Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The King and I

I have spent the last few weeks of my life planning out my entire year.  Looking at my life through a critical lens and recognizing character flaws, I have sought out change. Planners, pens, lists, schedules, and inspirational quotes have all been used to form my 2011 strategy. Look out world. Change is on the way.
Unlike those who no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, I look forward to them again and again. Some goals have been reached, others discarded, and still others altered. Yet the excitement of dreaming and planning is one I cannot shake. I get a thrill out of reviewing the plans I made throughout the year and seeing real progress being accomplished.  I spend weeks in the first month of every year determining what my vision is, what needs to change, what must be thrown off, and what ought to be pursued.
Many people today no longer believe in New Year’s Resolutions, as though it were the Tooth Fairy, or some myth dependent on the power of the human will. And there is some truth to that, I suppose. After all, if my hope for the entire year rests in what I can do, then I am putting all my eggs in one very undependable basket. I do not believe in the human ability to conquer anything on one’s own. We most certainly need grace and help. But resolve is something I can’t cut down to being a false hope. Resolve is profound. Vision is vital. Hope is exhilarating. Resolution is essential. 
This week, I was shaken by the sight and sound of one man’s resolve. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, was a prophetic, inspiring man of resolution. He found hope in the midst of darkness, and gave that hope like a torch to an entire people, to a nation. Listening to the recording of his “I Have a Dream” speech, or the reverberating “Mountaintop” speech is like being in the presence of something great, something in motion, something bigger than oneself. A man very worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize, he united a fragile nation with his thunderous, unstoppable rhetoric, and his remarkable perseverance born out of a revolutionary vision. Remembering Dr. King is remembering a man on mission, a man on fire. 
Dr. King’s life has been spent. Like the rest of us, he was mortal, and his time was finite. Yet he counted what he had and spent it well. What he accomplished proves that life is not something to be clung to, but to be used up on something worthy. And so, amid a list of small ambitions, Dr. King’s life asks these provoking questions: Because it is inevitable that you are spending your life, what are you spending it on? What mission is worth the value of your life? What vision will brighten the lives of others? 
I hope that as we look back on another birthday of Dr. King, we have left it changed, humbled, inspired, and more dedicated to freedom and justice than ever before. As we make our way into another year, I hope that we make it count. Indeed, may we count what we have and spend it well. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

Espresso in the Library

Today: An interesting mix of planning and spontaneity.

Sipping on a new espresso creation: home brewed espresso (Delonghi EC155) with heavy cream, lightly dusted with nutmeg and cocoa. Spontaneous photo shoot with a my incredibly aesthetic espresso cup and plate... a stunning cobalt blue, and one of a pair from Mom. :)  I have named the collection, "Espresso in the Library." My favorite Christmas Bearista even made it in one of the shots.

Listening to my new Duffy c.d. There is something especially luxurious about hearing Duffy saying, quite somberly, "cocktail after cocktail..." Her new album is, in many songs, much more modern compared to her first one. However, it is also quite signature. I prefer the ballads over the more party-like beats. Her reverberating voice is quite timeless. "Hard for the Heart" always makes me feel like putting on a white and blue striped shirt and denim capris, and wandering along some distant coast singing this song.

Only 10 more chapters to go in C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity. It is a particularly rich book on theology, and admittedly a challenge for me. However, this is when I am really in need of a girlfriend to have coffee and good discussion with. Perhaps a New Year's Resolution? A coffee and book friend?

A spontaneous game of Rummy with Micah over an excellent meal of Penne with Olives, Capers, and Pine Nuts (practically a dietary staple for us by now), lettuce with Lemon Vinaigrette, and Bay Cheddar biscuits. Made rudimentary plans for Valentine's Day. Perhaps Austin. I would love to revisit The Blue Dahlia.  Very thankful for our Red Lobster gift card from Mr. Wittman.  Already highly anticipating our fourth Valentine's Day together. They have all been so special. I am stoked.

The New Year's Resolutions planning has taken a lot of work. I have given myself to the end of the month to come up with specific plans, goals, expectations, and strategies. Quite exciting. I love expecting much of myself, in that sense. I've decided it is hereditary. Most people make fun of resolutions, saying that no one ever follows through on them. Like Mom, I love planning, renewing, strategizing for the months to come, and this isn't the only time of the year that you'll find me doing this, either.

A romantic evening last night, with our first mutual viewing of One Fine Day. Oven-Baked Arborio with Tomatoes, Cheddar Bay Biscuits, an open bottle of Sauvignon Blanc (Kendall-Jackson, Vitner's Reserve, California 2009),which most certainly did have a "stone-like mineral quality" we greatly appreciated.

Yoga, chamomile (the last bag, I'm afraid), getting lost in Micah's eyes, exchanging the drama of our latest dreams (some romantic, some frightening). Memorizing more scripture. Mostly Ephesians (I'm hooked). Reading in my favorite chair, which has just recently made its arrival to the perfect spot in the living room. The sun poured through the blinds in lateral radiance. The surprising warmth on my skin was most welcoming in mid-January. Praise God.

If you haven't heard Duffy's Endlessly... I hereby commission you to do so immediately, and in full. Warwick Avenue as well, while you are at it.

Still on the menu: Writing this week's article. Cleaning the kitchen. Finishing up resolutions and plans. Lime Chicken Fajitas and Guacamole. Oh, and the highly anticipated Banana Walnut Loaf. It has been far too long.

Natasha W.