Friday, December 31, 2010

Reverb10: December 31

Core story. What central story is at the core of you, and how do you
share it with the world? (Bonus: Consider your reflections from this month.
Look through them to discover a thread you may not have noticed until
today.)
I think I look at myself as being (still) the single mom who didn't get the financial support ordered and who constantly struggled to make ends meet when those ends were constantly being moved. I know the DD thinks I equate everything in my world to a financial value, which may well have been true, but hopefully is becoming less the case as I get older.

But building a financial future has long been a goal of mine, and one that I can't seem to grasp. In recent years, I've been doing better, but there's so much room for improvement and in the current economic environment it's more important than ever.

I am interested to see, looking back over the month's posts, that there is a commonality or theme running thru all of them: a strong motivation to live a wholistic life...to bring all the threads together under some unifying concept. That concept, I think is seeking a strong, viable community - from the standpoint of social relationships, economic strength (thru the local arena - because I do believe that the national and world economic fields will not strengthen without the local and regional communities becoming healthy first - much like "charity begins at home," you know?)

If nothing else, I'm finding that the focus I've had over the years, a propensity to voluntary simplicity and finding what's "enough" (YMOYL concept) for me, is still a valid one. I take baby steps every year.

And so onward to 2011 - more steps, more letting go, more focus on local roots and development. It can be done. Even if it's a slow process.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Reverb10: December 30

Gift. This month, gifts and gift-giving can seem inescapable. What's
the most memorable gift, tangible or emotional, you received this year?

This past November, I underwent out-patient surgery for a biopsy that was worrisome. I could not have gotten thru the day-long procedure without my friend Lynette who then also volunteered to spend the night (on an Aerobed on the floor that I realized too late I hadn't inflated properly!) to ensure I didn't fall down the stairs or otherwise endanger myself while the anesthesia wore off.

Family members we're handed, and we have no choice in the matter. Those folks, if we're lucky (and I have been!) become friends.

But the friend you choose as your sister is a gift beyond measure. I'm so grateful for mine.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Reverb10: December 29

Defining moment. Describe a defining moment or series of events that
has affected your life this year.

I've been drawn my whole life to a lifestyle that I can't seem to get to, but in July I gave myself a birthday gift that ended up being the perfect "taste" of the lifestyle I dream about. It was a day-long Yoga Retreat, in a lovely country setting, complete with thunderstorms and vegan food. Having longed for a sort of "crunchy, hippie, 1960s" sort of existence (I grew up a couple of years behind the real hippies, graduating high school in 1974) instead I focused on being a feminist and not doing the "traditional female roles" of teacher, nurse. I went into a field that was "up and coming for women" and supposedly better paying (accounting) only to realize I was miserable. But it took me years to get my degrees, and I wasn't about to do an about-face in my last semester of night school when the realization hit me like a ton of bricks! I became a Yuppie, instead, and let my fantasies transport me to a "back to the land" lifestyle of growing my own food and herbs, practicing yoga, and then morphing some of each into a kind of eco-feminism (which I still believe in). This was easier when I lived with my mother, as I had the time, and the land to practice "part-time farmer." I was also younger, and stronger. :)

But that day in July 2010, amongst like-minded women, breathing in the rain-drenched air from the wildflower garden thru the windows of the studio, practicing Sun Salutations and trying to follow ahimsa in not over-doing and hurting myself, I realized that this is the world I am best suited for, happiest in. And so I found myself inspired to include more yoga, more cooking with local ingredients and fewer animal products. I no longer have the land or the time to "farm" nor even enough light where I am to grow herbs in a pot (my cats would eat them indoors!).

I have accepted that I can only enjoy such days sporadically, tho' at least I account for a non-profit that does good works - and I do at least take comfort in that. So am finally practicing ahimsa that way...

It is a process, this learning to live the life we wish to live and provoking the changes we'd like to see in the world.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Reverb10: December 28

Achieve. What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do
you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful?
Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new
thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.

I want to finally stop procrastinating on getting my financial house in order! I imagine I'll feel: more in control, more responsible, less encumbered by debt, free of obligations of the past.

I can do/think to get there:
1. create and stick to a budget (again)
2. track every penny (I know it works)
3. lock up the credit cards (safe deposit box)
4. participate in blog activities to get there (read personal finance & voluntary simplicity blogs)
5. pyramid payments (pay off highest balance first, then take the next highest and pay that off...etc)
6. "my future is worth working for"
7. rebuild the emergency fund (again)
8. remind myself how much fun it is to see debt balances drop and savings balances increase!
9. Re-read #8 (and make a game of it!)
10. create a knit stash club (again, but more diverse than just socks like the past two years) - knit lace, knit mittens, stash dive, and don't buy! Build up the Christmas gift stash beginning in January so you're less inclined to spend to buy Christmas gifts!!

Oh, I like the last 3...especially.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Reverb10: Dec 27

Ordinary joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during
ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year?

Holding my first granddaughter for the first time! She is just a mite but the feeling of seeing the continuation of the family was very strong.

Otherwise, I have incredible ordinary joyous feelings whenever I complete a bag, or when I'm just sitting and knitting...There is such peace and joy in handwork.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Reverb10: Dec 26

Soul food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget?
What went into your mouth & touched your soul?

This year, for part of the year, our Thursday night yoga class would have a vegetarian pot luck on the second Thursday of each month. While I usually stopped at the Natural Foods Co-op and picked up something along the lines of Vegan Macro-Bento Spicey Spinach Noodles and Schezuan Dumplings, other members of our group were known to bring wonderful concoctions, many of them vegan, to share with us. One notable dish was this from my friend, potter Maya Boehler:

Barley & Corn Salad

2 cups spring or filtered water
Sea salt
1 cup pearl barley, sorted and rinsed
1 to 2 ears fresh corn, kernels removed
1 small red onion, diced
1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
¼ cup minced fresh parsley
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 to 3 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
2 teaspoons rice syrup
Juice of 1 lime

Bring water and a pinch of sea salt to a boil in a medium
saucepan over medium heat. Slowly add barley. Cover,
reduce heat to low, and cook 40 to 45 minutes, until barley
is tender and water is absorbed.
Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool.

In a small bowl, combine the oil, umeboshi vinegar, rice syrup,
lime juice, mustard and a little salt. Whisk until blended. The
dressing should have a refreshing, yet spicy taste. Toss the barley,
vegetables and dressing together. Allow the salad to marinate in
the refrigerator about 30 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 or 5 servings.

This year was one of shopping local markets for fresh, locally grown veggies and participating in Meatless Mondays. Mostly, I was eating vegetarian meals, salads, and watching my Weight Watchers Points. As a result, it's very hard for me to come up with ONE soul food to focus on. Except perhaps, my Mother's Nut Loaf. It's comfort food, it's tradition, it's my Mom's recipe.

That's as close as it gets to food that speaks to my soul...hmm...there's another loaf of it in the freezer, so perhaps it will be my New Year's dinner, too!

Reverb10: Dec 25

Photo - a present to yourself. Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.


A very recent photo of my daughter and me at a restaurant last weekend (ok, we're in the parking lot). My sister-in-law took the picture. We had driven to Busch Gardens Williamsburg (a 4.5 hour drive) to see my daughter perform in the orchestra of Rejoice! one of the holiday offerings at the park.

The photo shows two adult women. The me I strive to be is the mother who recognizes that fact. I am notorious for seeing my daughter as the unruly teenager who made everyone's life a challenge - far more than any of us anticipated. She hasn't had an easy life. But she's in her 30s now, has 4 kids, and is trying to make stability a priority.

We've really had our struggles over the past 20 years or so, and I've tried, always, to guide her in the *right* direction...of course, the *right* one for me, isn't the *right* one for her necessarily. Over the past year, I've come to realize that I didn't care for the "interference" of my family in my decisions when I was her age, and that of course, she wouldn't appreciate mine in hers. And so more and more I've been "letting go" on that, giving her the space to make her choices, without my domineering *guidance.*

That photo above shows two women who love each other. I think we're both working on the "...and respect each other's choices" part...and being a bit more successful this year than before.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Reverb10 - December 24

Everything's OK. What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead?

Upon returning to my friend and yoga teacher, Debbie's Yoga for Everyone class on Thursday evenings last spring, a flow series of Warrior 2 to Revolved Warrior, passing back through Warrior 2 to Side Angle Pose challenged my physical strength and especially my balance and equilibrium. I tried each week to improve, specifically to bring my focus inward, as I already knew that the body would strengthen on it's own schedule. I'm not sure when things shifted in my body and mind, when the two seemed to mesh to the point that the Warrior Flow stopped being my most challenging pose series to being the one I look forward to the most, the one that I practice when I can only do one series (where before Sun Salutation would have been my pose of choice), but what I find now, is that this pose helps me transcend whatever else is going on in my world.

And now, as long as I can get thru a series of Warrior 2 each day, I know I'm strong enough to endure whatever comes.

But yoga is practice, after all, and so now the challenge is shoulder stand, a pose I'd never have thought I could do again. I'll progress at the pace I'm meant to, but I'm already up on my shoulders again, working to keep the weight off my neck and on my tri-pod of shoulders and elbows, reaching skyward with my feet, inverting my view of the world, my view of myself.

Which is what it's all about: the practice. All life is practice. The year to come is no different than the year before, except that new things become more challenging. If I can master one thing, I can move to the next and strive to master that.

It's the journey, not the destination. I'm taking that knowledge, that truism from class into 2011.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Reverb10 - December 22 & 23

Travel. How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like
to travel next year?

Travel is mostly via car in my life, but sometimes, like in August, I fly. I dislike flying, did feel that way long before the current attempts to keep us safe. IF I could travel the way I'd like, it would be by train. I'd wish enough time to not worry about the timetables, but would sit and knit my way wherever I'd like to go...Next year, I suspect the bulk of my travel again will be via car. with one possible flight.

New name. Let's meet again, for the first time. If you could
introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would
it be and why?

A new name? Ha! I already have new ones. Never having gone by my official, birth certificate name, most people have a hard time with my names. A few years ago I opened my handbag business and became "Nana Sadie Rose" which technically fits in more ways than meets the eye...I'm also Knitnana on my other blog...and that one fits, too, for the obsessive Knitter I am.

If I could come up with a name for myself, I think it would be "Angelique McNeil." As in "Angie." Not quite sure why, but it seems perfect.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reverb10: Dec. 20 & 21

I've decided that this one warrants it's own separate post.

Beyond avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn't because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?)

I wanted to learn to do my own website coding. I've depended on family and friends and it simply isn't worth it, I don't like stressing anyone, least of all myself. Did I do it? No. I am not in a position to learn this...too busy too crazy and frankly? I don't think the way you need to think to be a web designer.

Future self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?)

Five years from now, I want to be free of consumer debt and on my way to having a lot more in retirement savings. The advice for the future self goes like this: NO ONE ELSE is going to do this, it's up to YOU. And you know perfectly well you can do it. So exercise a bit more control (like I don't have it? I lost 50 pounds, quit smoking once and for all almost 7 years ago...I CAN do it!). The letter to my 10 years-ago self goes like this:

Remember that stuff is just stuff. While no one can take away the education you borrowed for, someone can steal your stuff, and charging for it steals your future and your freedom away from you. If you want it, pay for it with cash. If you don't have the cash, save up for it. Delayed gratification is a wonderful skill to hone.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Reverb10 - 6 Days Worth!

Appreciate. What's the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? Family. And this year I've been able to show my gratitude by heading out to visit ... something that's been practically impossible in the past decade.

5 minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010.

Family Reunion; Granddaughter born; medical crisis with negative dx!; meeting up with pal from highschool at cat show; dinner and chatting with another high school chum; knitting Ishbel; yoga workshop with Meenakshi; beginning the Rke TKGA chapter; adopting The Tonk; planning quick trip to hear DD at Busch Gardens Xmas Show; a snowy winter early 2010; another snowy winter beginning at the end of 2010; friends! family!

Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst?

My friend and yoga teacher Debbie has worked her entire adult life to live in the present moment. Returning to her studio for classes this past spring, continuing with a new yoga teacher, Colleen, as well, has helped me evolve to a point where I am less frazzled by and reactive to stressful events. I'm learning to step back, and look at a problem with detachment, reminding myself to release my preconceived notions about such things and just be with the discomfort. This obviously is a gradual thing, but I've seemed to make great strides with it as long as I continue my yoga practice...

Lesson learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward?

That I'm worth spending money and time on, as long as the purpose of the expense is in keeping with my goals.

Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you
wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn't go for it? Sweater knitting - I've promised myself over and over that I'm make a sweater. I have enough yarn purchased for 4 sweaters. It's time. 2011.

Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

Yoga, hands down, healed me. Weight Watchers healed my addiction to food. Without those, I'd still be overweight and in pain, heading toward disability. All that has turned around because of yoga and Weight Watchers. Oh. Yeah. And the power of my own mind to stick to something!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Reverb10

Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It's
about making ideas happen. What's your next step?

I was visiting my friends' blogs this morning, after receiving today's Reverb10 challenge question, and came upon Margene's thoughts on minimalism and what it means to her. Considering my own inclination to live with less, I thought her guidelines were especially helpful.

Having lived a long time with the philosophy of Voluntary Simplicity and the concept of defining for myself what "enough" is, yet still suffering the angst of too much clutter, I thought, "this is my next step" in making my ideas happen.

I'd already considered the possibility of gifting special family items to the next generation this Christmas, and since our holiday will be celebrated together after the New Year, I think I'll spend the days I have off over Christmas doing just that...culling special things, writing a note about their family importance for each one, and wrapping for gifting.

It's a big step for me...as I have long felt that the things I inherited from my mother were so connected to my memories of her that I couldn't bear to part with them, keeping even some of the "cabinet pieces" (which, for the uninformed, means they're are much less than perfect, but have a "good" side you can show off in a cabinet where the "bad" side won't show!) that don't have much value other than sentimental.

But I am tired of the clutter, the stuff, the minutiae of my world. I'm ready for less!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Reverb10

Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated
with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn't mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present?

I've come to the place in my life when this happens fairly routinely: every time I engage in yoga practice, tho' it's during a yoga class and the guided instruction that facilitates such cohesion best. I've had two primary instructors in my life, but one has had more influence, simply due to the length of time I've been with her. She's not just an excellent teacher, but has the ability to use her voice, combined with well chosen music to bring focus to the practice. When I returned to yoga a year ago (after a several-year hiatus) I found that she had only intensified her ability to affect the tranquility and peace I found in her studio. But she's not just my yoga teacher, she is my friend.

It's been a hard year for her. The studio she'd had for 20 years was suddenly made unavailable to her. She moved everything to her own home, and became an itinerant instructor, teaching in a church and at a nearby Pilates studio owned by a friend. I returned to her during this period, and while I could sense her stress, was drawn in to her single-minded ability to assist her students toward the best practice they could have. In July, she finally found a new home for her studio, not so ideal as the original one, as it's shared with a Tai Qoan Do school. Up a steep set of outdoor stairs, the walls are thin and there are outbursts of sound as the students practice in their dojo across the hall. This has, however, aided in providing all of us with an opportunity to focus on the calm inside even as we are faced with the cacophony of the outside world around us. On the plus side, it's a spacious room with a huge wall of windows (the ceiling might be 12-15 feet up?) in a more than 100 year-old building and located in a community rich with small locally owned businesses, including a Farmer's Market and Co-op natural foods grocery store. There's an immediate sense of being a part of eclectic urban life as we challenge our bodies and minds while breathing in the amazing goodness of the local pizzaria downstairs! (There are photos down below in the post on Small Business Saturday of the Grandin Village main street.)

The more I practice, the more integrated I feel. The body/mind connection becomes increasingly seamless these days. I'm wondering if it isn't partly due to the wisdom of aging that occurs as one proceeds thru the decades of life. I'm rather certain that the yogi I was 20 years ago has evolved 1000-fold in the years since I began practice as a young woman.

And now, I have more reason, of course, to need that seamless transition to occur: the aches, pains, and edginess of aging, and the scratchiness of my Monkey Mind are greatly reduced by regular practice. It is in my Sun Salutes, six movements of the spine, shoulder stand, and chanting of OM that I seem able to transcend such petty, everday concerns.

Nasmaste.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reverb10: Wisdom & 11 Things...

(I think it will probably be easiest to do combo posts of most of these, as I'm rarely able to do anything daily, except work!

December 10: Wisdom: What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how
did it play out? Early on in the year I made commitments to buy local, eat Meatless on Mondays, and to follow a more seasonal diet, focusing on the available produce from local farms. More and more often I bought from local farmer's markets (I didn't do the CSA again, because even a half-share is too much food for one person, and I still had a lot frozen from the year before when I participated in one). I ate more healthfully and learned a lot of new recipes to go along with these decisions. And I met some interesting people, too. It's harder to buy local, mostly organic produce when you're on a budget as I am, you have to plan (which I was not always successful at, but I am coming to acknowledge that folks with a creative bent have a harder time of this as a natural thing - creativity is very often messy and disorganized, so that side of my personality usually wins in my private life!). I found that I felt better, lost weight fairly easily, and visited the doctor less as I went on following this way of living my life. All aspects of this decision will follow me as major lifestyle changes from now on...Definitely a wise choice.

December 11. 11 Things: What are 11 things your life doesn't need in 2011? How
will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things
change your life?

This challenge has taken me quite a bit of time to think through, and it's so timely, as I truly want to live a bit more lightly. I've contemplated finding a place to live that would be suitable to my good friend, so that we can both cut expenses. She has a disability, so my townhouse isn't accessible much of the time. We both have cats, and we both have STUFF. The cats are non-negotiable for us both, but we fit the requirement for the city we live in even when they're added up! But there's a lot I could choose to release back into the stream of life to benefit others, and make smaller living possible.

1, Cable TV. I virtually never watch TV, and if I'm going to, it's likely to be a movie. I have a DVD player (not hooked up yet!), and I think saving the monthly fees from cable makes better sense than just turning it on for noise. NPR has better news, too!
2. Debt. I've been working on this for awhile, but there are signs I'll get some critical items behind me this year. I'm ecstatic! And inspired to redouble my efforts on the other items, too!
3. Clutter. I've followed in my Depression Era Mom's footsteps for too long. If I only eliminated the paper I've saved for years, it would be a huge step in the right direction, but I have collections that would be better gracing other people's shelves and cabinets. It's time to think about the next generation's need to not have my STUFF as the albatross around their necks!
4. Too-Large Clothing. I've dropped from a size 1X to a size 6 over the past year and I have years of the large sizes that could help other people be happy and warm.
5. Kitchen appliances - the "small" things that are seldom used. It's another of those, I thought I needed it when I bought it, but I've rarely if ever used it kinds of things. Just another thing to eliminate before my heirs inherit and have to deal with it!
6. Dark-enducing decor: I've lived in this tree-shaded townhouse in an older section of town for almost 4 years, and I tried to decorate it using the same things I used in an apartment in a complex that was mostly treeless and had large windows. The difference in interior lighting between the two places is striking, and the dark decor I brought with me only serves to further darken this space. I feel like a vampire much of the time. I've come to realize I need a change of scene to protect my mental state! So, carefully shopping yard sales and such, and making whatever I can, I think I'll change things around to try to brighten my world.
7. Complexity. In finances, in lifestyle, in any form. If it's stress-inducing, it's time to bring the subject at hand into the light and have a look at how it can be simplified.
8. My inclination to use Retail Therapy for fun and mood elevation. See #2 and #3 above. I used to know the "leave it and think about it for 24 hours - chances are you won't really NEED it!"
9. Much like using Retail Therapy for amusement, I spend a lot of time online, surfing or participating in various forms of social media. I think I'm better served by less of it! If nothing else, there'll be more time to knit!
10. Yarn! Oh my...did I type that? I have many many bins of wonderful yarns, a lot of which were bought at the closing of a favorite local shop. While I doubt that I need to eliminate it all, I'm sure I could pass some along thru either private sale, swap, or gifting.
11. Books and magazines - again, I'm a collector. I think a lot of what I have can go, other things can be transferred to e-book (If I'm able to get my Nook, as planned, of course).

Wow. I feel lighter all ready!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Reverb10 - Catching Up

Over in the sidebar, you'll see a new button for an activity I'm going to try to do every day. It's Reverb10, a commitment to reflect and write on the past year, and manifest the next one. Theoretically, this is what I try to do every year when I enter the last month, but I've not been overly successful on my own. As a result, I figured a focused attempt, with prompts from Reverb10 might make a difference.

I'm 8 days behind, of course, so I'm going to try to catch up here in one post, with just a paragraph or two on each of the prompts (including today's!).

December 1: One Word: Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word, Explain why you're choosing that word. Now imagine it's one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

Last night, knitting away on Christmas gifts, I sorted through my thoughts about this past year and what one word I might choose. Not an easy thing to do, but I finally came upon this one: Awareness. I entered the year trying to become more aware of specific things:

1. my attempt to lose weight once and for all, becoming aware of the foods I eat and how they contribute to my health and well-being;
2. the environment, becoming (more) aware of the forces that damage this earth and the personal steps each one of us can take to nurture her and try to return her to health.

In both of these areas, I came to a better understanding of the concept of locality and community - buying local, healthful, and organic food not only makes me healthier, it makes my community healthier from the standpoint of the economy, it brings me into communication with local growers and citizens who are attempting to make a difference for our region, ecologically, economically, and politically as well. I was awakened more fully to small and local businesses, folks just trying to hang tough thru the Great Recession. New authors, new blogs, new friends, new projects all helped me to focus.

Next year? I think I'd like the word to be: Discipline. Moving forward in a practical and effective manner to implement changes in my own life and in the community with regard to those issues that I have become aware of this year. A continuation of what seems to me to be a strong positive movement as I enter into the powerful years of my life as an older woman, a crone from the perspective of ecofeminism.

December 2: Writing: What do you do each day that doesn't contribute to your writing - and can you eliminate it?

I rarely watch much television, but when I do, I find myself immersed in the political shout-outs and duels on cable television. I actually dislike the shouting, the incessant one-up-manship of these programs, and while I don't lose enormous amounts of time there, it is time lost that could be better spent writing or crafting. I can eliminate it, and probably will, by stopping my cable TV service and reducing my news gathering to NPR.

December 3: Moment: Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail.

In June, I participated in my first ever 5-K Walk as a part of Weight Watchers. Our location was a lovely park/greenway that runs through my town not far from my house. We were very lucky that the temperatures and humidity weren't extraordinarily high at that point. There was a breeze, the sun was brilliant - the greenway was in full leaf. And the camaraderie of the members of my Tuesday night WW Group made the day very special. Even as part of the last group of walkers to complete the event, other members remained at the finish, ensuring that everyone returned and was cheered for the accomplishment. We do have a very special group, but that simple act of community, of support, made the day extraodinarily special for us.

December 4: Wonder: How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year.

I made a commitment to try to seek out local sources of virtually anything I might need this year. I was consistently amazed to find businesses, farms, crafters all within a reasonable radius of my home. I did not answer every need, unfortunately, as my own business relies on supplies that are not available locally, but to find mostly local sources for food, housing, transportation, and recreation, and trying to work individually with people as opposed to corporations was rewarding.

December 5: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

By the end of May, I'd let go of 30% of myself! Losing 50 pounds that had dragged me down for all of my adult life and contributed to terrible health consequences, was an enormous, and engrossing process. By finding Weight Watchers and committing myself to a lifestyle change of such magnitude, I came back to my high school weight. I'm healthier, I'm happier (and unfortunately, poorer financially, as I had to replace my entire wardrobe - I didn't factor that part in, go figure?). And I hope to never go back to that "old me."

December 6: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

At present, I'm making presents! :) I can tell you I'm trying to use natural fibers (yarns and fabrics) to create those presents, but till the holidays are over, I really can't tell you specifically what they are! I do hope, in 2011, to finally make my first sweater for myself. A lovely tweedy wool yarn is ready and waiting, the needles are wood. In my favorite shade of light-wash blue jeans blue, I hope to begin in January!

December 7: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

There have been several! Online, there's Ravelry the social networking site for knitters, spinners, and crocheters as well as Facebook where I not only have my personal page, but my business page as well. Locating folks from my past, and customers from my present has been delightful, but wow, doesn't this form of community take up a lot of time? Locally, my yoga classes, Weight Watchers group, and the local vendors I've supported are communities I think are definitely worth the time. Far more personal than I allow my online presence to be, the local groups know me about as well as anyone does. I'm comfortable with that closeness, unlike that of the communities online. Certainly I'll continue there, but hope to expand my business online community.

December 8: Beautifully Different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.

I think, I hope, that my commitment to quality in every aspect of my life might be what makes me beautifully different. The work I do, the products I create, the people I influence, the friendships I am a part of, all benefit from my personal code of ethics that insists on quality. I believe that if you choose to do something, you must do it well. I try to put care into everything I do - ultimately, caring shines through it all and benefits those others in your life.

December 9 (Today!) Party. What social event rocked your socks off in 2010.

After 11 years absence, I flew to Vermont to participate in my family's annual reunion. I reconnected with aunts and uncles and cousins, met new family members I just knew the names of, and while I was there, my dear granddaughter was born (all the way across the country!). Other family members ensured I had access to the web to find her photos, and see the newest member of our large group. I hope they never think I didn't want to be with them over those 11 years away. It was economically impossible until this year. It poured rain all day, we were stuck in the basement of a very ancient small community church, but this reconnection with family was mind-blowing!

Ok...thank you for bearing with me in catching up these posts. Hopefully, I can keep up the rest of the month!
*wink*