gratitude-a-thon day 31: google

Unknown-1
What would I bring to a desert island? My friend Google. (Don’t tell the family.)

I am a googler. I google a lot. At this point, when someone asks my ethnicity, I should say half Italian, half Jewish, and all Google. I will be in a conversation and have a question, or a disagreement, and within seconds, I can have the answer, win the argument, get the facts. I remember, and it wasn’t all that long ago, when you had to call people on the phone to see if they knew the guy that was in the thing with the woman who was a blonde, but had a weird nose, who was the sister-in-law of the kid with the dad who left her mother homeless when she was 2 months old, but was now a major star, JUST TO FIND OUT THE NAME OF SOME ACTOR IN A MOVIE. Or, of course, you had to go to the library and battle with the dewey decimal system to see if you could find the answer to your burning question. Or, (yikes!) the question had to go unanswered. Now, if I am even remotely curious about something, tap, tap, tap, and there it is, exactly what you wanted to know in black and white. I think I might even use it more than my actual brain. My curiosity is insatiable, and I can always quench its thirst by hanging with my friend google. It’s like having an extra room in your house full of answers floating around like bubbles from one of those bubble machines, or a secret annex filled with Rhode Scholar elves, or a satellite office next to the smartest nerd in the world. Obviously, we have managed to live prosperously without google for hundreds of years, but I will be bold and say, I can no longer imagine living without it. Take away my workout clothes. Ban my long down coat in the middle of a New England winter, but don’t make me give up my omniscient, needs no sleep, always delivers, never disappoints go-to, smarter-than-einestein, mensa-IQ, google. Not gonna happen.

gratitude-a-thon day 28: therapy

PeanutsLucyLightweight_cop

How many steps, how many home offices, recently renovated spaces, sparsely decorated waiting rooms, small bathrooms, couches and chairs in varying levels of comfort, how many beautiful photographs, and ugly paintings, and psych books, and wearable art, and sympathetic faces, and clocks and magazines and white noise machines have I experienced getting enough therapy to understand myself? Too many to count, too much to describe, but I will tell you that all that work, all those steps, physical and mental, have helped me to be more of who I want to be. I am a fervent believer in therapy. “Let’s analyze it,” might very well have been my first words. I am not ashamed to say that I’ve been in therapy for much of my adult life. I am not shy about this. I had stuff to work on. A difficult dad, with his own set of problems, during a time when therapy was not for anyone but the completely crazy, the totally loco. So, I had some things I needed to understand. (And really, who doesn’t?) But you play your hand with the cards you’re dealt. And sometime you get totally crap cards and you have to talk to the dealer for a long time before you can play your best. And so you have a choice. You can stew, or blame someone else, or live in the beautiful land of denial, or you can immerse yourself in fantasy, or act a part like you’re in a play, or re-write your history like a jaunty fictional novel. But me, I’ve chosen to look at the whole darn thing and try to fix the parts that were broken, or undeveloped, or sort of shit. Why not get help when it’s available? Why not reach out, instead of get lost within? And, well, hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours and tears later, I am happy to report, I think I’m a better person. ACTUALLY, I KNOW I AM. Not a perfect person (you know how i feel about the concept of “perfect.”), but a better-than-i-used-to-be person. I’m not here to make any pronouncements that EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO THERAPY. (although I don’t think it’s a bad idea.). But I have to say that it’s made me smarter. I am more of my best self, more of the time,  and that can only be good for everyone I know. It’s not easy, therapy. If you’re thinking it will be easy, go to the movies instead. Therapy is not like it was for Tony Soprano and Melfi. I’ve never had a therapist as cute as Paul Weston on InTreatment, not one as funny as Frasier, or as terrifying as Hannibal Lechter in Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes it’s so painful, I have wanted to quit (and I have). Sometimes, it’s more than I think I am capable of, and then I surprise myself. Sometimes it’s ten steps forward and twelve steps back.  And sometimes, you get to celebrate a moment when something finally makes sense, and your head spins like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, because something you’ve been resisting or confused by, or totally in the dark about, becomes clear like a newly washed picture window, and you are free. Therapy. I am grateful. I am more than grateful. I am found.

gratitude-a-thon day 28: therapy

PeanutsLucyLightweight_cop
Lucy has really reasonable rates. (Maybe I should have considered seeing her.)

How many steps, how many home offices, recently renovated spaces, sparsely decorated waiting rooms, small bathrooms, couches and chairs in varying levels of comfort, beautiful photographs, and ugly paintings, and psych books, and wearable art, and sympathetic faces, and clocks, and magazines, and white noise machines, have I experienced getting enough therapy to understand myself? Too many to count, too much to describe, but I will tell you that all that work, all those steps, physical and mental, have helped me to be more of who I want to be, and less of who I had to be. And that’s a very good thing.  I am a fervent believer in therapy. “Let’s analyze it,” might very well have been my first words. I am not ashamed to say that I’ve been in therapy for much of my adult life. I am not shy about this. I had stuff to work on. A difficult dad, with his own set of problems, during a time when therapy was only for the completely crazy, the totally loco. So, I had some things I needed to understand before I could pass go and collect $200. (And really, who doesn’t?) But you play your hand with the cards you’re dealt. And sometime you get totally crap cards and you have to talk to the dealer for a long time before you can play your best. And so you have a choice. You can stew, or blame someone else, or live in the beautiful land of denial, or you can immerse yourself in fantasy, or act a part like you’re in a play, or re-write your history like a jaunty fictional novel. But me, I’ve chosen to look at the whole darn thing and try to fix the parts that were broken, or undeveloped, or sort of shit. Why not get help when it’s available? Why not reach out, instead of get lost within? And, well, hundreds (maybe thousands) of hours and tears later, I am happy to report, I’m a better person. Not a perfect person (you know how i feel about the concept of “perfect.”), but a better-than-i-used-to-be person. I’m not here to make any pronouncements that EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO THERAPY. (although I don’t think it’s a bad idea.). But I have to say that it’s made me smarter. I am more of my best self, more of the time,  and that can only be good for everyone I know. It’s not easy, therapy. If you’re thinking it will be easy, go to the movies instead. Therapy is not like it was for Tony Soprano and Melfi. I’ve never had a therapist as cute as Paul Weston on InTreatment, not one as funny as Frasier, or as terrifying as Hannibal Lechter in Silence of the Lambs. Sometimes it’s so painful, I have wanted to quit (and I have). Sometimes, it’s more than I think I am capable of, then I surprise myself. Sometimes it’s ten steps forward and twelve steps back.  And sometimes, you get to celebrate a moment when something finally makes sense, and your head spins like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, because something you’ve been resisting or confused by, or totally in the dark about, becomes clear like a newly washed picture window, and you are free. I am grateful for therapy. I am more than grateful. I am found.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 27: wrapping a gift

IMG_3382
I always make a big deal out of a birthday, complete with banner and flowers.

When Jake was little, his pre-school teacher Judy, talked to the class about how everyone has a special gift. Later on in the day, Jake asked Judy what his special present was. She was confused for a while, until she realized he meant what his special “gift” was. (She got a good laugh out of this when she told me. And by the way, no surprise, his gift was “talking.”) Anyway, I have been told my special “present” is wrapping gifts. Kind of lame, right? But, it is some sort of weird and useless skill I possess. Part of it is that I like the idea that someone could get as excited about the wrapping, as the gift inside of it. I mean, why not create something special where you can? Why not go the extra mile for someone? I also like to make something look pretty and know that the receiver of said gift will stop for a moment and feel they were worth the effort.

IMG_3713
I shop a little too much for wrapping paper (here’s a tiny selection.) I am going to need another room for it soon.

I am a nut when it comes to shopping for interesting wrapping paper. Or sometimes I just get silly and use odd stuff that isn’t really for wrapping. I am constantly on the look out for beautiful, or printed, or antique ribbon, and any kind of decorations that can live on a gift to give it some star power.

IMG_3720
A sample of the ribbon and stuff that I’m always looking for to top off a gift with a little pizazz. (I’m pathetic, aren’t I?)

I admit it’s completely stupid. I know that if the economy tanked (worse than it’s already tanked), my gift wrapping skills would not even keep me in hair dye. But, it is a happy skill. I’ve never encountered a getter, who doesn’t appreciate the to-do that was made to make their gift look as special as I think they are. I have fun and get lost in the doing. I am improving the economy by purchasing so much wrapping paper? Alright, you win, it’s kind of ridiculous,  my wrapping thing, but I like it. And I’m grateful for the chance to do it. And if you were getting the gift, you probably wouldn’t be making such fun of me.

gratitude-a-thon day 26: The “I Dodged That Bullet” Game

images-1
It’s the “I Dodged That Bullet” Game. Let’s play.

I play this game with myself sometimes. I recently told my husband about it. Now we both play. It’s called the “I Dodged That Bullet” game. It goes like this: I think of things that I am no longer eligible to suffer from. Generally the thing is on the news, or I read it in a book, or I hear it, and pause and think how grateful I am that I cannot have this thing happen to me, because if it were to happen, it already would have (see, there’s a time frame involved in the rules of my little game.) So like, I’ll give you some examples: My parents did not die in a fiery crash when I was 5, leaving me orphaned and destitute. (They’re both dead, and this is not how they died, and yes in a sense I am now orphaned, but I have never been, nor am I currently destitute, although when I go walk the dog in the morning, I may sometimes look that way.) I knew I was pregnant and did not “get a stomach ache” one day and go to the emergency room, only to give birth. (This happens. I can’t believe it, since I knew I was pregnant with Ally, literally the day you could know–I WAS AT AN AGENCY LUNCH AND ATE EVERYTHING ON MY PLATE AND EVERYBODY ELSE’S PLATE AT THE TABLE. I could barely fit into my skirt, went home, peed on the stick and got a plus sign. I WAS LIKE ONE DAY PREGNANT.) My son did not become a drug addict in high school. (Admittedly, we have a few months to go here, but I think we’re in the clear on this one.)  I did not “die of embarrassment” during adolescence. (I wanted to a couple of times, but I did not.) I was not born with more than ten toes. (I do have a bunion the size of a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, but just ten tootsies.) I did not turn to prostitution in my 20’s to make “ends meet.” (I did work in advertising……) I never dated a physically abusive man. (Can I tell you how LONG THAT WOULD HAVE LASTED?) I was not kidnapped from my house and raised by a cult leader in the back woods of a small farming community (Childhood over, and to my knowledge, I can check this box.) So, do you get it? Maybe you should give it a shot. Although sometimes it’s sad, too. I did not become a ballerina (Nope, and that ship has certainly sailed.) I will never give an Academy Award speech (Although, I am so ready, and prepared to engage and delight the audience.) I am never going to be a wildly successful novelist under 20 (or 30, 40, or 50). I’m not going to be an astronaut. (And glory hallelujah to that. I can’t even imagine wanting to do this. I get motion sick, I’m claustrophobic, and get migraines from barometric pressure changes, so forget being stuck in one of those Beacon Hill closet-sized ships.) It’s a fun little game, and it’s  just one more way to add a little gratitude to your day.