January 15: I was supposed to take down the Christmas tree last night. But excuses piled up like laundry. Sometime after I went to bed, a fuse blew. The tree, five weeks strong and unbending, must have heard us talking. It decided, “I’m done.” Fair enough.
January 16: Today I read back through my journal and found a few nubs that might make interesting beginnings of something. As you look back over your year, what things did you start — what seeds did you plant — that you can nurture this year?
January 17: On my way to yoga, I made a wrong turn and found myself taking a circuitous route to the studio. Knowing me as you do, you might expect me to release little balloons of delight from my detour. Instead, I razzed myself about my error and pouted that I wouldn’t get “my spot” (!). Then I realized that none of this mattered. My error was annoying, but it had no consequences. All I did was fail to meet my own expectations. I resolved to practice a bit more self-compassion, along with my planks.
January 18: Done. Boxes packed, needles swept. The light the tree leaves behind is as welcome as the tree itself.
January 19: My friend Eileen and I were talking about rejection over lunch today. She’s reading a book written by a guy who, to build his rejection-resilience, committed to making five outlandish requests every day: basically, “no” bait. He learned how to accept “no” as another’s choice, not as a personal rebuke. But he was astonished to discover that most people actually want to say “yes” if they possibly can. Think of all the times you say yes. Let’s give others the chance to say yes to us.
January 20: I get a lot of my luck just by showing up. Our town’s celebration of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King featured remarks by Joan Trumpauer Mulholland, a still-feisty veteran of the Civil Rights Movement. As I stood in line to purchase one — then a whole handful — of DVDs (“It’s not up-selling,” she told me, “when the product is so good!”), I visited with the woman waiting with me. Ms. Paulette grew up — and still lives — just down the road, in the historically black part of greater Falls Church. In the 1960s, she attended the shiny-new but segregated James Lee School and the newly integrated Falls Church High School. Her family roots go way back, with her father and his family attending the one-room schoolhouse led by Mary Ellen Henderson, for whom my boys’ middle school is named. I regret I didn’t hear more stories. But Ms. Paulette predicted she’ll see me at the James Lee Black History Month festivities on February 8. I think she’s right!
January 21: Within 30 minutes this morning I saw a spectacular moon and a spectacular sun, each brilliant in a very distinctive way. The moon glimmered delicately in a thumbnail crescent, floating above a line of trees pressed black against the gold and blue hints of sunrise. A half hour later, I turned to see the sun erupt in fire from a dip in the trees. I gazed in sips because I couldn’t attach my eyes to the brightness. Then through the tinted Metro window I watched the sun become a perfect ball, in the perfect orange and coral of a sunset. If I could wait another 30 minutes, would the ribbon of moon return?
January 19, continued: Here’s a tale from the Rejection book: The author walked into a bake shop and asked for donuts shaped like the Olympic Rings. Crazy, huh? The employee gazed at him, and then scooted into the kitchen. Half a minute later, she was back. “We’ll have it for you shortly, sir.”And there it was, borne proudly by the bake staff, who recounted how they achieved their masterful triumph. By agreeing to delight him, they had delighted themselves.
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