It’s been a while since I have written a Bliss List, and as I sat down to remedy that I doubted my timing.
Russia has invaded Ukraine, I have friends and loved ones in crisis, and Jocelyn is still gone. Life in general has plenty of heartache and shadows, so as usual I wrestle with the guilt of celebrating, well, anything.
And yet, what always wins that internal wrestling match is the knowledge that counting blessings matters. Giving time and attention to the goodness in our lives only allows it to multiply. Letting God know that we see and appreciate the answers He has already sent us keeps us on the lookout for the answers still coming.
- Early in January I reflected on a full bodied, joyful holiday season, giving thanks for time with loved ones and the ability to celebrate in our favorite ways. We really had a magical Thanksgiving and Christmas season. Bliss to keep traditions the way we do and make note of the memories.
- Clearing out the Christmas décor more thoughtfully than ever, taking time to scour the storage space and organize it all by season and holiday. Walking space!! Donations! Law and Order in the attic! Bliss to finally have that mammoth job done.
- Tender moments with our friend who lost her Mom in January. A memorable sunset the night she passed moving funeral that honestly left us both inspired to live in quieter, more meaningful ways, and a glorious sunny day the afternoon of her burial. Sad, yes, but also bliss to experience that depth of love, even peripherally.
- Innumerable long, loving conversations with Jess every week. Constant contact and ongoing closeness with her and Alex. A few surprise visits and always fun with the pups! Laika had a little surgery and Bean stayed at the farm for a few days. Bliss to share life with them in such natural, easy ways. Bliss to witness their love story and their growth as people.
- I baked a snowflake cinnamon bread for Cara, one final holiday baking effort! And that same day Jessica and I went fabric shopping for her new aprons. I absolutely love seeing her thirst for color and flavor, both in the kitchen and in life. Bliss to be out in the world with my girl, to see a friend, and to share some creative energy.
- In late January, my husband and I celebrated his mom Judy’s birthday, just the two of us. We had a long delayed meal at Saltgrass, the last restaurant she wanted to take us to before she died suddenly. I wrote her a long letter to her, trying to update her on the life events has missed since her passing, an impossible feat, but the act of trying was good for us, and we may have sparked a new tradition. Another sad day, but also, bliss to conjure up her spirit and to share our hushed grief a little bit.
- Blood donation! This appointment had been rescheduled for many weeks due to weather, covid exposure, and other life complications; so it felt like a major accomplishment to get back on track. My blood pressure was super low that day, but still my left arm sprayed nearly black blood like a fountain all over the chair next to me. Bliss to be healthy enough to do this, to sit still for half an hour reading a book, and then to eat snacks all afternoon, ha.
- We enjoyed a new Outreach project that fueled and motivated us for several weeks. A single mom and her twelve year old daughter had just arrived in Oklahoma after a long, treacherous journey fleeing wildfires and homelessness in California. We were inundated with donations from friends then went shopping to make sure their new home was well furnished and comfy. Meeting these sweet people after chatting for a few weeks, to prepare, was almost too much. Very emotional. Bliss to connect with strangers and have a small hand in helping them feel at home in our state.
- Running has felt great the past few months, a gift for which I am so thankful. I have reminded myself that a speed workout once or twice per week is safe and fun. I have built mileage steadily, happily. And I have managed to resist exterior pressures about expensive races. Bliss to run better and on my own terms.
- Two massive arctic storms, both of which could have been much more destructive, came and went since the holidays. We are so thankful for healthy, safe animals and for continual electricity. One of the storms brought heaps and heaps of gorgeous snow, which was really fun. This most recent storm that brought mostly sleet and ice was still pretty, and I am so thankful that Jess and BW and our other local loved ones stayed safe on the roads. Bliss to survive weird winter weather in Oklahoma.
- Both Chanta and Dusty had health scares this past month, between the winter storms, and both of them turned out okay. I am so thankful for their health, so thankful for the thick blankets they wear during arctic blasts, so thankful for every happy year we enjoy with them. Bliss to see them walking and eating comfortably.
- Surprise quality time with our friends Lynn and Jimmy Dale, time to laugh and dream and pray for all of our kids. Time to normalize parenting difficulties and heartaches, then laugh some more. Plus they let us try out their performance stilts! Bliss to enjoy easy, spontaneous quality time with friends.
- Birthday gifts shipped to siblings in Los Angeles and Spain. Feeling better connected to them than ever before, despite the miles that separate us. Also daydreaming about trips to both places! Bliss to nurture adult friendship with my siblings.
- It really makes me happy to have a loafing shed stuffed with giant round bales of hay. It’s as good a feeling, maybe better, as having the grocery shopping done a week before a major holiday. Bliss to be well prepared and secure.
- Book discussion Zooms with friends in faraway places, personal prayerful video conference with two respected and beloved women, and a much needed Zoom with my sisters. I need these connections, and I am thankful for them. Bliss to connect with people in meaningful ways.
- So many great books this winter! Since Thanksgiving I have already read more creative fiction than I did all of the previous year, and I am enjoying it. My spirit has needed it, this pleasure of reading books I want to read and reading books that stimulate my storytelling mind. Bliss to read slowly and deeply.
- A few weeks ago I started shaping and amending soil for a brand new pizza garden! Oh my gosh, it’s so exciting. Bliss to wear thin gloves and let my body take over from memory, to feel my spade crunch through the sleeping earth, bliss to watch the blank circle emerge from the snow and mud. Bliss to work the compost, too.
- We finally watched The Art of Racing in the Rain with Jess! Family pizza night. Good, relatable cry. Great laughs. Many cuddles with Klaus and Bean. Bliss in every way.
- A couple of days in a row during a warm spell, we spent some quality time with our neighbors and new friends Rex and Cathy. They are so fun and easy to talk to, so rich in life experiences and so steeped in Love, being in their company is the best feeling. Bliss to have neighbors we love and enjoy so much.
- I spent a few hours here and there with buckets of hot water, cleaning solutions, and scrub brushes, and I loved it. Bliss to get a head start on spring cleaning.
- Another sweet and quiet Valentine’s Day, our traditional heart-shaped rib eye meal at home, and some very good romance, all of it like a warm and sexy quilt. Bliss.
- Shortly after Valentine’s, we had one fiery marital disagreement that definitely hurt both of our feelings, one of those Clash of the Titans-style conflicts that thankfully doesn’t happen very often. But we both managed to express ourselves fully and honestly, then we reconciled in a few precious, unforgettable moments. Bliss to feel that authentic reconnection and deep peace.
- We have a handful of small farm events coming up right around the corner, and planning them is a lot of fun. Bliss to anticipate gathering our people and to plan how to feed them and how we can set the stage for memory making.
- One day this past week we fired up the yurt heater, ready with a pail of water for the sauna rocks, and luxuriated in a 150 degree room for probably too long, ha. Bliss to feel that deep, full body sweat in the dead of winter.
- On the afternoon we were set to deliver a trailer stuffed with furniture, appliances, and home supplies to our Outreach family, our truck had some mechanical trouble. Dennis, Brandon, and Adam showed up, though, and saved the day. The guys are always there to help, and we don’t know what we would do without them. Bliss to have friends who always make a stressful situation more fun, and who always help.
- Yesterday my sweet, smart husband sat with me for about two hours and answered dozens of layered questions for a brand new interview project. He indulged my curiosity, shared his heart, and made me fall in love with him all over again. Bliss to know your spouse of twenty years in ever deepening ways.
Choose joy. Inventory your pleasures and sensations. List your bliss. Allow and encourage light to overtake the darkness.
“Our daily noble pursuits make us human.
War awakens the preciousness of life
and reminds us to live each moment
to the glory of God.”