The First Step

I woke up at 4am, and couldn’t decide whether or not to go back to sleep. It’s amazing how many tiny choices we make in a day, with each one altering the next.

I began thinking of my French Press and how I haven’t used it very much. It was one of those things Barb ‘had to have’, but I couldn’t get satisfied with the taste of the coffee. I have read articles from coffee experts, and the instructions that came with the press, but this early in the morning, I wanted some simple steps. Google led me to an article by the easy to follow woman behind Gimme Some Oven.

Her way of making it just made sense to me, so I hopped outta bed at 5:00 am, and strolled quietly into the kitchen with instructions in hand, ready to try again. There are several steps involved in making a French Press, but anything that’s worthwhile has steps.

First I had to see how much water the press would hold. It held 4 cups, so I poured the water into the gooseneck kettle and sat it on the stove to bring it to a boil. Then waited. After it begins to boil, the water needs to rest for a minute, so I took it off the burner to rest.

I opened the timer on my phone and set it for 4 minutes, and poured the freshly ground beans into the French Press, just going through the steps. The hot water was poured just over the bed of grinds, about 2 inches, and stirred with a wooden chopstick to wet every grind, and the timer began.

My favorite part is watching it bloom. Putting my face over the press, I inhaled the magical aroma. If it’s really good coffee it should bloom, or foam up. The more it foams, the better quality. After one minute had passed, the rest of the water was poured in and the lid was put into place. The screen rested on top of the water with the plunger standing up.

I watched the countdown of time ticking by with the numbers illuminated blue in color. It was interesting when the timer got down to the last 30 seconds, the numbers turned red.

The one thing that bothered me about using the French press in the past was the feel of the pressing. I know how it’s supposed to feel when you press the plunger down with the palm of your hand. It should have some resistance, and not be effortless. This time it had plenty of resistance, so in the past I hadn’t poured enough in.

Le Creuset Café Stoneware French Press

Lessons learned:

  1. Don’t go back to sleep. The day is waiting for us to step into it.
  2. Keep using what we have and get it right.
  3. Follow some instruction. If the first ones aren’t to our liking, find better instructions.
  4. There’s a waiting period after every step.
  5. Let the water get boiling hot, but don’t let it spew. Anything that gets that hot needs a minute to rest.
  6. Watch the time, and be attentive to the red zone.
  7. Pause and enjoy the bloom. Breathe it in.
  8. When we begin to press through and there’s resistance, it’s normal. Nothing worthwhile should feel like an easy plunge, just continue to gently press.

Was getting up early, and trying once again to make a French Press worth it? You better believe it! That was excellent coffee. Keep trying and be willing to go through some steps to get to where you really want to be.

It all begins with the first step.

A Curated Life

In this guest post written by Collette, she shares how life is not made in big moments, or bold pronouncements, but in the small, daily moments.

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Filled with peace

When I first started this Blog, I wanted to write like Melody Beattie. I’ve read her books more than once and she brings me peace. It was more than her words, maybe it was her vibe while writing, like she was filled with peace and laying it on the page to be shared.

It took years of writing to catch that peaceful vibe, but that’s what draws people in. I want you to feel peace, even if it’s just for the 2 minutes it takes to read this page, but this is more than just a Blog, it’s real life, and I want it to spill over into your life and envelop you.

Write the kind of Blog that you’d like to read.

Cristian Mahai

Every now and then, we order pizza and have it delivered to our door. There’s a small wooden table by the front door, specifically for contactless delivery. The other night, we had a pizza delivered, and I thought I’d given the driver ample time to leave, only to find he hadn’t left. He was standing in the yard underneath the Arbor. He saw me walk out to retrieve the pizza and said…

“I’m not supposed to say this, but you have a great setup here. This is the most peaceful front yard, I’ve ever walked through. It’s only my second time delivering here, but it’s by far my favorite. It’s filled with peace.”

With so many Blog posts to choose from, thank you for choosing mine. My hope is as you hang out on the page, you will be filled with peace.- Be happy and well, Barb.

To Stay Planted

My friend who I meet for coffee once a month gave me a beautiful mug. It’s a travel mug, which I didn’t have. I usually drink my coffee before leaving the house, so it’s rather liberating knowing my coffee can now travel.

The box has been sitting on the coffee bar, and it’s just as pretty as the mug. Every time I pass by and read the words on the box, the phrase sticks with me for a minute while walking through the house. It’s one of my favorite sayings, “Bloom where you are planted.”

I’ve written about ‘bloom‘ because it fascinates me. What does it take for something to bloom, and waiting to see when it will bloom. Nothing blooms all the time, but just like an actual flower, we have days where blooming comes naturally. It’s no secret 2020 has been a year, and everyone is anxiously awaiting a new year, but we can decide to bloom where we’re planted. To find contentment where we are, and to shower kindness on ourselves and others.

Do what you can, where you are, and with what you have. To bloom where you’re planted works best when you’re willing to stay planted.

In Real Time

All this talk about the draft folder is really just the tip of the iceberg. I left out the part about all the emails I’ve sent to myself with pictures attached. Looking through some of them lastnight I noticed there’s an additional folder entitled ‘Blog Ideas’, chocked full from 2019. Let’s not forget the journals and slips of paper I come across every now and then. I even text myself ideas when the inspiration hits. So really, the draft folder is the least of it.

There’s no lack for inspiration here.

This laptop has memes sitting on the desktop, just waiting for a story. Every so often, it begins to look cluttered, so I file them into a folder. My first Zoom conference this year with the man I work with was truly embarrassing. We were sharing our screens, going over email platforms, and our screens were extreme opposites. His was full of Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint presentations, and word documents, but you know what he saw on Barb’s?

Pretty pictures and memes.

There was a long pause as he viewed my desktop, and I couldn’t leave the meeting fast enough. The meme I used as the featured photo in this post is one I ‘borrowed’ from Cristian Mahai, but here it is again.

Sitting at the kitchen table this morning, it doesn’t surprise me to see a container of glitter sitting here with me. I purchased the glitter for a small project, but you know I love glitter, and have been known to sprinkle it anywhere I darn well please. Now, I’m not going to throw it at my computer screen, but it’s safe to say, I have a glittery life. No longer embarrassed over my desktop either, because if I had to choose between mine, and the man I work with, it would easily be this one.

I’m starting to believe, instead of continuing to file away inspiration, it’s to be shared in real time.

Download the App

I completed a ’30 Days to Better Sleep’ mediation, and it worked really well. I didn’t hear the end of several of the meditations, because I fell asleep. 😂

I enjoyed the voice and positive attitude of the man who narrated the meditation, so I looked him up. He was easy to find on social media. He was hosting a week-long meditation on mindfulness, and I thought about signing up, but there was a catch. The only way to participate was to download the app. I enjoy listening to him on Simple Habits, so didn’t see a need to download the app.

I’ve been thinking about apps, and have come to the conclusion, they are good if they help save time, otherwise, they eat up time. Case in point, I downloaded a banking app. Being home most of the time, it’s become routine to check everything via my laptop, including banking. I’ve been helping down at the pizza place when needed, so my paychecks have a tendency to pile up. I don’t want the owner of the pizza place to think his money isn’t appreciated, so once a week I drive to the bank.

No more. Barb downloaded a banking app and does mobile banking. My phone automatically takes a picture of the check, and it’s deposited into my account. Life just got sweeter, and for that, I will happily download the app.

A Quiet Life

Side note: If you’re reading this, it’s been in the draft folder since October. We’re down to four! 🙂

The Draft Folder

I’m being drawn toward the draft folder, so I’ve dedicated the month of December to cleaning out drafts. If you see a random post that doesn’t quite go with the flow, you’ll know Barb finished a draft. 🙂

A full draft folder used to feel overwhelming. There are no stacks of paper piled up on my desk because it feels like clutter, but the draft folder felt like stacks of paper, so once it piled up, it was sorted through.

Some were trashed, but most were published. There were posts sitting in there for years, but that’s when the old rule that works in all areas of my life came into play. “If it hasn’t been used in a year, it’s probably not gonna be used.” December is a good month to declutter.

Think of drafts as stories waiting for their Writer to return. There are six drafts in my draft folder, but if you’re reading this, it went down to five.

What’s waiting for you in your draft folder?

Try We Must

It’s no secret this year is different.

We are in December, and there’s still no full size Christmas tree in our home. I bought a small one and it’s perched on the built-in cabinet in the back of the house. The dogs enjoy the soft glow of the lights at night.

This is our third year in this little lake house, and the last couple of years I’ve thought about hanging Christmas lights across the front of the house. I’d always talk myself out of it with a mountain of excuses, but this year there were no more excuses.

I had a tangled up mass of multi-colored icicle lights that have moved with me over the years. I began the task of gently untangling them, plugged them in, and to my surprise they still worked.

I began tacking them along the roofline, and don’t know why I saw it as such a daunting task. My mind told me it would take al lot of time, when in reality it took very little time and went along seamlessly. The task looked more difficult in my mind than it actually was.

I think a lot of things in life are like that. We tend to overthink our ideas, which prevents us from doing what the heart wants, and simply walking through. We are vehicles of the heart, and my hope is that you’ll follow yours. It may look daunting at first, but you’ll never know unless you try, and try we must.

A Sacred Bow

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

As we approach the end of the year, let’s take this opportunity to look back … so that we can learn from our experience, set intentions going forward, and improve our practice and structure.

Leo Babauta

Since June, I’ve been a part of the Fearless Community, and it was one of the best things I did for myself all year. A lot of what I’ve posted here this year was due in large part to Fearless Training. The Fearless practice brought my meaningful work to the forefront of my everyday.

This morning, as I walked into my room, the light from my window was hitting something shiny and causing it to shimmer. You know that’s going to grab my attention. 🙂

It was a medallion my daughter gifted me with 3 years ago, and it’s one of my favorites. The medallion was something I always looked forward to in the rooms. To celebrate years of sobriety, the meeting you frequented the most would hold a birthday meeting every month. It was called birthday night and they’d hand you a medallion with your year embossed on it, and there was cake.

I paused at the window and looked down at the medallion resting in the little love dish. ‘To thy own self be true’ is the inscription. It reminded me of the sacred bow, so I gave it a little bow. (Bow rhymes with cow)

I have a stack of these medallions.

The first few medallions were bronze color, but I received my first ‘pretty’ one after 2 years. There’s Bloggers who have given up alcohol this year, and that is a massive accomplishment. Medallions signify a lot of ‘one day at a times’. Those days accumulate into years, and then you get to hold that year in the palm of your hand.

Some people carry them in their pocket, or place them on a key ring. It’s a good reminder of what you hold sacred.

Sobriety is so worthy of a sacred bow.

A Lightbulb Moment

I know you are thinking, “Barb’s going to share some profound wisdom with us here.” Unfortunately lovely, I’ve actually been wrestling with a lightbulb.

For longer than a moment. It’s been weeks.

Obviously, I don’t give up easily, but I learned something from this lightbulb. I’m really good with change, if it’s a change I decide to make. If the change is made for me, with no say so in the matter, that’s not so good.

I have lamps that use 3-way bulbs. If you don’t know what that is, it’s a lightbulb that has 3 different settings, and each setting has a level of light. I’ve loved these light bulbs all my life, but someone decided to make a change.

Photo by Federico Bottos on Unsplash

This is the LED version of the 3-way bulb.

Looks harmless enough, right? The original 3-way bulb would start out on a low setting. You turn the knob of the lamp, and it would get brighter. A third turn of the knob and it would be at it’s brightest light. It would start out low and gradually become brighter.

The LED version does the opposite. As soon as you turn on the lamp, the bulb starts out with the brightest setting.

Gives a whole new meaning to, ‘blinded by the light!’

With each click of the knob, the light grows dim.

My only consolation is at night while laying in bed reading, it’s kinda nice the light gets softer instead of brighter.

I’m proud of myself for not replacing it with a normal one, although there is one in the cabinet, just in case I snap. Enough time has passed now where it really doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve adapted to the change. Here’s to you darling, and may you have a lightbulb moment.