When I realized today was International Storytelling Day, I immediately knew I wanted to participate, by way of my blog post. After all, story is my word for 2018, my theme for the year. I mulled over stories that came to mind. There are many I could tell, from humorous tales to magical encounters to stories that would make you sleep with the lights on. And yet, I knew really, what I would share…something close to my heart. It is a story about friendship.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

As I was writing in my journal last week, answering memoir questions from It’s Never Too Late To Begin Again, for ages 5-10, this question came up: Describe a close friend.

I thought of Jamie. The very first friend I remember having was a boy named Larry, when I was about three. We were great buddies. But Larry moved away with his family while we were still preschoolers. The person I considered my best childhood friend was Jamie. She was my next door neighbor, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, living with her parents, older brother Randy and younger sister Carrie. Randy was actually my age, and Jamie a year younger, placing her in between me and my younger sister Linda, age wise. And Carrie and my little sister Debbie were the same age.

The six of us played together frequently. Often, however, the two youngest children entertained each other, leaving us four older kids free to go on adventures or join together with the other kids in the neighborhood, playing hide and seek or riding our bikes around the block.

Jamie A Story About Friendship This newspaper clipping shows me, Linda, Randy and Jamie posing in front of a busted water line in our neighborhood.

Jamie and I entered into an easy friendship that lasted throughout our childhood, and as I wrote about her, on March 12, 2018, I noted that she was my closest friend during those years.

We had many things in common, Jamie and I. We were both the oldest girls in our families, we loved animals and felt a sense of compassion and responsibility for them, we went to the same school, one grade apart, played our favorite pretend game…school…together, and teamed up for sports. We were January babies, with my birthday on the 9th, and hers on the 15th, making us one year and six days apart. And we both had surgeries to remove benign tumors from our bodies, during our childhoods. Jamie had a tumor in her chest. I had one on my right leg. Both surgeries were a success.

We had so many fun adventures together, had sleep overs during which we talked all night. We played board games, wrote plays to perform in the backyard, hosted carnivals and held neighborhood fairs. We organized an exercise club, that didn’t last long, swam at the local pool, climbed trees and talked about everything under the sun.

After completing sixth grade, I moved to Missouri with my mom and sisters. It was very difficult to leave my childhood friends, especially Jamie. We had grown up together and shared so many dreams for the future. My last night in Tulsa, I spent the night with Jamie. We vowed to remain friends.

Jamie A Story About Friendship The only photo I could find of Jamie during our childhood. This slightly out of focus pic shows Randy and Jamie, seated on the porch, with me kneeling in front. We found a baby squirrel on the ground, built a cage and took turns caring for it until it could take care of itself.

I did see Jamie several times during our teen years, when I returned to Tulsa during the summer months to visit my dad. We made the most of those infrequent chats, catching up on our journeys. The thing I remember most about Jamie during those years was that she was in a hurry to grow up. She was eager to be an adult and get on with her life, which at that time meant finding the right young man, getting married and having a family of her own. Being teenaged girls, we talked about boys a lot!

I only saw Jamie once as an adult. She did indeed marry young, as had I. We met, Jamie and I, along with our siblings and our young children, excited to see each other and meet each other’s kids. My mom joined our happy gathering. Sadly, Jamie’s mother had passed away. Later we found each other on Facebook, and kept in touch that way. Life had not gone exactly as Jamie had envisioned as a young girl. No one’s life does. However, Jamie had become a beautiful woman, with that mischievous gleam still lighting up her eyes. And then…she left Facebook and I lost track of her.

Jamie A Friendship Story From Jamie’s Facebook page.

Jamie and I had one other thing in common. Our fathers both died from pancreatic cancer, just two days apart. Unbelievably, they were in the same hospital before their deaths. I ran into Carrie in the elevator. It was a bittersweet reunion. My sisters and I got to visit with Jim and Carrie briefly. Two weeks later, both my dad and Jim were gone from our lives.

As I wrote about Jamie, so many fond memories rose to the surface. I recalled happy years as best friends. And I felt regret that we had lost touch. I knew that, tragically, Jamie was now fighting her own battle with pancreatic cancer.

Here is where my story takes an interesting turn, as so many of my stories do. As I thought about Jamie, and continued to write, a loud popping noise began in my room. It seemed to move about the room, hovering near the ceiling. Pop. Pop, pop, pop. No windows were open. The ceiling fan and overhead light were turned off. I could turn my head and follow the sound of the pops, which occurred every couple of minutes.

I knew what this sound meant. When departed ones visit me in spirit, I often hear these popping noises. What I’m sharing may be difficult to believe, but I’ve experienced such things all my life. When it is a family member visiting, I know exactly who it is. When it is a stranger, or someone I haven’t been around in a while, I don’t immediately know, but I always receive additional information, in a variety of ways. I asked aloud, Who is here? Pop. Pop. The sounds were right above me. I should have known who it was right away. I continued writing.

The next day, Jamie’s sister sent a message. Jamie had passed away. The last month had been difficult for my friend. She was at peace, now, and free from pain.

I’ve thought of Jamie for the last eight days, allowing memories and past conversations and regrets to surface. We were such dear friends as children. I wish we had stayed in touch better. I discovered after her death that Jamie had returned to Facebook about three years ago. I could have had those years to communicate and perhaps set up a time to get together.

I’ve worked this week on releasing those regrets. Jamie was my first best girlfriend. She holds a special place in my heart and in my journey. I am grateful for her friendship and for her life. I’ll see her again someday. And she can visit me any time she wants, announcing her arrival with those pops. I can learn to recognize her instantly when she does. How I do that is a story for another time.

You don’t forget your childhood friends. You remember always the neighborhood kids you ran with, played with and grew up with. Jamie, my friend, you will not be forgotten.

Jamie A Story About Friendship

A Million Dreams

I woke up this morning, just before dawn, from the most amazing dream. It was the type that stays with me, makes me smile and causes deeper reflection. My Morning Pages were devoted to exploring my thoughts around the dream, through writing.

Coupled with the vivid dream I had is the fact that the song A Million Dreams, from The Greatest Showman film, has been on repeat in my brain for at least a week. I wake up singing it, I belt out the chorus while in the shower, I break into spontaneous song with those lyrics multiple times a day.

There is a connection.

A Million Dreams

In the dream, I was in Africa. A family consisting of a dad, mom and seven year old daughter had asked me to accompany them on this trip. The opportunity came out of the blue. I didn’t know this family, yet I said yes. I was going along to help out with the little girl, who was delightful, while her parents took care of some business.

We were bicycling down a dusty road, toward a small community of simply built houses. The air was shimmering with golden heat. And a herd of zebras was running alongside the road. I laughed from the sheer pleasure of the magical experience. When we arrived at the house we were staying in, I realized that I had left on this trip so quickly that I had not told my family where I was. I began sending text messages to my kids and my sisters and my mom, marveling that I was here in Africa and enjoying these beautiful experiences.

A Million Dreams

This is the part of the dream that I loved. In the messages I was sending, I explained how I had been open to more travel opportunities and had released expectations, trusting the Divine to provide…and then this grab-your-passport-let’s-go invitation arrived. I felt such joy, such gratitude, which was perhaps more significant than anything else in the dream.

Do you know what woke me up, pulling me out of that gorgeous dream? My practical brain inserted itself as I hit “send” on the group messages. I realized with a pang that I had not notified my cell phone provider that I was leaving the country!

I appreciate that my dreams seem to indicate how my life is shifting and changing, from my heart and soul outward. As I learn and grow, my vivid dreams reflect that. I realized this truth a few years ago when the nightmares I had had all my life began to change. As I faced my fears and embraced myself completely, I took control of my night terrors, saying “No!” or “Stop!” during the dreams. And the scary stuff did stop. I quit having nightmares completely.

A Million Dreams

Instead, tracking slightly ahead of reality, I began to dream of wonderful adventures, abundance, writing, and more recently, of travel. I am shifting, I am reaching out, I am handing all my hopes and dreams over to the Divine, to the Dream Giver, and my dreams are exploding outward into the manifestations of those heart desires.

My dream last night shows me I’m in an excellent place in my life journey. I am open to receive, without making demands or setting up expectations. The words from The Greatest Showman’s A Million Dreams came to mind, as I wrote about the dream.

I close my eyes and I can see/ The world that’s waiting up for me/ That I call my own./ Through the dark, through the door/ Through where no one’s gone before/ But it feels like home.

They can say, they can say it all sounds crazy/ They can say, they can say I’ve lost my mind./ I don’t care, I don’t care, so call me crazy./ We can live in a world that we design.

Cause every night I lie in bed/ The brightest colors fill my head/ A million dreams are keeping me awake./ I think of what the world could be/ A vision of the one I see/ A million dreams is all it’s gonna take/ A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make.

A Million Dreams

That song represents my life, from earliest childhood until now. To combat the fears I had as a child, I learned to create vivid dreams in my mind, to escape into. Every night I lie in bed, the brightest colors fill my head. That was true as a child and still true as an adult. I created with the brightest lights and colors that I could conjure. I totally understand the thinking of what the world could be, a vision of the one I see part of the song. I create a vision, in my heart and mind. And amazingly, that dream often becomes reality.

I am grateful for my ability to cast visions and create worlds. I appreciate that my dreams give me a glimpse into my deepest heart and that my subconscious provides this feedback about where I am on my journey. I am ever changing, ever growing, and my dreams show me I am on the right path.

I’m excited that I am dreaming about traveling. I know that means that travel is going to be a key part of my near future. I don’t think it’s going to take a million dreams for the world I’m gonna make to appear. But if it does, that’s okay. I’ll keep dreaming…of the world I see when I close my eyes…and of the world I see when I’m dreaming with my eyes wide open.

A Million Dreams

Day 7: PJ Day

This was the final day in the 7 Day Hygge Challenge. And the perfect way to end this extraordinary week of creating coziness in my home and my life was to have a PJ Day.

PJ Day

Sunday – PJ Day

This was more than a lounge around in my comfy clothes day. The intent was to be comfortable and stay comfortable, without making plans or creating an agenda for the day. This was about self pampering and doing things that I enjoy.

I decided to let it be a go with the glow sort of day. Without making plans, I did what I wanted to do, at that moment.

Here is my day, captured in photos.

PJ Day

After an extended quiet time this morning, I enjoyed a couple of episodes of Big Dreams, Small Spaces, the British TV series featuring master gardener Monty Don. I get so inspired as he helps people create the gardens of their dreams. Look at that gorgeous backyard garden on my tv screen! This is the perfect time of year to be watching this show. My garden is waking up. I look forward to creating in it this season.

PJ Day

This was something that needed doing, but that I could have put off until another day. It felt like the right time to sort through receipts and docs from 2017, in preparation for turning numbers in to my accountant. There’s a portion of my sorting, in the pic above. Maybe because I was in a relaxed state of mine, or perhaps because I was in the flow…this task took far less time than I thought it would. It felt wonderful to get this out of the way. Tomorrow I will email a spreadsheet to the accountant and be done with it.

PJ Day

Two of my three cats, Angel and Shy Boy, joined me as I did my Morning Pages, in the early afternoon, and read for a bit in Under the Tuscan Sun. Cats, I’ve discovered, think every day should be unhurried and unscheduled!

Siberian Ginseng

I write two blogs. I post in this one every day and my health blog at least three times a week. Creating a Sunday/Tuesday/Friday posting schedule for Journey With Healthy Me has helped me tremendously with consistency. Which meant today was a double post day. Before preparing dinner, it felt like the perfect time to write today’s Sunday Supplement post about Siberian Ginseng. You can read that post HERE if you’d like.

PJ Day

Meals today have been simple: celery juice first thing this morning followed by a fruit smoothie, left over veggies and rice for lunch, lemon water, ginger water, hot herbal tea (lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds), and for dinner homemade gluten free veggie pizzas. I made the crusts from a mix I purchased at Natural Grocers. It is also dairy free. I topped the crusts with organic marinara sauce and sautéed veggies that included onion, green pepper, garlic, zucchini and mushrooms. No cheese needed or wanted. These personal sized pizzas were delicious!

And finally this evening, I have a short stack of books to read in and my writing journal near by. I may draw or color…or not. I may watch a movie…or not. I’m enjoying each moment and responding to whatever my whim is in the next one.

This has been a beautiful week for me. Hygge isn’t a trend for me or an experiment to try. It is a lifestyle. It connects me with coziness, with nature, with other people, with simple pleasures, and it centers me more deeply within myself. I’m excited to continue with this way of life and learn more about hygging and more about myself. The 7 Day Hygge Challenge is completed…and it was most appreciated and enjoyed.

PJ Day

Day 6: Walk in Nature

Today’s challenge got me outside and into the woods. Although we had abundant sunshine this afternoon, temperatures hovered around 60 degrees and the wind had a chilly nip to it. I had already determined that I was walking today, regardless of the weather. I dressed accordingly, in walking shoes and a warm hoodie.

Walk in Nature

Saturday – Walk in nature

The Scandinavian tradition of hygge has a strong connection to nature. It encourages bringing nature indoors, in the form of plants, flowers, leaves, twigs, bark and rocks. And it promotes people getting out into nature by way of walks, picnics, sitting under the stars, and camping. Hygge considers activities outside less important than just being outside, and being present, both with oneself and with nature. It is a centering, awareness raising time of connection.

For my walk I chose one of my favorite trails at Wildcat Park, south of Joplin. This path threads through the woods there and parallels Shoal Creek for a bit. Other people were out, with their dogs or their families, enjoying the sunshine. I walked slowly along the trail, alone with my thoughts, smiling at walkers as they passed me or approached me from the other direction. Other than hearing isolated snippets of conversations and an occasional laugh, the woods were quiet and serene today.

Walk in Nature

Walk in Nature

There were surprisingly few signs that spring is imminent. Our cold February seems to have delayed flowers and trees. However, a few bushes were dotted with tiny green leaves and early flowers such as spring beauty and henbit were popping up. The river gurgled by, unconcerned with whether spring was early or late. I sat on a large boulder and listened to river’s wisdom.

Walk in Nature

Walk in Nature

I brought along a healthy snack to enjoy near the water. The sliced apple, dates and bite sized pieces of celery are great for supporting my adrenal glands and boosting energy. I took advantage of the bright sunlight, tilting my head back to bathe my neck and thyroid with energy as well. Removing my sunglasses but keeping my eyes closed, I sun gazed for several more minutes.

Walk in Nature

As the path leaves the river and loops back through the woods, I begin to watch for my old friend, Oak Tree. I was drawn to this tree in January of 2014. That day I stood alone in the woods, in deep snow, and rested my hands on Oak Tree for the first time. It was a magical experience, feeling the hum of life under the rough bark. I pause by this tree each time I walk at Wildcat, closing my eyes and touching the trunk.

Today I patiently waited for a group of teens to walk on by, and then I greeted this ancient oak by speaking aloud and placing my right hand on its trunk. The tree is showing its age. Large chunks of bark are missing near its base. And there are actually three trunks that rise from the base of the tree, towering over me. A fourth trunk appears to have broken off long ago.

As I stood there meditatively, eyes closed, hand touching the bark, I felt the steady hum of life. A deep red color appeared on my eyelids. Because of its connection to the base chakra, red signifies root energy. It represents the element of earth, and being grounded. Red, for me, represents survival and basic life needs such as food and water. I smiled. This was a good sign. Oak Tree may be old, but its energy is still strong. I patted the tree lovingly and told it I will see it again soon and admire its new leaves.

What a beautiful walk, embracing the hygge belief of connecting deeply with nature and appreciating the gifts offered to my soul. I left the woods, the river and Oak Tree deeply restored.

Walk in Nature

Day 5: Movie Night at Home

Today’s hygge challenge is actually one of my favorite things to do. I love watching movies. And I love that the task for day 5 was to stay in and get comfy while enjoying a film.

Movie Night at Home

Friday – Have a movie night at home

The intent for this challenge was to get into comfy clothes or pjs, create a cozy atmosphere, have treats nearby, and relax while watching a movie. I appreciate the deeper assignment beneath the challenge. This wasn’t just a watch a movie at home night. This was a create warmth and comfort and wellbeing while watching a movie at home night, with the emphasis on the environment part.

I took great care in creating a space that was fun, relaxing and comfortable. I have discovered this about myself this week…I take hygge seriously!

Movie Night at Home

I chose my bedroom as the location for movie night. Repeating the Day 1 challenge, I lit tea light candles throughout the room, leaving off the overhead light, and I lit the essential oils candle that I purchased on Monday.

There was a pile of pillows to get comfy against, and I tossed my super soft blanket on the bed, in case I felt a need for something cuddly.

Movie Night at Home

My treat for movie time was a cup of hot herbal tea, a blend of lemon balm, thyme and fennel seeds, and cara cara orange segments with a sliced Braeburn apple. This snack was satisfying and so good for me.

Following the comfy clothes recommendation, on this warm evening I opted for a soft sleeveless racer back T and low rise briefs, topped by a short, lightweight kimono style wrap. It has exquisite needlework on it, because comfy can also be beautiful.

Movie Night at Home

I was ready for the movie! Earlier in the day I checked my watch lists on both Amazon Prime and Netflix. I have long lists on both. I felt drawn to the sci fi thriller, The Circle, staring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson.

I’ll do a review of this interesting movie another time. That’s not the purpose of tonight’s blog post. I enjoyed the movie though. I thought I had it all figured out, then it surprised me at the end.

Movie Night at Home

What I really enjoyed was the whole evening…the candle light, the healthy snack, the pretty, comfy clothes, and the even more comfy bed with its pillows and soft blanket, which I did use to cover my bare legs when they got cool.

It was the perfect evening for me and I am grateful for it. And I am grateful for this hygge challenge that I happened across on Pinterest. This has certainly been a cozy, comfortable, beautiful week. More hygge in my life, please.

Movie Night at Home

Day 4: Bring Nature Indoors

Day 4 of the 7 Day Hygge Challenge was a great follow up for Day 3. The spring weather held and I was grateful for an excuse to be outside as I shopped for plants. More vignettes were assembled today as well as I moved spring from the front porch into the house.

Bring Nature Indoors

Thursday – Bring nature indoors

Being a gardener, I was excited about bringing new plants into the house today. In spite of the warm temps this week, it’s too early to be planting in the garden. I knew that for today’s hygge inspired activity, I wanted to incorporate living plants in my vignette. I’ve used cut flowers before, tulips or white daisies, in the vignette on my little dining room table. But today, I preferred living, growing plants that I can later transplant into my garden.

Bring Nature Indoors

As I did on the front porch, I cleared away the previous vignette and started with a fresh space. I love this vintage wooden sieve that I purchased several years ago at an antique shop. And I knew exactly what I wanted to place beneath the wire cloches…herbs.

Bring Nature Indoors

Bring Nature Indoors

I picked up a couple of small, but full, oregano plants. Each one fit perfectly within a small container that I then dropped into a bright yellow ceramic basket. They will get adequate light through the large windows in the dining room. When the ground is warm enough, I will transplant these oregano plants into the herb garden.

Into the wooden sieve went vintage Easter décor, made by Leta Moore when she took ceramic classes as a young woman. I deliberately left an open spot in the sieve, for purple hyacinths that I purchased today as well. After trying out several containers for the bulbs, and discarding them, I finally settled on two clay pots. I tucked two plants into the larger pot with the chippy white paint, and a single flowering bulb into the smaller whitewashed one.

Bring Nature Indoors

I liked the final results well enough. However, from the living room, an empty wooden box seemed to call to me. I was creating new vignettes on the entry table as well. I was curious to see how the potted hyacinths would look in that box that Greg had made for me.

As soon as I transferred the pots to the box, it felt absolutely right. That’s where the purple hyacinths in their pots belonged…here, not in the dining room. I learned during my Year of Journeys to go with the flow. I shifted and instead of creating one vignette that featured plants, I created two. When something clicks into place it is easy for me to complete my creative project, with little effort.

Bring Nature Indoors

Into this attractive wooden box went the potted purple hyacinths, a pair of metal birds, with chippy paint of their own, and a white pillar candle. I used a small terra cotta pot as a candle holder. Beneath the box is a little wool runner featuring spring tulips. My cousin Mindy, who passed away in 2015, hooked this piece. The flower pots have trays underneath that will protect both the box and the table runner.

I love how that little vignette looks, and how it came together, even though I wasn’t working on the entry table yet. As the hyacinths grow they will add height and color to the vignette. They too will be transplanted into the garden later.

Bring Nature Indoors

I filled the empty space in the wooden sieve with with a white footed bowl. Shirred cloth eggs, in soft pastel colors, are nestled within the bowl. And now I was pleased with this vignette. The colors within the sieve are harmonious and very spring-like, and the white plates with their herbs beneath cloches are nearby.

What fun to include these living plants in my vignettes today. As I cross the halfway mark in my hygge challenge week, I feel around me the coziness and connectedness that are this Scandinavian tradition’s hallmarks. It truly is a hygge spring.

Bring Nature Indoors

Day 3: Create Something

This beautiful spring-like day presented the perfect opportunity to create outdoors, for the third day of the Hygge Challenge. I knew I wanted to reset the front porch, using a fresh, spring theme. I typically redecorate the porch at this time of year, with items that will take me through spring and summer, to fall. I wanted to change that this afternoon.

Create Something

Wednesday – Create something

I enjoy creating vignettes by grouping items together that fit within a specific theme. I have vignettes scattered throughout the house. My covered front porch gets the vignette treatment as well. I have used a dragonfly theme on the porch for several years. It was time to come up with a fresh look, without buying all new décor. Part of the fun of arranging a vignette is using what I already have, in different ways.

I was in the mood for a unique focal point that I could create around. A trip to Michael’s Craft Store would perhaps inspire me!

Create Something

Indeed, a canvas print of a Henry David Thoreau quote snagged my attention. With its chalkboard look background and soft spring colors, I knew I could pull additional items together to complement it, pieces I already owned. And I love the quote: All good things are wild and free.

I couldn’t pass up three pastel ceramic pots. Michael’s had a BIG sale going on today. I bought them as well, in pale yellow, light pink and soft blue.

Create Something

This was my blank canvas, a bright yellow table tucked into the corner of the porch, near the front door. After clearing away my previous vignette and wiping the table down, I was ready to create.

Create Something

The canvas print hangs above the table. Below it a white table runner with embroidered spring flowers covers the surface. The three pastel ceramic pots occupy the center of the table. I dropped a white tea light candle into each pot.

Create Something

Create Something

Then the fun began. This is a bit of a trial and error process. As items pop into my mind, I retrieve them and try them in different spots, grouped in different ways. I have shelves in a closet full of vintage items and yard sale finds, candles and candle holders, and a drawer full of linens. I keep my theme and colors in mind as I make selections.

For this vignette, I wanted a spring look and soft colors. I used fake speckled eggs, a vintage ceramic bunny, metal in the form of a wire cloche and a bird cage, and a pair of porcelain birds that I have had for years. A candle and spring candle ring fill the birdcage, since those birds are free!

My favorite items are the small framed needlepoint art. Greg’s mother crafted the heart, with colors that reflect those in the large quote. She stitched this piece in 1986. The other stitched art pieces are not her work, but purchased by her about the same time.

Create Something

I love how this vignette turned out. Except for the table runner, none of these items have been used before on the front porch. Initially I felt like the two small framed pieces made the vignette seem too symmetrical. I rummaged in my closet for something else to add, and found the tiny stitched piece with a blue background. Adding it broke up the symmetry.

As I stood back to examine my work, I suddenly realized something…all three of the stitched art pieces contained a heart. That was one of those unintentional occurrences that tickles me and also brings confirmation. These were the right items for this new arrangement.

I had an appointment coming up, but I took the time to light the candles in the pots and take pics. This spring vignette makes me smile and brings joy to my heart. Welcome spring!

Create Something

Day 2: Evening Without Screens

On this second day of the 7 Day Hygge Challenge, I spent an evening without screens. This does not refer to the fine mesh coverings over windows. This was an evening unplugged from screens as in the TV, the computer and my cell phone. The idea was to spend that disconnected time reading, playing a game, listening to music or anything, really, other than having my eyes on a screen.

Evening Without Screens

Tuesday – Spend an evening without screens. No TV, computer or cell phone.

For the purpose of my screen free night, I defined evening as 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm. As it happened, I had some real estate business to take care of late in the day, requiring me to be on the computer until 5:40. And then knowing I would be posting this blog piece late, I used my remaining screen time to take pics of what I intended to do and create my title meme.

And that was when I felt the first minor pangs of being screen free. As a blogger, I am accustomed of documenting what I am doing, by way of photos. It felt strange to deliberately leave my phone in the other room as I retired to my bedroom with a couple of books to read and one of my writing journals.

Evening Without Screens

I admit, I felt a bit out of whack for the first hour. I’m not on the computer much in the evenings, and I don’t mind at all having TV free time. But my phone…that’s a different matter. I keep it near me. I check in on the blogs and on posts that have been pushed out onto social media. I stay connected to family through texts and Facebook. I thought about listening to The Greatest Showman soundtrack as I read, and then realized it’s on my phone. I also considered watching a movie…The Shape of Water released today. But nope, that involved a TV or computer screen.

I eventually settled into a very good book, with a cup of hot herbal tea nearby. I am enjoying reading, for the first time, Under the Tuscan Sun, by Frances Mayes. I love the film. It is one of my favorite movies. The book is transporting me back to sun drenched Tuscany and creating a desire to return to Italy.

Evening Without Screens

I also enjoyed working in It’s Never Too Late to Begin Again. I wrote several pages for the Memoir Task, covering ages 5 – 10 years old, by answering a series of questions about that time in my life. It is amazing how the act of putting words on paper unlocks memories for me. As I wrote I could almost catch the scent of the fuzzy pink flowers that covered the mimosa trees in my neighborhood and hear the sounds of kids laughing as they roamed the neighborhood. I was often part of that pack. And just as often, I was off on a solitary adventure of my own.

I only left my room once to check the time, as I don’t keep a clock in there. I was about half way through the evening. It came to me that I felt compelled to stay in my room, almost like I was being punished. Go to your room. No TV or cell phone for you. I found that intriguing and worked through the thoughts and emotions around that.

Evening Without Screens

Ultimately I very much enjoyed my evening without screens. I think this activity would be a good one for me to practice weekly, or as often as I desire the freedom to pursue other things without the distraction of a screen in my face. The animated movie Wall-E came to mind more than once tonight, and what happened to the inhabitants of the spaceship as they lived with their eyes focused nonstop on their monitor screens. They forgot how to move about, how to think for themselves and how to interact with each other, face to face. That’s not a future I want.

As I finished a task in my workbook, this quote caught my eye.

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.” Michel de Montaigne

In light of the evening, the words seemed so appropriate. It is good to spend time unplugged, and on my own, learning more about who I am and what I want to do with the time given to me. I do belong deeply to myself. I am grateful for the time tonight to explore those depths.

Evening Without Screens

Day 1: Light a Candle

Today I kicked off the 7 Day Hygge Challenge with the Monday activity. This day’s challenge seemed simple enough. And yet, as I selected a new candle to purchase at Bath & Body, I quickly fell back into my old habits. It was interesting to watch myself waver between buying a brand new scent and going with a long time favorite.

Light a Candle

Monday – Light a new candle in a fresh, light scent.

To accomplish this first challenge, I browsed the huge selection of candles at Bath & Body, located in my local mall. This store is the ideal place to pick up a scented candle. They had new spring scents in, with candles set up in attractive displays. That should have made my task easy.

Light a Candle

I was particularly drawn to a new line of 3 wick candles. Called Test Lab candles, these jar candles are dye free, with a soy based wax. They are made with natural essential oils, combined into interesting blends. Bath & Body currently has a dozen candles in this collection. I had to give each one the sniff test. Ultimately I selected the Sunny Fig candle. It has a light, clean fragrance that’s just right for spring.

Light a Candle

Bath & Body had so many candles on display. And this is where I almost changed my mind. I knew better than to start sniffing other candles. And yet, I wandered to another display, picked up a vanilla bean candle, and inhaled the sweet scent. I love vanilla. For years I used the Warm Vanilla Sugar line of products from Bath & Body. I don’t now, choosing instead a natural, organic line that doesn’t include chemicals. And I’ve bought many vanilla scented candles in the past as well.

I wanted something different today, something fresh. And yet…now I felt torn. Sunny Fig? Or Vanilla Bean? I actually turned to put the Sunny Fig candle back on the shelf. And then I paused to consider my actions. Of course, I was free to choose whatever I wanted. There was no wrong action here, no judgment on myself. But what was it that I wanted to accomplish?

I examined that. My desire was to try something new, a fresh scent, for this first day of the challenge. I could have bought both candles. However, I upheld my original intention, and made a very deliberate choice to not go with the scent I have bought so frequently in the past. It was time to step away from the familiar, and climb out of the rut.

Light a Candle

Bath & Body had a new product that was my “icing on the cake”. They carry inexpensive magnets that fit perfectly on the candle lid. I left the store with the Sunny Fig candle and a You are Something Magical magnet!

I’m about to get on a webinar. I’m in my bedroom, with my new candle alight, along with eight tea light candles. Is it cozy? Is it hygge? Very. I love the glow of candlelight. I love the intimacy it creates. I am glad I tried something different. The new scent is delightful. I’m not missing the vanilla at all.

Light a Candle

7 Day Hygge Challenge

I was inspired last week by a Pinterest post to do this fun challenge. The idea is to keep the hygge cozy going, even though winter is nearing its end. Hygge is a Scandinavian lifestyle, centered around creating connectedness and coziness, and not just a winter tradition.

Without knowing what it was called, I have practiced hygge throughout my life. I realized recently, when my DNA test results showed I have Scandinavian ancestry, that I perhaps have a genetic connection to this delightful way of embracing life.

7 Day Hygge Challenge

The purpose of the 7 Day Hygge Challenge is to do something fun, something different, every day, to keep the cozy element central in my life. The list is below. Play along!

1. Monday – Light a new candle, in a fresh light scent, and/or add strings of tiny white twinkle lights indoors or outside.

2. Tuesday – Have an evening without screens…no TV, computer or cell phone. Read a book, play a board game, work a puzzle or listen to music.

3. Wednesday – Create something…bake, draw, write a letter, sew, knit, paint, color, play your own tune or make a craft.

4. Thursday – Bring nature indoors…plants, fresh flowers, dried twigs. Create an arrangement, display or vignette.

5. Friday – Have a movie night at home, with cozy clothes and comfy wraps, and include a tasty treat and favorite drink.

6. Saturday – Get outdoors. Take a walk in nature, alone or with companions.

7. Sunday – PJ Day. Stay in comfy clothes all day. Have breakfast in bed, don’t make plans, read, watch Netflix, light candles, savor tea time, pamper yourself in your favorite way.

I love this type of challenge. It fires up my creativity and allows me to play. I look forward to focusing on hygge this week, and creating more intimacy, more coziness and more connectedness in my home and life.

7 Day Hygge Challenge