It’s true, I’ve found, what they say about how engaging in new and (hopefully!) positive behavior for a period of roughly thirty days can provide another layer to the texture of what we cherish most about ourselves.

When I retired in 2017, the year I turned sixty, I received a small, red-leather journal. I decided I wanted some form of structure to my new freedom-filled days, an accounting of sorts so I used this journal to record those things I’d accomplished each day. Aside from a brief pause – I decided I’d done so long enough but then I hankered for my nightly tradition of enumerating what had transpired – task wise – throughout the past several daylight hours – I continue to write in my WIAT journal every day.

WIAT: What I Accomplished Today.

Of course, there are some things that are just daily givens such as making my bed, brushing my teeth, showering, etc. Those are not WIAT-worthy expenditures. But laundry, mowing the lawn, baking cookies, making progress and/or completing a quilting project, Gravel Travel / photography, writing a new poem, submitting my poetry to a new journal, going for a walk, riding my bike, performing Garbage Patrol or Poop Patrol (picking up after puppy!) – these are just some of the things I add to my journal.

Some days, very few of them actually, are blank. Sometimes, a person’s day might appear to be a non-event, nothing noteworthy on the accomplishment scale. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good or memorable or pleasant day. When I can spend a few hours in the shade of our twin canopies out front, beneath the branches of our oak and maple trees, reading a good book, with puppy at my feet, I’m not exactly operating in firecracker mode. And that’s okay. So what? I don’t have anything of merit or value to add to my WIAT pages.

Or perhaps I’m sick. Or it’s just too hot to do anything at all. Duly noted as self-required justification for my lack of checking boxes of any kind whatsoever. Still okay.

And so, here we are at the beginning of a new year. I just rejoined Goodreads so I can track the books I read, what I’m reading now, what I’d like to read going forward. (My first account was hacked so I jumped ship. I’ve decided to give it another try!) My 2023 Goal: Read 50 books this year.

Another habit I’ve decided to pursue is that of submitting to 100 poetry journals and publications by the first of April, which just happens to be National Poetry Month.

Last, but certainly not least, I’ve decided to commit to writing one haiku or senryu each day, some of which I may post here on A Sawyer’s Daughter. I was inspired to do so after reading this article. What I write each day might be ‘rough’. They might be spot on. They might even be cringeworthy. But I’m willing to plow through those first 30 days to create yet another self-embracing strategy for the betterment of Julie.

Happy New Year everyone!

Stuck in the thick of it, those plunging temperatures, bitter winds, ice-slicked roads and sidewalks, it can feel like this will be our world from here on out, nothing for it but gray, gloomy skies and the isolation of the polar darkness we experienced just a short week or so ago.

And then, there’s a day like today! Bright-lit & mild, calm and peaceful, sunshine just oozing through the late December air. Our car’s temperature gauge delivered us the magnificent news: fifty-six glorious degrees! Not that we needed a digital device to tell us what a wonderful day it was for our walk, puppy straining at his leash, a broad canine smile and merry eyes that would melt any human’s heart.

Oh, there will be more nasty winter weather to come, no doubt. This is Iowa, after all. We’re hale, stout, hardy creatures, those of us who’ve lived here our whole lives. We’re used to it. We can handle the tough stuff, even with three to four months of winter spread out before us. No matter. It won’t last forever, despite the doubt that sometimes creeps in. Spring, that now-elusive delight, is something we ought not to tempt ourselves with just yet. It, after all, isn’t even the first of January yet! But, still, we can tuck it away, that certain knowledge that warm, sunny, balmy weather will inhabit our days before too (terribly) long.

Today, just for today, I can deal with that.

My ‘day’ began at 12:34 AM (count me the odd one as I get a bit of a thrill out of glancing at the clock and seeing numerical sequences or patterns, such as this). After half an hour of wakefulness, I got out of bed, donned my robe and slippers, grabbed my journal, my current read (‘Melmoth’ by Sarah Perry) and an assortment of poetry journals. One of my morning rituals is reading a variety of poems – duly noting them in my journal – and since it was technically “morning”, I began to read and record the poems as I experienced each and every lovely one of them.

My winter solstice was off to an early start indeed, so perhaps my day – this designated shortest day of the year – will feel a little longer than it really is. As I noted in my journal (in the wee hours of the morning), the days begin to lengthen from here on out and that is truly something to celebrate! Especially here in the frigid Midwest with a winter storm bearing down on us right before the holidays.

Two hours later, I was ready to crawl back under the covers. I slept well after that. This is one of the perks of being retired. Can’t sleep at night? No matter. I don’t follow any schedule other than whatever my heart desires these days. I can sleep in, if I want to or need to, although this particular morning I was surprised to be awake, and up & at ’em, about eight o’clock, even after an interrupted night of rest.

So here’s to the Winter Solstice and the return of increasing light in the weeks and months ahead! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to one and all. 🙂

There’s a glossiness to it.  A remembered sensate perception of calm, joy, light and warmth.  It’s a glimpse of well-being I used to equate with a certainty of the existence of God.  Often, I experience it in nature, walking through sun-dappled trees, green in all her varied shades, punctuated with dabs of purple, red, and yellow.  Birds chirping and flying, squirrels and other unseen critters scampering among scattered leaves, birch trees and mighty oaks and gnarly walnuts, their trunks peeling or textured or wrapped in vines.  It would not matter if I walked alone—often, it was my preference—or accompanied by another human presence.  Satisfaction enveloped me, cocooned my body in its goodness. 

Always, this is what I hunger for.  It sustains me, even just the memory of those moments.  And often, it alone is enough, just enough.  More than enough! 

One cannot seek it out or endeavor to manufacture these moments.  But to place myself within the bounty of nature and beauty, the silence of the earth, what I hunger for does not disappoint.  The need will be fed.  A desire for comfort can be found within the depths of a quiet wood, under benevolent skies, with an eager eye and an open heart.

This day, she be a good one.

Drawing the blinds that face our world, lovely snow lightly falling delighted my morning ritual of let-out-the-dog. So still, so serene.

Husband made me a hot, yummy bowl of Coco Wheat cereal. A throw-back to years earlier when my son was small and our break-the-fast routine included Malt O’Meal, instant oatmeal and Cream of Wheat. It tasted pretty darn good this morning.

While Bill tended to work-work To Do items in his make-shift basement office, Coco and I suited up for a walk in our Iowa Winter Wonderland. Earlier this week, when the temps hovered just above zero and the winds were a-howlin’, we’d done the same although for relatively briefer forays. Still, it had felt good to get outdoors, escaping the Cabin Fever mentality that had begun to consume me of late. Today, however, though dreary and overcast, the weather is milder, accentuated with all that brilliant virgin whiteness. We managed a decent forty minutes. Bogged down in heavy cold-weather outerwear and clunky boots, it was a bit of a workout trudging through all those uncleared sidewalks, with snow several inches deep. Tiring but exhilarating nonetheless.

On our return, hubby was clearing the snow from our sidewalks and driveway. I let Coco out into the enclosed backyard while I released myself from my now damp and confining boots and garments. Coco’s face, thoroughly encrusted with snow, peered in at me through our huge living room windows, cute and as adorable as ever. Time now to let him in and wipe him down of all that snow.

A little later, I tweaked a poem I’d written a few weeks earlier and posted here on my blog. Pleased with what I’d written, I turned to thoughts of cozy comfort and made myself a hot cuppa tea and curled up with a wonderful book about a woman who ran the Iditarod in 2003 and 2005, an inspiring and delightful read. Sitting there, with Coco snuggled next to me, I was struck by the realization of what a simple but wonderful day it’s been thus far.

The smallest of pleasantries often provide the largest satisfactions and so I wanted to share that with you. May you all have yourselves your own simple, wonderful Sunday!

Christmas. Just one week away.

How much a non-day event this becomes the older I get. Not a NON-day actually. Every 24-hour cycle is, technically, a day.

What I should have said is what an ANY day Christmas has turned into over the years. “Special” only because our society and our culture and our religious norms and the calendar itself say it’s so. The requisite time spent with family during the holidays – images of jolly laughter, yuletide carols, warmth and comradery – feels forced, somehow. Contrived. In reality, this time of year is often more stressful and chaotic than it is calming and cleansing. Expectations are high, emboldened by the trappings of social media, for a glitzy, candle-shrouded, Hallmark Cards experience to rival anything Hollywood could muster up on the big screen. We’re bombarded with photographs and images, tweets and postings positively dripping with hygge-inspired loveliness that render our drab, ordinary lives pathetic by comparison.

Here’s an idea. What say we treat every day as special, each day a Christmas? Loving one another, treasuring the earth, showing kindness, embracing gratitude every 24-hour cycle. And for good measure – and for sanity’s sake for ALL of us – let’s shrug off what we think and believe others are doing and how others are living their lives and just focus on what makes US happy for a change?

Now that would be cause for celebration.

No snow yet and temps continue their mild streak again this week. Perfect for taking long walks with puppy but snow – for Christmas – would be lovely. There’s still time of course, but a winter wonderland lends a seasonal framework for holiday cheer, snow lightly falling, Nat King Cole in the background singing of chestnuts and open fires, children sledding, their rosy cheeks and smiles as infectious as all get out, warm mugs of hot chocolate in hand and all that white beauty, well, it really does just do a body – and soul – a whole lot of good.

Precipitation is necessary, too, for Iowa crops next spring, for its rivers, streams and lakes, for trees and grasses, bushes and shrubs, tulips, crocuses, daffodils and luscious green hostas bordering April/May flower beds. The last several winters have produced little, and sometimes, NO snow. More and more, I’m hearing others echo my same concerns over this troubling lack of winter precipitation and warmer temperatures during the dormant months of December, January, February and March.

The climate here in central Iowa (and elsewhere) does appear to be shifting, changing, morphing into something other than what I’ve experienced – and loved – throughout my sixty-one years on this planet. Disclaimer: I adore each one of Iowa’s four seasons! However, extreme weather is another shared – and talked about – new phenomenon. This past year began most noticeably (following yet another above average warm, dry winter) with roller-coaster ups and downs of abnormal-for-the-time-of-year temperatures and precipitation.

April 2018 was frigid. May was HOT. Summer was a beast (delightful spring days skipped us entirely). Autumn, surely, would not disappoint. Oh, how I eagerly awaited those beautiful blue skies, colorful fall foliage and cool, crisp October afternoons.

Um, no.

It rained and rained and then rained some more. And it was COLD, not pleasantly, achingly refreshing cool and crisp but downright bitterly uncomfortable, windy, damp and miserable.

Who knows what the winter of 2018-2019 will bring? Right now – and at the moment I’m not really complaining, mind you – we’re enjoying some mid-December warmth and bright sunny days. I can’t help but wonder though if this isn’t a harbinger of what the next four months will be like. While I do like it now – today – it’s not what I want, like or expect of the most wonderful time of the year, let alone Old Man Winter.


Climate change? You really do have to wonder.

For years, I’ve wanted to own a dog – as an adult – in order to experience for myself the joys and rewards of canine companionship known to so many others. Bringing this little guy, our sweet, sweet Coco, into our lives has been a revelation. A challenge, yes. Great frustration at times? Most certainly. Regret? If I’m honest, yeah, once in awhile.

He, however, gives us so much in return for our trouble. Like a bucking bronco, he tears up the living room, his exhilaration palpable as, one by one, he trots out each of his growing collection of toys as Bill and I go about our morning preparations. We delight at his antics, his simple puppy gestures, his whimpers and growls, his wagging tail, his dark eyes and black button nose, his soft wavy coat, his cherubic countenance as he (at last!) curls up for a mid-morning nap and most of all, his love and devotion to us – his supremely lucky humans.

Puppyhood is likely not for everyone and I’ll be both grateful and sad when he sheds his youthful exuberance for a more stately and dignified – restful – manner. Every day brings new smiles and laughter and a deepening appreciation for the happiness and glee he provides. I can only hope he is as pleased to have us in his life as we are that he is a part of ours.


Sometimes it slows down, so much so that our days can feel stagnant but otherwise moving along at a leisurely pace – nice! – and at other times we find ourselves being pulled along and/or pushed into activities, events, changes that leave us gasping for air.

One thing is certain, however; life keeps moving on. How we react to what it brings is ours to decide. And that can make for quite the astonishing difference.

Daily Prompt: Astonish