A Mid-Winter Walk In The Nature Preserve

On Saturday the sun was finally shining, so Zen-Den and I went to the Nature Preserve for a walk. We enjoyed the opportunity to be outside in the fresh air on a brisk winter afternoon when there was no snow around. Here are a few photos I took along the way.

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path

We decided to take the flat, relatively mud-free trail. It was less than a mile, and interesting to wander along. Having never been on it before, we were pleasantly surprised by what we saw.

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rowena

Near the beginning of the trail we noticed this little cutie pie squirrel munching on a seed. I immediately named her Rowena.

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bench

A little farther along the trail we saw this bench that had an inscribed plaque on it. The plaque said: “Relax, Don’t Worry, Have Fun.”

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pond

We walked beside this partially frozen pond that was reflecting light into the darker forest just beyond it. The scene looked like something out of an animated Disney movie.

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cabin

Soon thereafter we walked across a field and came upon this relocated 200-year-old cabin. Much of the cabin’s wood is original.

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cabin-door

Entering the cabin through this door, we discovered a table and two benches + a fireplace. Nothing else in there. Very rustic.

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pond-2

Then, near the end of the trail we walked beside this small pond surrounded by tall grasses under the blue winter sky, making for a picture perfect photo at the end of our walk.

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What To Do When The Gift Of Your Attention Is Thrown Away

[Subtitled: When Expectations & Reality Do Not Align In Interpersonal Communication Exchanges]

[Sub-subtitled: People Suck, Don’t Take It Personally]

A CONVERSATION WITH a genuinely nice friend who is snitified about, of all things, Christmas cards.  Sending of said. Receipt of said. Subsequent action taken [or not taken] as result of receipt of said.

The conversation covered the following points:

  1. sending a card is optional;
  2. sending a card is giving the recipient the gift of your attention;
  3. sending a card does not obligate the recipient to send one back to you, but it’s delightful if they do;
  4. discovering that recipient has sent cards to other people, but not you, is your cue to ______ ?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-37-41-pmWHILE THE SPECIFICS of this conversation were about Christmas cards, as we talked I realized that this gift of attention scenario plays out in other areas of our lives.

For instance, what do you make of someone, a friend &/or family member, who you send friendly texts to, but they never include you in the texting and photo sharing that they do with everyone else in your group?

Or to put it in blogging terms, how do you deal with someone who allows your comments to show up on their blog, then never bothers to respond to you, while publicly talking with all the other commenters on their blog?

To be fair, I truly don’t know if these people who throw away the gift of your attention are even aware that they are doing so.  They could be clueless.  They could be crazy.  Who know?

screen-shot-2017-02-02-at-1-38-27-pmBUT THE THING is, people like my friend notice this sneaky ungrateful behavior, and it hurts them.

She’s a person who sincerely believes that you need to model the behavior you want to see in others, so that they may learn from your example.  This means that for her, when someone ignores her, she is flummoxed about how to react.

That is, in this specific case, should she continue to send the card because she is remaining true to her values by showing the recipient the way to live?

Or should she acknowledge that the recipient doesn’t care about their relationship, as shown by the recipient’s behavior– and give up on this person altogether?

I know what my answer is, but for some people this is a difficult decision to make.

Make No Assumptions. It’s Greenery For The Win.

AS A WAY OF adding some color into our lives during this mid-winter gray time of year, I went to Lowes this week where I bought some little houseplants in little plastic pots.

I’m not a full on hippy dippy plant lady yet, so fear not. But I could be headed that way.  [And really, would that be such a terrible thing?]

While transplanting each plant into a proper terra-cotta pot, it drifted into my addled mind that Pantone’s Color of the Year 2017 is Greenery.

I also remembered that when I first saw this color in early December I wasn’t taken with it, thinking that this particular shade of yellowish-green was almost garish.  A color I’d never want to see in my house. 

Was. not. a. fan. and. said. so.

But you know what?  I was wrong in my snap judgement.

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“Greenery is a fresh and zesty yellow-green shade that evokes the first days of spring when nature’s greens revive, restore and renew.” via Pantone

I HAD TO ADMIT this to myself as I placed the new houseplants around the house– and realized that they were exactly Greenery green.  And as such, they blended beautifully with our neutral color scheme of khaki golds + creamy whites + warm grays.

In fact, the new houseplants added much-needed splashes of spring-y color everywhere, proving to be an amazingly easy, cost-effective way of lifting my winter spirits.

So the moral of this little story is that when it comes to unfamiliar colors reserve your judgment until you’ve given the new color a chance to dazzle you.

For all you know the new color might be the perfect thing ever to grace your life… on a gray winter day.

Links I Love For Clever Beans, Badass Turtles + Other Goofs

… because information is FUN dammit.

 Sometimes you need to remember How To Begin Again.

 Inspiration like the 5 Tips to Trim Down for Trump is why I love the blogosphere.

  Reminding you again How Being Bored Out Of Your Mind Makes You More Creative.

 Taking the What’s Your Closet Personality quiz, learning that I’m a Clothing Economist.

  What say we all try to be a Warrior Not Worrier.

 Knowing How to Enjoy Tea Throughout the Day seems like a good idea.

  Wondering about being a “54” after taking the Do You Live In A Bubble? quiz.

  So The Secret Is Not To Care, huh?

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New goal: Be as badass as this turtle.

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6 Small Thoughts Upon The 6th Anniversary Of This Blog

A glimpse into my personal blogging evolution…

1)  I like my writing better now than when I started The Spectacled Bean.  I’ve learned how to write in a smooth flowing chatty style that is genuine, not dry & academic.  I express myself with more attitude, more gratitude, less awkwardness, and a propensity to use goofy big words that I love.

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2)  I write more in-depth now on one event or topic or person, instead of glossing over and combining many things into one post like I used to do.  I’m more focused, definitely less ditzy.

3)  I think of my blog as a newspaper lifestyle column now in which I share my observations, experiences + research, making sense of these things, so that I can start conversations which, I hope, add a bit of love +  learning + laughter into the world.  I no longer think of this blog as a diary or a variety show or a scrapbook.

4)  My posts look prettier now thanks to the instant availability of font sizes, styles, and colors.  Plus it’s so much easier to add images and videos now.  I sometimes wonder why any of us read any blog considering how text-based and bland they all looked.

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5)  I find myself more engaged with my followers now than ever before.  Lots of  fascinating articulate people have found The Spectacled Bean, and I have found their blogs.  I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read my posts, and thank you for making me part of your lives as well.

6)  I’m much mellower now about this whole blogging thing.  No more angst over what to write about, little worry about how to write it, still some concern that I’ll make a spelling or grammatical error.  But overall, I’m chill– and comfortable in my role as a suburban blogger.

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One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do?

{ File this under: NEVER TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY }

me

 A FEW WEEKS AGO WHEN I began to think about what my One Word for this year would be I was sure it’d be SMART.  My egotistical little brain that craves attention told me that this word was a good one.  But after The Orange One made reference to Putin being smart I could not, in good conscience, use the now tainted word “smart” as my one word.

 THEN WHILE READING A CHRISTMAS GIFT, a wonderful book of essays called I’m Judging You: The Do-Better Manual by Luvvie Ajayi, the word BETTER seemed like it’d be my One Word.  But the more I thought about this word the less applicable it seemed to my overall mind-set right now.

It’s not that I don’t want to strive to be a better version of me, I do;  it’s just that I feel that “better” could be anxiety-producing for me, a reformed semi-perfectionist who has finally become comfortable with the concept of good enough.

 WELL, ON NEW YEAR’S EVE I still had not decided on a word for 2017.  In a last-ditch effort to discern what my One Word would be, I approached the problem in a less cerebral, more spiritual way.  That is, as I drifted off to sleep I intentionally put the question into my mind, so that when I awakened the next morning the first thing I thought about would be my answer.

And my spirit didn’t let me down.  No, thanks to it I had a word for 2017 that allows me to creatively incorporate the essence of smartness with the desire for betterment.  Yes, my whole being told me in no uncertain terms to: RELAX.

So I think I will.  😉

Question of the Day

DO YOU PICK ONE WORD TO BE YOUR THEME FOR EACH YEAR?  

If so, what’s this year’s word and how did you come by it?  

If not, what do you do instead? Resolutions? Goals? Nothing?

Meandering Thoughts About Reading Books & The Nature Of Failure

WOULDN’T IT BE WONDERFUL IF I COULD tell you that I succeeded in doing Modern Mrs. Darcy’s 2016 reading challenge?  The one I talked about here.

And wouldn’t it be equally wonderful if I were to write brief reviews of the 12 books I read, as I planned to do last January, vis-à-vis this annual challenge?

WELL, I DIDN’T READ ALL THE BOOKS that I thought I would because I got caught up in reading about politics online and in the newspapers, as one does when “fascism,” Merriam-Webster’s presumed word of the year, is knocking on the door.

So yes, I HAVE FAILED in my stated goal. But in the whole scheme of things I AM BETTER INFORMED about what matters now. So have I failed, or have I adapted?  

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

AND IT’S NOT LIKE I DIDN’T READ any books at all, meaning that I can still share with you, my gentle readers, a few books, written by new-to-me authors, whose thoughts and style made for interesting reading.

Thus, without further ado, moving beyond the foregoing flapdoodle and twaddle, what I want to tell you is: here are three books I read in 2016 and enjoyed.

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#1

The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton

This is a story about identity, the shifting nature of it, and the implications of learning someone is not who they say they are.  The story moves seamlessly among three different eras: present day England, 1960s England, and WWII London.  I found the characters compelling, the plot fascinating, and the settings atmospheric.

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#2

Faith Bass Darling’s Last Garage Sale by Lynda Rutledge

This is a story, that is more charming than it sounds on the surface, about a rich older woman with Alzheimer’s who lives in a small town.  One day she decides to sell her stuff and the town goes bonkers as she unloads her possessions, each of which has a story of its own to tell.  There is drama and familial tension, of course, but the real subject of this novel is: do we own our stuff or does it own us?

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#3

Heart in the Right Place by Carolyn Jourdan

This is a delightful memoir that I couldn’t put down.  In it the author, a lawyer practicing in DC, talks candidly and hilariously about her experiences as a temporary receptionist for her father’s medical practice in rural Tennessee.  She does this to help her family through a difficult time, spending a year working for her father, and in the process learns about true heroes, batshit crazy small town people, and what is important in life.

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QUESTION OF THE DAY

Have you, like me, failed to read all the books that you thought you would read this year? If so, how do you feel about it? If not, please tell us how you accomplished your reading goals. No doubt we all could benefit from your wisdom.

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