Sunset over Princeton, Mass.
Reflection in the pond
I love paths like this
Sometimes you need to look up

Once upon a calendar

I used to blog regularly, and even had a consistent series regarding my ridiculous calendar. Unfortunately, I was derailed by my inability to post the word-of-the-day from my calendar.

This inability came because I don’t have a working scanner at my disposal and had been using my little point-and-shoot camera to take pictures of the calendar. Then a small piece of the port on my camera got bent and I was left with no way to get pictures off of my camera. Thus my regular posts were at a stand still.

I eventually procured a card reader and was able to get pictures off again. You can tell, I never really got around to doing the calendar posts again. And now it is well into 2010. I have been using it as scrap paper for quite a while. The words are still interesting, but that calendar is sorely out of date.

I’ve actually grown quite attached to my having such a nice stack of scrap paper for notes and things.

Coffee is a love-hate relationship for me, and for most of the health world too. Some people can’t live without it and some studies seem to indicate it could have health benefits. Others preach against it as if it is a killer, suffer withdrawal and there is always some addict who painfully demonstrates to coworkers daily what happens when you drink too much coffee.

I know at least one arguably mature adult who wet his pants after drinking too much of the stuff.

As for me, I had to switch to green tea for my daily mug, keeping coffee as something that I only have occasionally when I’m out of the house. An unfortunate past of minor and disruptive health issues has left me with enough caution to regularly avoid caffeine.

Yet, I’m easily seduced into a good mood by the smell of coffee. I give in while at late night cafes, and lose count of how many times the waiter refills my bottomless cup. As the conversations buzz around a place like lively Kafein or dimly lit Pick Me Up I get distracted reading, writing or talking. I probably won’t pause to put in cream or sugar.

I may be shaking and unable to sleep immediately after, but at the moment the warm mug in my hand feels so perfect that it would be hard to give it up.

Thinking about it, I don’t even remember why or where I read the 12 Steps. At 20, I’ve never had more than one drink at a time. Not everyone enjoys the same things, drinking is not something that I’m attracted to for a variety of reasons. It just doesn’t do it for me.

It was sometime within the last few months, and I remember thinking how beautiful it is. Even without an addiction beating you down to rock-bottom, we all have our vices, flaws, and failures and can feel the power in where these steps can lead.

Step 1 – We admitted we were powerless over our addiction – that our lives had become unmanageable

Step 2 – Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity

Step 3 – Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood God

Step 4 – Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves

Step 5 – Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs

Step 6 – Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character

Step 7 – Humbly asked God to remove our shortcomings

Step 8 – Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all

Step 9 – Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others

Step 10 – Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it

Step 11 – Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood God, praying only for knowledge of God’s will for us and the power to carry that out

Step 12 – Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to other addicts, and to practice these principles in all our affairs

It’s snowing outside my window, and now it is even snowing on my blog. You are not going crazy, there really are tiny white things falling down the screen.

I always hear mixed things about snow, some people love it and some people vehemently hate it. I’m a snow lover. I’m sorry if you are a hater, but maybe I can help you think of something good about it.

1. I love making snow angels.

2. I love trying to catch snowflakes on my tongue.

3. I love that new snow looks so clean.

4. I love that snow helps soften the harshness of all Chicago’s concrete.

5. I love sitting inside watching the snow fall.

6. I love waking up and being surprised by the white blanket that appeared while I slept.

7. I love getting snowed in.

8. I love skiing.

9. I love sledding.

10. I love eating snow.

11. I love making slushies with fresh snow.

12. I love making snow forts.

13. I love throwing snowballs.

14. I love wrestling in the snow.

15. I love playing in the snow for so long that you feel frozen and then going inside to enjoy the warmth.

16. I love that drinking hot chocolate and reading a book feels special when in snows.

17. I love that schools take a spontaneous day off and kids can play outside.

18. I love the cold sting of snow on my face.

19. I love when snow drifts lightly down.

20. I love when the snow falls so thick and fast that you can’t see anything outside.

21. I love that it is silent.

22. I love how excited I feel the first time it snows for the winter.

23. I love trying to look at the tiny flakes and see the intricate designs.

24. I love when it really snows for a moment it feels like the world is frozen in place.

25. I love that it always feels magical.

I never ate in a cafeteria until college. Malls and hospitals might have been the closest I ever came to seeing what most children saw in school everyday growing up.

I was homeschooled. My experience, or lack of experience, with cafeterias is just one example of the many things that make me just a little bit different from the traditional school population. I found that most of these things are like cafeterias, most people would say that I didn’t miss much.

I didn’t see friends in class everyday. But if I finished my school work as efficiently as possible and I could spend most of the day playing with friends.

I never did a group project. But I learned to do everything on my own.

I never had specialized teachers with knowledge about specific topics. But I learned how to find a book on anything I wanted to know about.

I never had competition with other students. But I learned to challenge myself and compete with my own abilities to get better.

I couldn’t be in an honors program, no matter how well I did. But I learned to excel for its own sake without the need for recognition.

I never had any sort of dress code. But I learned that you probably won’t get anything done while you are still wearing pajamas.

I never got to stay home sick. But I learned to get work done even if I did it in bed.

I could never leave school. But I learned that even when you can physically leave school at the end of the day, you never stop learning.

I never had a list of extra-curricular activities offered to me. But I learned how to find any activity I wanted and get involved.

I never rode a school bus. But I never had to wait outside for the bus or missed it.

I didn’t have a class of people who became my automatic friends. But I learned I could make friends anywhere.

I never had a class of people exclusively my age. But I learned to be friends with people of any age.

I never fought with kids at school. But I learned that I had to resolve every fight with my three siblings because we couldn’t escape each other.

I never had a schedule made for me. But I learned to make my own schedule and get things done.

I never got sent to the principals office or a detention. But if I did anything wrong, my parents knew exactly what it was.

I never had a summer reading list. But I always made my own list that was impossibly long.\

I never had people tell me what was cool. But I got to decide for myself.

I never had a crush on a cute boy in my class. But I was never rejected or hurt.

I was never one of the popular kids. But I never learned to care about popularity or what other people thought of me.

I never had P.E. But I learned to like exercising.

I never got bullied. But I knew what it was like to be alone.

I never felt peer pressured. But I felt enough pressure from my parents and myself to make up for that.

I never ate with friends in the lunch room. But I never felt segregation, stereotyped, or excluded.

I never ate cafeteria food. But I learned how to make good choices about the food I ate.

In love with a lake

There is so much noise in the city. Everywhere you go, all the time. The city never rests. It never sleeps.

There are always people. You can see them or hear them wherever you are. I can keep myself in a closed room or try to go far away. This fails miserably when I can still hear them in the next room, in the hallway, or sense their presence

I find myself drawn to the lakefront in Chicago.  The lake is a great source of comfort to me, whether I find myself in a pleasant or unpleasant state of mind. Facing the great expanse of Lake Michigan feels like for that moment my mind is clear. The simple line of the horizon that stretches out before me seems like an untouched and too often ignored beauty. Enormous and constant, I feel like I am getting a vaguely blurry glimpse of God.

When I lived in New England, it was so much easier to find a place where I truly felt away from people. I could walk into the woods and be in a secluded, tranquil place. Out of sight from people, my mind could rest. Now I have to try even harder to find the places I can escape to.

It is like a family member or a good friend. You love them, but sometimes you can’t stand them and just need to get away. Then one day, you find yourself away from them and you miss them. You remember all the things you love about them.

The lakefront is where I go when I need to remember why I live my life. When I need to remember all the things that are worth loving.