Slow is Free

I was walking the neighborhood, and saw some friends outside, so stopped to say hello. One had a question about tea filters, and the best method for loose-leaf teas. When describing the type bag I use, her husband began nodding his head, like he could envision what I’d described. He said, “I’ll just order some off Amazon and they’ll be here tomorrow, or maybe even tonight!” Everyone chuckled.

In January of this year, I stopped ordering from Amazon. Delivery is fast, but I was hugely disappointed in the quality of product. What I’d ordered looked as if it had been opened and for all I know, could have been used.

This made me look at other areas of my life in which I was paying for fast, and PayPal was another. To move money from PayPal into another account was immediate, for a price. They take a percentage of the money moved, which bothered me to no end, considering PayPal did nothing to earn the money. I was paying for convenience. You can move it for free, but they warn it may take 1-3 business days, but the money shows up in 24 hours.

Free takes more time. It helps is to pay attention and take note when you’re running out of something. To order it ahead of time and not pay an extra fee for fast, because slow is free, in more ways than one.

My Happy Place

There’s a place 15 minutes away, drive time, that feeds my soul. You need places like this in your life, and if you don’t have one, I encourage you to find it.

The sun was shining, but the air felt cool. It was day three of wearing the same jeans, but that’s the day you barely feel them on your skin. They fit so well the day before wash day. I added a snug fitting t-shirt, and a cable knit sweater for warmth. Slipped on some well-worn sneakers, and headed out the door.

When I arrived at Hill Country Water Gardens, I walked into the gardens and stood there, taking in the sounds around me. The sound of water splashing, birds singing, and the crunch of the sand as people walked by were the most prominent. A man who worked there saw me and said, “Good morning. How are you?” I grinned and replied, “I’m happy.” He smiled as if we shared the same secret.

My happy place specializes in outdoor water gardens, but they sell plants and pots as well. Every display is a presentation, and they sell work by local artist’s.

This face is at least 5 feet tall.

They winterize the fountains, and shut the water off in the cold season, but on this day, they had some running. My feet followed the sound of running water and splashing until I stood in what resembled an outdoor amphitheater of fountains. These weren’t on display yet. I’m thinking it’s where they stored them for the winter, and were just now testing them for leaks while letting them run. Each fountain had it’s own tone, but together they were a full ensemble. There was a child twirling in the midst of them like a mini ballerina.

The space felt like a sanctuary where the fountains were waking up after a deep sleep. Another employee walked by and said, “Good morning! How are you?” The same response came out of my mouth, “I’m happy.” She smiled and nodded in agreement, as I went on to share, “This is my happy place.”

The First Hour

The dogs know when they see me flip over the sand timer, I’m going to tap the keys for 30 minutes. That’s how long the sand will run, and about as long as I’m good sitting in one spot. I remember when I first started Blogging, I could sit here for hours, and the posts were long. That changed over time. Maybe time revealed how valuable it is. It the one thing we spend that will not return, so try to use it wisely.

I woke up early this morning and it was still dark outside. I didn’t dare turn on the bedside lamp, or the dogs would think it was time to get up. They don’t move until they see the new day streaming in through the windows. It’s cloudy, so the day was here without them knowing it. I sat in darkness and listened to the stillness of the house. I could hear warm air coming in through the vents and was grateful for heat. I knew if I pulled the chain of the lamp beside me, it would illuminate the room, so I was grateful for electricity. There were many things to be grateful for, even the bed I was sitting on, blanketed in warmth.

Leo Babauta says, “There’s a deliciousness to the early morning.” We get to choose to roll out of bed and dive into the day, or wake up early to greet it. The first hour is sacred, and sets the tone for the rest of day.

I walked through the house, lit a candle, and made a cup of coffee. There is one lamp burning brightly as I sit at my desk and type. A nearby clock is ticking more loudly than my typing, but the house remains still. The sand timer has emptied, but I’m not ready to move just yet, because once I do, the house will spring to life. Thank you for sitting here with me in this stillness of the first hour.

The Throw Away

I don’t really know how old he is. I asked him once, “When is your birthday?”, and he looked at me and said, “Now Barbara…that’s just rude!”

I wasn’t asking to figure out his age. Just thought it would be kind to drop him a birthday card in his mailbox. This man is my neighbor and somewhat of a Guru. If I ever have a question about everyday life, I ask him because he will have an answer. If he doesn’t know the answer, he will find it.

There are clues of a well lived life. As of now, he lives alone with a couple of dogs, but get him talking about his past, and he refers to, ‘We’, so there was a ‘we’. He was in the Navy, and still has a love for the water. He used to own a boat, but I feel something tragic happened because he sold it, and doesn’t like to talk about it. When I tell him, “Mr. M, you have an answer for everything!”, he says, “No Barbara, I’ve just been here longer.” I’ve lived beside this man for almost 4 years, and still don’t know how old he is.

After Christmas I excitedly reported to Mr. M that my daughter gave me a cordless drill, so he wouldn’t have to walk over with his every time something needed fixing. He shared his philosophy with me about drills. He hasn’t invested in a new one in years, so the ones he buys are considered throw aways. They only last a year, or two if you get a good one. They’re refurbished and he picks one up at the junk shop for $20 as needed. I know he’s getting up in age, but it’s like he didn’t want to outlive a drill.

He’s looked at the really nice ones at the home improvement stores, but they’re expensive and an investment. What we invest into this life, determines the quality in which we get to live. That day we were having this conversation while sitting on his front porch, but as I stood to leave I told him…”Mr. M, it’s okay if your drill outlives you.” I saw him a month later, and he proudly showed me his new Ryobi drill.

Stay True to You

Over the weekend I was sitting on my bed recording a Marco Polo for my friend, and showing her some things I’d done to my room to make it more Haven-like. She Marco Polo’s me back saying she loved the flowers on the bedside table, and noticed I’ve had fresh flowers in my room for the past few weeks. My friend vowed to buy fresh flowers for herself at least once a month, and I encouraged her to do so.

In the Winter months I need a vase of flower’s in the house because I miss tending to the flower beds outdoors. I took care of them last Spring and Summer, but now they’re empty waiting for Spring. I miss getting my hands covered in dirt, so much so, I repotted an herb today using the kitchen sink. My daughter walked by slowly, but I was quick to admit, “There might be a bag of dirt in the kitchen, and I might be repotting a plant in the kitchen sink.” She just grinned and encouraged me to continue.

It’s important to do these small things for ourselves, especially in the Winter months. It’s our true self wondering why these things are suddenly missing from our everyday life. It’s a change in season, and fortunately for us, seasons do change.

An empty Voluspa candle container being used as a vase.

If you miss the season of ‘in bloom’, then by all means buy yourself some flowers and stay true to you.

A Blanket of Calm

It’s cold in Texas. My laptop says it’s 27 degrees outdoors, and to some states, that isn’t cold, but for Texas it’s cold.

The title of this post came to mind earlier this week, but I don’t know what to write. I live my life wrapped in a blanket of calm, and have written about calmness, but to sit down and share how to achieve it, the words are few. My life is so calm that my daughter gave me this magnet for Christmas as a joke, but it’s really not that life is calm. I’ve just learned to remain calm in this life.

To harness calm depends quite a bit on our environment. What and who we share our space with. To have calm, we need to practice having it, and display it in our daily life. My life hasn’t always been calm, but it was one of the most important elements I craved after my divorce. The quote by Winston Churchill comes to mind, “If you’re going through hell, keep going.” Disruptions are temporary, and there’s calm on the other side.

Blankets are prevalent in our home. They’re stored in a cubby in the den and laying at the foot of each bed. Earlier this week I just needed to envelope myself in warmth, so I grabbed a blanket, wrapped it around my shoulders, and immediately felt the warmth of calm. Give it a try.

I pray for your world to be covered by a blanket of calm.

Extraordinary Moments

I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments. They’re right in front of me when I pause and look. I was making a cup of tea for my daughter and me, and this is how I happened to sit the cups on the cutting board. Once the tea was finished steeping, I snapped this pic.

Tea_for_two

This happens often in my life. Things line up and the photo looks staged, but instead it’s called living with intention. To pay attention to detail. Everything that comes before the moment is what makes the moment extraordinary. When I showed this photo to my daughter, she said, “It’s so esthetically pleasing.” Usually what’s pleasing to the eye is like water for the soul, or it should be in my opinion.

I was listening to my Right to Write course, by Julia Cameron, and she was talking about having writing stations. Different spaces throughout the house to sit and write, depending on the mood. I have those, but not only for writing. I have spaces that soothe me, and each one has a different feel. One of my favorite spaces is the middle of my bed. Sometimes, in the evening I sit there and write after a long day.

One afternoon, I was sitting in the middle of my bed, on a Zoom, when my attention drifted away from the screen over to the corner of the room.

That corner of the room was being bathed in golden light, but for me it felt like another extraordinary moment.

Beauty and Goodness

You’ve heard the saying, “Buy experiences, not things.” I don’t buy a lot of things, but what I do buy offers an experience.

I drove across town for a candle.

That’s the way I live my life. I’ve written about this candle a few times over at Letitgocoach, and know from past experience how magical they are. It doesn’t take much thought before hopping in my truck, and driving toward the display. There’s only one shop nearby that sells them, but it’s worth the drive.

Voluspa has created an experience in the shape of a candle. The box itself is stunning, and the container it’s poured in is a treasure. The store didn’t have this particular candle out of the box on display, and I soon found out why. Upon opening the box to take a peak, it was sealed and I couldn’t see the candle.

Voluspa

It’s difficult to buy things sight unseen, but I was willing to take a chance. This candle is designed to emanate beauty and goodness, and I cannot recall a time I’ve been disappointed after buying one. The heart knows what it wants without any evidence, and it always believes in beauty and goodness.