gratitude-a-thon day 1062: might just be a bath

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Sometimes it’s just a hot bath. I sink down in, inch by inch and it reminds me that after a long day, I’m human. I let myself go, and my muscles start singing the Hallelujah chorus which morphs into James Brown’s I Feel Good (which is really called I Got You, but don’t you think of it as I Feel Good–yeah, me too).

This is the kind of thing that brings on gratitude for me. It’s a simple switch I throw–a post-it note on my brain. When something makes good, feels good, is good, I let the gratefulness I’m feeling bubble to the surface and I acknowledge it full on. My day is better for it.

And that is all.

gratitude-a-thon day 1061: the big sick

 

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Awesome movie alert! The Big SickThe Big Sick has been getting over the top reviews for months. I was practically loitering outslide the movies theater waiting for its arrival. Of course, I was also afraid that all those reviews would predispose me to thinking the movie was going to be better than it was. I mean, the reviews are like fake, they’re so positive.  What film could possibly live up to that kind of fabulosity? There’s always the danger with such whoo hoo pre-release chatter that you’ll exit the theater angry and disappointed, having eaten more popcorn than you wanted to because the movie wasn’t delivering.

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BUT. NO. UH UH. NOT. The Big Sick is everything it’s been called. The story is kind of basic–a romantic comedy with a couple of twists–boy meets girl, girl is wrong color, boy’s parents want to arrange his marriage, girl gets sick, and well, I’ll just stop there. This movie is really funny, with great acting and superb timing (so good to see Holly Hunter, who is not aging, like AT ALL. And damn, if Ray Romano isn’t an underrated actor, and I’ve never liked Zoey Kazan, but she actually could not be cuter, and I’d never seen Kumail Nanjiani, but he’s amazing).  Nanjiani and his real life wife, Emily V. Gordon wrote the story, because it’s their story–the story of how they met and fell in love. Maybe that’s why it feels so real.

This movie is a lot of fun and reminds you of the power of love, and what a good, good thing that is.

gratitude-a-thon day 1060: extra room

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Flying used to be different. There weren’t the endless security checks, the need to remove your shoes and coat and jewelry, the long, long lines. The seats used to be bigger, the legroom used to be large enough for your legs, hell people could even smoke (this is one change that’s for the better). There used to be planes with two floors, and one would have a bar where you could stand around and drink like you were in a snazzy pick up lounge (this was even before my time). Often, the plane wouldn’t sell out and you could have two seats to yourself, where you could nap through your flight. Yeah, empty seats were common! Now you barely get one seat.

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So, you can only imagine how out of my mind crazy pants I was when on not one, but both ways to and from San Francisco, I got a whole row to myself! It seemed remarkable enough that it happened on the way to California, but when I found myself in the same position on the way back, I practically felt the hand of God under me. What the what? This is an epic coincidence, and these days, it rates up there between unusual and uheard of. Even the flight attendants were shocked. I layed myself down and alternated between reading magazines and watching movies. Take that first class. It was lux, I tell you.

Gratitude for this bit of luck. It made the flights actually enjoyable and restful. I did not deplane an angry monster, but instead a somewhat pleasant human. I’m sure my family is the most grateful.

gratitude-a-thon day 1059: the people

 

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President Pinnochio.

The White House, filled with Trump’s inexperienced brood, has become the First Family of Dysfunction. It’s like living in a Saturday Night Live skit. Comedy writers around the country rejoice on the daily, until they realize this isn’t really funny at all. It’s our country’s leadership going down in flames. We’ve become the laughing stock of the fucking world.

Hey, it’s not like Trump voters didn’t know. Mr. Carrot Top Combover showed his true colors over and over on the campaign trail. But still, they persisted. And still, despite not one piece of legislation being passed, lies being thrown around like toys in a sandbox, and the disappearance of all human decency and integrity, they persist in sticking by their prick, I mean pick.

Gratitude to journalists everywhere and good and intelligent people who are standing up and speaking out about the lies, the bigotry, the TREASON, the total INSANITY that’s running our country right now. You are the light. Because man, it’s gotten really dark in here.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1058: gratitude one, gratitude two


I think about gratitude a lot–the why, the how, the when (you didn’t think it was that complicated, did you). Recently I was thinking about how there are two kinds.

Gratitude One is where you are brought to your knees by shitty life circumstances and you have to sit yourself down (or just lie in traffic) and make a list of what you do have. Like your list might read:  shelter, bed, food. It might read: shoes, dog, underwear. It could read: eyes, feet, heart. This is the kind of grateful game that asks you to focus on the basics, the basics we often forget because we’re thinking about all the stuff we don’t have.

Gratitude Two is the variety that you get down with when things happen that are great. It’s the kind that reminds you of the terrific luck, good fortune, or just plain hard fucking work that brought you to the moment. I was recently able to re-do my backyard. Wahoo! Some people might think, “I should have had this backyard all along. It’s taken me forever to get this to happen.” But the better way of looking at it would be, “I am so fucking lucky to be able to have this backyard NOW. I’m going to celebrate every gosh darn day I can hang out here. Damn!” Gratitude Two seems less important than Gratitude One because I mean feet vs. backyard reno. doesn’t really seem equal, but the thing is that being grateful when good things happen for you is vital to you being able to keep a nice perspective, and prevent you from becoming a jaded douche bag. And let’s face it, nobody likes a jaded douche bag. It’s not cool to take things for granted. Feeling entitled to hitting the lottery, is ugly. Ugly like Trump’s soul. YES, that ugly.

I actually believe that when you’re on gratitude alert, your life improves. I believe this like some people believe in Christianity, Judaism, or Buddhism. The state of being grateful pulls you into the present moment and always puts you in a sunnier place. Even when it’s pouring down rain. And the awesomeness is that you are in charge of it. It’s in your hands–available and accessible 24/7. You can play, or not. Game on.

It sounds easy to do, and really it is, but it’s a practice. You have to do it, and then get up and do it again. Pretty soon, it will become like brushing your teeth. You’ll find yourself stopping on the highway to admire the sunset, or putting something fabulous in your pie hole, and moaning with grateful dee-light, or getting into your bed at night, crazy exhausted and realizing how freaking lucky you are that you have this sacred place to get some rest.

I can roll off-track and derail from time to time. I can find myself in the deep woods with a bad case of “the wants,” but I just keep doing what I know to do, pulling myself back to the present and enlisting gratitude to help me find my way. This is the deal–gratitude allows you to understand that what you have is more than enough, and better than the best pair of glasses for seeing the world.

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1057: the little house

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I grew up in a small town with a big yard. Now I live in a big town with a small yard. Until recently my miniature property had a playhouse, purchased nine years ago at our kid’s grammar school’s yearly auction for a bargain price of $75.00. I am nothing if not a bargain shopper. I remember patting my savvy self on the back, until I read the fine print that you had to haul it out of the backyard of the family that donated it. GUESS HOW MUCH THAT COST–the non-bargain price of $500. I stopped patting myself on the back long enough to hit myself across the face. ALWAYS READ THE FINE PRINT.

Anyway, we plunked it in the corner of our little yard and, while Ally had just about grown out of it, it became a receptacle for colorful window boxes and antique watering cans and architectural salvage–an outdoor shed and adorable way to block out our view of the road behind us.

After more than a decade of New England’s kick-ass winter’s (don’t get me started on the winter of 2015, really do not, because you will be sorry) although spectacularly made, the little house began to deteriorate, and we had two choices–it could be torn down, or renovated. With no kids left at home, and grandchildren, a twinkle in nobody’s eyes, but my husband’s and mine, the only intelligent thing to do was to take down the house, but this because of all the blocking it did of the road, necessitated  a renovation of our backyard. So, down it came, and at least five neighbors in my hood came up to me with an expression that said “We just buried our best friend and all our family members,”  and out of their mouths came the same exact words, “The little house………”

Yes, the murder of the little house meant there were no more little’s at my address anymore. And the neighborhood took note. I was actually surprised how sad everybody was. Everybody, but me, the usual emotional barometer for all sad stuff. I knew I was saying goodbye to something sort of epic in our lives, but truthfully, I was just freaking excited by the prospect of my little yard becoming a bigger little yard.

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We’re in the middle of creating life after the little house right now (and btw, when I say “we’re” what I mean is the fabulous Brookline-based, Faithful Flowers), but can I even tell you how awesomely amazing it already is, without even being done? Can I, huh?

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One of those weird pano iPhone pics. And it’s not even done yet!

Sometimes change sucks, and I fight against it and throw up my hands and sob my face off. This time, it was welcome, and maybe even overdue (and maybe I’m getting a little used to it). Gratitude for that. (WRITTEN ON MY NEW BACKYARD PATIO, LAYING ON THE COMFY COUCH, WITH THE SUN IN MY EYES).

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1056: vacay

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Gratitude can wake you up.

No, really. It woke me up this morning, because the sun was streaming in through the window of the house we’re renting and the pool was beckoning and I just thought, “Get up, and get out there because GRATITUDE.”

Vacations are funny. They can be ruined by things like bad weather, and that’s not something you have even the tiniest bit of control over. You just have to go with it.

We had a great Fourth of July picnic yesterday with family, and I ate more than is humanly possible, so thinking I might be some sort of “other,” to have fit that much stuff in my body. It’s poking out of me this morning, but damn, I don’t even care.

Anyway, I can’t even sit around and write, because, sun, sand, walking trails, and oh, there it is again, gratitude.

 

Yoga-tude-a-thon day 1055: The Goddess Sonia

 

So, about a year and a half ago, I got up the courage to go to a beginner yoga class. For most people, this is not CNN breaking news, but for me, with back problems since senior year of college, that have forced me to quit jobs and spend a lot of my 20’s-40’s in physical therapy, not to mention pain, it was a little like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. NO PARACHUTE.

The thing is, I was infatuated with yoga for a long time. The beautiful poses, the control, grace and meditative quality of the practice seemed like a perfect meal for the body.

 

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Like, a typical pose I could see myself getting stuck in!

But to do yoga, seemed on the provocative to terrifying scale. I pictured myself getting stuck in a pose like a cartoon character and having to live in that pose for the rest of my life. (Yes, welcome to my head.) But when my trainer (yes, if you can, you have a trainer when you have a bad back so that you can keep moving around the world and having a life) moved to California, I needed to find a way to keep my back healthy. So I mustered up my courage, heard about a beginner yoga class, and stuck my big toe in the Iyengar pool.

Enter Sonia, a 27-year-old yoga teacher with an infectious and gigantic smile, who studied yoga in India, was getting her masters in culinary arts at B.U. (check out her blog Bake with Sonia) who loves to travel, cook, and could not have a warmer or more lovely personality.

At first, I was stiff and scared (the opposite of Sonia, whose poses look like a poem)  and moved slowly and rigidly. But as the classes piled up, Sonia’s nurturing allowed me to feel more able-bodied. Each week, I became more still in my tree pose, more balanced in my triangle, more composed in the pre-cursor poses to getting up there in a shoulder stand. And when I would leave class, I would leave with a calm, and a little more confidence in a body who has not allowed me to do the physical things I have wanted to do.

Pretty soon, I realized I was actually doing something physical that I’d wanted to do for decades–I was doing fucking yoga!

But as all things must end (and I don’t know why they must), it was announced a few weeks ago that Sonia was moving to be with her fiance in D.C. I cried. In the class. I almost left because really who wants to sob during downward dog.

 

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After we had our coffee, Sonia brought me across the street to meet a yoga teacher she thought would be good for me. C’mon, who does that?

See, Sonia gave me something that has been hard won in my life–a way to be physical that wouldn’t hurt my body, and in fact, helped it, along with settling my busy–SQUIRREL–mind. This, for me, is like a potato chip without calories.

I had coffee with Sonia yesterday to say goodbye. I so much wanted her to know what her teaching did for me and how much I would miss her. When you have chronic problems with your body, the people who can show you a path to wellness become mythic Goddesses. You are more than grateful when you find one.

Love you, Sonia. Thank you from the bottom of my asana!

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1054: the elements (jillschwartz) of style

 

Some people collect sneakers (my son has enough for a few sports teams). Some people collect insulators (my husband used to when he was a kid. And by the way, they’re those things that are glass on the top of a telephone poll and I don’t know why anybody would collect them), and some collect sunglasses (my daughter could open a Sunglass Hut).

I collect jewelry.

I can’t help it.

I didn’t grow up in a jewelry-crazed home, where my mom was mad for bling. Still, I was crazy for vintage silver rings and big colorful earrings and dangly bracelets. I wore earrings that matched my barrettes for a bunch of years (ok, I can’t believe I did that, but let’s discuss the ridiculous things you did back then, shall we).

I longed for diamond stud earrings when I was in high school. Just the perfect little sparkle at my ears that I would never take out. My parents were like, that is so not happening.

While waitressing during college, I finally bought myself a teeny tiny pair, and then when I did advertising for a jewelry company, another, bigger pair. And then my husband bought me another even nicer pair as a surprise, and I did just as I thought I would, I wear them a lot. And I love them like a small child. Because when I wear them I see that little starry shine next to my face and it makes me happy. Do. Not. Judge. Non-Jewelry. Lovers.

For years, I have been obsessed with different necklaces and bracelets and earrings dangling and shining and hanging around my neck, from my wrists and ears. I mix and match and layer like I was dressing my Barbie dolls when I was little (and by the way, I used to cut their hair and style it, too and can I tell you that it’s a good thing I didn’t go into that profession–those poor dolls….). When I was in Tanzania last summer, I was mad for all the beaded jewelry the Masai women wore. Big necklaces and long earrings. Maybe they are my people?

 

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Here’s a little bit of my obsession in my very old Brimfield armoire (it was a steal!)  Lots of Elements pieces here. Aren’t they awesomeness?!

 

Recently, a fabulous jewelry company tapped me to be an ambassador for them (I would rather have been a queen or princess, but I had to settle for ambassador).  All I have to do is post a picture wearing their jewelry, which I have been wearing and collecting for almost 30 years! What’s not fun about that? 

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Elementsjillschwartz is a little bit vintage, a little bit modern. It has seen me through trips and dinners and work meetings. I’ve worn it on dates and boats and beaches, at concerts, museums, and lunches. I give it as gifts (if I can tear it out of my own hands), I mix it with other jewelry, I wear it alone. It’s versatile, but it packs a nice style punch.

 

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Jill, the designer, is adorable times  245,934,776. She just has that style thing. She knows how to put stuff together in the totally best way.

 

And the company is great. They are 100% behind their jewels, and will always try and make you happy, like if for instance, if you lose an earring (and how many times have i done that), or something should break. I love any retailer that puts your experience first.

Gratitude for Elementsjillschwarts–feeding my obsession, and jewelry in general, making the world a prettier place (and taking the emphasis off of my wrinkles).

 

 

dad-a-tude-a-thon: the best dad

 

Turning it over to the dad of dad’s–my husband Peter. Trumpets, drumroll, confetti.

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This guy, an accomplished biochemist and rock star research dude would rather be a father than really anything else (except maybe a baseball player, or like the star of a Broadway musical (except he can’t sing or dance, and btw, can you even do a parentheses within a parentheses) or maybe like, Larry Bird) This one is for you, Peter.

From the start, I knew we both wanted a family. After all, we went to the Children’s Museum as our first Boston date. Who does that?

At first we weren’t in any rush, and then when I found out I had major infertility, like “you will never have a baby” infertility when I was already 32, we were then in a very big rush, a major rush to get that egg and sperm together. It was three years. And after a miscarriage and a lot of pain I won’t drone on about, because you were there. But then and again, trumpets, drumroll, confetti–that boy–our boy–Jackson Robert Gabriel came into our world and you had a brand new name–Dada.

Three years later, that girl with enough hair to be a shampoo model, Alexandra Louise Christina rolled in, and you were done for.

When given a choice, you always choose your kids. You are, and I don’t exaggerate here, ALWAYS there for your offspring. You’re like the postman of fathers, the internet–available 24/7, 365 days a year. There isn’t a way that they could have won a bigger lottery than getting you as their dad.

Your patience is endless, your devotion is thorough, and your love for you children is selfless (sometimes too selfless). Yeah, you might be a little bit over the top, but damn, I envy those kids who have a father who is so totally and completely theirs.

Happy Father’s Day to the best guy who ever papa-ed kids. You’re it.

 

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Love you, Rama, best dad, ever.