Thursday, March 19, 2015

Needing Spring

Winter started out mildly - both literally and figuratively.  Reasonable temps, very little snow, happy moments, holidays and plenty of rest and joy. But, February hit hard -- snow, windchill, work, LIFE. With so much cold and darkness last month, my body and my soul long for spring and the past week has provided hope that warmer weather and happy days are on their way.

This weekend, we had our first real glimpses of spring in DC!  Dave and I took a nice long walk on the W & OD trail and enjoyed dinner on our patio one evening.  Dave wore a short sleeve polo and I wore a light jacket (good bye puffer coat!) to church on Sunday.  It was nice to run errands and not step in melting snow on my way out of the store. I even tried on my Easter dress as a way to celebrate the seasons changing (lovely dress, but PALE legs -- time for some sunless tanner!)

During our Sunday walk, I enjoyed the warm sunshine on my back while the cool breeze ran through my hair. I admired the wildflowers and tulips poking up from the ground and smiled at the kids riding their bikes past me. It seemed that the whole world was outside, enjoying the entrance of spring, celebrating that warm days do indeed follow the cold ones!!

I made a mental note to buy new sunglasses since I plan on spending as much time as I can outdoors over the next couple months.  I daydreamed of taking spring walks/runs each evening after work - AUDIOS gym, I am moving this gig outdoors! But, Dave reminded me that the sun is still setting between 7 and 7:15 so I shouldn't get too ahead of myself.  In a rare moment where I am more optimistic than Dave, I reminded him that sunset will continue to happen later and later, so SOON there will be daylight left for evening walks...we just have to eagerly wait!

The warm weather not only rejuvenated my body, it lifted my soul as well. What is it about the spring that beckons us to hope? The long awaited sunshine encourages us to believe the best about others, ourselves and our circumstances.  If temperatures can warm up, so can our lives, right?  Or at least our attitudes and perspectives. February was a tough month - and in a strange way, I am thankful for the snow and coldness because it forced me to hibernate, recover and rest. But, I am grateful for the past few days hinting at spring's soon arrival. I am looking forward to warm weather, cooler nights, sunshine, flowers peaking out of green grass, birds chirping, and leaves on the trees again!

What I love about living in this area of the country is that I get FOUR distinct seasons. Down south, we get all of the seasons too, but the spring and fall are oh so short and the winter is more rain than snow.  Essentially we have cold and wet or hot and humid with a few glorious fall and spring days separating the two extremes!  Our first year in DC, I remember feeling like I was reading a children's book - with illustrations of each season - except that I got to live out each picture! Hot sweaty summer days, walking through crunchy leaves, snuggling inside during snow storms and flowers peaking out through the snow, welcoming spring to come.

I think it's interesting that God allows us to experience four seasons because each season is representative of life stages and struggles. Of course, our life stages don't always line up with the calendar seasons, but we go through seasons too. Summer brings warmth. blessing and abundance. Even as a kid, we knew that summer was not the norm.  Pool days, beach trips, summer camps, sleeping in and ice cream trucks were wonderful but not the status quo, definitely not sustainable.  Fall reminds us of change and new experiences. Like spring, fall is a season that bids farewell to the old and ushers in the new. It is a time to grow and change and be challenged.  Winter is the least favorite season of many. It has shorter darker days, cold winds and snow storms -- but it also serves as a time of rest and recovery, reminding us that life can be found even in the cold moments. What I like about winter (particularly January and February) is that it gives us an excuse to hibernate and heal when life throws snowstorms our way (or when you are just tuckered out from a busy holiday season!)

But spring may be my favorite season. It is the arrival of NEW and WARM -- new flowers, new baby animals, warm breezes, lots of sunshine, new leaves on the trees! Spring brings life, growth and hope -- all three are things I am eager  to see in my own life. Spring is a time to shed our thick coats and come out into warmer weather. How wonderful that the most hopeful of seasons comes after the darkest one.

So, hurry up spring. Arrive for good. We need you, we patiently wait for you. We will enjoy and adore every wonderful morsel of your warm weather, cool breeze goodness.

(Writer's note: I drafted this earlier this week, but since then, the weather advisory for tomorrow is rain and snow flurries -- that's right, a chance of snow on the first official day of spring. <SIGH>  Luckily, the warmer weather seems to pick back up over the coming week.  Winter will not win. It will not get the best of us. Spring is surely on its way!)

Thursday, March 5, 2015

**SnOw DaY pRePaRaTiOnS!!!***

Today was another snow day- and at last count, we had 6 inches. So definitely nothing life-altering, but enough to shut down schools, the government and most businesses. I know, I know, if you live in Boston or NYC or somewhere that handles the snow a bit better than DC, then you are rolling your eyes at our winter storm panic.  I, however, welcome the hysteria.  The bigger hype a storm gets, the more likely I am to have a cozy day at home. Also, let's be honest:  I am from Mississippi, so the idea of a "winter wonderland" still makes me giddy (although as time goes by, the allure is lessening.....)

Additionally, caution is a good idea since almost no one in DC is from DC, we are from all over! Since this dixie darling can not drive in the snow, I am positive that there are more west coast transplants and southerners like myself who also have no business driving in the powder either!! This isn't a small midwestern town where all the long time locals know how to handle driving - this is DC, the melting pot of America, full of non-experienced snow virgins. It's really safer for us all if we just all take a day off!

So, in honor of our second "snow day" of 2015 - third, if you count a Saturday snow day (which we all know is not as good.....), here is some advice on preparing for a snow day:
  • Visit redbox and check out one more than you think you will watch, just to be safe. I would advise that you reserve your dvd's through the website and pick them up on your way home from work on the day before the suspected snow day - or you may arrive at the kiosk and find that the best choices are already gone! Also, make sure you rent options from different categories -- suspense, comedy, drama. Options are your friends!!
  • Beer, wine and groceries run.  Sometimes this is not necessary - after all, it's usually just one day at home - and you probably already have groceries - but if you plan on cooking a special snow day meal, making snow day ice cream, or enjoying warm treats like cocoa or soup, make sure to pick these items up.
  • Pick out the comfiest pair of sweatpants and fuzzy socks. It doesn't have to be fancy - or even flattering, just comfy.
  • Have a good book saved on your Kindle.
  • If you already know you are off work, then turn your alarm off.  If not, set it, wake up and check your company email for updates then roll over and go back to sleep.
  • Pull your windshield wipers up so that they don't get buried under snow.
  • Have wintery scented candles on hand.  If you don't have a fireplace, then you might as well enjoy a little mood lighting and cozy smell while bunkering down.
  • Find someone to spend it with--- although some time alone is grand, if you have roomies or friends that live nearby.  Unfortunately, none of our friends live in our apartment complex, but luckily I have Dave to snuggle up with!
  • Scrape the snow from your car windows at the end of the snow day -- it makes the next morning a lot more enjoyable!

I do love a good snow day -- but I love spring more.  Hopefully, she will make her arrival soon, but until then, I hope that if we have to endure cold temps, we at least get to enjoy time off of work!

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

What I Did Not Do

So, from the outside looking in, I FAILED at my February goals...and although I love the idea of setting and meeting goals, of keeping myself accountable and on track -- sometimes I just have to accept that life gets crazy and busy and hectic -- and some months are just about surviving! This was one of those months - the perfect storm of personal stress, work stress, unwelcome surprises, sickness to make me say "forget it" to my list. I had to deal with life as it came - and not the life I had planned for the month.

I had 6 goals this month: get a big chunk of our bedroom decorating finished, work out 3 times a week (at least), read one book (at least), take time to make some family goals, organize and don't over commit!

Things I successfully did of that list: ...(birds chirping).... HARDLY ANYTHING.  Although I did accomplish PARTS of goals -- like reading half of 3 different books, working out daily for the first week or hanging a few pictures.

Wait, I had one success --I did not over commit! Most of the month, time outside of work was spent resting and surviving except for the last few days of February which were saturated with commitments and work projects and engagements (all previously planned or out of my control!)

This month was completely unproductive (at least in the way I had originally planned) - and you know what? I am 100 percent okay with my uncompleted to do list. Sometimes we need discipline, order, goals, to do lists - and sometimes we need grace. This month, I needed grace - and rest. So that's what I gave myself :) BUT February was not wasted. It was filled to the brim with joy, disappointment, blessings, heartache, prayer, growth and rest!

So I didn't accomplish my 6 goals this month, but here's what I did do:
  • prayed, lots of praying
  • read- I did not finish a book, but I enjoyed going back and forth between the 3 I am reading
  • binge watched "Brothers and Sisters"
  • completed a few house projects - framing prints, painting a monogram 
  • went to bed early most nights
  • traveled to State College, PA to see the world's cutest nephews and my sweet sister
  • dove into scripture daily
  • cooked a couple new recipes
  • ate (too many) girl scout cookies
  • enjoyed wine and cocktails and a couple dinners out with friends
  • spent lots of time holding hands with my sweet guy
  • drove an hour away to get a Sonic drink
  • took my nephew to eat ice cream in negative temps because he wanted "chocat ice cream with chocat sprinkles"
  • sipped on vanilla lattes during snow days
  • gave myself my first "Jamberry" pedicure
  • donated old clothes to charity
  • took lots of warm baths 
  • cried a lot, but also laughed a lot
  • spent time talking to my sweet husband about the future
  • dreamed
So, there you have it: February 2015 - a crazy month with no rules, no accomplishments, but still FULL. Sometimes the most happens to you when you aren't busy trying to accomplish anything!

And in case you were wondering, my goals for MARCH:

(1) Get back into my gym routine after a 2 week break.
(2) Work on bedroom decorations
(3) Finish at least one book!
(4) Have a fun date night or day trip with my husband
(5) Cook 1 new recipe.