The Year of the Bird

I was originally planning to make 2015 the year of the tree.  We were going to explore and identify local trees by their leaves and bark, make a tree identification book, make crafts with acorns, pinecones, and other tree detritus, and sit in the shade of trees in the summer to read and soak in the warm air.  But then I stopped and really listened to my son.  He doesn’t clamor to read books about trees or talk about trees without my prompting.  He rarely asks about the types of trees we walk under, though he can identify quite a few.  But he begs to fill his grandparents’ bird feeder each day.  He ran down their hallway on Christmas day, not to the tree and gifts left by Santa, but to the window at the back deck so he could open the curtain to see whether the birds needed more food. He spends hours upon hours looking at bird books, learning their calls, and identifying them.  He patiently explains to his daddy what a grackle is when it lands on the feeder.  He cracks up in laughter at the oven bird and teasingly calls it a toaster oven bird.  And pure delight when he sees a cardinal and screeches “Gran’s favorite bird” loud enough to send feathers flying.

The year of the tree would have been for me.  The year of the bird is for him.  We will have a year full of birdseed crafts, bird watching with his brand new binoculars, reading bird books, feeding birds, and making a bird identification book.  And through it all, I will listen closely to that boy.  Really listen.



Writing My Way to a Healthier and Simpler 2015


2014 has been a year full of growth.  It was challenging and, at times, no fun at all.  But I also grew several important friendships and had many amazing moments with my family.  And since I would not be where I am right now if we had chosen an easier path last year, I don’t think I would have changed any of those big decisions.

Knowing that we are on the cusp of something new (post forthcoming about our upcoming move!!!), I spent the last few weeks putting together personal goals for next year with strategies for accomplishing each.  Instead of brainstorming a few resolutions on the last day of the year, I decided to put in the effort to develop goals in several different areas of my life that need some attention.  And to get me there, I’m enlisting your help.  By making my goals public and checking back in on them every so often on Bottling Moonlight, I am hoping that the accountability will help me to persevere.

I have chosen to focus on three areas of my life and make serious strides towards the person I would like to be.

Writing.  Over the past decade, I have come to appreciate the importance of pulling words out of the jumble in my head and forcing myself to write what I am thinking.  That sounds so easy – at least it always did to me.  It is not.  But it is so worth it.  How many times do you have an amazing insight that you then try to explain to someone, but end up grasping at how to put this ray of light into words?  This happens to me frequently.  But through writing, I have gotten better at translating those ephemeral thoughts into real ideas to be shared and discussed.  Better yet, the process always changes those thoughts and polishes off the rough points.  I enjoy writing, but after two years of regularly writing (both here and into many half-finished documents on my hard drive), I now feel the need to write.

My  goal – to write every single day of 2015.  Are you a writer?  Have you made writing goals for yourself?  Or painting, sculpting, music-making, crafting, creating goals?  If so, is anyone interested in being accountability partners?  We could check in once a week and keep each other on track.

Simplifying.  This has become a theme, both in my life and on Bottling Moonlight.  The past two years have taught me many things, but nothing quite so repetitively as the beauty and freedom that comes from living simply.  As we transition from being nomads to living in a sticks and bricks house, we will be moving the contents of our former life with us.  Before we left on our journey, we packed everything up and locked it away in a storage unit in central Pennsylvania.  Any free time we had before we left was spent on planning the trip, not on deciding what to store and what to give away.  As a result, there is a LOT that we stored that we do not need or want.  I plan to go through all of it this year and simplify, simplify, simplify.  By way of making it into a game, I decided to put a number to it.  I plan to donate, throw out, or sell at least 1,000 items over the course of 2015.  There is no scientific reason for picking that number, but it represents where I’d like to be a year from now with regard to owning stuff.  The less I own, the less that owns me.

Anyone interested in doing this with me?  No need to pick such an ambitious number.  Perhaps you don’t even want to pick a number and instead pick an area of your home or life that needs serious simplifying.  Let me know in the comments or send me a message if you’re interested in simplifying together.  If there are a few of us (near or far), we can become the Simplifying Support Squad.  Or maybe you can come up with something less cheesy.  That shouldn’t be too hard.

Health.  I left this one for last since it is the most predictable.  And though I like to buck tradition, I will not skip this one because it is too important.  I have spent the last seven years slowly gaining weight and getting less fit.  While I am not an unhealthy eater, I do have some unhealthy habits to break.  And I have a ways to go before I am the kind of healthy eater that I want to be.  I have a whole list of strategies to be healthier this year, including cutting out substantially all wheat products and processed sugar and exercising at least four times a week.  But I am also setting a number to my goal – to lose 25 pounds by the end of the year.

This was the hardest goal to make public, but also the most important.  I want to be healthier for myself and my family.  And I’ve already recruited a dear friend who also has health goals and we’ll be checking in regularly to keep each other on task.  Best part of that?  That we’ll be in contact more frequently since we haven’t lived in the same place in a very long time.

What do you have planned for 2015?  Have you made any resolutions or are you taking my path and making personal goals for the year?  If you are not setting any goals for this year, how do you want your life to be different on January 1, 2016?  Is there anything you can do now that can get you one step closer to that different life?