Monday, January 4, 2021

First Thoughts For The New Year

 January, the month of new beginnings and cherished memories, beckons. Come, let winter weave her wondrous spell; cold, crisp, woolen muffler days, long dark evenings of savory suppers, lively conversations, or solitary joys. Outside the temperature drops as the snow falls softly. All of nature is at peace. We should be, too. Draw hearthside. this is the month to dream, to look forward to the year ahead and the journey within.”


A very happy first Monday morning of the new year, my friends, and I hope this post finds you and yours well and blessed!

After a very busy December, and a quick trip over New Year's to Colonial Williamsburg, I feel that I am finally ready to resume "life as normal", which for me (living and traveling full time in a van), is anything but. Still, in spite of our nomadic lifestyle, I try to ground myself with familiar rhythms and rituals that create a semblance of order, and one of the ways I do this is reading Sarah Ban Breathnach's book, Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.  She actually released a newer version last year and I own both, but find that I still prefer the original, probably because I've read it so many times it's like an old friend. The quote above is on the first page for January, and it's one of my favorites. Because we were out of town I sat down today and read the first few entries to get caught up. They are short so it's easy if you get behind a day or two to catch up and I wanted to share my reflections on what I've read thus far, with you.

Today, carve out a quiet interlude for yourself in which to dream, pen in hand. Only dreams give birth to change. What are your hopes for the future as you reflect on the years that have passed? Gradually as you become curator of your own contentment. you will learn to embrace the gentle yearnings of your heart."

For most of my adult life, but especially over the past decade as the girls matured and have now moved out on their own, I've had more time to pursue personal interests. While crafting, in particular crocheting and cross stitching have long been preferred past times, for about ten years now I've slowly curated a lifestyle that is both seasonal and liturgical, a rhythm, if you will, with special rituals and recipes that have become grounding points for our family, and more so now, for me. This past year I've taken more of an interest in family history and genealogy and moving into the van has heightened my awareness of leaving a smaller footprint and living more sustainably, which can be challenging at times, living nomadically. 

All of this somehow cumulated early last year into an idea for a book, What We Keep. It's more a labor of love than anything, a gift to my children and grandchildren that they can treasure for generations (hopefully), long after I am gone. I haven't had much time to work on it since late summer, as adjusting to living in the van and learning new rhythms and routines has taken most of my time. But I have been stockpiling information and researching various topics that I want to include, which is all now tucked into a file on my computer, and because I'm still very much a pen and paper girl, into several binders. I've been weeding through a lot of that information during the Christmas-into-New-Year's lull, and I feel ready to begin. I've got my chapters lined out and a lot of the information streamlined within various headings. A serious amount of editing will have to take place, or this may end up being written in volumes! 

All that to say that when I think upon the future and the years that have passed, my desire is to take all that I have learned, and all that we have shared together as a family and make it available to the future generations of our family. It gives me so much joy to think of a cozy kitchen where a mother is teaching her daughter how to make my mom's chocolate pie, "This is your great-great grandmother's recipe!", perhaps she'll say, "The women in our family have been making this for generations."

Time is the new year's bountiful blessing; three hundred sixty five bright mornings, and starlit evenings; fifty two promising weeks; twelve transformative months full of beautiful possibilities, and four splendid seasons. A simply abundant year to be savored."

Ahhhh, so many of my favorite quotes come from this book! In this day's entry Sarah prompts us with this question;

"If you knew that one year from today you could be living the most creative, joyous and fulfilling life you could imagine, what would it be? What changes would you make, how and where would you begin?"

While living in a van and traveling this great country (Albright a bit altered, due to Covid), is joyous and fulfilling, if I'm honest, this is not the life I truly desire. Don't get me wrong, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this is very much the path that God has for me at this time, and I've seen some beautiful places I would have been sad to miss, and there will be more. But my dreams, lie elsewhere.

If I could choose, perhaps not a year from now, but maybe, who knows? I would choose a tiny farm house, and by "tiny" I do mean a tiny house, off-grid and fully sustainable, on an acre or two of land. Just enough for some raised beds and a small garden, a hand full of chickens, maybe a goat or two, and a cat lying lazy in the sun in the front window. I would grow my own vegetables, can my own food, make herbal remedies, soap, candles, you name it. Maybe even have a little farm stand to share the surplus and pick up a dime or two to buy some yarn to crochet a new shawl, or that book I've had my eye on. I'd spend my evenings by a small wood stove in autumn and winter, and an open window with a cool breeze in the spring and summer. I would cook, bake, watch my favorite old movies for the hundredth time, and listen to music that takes me back in time with a single note. I'd observe the changing of the seasons, the waxing and waning of the moon, and grow old, slowly, quietly and at peace with my love by my side, and our children as they could come to visit from time to time. Many of these things I've been doing and continue to do now, even in the van. But I do long for a little home, and it will come, one day. Even if it ends up being a small one bedroom apartment with a container garden on the balcony, though I do SO long to have a goat, maybe I could claim one as my "therapy goat". :) So while I'm enjoying every minute of chasing the van life dream with my husband, I frequently visit my Pinterest boards (which honestly are SERIOUSLY in need of some pruning), and I keep another file on my computer where I tuck away ideas and inspiration, and when we're finished chasing the sunset, we'll see how it all turns out. For now, I'm happy in my cozy little van, and I do promise some pictures, soon!

Well, I was going to share my reflections for January 3 with you today, as well, but as this post is becoming a little wordy, I think I'll sign off for now and share that another day. I'll be sharing tid-bits from my reading of this lovely book from time to time, as well as other books I hope to read this year. Reading more is at the top of my list this year. How about you? Do you have any book in your personal line up for the year, and if you've ever read Simple Abundance, do you love it as much as I do?

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