My 3 Words for 2017

by Lisa on January 3, 2017

I don’t know about you, but the internet’s plethora of how-to articles on new year goal setting sends me into a self-doubting panic. I want to keep moving forward in the direction of self-improvement, but what shiny new approach is the right fit? After consuming advice from various time management, lifestyle and entrepreneurial gurus, I settled on a new-for-me life-improvement approach for my 2017: the 3 words.

In business coach Chris Brogan‘s  weekly newsletter this past Sunday — which neatly coincided with New Year’s Day — he revealed his 3 words for the coming year, an annual practice he’s maintained for over ten years. The simple clarity of 3 words that can function like an internal calibrator over the span of the next twelve months really appealed to me. As someone who gets excited about too many projects than is humanly possible to execute, I thought a 3-word touchpoint might keep me in line. And so I committed to my own that feel like a good fit, that can function as a theme for my coming year:

HOME — Because redefining what home means to me is part of my reinvention.

EXPRESS — Speak up. Open that throat chakra! Do not let my silence be someone else’s comfort.

COMPLETE — Wrap up unfinished projects and follow through to the finish anything begun anew. This includes everything — from business-building to crafting and homemaking.

What about you? How do you like to freshen up your life for a new year?

Home is Where the Garden Grows

by Lisa on December 8, 2016

urban-oasis-2013_garden

I held on to the fantasy with a grip so tight nothing would separate us. My marriage may have been over but at least I had my home, which, in truth, was really the garden. My garden – that postage-stamp-sized patch that I’d cultivated into an urban oasis – was the true heart of my home.

Mornings began with a look at the garden space. From a second-floor window in the reading nook, I observed the seasons as they played out below. An empty nester, I’d turned to nurturing the soil as if it were a baby in need of my care. The Blueberry Muffin (Viburnum dentatum ‘Christom) and Fragrant Abelia (Abelia mosanensis) shrubs had grown into dense green fencing. Perennials, once the rare accent here and there amongst annuals, had been lovingly collected over the years and now dominated the beds. And the Mandarin Azalea bloomed by the back door each spring, her robust orange blossoms celebrating another successful winter’s rest. I’d planted Rosa rugosa and hydrangea along the front of the house, reminders of evening walks with my mother and her dog on Nantucket Island. Come each May, this was my outdoor living room.

I will hold on to this in the face of losing all else that represents stability to me, I thought.

However, the financial reality was soon unavoidable: the house would have to be sold. The definition of home was up for grabs. Without a garden to tend would I be home-less? Could container gardening successfully replace in-ground beds? I didn’t have an answer to these questions, but I did know that I could not entrust the care of my pampered greenspace to an anonymous house buyer. My plants were up for adoption!

I traded plants for hairdressing services and eventually gave away every ornamental rose bush and perennial, from the clematis to my beloved peonies. There’s something satisfying about sharing plants – it feels like a good deed. Joy sprinkling, I call it. I had discovered a sweet side of leaving home.

Shortly after relocating I found a small local nursery (I almost never buy plants at big box stores). Filling one garden urn and a second porch pot proved to be just right for me this year. Could I call these container gardens home with the same heartfelt passion as the old place? No. But they certainly made the porch feel like it was mine, an important horticultural extension of this new life chapter.

asparagus-fern-fuschia-2016_web summer-garden-urn-2016_web

Writing with Images

by Lisa on August 27, 2014

Ansel Adams garden quote

 

Last week I participated in a workshop titled “Writing Vertically.” The facilitators are both dream analysts, one a non-fiction writer and the other a poet. Each workshop participant was asked to bring a scene from a current work and/or a dream.

I am four years out from completing the rough draft of my teen memoir about how drawing and other creative pursuits served as a life preserver, and only recently have I begun the revision process. Getting down the bones of the story (thank you, Natalie Goldberg) required reliving those years, awakening every cell of my being. Channeling my younger self, this first draft was written in present tense. The time has come to revise, to deepen the story with the reflections and perspective of an older, wiser voice.

I wish someone could have photographed my face as I watched my scene of a 1960s music festival come to life as others in the group took on roles of the cannonballing swimmers, festival revelers, my companion, Sheldon, and me. Twined with a re-enactment of a childhood nightmare, the effect was stunning. 3-D. Big. Awe-some.

So what does this have to do with the garden photo here and Ansel Adams quote? The fastest way for me to find my way in to the emotions of a scene, a memory, is with a visual. For this project, it might be one of my father’s carefully crafted black-and-white portraits or a Kodak Instamatic print from my mother’s photo albums. Although I have no photos from the Strawberry Fields music festival, I now have that marvelous episode of the workshop’s live theater on which to focus. The journey back to those emotions is like rappelling down into a dark unknown. Here I go!

Slow Crawl Out of Winter

April 10, 2014

While trying to figure out when and how — and even, if — I would haul myself back into a regular blogging practice, I have also been re-prioritizing my interior life, purging all kinds of stuff that is no longer of use.  The great thing about decluttering is that fresh space appears. A predictable scenario, but thrilling, […]

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One Thing I Know for Sure

October 22, 2013
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Thursdays are the new Saturday

October 17, 2013

Lately I am drawn to Julia Cameron‘s facebook posts, single-line emissions  dense with wisdom, as if they hold the The Ultimate Solution. Of course, every single one is fodder for reflection, a catalyst for assessing and reframing, but it was Wendy Thomas’s post about a recent Writers’ Retreat at a Buddhist center that really rocked […]

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Thank you, Live to Write – Write to Live

September 18, 2013

I am honored to be a guest blogger today, over on Live to Write – Write to Live. Wendy Thomas and I first met at the annual Friends of the Nashua Public Library book sale, or maybe it was one of our Beyond the Book author soirees. In any case, she was covering the event […]

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Knitting Adventure with Stephen West’s Rockefeller Shawl

September 13, 2013

You know my love for geometric, modular, architectural-like knitting, right? We were in the middle of an early summer heat wave when I swooned over the dramatic-looking shawl project on several pairs of needles at my local yarn shop. Thus my introduction to knitwear designer Stephen West and, before I’d taken another breath, I’d committed to knitting […]

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How to Create a Modern Crafting Bee

August 26, 2013

I haven’t read the Laura Ingalls Wilder Little House on the Prairie books in decades, but a happy memory that lives on is the image of women crafting, their hands busy with making things both beautiful and useful. The women are seated around a table, enjoying a break from regular routines as they engage in […]

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When the cheerful need cheering

August 21, 2013

It was one of those lunch dates that, once the day arrived, I really felt as though I shouldn’t leave my desk. My mind was busy with voices saying fingers should stay on the keyboard, be productive not social, etc. But this was to be an unusual celebration: a friend from one facet of my […]

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