. Until I was a mom I had no idea how hard that was to accomplish. Or what a joy it is to make something so delicious.

I’m having an extra busy Christmas season this year. We’re fixing up the house we’re moving to, keeping the one we’re selling in pristine condition, packing, moving….Whew! And please, let’s not even talk about Christmas preparation! It’s pretty stressful and I tend to start rushing, running, getting breathless, not sleeping, always planning and thinking ahead. I’m certainly not spending time in the moment where I am so I can enjoy my life and this gorgeous season. And that reminds me of a saying of my Mom’s: “The hurrier I go the behinder I get”. It always used to make me laugh, but it’s true! My rushing and stressing isn’t making things go faster or more smoothly at all. In fact it made me sick and farther behind than ever.

And, of course, I know better! I kept telling myself this was no way to do things, but I just didn’t listen to myself. Today as I’m feeling better and starting to rush around again I heard my Mom’s voice “The hurrier I go….” And I laughed and tuned in again to the world as it is right now. If you tend to get wrapped up in all there is to do in a busy season here are few tips I can share that work for me to come down to Earth, slow down, and, you know, get less “behinder” – or at least have more fun (and stay healthy) while I do my work:

  • For goodness sake – Breathe!!! When you’re holding your breath or breathing shallowly you aren’t doing yourself any favors. Or making life easier or more delightful. Pull in a nice deep breath and let it out, be grateful that it’s so easy, and available, and calming to just breathe.
  • While you’re breathing, wiggle your toes. Notice you have a lovely body, toes that move and support you. Lungs to breathe into. Legs to stand on, arms to hug someone with, a head to lay on your pillow when you rest. You can dance, and sing, and make things with such an amazing body.
  • Open your eyes (really open them) and look around. Where are you? What do you see? Do you see beauty, or something comforting? Do you see loved ones, nature, your home or office? Be where you are and look for the most delicious thing in that place. Let the experience of that object, person, situation, or sound fill you with joy! Rest there, in that joy; soak it up.
  • Next, think (calmly…) about what has you rushing about. First, I want you to assume there is an easier and more pleasant way to do whatever it is. Know that you will discover this easy, pleasant way when you allow yourself to let go of your preconceived notions of how things must go and what you need to do to make it happen. Let me say here you can (and will) certainly proceed the way you want to proceed, and if that means you will go on rushing, that’s fine. Hey, I’m with you. There are times that is the only way for me too. But I want you to be honestly aware that there are other choices, for sure. Other ways to make it happen that are different and probably a lot more fun. Ways that allow you to drop perfection, allow you to enjoy the process, allow you to ask for help, ways that honor your needs. These ways will certainly make the process better not just for you, but for everyone around you (just ask my poor sweet husband what a drag I’ve been the last few weeks!).
  • Brainstorm, make a list, allow yourself to dream of the perfect solution, write it down as if it has already occurred. And then step away for a bit. Sleep on it, rest. And come back to your dream process. Do you see new ways to do this? Is there anything that can be dropped, farmed out? Can you at least see how you can do what you want, achieve the outcome you desire, and still have fun, as well as a healthy body and mind? What would be the best outcome and a delightful way to get there? How can you make that happen?

I know I’ll be following this list of steps for the foreseeable future! I have my brainstorming done and now I’m going to take long rest and see how things look in the morning. I already feel more hopeful that I can make everything happen – and in a lovely way. I hope this is of help to you too. And I want to wish you delight-filled holidays and all of the pleasures of the winter season!

Lots of Love, Cheryl

Making Autumn Last Longer (a re-post)

Autumn in IWest Branch, Iowa

Autumn in IWest Branch, Iowa

I don’t know about the place you call home, but in Iowa Autumn is glorious! And thank goodness, because after it comes Winter and we need that glory to get us through a long white/grey, cold streak of days. I love the crisp air, deep blue skies, amazing colors, the smell and sound of the crisp leaves, raking (yes!), bonfires, hay rides, local football games on Friday nights. Even the windy, rainy days are wonderful for cozying up with a book. Soups! Hikes!  Alas, it seems so short. Every year I hope for a nice LOOOONG Fall season. This year I decided I was the one making it short and that is was up to me to extend that glory for myself.

What, you say? Yes, I CAN extend the season and I will tell you how to do it too. Of course, this is the first year, so it’s an experiment. But I have reason to believe, based on brain research (not to mention Eastern philosophy), that this will work. And if it isn’t perfect we’ll just tweak it for next year. The theory is that time is relative…you’ve heard that one? It all depends on our perception. A 5 minute wait in line always seems longer than 5 minutes of hot kissing, yes? So, let’s use this to our benefit!

I realized that the minute Autumn began to make its appearance I already was mourning its end – and dreading the long Winter to come. Of course it seemed short; it was over before it even began. This year I’m living in the moment and the season! Here is how:

  • Sloooooowwwwww down. Good advice anytime but especially if you want time to also go slower. Breathe! Ahhhh, take in that delicious air. Feeling better already.
  • Pay attention. Savor the things you love about this time of year. Look at the trees and sky. Smell the spicy scent of fallen leaves. Notice the pumpkins and Halloween decorations. Spend time in front of the fire on a stormy day. Cheer on the local team at the football game. Immerse yourself in Fall-nees. Yum!
  • Make a list.What do you delight in about this season? Make a list and enjoy the heck out of each thing on it. I love my fall clothes. Most of my favorite clothes best fit this in-between season – and in my favorite colors too. Brown tights, denim skirt, cowboy boots; leggings and tunics; Dresses with patterned tights; so many cute jackets it’s embarrassing! When it is 20 below I won’t be venturing out in any of these ensembles. I’ll have to rock it right now!
  • Schedule it. Each year I want to capture the glorious colors and beautiful harvest landscape. And each year I don’t take the time. Crazy! This has gone on for years. What was so important that I rushed through my favorite season? Dishes? Bills? Laundry? Tomorrow I’ve scheduled in a nice long photo shoot walk. And next week I’m hitting the backroads to see what I can discover there. Make a list of what you want to do this season and schedule it in. Walks spent kicking up the leaves in the woods, check. Your favorite soup on the stove, yep! A bonfire, haunted house, pumpkin patch – take the family and invite friends. Rake and put the garden to bed, sure (this one sounds a lot like work but I love it, could be the hot cocoa I bribe myself with).

How will you enjoy the season? I’d love to hear! I’m off to stir my potato cheese soup and pull a good book off the shelf to read in the lamplight while the wind whistles outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer, I already have my tights and skirt and sweater picked out for my ramble in the leaves.

Wishing you Autumn Bliss!

Cheryl

Seasonal Shifts (or Love the One You’re With)

garden shop amanas

A sign in my favorite garden shop in Amana, Iowa

I’m still swooning to the smell of newly mown grass.

Still enjoying my summer “uniform” of black tank and wedge sandals with shorts or a skirt.

Still loving Harley rides for ice cream treats.

Still wanting to lounge on my porch of a morning sipping iced tea and communing with my garden and its many visitors (squirrels, rabbits, birds, etc.). Delightful!

But…

The cicadas are singing – loudly.

The corn is turning golden brown, and goldenrod blooms on roadsides.

Days are shorter.

School has begun.

The garden markets are bursting with mums.

These are certain signs that a change of season is coming soon. Delicious Autumn! I love it! But the change of season from Summer to Autumn is always a little bittersweet. “Summer is ending and Winter is coming!” yells the Lacky Lucy in my brain. And, truly, I love Winter too – brilliant, crisp, blue and white days! It’s just that around here it tends to overstay its welcome by about 2 months.

What is a goddess to do? Well, I plan to revel in the late summer joys! A time of year that is a melting pot of two lovely seasons – it can only be good. I’ll take each lovely day as it comes and enjoy the gifts of each one. I’ve actually written that down on a piece of paper and posted it where I can see it – because, you know, I tend to forget. I’ll make sure to spend time in my garden, take walks, pick flowers, have a BBQ party, wear my sandals as long as possible, and spend time on my porch.

And regardless of the day or season I’m going to remember to love the one I’m with!

Wishing you a delightful seasonal transformation!

With Love,

Cheryl

 

Road Trip to a Farm {and Why I Love Airbnb}

The happy pigs in the woods who ran to visit us each time we left the cottage.

The happy pigs in the woods who ran to visit us each time we left the cottage.

This week my sweetheart and I took a little trip. It was absolutely required because we were both a bit…frazzled, grumpy, sleepy, and in need of a new scene. If you’ve read any of my road trip posts you’ll know I believe road trips are essential to good soul health. Plus they’re fun and illuminating. I generally learn something good – even if it’s only the best place to get barbecued ribs.

This trip was our fourth Airbnb destination. Have you used Airbnb? It’s fabulous! When I realized we were going to become very miserable and virtually ineffective if we didn’t have a break (and soon) we made a list of our needs. It’s always good to have at least a basic idea of what you need/want from a road trip – makes it easier to get it! We wanted something quiet, private, near a wood, and not too far away. I began looking at the usual places I think of for wooded, private stays – state parks. There are beautiful parks in Iowa and some have charming cabins, but they wanted at least a 7 day stay and that wasn’t possible just now. Then I remembered Airbnb and almost immediately found a sweet little cottage on a hobby farm near miles of groomed trails. It was also near a few towns I’d missed checking out in my many Iowa road trips, just in case I wanted someone to cook for me! And perhaps a bit of browsing therapy.

One of the best things about using Airbnb is the people you get to connect with. Right after booking online I got a message from Penny that we were welcome at Honeybee Cottage at Star’s Hollow…delicious, yes? We arrived a bit, um, well I was a bit lit, because we had stopped in Waverly, IA at The Fainting Goat for an amazing craft beer (Dragons’ Milk – amazing and lethal!) and their delicious chorizo-laden queso fundido dip with naan bread. Penny and her family met us upon arrival and then she took us for a golf cart tour of her beautiful little farm.

Our cottage was very sweet and perfect for lounging and napping – which was just what I wanted to do! It was also a great place to unplug because there was absolutely no internet connection (no, not even 1X on my phone). It was lovely not checking the weather or looking up the myriad things you think you need to look up, but really, you don’t. My sweetheart, Rich, hiked and came back with a small souvenir of poison ivy. I napped, and read, and drew, and lazed about in a completely fabulous way.

We did go to Cedar Falls one day for an early lunch and there Rich discovered some of the best ribs he’s ever had at The Noble Oak. Naturally, I found a couple of vintage shops to peruse. At the delightfully (and so aptly) named Little Prairie Girl I found a fantastic 1940’s Dorothy Morgan tablecloth to add to my collection. I’ve been collecting vintage table cloths and aprons since the 80’s, before anyone cared about “vintage” much. I have old suitcases filled with them and I use them every day – so much fun!

Every road trip I take brings some insight about life, or work. This one was full of learning (again) that surrender is a truly blissful state. The weather stinks? Oh well, I can enjoy my mini vacation regardless. No phone signal? Well, yay!! Simple food is the best – no need to cook at all. I don’t need to “accomplish” anything, I can just be lazy. (Don’t tell me you don’t go on vacation thinking you’ll finally learn how to use all of the features on your camera, or read that book about how to earn money on eBay. OK it could just be me…) I really relaxed, and now I’m on fire, back in my little office and doing what I love with verve and delight. That is what road trips are for…refreshment.

And so I wish for you a delightful trip out of the everyday – even if it’s just to a new place around the corner, a favorite park, or the nearest country road. Get out and love life!

Enjoy! Cheryl

PS I can highly recommend any place I’ve mentioned here, and if you visit Penny be sure to tell her Cheryl says “HI!”

 

Road trip to Star's Hollow

Road trip to Star’s Hollow

25 Fun Summertime Things To Do

Road trip!

Road trip!

Here are 25 ways to enjoy the season and make the most of it while it’s still here!

  • Take a road trip – what have you been wanting to see? Go see it! Or just take a drive on a beautiful country road – no hurry, no worries.
  • Treat yourself to a big, beautiful, fragrant flower bouquet from a local farmer.
  • Pick flowers from your garden to display in your home or at your desk.
  • Go hiking in the forest or by a lake, enjoy the fresh air and being in nature.
  • Take a leisurely walk in your neighborhood or a favorite part of town. Stroll. Loiter.
  • Discover a new coffee shop and linger.
  • Try a new ice-cream flavor, compare ice cream shops and choose a favorite, or learn to make ice cream at home.
  • Visit a farmers market, buy fresh local produce and amazing art, talk to the vendors about their products/passion.
  • Relax on the porch: snooze, read, sip iced tea, write, chat with a friend, enjoy the world of your yard/neighborhood…or do nothing at all.
  • Watch the sun set.
  • Watch fireflies light up the night.
  • Play badminton or croquet, start a basketball game, play kick the can. (Does anyone remember how to play kick the can? Here’s a link with the “rules” and other fun games too.)
  • Go swimming at a local beach or pool.
  • Look up bike trails and take a ride in a new-to-you area of your town or county.
  • Dine alfresco (on your porch – put up string lights, set up a speaker, use candles & flowers to decorate the table – or go to a local restaurant with a great outdoor patio, ahhh, romance!).
  • Take a photography walk and snap some pictures to recall summertime all year round.
  • Look at the stars, learn the constellations if you don’t know them; if you, do teach someone else.
  • Look for fun local events you want to attend (baseball game, outdoor concert, nature walk, lecture on the stars, etc.) – schedule at least one per month and enjoy!
  • Visit a public garden or butterfly habitat.
  • Dance in the moonlight.
  • Tie dye shirts in bright colors with the kids (outside is a great place to do this!) and wear them when you visit the zoo or the amusement park – the better to find each other.
  • Paint outside: or color, draw, play with clay – make a mess!
  • Drive with the windows open, belting out songs from your past (or that “classic rock” station you love). Add friends and this is like being 16 again.
  • Act like you’re on vacation. Or take a vacation at home, whether it’s a weekend or a full week: shift your schedule like you would for a vacation (sleep in, stay up later), pursue vacation type activities (like reading in a deck chair, doing a jigsaw puzzle, taking naps, checking out the local sites, golfing, etc.) eat vacation type foods, relax, hire someone to come clean the house (before and after your home vacation, or in the middle), unplug, let yourself be out of your regular routine and regular activities, don’t do house projects now (you can always plan another long weekend or week to do that) – it’s time to relax and enjoy the season!
  • Make a list of what you love about summer and then be sure to take time to enjoy those things, those feelings, while the glorious summertime is here!

Go forth and love the season you’re in! I hope it’s beautiful. I’d love to hear about your favorite summertime pursuits. Write a comment or drop me a line.

Hugs,

Cheryl

How to Make Autumn Last Longer

Downtown              

I don’t know about the place you call home, but in Iowa Autumn is glorious! And thank goodness, because after it comes Winter and we need that glory to get us through a long white/grey, cold streak of days. I love the crisp air, deep blue skies, amazing colors, the smell and sound of the crisp leaves, raking (yes!), bonfires, hay rides, local football games on Friday nights. Even the windy, rainy days are wonderful for cozying up with a book. Soups! Hikes!  Alas, it seems so short. Every year I hope for a nice LOOOONG Fall season. This year I decided I was the one making it short and that is was up to me to extend that glory for myself.

What, you say? Yes, I CAN extend the season and I will tell you how to do it too. Of course, this is the first year, so it’s an experiment. But I have reason to believe, based on brain research (not to mention Eastern philosophy), that this will work. And if it isn’t perfect we’ll just tweak it for next year. The theory is that time is relative…you’ve heard that one? It all depends on our perception. A 5 minute wait in line always seems longer than 5 minutes of hot kissing, yes? So, let’s use this to our benefit.

I realized that the minute Autumn began to make its appearance I already was mourning its end – and dreading the long Winter to come. Of course it seemed short; it was over before it even began. This year I’m living in the moment and the season! Here is how:

  • Sloooooowwwwww down. Good advice anytime but especially if you want time to also go slower. Breathe! Ahhhh, take in that delicious air. Feeling better already.
  • Pay attention. Savor the things you love about this time of year. Look at the trees and sky. Smell the spicy scent of fallen leaves. Notice the pumpkins and Halloween decorations. Spend time in front of the fire on a stormy day. Cheer on the local team at the football game. Immerse yourself in Fall-nees. Yum!
  • Make a list.What do you delight in about this season? Make a list and enjoy the heck out of each thing on it. I love my fall clothes. Most of my favorite clothes best fit this in-between season – and in my favorite colors too. Brown tights, denim skirt, cowboy boots; leggings and tunics; Dresses with patterned tights; so many cute jackets it’s embarrassing! When it is 20 below I won’t be venturing out in any of these ensembles. I’ll have to rock it right now!
  • Schedule it. Each year I want to capture the glorious colors and beautiful harvest landscape. And each year I don’t take the time. Crazy! This has gone on for years. What was so important that I rushed through my favorite season? Dishes? Bills? Laundry? Tomorrow I’ve scheduled in a nice long photo shoot walk. And next week I’m hitting the backroads to see what I can discover there. Make a list of what you want to do this season and schedule it in. Walks spent kicking up the leaves in the woods, check. Your favorite soup on the stove, yep! A bonfire, haunted house, pumpkin patch – take the family and invite friends. Rake and put the garden to bed, sure (this one sounds a lot like work but I love it, could be the hot cocoa I bribe myself with).

How will you enjoy the season? I’d love to hear! I’m off to stir my potato cheese soup and pull a good book off the shelf to read in the lamplight while the wind whistles outside. Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and warmer, I already have my tights and skirt and sweater picked out for my ramble in the leaves. Autumn Bliss!