Lesser Known Holidays Part Two: The Everyday

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I know it’s a bit of a cheat to call The Everyday a lesser known holiday, but I’ve been turning over which holiday to write about for weeks.

At the same time, I’ve been taking Rob Bell’s eCourse called Practical Guide to Finding Joy and Meaning in Everyday Life and soaking in the notion that each moment we live in is filled with the miraculous.

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I am hoping he won’t mind if I share a piece of his message here. I am betting he won’t even notice. And you may want to check out what he has to say because hearing it second hand won’t be as good as the real deal. Bell has a fabulous way with words that rings in my heart and mind long after I’ve listened to him.

One of the best messages I heard in his six week course was  that what I am doing does not equate to the importance of the moment. Bell says, “Task does not equal depth.”

To illustrate, he described a monk who peels potatoes with such prayerful presence that people came from miles around to watch him.

Now, when I am sitting in traffic or trying to wrestle a shirt over my son’s head or counting my students’ attendance hours, I often pause to think about the miracle of what is happening in that second. It feels like I wake up from a dream and open my eyes to how amazing each moment can be.

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Sometimes it’s exhausting. Maybe that’s why we so often don’t. Really peeling those potatoes or tallying hours prayerfully takes focus and energy. But it is so worth the effort. 

This small pause at the wonder of life in the everyday has been incredibly powerful.

This week, I stopped again at Seymour’s Conservatory to take pictures of the flowers, pick up a fallen bud from a tree and look closely at the apple blossoms. I’m so glad I noticed those glorious moments even on the road where they have taken down the blackberries.

(I didn’t take a picture of my attendance spreadsheets but those were honestly beautiful, too. Each name on them represents a person with hopes and dreams.)

Wishing you all the gift of seeing the beauty all around you. It’s not a new message by any stretch. It’s just one I need to hear over and over again.

Happy Everyday to you!

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Losing My Way: What is Happening to a Beloved Horse Road

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Two years ago I wrote a long post about the horse road that I love near my home. I ended it by saying that I knew it might not last.

It hasn’t.

At first I thought the owners of the gravel pit trimmed the blackberry bushes and were done with it. I told my four year old not to worry. Blackberries always grow back. Then they brought in the dozers, and I knew the berries didn’t stand a chance this year. 

My neighbors say the pit owners are filling in the gigantic hole and then developing. I’ve seen big project announcements for months so I suppose I should have expected this. From looking at my last post, I know I did expect it.

But I’m still sad. Sad to lose an abandoned gravel pit full of brambles. Sad because the goldfinch don’t fly in front of me this year. Sad because I wonder where the coyote moved her den that was under those brambles. Sad because no rabbits dart in front of me now. Sad because the hawks no longer sit along the telephone wire waiting to catch those rabbits.

And mostly, sad because the wildlife had reclaimed their space after the ripping destruction of a gravel pit. Now their homes are once again destroyed. I hope for their resilience to come through again. I wish they didn’t have to.

I know this is off my usual topics and not the hopeful voice I normally use. But my heart is breaking and I had to say something somewhere to someone.

I can hardly bear to post the picture.

The Lesser Holidays Part One: International Women’s Day

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Recently, I looked up International Women’s Day while drafting my next column for The News Tribune. I had never heard of the holiday until my immigrant students brought me flowers, so I was quite surprised to learn that the celebration began in the United States.

Perhaps we dropped it in the U.S. because it was started by socialists and the holiday played a role in the Russian Revolution of 1917. This would also explain why so many of my Russian speaking students always remembered the date.

Or perhaps Mother’s Day took it over. Not all women are mothers, though, so I’m rather in favor of Women’s Day as we look at ways to improve our world. I sincerely believe that gender equality is in the best interest of my two sons as well as a benefit to my nieces. 

The personal essay I wrote for the Tribune speaks to one way we can move in this direction. It runs on Monday, March 9th, the day after International Women’s Day. The editor and I finally agreed on a title: Listen to What Women Say, Not How We Sound. (Titles are such a challenge for me!)

I’ll link to it here on Monday and then move on this March to holidays that usually don’t involve long vacations or fireworks. I write this wishing you all a fabulous Women’s Day this Sunday, March 8th. May we all hear each others’ voices. Beauty with Brown Eyes