January Evenings and Indulgences

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

Highclere Castle ~ photo from flickr creative commons.

The third season of Downton Abbey is finally here. (The photo of Highclere Castle, where it’s filmed, is by Jonathan Rieke.)

Sometimes I almost feel as though I’m part of the family. Maggie Smith’s character is a delight to watch, although I wouldn’t want to deal with her in real life. There’s an online quiz, “Which Downton Abbey Job is Right for You”, and I scored Isobel Crawley.

It’s been unusually cold here and the sidewalks are icy or slippery in many places, depending on what has or hasn’t been done. Some people are boring with their struggles regarding New Year’s Resolutions and I’m as interested and supportive as I can be, depending on my energy level among other things. It’s been years since I’ve made resolutions, although I have goals and choose several areas of focus.

I’ve done well with having a “word of the year”. This year my word is “refresh”. I didn’t pick it; it persistently and insistently made itself noticed and while I’m not up for explaining what it might mean, the word seems appropriate and I’ve accepted it.

With new dietary restrictions at this time–because health is very important to me–my treat of choice now is having a glass or two of red wine some evenings, even though I don’t bother obtaining wine without sulfites. We all have our little escapes and soft addictions; I’ve eliminated some and upgraded others.

Freshly grated ginger for tea in the afternoon is another treat I’ve been looking forward to lately. It isn’t about what I’ve chosen; it’s about my paying attention and making the time and effort to follow through instead of telling myself I’m too busy and that “maybe tomorrow” I’ll take care of myself in this way.

By next month the energies and themes of my life will be different and something else will be available to add a little sparkle and pleasure to my daily existence. Taking responsibility is valued by me and when this life is over I don’t want to look back and see a pattern of self-denial when it came down to appreciating life.

What are you making the time to enjoy these days?


Life Tools and Blooming Tea

Today I read a quote about attitude and how important it is, no matter what’s going on. Sometimes it’s one of the few things we have control over. Things happen and we have a choice how to respond.
We’ve all heard that many times. I think we can get overwhelmed almost beyond endurance though. There are times when we get worn down by a relentless, unbelievable string of mishaps. Hopefully, people can recognize when they need professional help and have the resources to find effective, timely solutions.
What I’m considering here is not those way out-of-control times. Instead it’s the general, consistent attitude that we bring to our daily lives. It makes a difference and it’s easy to slide into being more negative without realizing it. It isn’t necessary to stretch and twist ourselves into someone we’re not, just notice and upgrade the attitude.
As someone who’s interested in personal and spiritual growth, I have a tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be and to over-analyze things. As a moody, emotional and generally subjective person, I’ve learned lots of tools to apply to my life. Some of us seem to be having very complicated lives.
When I really need something to be more simple, I narrow it down to focusing on something like my attitude.
One of the systems I like to work with is Laurel Mellin’s Emotional Brain Training. As I tend to do, I haven’t used it consistently in a focused way as is suggested for optimum results. I haven’t gotten all that far in the practice of it either, but what I’ve learned from it so far has been helpful.
What I’d like to mention here is the tool suggested for when someone is in the lowest, out-of-control, upset state. There are three things one can work with:
1. Do not blame yourself or others.
2. Minimize the damage. (For me it might be overeating, shopping for things I don’t need or becoming withdrawn.)
3. Remind yourself that this too will pass.
I like EBT when I want to dig in with some structured, psychological tools. Other times, I want a different point of entry into changing my life.

Yesterday I got a surprise gift, delivered by UPS. It was ordered from the Home Shopping Network, something I’m not familiar with at all. The only television I watch is Hulu, so there are many consumer products that I have no idea exist.
It’s a glass tea pot for use with pod-like clumps of tea that bloom when hot water is poured over them.
The handle is oddly shaped, I guess to keep it from getting too hot when maneuvering it about. The water used should be hot, not boiling. I’d forgotten why some instructions call for that, but read today that when the water boils it releases the oxygen that’s needed to optimally brew the tea.
The flavor was very delicate and I liked the aroma of it. Today I tried the tangerine spice. I spilled some every time I poured, but that isn’t unusual for me.