January.

A fresh start. A new page. Frantic energy and the hint of a rhythm emerging. Snow, sunshine,  observances of nature, loss, and electricity.

These were the elements of my month.

What I Read  (& Listened To) In January:

10 books this month, a good mixture of topics, with some beginning-of-the-year themes of discovery, renewed intention and building the life you want, along with a few inspiring podcasts.

The Bone Witch surprised me with its unique take on a magic-wielder who isn’t what society wants, set against the backdrop of a rich culture that appears inspired by ancient Japan. This was an unintentional but lovely counterpart to The Shogun’s Queenan exploration not of fantastic magic but of the power of women in an ancient kingdom and how battles were fought both inside and outside of the palace.

Unbound exceeded my expectations and connected with me in many ways I didn’t expect, and I plan to revisit it again in the next few weeks. Present Over Perfect gave me some good things to consider what I look at how I spend my time, how I structure my leisure and work hours, and why I do what I do, the way I do. And The Year Of Less was a beautiful, personal tale by my friend Cait about learning to live with less in so many parts of life, and how it’s actually opened the door to more. Her story resonated with me and made me think more clearly about how I want to approach 2018

Upstream gave me a Sunday of distraction rooted in nature’s bounty, although I found I prefer Oliver’s poetry to (at least this collection of) prose. The Blue Fox was an enjoyable fable, and I found it’s telling to be clever. And The Wolf Border, while not what I expected, made me ruminate on life, nature, freedom, and motherhood in ways I hadn’t in some time.

Not pictured for no reason other than I didn’t date them correctly in my GoodReads reading tracker – I also enjoyed A Treacherous Curse and How to Hygge.

I also enjoyed Nicole Antoinette’s Real Talk Radio podcast in which she shared her experience hiking the Arizona Trail, and the Dirtbag Diaries The Year of Big Ideas 2018.

One of my goals in January was to create the skeleton of a workable daily routine. One in which I feel I have enough time to hit my big goals — work, create, recreate, spend time outside — without feeling frantic or crowded.

I didn’t do a great job, at least not in the first few weeks. I made almost zero progress on my novel in January. I still had a few weeks of feeling frantic, without enough time to truly set the boundaries I want between work & play or to complete projects and tasks with a greater amount of buffer.

But, I did accomplish a few steps in the right direction, saying No to two new opportunities that I could have easily said Yes to, overcoming fear and holding my first webinar for some friends interested in dōTERRA, getting back to a more consistent cardio practice, and being more consistent in preparing food at home.

We’ll see how February goes.

Living Small

A few things I’ve learned as we continue to settle into this lifestyle.

Real Life Skills are invaluable. So is battery power. When we unexpectedly lost power on a Tuesday night due to a failure of our main electric input, my husband’s knowledge of systems allowed us to find the problem, and within 24 hours we were back up and running. In the meantime, it was nice to have a home equipped with batteries to keep us sufficiently powered and warm enough on a cold winter’s night. I’m not saying I’m confident enough to tackle a major electrical problem myself, but living as we do has brought me much closer to the reality of problem-solving and self-sufficiency than living in a “regular” house ever has.

Only The Best (for me). I’ve noticed an increasing awareness of what I bring into the Airstream and what I use. It’s been so helpful as I continue to downsize my closet, my kitchen, and my “stuff” to create a collection of things that I love to wear, use, and enjoy.

Bringing The Outside In. I enjoyed How To Hygge much more than any other books or articles I’ve read about this Nordic trend, and resonated with the emphasis on getting out and enjoying nature, no matter the weather. One thing I love about our Airstream in the forest is how much I feel and notice the outdoors, even when I’m inside. Without the insulating effect of thick walls, big furniture, and multiple rooms heated by a steady furnace, I’m instead focused on what’s around me. Perhaps it’s the deer walking through the woods and down the driveway as they do each day, or the fall of snow or rain on the skylight, or the bright moonlight that wakes me at night through large windows, casting its silver shadow across the snowy forest floor. Even when I’m not outside, I feel so much more present in the wild, and it’s something that I didn’t expect to love about the small lifestyle.

The Circle Of Life.

Mid-way through the month, on the 13th to be precise, I woke and looked outside to see our beloved rescue rabbit Peach lying quietly on the snow. Sometime in the night, she was swiftly (we think) killed by an owl (we suspect).

It’s so very hard to lose pets. Not as hard as losing people, of course, and different in the way we react and respond and grieve, but still very much a difficult loss. We’ve always tried to give our pets the best possible life. For the rabbits, Peach & Zelda (who remains with us, to all external observation unaware of any change…), this means not confining them to a small confined space, but giving them a (still protected) fenced in area where they could run, jump, and binky about. (If you’ve never seen a rabbit binky — you’re missing out. Google it. You’re welcome.)

The tradeoff that we accepted was greater exposure — to passing animals, predators, even the weather and falling snow. But we opted to take the chance, knowing they could duck inside for much protection, and the fenced area would provide an additional layer of defense. We didn’t think about predators coming from the sky. So we said farewell to Peach, with tears and regret, but knowing she lived a life of love and adventure while she was with us.

It’s interesting to observe how we fall into patterns. I’m not certain if my response is tied to the fact that I was mid-load of laundry when I learned my mom had died suddenly, but since then, my first major grief, every time I’m faced with a loss or a death of some kind, I instantly begin to clean. The desire to put into order that which can never be ordered may also be a factor.

We’ll miss you, Peach-pants. Thanks for bringing us some joy and so many smiles while you were with us. We tried to love you well.

What did you discover in January? Do you have a podcast, a good read, or a piece of gear to recommend? I’d love to hear about it.

 

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