Spring Hygge Anyone?

Spring

Raindrops and puddles

Laughter, dressed in yellow coats,

Umbrellas in hand

Yeah. Right.

Have you seen any kids lately wearing those Hallmark-style yellow raincoats? Me neither. Spring here in Wisconsin seems to be one wet, cold, windy day after another. Kids still love their umbrellas, but we all seem to be wearing damp jackets and holding our breath…just waiting for summer to arrive.

Have you heard of Wisconsin’s eleven seasons? Winter, Fool’s Spring, Second Winter, Spring of Deception, Third Winter, Mud Season, Actual Spring, Summer, False Fall, Second Summer (one week), and Winter. 

Spring is sooooooo long. We feel impatience. There is a restlessness in the air. 

So, how do you get your mind in a place of appreciation, mindfulness, and gratitude?

“Hue-Guh”

Many people have heard of the Danish word for coziness, contentment, and well-being by appreciating a simple life–hygge. But I’m learning that the concept doesn’t end when the snowflakes stop flying, the cozy blankets are put away, and the hot chocolate is all gone. Yet, I’m still feeling the need to consciously cultivate gratitude in my life… for my life. The Danes actually have seasonal variations for hygge throughout the year.

  • Forårshygge – Spring-hygge
  • Sommerhygge – Summer-hygge
  • Efterårshygge – Autumn-hygge
  • Vinterhygge – Winter-hygge

Here in Wisconsin, spring is in full bloom. After the wet, dreary, grey days of early spring, every sunny mild day is a sign of approaching summer.

When I taught First Graders, we would regularly struggle to keep the kids in their coats at recess in the spring. Once it was sunny and above freezing, the kiddos would toss their outerwear on the pavement as they played catch&run with the football or swung from the monkey bars.

One of my favorite activities from teaching was exploring seeds and growing things with my class. We studied the germination of lima beans and started sunflowers in recycled milk cartons.

One of the reasons I’m feeling so good about my post-teaching life is that I am still planting seeds and growing stuff.

This growing stuff and appreciating growing things is a huge part of Forårshygge for me. (Side note: Do you have any idea how to actually pronounce this word? As I write this, it’s really bothering me that I don’t.) 

I’ve seen a few other posts about what people are doing in the spring to experience and live “Forårshygge”.  The common thread that I see is honoring growth and renewal. 

Here are other ways I am growing things and renewing my life this spring…

Grow Dammit!

I planted seeds in trays weeks ago and set them by my basement window on heated mats. The tomatoes are a disappointment, it looks like somebody sat on the coleus, but the peppers look strong and healthy. It was a month ago that we moved the flats out into my little greenhouse. I’ll transplant them into the garden as soon as it stops raining outside.

Spring Cleaning Anyone?

Open the windows and clean spider webs out of the corners at the ceiling. When I was teaching, I either didn’t notice the cobwebs when I cleaned up in the evening–or, it was too much effort to get them down from the high corners. Well ladies, now. is. the. time! I also open the windows to let in the spring air, the house feels fresher. This can totally be ramped up if you hang washed bedsheets out to dry. (I actually hang mine on the deck railing since I don’t have a clothesline.)

Is it still alive?

Move and group houseplants from inside to outside. Most of the greenery in my house is more than a decade old. They thrive from May to October outside and then rather hibernate in a north-facing breakfast room during Wisconsin’s frigid months. 

A Little Vase of Something

But the most important of all the Forårshygge in my life is located on my nightstand in the bedroom. Beginning at the end of April, I bring a small, fresh blossom or mini bouquet and put it in a tiny vase. Spring begins with yellow forsythia twigs and in quick succession leads to pink tulips, yellow daffodils, miniature lily of the valley, and fragrant lilacs. This little display, along with a lamp, a pile of books, reading glasses and the vase makes me happy. 

It is like a neon sign to my brain reminding me to pause, smile, and breathe when I glance at it

Spring is finally here and there are no raincoated kids holding umbrellas in my life. Are these real for anyone? Instead, I have shrimpy seedlings waiting to be planted, soggy jeans drying for hours on my porch railing, and dirt circles on my carpet where a pot sat through winter.

We can only do what we can, moment by moment, to cultivate coziness… contentment, and…well-being.

Breathe.
Who is Lisa

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Fern Gardeners…Beware!

Years ago when I realized I had inherited the gardening gene from a favorite uncle of mine, I lived in a different house, on a different street, and had different sun exposure.

There was full sun on all sides of my just-built house. It was fun planting flowers such as snapdragons, marigolds, zinnias, geraniums and I achieved a profusion of flowers and consistently brilliant colors. I spent hundreds of dollars every spring purchasing annuals to accomplish this result. 

Then, we moved, and guess what? I now live in a house with mature maple and birch trees. This translates into a yard with almost no sun. Can you say…gardening challenge?  As noted before I was used to lots of sunlight and could grow almost all sun-loving plants. 

So now I am limited to impatients, begonias, hostas, and whatever else thrives in shade…ummmm,(mushrooms anyone?). Unfortunately, I find this rather limiting, not to say, quite boring and rather unrewarding.

I decided that the areas that I created were far too extensive for annuals, and most annuals need…say it again, SUN.  So, a perennial shade garden would be the way to go. 

To make a long story short, I was gifted a couple of beautiful ferns. Probably two or three and planted them. I enjoyed the fact that once you planted them, you didn’t need to stake, fertilize, or replant yearly. In addition, they added a lushness, a cool, soft, green to my garden.

Sounds good.

I’m in.

Bring on the ferns!

Well, now several years later, guess what? I have so many ferns that I don’t know what to do with them. And, once ferns take over, they produce so much more shade that they block other shade-loving perennials from flourishing. Now, this could be pretty if you don’t like a variation in your garden, but since I need variety, this just doesn’t work for me. 

Another problem… they are beautiful in the spring, most of the summer, BUT when it gets to the “dog days of summer” they turn brown and look like shit – really ugly, brown, dry, crumply leaves. The result, a really uninviting garden. 

So, this spring I have been trying to keep on top of this problem by digging out ferns by the bag,  bucket, and garbage can full. So far, I have dug out around a hundred and fifty ferns and there appears to be no end.  Just a note–this needs to be done when the ferns are first coming up otherwise they tend to flop over and look quite stupid for the duration of the summer.

I have a feeling that I am doomed to have this be an unending problem. So gardeners beware… don’t plant ferns unless you want a “fern garden”!

Or, look more on the positive side and trust gardener and blogger Janet Kilburn Phillips at cronesgarden.com when she says…

 

“There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.”



Who Is Sandy
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To Meditate or NOT to Meditate

Meditation is supposed to be a wonderful way to relax, come to terms with your inner self, help relax your body, help your mind focus,  blah, blah, blah.

Well, you know what?  I have found meditation to be a huge waste of time.  I have tried, really, I have tried! 

Comer on inner peace...I don't have all day!

Come on inner peace…I don’t have all day!

(I know people around me would sa I HAVEN’T really tried,(see here) but that is just not true.)

My introduction–and conclusion–to meditation was a couple of years ago.  I went to a meditation workshop with my sister.  Inside a church, on a Saturday was the destination for the day (ALL day mind you)..  We were to sit in a pew, a hard pew at that.  To begin our day, there was a speaker for a short time. Then we were to sit. and. meditate.  This consisted of clearing our minds, relaxing, centering (this means controlling and balancing yourself), not talking, sitting quietly, and, well, MEDITATING!!!!

So…I have a hard time meditating.   It was a BEAUTIFUL, mild, sunny day in January for that workshop. The fresh snow was pearly white, and it was just a  gorgeous winter day.  

We were supposed to sit and be quiet for a whole morning, afternoon, AND into the night!  I just couldn’t do it.  Sometime in the early afternoon I told my sister I had to get outside or I might crack up, or at least have a nervous breakdown.  My energy level was at a high, I needed to move and do something, anything, and I felt like I would run a marathon.  

Unfortunately, when I try to meditate my brain just won’t shut off. I understand that  the goal was to develop my psychological well-being. Its a calming thing to do. Unfortunately, to me, it felt rstless, like I was wasting time. I would rather do just about anything other than just sitting,immobile, trying to clear my mind. 

Give me a book, that would work.  

Paint a wall, that would work.  

Weed a garden, yes, that would work.  

I guess I will have to call one of these activities my type of mediation.

0MMMMMM

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Developing Relationships with Your Mother-in-Law

Mother-in-lawHere are six tips for having a good relationship with your mother-in-law.

Doris wasn’t just a mother-in-law, but a fabulous friend.  Personally, I feel she had quite a bit more to overlook in me in the beginning as I was selfish, opinionated, and just plain stupid. Example – I had my second child and was not up to par.  It was spring and, of course, flower planting time.  I being the perfectionist (and this is where stupid and selfish comes in) did the unthinkable…  To be nice she planted a peachy/pink bed of petunias in an area where I would usually put, I think, red.  Would you believe that when I felt up to it, I actually replaced her petunias with my preferred color?  When I think of that today I just cringe.  She never said a word, but I’ll bet she was not impressed with me.  

Tip 1 – Be thankful for the little things they do for you and be gracious

When my husband and I started going together we were of different religions.  I was with a girlfriend that was Lutheran, the same as my mother-in-law, and she said to me.  “Why doesn’t Art find a nice Lutheran girl to date?”  At the time I was appalled.  Today I think it is pretty funny as later in life I turned to Lutheran and she turned to the religion that I had been for her second husband.

Tip 2 – Don’t sweat the small stuff.  There is always tomorrow and things change

The two of us came from entirely different backgrounds.  She was a farm girl and I was a city brat.  Her taste was totally different than mine and we had a good time teasing about my exotic, or just plain different taste than hers.  One time after putting up a half-moon mirror in my family room I asked her what she thought and she replied, “I think it looks totally stupid.”  O.K. then!!!  I had grown up enough by this time to actually laugh it off and I still have that totally stupid mirror still hanging in my family room.

Tip 3 – Appreciate true honesty and don’t take it personally

She was always there when I needed her, or just a phone call away.  She actually got a warning ticket for speeding on Center Street to come and wash my kitchen floor.  I was getting ready for one of the girl’s weddings and she thought I could use some help.  The officer asked her where she was going in such a hurry, 50 in a 25-speed zone, and she said to wash my daughter-in-law’s floor. He gave her a warning, but I’ll bet there were a few laughs down at the station after that. I hope none of them knew me so as to judge me, expecting this poor older lady to wash my kitchen floor?.  

Tip 4 – Appreciate the things they do for you even if it is not necessary

When I planted my perennial garden I worked during the day and had to get my plants in after dark for some reason.  My mother and mother-in-law sat on logs in my backyard with flashlights to help me see what I was doing.  My backyard neighbor had to hang over the fence in the morning to see what the hell was going on. 

Tip 5 –  Appreciate the big things they do for you

I could go on and on.  She has since passed on and I miss her terribly.  I miss our late evening gab sessions on the phone.  Her stories that went on and on, and her being there for me was so enjoyable.  Sure, she made me a little crazy sometimes, but I learned to overlook her differences and she overlooked mine.  When she told me that I was more like a daughter to her than a daughter-in-law that was the ultimate compliment.  

Tip 6 –  Enjoy their differences and learn from them

They seem to have a book of knowledge that they love to share.  Remember that they also compete with your own mother on most occasions and also learn how not to tread on toes.

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To Tan or Not to Tan

To tan or not to tan, that is the question!!!

TanningAs I sit here with my white legs, white arms, white face, white body, white everything looking like a newly plucked chicken, next to my Hispanic granddaughter with beautiful caramel skin.  I love caramel skin and in my next life perhaps I will have that gorgeous, flawless skin, caramel in color.  But, today I am reflecting back to the days when we actually tried to achieve, and did, but not without a little (a lot) discomfort and pain. Continue reading

Sandy’s 9 Tips for a Beautiful Garden

Here are some of my gardening tips:

When to Plant

Iceman Days.  Do not plant annuals or vegetable plants until after “Iceman Days”.  Iceman Days seem to be different every year, but when I looked it up for this year it says they are May 11, 12, and 13.  It has something to do with the moon.  (This is taken from the Farmer’s Almanac).  If you are really interested in the history of this just go to Google as Google knows everything.  Not being a farmer, just an unknowledgeable girl, this saved me quite a bit of money.  It really seems true and I follow it religiously.  One year I put out impatients the first week of May and it actually snowed on them.  So much for pretty plants.  They don’t like to be frozen!!!

Hostas

Don’t plant (most) hostas in the sun.  Read the labels and make sure if they will tolerate the sun or not. They will grow, but the leaves have a tendency of burning.  Unfortunately, I don’t believe burned leaves is the look you will want to achieve.  (Reading the labels for all plants is essential to proper maintenance)

Mulching

I don’t mulch around annuals as this seems to stunt their growth.  Mulching around other items in the garden does provide a clean appearance and helps retain moisture.

Overcrowding  

Overcrowding is another way to prevent plants from thriving.  Allowing space between your plants is beneficial for their growth.  This is something I fail at miserably because I prefer immediate gratification and want to see full planters and gardens.  

Weeding

Weeding, of course, is really important.  For some of us that don’t mind weeding, if taken an area at a time, it can be rewarding.  Lisa and I actually tend to weed anywhere we are; restaurants, stores, other people’s houses, wherever we are standing and notice weeds.  It might be considered a mental problem by some!! (Michelle thinks we are nuts)

Fertilizing

Fertilizing is a must, even though this is something that I don’t do as often as I should.  This is especially important for container planting.

Larger Pots

I used to do a lot of planting in little pots.  I have now gone to fewer, but much larger planters.  The flowers thrive much better.  This creates less fussing over.  

20-minute gardening

Don’t overdue.  Don’t do it all in one day if you have a lot of gardening.  By taking 20 minutes each day to do your garden maintenance you’ll enjoy the process more.

Edging

A nice crisp edge to your garden completes a finished look.  Even if there are weeds in the middle, a clean edge makes your gardens look cared for both far away and close up.

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Time – Lisa

Where does the time go?

Some of us are working hard, head down, getting stuff done..others, not so much.

So often when I look back at days, weeks, months…or years, it feels like I just put my head down and plowed through my life. Accomplishing tasks. Meeting needs. Moving kids from point A to point B. Cooking. Cleaning.

I recently took a yoga teacher training where I learned about svadhyaya. In Sanskrit, it means studying yourself. I love to use journaling to do that. As I look back, I can break my life into several “times”.

Way back, when I was married to my ex, I lived rather thoughtlessly. There were just the two of us, both working, no kids. We watched froreign films with subtitles and used a French press to make our coffee. We explored book stores and listened to jazz music. He played his guitar and I worked in my flower gardens.

Now I have a family…husband. three kids. My time for the past twelve years has revolved around teaching, books, kids, survival.

But I feel like this time is changing, wrapping up, and I am preparing for the next chapter. I’ve been teaching for more than 20 years. Now my kids are older. I’m not moving toward retirement…exactly, but another chapter in my life. One where I’m finding more joy and purpose in writing and creating.

Transitions take energy, focus, and dedication. That’s what I’m doing. But, on a daily level, I too often act like I have all the time in the world to accomplish my dreams. At the end of the day, I realize that there wasn’t enough time to even accomplish the mundane, everyday tasks that were on my plate.

So. Here’s what is helping me…

Being a teacher, I love that my time is organized into blocks everyday and those blocks have a solid beginning and end. Accomplishment is inevitable because all the goals for my class are given a little time EVERY day.

That works in my personal life too. Call it the First Grade system of time management. Everything in a block of time and a block of time for everything.

I’ve been planning the week. Food and shopping. Don’t you find that the energy that shopping and cooking meals consumes a huge amount of energy in the week?

What are my work/life goals?–lay it out. Put it down on paper, sticky notes or journal. Make time for work, sleep, writing, reading, and play.

‘Chelle and I during our weekly coffee meeting when we plan, support and encourage each other.

I schedule walking, yoga, meditation…my “self-care”. It’s not that there is no time for these things, rather, if I don’t value myself enough to honor and protect myself…well…no. one. else. will.

Where does time go?

There are large chunks of time in my day that are spoken for, parts that are committed. Then there are, of course, parts that I get to choose.

When I mindfully and thoughtfully choose, I make a commitment to myself and can create the life I want in the long run. But if I don’t plan for this ahead of time, it disappears…and MY time is a terrible thing to waste.

Gardening – ‘Chelle

hqdefaultEveryone has decided to write about gardening.  What do I have to write about gardening?  I hate gardening!!  Mom always tells me that as a kid, I loved to garden.  No – I loved to plant a few flowers for her.  That is what I liked to do.  I don’t like the weeding, the soil preparation, the watering.  Ugh.  It’s a never-ending job!!  Now, granted – I DO love the end result when someone else does it for me.  (aka Mom – “Thanks Mom!!”)

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Gardening – Judy

2nd summer garden picI was never much of a gardener. As a kid, I usually got stuck out in Mom’s garden in the prickly raspberries picking berries or weeding between the brick walk in the back yard. To me gardening was hard work and no fun.

When my sister got married and bought her first home, these beautiful gardens starting popping up. How did she do that I wondered?

When I left home I lived in apartments, condos and townhouses so I concentrated on indoor plants. I actually got quite proficient with them.

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Procrastination – Sandy

ChristmaI am the queen of procrastination.   I have a saying that I post at the office that says “Success is doing the things that we procrastinate doing in a timely fashion”.

I always seem to be able accomplish quite a few things when I am under stress, but as I get older, I find that procrastinating for a period of time only puts me in a very stressful straight of mind.

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