I just re-did my bedroom because, after 20 years, we built a master bathroom, and yes, I do believe that I appreciate it more than if it had come with the house 20 years ago, because, wait for it, I had to wait for it.
Anyway, my room had been a light gray, and I decided to paint it white and wow, it’s like the great feeling of meditation, but without all that nasty sitting and trying to quiet your mind.
I wear black a lot. (it helps with that perpetual question: “Does this make me look fat?” Which, of course, the answer to is always “No,” unless I’m the one having a convo with myself and then it’s “Less fat.” ) But when it comes to decor, I love white. I love it for its simplicity and chameleon-like ability to be whatever you want it to be. I use it because it’s both soothing and full of possibility. It gives me that just showered feeling, that first snowfall heartbeat.
I used Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace, which is a bright white, but not stark, and has a great warmth. And of course, it pays to have a great colorist and painter–one Celine Hale–who is part hue guru (huru?) part can-do-anything wizard, part queen of clean, and 100% freakin’ fabulosity. Girl knows her colors and damn she can make a room look new (not to downplay her partner Chris, who is also the damn best of the best).
I will drone on about my bathroom another time, but for today, the color of white is just filling me up with giddy gratitude. (Could be a little bit Michael Cohen, too–totally possible!)
My daughter took a bus home Sunday night at 9:15 pm from the middle of an area of Hartford that is sketchy at best, missing four classes because a boy she grew up with overdosed on opioids and she couldn’t stop crying. A freezing cold vigil and a funeral and girls gathered in our den trying to make sense of it ensued. There’s no town that’s immune from this kind of horror, anymore. I have not been able to stop thinking of this boy’s family. Of the kind of Thanksgiving it would be for them this year, and for that matter, every year going forward. Their boy will always be missing. Time will lessen the profound sadness, but it will never go away, like the sun popping up every morning, or the waves perpetually kissing the shore.
Yesterday I was with my family for our annual Thanksgiving dinner. I felt a deep gratitude to have all of us healthy and doing well. Life seems precarious these days. In the last two months, there have been some horrible losses in my vicinity. Which doesn’t include the bigger picture of watching California experience the largest fire in the state’s history and all that comes with and several senseless mass shootings (a common and seemingly acceptable occurrence by our government), and more insane and ugly things coming out of our president’s mouth on the daily.
It has become more and more clear to me that perseverating on any good that comes your way is essential to maintaining a sense of balance in the face of all the difficult. Be on high alert for the good stuff. There’s plenty of it. Begin with all that leftover turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes for starters (did someone say mashed potatoes).
Thanksgiving is the original gratitude holiday. But how’s about the other 364 days a year? They too are gratitude-worthy, but without the mashed potatoes it seems harder to ante up the gratitude, I guess.
There are a lot of studies that confirm what my experience has been saying since this blog was born–which is that gratitude can make you happier and less depressed. Maybe if people could get this in a prescription bottle at CVS, along with a reciept that takes 10 years to come out of the cash register, they’d pay attention?
I don’t need clinical data to know that when I am grateful for something I have, I feel better, than when I’m whining about something I don’t have. Not only do I feel better about noticing something in my midst, it helps to keep me in the moment. There’s so much talk about being in the moment that sounds so woo woo silly to me and completely unobtainable. So much of the time I am thinking about what I have to do next, or what I did that is impacting what I have to do next. But when I feel gratitude about something, I am in the actual moment of the actual day that is happening. It pulls me into the now. That’s a side benefit. Even if it’s just for 10 minutes. I’ll take it.
And gratitude doesn’t have to be fancy, you know. It can be anything you are happy about. I mean, it can be a great movie, the fact that you’re having a good hair day, the sale at Bloomingdale’s. I’m an equal opportunity gratitudeathoner. It’s the act, the focus on something good that gives us the feels. It’s the fact that you are noticing the positive and not the negative.
So, since you’re thinking about gratitude because we’re in turkey week, this year, why not consider extending the practice and making it an everyday thing? See what happens. I’m guessing you will be pleasantly, mashed potatoedly surprised.
I watch the fires in California rip through the canyons like souped-up race cars in a drag race. Sparks fly and the deadly and fiery glow dips in and out of a smokey haze. These flames are like Roadrunner on Speed with a chaser of Adderall washed down with a super-size Coke. They’re Usain Bolt fast. They’re no match for the bravest firefighters. It’s as if they’re saying, “Go head, bring it.”
Malibu holds a special place in me. I spent three weeks there when I was an about to be senior in high school, with my sister who lived in an apartment on PCH that was on stilts above the ocean. It was magical. More than 40 years later, this past May, we went back to Malibu and rented an amazing house in one of the Canyons there, for Jake’s graduation. That house had burned down years before and been rebuilt, and from what Jake can tell, it looks like it might be going down again. I texted the Air B&B owners and told them we were carrying them in our hearts. All she sent back was a heart and a prayer emoji. Ugh.
Fire has always made me afraid. I had a brief visitation with it about 10 years ago, right before Christmas. In seconds the candles I lit near swags of greenery on my mantle went up while in the kitchen, I artfully placed appetizers on platters for my dinner party of eight. One of my guests saved the day, and probably my house, by tearing the beautifully set table’s cloth from its perch and stamping out the flames. The entire house was filled with smoke, the firemen busted in like mobsters. I sobbed and drank a lot of vodka before deciding the 20 pounds of filet must be cooked and eaten. In just that small amount of time and those few rabid flames, I lost a lot, but what I could have lost is what really made me cry.
So I cannot wrap my brain around the idea that people are losing the houses they’ve made into homes, friends, neighbors, all that makes up a community. I don’t seem to have the imagination to create this horror show in my head. I watch, I look at pictures, but something in me says “No, how could that possibly happen.”
But of course it can, and it is happening as we speak. Someone just like you, with all their dreams and aspirations, all their accomplishments and hopes and memories are being forced to get down to what’s really valuable.
And that’s what surfaces for me. Suff is just that. Possessions are no match for people. If I walked out of my house with my family and my dog, I’d ultimately be ok. The trappings are pretty, some of them are well-loved and tell stories of another time. Some of them are steeped in memories of what my life has been. But what my life, what all our lives really are, is the people we love. It’s as simple as that. If we have those, we have what we need.
Here is a good list of places to send money. And of course, there is always the American Red Cross. I gave to a family I didn’t even know on GoFundMe because I saw it on my friend from high school, Frank’s, FB feed (Michael & Linda Weisberg). There is also a general GoFundMe specifically for the fires.
Superstition came to claim me. We didn’t watch the returns in the same place, didn’t eat the same food, drink the same wine.
And in the end, the blue wave didn’t quite overwhelm, but I am happy nonetheless. (Also, keep in mind that if there were more Republican senators up for re-election, things could have been very different for Democrats last night). Because I will take the victories that did come. And there are some to celebrate raucously.
Women! One hundred of them, to be exact will march into Congress for the first time ever. Right here at home, Ayana Pressley became the first woman of color to hit Congress from Massachusetts. Rashida Tlaib in Michigan and Ilhan Omar in Minnesota are the first Muslim women to take Congressional seats. Sharice Davids beat a Republican man in Kansas. Deb Haaland won in New Mexico, becoming the first Native American woman elected to Congress. In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn, a Republican, became the state’s first woman elected to the Senate. Jahana Hayes is Connecticut’s first black congresswoman. Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia are the first Latina congresswomen in Texas. Janet Mills is the first female governor of Maine. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman ever to win a congressional seat. Stacey Abrams is still waiting for the full count in Georgia. Estrogen tsunami, baby! First we marched, then we won. History books got new a chapter last night.
Yes, the Republicans gained more Senate seats, but the Democrats took the House for the first time in eight years. C’mon, victory dance with me! The Liar-in-Chief will now have a Congress that will limit his actions (although they sadly won’t have any ability to stop his tweet storms). This is big!
I was heartbroken that Beto didn’t win, but I’ve never seen a social media fundraising game like his (I swear, they contacted me in my dreams and I gave money). This intelligent, empathic and charismatic guy may have lost, but he also won. And you can only imagine how much I loved his use of my favorite word in his concession speech –“I’m so fucking proud of you too, Beto!” This guy is the future of the Democratic party.
Andrew Gillum’s loss in Florida was also a tough one to swallow, but as BenjaminEPark said in a tweet: “I swear Florida could be voting between ice cream and a kick to the head and the results would be 50.5%-49.5%.”
Also in the major victory category–Jared Polis, the first openly gay man was elected governor in Colorado. Yes to diversity!
So, I’m going to celebrate today. There was a lot that went right last night and a lot of hope for the future. And I for one, am optimistic for the first time in two years.
Gratitude that overwhelming numbers came out yesterday to vote. There is hope. We sent a message. Onward.
I have a transgender person in my life who is very important to me, so I wanted to make sure that while I’ve blogged endlessly about why it’s vital to vote Democratic this year, voting yes on question 3 in Massachusetts is just as important.
My best friend’s daughter is in transition to become a male. He is lucky to have a family that fully supports him (and lots of friends who do, too), but not every transgender person does, and many face abuse, humiliation, assault, violence and discrimination for simply being who they are. This is an issue of human rights.
My young transgender friend is one of the smartest and most interesting people I know. I have loved her for the past 15 years, and I will love him for the rest of his life.
Question 3 is about the protection of transgender people from discrimination in public places, including restaurants and doctor’s offices, restrooms and schools.
I couldn’t be any prouder to be a resident of Massachusetts (or to have my transgender friend in my life), where we aim to treat all people with dignity and respect. In fact, we were the first state in the country to recognize marriage equality.
I feel the cast of Riverdance in the center of my stomach. I am nervous like I was about to parachute out of a plane at 10 million feet (which I could never do). I am biting my cuticles, waking in the middle of the night, cuddling my dog so much, he thinks I’m bringing him to the vet. This election has me wanting to dive into a vat of potato chips and eat until I can’t think anymore (hey, that actually sounds sort of fun…..).
In my lifetime, never has there been a more important election. Some of you would say that I’m overreacting, as I am wont to do, but nuh-uh, this is the real thing. This is the difference between accepting a leader who blatantly and continually lies to the public about important things, so much so, that a certain amount of our population believes him. This is about the encouragement and support of hate from the top. Come out, come out wherever you are, bring your guns, bring your bombs, and go to it, presidentially approved. This is about blatant racism and bigotry. This is about nationalism and neo-nazi-ism and anti-semitism and all the other ism’s there are. This is about the end of civility and morals and the beginning of a dark and ugly period of history. This is about a rejection of climate change–and if you have children or grandchildren, the rejection of the thoughts of what this planet will be like when you are gone and they are here. This is about women being in charge of their own bodies. This is about democracy.
This is about your life and the lives of everyone important to you.
There are three days left to decide who you are going to vote for, if you are going to vote, what you are going to do to save democracy. Remember that Trump did not win the popular vote. I am begging you to create a plan to make your voice heard, even if your voice wants to scream “fuck you, Donald Trump, let it scream with your pen at the polls.