I don’t like the whole getting older thing, but as my dad used to say, “There’s only one alternative.” And he was right, so I’ve tried to mimic my mom’s take on getting older. The woman loved it! She did not have one issue with getting older. NOT ONE. While I would rather let my upcoming birthday pass by unnoticed (except for any gifts of the sparkly jewelry variety), my mom never missed a chance to celebrate, and always said, “I feel great. I look great,” on each of her birthdays. Now, she didn’t say that in some arrogant, self-involved way, but in a “Aren’t’ I lucky to be alive, to have made it this far,” way, which you just had to envy. My mother had a real joie de vivre. She saw the best in things, was unreasonably optimistic, extremely warm and hilariously funny, and she REFUSED to let aging make her feel anything less than awesome. She threw a pink plastic roller in her dyed hair (Clairol’s number 36 Chestnut Brown) to give it volume where it began thinning on top, shimmied into a Playtex panty girdle everyday, hoisted her ample breasts into her 38 DD bra, painted her strong, model-like fingernails and toes Misty Mauve from Revlon, donned the best designers she could afford, always put on her red lipstick, stood up straight, smiled big, and welcomed aging like the Munchkins welcomed Dorothy to Oz. She was quite something, my mom. And a very good role model for someone like me (who loves the wisdom of aging, but not the special effects). I wish she could help me celebrate next week, but she died 22 years ago this month: Lung cancer (PLEASE DON’T SMOKE. AND IF YOU DO, PLEASE QUIT TODAY, IF NOT SOONER.). She wore her age proudly, right up until the end, when she donned leather pants and a cashmere sweater to accessorize her bald head, after her first round of chemotherapy. Talk about gratitude. I am so grateful this woman was my mother. She was a special kind of person, and among other things, she taught me not to let age diminish me. Thanks, mom. I’m working on it.
I don’t know what it is, but I am fairly certain that I’m addicted to cucumbers.Yes, people, my gratitude for today is for a vegetable frequently the punch line of a dirty joke. YOU DO NOT WANT TO GET BETWEEN ME AND MY CUCUMBERS. Now, let’s be clear, eating is one of my favorite things to do. I try to keep it on the healthy side, but I LOVE food, and I don’t want you to think this cucumber thing has anything to do with me being a militant vegetarian, not that I haven’t been. I spent seven years in the land of of no meat, but then one day I had a burger, and well, that was that. I’m crazy for cheese. It is possible that I could spend a day eating bacon, like some people spend a day at a museum. I love me a good steak. I’m a fool for pasta. I could eat my weight in bread. I never met a french fry I didn’t like, and you don’t want to leave me alone with whip cream. But I have got to say, that I look forward to my cucumber conglomeration everyday. I prefer the pickling cucumbers, the small, sort of thick skinned little guys, but they’re more a summer thing, and they’re really hard to peel because of their size, but they have the best crunch and taste. I find that Whole Foods often has cucumbers that are bruised and on their way to being inedible (What’s the deal there, Whole Foods?), and that stores like Star and Shaw’s have much more reliably healthy ones. I skin the cukes, then slice them lengthwise, and then into bite sized pieces. I use this ridiculously expensive olive oil that’s so good, I would like to drink it, and which is not my everyday oil (only i do use it everyday for my cucumbers), a sprinkle of course Kosher salt, and a sprinkle of Lemon Pepper. MMMMMMMMM. I admit it’s not exactly a sexy thing to crave, but there it is. Thank you, my little green friends. You make my day!
I can’t even tell you how much I love it when I’m somewhere, and a stranger smiles at me. Generally I’m so disarmed by this unusual friendliness, I look at the person quizzically, wondering if maybe I know them. I quickly flip through my mental book of faces, and try to make an I.D. When I can’t, and I realize I don’t know the person, I try to smile back, but when I start to return the gesture, instead of my regular broad, toothy grin, my mouth contorts into some sort of awkward seizure-like Olympic gymnastics program, and then the person is gone. Now, I don’t know why my mouth does this, instead of just being able to casually return the smile like a regular person would do, but it pretty much seems to happen every time I’m in this situation. I’ve often wondered about it, since i am actually extremely happy and impressed to have someone who doesn’t know me at all give me a smile, because I realize it means they’re just a nice person who smiles at other people, and likely someone who might possibly think that this is something we should all be doing to make the world a slightly better place (which I agree with, if i could just get the action down). But what the hell is going on with my mouth, I want to know? I have considered several options. A) I am used to living in Boston, where people are not terribly friendly and slightly suspicious most of the time, and thus I am shocked by any rogue smilers. B) I am a little bit afraid that the smiler might be ready to take my wallet, or my bag, or my phone, and this is the reason my mouth looks like a cross between a childbirth scream of pain and a sneeze. C) I am not nearly as nice as I think I am. Or, here’s another idea; Having a stranger smile at you is a particularly life-affirming, a sort of physical cue that says, “hey, we’re all people in this big crazy thing together.” And that, quite frankly is not necessarily something you run up against everyday, so when you do, it can take you by surprise, and cause you not to know quite how to act (or in my case, exactly what to do with your mouth). Although there is this one other possibility, which is when my daughter read this, she told me she did the exact same thing! She even showed me what her mouth does, and if i’m doing the same thing she does, I can’t believe people have not run screaming from me before. So, I guess it could just be genetic. Anyway, I feel good for a very long time after a stranger smiles at me, even if I can’t quite smile back.
My favorite day of the week.
Isn’t the anticipation of something good as good as the actual event? That’s what the whole Thursday thing is for me. It’s like Saturday and Sunday’s pre-pubescent little sister, holding a big banner that says, “The weekend is coming. The weekend is coming.” I get a little thrill on Wednesday night, just knowing Thursday is happening the next day. There are also a couple of other reasons that I TGI Thursday. First of all, It’s the Times’ Thursday Style AND Home section–BOTH! For me, this is like a giant ice cream sundae, with a PIE ON TOP (the WHOLE pie, mind you). And my most favorite holiday is always on a Thursday. Thanksgiving is the best–No gifts, no decorating, no lists to worry about–just a day of complete and total gluttony, with people I love, with all my energy focused on gaining at least five pounds in 24 hours. Also, before I had 17 gazillion channels, Thursday night was the absolute best night on TV. I have literally grown up, in front of several different television sets, from the minuscule, apartment-sized Sony to our current monster-sized flat screen, watching Thursday night fare: Cheers, Taxi, Family Ties, The Cosby Show, L.A. Law, Frasier, E.R., Friends, Mad About You, Will & Grace, and of course, Must See TV, at it’s breakthrough best, the show about nothing, Seinfeld. These days, I’m glued to Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, enchanted with the way Shonda Rhimes writes dialogue, wishing she could write scripts for me and all of my friends. Anyway, Thursdays are a little gift I get four times a month. A fatigued exhale from the work week, imbued with the happy knowledge that the mini vacation we call the weekend is on its way. Bravo, Thursday. You got it going on.
Awe, c’mon, you don’t wear it? You should. Because if you’re using it right, it can enhance your mug in a seriously noticeable way. And who couldn’t use a little natural enhancement? Hey, I wish I looked like Heidi Klum, but unfortunately we would never be mistaken for twins (maybe not even for the same species). But there’s a big difference between a bare faced me and the one who never leaves the house without a little eye pencil and some lipstick. I wish I was that natural looking beauty, who glows the moment she steps out of bed, but I’m just not that girl (and how many of us are?). But you learn to accentuate the positive (hey, it’s sort of like the gratitude-a-thon!). Anyway, I was not born with Angelina Jolie’s enviable and trendy smacker. Truth is, I have a mouth similar to Sesame Street’s Elmo. My sister used to taunt me about never be able to wear lipstick when I got older (thanks, so much, Joan!). So, you know, putting on some super shiny lip gloss makes me appear to actually have some lips. (And by the way, this is the best lip tip I’ve now read concerning thin lips in the 245,784 articles entitled, “How to make your lips appear larger,” which you can find once a month in at least one of the beauty magazines I read when I’m at the hairdresser getting my hair dyed, but that’s another post.) Let’s be clear, I’m not talking about plastered on foundation, and don’t even say the words “blue eyeshadow” to me, or it could result in a small stroke. I’m talking about looking-exactly-like-yourself-only-better make-up. A little blush to make you look like you’ve been outside, a little defining of the eyes, and a little swipe of some lipstick, and chances are you’re you, but cuter. And a word about bronzer: I could marry it (ok, that’s four words). I have always loved a good tan, but let’s face it, it’s not in your skin’s best interest, so relying on the stuff in the tube or the powder, is just smart. Anyway, I am so gosh darn grateful for make-up. Especially as I get older, it’s nice to be able to know I have a little arsenal that will perk up my face, when it needs it (like everyday).
Welcome back to, or welcome for the first time TO, the gratitude-a-thon. Now in blog flavor! The gratitude-a-thon began a little over a month ago, when a rather troubling and pathetic string of events happened in my family, which left me, by the beginning of December, feeling utterly and completely miserable. Historically, when I get into a particularly ugly-feeling place (which a string of troubling and pathetic events will put you in), I often grab a notebook and start writing down what I’m grateful for each day. I do it for as long as it takes to feel better. I’ve done it for like 15 years (on and off, of course). I mean, there are a billion things to be grateful for, once you start looking. Indoor plumbing! The color of the sky right before sunset! Utensils! And they can really change the way you feel about a situation, when you focus on them. Daisies! Fireplaces! Toilet Paper! Anyway, when the most wonderful time of the year began in early December, I was feeling pretty un-merry, and for some reason decided instead of a notebook, I’d use Facebook. I promised to write something I was grateful for every day of December. And well, a funny thing happened. People started to notice and respond. Suddenly, I heard from “Facebook Friends,” who I frankly didn’t even think read my posts. I got a message from a complete stranger when I wrote about my hometown, next to Sandy Hook, and how much my words about growing up in that close-knit, small town made her feel good about living there. I had an old friend ask me if she could start a gratitude-a-thon on her Facebook page because it had helped her to start appreciating “all her blessings.” And I had lots of people, in public and private messages tell me that they looked forward to the gratitude-a-thon everyday, and that I should keep writing it when December was over, or to write a book, or a blog. It was sort of amazing!
I went with door number three, the blog. So, here I am.
It’s pretty simple. I just write about what I’m grateful for, big and small. That’s it. But while it’s simple, it ‘s also very powerful. In fact, last week two friends forwarded me a great article in Scientific America, talking about how gratitude boosts the immune system and increases feelings of well being. Shut the front door! I always knew it helped me to feel better, but now there’s scientific evidence! The article also talks about a site where people are invited to write their gratitudes, illustrating them on a map, proving that good stuff is happening all over (gratitude.crowdmap.com/)! You go, gratitude!
Because negative stories get ratings, the media gives 24/7 coverage to horrible events, and because we have the technological ability to stay plugged in every minute of the day (hello computer, phone, tablet, radio, tv, morse code) unspeakable-awful-miserable permeates our pores. No wonder, it feels like there’s so much bad stuff happening all the time. But I’m no Pollyanna. There REALLY IS A LOT OF BAD STUFF HAPPENING ALL THE TIME. But here’s the thing, I’m not trying to say there isn’t, I’m just trying to say, “HEY, LET’S REMEMBER TO LOOK AT THE SUPER, INCREDIBLE, AMAZING, RIGHT-IN-FRONT-OF-OUR-FACES-EVERYDAY, GREAT STUFF, SO THAT WE DON’T DROWN IN THE BAD STUFF THAT’S HAPPENING ALL THE TIME.” Carbonara! Mascara! Good coffee!
That’s it. Hope you’ll come by often. Tell me what you’re grateful for. That would be cool. See you soon. Stay grateful! It’s good for you.