Posted by: mew | January 10, 2010

focus: week 2

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs a step at a time.”

~Mark Twain

It’s week two of Focus, and I’m calling week one a success.

I chose four areas of my life to focus upon in the first quarter of 2010:  organization, fitness, photography, and writing.

Well, you know what happened with the first, because of my posts this week.  I tackled one small project, the “whatever” drawer, which then led to a realization of all the unfinished business standing between me and a feeling of order.  One of those projects, the pay it forward from back in November, is now finished, and it feels great!

In the area of fitness, I did not want to make any goals for myself, nor timetables, nor hard and fast rules, because self-defeat is a real possibility then.  Instead, on a Tuesday whim I picked up the little notebook given to me as a Christmas present and turned it into a food journal.  Every time I’ve kept a log of my eating habits before, it’s been as part of a diet program.  I found myself curious to record just exactly what I was eating without dieting or trying to meet some ideal standard.

Self-awareness is a facet of fitness that’s definitely never entered my focus before, and I’m already surprised by the picture that’s emerging.  I may go over some of those discoveries once I’ve observed myself for a little longer than five days.

Also, I went walking.  My favorite walk occurred at the South Carolina Botanical Garden.

While reading another blog over the holiday, I realized that the state botanical garden is almost directly in the path of the commute to F.’s university, and that it would be a relatively simple matter to stop by and check it out.  It didn’t quite surprise me that it took me a year to figure this out.  I move slowly and erratically when discovering a new place.  When I lived in Atlanta, it took me about a year to realize that my house was in walking distance of the Atlanta Botanical Garden.

This garden might be even easier to love, as parking is plentiful (or was on a weekday morning in January) and the gardens themselves are free and open to the public from dawn ’til dusk.  I was thrilled to realize my pulse was up, my cheeks were flushed, and I was breathing deeply at the end of an hour of tromping through the woods, wandering uphill and down on cedar-strewn paths, and delicately crossing little bridges that spanned tiny streams and waterfalls.  And I really wasn’t trying to exercise at all.

That is my favorite form of exercise.

As for photography, I joined in on Capturing Beauty’s January theme of pure white and enjoyed it thoroughly.  Later in the week, I took my camera with me to the Botanical Garden.  (The photos in this post are from that excursion.)  I also captured the results of the insignificant little snowfall we had here on Friday morning in my kitchen garden.

I posted one photo per day, as usual, at my other blog, and thanks to a comment from a reader there looked up the term DOF, or depth of focus, which I now understand at least intellectually.

I also agreed to join Elizabeth over at retinal perspectives in keeping up with the progress of our words of the year (hers is joy) via one photograph per week.  Mine will be posted tomorrow here.

Writing has been probably the most confusing of the focal points.  I am wondering if I need to reassess my blogging goals and efforts.  I do spend time writing every single day now, but it’s because I’ve made a personal goal to write a blog post each day at my gardening blog.  I made that promise to myself way back in August, before I knew anything about blogging, before I knew that there were organizations like NaBloPoMo to help people manage to keep that goal for a single 30-day stretch.

Plus — and this is the funny part — I never said when the goal would be met, when I could stop.

Was I planning on blogging every day forever, perhaps?  Told you it was funny.

I’ve missed less than 7 days since I began exactly five months ago, and the discipline of having to produce something every day has been wonderful.  My fear of others’ opinions of my work has dissipated each day, and the huge weight of anxiety that once accompanied pressing the publish button is basically gone.  But am I working on what I want to be working on?  Is a gardening blog where I want to direct my writing muscle?

Honestly, I don’t know the answer to that.  I enjoy it so much that I know I won’t be dropping it entirely.  About mid-week, I did a little research on self-publishing photo books, imagining taking a handful of previous blog posts, a teaspoon of pure joy, and my particular view of the kitchen garden and cooking them up into a lovely, contemplative book that might be a guide and a friend to others who love to garden.  I could even write it to help guide those just learning to grow vegetables and flowers for pleasure and nourishment — of the body and the soul.

But I’m dithering.  As usual with writing, I seem to have 800 ideas too many, and so adding another idea to the list does not seem like great forward progress.

And yet I’m not sorry to have had the idea, itself.  On the contrary, I think it’s a pretty great one.

I’m sure some sense will eventually reveal itself in this area of my life if I just keep my focus there long enough.  I hope so, anyway.

Looking forward to whatever insights week two brings….

How are you perceiving your word of the year so far?  Or if you made them, how are your New Year’s resolutions going?  If you did neither, how is 2010 unfolding for you?



  1. well, first let me wish you and your dear f a very happy new year- i wish you good health, happiness, and abundance.
    let’s just say, i have been and continue to be *preoccupied*.
    so i just now learned your word of the year. and i really love it. it is perfect.

    • I’d noticed you were pretty quiet on your blog, elsa. But it seems you have cause. I didn’t realize you were awaiting the birth of another little one. How wonderful!

      I’m glad you like the word of the year. I do, too… I think. 😉

      Thank you for the new year’s wishes, and the same to you!

  2. HI,
    just a short note from the cold up North here. Are half-settled and am having my computer back which we sent per airfreight. On my internet browser, I have a favourite link to your blog that now read. Congrats to it and I hope you had a good New Year. Were really busy and are still stressed with settling in and sometimes it feels more like surviving. The cold is not nice at all and the new job environment somewhat odd and something I have to get used to.
    We mainly use SKYPE and EMAIL to communicate with friends since phone and cell phones cost a fortune.
    Muchos besos to you and your hubby F.
    And congrats to that, too.

    • Oh, I’m glad you’re getting settled in, hon. I’m sorry it feels like survival right now. Hang in there, take deep breaths, and wear lots of layered clothing! I’ll contact you soon to get an update. 🙂

  3. Lovely photos and nice update on your progress. I especially like your comment: “My fear of others’ opinions of my work has dissipated each day” when referring to your gardening blog posts. I am finding this out for myself on my own blog. I think it will eventually carry over into other types of writing–and maybe even other areas of life.

    • Thank you, Kathy, for the compliments.

      Isn’t it true? Just doing it seems to clear out some of the irrational fear that had built up over the years. We’ll see how far the newer, more fearless me extends into the world. 🙂 From your mouth (or typing hands) to God’s ear on the extension to other types of writing!

  4. What a fun blog!! Love the photos from your walk, and I do agree that’s the best kind of exercise!

    As to the writing, there’s an book called Outliers that talks about it taking 10,000 hours to become truly seriously good at something. So whether you’re writing for your garden blog or for any other reason, you’re learning and your clocking in hours to become outstanding at your chosen “craft.”

    • 10,000 hours. That number is quite staggering. But it makes sense to me. Everything I’m any good at doing has come a little bit at a time. 😀

      Thanks for visiting, Laure!

  5. Those are great areas to focus on!

    • Thanks, Robin. They might actually be too diffuse for a proper focus 😉

  6. I really like that Twain quote; it’s soo very true.

    Loving that picture of the trees. I was just thinking how I’ve been missing the forest for the trees…

    The book idea sounds marvelous! Do really consider it–you can work on during your 3rd and 4th quarters…

  7. I think I missed the post about the “whatever” drawer. I sort of have one of those drawers, except it’s so thin that there’s not too much room for whatevers. I just cleared it out and it was so satisfying.

    That sounds like a perfect – and gorgeous – place for a walk!

  8. I so enjoyed this post, Meredith…you have a lovely way with words and your pictures are amazing. I think that self-publishing a photo book would be a wonderfully, empowering thing to do. 🙂

  9. I’m being a bit thick about your other blog because I couldn’t find a way of leaving comments. My computer is playing up at present which might be the reason but . . . whatever the problem . . . I’ve come here to say fresh peas are nothing like tinned or frozen ones and taste best raw. If peas aren’t eaten very quickly, they go starchy but if you eat them from straight from the garden they are juicy and sweet and you may find yourself standing in front of the vine simply popping the pods and eating them all up as if you have a particularly delicious bag of sweets and simply can’t stop dipping in your hand. But if you do cook them, the secret is hardly to cook them at all. (Cooking hardens them.)

    Of course . . . you may still not like them but it’s definitely worth a try.

    About blogging . . . I like the discipline. I like the way one can say ‘I have to do the blog’ in a business-like way and family and friends can let you do it without interference -just as they wouldn’t try to stop you going to work.

    It’s wonderfully satisfying and provides an outlet for the creative side which is in all of us. I know what you mean about confidence too. There are enough people ‘out there’ that there’s a good chance that some of them will like what you are doing and, once a few people have left comments and said positive things . . . you don’t mind if people do or don’t like it any more. You know it’s ok.


  10. Cool purple berries! and cute cats 🙂 Im a beginner to photography and seriously struggling to focus at it. I struggle to encompass it all at once and so fail at retaining a small thing at a time instead.

    Oh well, Im blogging about it as I go, hopefully thats one thing I can sustain 🙂

    • Glad you like them both. Don’t worry, stacey, I think everything comes with time. Hope so, anyway. 🙂 You’ll have to leave your blog address for us next time, so I can go and read what you’ve written lately. 🙂

  11. is my blog – I thought it would activate the link on my username but apparently not!

    • That is kind of weird that it didn’t. I’ll be over to check it out!

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