gratitude-a-thon day 966: wait for it, wait for it, patience

I am a microwave in a slow cooker world. I’ve never been patient Who wants to wait around? I WANT IT NOW. All of it. I don’t want to wait until tomorrow. Overnight delivery, Express Mail, Fedex when you absolutely have to get it there overnight–YES PLEASE. I don’t even wait for my addled brain to think of things anymore, I just google them.

But what are we missing (I’m sure I’m not alone, here) when we can’t settle?  What is being forgotten when we decide to wait until all 12 episodes have aired so we can binge them in one sitting, instead of waiting for one each week, wondering a little every day what might happen? What gets lost when we decide to get quickie takeout instead of simmer a sauce, or a slow cook a soup, or methodically chop up vegetables for a carefully built fresh salad? Why can’t we just relax a little and focus on what’s in front of us, instead of what will be. What’s the fucking rush?

You know what gets lost when you are a right-this-minute person—anticipation. Anticipation gets lost in the pre-made sauce –that thrilling feeling of thinking about what’s to come that gives you a chill down your spine, and makes you feel like a  fleet of  butterflies are doing a jig in your chest. It’s that hope that something is maybe about to change your life, or make you better, or smarter, or more successful. It’s the idea that what’s around the corner might just be the most exciting, fun and fulfilling thing you have ever done. Anticipation is the island where all things are possible, but impatient people don’t even bother stopping there anymore, they need to get to the mainland, need to get off the boat, and on the next shuttle.

I’m on a mission to slow myself down without feeling like I’m drowning in yesterday. What will I miss? Probably nothing at all. There is enough time for all of it. Gratitude goes to the fact that everyday  we can make corrections. I’m anticipating a good outcome from this one.

gratitude-a-thon day 965: twinkle lights as a post-election pepper upper

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Buh-bye. Bring on the twinkle lights.

I never did much in the way of decorating for Halloween when the kids were little. Of course, I was big on the pumpkins. I kind of love carving them, and who doesn’t crave a salty, crispy pumpkin seed? But this year, for whatever bizarre, and random reason, I bought orange lights and wrapped them around a pumpkin as a small part of my spooky display. (WHAT is wrong with me?)

And they’re still out there. My neighbors have their Christmas wreaths out and I still have my  day of the dead pumpkin (that I painted–again, not that I ever did this when the kids were home) and my virgin orange lights.

Part of it is laziness, but part of it is that it’s not even December yet. Must we already decorate a full month in advance?

The answer may be yes. And the reason may be that guy (sloth, liar, totally loco lad) who was just elected president. The intense stress of election season may have pushed me into decorating a full 30 days prior to the holiday, just to make things seem less bleak and scary.

So, today it will be: unplug the orange lights, throw away the painted pumpkin (this is so hard to do, i have grown to love this face), and get out the holiday bling. Like the song says, “We need a little Christmas right this very minute.” Yup, we do.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 964: pupu platter parenting

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There are things you have to get used to beyond the empty nest, like when the nest fills back up, which is great fun, but then just as quickly empties out again.

As happy as it is to have the kids repopulate the house, is as sad as it is to have them leave. There are transitions on both ends of a visit from the brood.

I look so forward to them coming home. But I also struggle with the rules, the chores, the sleeping schedules. Do I force them to help me with getting the holiday on, or let them rest because they need to catch up on their zzzzzz’s. Do I pretend they have a curfew, when I know and they know they can stay out all night at school. Do I force family fun, or let them be with their friends? I don’t know. I try and go with the flow. Feel it out. Do a combination of stuff like a Pupu platter at a Chinese restaurant.

I used to think parents knew everything. Turns out we just guess half the time. We’re teachers, but we’re also students. We learn as we go along. And we try, we try really hard to get it right.

 

gratitude-a-thon day THANKSGIVING: BE GRATEFUL, BABY!

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Grateful for this guy.

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And this guy.

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And these guys.

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And of course, this guy.

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And these guys.

Today, if you’re lucky, you will sit down with family and friends and a big fat meal of the best foods (including my culinary crush: mashed potatoes). If you are lucky, you will like or love some of the people you are with. If you are really, really lucky, you will laugh at least a couple times, bonus luck if you laugh so hard you wet your pants and have to change them. Thanksgiving is the best holiday, because there are no gifts, just food, just people and just focusing on what is really important– what you are thankful for. Hot damn, I wish this day happened more than once a year.

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And these guys, too!

For me, it does (minus the mashed potatoes). I try hard to ground myself by focusing on the things I am grateful for. Sometimes I lose sight, which is when I really need my gratitude practice most. I just start again. It’s always a winning proposition. It never fails me.

I hope you have a spectacular day today. Eat, drink & be grateful. Repeat tomorrow (and everyday).

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 963:NOTICE the good stuff

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In addition to having a great day, I also found these ornamental kale stalks. Seriously, have you ever?

On this day before the mother of all days of gratitude, I am not going to go on and on about being grateful (shocker). Instead, I’m going to remind you to notice the moments in real time, as they are happening, that you can lay some gratitude on. This is different than just considering that which is making you feel big time thanks. It’s actually turning your radar on to notice when something in the gratitude department is happening. Because as they say, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Example. (You knew that was coming.)

Yesterday I was shopping at Whole Foods for Thursday’s wingding, and I bumped into a friend who I adore, but rarely see. We decided, despite our busy day, and groceries developing salmonella in the car, to have coffee, and we talked for like, 90 minutes. STRAIGHT. And there was a true and real sharing. Not just chit chat, but getting down to the real stuff. It was fantastic and so good, and I recognized almost immediately that this was a moment to get on my knees for.

But that is not all.

My daughter was getting a haircut, and I was meandering around Coolidge Corner waiting for her, and went into KaBloom and saw this fabulous woman who works there and who has helped me out buying quantities for school events over the years, and is smart and sweet and always just so damn nice (plus she has the MOST BEAUTIFUL EYES, not that that has to do with anything, but you know, I love a detail). I hadn’t seen her in a long time, and we hugged, which was so adorable! Again, this was a genuine moment and I so appreciated its rarity.

As we were catching up, another old friend of hers walked in and I let them  catch up and then she introduced me to the friend and we all started to talk. The friend had moved away from Brookline, and she did work for a homeless shelter and had a daughter also getting a haircut and we knew some common people and she gave me her card and then I told them both about the blog (because they seemed like people who would like it and it seemed we were connecting in a real way), and we talked about gratitude, and the woman who I had just met said “this is coming at me from all sides right now.” And I understood that to mean this wasn’t her first run-in with the g-word, because when you need something, sometimes it just keeps showing up, and if you are observant, you notice and it changes your fucking life.

Well, anyway, this woman, who I had never laid eyes on until 10 minutes before, took off her bracelet and said that a friend had given it to her as a way to remember to be grateful (you count the four pearls on it and give each a gratitude shout out) and she now wanted to pass it on to me. SHE GAVE ME HER BRACELET. This stranger, who by now, didn’t at all feel like a stranger, GAVE ME HER BRACELET. I tried to say no, but she wouldn’t take it back. She wanted me to have it.

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This is the bracelet. This is the bracelet a stranger gave me.

It was the most extraordinary moment.

And here’s the thing– I noticed it. I didn’t let it slip away, or get past me, or disappear without its due. I somehow got lucky enough to have these two completely amazing, enriching moments in my day. And I was not going to let them pass like they were everyday occurrences, like I was sitting at a light in my car waiting to go, I opened the door to them and let my every freaking cell take in the absolute fabulousness of these minutes of my day.

So, here’s the thing–YOU gotta notice the good stuff. You have to wear your gratitude specs 24/7. Throw a little celebration in your head every time you find yourself in a moment when shit is going well. And congratulate yourself for noticing it. It’s like a “where’s Waldo” kind of thing. And seriously, just being aware of what’s happening–that’s something to be grateful for right there.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 962: the mashed potato challenge

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You can only imagine how much we here at the gratitude-a-thon (meaning ME here at the gratitude-a-thon) LOVE us some Thanksgiving. It’s a whole day of freaking gratitude, for crying out loud–what could be better? I’ll tell you what, and that would be WAIT FOR IT, mashed potatoes.

I have a thing for the potato in general. Mash ’em, sauté ’em, home fried, deep fried, baked, borrowed or stolen, this versatile veggie is one of the true loves of my culinary life. Did I mention my obsession with the potato chip? Hold on while I moan…..

Anywho, I am putting on the gratitude feast at my house this year. And I will be making a VAT of mashies. I never follow a recipe, preferring to wing it, but this year, I am looking for the ultimate mashed potato recipe –a little experiment. So, if you have a foolproof, can’t lose, you’re-going-to-want-to-bathe-in-these mashed potatoes recipe, please share. I’ll let you know if I make it, that is if I can climb out of the pot long enough to post.

gratitude-a-thon day 961: give yourself a hug

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The other day I posted about self-care, but only to make you (and myself) laugh (because there CANNOT be enough of that right now, if you ask me). But I am finding that I need some real self-care stat. SO MANY people I know are exceptionally anxious  right now, despite the upcoming mash potato festival. And I will include myself in this group. Trump and his cabinet picks have me feeling tense, ill-at-ease, and waking up in the middle of the night to make sure the NYT hasn’t declared the whole world about to end (I’d want to know so I could pack a few things).

News overload was my problem for the first five or so days.  I didn’t feel safe unless I was reading or watching or listening to the news. If I could have had a news IV, I would have. But in the past few days, it seems I am innately protecting myself from the neurological assault of the news, and I find that I’m barely turning on CNN, or MSNBC, only reading high quality news sites.

I like to be informed, but right now, I feel like it’s just too much. There’s too much at stake, it’s too frightening, it’s too sad. 

We all have to do what we have to do to keep ourselves sane during this time of unprecedented upheaval (connect, clean, exercise, meditate, fucking get down on our knees and PRAY……).

Be kind to other people, but also, don’t forget to be extra kind to yourself. Take some time to feel gratitude for what you have. THIS NEVER FAILS. And give yourself a big fat hug. In fact, give a big fat hug to everybody you can. It’s important to  take care of each other right now (and always).

gratitude-a-thon day 960: too soon to laugh?

It’s been a week since the apocalypse, since what felt like a bait and switch the size of a small Italian village occurred, since the R.E.M. song It’s the End of the World got stuck in a loop in my head (in a loop in my head, my head, my head).

And we’re still all here. So, give yourself a round of applause for not moving to Canada, or jumping off the top of Trump Tower.

But a lot of us are still struggling, fearful and continuing to wonder how this could have happened. I’ll leave smarter people to dismantle that one. But I’d like to offer some tips that can help you take care of yourself. Because that’s the best thing we can all do right now.

1. Do not indulge in every comfort food you’ve ever loved to make yourself feel better. You’re midsection will look like the midwest. No reason not to look your best even though you’re living under a white nationalist, anti-semitic, misogynistic, anti-LGBTQ, anti-Muslim, Mexican, Black regime who thinks climate change is a hoax, right?

2. Meditation is a life saver. My friend and trainer Colleen Quinn, who couldn’t be smarter or more insightful,  reminded me of the Loving Kindness Meditation, which is really one of my most favorites:

May I be filled with lovingkindness.
May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.
May I be well in body and mind.
May I be at ease and happy. May someone tell me this election was all a fucking dream and I will wake up really soon.(I don’t think this is part of the original. I might have put it in myself.)

3. Don’t put off working out because of the state of the country. You need the endorphins. We all do. If you have any extras, send them to me STAT.

4. Do take warm baths (I love a lavender situation), light candles at night (actually I lit one at 4:27 today when it was pitch black out — but I digress). Cuddle up with your partner, your dog, or your best blanket and watch guilty pleasure tv. TURN OFF THE FUCKING NEWS. You really need to limit that shit.

5. This is the time to be around people who think like you. There’s plenty of time to engage with Trump supporters and try and understand them later, but right now, surround yourself with people who get your desire to bathe in macaroni and cheese and move to the moon.

6. Cut down on screen time. People like me who can’t get off this topic will just make you feel worse.

7. Put a safety pin on your coat to show people you’re a safe person. If the day gets away from you, take it off and stab yourself in the eye with it, it will make the idea of Trump in the White House feel less painful.(Do not try this at home, or at all).

8. Here is an excellent site that can help you know what to do now:http://www.holyfucktheelection.com

9. Figure out what charities could most use your donations. Then use that money for jewelry. This will TOTALLY MAKE YOU FEEL BETTER (oh, maybe that’s just me).

10. Laugh. Too soon? Nope. It’s time. It’s really time.

gratitude-a-thon day 959: solidarity

 

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I really want to stop writing about the election.

But it’s all I can think about. It’s completely consumed me.

Ok, here we go. My attempt to claim new territory.

It sort of has to do with the election, but it’s a step in the right direction.

I am terribly grateful for all the people I have talked to, on Facebook and in real life, who share my terror and confusion over the election (there’s that word again). There is a feeling of solidarity that’s emerged among people who I know and don’t know, concerning our uncertain futures. We are talking about how to take care of ourselves during such emotional instability and upheaval, how to proceed intelligently, how to organize ourselves into action, so that we may be the change. It’s empowering to have others who feel like I feel showing themselves. This is a new land, and we pioneers have got to back  one another. This part is a good thing. This is the only good thing I can see so far.

But I’ll take it.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 958: when you realize that it’s you who has to stand up

I was just texting with a friend. She’s not quite 30, and I am doing some writing for her website. Anyway, she said she’s been experiencing a lot of “Why the fuck do anything?” in the past week (a girl after my own heart). And of course, so have I. She went on to say “What’s the point?” And oddly, although I’m right there with her on that bus, I didn’t concur, I suddenly found myself texting that this was the exact time we had to stand up for our ideals. I’m telling you, I am waking up with a pit of despair in my stomach, dragging myself around like Linus drags his blanket, but i realized that this is really what I feel — that this is the time that we have to hold onto our ideals like Riley holds onto his bones when company comes (like they really want his bones).

This is the time to stand up, not sit down. It’s never been more vital to fight against racism and misogyny and xenophobia and anti-semitism,. It’s never been more important to support the LGBTQ community and the climate change movement. It’s NEVER BEEN MORE IMPORTANT to be kind to those who are fearful that they will be deported or discriminated against. I will not allow an amazing 30 year old to feel like she should get under the covers. I will not, I will FUCKING NOT let this election make me forget who I AM or what I STAND FOR.

You can’t either. We owe it to my friend. We owe to our kids.  We owe it to each other.

Last night John Oliver listed a number of organizations he says need help now more than ever. Gratitude to that John Oliver–I love when someone does my work for me, so I’ll pass them along and do your work for you.

Planned Parenthood,

The Center for Reproductive Rights,

The National Resources Defense Council,

The International Refugee Assistance Project,

the NAACP Legal Defense Fund

The Trevor Project for LGBTQ youth

The Mexican-American Legal Defense and Educational Fund.