gratitude-a-thon day 2003: Yes, there are still things to be grateful for


Ok, so last week I had a little combo stomach/headache/nausea thing (although whenever I’m nauseous, I always wonder if it’s just the fact that Trump is president). It wasn’t going away, so I emailed my doctor, wondering if I could be one of those people who gets weird Covid symptoms. She suggested a test. I drove to Needham, where a very nice nurse, with a mask and plastic face shield, dressed like she was the first Beth Israel employee to go into space, stuck a Q tip up my nose straight through to my brain (it didn’t hurt, but it did surprise me). I do not have Covid. Gratitude. (Also, I feel better, although still nauseous every time I think about Trump.)

See, it basically goes right into your brain.

Yesterday I watched a really good Zoom talk sponsored by Boston University’s Initiative on Cities called Confronting Systemic Racism: Policing, Mass Incarceration & Black Lives Matter. These were some extremely intelligent and accomplished people, including Brookline’s own super-smart Select Board Member, Raul Fernandez. I learned a lot, like did you know that Massachusetts has one of the lowest incarceration rates in the country, and even that’s extremely high. There are informative and engaging talks, books, and people out there offering us free education and I for one am taking advantage of it. The more I know, the more I can do the right thing that’s in my heart, which over the years, was not actually the right thing, as it turns out. Gratitude.

We’ve got work to do as a town, but signs point to progress. This is located in front of the Brookline Town Hall.

Massachusetts Covid rates are consistently trending downward. No, we’re not out of the woods, but at least we’re going in the right direction. And more good news about this state I live in: The Boston Globe reports, “The vast majority of Massachusetts residents see racism as a systemic problem, believe police treat Black people differently than everyone else and support sweeping changes to policing, a new poll found.In the wake of hundreds of protests decrying racism and police brutality across Massachusetts, a strong majority of residents in every age group, race, and region said they back the Black Lives Matter  movement, according to the Suffolk University survey for WGBH News, The Boston Globe, MassLive, and the State House News Service.” Yessiree, I love that dirty water! Gratitude.

Despite being an incredibly tumultuous time in history, there are loads of things to be grateful for if you look and set your intentions on finding them. Hoping you are safe and fighting for what matters right now.

gratitude-a-thon day 3001: when you know better, do better



This is one of my all-time favorite quotes ever, EVER. Right now, I’m living for it.

In the last three months, the world has changed in unimaginable ways. Some bad and some so good, so necessary. Some days I have found myself rattled and confused, unable to grasp the immensity of what’s occurring in real-time, not sure how to respond, what to say, or even how to come to this blog and write.

I don’t usually censor myself here. I write what I think, what I believe, what I feel. But I have found that I have been so woefully out of step with thinking what a good liberal I was, I forgot to actually be proactive in the fight against racism. See, I have learned that to have the ideals that I have, you have to be anti-racist, you have to support the black community, you have to demand change. I was not actively facing the facts on race in this country. Once I began to see the difference between thinking I wasn’t a racist and being anti-racist, shame came rushing forward like fucking Niagra Falls on steroids. Let’s be clear, I don’t think I treat anybody differently, I don’t judge a person on skin color or religion. This was my definition of not being a racist. But ugh, I could have been using my lily-white privilege and voice and actions to be lifting up the the black community and I have not been. And for that I am embarrassed and ashamed. For that, I have found myself afraid to write from my heart, for fear that I might unwittingly say something insensitive.

This is maybe the first time in my life I have had so much to say, but been utterly terrified to say it.

Which is why I’ve been listening instead of talking or writing. My daughter Ally, who wants to be a public defender and knows a lot about mass incarceration has been helping me to learn all that I don’t know (or have been ignoring). We watched the movie 13 the other night, after my first BLM protest and if you haven’t seen this movie, I highly recommend, as in, cue it up right now and watch it before breakfast. Ally had already seen it, but took the time to elaborate on the history of the black prison boom in the U.S. with thought-provoking facts and figures, as Peter and I sat rapt and horrified.

The gratitude is this: I believe this is an honest to goodness, Come to Jesus moment where we finally begin to understand and take action regarding race in the United States of America. I might be misreading (again), but I don’t think this is going to be momentary. I think this is it, when we all open our eyes and begin to see a brutal reality. As the great Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better. When you know better, do better.”



Gratitude-a-thon day 3,000: walking the walk


I’m a caucasian woman in her early 60’s, raised by a Jewish dad and an Italian Catholic mom. Both sets of my grandparents were immigrants. I live a life of white privilege because of my skin color. Not because I wouldn’t like to, but I can never understand the black experience first-hand. But what I do understand is the outrage, the pain, and the sadness about not only the way George Floyd died, but the bigger issue of racism in our country.

What I do understand is that I am not intentionally part of the problem, but nonetheless unwittingly complicit.

What I do know,

is how much I don’t know.

And what I do know is that it’s time for me to stop saying “I’m not a racist,” and start educating myself on how I can be an ally to the black community. For someone who is as liberal as I am, who grew up with parents who taught me that skin color and religion didn’t matter, to always help others, I am embarrassed to say I am not doing enough.

Are you? Are you doing enough?

What I do know is that this is my smack in the face to wake up and get moving. And I plan on it. I will read. I will watch. I will listen. I will think. I will ask questions. I will learn. I will use my voice in a positive way.

This is what I can do to honor George Floyd. This is what I can do to be part of the solution.

This is what I can do. And I will do it.

Yesterday I began reading The New Jim Crow. I donated to The Minnesota Freedom Fund. What are you doing? How are you helping? Please share. We all need to do better. This isn’t just a black issue, it’s a human issue.

gratitude-a-thon day: who the hell knows, but this one’s for you, moms



Call out to the moms. This one’s for you. This day, this appreciation, this love. This one’s for you, for being the light in a family, the up-all-night in a family, the fight in a family. This is for you and your multi-dimensional job. The one in which you play milk dispenser, cuddle machine, Uber driver, Top Chef, referee, laundress, plumber, photographer, maid, landscaper, psychologist, dog walker, doctor, cheerleader, homework helper, hand holder, boo-boo kisser, seamstress, provider of dreams, tissues and sunscreen, maker of merry, school lunches and chocolate chip cookies to die for, head of the emotional support team, kisser of tummies, tops of heads and asses when necessary,  supporter of independent thinking, fairness and the Golden rule, president of being a good person, doing for others and giving up everything you have for your brood.

You. Yup, you. The person who had no idea what this gig might entail, but went ahead anyway and now see that it couldn’t have been any other way. You, the one that is always puzzling how to do the right thing, make the best move, model the correct behavior. You, the tired, weary juggler who manages to make it look easy. You, the fearless, the extraordinary, the underappreciated, the one who actually made people inside her body. This day is for you, this awe is for you and your dedication, your tenacity, your muscle man strength, your resilience, and quite simply the world-changing, life-giving love you give. A love that never runs dry continually regenerates, and seeps out of every pore, even when you’re more tired than a person should be allowed to be unless they’re dead. You.

The Swiss Army Knife of people.

The one they call mommy, or mom or mamma. You.

The one the world could not live without.

gratitude-a-thon day 2099: this is what we do



May 4, 2020, We’re still pandemicing. The president is still vomiting blatant lies on the daily and there are people in certain states that are protesting because they want to die, I mean reopen for business. The weather in New England is the stuff we wait for all year, sunny with no humidity, no bugs yet. Pure heaven. It seemed everybody was outside this weekend reminiscing about when life was normal.

The sun helps. Flowers help. And masks help, but it seems only 50% of the people are wearing them. It’s a strange time. I still wake up and wonder if I’m having one of those dreams directed by Ridley Scott that seem so damn real,  you think they are.

The longer this goes on, the more I realize that things will not be anywhere near ok for a long time. What we’re experiencing will continue to haunt us for years to come. How do we cope?

We put one foot in front of the other foot, don our masks, and move forward on whatever new paths we can forge. We hold out the past, but only the good parts, and create new ways of living that might even be better for our earth and our souls. We say thank you regularly, to people who were once looked down upon. We go deeper into ourselves and while we are distanced from those we love, we hang on to them like a dinghy someone throws you in the middle of a raucous sea, when it was clear you were seconds away from drowning. We reinvent, we rediscover, we recalibrate. We get crafty, we become frugal, we laugh more. We listen to the birds, and the dogs, and the scientists We listen to ourselves and the teeny voice inside us that says, “It’s ok, we will be ok.” We stop thinking we will ever be the old normal and start making a new normal, a better normal, a normal that is anything but normal, but in the very best ways.

And we feel gratitude for what we have, not what we don’t have. We will ourselves to begin again and be happy that we can. This is what we do when we dont know what to do. We begin again. This is what we do.


gratitude-a-thon day 2098:is it still today?

Credit to Bookworm.

Day 1,093,938,837 quarantine: We have run out of vacuum cleaner bags, so we are wading in dust. We’re using the dust as resistance and calling it exercise. My Stepz app doesn’t know how many more calories I’m burning and is not recording correctly (company must consider before next pandemic). The dog looks like a miniature wooly mammoth. His hair is so long, we could use him as a dust mop, only he is so tired from all of the walks we take him on to get out of the house that he cannot move once home and collapses into the nearest pile of laundry. Speaking of, for every one piece of laundry we put into the hamper, four pieces come out. The clothes are so bored from not being able to leave the house that they are now having sex and multiplying. Use some birth control, wouldja clothes.

Some cities are opening this week. How this is a good idea I just don’t get. There’s still so much we don’t know about this thing. Also, the last thing on my mind is going bowling, but apparently, this is very important in Georgia.

The president has become a one-man parody show. Much funnier than SNL. Every afternoon you can turn on his, as Colin Jost calls it, “improv show” and watch him pretend to be a doctor. He is a stable genius, you see, and thinks we should be exposing ourselves to sunlight and drinking disinfectant to rid ourselves of Covid 19. This is the man who is leading the free world, a liar who is essentially encouraging Clorox shots for all (down at the bowling alley, maybe). Yesterday he tweeted about the Nobel prize, but spelled Nobel like this–Noble. Both of these incidents, he claims were just sarcasm. He thinks this is one way to try and make up for his shortcomings (stupidity is what I really mean here), to pretend he was being sarcastic. Only he wasn’t and as he would say if he were speaking to himself, “and everybody knows it.” Maybe he confused the word “sarcasm” with “stupid,” easy to do.

As a country, we have been orphaned. We have no leadership. Well, I mean there’s Dr. Fauci, but other than that, our president is touting dangerous medical information and lying to the public. Remember when he said back in mid-March, “We only have 15 cases and once they go away, we’ll have none.” And then, “One day it will just go away like a miracle.” The thing here is that he has been lying for his entire presidency, but now people are dying by the hundreds because of his lies and failure to listen and lead. By. the. hundreds. DAILY. (Not that I even know what day it is. You can spend all day thinking it’s Thursday and then find out it’s Friday and momentarily get excited because it’s the weekend and you think you can go out, then remember that the weekend is just like any other day now…..)

I know our economy is in deep, deep trouble, but I will always put human lives before the economy. I don’t care if you’re in a nursing home and you are very ill, you do not deserve to die alone, so that I can get my nails done, or for GOD sakes, go bowling.

As always, I am grateful for the essential workers, the medical professionals, and all the brave people who work in the hospitals. And of course, anybody who makes me laugh these days is at the top of my gratitude list. What are you grateful for today? What’s helping you to get through this total and complete insanity?


PS I am also grateful for the series finale of Homeland. It was so satisfying and perfectly done. Need a binge–this is a good one. You’re welcome!





gratitude-a-thon day 2097: you can


We’re just shy of six weeks here in quarantine and I’ve hit the wall.

I took the dog out this morning, which I have been doing in the very early morning, when there is almost nobody around (eery, but nice, too), and we walked by our first condo, purchased for a whopping $219K. It was lovingly and beautifully restored by the architect owner and I remember that although I felt like we were moving to outermost Mongolia, having lived on Newbury St. for seven years post-college, Manhattan for a year and then Back Bay for another few years, that what I said when we decided to take the plunge and buy it, was, “Nothing bad could ever happen to us here.” That’s how it felt, so pretty, nothing could touch us in a space so perfect.

But of course, I was wrong. It was at that address that I had three years of infertility, that Peter didn’t get tenure at M.I.T. (the best thing that could have happened, as it turned out, but not when you have a three-month-old baby and your wife refuses to live anywhere but Boston), that I lost my mom. Although every door had been restored to its gorgeous natural pine, antique windows installed, a fireplace refurbished, the floors refinished and every wall painted a serene and soothing color, the bad stuff still came. It always does. Whether you’re Jeff Bezos rich or Bill Gates brilliant, or Brad Pitt famous, or Halle Berry gorgeous, you’re never immune to the shit hitting the fan.

And although today I am in a bad mood, a sad mood (apparently a rhyming mood), I know that there are two things that prepare you for moments like this pandemic, where there are losses too many to count, where everyday heroes work at grocery stores and medical personnel are now worthy of sainthood, and we all possess them. I’m talking about resilience and gratitude. And while we may ignore them, they lie dormant in our DNA (as my yoga teacher reminds us during meditation, to remember our ancestors, and what they lived through, wars, famine, bombings, death camps, pandemics, starvation, poverty and that their blood is our blood) so we can do this, we can do anything. If people have done it before, we can do it, too. If you have ever felt happiness, you can feel it again. It snows in April and then the temperature rises to 60 the very next day. Resilience isn’t ignoring the facts, the horrific facts, it’s rolling wtih those facts, feeling them, letting them take you down even, but then allowing yourself to rise up again like you were a fucking NASA space ship. It’s facing tragedy, or road blocks, or sadness and getting up the next day anyway.  Resilience is necessary to move through, to get over the hump, to take the body blows that come. If you befriend resilience you can not only get through this pandemic, you can get through anything life kicks at your face.

Then there is gratitude. Our other sturdy best pal. Rely on it, hug it, bring it to bed with you and use it as a sleeping pill. What is it that you have? What is it that you are so lucky to have? A bed, those soft sheets, people who love you, potato chips (yes, I do believe potato chips are something to be grateful for, damn straight). Think about those things you have, those little tiny things, those enormous things, those things that aren’t things at all–friendship, love, freedom, centeredness (potato chips). Bring ’em all into your heart to remind you that you are ok, just fine, have all you need to make a bridge over those hellish waters and walk gracefully across it holding your head high.

Yes, that is what I remembered today on my walk with Riley is that resilience and gratitude are the crutches we need when we can’t move, when we are blinded by fear or sadness or both. They are steadfast and reliable. And they are present. All you have to do is ask them to come. And just like that, without protective gear, they are next to you, helping you to remember that it’s all going to be ok (ish) and that you are strong, stronger than you feel.



gratitude-a-thon day 2096: i hate my nose. is this my moment?

This is how my nose started out. Who would have known its trajectory….

I have hated my nose since, hmmmm, I guess probably since 6th grade, when I had my school picture taken and it arrived back in that big envelope, which you open with anticipation, only to find that somehow the photographer had not only captured my hair, parted straight down the middle, a Glamour Don’t if you weren’t born with a classic button nose, or unless you were Cher, standing on end (EPIC static electricity head) and the perfect angle of my nose– pointing down in such a way that I resembled the Wicked Witch of the North’s less attractive sister. Really. I wish I could find it, but I think I might have, wisely, destroyed every copy. Even my parents didn’t want to buy it.

Anyway, I used to daydream of having a smaller shnoz. I used to sit and sing to the record player while I held my thumb to uplift my proboscis in hopes that it might stay that way (I know. How did I even get in to college). I prayed for a nose job. And I learned my lesson on the picture posing. If I tipped my head back some, my nose wouldn’t point down, a la my 6th-grade disaster. I think I was doing a full-on backbend in my senior photo. At some point in my 20’s I was working at an ad agency and I got a blunt chin length haircut, only to come back to work and have the creative director tell me I looked just like Barbara Streisand (I’m pretty sure I took to my bed for a few days).

Now, I would like to stop here and tell you that the truth is that given my heritage, I was very lucky in the beak department. My mother had a very good-sized nose, with an actual ball on the end of it. Yup. Truth. But it was my dad’s nose that really took the prize. He had a classic hooked nose that protruded outward about…..well, let’s just say, I’m betting you could use his nose to measure how far away you’re currently supposed to be from other people. That big. So, you know, I could have been much worse off in the nose department, and as I got older, I recognized my good fortune, such as it was.

So, you can imagine that this might be thrilling for me, to have to wear a mask out and cover my nose, right? This might well be my moment! Yes and no. It’s kind of fun having people not know what a big honker I have underneath my makeshift masks, but it’s also awful because every mask I’ve tried totally smushes my nose down so that I can hardly breathe. (Still those damn upturned nose girls have it easier.) So, it’s a mixed bag. Although, back in sixth grade it might have been a lifesaver if I’d had one on in that class photo.

Gratitude for having a healthy nose, at this point!

Purell hugs and kisses.

gratitude-a-thon day 2095: do what you can, it’s ok


Sleeping yong man relax after work, beer and popcorn and chips

Is it yesterday? Tomorrow? I am losing a sense of time. And sometimes my sense of humor. And hope. And style. Yesterday on a walk, I wore a Free People bag as a face mask. Nuff said.

I keep reading about people who are doing all these crafty projects, who have ambitious goals, like learning Japanese, knitting a cozy for their car, and rebuilding their houses. I am lucky to keep the mess at bay, forage for food on sites that no longer have delivery times, do yoga, tire out my dog by walking him seven times longer than normal, watch the news, get my writing work finished and leave enough time to panic. Oh yeah, and feel bad about how little I’m getting done, while others are crafting a backyard version of Versaille.

Getting through this crisis is a marathon, not a sprint. We’re all having good days and bad and we’re all having different and difficult challenges. Let’s just stop with the productivity message, shall we? Don’t feel bad if all you can do one day is watch eight hours of The Real Housewives of New York (God love you if you could stand it, but those spoiled, ridiculous, plastic women will certainly take your mind off of this crazy-ass crisis). Sometimes sitting our hineys on the couch watching mindless tv and eating industrial-sized bowls of junk food is all we can do and that’s just fine. This pandemic is an energy-zapper. It’s bringing out our worst fears. It’s putting our anxiety into overdrive. It’s making us cranky and hungry and antsy and sad. All that takes a lot of energy. It’s ok to just be. And remember, if you’re quarantining, you’re doing something for us all.

I mean parade for you if you’re more productive than you’ve ever been, and gratitude for all those people who are stepping up and doing things to help those in crisis, but if you’re not, if you just can’t, it’s ok. It’s perfectly ok. And we here at the gratitudeathon (meaning me here at the gratitudeathon) give you permission to just make it through this thing, without feeling you have to create a museum-worthy masterpiece in bronze, or get a certificate in rug hooking, or sculpt your body into that of JLo’s. You can just be. It’s ok. It’s really just ok.

Purell hugs & kisses.