gratitude-a-thon day 503: wild

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I saw the movie Wild this past weekend. I think Reese Witherspoon has redeemed herself, at least on film, from being such an ass to that police officer who pulled her over.

It’s the true story about a woman, Cheryl Strayed, who loses her mom and her marriage, and finds out what she’s made of, while hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. The scenery is breathtaking, and the story is beautifully told in flashbacks, as Cheryl, who totes a backpack the size of a small midwestern farm, faces herself while hiking terrain that mimics life perfectly (lots of ups and downs).

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I saw the real life Cheryl interviewed. She did this hike in 1996, before cell phones, so she had no way to contact anybody. She didn’t even have music with her. But she did have books, and she did keep a journal. She said her mind kept wanting to be entertained, so she sang, and as the movie shows, thought, a lot about her past.

In fact, she thinks so much, she thinks herself right into a better place. For the first 11 days of the hike, she doesn’t see another human. She says if she’d turned around then, she would have had a profound experience, but she doesn’t, she hikes more than 1,000 miles more.

I’ve never been alone for 11 days. In fact, having a smart phone means you’re never alone. All day long, whether I’m in the presence of real live people or not, I’m talking to someone on my phone, by text, or on social media.

It’s a profound idea to me, to shut my big mouth. I think I’m going to try and do it this year, at least for one day, see what it’s like, to just be quiet. Good stuff can come from quiet.

I give the movie an A. And it’s not a chick flick, Peter really liked it, too. I’m not sure if I don’t still hate Reese off screen, but on screen, she killed it.

gratitude-a-thon day 502: winner in the “random acts of kindness” category

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The Soldiers Home, Chelsea.

 

My friend Paul sent me this message:

“A blind high school girl from Melrose high school came unannounced to the soldiers home on Tuesday to distribute 100 Christmas cards to the veterans living there. She made them all by hand using an old Braille machine and also wrote a greeting in each one. I was in tears at this mitzvah. Her name is Daisy Russell. Her real name is Siobhan. But, of course no one could pronounce her name so she adopted Daisy as her moniker. She has a FB page. Just thought you should know…since you’re in the grateful business and all…”

This is the kind of thing I love. A pure-hearted act of kindness. Does Daisy know people in the military, or did she just think it would be a nice thing to do?  Either way: it’s awesome. This is what we all need to do more of (ok, I’ll speak for myself–I NEED TO DO MORE OF). Doing something nice for someone else is not that hard (it doesn’t have to be Daisy-sized). Even the smallest thing you do  doubles in size when it’s out in the open. May karma come on back around to you, Daisy. Thanks for the “random acts of kindness” reminder.

gratitude-a-thon day 501: the day after, the day after

I have been fumbling with WordPress and Photo collage sites for an hour. I feel like I’ve been in a parking lot on black Friday. The thing about technology is that it can make you want to climb to the highest building and either scream until your tonsils pop out of your mouth, or jump for freaking joy at its mind blowing capability. This morning it’s making me want to yell, so if you hear something resembling a wounded animal yelling through a cheerleading megaphone, don’t get all panic-y, it’s just me.

Christmas is over, and already the decorations look so, well five minutes ago. A lotta work, and  this photo says it all. We had a discussion about re-useable wrapping paper yesterday, which was interesting. Something really nice, not all earthy ugly. Also discussed possibility of an app where you could post what you want that would link the items directly to santa, er, or whoever.

IMG_2922I was a little more organized than usual this year, which made me able to enjoy things more. And enjoying things a little more is really nice. I am definitely going to improve my “shopping through the year” thing, and even more of what I did this year, which was not to wrap all in one night, but instead a little at a time. Of course I don’t have young, sneaky kids anymore, who are looking all over the place to see if the presents under the tree are from you or the big guy, so it’s a little easier. Those little detectives will not allow you to make it easy.

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Riley really loved his stocking. He got an esophagus of some animal, and that thing was a hit, I’ll tell you. Nobody gave me one, which I was grateful for. But I did score some great presents, the gift of being with my family, the best damn one of all.

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My sister’s Christmas table. It was so pretty. I gave her this beautiful buddha decoration, which I wanted to take back. It’s from Shake the Tree in the North End.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 500: thanks all you gratitude readers, yeah YOU

I wanted to thank all the readers of this blog on this day, because on Christmas you tell the truth. See clip from Love Actually:

And silly version from SNL:

And the truth is, I appreciate every time you read a post, every time you comment, every time you stop me on the street and tell me that you love my blog. It means something to me, and I wanted to thank you. I believe gratitude is one of the true paths to getting your happy on (along with dogs, good coffee, perfect jeans, any kind of flowers except for carnations and lilies, divine shoes, my favorite perfume, jewels of any denomination, potato chips, white rooms, blingy chandeliers, friends, friends, friends, family, beach, sand, blue water that’s warm, a sunny day.)

Merry Christmas, happy everything, I am grateful for you. (and you, and you, and you, and YOU). xo

gratitude-a-thon day 499: merry, happy & ho, ho, ho

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Last year in Barcelona, this was one of my favorite of the zillions of light displays. They know how to do it up in the holiday light department, I can tell you.

 

All is calm (because Ally has the flu).

All is bright (the sun hasn’t been out in five days, with the exception of Tuesday from 9-9:15).

And it’s Christmas eve!

I’ll do a few last minute errands today, but this santa is in pretty good shape (actually, I’m in dreadful shape, but guess what my de-bunionized foot and I have at the top of our New Year’s resolutions).

This holiday means different stuff to different people, but to me it means forcing my two older sisters up at un-Godly hours, my sister Joni going downstairs first to plug in the lights and then calling for us. It means seeing that tree with those big fat colored lights, covered in mass amounts of that silver icicle stuff, which you’d find all over the house for the rest of the year, surrounded by a vast array of every single thing on my list. I know materialism should take a back burner on such a religious holiday, but damn, how can you not like a veritable pile of gifts when you’re a kid? Gifts you asked Santa for?

So, hard as I might try not to, Peter and I go a little overboard with our kids, too. In the same way I loved getting all those years ago, I love giving. I enjoy the choosing the exact right thing, the surprised look on the get-tee’s face, the wrapping.

I hope you get what you want for Christmas or Hannukah, or whatever holiday you celebrate. For me, this year, having my family together is as stellar as that pile of gifts my mom and dad so lovingly put under those Charlie Brown tree’s we always seemed to snag. Ho, ho, ho, may it be merry and bright.

gratitude-a-thon day 497: the days are growing longer: PARADE

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My mom loved this day. Because on this day, December 22, the days begin to grow longer. And, following in her footsteps, I love it, too. As if the season’s cold doesn’t make me cranky enough, the lack of light really emphasizes my disgust with old man winter. Hard to be all ho, ho, ho, when it’s dark at 3:15.

BUT, today is the day the whole thing turns around. My mood is lifting just thinking about it. Turn the sun back on, already. It’s time to head for the light.

gratitude-a-thon day 496: sandbox rules still apply

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Wenjian Liu, age 32, was a seven year veteran of the force, the NYPD Deputy  He was married only two months ago.

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Rafeal Ramos, who just had his 40th birthday, became a cop only three years ago after working for years as a school safety officer. He was a two year veteran of the NYPD. He leaves a wife and 13 year old.

 

The story out of Brooklyn is unspeakable. People are using the word “executed” and “assassinated.” Two police officers are dead, having been shot and killed ambush style. There was a hint on Instagram that this could have been revenge for the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner.

Sometimes I think about a sand box, the first place most toddlers learn about navigating the world. There are big kids and little kids. Some are innately kind, some have yet to grasp anything about sharing, and seem to display pre-bully characteristics. Some are dominant and creative, some docile and deer-in-the-headlights. But with the help of adults, they learn not to knock down someone else’s castle, or steal another child’s snazzy shovel. At the sign of a dispute, we adults say over and over again “Use your words.” And eventually, instead of hitting, or kicking sand in the face of the perpetrator, they do. They use their words.They figure out that working together works best and that they actually get a warm feeling in the middle of their little toddler bodies when they do. They begin to understand how to be friends, how to have respect for another. This doesn’t happen without a lot of trial and error, or screaming and tantrum-ing, but it does happen. You can watch it.

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What is it that happens between that time in the sandbox and adulthood? Why is it that we lose the idea of using words instead of guns to express ourselves, our rage, our feeling of powerlessness and unfairness?

It’s not just Brooklyn, it’s Pakistan, it’s Israel, it’s Boston, California, Chicago, name your geographical location. We have forgotten what it is to discuss, to compromise by using discourse. Instead we get out the artillery and shoot. And we call ourselves civilized.

The world is going cuckoo clock crazy. Sandbox rules apply to adults. We need to go back to the park.

gratitude-a-thon day 495: four = everything

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The boy is home. He’s in his bed. He’s sporting a full on mustache that I don’t like, but I like him, so I’ll take it. The house is so much fuller when Jake is home. Instead of feeling like there’s one more person here, I feel like there are many. (Ally’s having a sleepover, is it that?) Nah, it’s the original fab four. It’s the core family. It’s the the primal rightness of being together as a unit. Important note: I’m not painting a Norman Rockwell, here; we’re just like every family, who argues, and annoys one another, but damn if we don’t love each other madly.

This year, I felt such an urgent need for Jake to be here, under this roof. I don’t know whether it’s the instability in the world, the fragility of life that’s so garishly loud right now, or just because I love him. But I couldn’t wait to feel the feeling I have sitting on the couch right now, smothered in polartec, while everybody is upstairs still sleeping, the good feeling of having your whole family in one place, knowing in this moment, that they’re safe, and they’re yours.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 494: the bunion dance

 

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This was NOT ME in the zumba class I took last night. I was the one tripping and off beat, but me and my bunion did it, and most importantly, we felt like we were this girl. Which is to say, we had FUN.

Last night I went to a zumba class. Yes, me and my three month post bunionectomy foot went to a zumba class. And guess what we did? We zumba’d! (I think I just made up a new word, for which I also made up a new spelling).

My fitness level, which only like a year ago, was pretty darn good, is now like that of a stuffed animal. Between my trainer leaving for the sunny skies of California, to the fact that I haven’t been able to exercise full on for at least six months, I am back at ground zero. GROUND ZERO. And my motivation has been hovering around there too, I might add. So last night was great, because 1) It was fun. 2) It was engaging ( I had to concentrate on the teacher to make sure I didn’t fall on my head). 3) I fucking love to dance.

This class gave me the little push I needed to get my groove back in the fitness department. Thanks to my friend Luciana for dragging my sorry (and hefty) ass to Equinox (I think I might have to join this place). IT was just the holiday ho, ho, ho I needed.