Welcome Yule

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It’s no secret, the change of seasons influences us all profoundly. No matter how hard we work to maintain a constant environment with regulated temperatures, a ready light source and an abundant variety of food to suit every taste, stepping outside our chosen hives of activity we confront the day before us.

The Winter Solstice  arrives December 21 at 11:28 am. EST. Take a breath. Here in New England the air is crisp and dry. The sun has a different slant. The colors have begun leeching from the landscape, leaving only the evergreens. A flurry has left behind a tidal wash of snowy icing here and there.

There it is. Winter is here. This is the Shortest Day. The time for Revelling is at its peak!

Change, I’ve often written, is our only constant. Take comfort in this one sure thing. Some may despair while others celebrate. We cope and hope and look to the new day. May you praise the moments of light, embrace the warmth in the presence of caring individuals, feel all the way to your bones the music of the season and cherish the moments of stillness in the aftermath.

When the festivities fade let the curtain close, take the time to replenish your energies and gather the fuel to grow and renew your forward motion.

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Do No Harm  

“Let us read, and let us dance; these two amusements will never do any harm to the world.”  Voltaire

Compassion and kindness are not soft, they are strengths. We need them in our personal lives and in community. We need to show ourselves that same compassion. The internal critic can be a harsh taskmaster and deflecting it onto others to avoid its judgement does not relieve the pressure, it only tarnishes us further.

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Be Here Now

“I am a beginner on the path”  Ram Dass

After the big moments are ended, avoid the letdown by looking for the small moments. Cherish with gratitude the ordinary. We’re granted the reliability of a perpetually turning Planet Earth. There is a reason to celebrate this quiet victory: find it and savor it.

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Give the Gift of Time

“Hope springs eternal”  Alexander Pope

According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac our winter will be very very cold but without much snow. We shall find out in due course. I may have to declare a few personal “snow days”  because I cherish the enforced time of stopping in winter. To be fallow is not idleness. We all need time to let the noise pass through us and allow deep knowledge to settle. Experience the simple beauty of nature to emerge refreshed and inspired.

I’m full of quotes today!`From the recesses of my brain I pull this out. It’s The Sound of Music.  “Nothing comes from, Nothing ever could”  Richard Rodgers

Do something good for someone. Make it a practice for the New Year.

Happy Solstice, Happy Holidays to all.

Welcome Yule!!

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With Love and Hope,

Claire

All Photos by Claire Mauro

P.S. May you experience a true Jolabokaflod –  a Book Flood of reading to light the winter darkness.

 

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On the Sillyside of the Street

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Beary on the Common

There’s been a lot of justifiable seriousness to women’s conversations lately, aka the entire year, aka a lifetime. The relentless triggering of past trauma is a drain on our energies and real block to forward momentum in our lives. Sometimes no amount of mindful techniques, nature walks or power boot camp gym time will work for very long. If you can’t sit still for spa-like self care, what’s the alternative?

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Lizzie and Me

That’s when it’s time for a walk on the sillyside. This is a free practice- it needs no alcohol, chocolate, expensive clothes or elaborate props. Sustained laughter with a willing companion who can see the humor in the ordinary is the most valuable commodity. Being able to have a whimsical or offbeat take on the travails of daily life is a skill vastly underrated in the competitive world adults must dwell in.

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Pottery Magic

Women today are very careful to project the professionalism that creates the proper boundary in a world too eager to capitalize on weakness, shortcomings and embarrassing moments for personal gain. When can we relax when social occasions can turn into one up-womanship with questions about how many children, work responsibilities, hours on the job, number of high profile clients, etc.

Please, must we go there?

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King Arthur Flour on the Road — biggest spatula?

A trusted friend who knows how to laugh with you rather than at you is the most precious commodity today. I have a dear friend who always greets my phone call with smile in her voice. The occasional costume opportunity or themed party food are embraced with exuberance. We feel safe dropping our guard and quickly our conversation becomes high volume, punctuated with hearty laughs. When we get into the car for a road trip oftentimes we are laughing so much we miss our exit and have to double back or take elaborate detours. Turning our latest family concerns or work frustrations into humorous anecdotes allows us to gain perspective and move into a more joyful frame of mind.

A quirky sense of gentle fun is often stock-in-trade in the children’s book world. Childhood favorites have the advantage of being familiar and yielding fresh insights. Ann Hood illustrates this well in her memoir, Morningstar. Treasured books from young childhood have a special pleasure. When we long for a kinder, simpler world we can find it again in the wonder of experiencing the world with new eyes. Very often it’s stories about animals embodying human traits that give a child permission to be true to themselves. One favorite such book is The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf. Sometimes it’s about reaching for the future, as in Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls. By connecting to the values we teach children we can restore our sense of hope for the future of the adult world to come.

Joyfully,

Claire

P.S. When December arrives I’ll be in line to see the animated version of Leaf’s tale, Ferdinand. How will it compare to the 1938 Disney classic, Ferdinand the Bull?

What’s your favorite sillyside practice??

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Book covers from publishers. Photos by Claire Mauro

 

Maker Mind

Harvest Chicken SOup

Harvest Chicken Soup

Gathering the Harvest in the Autumn is a ritual joy, a riot of color with red apples, deep orange pumpkins, yellow gourds and green cold weather vegetables. They also are most commonly local, fresh picked and very tasty. Take advantage of that anyway you can.

There’s a contentment that comes with being in tune with the cycle of the seasons. At the harvest we can focus on collecting the abundance to enjoy while the gardens and farms recover their energies for the next round.

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Late Harvest Assortment

Collecting our thoughts and reflections on the season of action just passed is another aspect of this process. For me initial reflections have led to drawing upon my root values and passions. In my outreach work I strive to provide a viewpoint and some action steps for those who are seeking them. I’ve come to see it’s a starting point for change. Community is not one voice but many voices and there has to be variety to hear what’s true for you.

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Applesauce

Creative thinking is one aspect of the need for connection, one that opens up conversation. Another is moving the body. Movement for physical health and when done ina group as an act of social harmony is essential. In addition, I believe making work by hand is an important means for the mind and body to work together on a manageable scale. Cooking is the most elemental of the maker activities I thrive on. During the harvest there’s a lot of that. What I miss I’m discovering is my art studio. It’s been left fallow for some time now and rather than disband it, I feel the need to take it up again in new ways.

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Bee and Flower

I see how collaboration is bound up in all my work. For example, I enjoy writing for The Parsley Way, but miss the collaborative aspects of it, the give and take, the inspiration of conversation and good company. I’d love to find some writers to share the positive message of the Parsley Way –  and encourage you to write something that reflects the spirit of this work. I’d love to share Your Voice with any readers here.

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Earthly Beets

The studio is another important place of collaboration. I’m revisiting a lot of past work and exploring new paths because this too is integral to my practice. I may be posting less often as I get deeper into some new directions. If you want to get more in touch with your creative handwork I welcome you to contact me for guidance and shared encouragement.

With our natural segue from the growing season we can plant some bulbs as a down payment on the distant spring. Right now it’s time to gather in the abundance of the garden and store it away to drawn upon over the winter.

Many hands make light work.

Ms Lizzie Cat

know what to do with your time

“Know what to do with your time”  

 

READ

Never Coming Back by Alison McGhee for a searing look into the mother-daughter relationship. See my review on Goodreads for more.

Happy October to All!

 

All photos Claire Mauro

N.B. Use the comment section to let me know your interest and ideas; list your contact info- I will keep it private.

 

 

 

A Cup of Tea

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Balance, energy, positivity- who doesn’t want that? This month take the time to connect to what you know to be your core strengths. Instead of the tired clichés how about some old fashioned FUNdamentals?

Simple luxuries on a snowy day have the added charm of being crafted creatively. Never mind that our heart’s desire is available by virtual reality, this is about hands-on simple pleasures. Savor the warmth in your hands circling a steaming cup of tea, float a slice of orange on the surface and inhale the citrusy goodness. Hover over the toaster waiting for the last slice of cinnamon raisin toast – that satisfying pop! when it’s done is music to the ears.

Your senses are free, my friend, make use of them! Whatever your winter landscape, snow and ice or sun and sand, suspend your caretaking of your future self, the dictates of the metaphorical rainy day, and be here now

How do we know anyway, that the person we will be when that rainy day comes will need what we have so carefully put by?

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Reading together — my Aunt Rae and Me

My love of books today came from the simple pleasure of childhood. The walk to library, one hand on the carriage as mom pushed my sleeping sister along the sidewalk, was a treat to be celebrated with a bit of skipping. I can see in my mind’s eye the child-sized chairs with the woven seats, carefully placed beside the shelf of picture books under the eaves of the old library. I loved nothing more than to sit as close as possible, examining the book covers for clues to the riches inside. Being read to and later reading myself, was a joy discovered early.

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While the holiday stack is long depleted the thirst for more is never slaked. New titles crowd my inbox and my personal room of requirement overflows.

We have what we need if we only know what that is. In my case it is Ali Smith’s public library and other stories  the always inventive, unexpected and thrilling nature of her characterizations reveals us to ourselves.

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Smith has taken the occasion of the advent of the all-volunteer library to enthrall me once again. Her sheer genius of burrowing into a character and drawing us into their world in the most spare and artful ways is always satisfying. She serves up a dozen stories and the offerings are interwoven with notable quotes on the value and expansiveness of a public space so rich in opportunity for all ages, the reminder makes one swoon, then rush off to borrow some books!

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In the aftermath of the latest snowfall- oh what a glorious silence! The tree branches are frozen, their icy crustings barely quivering with the undercurrent of wind. Holding still is the way to perceive the movement around me. A single leaf dances erratically while all its companions appear to stand rigid. The more still I am the more tiny movement I see until whole limbs and slender trunks are swaying in the woods before me.

Gather the stillness, wrap it like a cloak and take it with you through your day.

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Happy Valentine’s Day to All!

For more of my book reviews, check out goodreads.com

As usual All photos Claire Mauro

 

Winds of Change

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A Big Thank You to all who read along with The Parsley Way. The winds of change are blowing and even we are affected. With Chris stepping away for a while Claire will be re-evaluating the site, its aims and the content.

Creativity, Kindness and Nurturing continue to be the foundation on which our wellness practices are built. I hope we’ve illustrated some pleasing ways to bring them into your life. Maybe you’ve experimented and found a new and satisfying practice. Maybe you’ve re-discovered or re-invigorated a long-standing interest. It’s OK to take time at the beginning of the year to be discerning. Notice where you are directing your attention. Ask: what actually calls to me, enlivens my day, lifts up my perspective?

Use all your senses to get the most pleasure from your day. Take comfort in the familiar tasks and delight in the unexpected. Yes, delight — the unexpected may introduce friction into your well-ordered existence but it also opens an opportunity. Embrace it! And breathe deep.

2017, Happy New Year!

Tomatoes Zucchini and Broccoli OH MY!

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The backyard harvest of our vegetable garden has been steady all of August. Labor Day was awash with tomatoes. There is nothing more satisfying to the home gardener than an abundance of produce. There is no better way to start a conversation than to comment on the weather and how it effects the garden. Having “too many” is a badge of honor. Early on our cucumbers and zucchini tested our powers of culinary creativity. We’ve made a lot of refrigerator pickles and oodles of zoodles! Continue reading