Saturday, January 22, 2022

Small Things - January 22, 2022

 "Life is not, for most of us, a pageant of splendor, but is made up of many small things, rather like an old fashioned piecework quilt. No two people have the same, but we all have our own, whether it be listening to Beethoven's fifth with a beloved friend, or seeing a neighbor at the back door with a basket of white dahlias. Or after a long, hard day, having the family say, "That was a good supper."


1. In the participating in the Slow Living Challenge 2022

2. I watched this movie yesterday, Junior Miss (1945), sweet little gem! It's in two parts, here's Part 2.

3. The looks like something I would enjoy, The Lost Skills.

4. Love this idea for writing a weekly reflection, These Are The Days

5. I came across this blog this week while looking for resources for celebrating Candlemas, which is coming up soon, February 2.  She hasn't updated since May of 2020, but if you observe the liturgical year, it looks like there are a wealth of resources here, including Music for Candlemas.

6. And finally, the picture you see at the top is of coffee dough ornaments. I usually make them at Christmas, but I use them to adorn a lot of my primitive crafts year round, so I made up a fresh batch. You can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

The Movies of My Youth

As I've done for about five years in a row now, I began the new year (New Year's Eve and New Year's Day), rewatching the Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies. It's a tradition I've grown to love, and this year in particular I think I enjoyed the Hobbit as never before. It's the first time I've been alone (for the most part, Kate was in and out but did not watch the movies with me), and as such, I was able to give them my full and undivided attention. That has led me to the conclusion that I prefer The Hobbit trilogy above LOTR, but just to be sure, I've decided to watch them all again before the new year, slowly and one at a time. I might begin again this weekend, we'll see.

Since then I've actually been revisiting some movies from my youth, in particular from the late 70's and early 80's. It happened unexpectedly really. I was scrolling a bit mindlessly through the plethora of offerings on Netflix, Hulu and Prime, when a title jumped out from the screen and transported me instantly to the months just following my graduation from high school, The Competition, starring Richard Dreyfuss (who wore entirely too much makeup throughout the movie!), and an actress I'd forgotten about, Amy Irving. Now if you're familiar with the movie, and before you go judging my cinematic tastes, I would not rate this movie highly. Even in its day I recall finding Dreyfuss/Irving an odd mix and a bit unbelievable as a couple. I preferred Irving over Dreyfuss at the time, but oddly enough didn't follow her career past this movie. I did, sadly, watch Yentl this past week in my efforts to explore her other works, what an odd movie that was, and Honeysuckle Rose, which faired only somewhat better. For someone who was once married to Steven Spielberg you would think the girl would have been considered for better roles. But I think what I liked about The Competition in particular, and a few others I've watched since then like Ice Castles (again, no judging, LOL!), and The Goodbye Girl (STILL one of my all time favorites), is the feel of them. Naturally they carry a vibe true to the time in which they were made, I'm just not sure until recently that I'd ever really noticed it. It's funny how when you're young you think that the things that you like will never grow old!

Aside from The Goodbye Girl and Star Wars (which is timeless, in my opinion), I haven't spent a lot of time watching movies from this time period, because if I'm honest, I find them a bit hokey. And they are. Maybe it was because I was fighting off a head cold, or the glare from the all the snow we've had recently was reflecting on the screen, but the sentiment they stirred in me made watching them worth it. The cinematography of the day, the fonts used for the titles, the soundtracks. They swept me up and warmed me, in spite of the fact that I wanted to wipe Richard Dreyfuss' face with a soapy wash cloth in almost every scene.

Ice Castles has always held a special place in my heart, since I chose one of the songs from the soundtrack for my wedding, and sang it a year later at the wedding of a friend. But something that The Competition aroused in me (other than reminding me of a line I once borrowed when I was angry at an ex-boyfriend, see the first quote from Greta) was my love for classical music. I grew up listening to it with my dad, who had a love affair with NPR which he has now passed on to me. Life is a funny thing, this week I recalled that it was this movie that introduced me to Sergei Prokofiev, and in particular to Piano Concerto No. 3, which is the song that Amy Irving's character plays. I listened to Prokofiev for months after seeing this movie, in particular Romeo and Juliet, which lulled me to sleep many a night. He is, by far, one of my favorite composers, as well as Rachmaninoff, who wrote a beautiful piece featured in the movie, Somewhere In Time, Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. That entire movie is where my love for movie soundtracks first began, and if you're interested, you can listen to it in its entirety, here. It also happens to be one of the better movies of the early 80's.

Over Christmas I attended an online performance of Handel's Messiah at The Washington National Cathedral, and I think that, along with all of this reminiscing, has rekindled my desire to listen to classical music again, which led me this book,  A Year of Wonder: Classical Music To Enjoy Day by Day by Clemency Burton Hill (Affiliate Link). In it is highlighted a piece of classical music for every day of the year, along with a bit of history. Since I discovered it late, I began yesterday, when the featured selection was ‘Dirait-on’ – ‘Should We Say’ from Les chansons des roses by Morten Lauridsen (b. 1943). I like this piece in particular because it was inspired by the works of one of my favorite poets, Rainier Maria Rilke. You can listen to it, here. If my dad were alive I have a feeling he would enjoy listening to these, as well, and I'm going to try to be intentional about listening to them in his honor. His knowledge of classical music never extended beyond his love for the music itself. He wasn't familiar with the names of the works or even the composers, really. He listened to classical music simply for the joy it brought him. I can even recall when I thought NPR was possibly the worst station a person could listen to and that classical music was boring. But somewhere along the way, thankfully, I began to appreciate it as well. I do like that the book breaks the selections down, and that it's just one song each day, a brief pause for a bit of culture and the thrill of perhaps being introduced to a new composition.

If you grew up in the 70's and 80's you might be familiar with some of the movies I've mentioned, and maybe you want to take a little trip down memory lane, yourself. So I'm providing you with links to most of the ones I've included in this post, a few of them are free, and all at a minimal cost. As I mentioned, at least a few of these are not what I would consider high quality viewing, but they are fun in their own right, if for nothing more to reminisce about the days of our youth.

The Competition - Free if you have Prime
Of note, neither Dreyfuss or Irving played the piano, and trained for weeks to make it appear as if they were actually concert level musicians. That alone is impressive.

The Goodbye Girl - Free if you have Prime.

Ice Castles - Rent for $3.99

Somewhere In Time - Rent for $3.99

I also just discovered Crossing Delancey with Amy Irving. I've rented it and plan to watch it today! If you happen to have memories of and suggestions for other movies from the late 70's and early 80's that I may have forgotten, leave a reminder in the comments!

All rental links are non-affiliate.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Growing A Rule of Life - A Lenten Journey

I mentioned in my post yesterday how developing a Rule of Life has benefited and grown me personally and spiritually. And while I originally wrote my rule two years ago, I'm still learning to live it, tweak it, and broadening my understanding of this principle.

Around the same time that I found the sermon series and workbook that I linked in my post yesterday (which is the resource I originally used), I came across several other resources that I considered and a few that I even downloaded but have yet to utilize. Among those is Growing A Rule of Life, produced by The Society of Saint John the Baptist in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

The sermon series and accompanying workbook, which I will link below, were originally written as part of a Lenten series, and as Lent is coming up the first week of March, I've decided to listen to the sermons and work through the workbook during this season, to deepen and broaden my understanding. It could be that I take nothing new away from this teaching, but to be honest, I highly doubt that. I also like that they use the example of a garden and gardening as it relates to tending to our own spiritual life and development, which also seems beautifully appropriate as we will be nearing the spring equinox.

If a Rule of Life is something that has peaked your interest and you'd like to join me, I'm going to post the schedule and the links you'll need to participate. I'll be listening to the sermons each Sunday and then writing a post the following week, and I would love for you to join the conversation in the comments or by linking to your own post if you have a blog and are so inclined. It's also perfectly acceptable if you simply want to use the resources for your own personal/private study. As an introvert, I am all too familiar with and sensitive to the desire for privacy. 

Growing a Rule of Life - .pdf workbook 

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, March 2, 2022

First Sunday of Lent - March 6, 2022
Rules of Life and The Rhythm of Nature - Br. James Koester

Second Sunday of Lent - March 13, 2022

Third Sunday of Lent - March 20, 2022

Fourth Sunday of Lent - March 27, 2022

Fifth Sunday of Lent - April 3, 2022

Sixth Sunday of Lent - April 10, 2022

Easter is Sunday, April 17, 2022

There's a place for you sign up for daily emails, short sermons and exercises. I'm not sure if that's something that is still available, but you can access each days content here in the left side bar. I personally will be working through the exercises each day, but I will write a collective weekly post and share my thoughts and what I've learned.

There are a number of other resources that I've utilized and found helpful in my personal relationship with the Lord and spiritual growth which I've linked in my right side bar, "Resources I've Found Useful".  I've also decided its time to refresh a few of those, so I'll be sharing my experience and insights in the days and weeks to come, if thats something that interests you. And as the season of Lent approaches, I'll be sharing resources I use in my observance, as well.

At any rate, I hope you'll find something that proves to be beneficial.  It's still cold and frigid here with a good layer of icy snow on the ground and more to come, apparently. I think this may be the snowiest January I can recall in some years, not that I'm complaining. But I am concerned for my daughter who works for Target and has already missed a few days of work due to the weather.  And now I'm off to revisit a few of those resources I mentioned. Have a lovely day friends, and stay warm!

Monday, January 17, 2022

A Gentle Start To The New Year

 "And what does January hold? Clean account books. Bare diaries. Three hundred and sixty five new days, neatly parceled into weeks, months, and seasons. A chunk of time, of life . . . those first few notes, like an orchestra tuning up before the play begins."


I love a fresh start, and January always arrives with the promise of that. For years now, I've spent the greater part of the week between Christmas and New Years, planner and journals open and ready to embark upon a list of lofty goals, only to find soon after that I've already fallen out of rhythm. 

I was deep in the throes of disappointment with myself recently, when I recalled that I hadn't listened to the latest podcast that my dear friend, Heather, provides for us in each week at Hearth and Home, appropriately titled, Easing Into The New Year. In it, I was happy to discover that she is prone to taking a slower step into the changes that the promise of a new year brings, especially in light of the fact that for her, as well as for many of us, come January 1, we are still deep in holiday celebration. Since I observe the liturgical calendar, Christmastide spans through January 6, so it isn't until the days following the observance of Epiphany that our decorations even come down. She was good to remind us that there are no hard and fast rules about how or when we embark upon the changes that we want to make in our lives, if at all. It caused me to consider, perhaps for the first time, how much weight that date, January 1, holds for so many of us. I'm not sure there is any other time, save for perhaps a birthday or anniversary, when time is marked so sharply. In any other regular month the 30th or 31st slips seamlessly into the the 1st, and we don't give it a second thought. But come December 31, you had better have your ducks in a row come morning, if you hope to achieve anything in the coming year, or so we've been prone to believe.

Listening to her podcast breathed new life into my "I might as well just go ahead and give up now" bones. I realized that rather than failing too quickly, I was setting myself up for failure with the timing of it all. I'm simply not ready, come January 1. It's a new year, yes, but it's still Christmastide, my favorite time of the year, and while the calendar pushes us forward to "new beginnings", I'm still resting in the glow of the end of a most beautiful season. I'm much more rested and ready to embark upon my goals mid January, say, around the 15th. Enough time to celebrate Christmastide through the Epiphany and ease, as the church calendar suggests, back into "ordinary time".

This year we've also had several snow days. On January 3 we got a good, wet 6", then a dusting on the 6th, which was nothing, really, and then yesterday we got 3" of snow but a good amount of ice on top of it. Now, I realize that 6" is nothing for many of you, but bear with me here. You're talking to a Texas girl who lived forty years of her life with very little snow and longed for the want of it. I can probably count on one hand, if my memory serves me correctly, the number of days school was cancelled because of  snow when I was growing up. So, yes, now as full grown adult, I have reserved the right to make up for all the snow days I was deprived of in my childhood.  It is a silly thing, I suppose, but I'm taking them, none-the-less. We took them when we homeschooled, as well, since here in Virginia they rarely last more than a few days. Homeschooled, or not, I was absolutely not going to deprive my children of the very thing I wanted and missed as a child. So, with all that, what I'm really trying to say here, is that my want for observing "snow days" has likewise extended my time of rest and leisure, and failed in promoting a sense of urgency to begin checking off the boxes in the achievement of my goals. And speaking of goals . . .

Even in this, I'm being gentle in my ambitions this year, focusing on tweaking rhythms and rituals that I set in place, and some that I have yet to set in place, at the start of 2021, a few even back in 2020. I learned about A Rule of Life a few years ago, and wrote out my own, which I'll be sharing in increments over the coming months, and it has been life changing for me. If you are not familiar with A Rule of Life, you can download a workbook to write your own, here. (This is the resource I used). I would also suggest listening to this series, Unhurrying With A Rule of Life. To be honest, I only wish that I had discovered this sooner, but I'm happy, at least, to have discovered it at all. Writing out my personal Rule of Life has helped me to define the margins and prioritize what is important. It is the scale by which I measure my days, weeks and months. It determines the outcome of every yes, or no, because it has aided me in defining what is important and necessary, and to guard it. For the most part I've done well in implementing it, but there are a few components, that I'll be discussing over the next few days, that I have yet to put in place and I'm hoping to make them a regular part of my life rhythm in 2022.

My word for the year is "YEARN", which I found interesting since my word for the year in 2021 was "SEEK", and I felt that I didn't really give it the full attention and intention that it deserved.  It was almost as if the Holy Spirit was saying, "OK, since you didn't fully embrace SEEK last year, now you get to YEARN." But what I do know is that yearning has definitely been seeded deep in my soul.  I think Tozer said it better than I in this quote.

"I want the presence of God, Himself, or I don't want anything at all to do with religion. 
I want all that God has, or I don't want any."


I was so moved by that quote when I read it that I promptly wrote it out on the first page of my Bible. For most of my adult life I've struggled to make my faith my own, and not piggy back off of my parent's beliefs or even feel, necessarily, that I needed to adapt to my husbands' belief system, although I did that for several years. For me, it's been more of an unlearning, than a learning. Separating "religion" from "relationship" has been monumental for me, as I'm sure it is for most people. If you want to know someone it helps if you have a relationship with them. Elementary, perhaps, but it took me a lot of years to understand that about God (L-O-N-G story!). But since becoming a follower of Christ, and especially over the past two years, my faith has become not only very personal, but has grown by leaps and bounds. To say that I truly "yearn" for God, and want it all, is probably an understatement. I am also quite sure that I do not, in my humanity, fully grasp what to yearn for God even looks like. I got a little taste of it last week when I was having a bit of a dark, lonely day, and for the first time in I can't remember when, I cried. It was in that moment that the word "yearn" came back to me, and I felt ashamed that I often do not long for Him the way I long and hurt for other relationships in my life. In that instant I prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to keep this memory fresh in my heart and to help me hurt in my want for God as deeply as I was hurting in that moment. I also stopped hurting, not surprisingly, and stop crying instantly after this revelation. Oh Lord, let my want for nothing in this world exceed my longing and yearning for you!

And so my friends, I want to encourage you today in this. If you, like me and so many others, began on January 1 with a list that you now realize you haven't looked at since and are feeling guilty about it, don't! Stop, pray and regroup. Look at that list again. Maybe you're trying to achieve too much. If there are five things on your list and that seems like too much, consider if, perhaps, you should  narrow that down to three. Or instead of just writing them all out, prioritize them and set a date to begin working on the first thing on the list. Once you have that accomplished or in place, then, and only then, move on to the next. Also consider if your goals truly reflect what is important to you and to your family. Are these things that you feel are authentic, or just something you picked up somewhere that sounded like a good idea? Always remember, that even good things, are not necessarily the best things for you and for your family. Try to keep that distinguished. 

As fitting as it would seem, this was the first thing I read this morning when I opened up Instagram.

"Sometimes the smallest step in the right direction ends up being the biggest step of your life. 
Tip toe if you must, but take the step."


I've decided to tip-toe slowly into 2022, I hope you'll join me!