Spreading Sunshine

Here in the Pacific Northwest, we are known for our wet winters. However…..**she turns to make sure nobody is looking and then whispers**…we have had the mildest January and early February that I can remember. It has been odd to process though, because I have in the past two years begun to really embrace the cold and the wet. It aids in my hunkering down and wintering. But early 2022 has been a season of intense work and planning in my neck of the woods, as I am building my spiritual direction practice and preparing to grow and shift gears with the preschool that I run. So, the sunshine, as turns out, has been exactly what I have needed. But perhaps January was still a doldrums month for you, and perhaps where you live the sun isn’t shining. Sunshine, I am learning, is best in doses that hold out just long enough that we both long for it and appreciate it when it shows its face. Life cannot be all sunshine. We must dole it out in quantities that we can truly appreciate. Rain or shine, freezing or balmy, these are the happy bits that are currently getting me through.

  1. Kumquats.

I am currently obsessed. It has been years since I actually purchased and enjoyed these juicy, tart little oddities. Maybe since childhood. I got it into my memory somehow that the last time I had kumquats they were bitter and had too much of an orange peel taste to them. That might be true, but that’s only because I probably had a bad one. The ones I have been able to get my hands in this season have been miraculous. I’m insatiable. Grab yourself some anywhere that you can, rinse them good and well, and then pop one at a time, peel and all, into your mouth. Bite down for the most satisfying pop of sweet and sour, as well as a generous dose of vitamin C that we all need right now.

  • 1,000 Hours Outside

So, this awesome mom of 5 named Ginny who lives in Michigan has created an incredible movement meant to get moms, dads, caregivers, grandparents, kids, basically everyone, outside more! She hosts a really fun podcast that you can find on Spotify called 1,000 Hours Outside, has created an app geared to helping you track your outdoor hours, and she is a recent author to a book by the same title. She’s amazing! Now I don’t know about you, but I decided to set a lot of my 2022 goals in such a way that I am not beholden to a number that if I scrape shy of I will be disappointed in myself. This year is all about setting clear goals that direct my movement, not an outcome. I am using the 1,000 Hours Outside platform and resources as a springboard for my goal of getting myself and our kids outside every day. I think if the hours and hours that my children could spend outdoors when they were toddlers and preschoolers. It’s the same reason I take my preschool students outside every day, rain or shine. They crave it! Children are wise, and they are still close enough to the source of their creator that they can hear that voice within that calls them to the vibrancy of a life immersed in nature. When it came to going outdoors when they were little, I was the only one who stood in the way of us practically living outdoors. My 6, almost 7-year old son will still gladly join me outside every time I suggest we go out. My tween daughter on the other hand needs some incentive and cajoling. So those of you trying to urge tweens and teens outdoors in this weather, I sympathize. That being said, forge on! It’s a battle worth picking, I promise. Just a quick walk or a bike ride does wonders for our clarity and our peace. You can even invite the people you live with to bundle up and join you outside for hot chocolate on the front steps or the balcony. Watch your breath create vapor clouds. Listen for the weirdest birdsong. Go on a walk and take bets on the number of dogs you’ll see. Turn on an audiobook that you’ll all want to listen to and play it from your phone while you walk. It’s doing wonders for the peace within my soul, and I bet it will bring peace to yours as well.

  • Alone

Oh Lord no. I’m not talking about being alone. (Though I am going into the mountains all by my lonesome next weekend and I will report back about how it goes! I am required to go on a silent retreat for school. Oh darn.) I’m referring to the History Channel series going back to 2015 about 10 wilderness and survival experts in competition to see who can last the longest alone in the wilderness. My spouse and I are obsessed. It’s fantastic, because we can sit in the comfort of our king size bed with a mattress topper and (me) sip on red wine and (both of us) snack while we criticize the moves of these incredible people as they set their gill nets in the wrong areas for catching fish and create their shelters on land that will flood once the rain starts. We are the worst, and it’s so much fun. Watch it! It’s a wonderful distraction.

  • The Good Life Project Podcast

I don’t know about you, but I go through phases with what I want to listen to on podcast. I’ve gone through the personal growth phase, the true crime phase, the parenting and career development phase, the quirky history phase, and now I think I’m settling nicely into a positive psychology phase. The induction of this was the Good Life Project podcast with host Jonathan Fields. The episode from January 9th is all about vitality, and how living a life that embraces the full gamut of human emotion actually leads to a happier life with a more positive outlook. It’s a good one! Give it a listen.

  • Read for FUN

Can I let you in on a secret. I don’t finish books anymore if I don’t want to. I KNOW.  This used to be a giant no-no in my world, but sometime around March 2020 (weird) I decided that life was too short to finish a book that I just wasn’t that in to. That being said, I have still read a ton of fantastic fiction and nonfiction in the past two years! I just don’t settle for something that it’s grabbing me. I want to give you permission to dive into funny, deep, wise, well-written literature, but do it because you are enjoying it. Here is a short list of the best novels I have read in the last handful of years- the books whose stories I still revisit in my mind:

            Bitter Greens- Kate Forsyth

            The World That We Knew- Alice Hoffman

            Bellewether- Susanna Kearsley

            The Song of Achilles- Madeline Miller

            The Nightingale- Kristin Hannah

            Outlawed- Anna North

            All the Light We Cannot See- Anthony Doerr

            Skye Falling- Mia McKenzie

            The Snow Child- Eowyn Ivey

            One Last Stop- Casey McQuiston

That’s a wrap! Go easy on yourselves and on the world. We are a collective in pain and in process. We are tired, we try to be hopeful, we are done but still doing. It’s a gosh darn miracle.

Take care,