At the end of each month, I take stock of the previous month. What went well? What did I learn? What brought me a simple joy? These monthly reports are a way to encourage myself to take delight in the littlest of things. I find that Ten Things I Loved allows me to always see the silver lining, even when there are hard moments in a month. And taking joy in the simple things is paramount to how I want to live, making 10 things an invaluable tool for me. Here’s this month’s simple pleasures.
visionSPARK. By now, visionSPARK has become as much of a new year ritual to me as choosing a word for the year and creating a vision board. I LOVE the wonderful synergy in the room as everyone works together to claim their intentions for their lives and then thoughtfully captures that vision with a word and a vision board. This year, I did four visionSPARK workshops and they each were so unique but I think exactly right for the people who were there.
I Will Be Ignited Manifesto. My word for the year showed that I had big expectations and I felt it was important to sit down and really capture what those expectations looked like. While I did that some in my vision board, I wanted to really articulate it in a manifesto that I could use as a guide and a reminder.
The Beautiful You Manifesto. Well, once you write one manifesto, you pretty much want to pen 100. Or I did. So I penned a Beautiful You manifesto that I hope will serve as a powerful reminder to all of us.
New Body Image Class. It’s a new semester which means I have a new group of students. And though we have only been together for four weeks, I love them already. They are earnest and thoughtful and funny and that’s just the right mix when you have to hang out together for 3 hours on Friday mornings. Lucky me.
New Class Captains. Circle de Luz will be welcoming the Class of 2021 into our program this fall. The cornerstone of every new class are the three adult leaders who craft their journey and serve as the primary mentors to the girls during their six years in the program. We have been so incredibly blessed with our amazing, generous leaders so far and the same is true for our newest class of leaders who committed to the journey this month. Dance of joy and gratitude.
Some good reads. After I finished The Language of Flowers in November (which was my favorite 2014 book), I fell off the book wagon. That was partially because of a busy December but also because sometimes I just want to sit with a good book after I have finished it. It’s like rebounding. If you immediately start dating after a break-up with a great person, well, there’s just no way that new person can compare, right? It’s the same with books for me. So I didn’t read a book in December. But I read three books that I really enjoyed in January and so now I can say that I am officially back in the saddle. Wanna know what was on my bedside table in January?
No Place to Fall by Jaye Robin Brown. This is a YA book that I tore through in two days. It follows a young singer who lives in a small mountain town in western North Carolina who has the opportunity to try out for a fine arts boarding school in Winston-Salem (the same school where a friend of mine’s child is enrolled right now). Her family members’ lives are complicated and imploding and the question is whether or not she’ll get ensnared in the shrapnel or make it out. As a Carolina/immigrant/ small town girl and a former high school teacher watching our Circle de Luz girls navigate that same question of what is possible in their lives, this book really tugged at my heart.
After I’m Gone by Laura Lippman. First, full disclosure: this one wasn’t really on my bookstand. I listened to the audiobook while commuting to the university—which Lippman’s books are perfect for because I get absolutely engrossed and, thus, find the 40 minute drive too short. Moreover, Lippman’s audiobook narrator is just great (the same actress does most of Lippman’s book and I have totally bagged audiobooks based off the sound of the narrator’s voice). All of Lippman’s novels (well, the ones I have read and I bet I’ve read 10) are complex, compelling mysteries and this one didn’t disappoint. The central mystery is who murdered a former stripper trying to make good almost 10 years after her married suitor disappeared to escape jail time. A surprising, satisfying ending.
The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte. I’ve been choosing a word for the year since I was a high school teacher (so many moons ago) and am always really focused on intentionality so this book with its focus on claiming how you want to feel in your life was a great read that really resonated. My sister and brother-in-law treated me to it for Christmas, and they made a great call. The book is divided into two parts—the first part is LaPorte’s theory around core desired feelings and why they matter and the second part is a workbook to help you focus on your core desired feelings. I’ve read part one and am starting now on part two. Core desired feelings, here I come.
Paddington. Happy had been counting down the days to this movie’s release for MONTHS. Fortunately, it didn’t disappoint.
Souper Bowl. More than a decade ago, I was involved with forming a new non-profit initiative, HAMMERS, to provide emergency home repairs for low-income families in our area. One of the most important efforts for any new non-profit initiative is coming up with funding, and the signature fundraiser for HAMMERS melded four of my favorite concepts: football, soup, art, and live music. Souper Bowl always happens the Saturday before the Super Bowl and features local restaurants competing for best soup in a variety of categories. While folks eat and vote for their favorite soups, they enjoy live music from local musicians or A cappella groups and can bid on art work (especially bowls from wood turners and potters) from some great local artists. I no longer chair HAMMERS (motherhood and Circle de Luz came along and HAMMERS was in a great place for transition) but this organization is still so important to me and Souper Bowl is always a must. This year’s soup did not disappoint. My absolute favorite was a creamy zucchini but a spicy kale stew called Kale Mary (get the football pun?) was a very close second for me.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration. The local college had a lovely King Day celebration for elementary aged kids, and Happy loved participating in it.
Getting out more. BF and I are both introverted with strong homebody tendencies but we’ve pushed ourselves to get out more and have tried some new (to us) restaurants, enjoyed theatre in Charlotte (thanks, Donna Scott Productions), and caught up with friends.