Posts by Jennifer Johnston Crow

365 Grateful: Washed Clean

365 - 01-24-2015I went to the bigger city yesterday. A golf show was calling Charlie’s name; the Container Store whispered mine.  It had snowed overnight. Not a lot, but heavy and wet, coating everything with a thick layer. Charlie picked me up just as the first session of a new series of Authentically You Community Coaching Circles ended, so I was feeling mellow and very centered, and we took off, passing along lovely rural roadside en route to traffic and big city buildings.

And I’m grateful we left when we did, when the snow still lay heavy upon the trees, and the shrubs, and the weeds, and the ground. I was struck by how it washed everything clean. It hid the dullness of winter foliage. On second thought, I think it quickens and brightens it, forcing it into stark relief against the blinding, pristine whiteness.

It was a show-stopper. I couldn’t stop looking and, eventually, requested the car stop alongside a stand of brush that, on a normal day, wouldn’t have attracted a second glance. But today wasn’t a normal day.

And so I’ve rolled around in my head the right words to capture the reason I was so struck by the juxtaposition of dark and light, of white and black, of new and old. And I think, maybe, this captures it:  by removing the color from the landscape, nature forced me to see form and function. It fine tuned my vision enough to notice the complexity of all those branching limbs, of those seed pods capped with snow, of the strength and beauty of contorted trunks deeper within the trees. They’re always there, with or without snow. Today, I’m grateful for the snow’s artistry.

365 Grateful: Cold

365 - 01-12-2015

Winter showed up last week, lowered the thermostat to zero, and tucked in the earth with six inches of snowy insulation. The world softened, punctuated by day with the shrieks of children careening down the hill, and by night with the haunting voice of an owl, answered in kind from deep within the trees.

Ah, there’s peace in winter, in the cold that drives us inside for warmth and relationship, whether that relationship focuses inward or our gaze falls upon those who share our lives and our attention. So it’s a grateful time, this cold, snowy weather, because it nudges us back to simplicity, and slows us down, and encourages a hibernation of sorts while gently tucking us in along with the sleeping earth.

365 Grateful: Luminosity

365 - 01-05-2015The other day as I drove off to work I encountered this view of the breaking sun electrifying sky and clouds, and the only word that sang out was “luminous.” The sky was brilliantly on fire, the earth still dark and shuttered, although with glints and glimmers of clarity beginning to slide across the landscape.

I thought about that on the short drive to work (all of 3 miles). I think that’s how it should be. The aha moment — the insight — should arrive in a way that’s luminous — that breaks across the horizon like the rising sun and casts away shadows, bit by bit.

I’m grateful for it, that luminosity — of sky and awareness, of aha and comprehension — and for how it inexorably lightens my path in increments, so my awareness can keep up, continuously expanding and adapting as it processes and blossoms.

365 Grateful: Everyone Has Value

365 - 01-03-2015

Can you feel it? The hope and promise of a brand spankin’ new, freshly washed, budding new year? There’s much to be grateful for, if only we take the time to look around with open eyes and open minds. On Friday, zipping back from an almost two-hour bureaucratic journey with the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (we moved across the river as of January 1), I finally took the time to stop at the Open Hands Gallery, which has called to me every time I drive past (usually when they’re closed and I’m hurried).

What an awesome place. Here, the Open Hands Seed Project repurposes, upcycles, and redirects not only “stuff” but the strengths of its workers. Their mission statement? “We try to fail every day and defeat the fear of failure.” In the words of the director, who walked us through the small (but expanding) shop of unique repurposed objects, “We don’t look at our workers as being different. We look at our guys as artists. They are people with abilities and the desire to succeed.”

From roofing slates, old windows, and picket fences to barn siding, tossed-away furniture, and worn-out doors, new objects take shape: corner cabinets, entry-way benches, tables, and much more.

I’m grateful for being reminded that we all have value and purpose. Sometimes that value seems hidden, that purpose is shuttered. But then with a little help it flames up and burns brightly. That’s what this organization does: it stokes the fire, it blows gently on the embers, and it offers purpose to people … as well as to old throw-away ‘things.’

Visit them on Facebook at Open hands Seed Project. Better yet, get unhurried and stop by their shop in Williamstown, WV.

365 Grateful: 12.22.2014

365 - 12-23-2014I never actually thought green shoots of grass would have me thinking about gratitude, yet here it is, Dec. 22, and our last-ditch effort to sow some annual rye grass in hopes of anchoring the bare soil around out new house is bearing, well, fruit. Granted, that fruit is in the form of little green stalks of rye grass popping up through the rough grade of our lawn. But instead of a huge mud pit, we actually have a not-so-huge mud pit. There may still be a lot of bare dirt, but I’m grateful for the greening of my piece of America. Can’t ask for much more!

365 Grateful: 12.18.2014

365 - 12-18-2014Green holly and red berries are a holiday icon. Charlie’s cousin and his family sent us a small holly tree — a tabletop tree, it says — as a housewarming/Christmas gift. Tonight I noticed the tiny white flowers, almost an afterthought to the brilliant red berries. And I’m grateful for the reminder that the best things in life aren’t always the brightest, flashiest, most eye-catching things. Sometimes, more often than not, they’re made up of quiet moments and simple gifts, absolutely gorgeous in their minimalist ways. Let the season of excess fade away and the season of simplicity take center stage.

365 Grateful: 12.15.2014

365 - 12-15-2014Long time, no gratitude? Not really, but thank you for allowing a brief respite while I packed, moved from one house to another, and now begin the arduous task of settling into a new location, a new home, a new view. Today, so grateful to wake up to a rain-washed landscape. Something about today’s brightening sky, the smell of clean, rain-kissed earth, and a serene view refreshes during unsettled times.