The prompt for December 2 was Writing written by Leo Babauta: “What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?” As I thought about this question, I considered writing from a variety of perspectives, most notably the writing I do for my work, my blog writing, and my journaling. The main obstacle to my writing is time and the ways in which I don’t feel like I have enough of it. But really, the issue of time boils down to how I choose to spend it. The most obvious activity in which I engage most days (though not all) that does not directly contribute to my writing is watching television. I have drastically reduced the amount of time that I do watch the screen, and I have previously considered cutting out my television viewing fairly all together. And yet, I haven’t. I don’t completely cut it out because there are times when I just need a rather passive activity to relax, and unfortunately, watching Modern Family or The Good Wife helps me do just that. However, this prompt has me re-evaluating again. “Stay tuned” (sorry, couldn’t resist) as I keep mulling over continued cuts to tv.
December 3’s prompt by Ali Edwards was Moment: “Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).” The moment of this past year that stands out most vividly for me in terms of aliveness came during our yearly trip to Rocky Mountain National Park. For months, we had planned a two-day hike with an overnight camp in an effort to attempt summiting Long’s Peak. This was my first hike carrying that much gear, and the first day went really well. I was tired but proud of myself for hauling more than I ever have up part of a mountain. We made it to the boulder field with plenty of daylight to set up camp and get to sleep for the next day’s more grueling trek to the top. However, that evening was filled with rain and HAIL, and I experienced some rather intense claustrophobia being stuck inside the tent for many hours while the weather pelted down on us, filled our tent with wetness, and generally caused difficulty in getting much sleep. The next morning, three of us headed out in the early, rather cool morning to attempt the summit. I climbed the first stretch, going through the Keyhole and entering into the amazing open view looking down on Glacier Gorge. It was spectacular. As I began to climb along the ridge, I began to feel panic-y. The ledges are not too narrow at this part of the ascent, but the drop-off into the gorge is pretty sheer and it was…well…freaking me out. I was trying to slow my breathing and calm down. But then, as I reached to pull myself up from one ledge to another level, I hit my head on a rock. This was the moment I knew I was done. I got too scared and I knew that being scared would erode my confidence, and I knew that if I wasn’t confident, I wasn’t going to make it (up or the trickier descent). So I aborted the rest of the journey up to Long’s Peak. I felt defeated and disappointed. I fought with myself as I climbed back down to camp. Yet in the end, I knew I made the right decision for me at the time. And being that scared, having that much adrenaline coursing through me, feeling the cold mountain air whipping around me, looking down into that vast gorge…I felt very much alive.
Jeffrey Davis authored the prompt for December 4 about Wonder: “How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?” This question quickly answered itself as photography and looking at life refocused brought me the greatest wonder each day I peered through the lens.
For December 5, Let Go was the topic offered by the talented Alice Bradley: “What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?” In reflecting on this prompt, I pondered many things or people I let go of this past year. What seemed to resonate most clearly was my letting go of a daily, almost desperate longing to live somewhere else. For much of the past 3.5 years, I have pined for Oregon. My sadness for leaving there and my desire to return are palpable. This ache and my holding onto it was making me miserable. It was also preventing me from crafting a life here, now, where I do live. In recognizing this, I chose to let go of this hunger for Oregon, and made a conscious decision to embrace the prairie. I realized that I was only contributing to my unhappiness, and that I needed to shift my focus if I hoped to settle into my life as it is. I still hope and dream of returning to Oregon, but I let go of the daily yearning.
Gretchin Rubin offered us Make for December 6: “What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?” The easiest response is homemade chocolate chip cookies–mainly because I just baked a batch. I love to bake and I make a mean banana bread, but the perfect chocolate chip cookie had alluded me for some time. But, I’ve been working on it this past year and I think I’ve gotten it down. This batch from last night…they rock. Chewy, soft, bumpy, chocolatey goodness. The other thing I’m intent on making is “bokeh” or these dreamy blurred out circles of light in my photos. LOVE.