The most peaceful way to spend one hour of every day…

In the past few years, I’ve made it a habit to walk outdoors for about an hour every single day, no matter what the weather is like. If it’s raining, I wear waterproof gear. If it’s snowing, I bundle up warmly. 

I spent most of my years pining for summer weather. The other seasons were lousy, in my book. 

My daily walking habit opened my eyes to the beauty that abounds in all types of weather. You need only be dressed appropriately to reap the joys of Mother Nature all year round.

During my walks, I listen to audio books that I borrow online from my local library and load onto my audio device. Listening to an author’s voice while I walk is like having a special companion who tells me the most interesting stories as we stroll along side-by-side.

Of course, during this festive of months, I’ve been listening to Christmas-themed audio books while I walk. I’ve found that at this time of year, the most beautiful time of day to go for walks is after dusk, when Christmas lights are ablaze throughout the neighbourhood. 

Picture this: I’m bundled up all warm and toasty, walking along the snowy sidewalks, breathing in crisp, fresh air that often carries the scent of burning logs from home fireplaces, dazzled by the myriad of colourful lights adorning most houses, while listening to the most wonderful Christmas stories. 

The end result…exhilaration saturated in a profound feeling of peace. 

In case you’re interested, here are a few of the audio books I’ve enjoyed on my walks:

The Shepherd, the Angel, and Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog by Dave Barry 
(This was so incredibly heartwarming. If you like the classic holiday movie,
A Christmas Story, you’ll love this!)

NPR Holiday Favorites – NPR Susan Stamberg

NPR Tinsel Tales: Favorite Holiday Stories – NPR Lynn Neary;

NPR More Tinsel Tales: Favorite Christmas Stories – NPR David Greene
(NPR offers such an entertaining variety of holiday stories—all are so much fun to listen to!)

I’m Dreaming of a Black Christmas by Lewis Black 
(LOL! Enough comic nastiness to balance out all the sweetness of the season.)

With tons more great audio books on my to-read list—I always look forward to my next walk!

Donna’s Darla Asymmetrical Shawl

How cute is this shawl? I’ll be throwing it over my shoulders this winter to jazz up a sweater.

A big thanks to Clare at Truly Crochet: Simple & Modern Crochet Patterns, for sharing this lovely free pattern. I’ve included the link below.

Materials I used:
Lion brand Mandala yarn (5.3 oz/150 g/ 590 yds/540 m), colour: Pegasus /5.5 mm hook

You’ll find complete instructions for the pattern at the link below:
https://trulycrochet.com/darla-asymmetrical-shawl-free-crochet-pattern/

Note: I used the Mandala yarn to make two-tone pom poms to attach to each of three corners.

My Girl, Your Boy

I was inspired to write the story below back in 1987. The images that flooded my mind as I pushed my baby daughter on a swing in the park were too vivid not to be developed into a short essay once I got home.

Over the years, my thoughts would return every so often to this story I’d written. I wondered about the very special boy who would someday steal my daughter’s heart. I would think about his mom, as well—and I just knew that she loved him as deeply as I love my girl. 

Yesterday, as I scrolled through my files, I stumbled upon “My Girl, Your Boy” again. And guess what? My story has become reality. That wonderful boy married my beautiful girl, and now, his mom and I are overjoyed to share twin grandbabies—a little boy and a little girl. 

My story has come full circle.

MY GIRL, YOUR BOY

I am pushing my baby girl in a swing at the park when you first enter my mind.

It’s a perfect spring day: watercolor blue sky, warbling Robins, a breeze as soft as a whisper carrying a hint of new blooms, mown grass, clean wash on the line. 

The park unfolds at the foot of our street, just a few steps from our front door. The ancient swing set, anchored between thick iron chains, has wide leather seats that have been worn smooth from use over the years. There is also a tiny basket seat, tailor-made for babies. This park is perfect for us.

My seven-month-old girl is strapped into the basket seat. This is her first time on a swing and her feelings are evident—downy head flung back, mouth gaping open in a grin that bares two tiny white crescents breaking through the top gum. Her dimpled, sausage-roll legs jerk about and she squeals with each gentle push that I give her. The purity of her joy causes my heart rise into my throat. Out of the blue, I think of you.

Perhaps you, too, are in a park right at this moment, as your mother pushes you on a swing… or chases behind you as you creep with surprising stealth through the grass. I can feel you. I also know how helplessly, hopelessly, heels-over-head-over-heels in love your mom is with you as her eyes capture these fleeting images and preserve them in her mind: the curve of your elbows, the creases behind your knees, your round eyes sparkling with mischief as you pause, mid-crawl, to glance back at her over your shoulder.

I hope that she will teach you all the things that are truly important: please and thank you, the value of honesty, respect for others, respect for yourself. I hope she will prepare her boy just as I am preparing my girl.

In my mind, I reach out to her and we share a smile. I know that someday, she and I will laugh joyfully together across a kitchen table set for tea, as we bounce the grandchildren we share on our knees. I know that you, baby boy, and my baby girl are destined to share a wonderful life together, pushing park swings of your own.

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