gratitude-a-thon day 2068: when you learn what you thought you already knew

I’ve been thinking about how odd it is that you can actually learn a thing over and over and over again and you think you know it, and you talk a good game about it, but then, something happens, or somebody says it with just the right lilt, or the exact wording that was meant for you, and CYMBAL CRASH, you REALLY understand it, in the middle of your heart, in the center of your soul, in the smartest recesses of your brain.

The longer you live, the more you understand the world is like one of those precious Christmas decorations, made from such equisitely delicate glass that it has to be housed in six pounds of bubble wrap to make sure it doesn’t break while waiting in the closet for its month of December freedom. And when it does make it to the tree, it’s guarded by a fleet of Queen Elizabeth’s British soldier people to ensure its safety. There are sooooooo many things that can go hideously wrong. I don’t even need to go through the ugly list, because you know. You know all the awful things that can happen in this world.

This past weekend, it hit me hard, in that way that it can, when it hits you just right, that I suddenly knew that whatever good things, or even semi-good things that happen should be celebrated with a parade. Like a full parade with not even just one, but multiple marching bands, and a lot of baton twirlers (does anybody twirl anymore, do you think?) and gaudy floats, maybe even some Budweiser horses, and of course balloons, a big bunch of balloons. It struck me between having to say goodbye to my beloved 14 year old dog who was human to us, and watching my husband test positive for Covid over the weekend, after we worked as hard as an emergency room doc. to dodge it over the past two years, that there are an unlimited amount of nightmarish things just lining up to pull us down to the ground. And so, with all those bullets flying, it really firmed up my committment to embracing the good, the okay-ish and maybe even the not so miserable.

I knew this before. I learned this long ago. A hundered times at least. But until this weekend, as I mourned my dog, and worried about my husband’s voluminous snot, I learned it for real.

And so, I’m here to say, we throw a party for everything that doesn’t suck from now on. Or, at least we focus on everything that’s good with a magnifying glass the size of the Empire State Building, doubling up on gratitude. Get out the fireworks, light some sparklers, and bang some pots. It took me this long to learn what I thought I already knew. It will probably take me a little time to implement, but just know, every one of you is invited to the party.

gratitude-a-thon day 2067: running on empty

I’m a little depleted. When I think about why I realize it’s post-Trump, post-Covid, post-my husband having two orthopedic surgeries within two months, post-the loss of my dog, with the current Ukraine war thrown in as a kind of cherry on the top.

How do you fill yourself up when you find yourself limping to the gas station, about to stop in the middle of the street because your tank is a big, fat empty?

I find a few things helpful.

I like to walk. Whether it’s through town, up and down hills, in a park, around a reservoir, arboretum, river or pond, I like to put one foot in front of the other, breathe in the air, stick my face up to the sun and move. I like to do this pretty much any day of the week. I also love yoga and pilates, but being outside and moving through the world, with a friend, or just my music is like a rocket ship to Planet Better.

Being with friends is another fuel. Whether I’m texting them, on the phone with them (does anybody talk on the phone anymore–yes, me) or seeing them in person, surrounding myself with people who love me is like getting a blood transfusion to the mood.

I love a flower. Or two, or two dozen. I like giving them, getting them and planting them. I like arranging them, and just plain looking at them like a kid staring at a candy display wondering which to choose when his mom has told him, “Just one.” Whether I’m feeling good or not so good, flowers are my constant companions. I’m never without them–summer, spring, winter or fall– and I have to say, it feels like they always bring some sort of good juju into my house.

I like to work. I look at my work like a puzzle and I’m the one who’s going to find all the right pieces. I like the challenge, I like the focus, I like the pulling an idea out of my head that never existed before.

I am obsessed by stories. Tell me a story in the form of a movie, a tv show, a book, an article, a tweet, a TikTok, a YouTube, or a letter and I’m good. Entertain and engage me and I both relax, recharge and feel a particular kind of happy.

I think there isn’t much better in the world of humans than laughing, so if I can get there, in the laughing space, I get an energy surge that could fly me to the moon.

(I would say being with my dog, but now that he’s gone, the thought of him just makes me cry (A LOT) , so leaving that off the list……)

What do you do to get your mojo rolling when it’s out of town? Grateful for the ideas. Hope you have the best weekend.

gratitude-a-thon day 2066: grief

Grief is a magician. You will think you have your feelings of loss under control and then up they will pop up, like the groundhog on his day of seasonal reckoning. Be prebared to be caught unaware. The waterworks will begin no matter where you are. You can be talking to the funny guy in the meat department at Whole Foods, or driving your car, or in the middle of a work meeting and suddenly you will be in a puddle of your own making. With absolutely no notice you can be diminshed by tears, engulged in the deepest emotion, brought to your very knees to the ground. And there’s no telling how long this can go on. Nope, don’t go do any betting on grief’s timeline because you’re going to walk away a loser.

Riley as a puppy with his lifelong companion, Tige (14 years without a wash).

And do not think that the loss of a dog cannot put you into this elusive state of pain. Because I am here to tell you that they very well can. In fact, because they become implicit in your everyday life, like say, an arm or a leg, they can throw you down faster than Ali could master his opponent in the ring. Down. For. The. Count.

I miss my dog. We said goodbye to him last week and I miss him as if he was part of my living, breathing body and now that part is MIA. I am dazed and confused by the world without his constant presence. I cry so much I look like a monster from a Hulu original series.

The sense of loss seems senseless to those who aren’t “dog people.” “You must feel better today, right?” they say. They don’t understand. They have no comprehension of the love, the fun, the simpatico an owner and a dog can feel for one another. They can’t contemplate the closeness or the bond. Life without a dog cuts out a giant portion of some of the happiest feelings a human is capable of. Talk about grief, I feel it for those poor people who miss out on the good love, the pure love, the devoted and loyal love of a dog.

Every noise I hear, I think it’s him. Every day as I go through my mental checklist, there he is, until I remember that he is no longer here, but now resides in the land of endless green grass, and long stretches of beach, where steak grows on trees and days and nights are filled with shenanigans.

But for me, there are crying jags and the constant nagging pain of thinking I’m missing something. I am, I am missing my 14 year old relationship with my guy Riley, with the Andy Rooney eyebrows, the penchant for sleeping on laundry, clean or dirty, the single-minded adoration of eating and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade welcome he would greet us with whether we were out for a minute or a week. I miss that love. Damn, I miss that love. And I am oh so fucking grateful for it. That dog gave me everything and I think I returned the favor. He made me better. There is no question in my mind that he made me a better person. And although I was convinced he would one day, he did it without talking! I will carry Riley with me for the rest of life, which would be a little easier if I could just stop crying.