In today’s note, “Little Year” falls on February 4th this year, and officially kicks off the Spring Festival season. There are two main activities taking place: honoring the kitchen god, and preparing your home.
First, you need to tidy your home and declutter it of items you no longer need. Cleaning now is intended so that you do not have to clean in the first days of the new year (Feb. 12th), to not “sweep away” your good luck.
After you have tidied your home, you will want to decorate with symbols to usher in blessings for you and your family. (Also, apologies… as we go, I’ll be taking some phrases directly from the note card and paraphrasing others. All my info I got from Cynthia, so she gets all credit. 🙂 )
For our Day 2 gift, we received some posters to help decorate our homes. The Fortune poster is supposed to be hung upside-down because the word for upside-down in Chinese sounds like “arrival,” so it signifies that Fortune is on its way to you! I put mine on my front door, so Fortune can come right in like a favorite guest. 🙂
The other poster says “Year of the Ox.” I put this one in the dining area, so it can be seen from the kitchen and the living room (and the office, if you leave the door open).
After some friends shared that one of their favorite winter celebrations was Lunar New Year, I was intrigued to find out more about this holiday. As it turns out, Wonton in a Million was selling her Lunar New Year Advent Calendars (for the second year) and mentioned that she learned a lot about her own culture while she was putting them together.
So I snagged one of the last kits available and will be sharing my journey here. 🙂
The Advent Calendar comes with 15 presents and Cynthia has labeled them with the day that you are to open them. Most of the gifts will be planner-related, since that’s the typical demographic for Wonton in a Million. There are little cards inside explaining something about that day’s gift.
Day 1 was marked to be opened any day (as soon as you got the kit in the mail, if you wanted!), since it contained a lot of items that could be used to decorate your planner, and – in general – planners like to pre-plan!
I opened my Day 1 as soon as the box arrived, but since I didn’t want to spoil anyone, I waited until now to post (Day 2 is marked for Feb 4th, so I figure the latest for Day 1 would be Feb 3rd). my intention is to post the morning after the day, so I don’t ruin it for others. E.g. I technically will open Day 2 (Feb. 4) today, but I’ll set the post for tomorrow morning.
The notes for Day 1 let me know that the Lunar New Year is celebrate by over one-fourth of the world’s population! It’s considered to be good luck to decorate your home (and planner!) in advance of the New Year (officially February 12th this year). This year is the Year of the Ox, according to the Chinese Zodiac.
Cynthia included a game to play with friends/family: a Dimsum bingo! To play, you order a dimsum feast and invite people to eat with you. The first person to eat all the items in a row to make a bingo wins! (Or really, you all win, because Yum!)
When I adhere to it, I really am loving my quiet morning routine. After getting ready for the day and having some breakfast, I sit down for some spiritual reading time. This morning I continued reading in Pope Benedict’s Infancy Narratives, concerning John the Baptist.
Music helps to influence your emotions, so while I tend to listen to upbeat music when getting ready (this morning, it was classic Christmas tunes), when I’m reading in the morning, I like to switch over to something more … churchy. This morning I put on some Gregorian chant.
The best mornings were the mornings that I got to go to morning Mass on my way in to work. We would gather at 6:30 am in the Day Chapel at Our Lady of Good Counsel and pray together. At the end of Mass, Jesus would be put out on the altar and we would sing O Salutaris Hostia to Him. That’s something I miss, so I think at the end of my spiritual reading time, I’ll bring that song back.
I find that it always helps my work day when I pray first. I feel that I am more kind, more productive, and more focused, than days where I don’t take explicit time to pray.
There’s always something printed on my vitamin packet, whether a quote or a question. Today, it was:
“We don’t realize that, somewhere within us all, there does exist a supreme self who is eternally at peace.”
I’m not sure who Elizabeth Gilbert is, but I feel that supreme self is the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.
December starts now. The last month of a very unusual year. I’ve been attempting to create more routines to my days, and am trying to build in specific times during the day where I can read, pray, and reflect.
This nighttime one can be difficult, because I’m very good at working or distracting myself until exhaustion, then falling into bed. Even now, it’s quite late, but I wanted to jot down a few thoughts.
Going into Advent, it’s supposed to be this quiet, penitential time where you prepare yourself for the miracle of God made flesh. Too often, it ends up being a blur of planning and frenetic activity as the days tick by faster than ever. We have decorating to do, cards to send, presents to buy and wrap, outfits and meals to plan, and countless other tasks that seems to all gang up and attack you at once.
I have this vision in my head of winters as being a time where you can curl up under a blanket with a hot chocolate and a good book. My winters are not often this way. I don’t take that space in the cadence of my days to lean into the change of the season.
Do I want to change? This is a good question. I quite like being busy and feeling productive. But productivity without real purpose feels like so much wasted effort. In 6 months, will the things that I have chosen to do have benefited me in some way?
What work am I doing within my soul? How are the choices I’m making (or not making!) helping me to be the person God envisions me being? What good can I do in the lives of others, if only I take the time to get out of my own thoughts and look outward?
We shall see. 🙂
Let me know what your dreams are for yourself this December.
I attended a Zoom meeting last night with Laken and some members of her PlanWithLaken community and for 2 hours we discussed topics related to goal setting and personal growth. I love the encouragement and inspiration which comes from this community.
A particular app came up in discussion (which, to be honest, has come up before and I’ve downloaded it, but I never actually got around to setting it up) – Routinery. Spurred on by the discussion, I finally opened the app and set it up with a Morning Routine, Lunch Routine, and Evening Routine.
I don’t really have anything too surprising in there right now, but I did add in some skin care, time set aside for spiritual reading, and making a habit of doing the dishes during lunch (it just has been a successful time for me to do them).
At first go, I’m seeing that there are things I can do to prep for my routine that will make things go smoother, like making sure that you have pre-opened the box containing your vitamins, and having an idea of what you want to wear for the day (probably also having clean clothes, LOL). I baked into my Evening Routine some things like putting things away. I love coming into the office to start the day and having a neat desk. I’d rather do that at night than quickly cleaning it up in the morning before I log in to work.
I added some reading time in to my Morning Routine. Not that I – in general – have difficulty finding time to read, but that I don’t necessarily make time for spiritual reading and reflection. At least, not a consistent time. One of the things that I miss about the pre-pandemic life is that I used to be able to attend Mass at 6:30 am before work. I liked the idea of starting off the day with God.
I know it’s not Advent yet, but I thought it would be good for me to read Jesus of Nazareth: The Infancy Narratives by Pope Benedict XVI. Reading it now will set the stage for me to enter into Advent with a prayerful heart and really experience this season of hopeful waiting that we are about to enter into.
Do you have anything you are doing to prep for Advent?
Hey! Hi! It’s been a hot minute since I’ve done more than post once in a blue moon. I’m not quite sure how I got out of it, or why trying to recommit is always so difficult. Perhaps because getting online to write too often leads me down a rabbit hole of Google searches and YouTube videos. Perhaps I get caught up in other people’s content and don’t spend enough time trying to make any of my own. Perhaps I delay because I want to find the “perfect” image to go with my words, yet also haven’t make my photography a priority in a while either. Perhaps, with all the quarantining, I am a little tired of being alone with my own thoughts and prefer to “engage” with others, even if that is only as a reader or viewer.
Are blogs even a thing any more? I get that vlogging on YouTube is more widely done, but I don’t really like being in front of the camera that much. Plus, right now, getting video off my phone for editing is a nightmare. I think I express myself better in written formats. I tend to go blank when the camera is rolling (or even in person, if we are being honest 🙂 ).
I used to use RSS readers to aggregate all the blog posts from people that I followed. I haven’t used these in a long, long time and I’m sure some have shut down, while some others may have been developed.
If you use an RSS reader, or some other content aggregator, what is your favorite? How do you track people and channels that you are interested in.
Back in the day, Bloglovin’ was my go-to after … the one I can’t remember … went away. I re-logged into that site and “claimed” my blog there, which is why you have that link at the top of this post.
Perhaps some research is warranted. I’ll do a little internet digging and see what I can find and report back! Please leave a comment with any recommendations, and I’ll give them a peek as well.
Watching live on NASA TV was a fairly low-res event – most of the time, the images displayed were dim and hazy. But this did nothing to curb my excitement as we first saw images of Crew Dragon entering the Earth’s atmosphere, releasing the (counting… one… two!) drogue parachutes. Then, the four main chutes. Keeping pace with them as they decelerated (“Speed is nominal.”). And finally, SPLASHDOWN! (And, of course, the interminable waiting while they “sniffed” the spacecraft for hazardous gases and decontaminated it, before we could see the successful extraction of the astronauts.)
I took a few screen captures as I watched, but really, the actual photos from NASA are vastly superior. 🙂
“Welcome back to Planet Earth and thank you for flying SpaceX!”
Ever since I ordered my iPad, I have been looking up productivity/study/organization tools and apps on YouTube, to see how others are using their iPads.
Digital note-taking has always been an interest of mine and I’ve tried multiple versions from taking notes on a laptop in Word, to using an Echo pen to record my handwriting along with audio from the lecture.
Two of the apps that I am the most excited to explore are GoodNotes 5 and Notion. GoodNotes is a note-taking app that allows for a lot of flexibility, and has some great features like the zoom box and automatically straightening my perpetually crooked lines. I’ve been playing with that for a few weeks now and love it.
Samuel Suresh doesn’t have a ton of YouTube videos, but the ones that he has posted are quite good.
He takes very creative notes. In this video, as he is talking about the diagram of the heart, he mentions a resource called Crash Course. I looked into this, and it is a website run by the Green brothers that offers free educational videos.
I had been toying around with creating a more structured study regime for myself, to motivate me to do something besides work and Netflix/YouTube…
Enter, Notion. Notion is an app that I just learned about yesterday, via StudyCollab on YouTube. It can do a lot of different things, including project management, wikis, file management, calendaring, collaboration…. Alicia has been using it for her university work, which seemed to fit in nicely with my studying interests.
She was kind and linked a copy of the template she uses for her university work in the description of her video.
With these tools, I’ve come up with a plan…
Because I’m a big nerd and also hate the idea of “free time,” I’ve decided that I’m going to study a different subject every day:
Mondays – Language (Mondays are incomprehensible anyway)
Tuesdays – Government (since voting happens on Tuesdays…)
Thursdays – Literature (What better than classics on Throwback Thursdays??)
Fridays – Research Day (this is where I can do whatever I want)
Saturdays – Study Skills (I liked the alliteration)
Sundays – Theology (what else?)
I’ve even made a calendar from today through the end of August, outlining exactly which lessons I’ll be doing on which days.
The only thing left to decide is which language I want to study. I put a poll up on my Instagram, to have people vote for either Italian or Chinese. Right now, the vote is split 50/50. I’ll give it until tomorrow morning, then make a choice.
It looks like Thursdays are not filled in for Literature, but really, that’s because I don’t know how long it will take me to read each book. The course has a bunch of different books they discuss, but I feel that to get the most out of the course, I’ll want to make sure that I read the book first. The first book on the list is Romeo and Juliet, so that should be fairly quick. Each week, if I haven’t finished the book yet, I’ll use that designated time to read more in it. This also has the added benefit of forcing me to read more classics (something I always intend to do).
Do you have any self-improvement plans for the summer? Anything that you are doing during these quarantine days that hadn’t previously been a part of your routine?
Well, not technically. But I did sign up to participate in a NASA media program.
“When Perseverance launches to Mars, it will carry three dime-size chips with 10.9 million names submitted by people all over the world. Those who already submitted their names can get a special “Now Boarding” stamp on their boarding passes….”
Below is my mission badge!
This is really exciting! I cannot wait until they send people to Mars!
Launch is currently scheduled for July 30th at 7 am EDT.