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 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 1051: TONY ROBBINS, I FINALLY GET IT

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When my mom was dying, I would visit home and sometimes wake up in the middle of the night filled with terror about what was happening. I would walk down the creaky stairs of the only house I’d ever lived in and plop myself on the couch in the den and try and find something on tv to take my mind off the brutal reality of watching my mother die of lung cancer. Back then, there was nothing on at 2:30 in the morning, except QVC. And for some reason, those fast talking hosts, no matter what they were selling, always put me in a trance. Still, today, with seven bajillion cable channels, if I am flipping around and hit a QVC or an HSN, I will stare at the tv unable to move, lulled into a coma by the host’s enthusiastic cadence.

One night, up like an owl, filled with fear over my losing my mom, Tony Robbins was selling audio tapes (yes, it was the dark ages). The guy intrigued me. The next night, the same drill, and there was Tony again. Like I said, there was not a lot of original programming back then. Night three, you guessed it–Tony.

The more I watched, the more I was convinced that my sister Joan and I needed this program to “unleash the power within.” Not considering myself someone who would ever purchase something from tv, but after watching Tony three nights in a row, I was hooked, and actually picked up the phone, in the middle of the night, and ordered $150.00 of Tony’s tapes (which, by the way, was like $400.00 today, and P.S. this was A LOT of moola for me at that point).

I listened to a few. But this guy wanted me to do stuff I wasn’t yet able to follow through on. I shoved the tapes in the back of a closet. Years later I bought one of his books, and again, I was pumped up and inspired……..until the part where I had to take action.

My sister Joan and I have had lots of laughs about Tony, who we’ve followed over the past 25 years. Yesterday, the two of us went to see him live and I gotta tell you, it was insanely and incredibly moving.  This guy’s energy is super hero stuff. You can’t ignore him. He takes you over. I am still high from his hijinks.

And guess what? He talked a lot about gratitude. Yes, gratitude-a-thoners, he thinks gratitude is the fucking money shot. You can only imagine how much I loved that.

Some people think he’s crap. And that’s just fine with me. I love the guy and the full circle-ness of getting to see him with my sister was everything. Every. Fucking. Thing.

And I think this time, I can take the action he’s talking about. Sometimes you have to hear things more than once to get them (some of us need twenty five years!)  I think yesterday might have been my day.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 1026: that and this

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Even in the darkness, there are places that the light fights its way through. I’m going to stand in those sunny spots, but remember the darkness around me, as I do.

It’s a perfectly sunny morning. Nothing like a perfectly sunny morning after a week of rain. Damp, cold, miserable, car-drenching-you-while-you’re-walking-the-dog rain. Today is fat and happy with possibility. Thoughts of window boxes, and patio furniture and whether I can show my arms this season, or not.

And then I remember about Syria. And that bat shit crazy Assad person who is satan’s younger more handsome brother and I think, you can’t be happy today because there is this.

And I sit and wonder. I wonder if I shouldn’t allow the sun up in the sky to let me be grateful today that I am not living in Syria under a dictator who is so evil he can kill a perfect little baby. I wonder if I should cover my face and allow the Hitler-esque horror to fill me and render me useless today.

I choose instead to be in this present moment, in my present reality, and allow the sunlight in, while cradling those people in my heart. I will carry the man who lost his twins and wife, with me today as I walk in the sunlight. I will try and telecommunicate my oneness with him, let him know he is with me, as another human who can feel the tip of a pinkie of his pain, who honors the hell he is currently living in.

I will do that, and this. I will make room for both. Probably not without periodic guilt, but I will try to honor them by living today, inside the space of the sun.

gratitude-a-thon day 890: to know hope: president barack obama

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I remember when Barack Obama was just elected, having the best talk with an African American women in the deodorant aisle of CVS. The two of us, so clearly from different places in the world, were brought together by the excitement he’d inspired in both of us. Although our accidental conversation was just about 15 minutes, I felt connected to this woman when I left the store. I knew part of it was because I could feel the pride she had because a man that was the same color as she was would be sitting in the white house, but part of it was also because his essence and ability to display leadership was infectious and had allowed this conversation to happen in the first place. We’d broken a barrier as a country. It made her stand taller. And me too. It was the loveliest moment.

Those were the days when I felt a deep sense of hopefulness in the leader we’d chosen to guide us. Obama was and is a gifted orator and unifier. His words back then inspired me in the deepest parts of myself. His enthusiasm made me feel empowered. His grace, his inclusivity, his reasonable rationality made me feel as though I were being safely held. I didn’t feel any sense of divide back then. In fact, I felt like I was an important part of one big melting pot.

I’m so grateful to know what that kind of hope feels like. Obama spoke to my need to have a moral leader at the helm, a man who acted with humanity and integrity for all eight years of his time in the Oval. No ugly. No scandals.

Those first years of the Obama presidency made me heady with hope. Those were good days. I will always remember them. And I will continue to look toward that president and what he taught me about having a moral center, about bringing everybody into the tent, about the importance of being a good person.

gratitude-a-thon day 982: looking for hope

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By now I had half hoped that the guy who won the Oval, whose name it’s really hard for me to say or write on account of how awful of a human being I believe him to be, would have done something that I could interpret as unifying.

He hasn’t. In fact, he is, on the daily, making me feel less and less hopeful (and I started out with no hope whatsoever, so I’m nosediving into the middle of the earth at this point).

But here are some hopeful things to focus on, instead of the dreadfulness that keeps getting tweeted by our totally irresponsible, childish P.E., who will soon be our P. (pee is more like it).

Ann Lamott, one of my most trusted advisers and beloved authors and all-around lovely humans shared something her son wrote and it is so brave and so important and so I wanted to also share it. It’s called How I managed not to kill myself yesterday. Bravo, Sam. You are courageous and smart and loving like your momma.

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The Golden Globes are on this Sunday, and you know who will be watching carefully so I can write my best and worst post on Monday. Woot, woot.

Dan Rather is now the father of Facebook. I’m in.

Homeland starts this Sunday (oh, but I will be watching The Globes, first world problems). Cannot wait to see what kind of shenanigans Carrie is going to get into this season.

I worked out (sort of) for the first time in a month (due to this ongoing virus/sinus infection/CRUD). Let’s hear it for my non-existent abs.

The days are getting longer! The light is coming!

You don’t have to go to, or watch the inauguration. Nobody is going to force you to. You have a choice!

Boston’s channel 7 has succeeded from the Peacock so that you can see Family Feud at 8, nightly. (Just seeing if you’re paying attention, of course I hate The Feud).

Kim Burrell lost her radio show after her homophobic rant (some people actually get scolded for non-inclusive behavior, not our President-Elect, but some people). Pharrell Williams comment is worth a read.Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 7.14.19 AM.png

gratitude-a-thon day 980: better different

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There are a shit ton of things to be grateful for.

It’s simple and it’s complex, but being aware of what you have in your grasp is a sure-fire, no frills, winning way to live.

Whether it’s a ripe strawberry, a bed with piles of covers, that first sip of coffee prepared exactly right, a healthy bundle of baby, someone who loves you truly, madly, deeply (even when you could be mistaken as Linda Blair in The Exorist), the smell of sizzling garlic, or just the ability to tilt your head up at the sky to witness the insane beauty going on up there, our choice to see and feel the stuff that’s ours can make the human condition, a happier condition.

When you are able to grasp the process of being grateful, I believe your attitude begins to change. Being an “I have” is way more appealing, not to mention healthier than being an “I want.” Plus it’s more fun. Ruminating about what you don’t have can ruin a day quicker than you can say “Did we really elect that guy?”

Even we here (meaning me here) at the gratitudeathon lose our way sometimes. I have been sick for over a month, and I have lost my way brothers and sisters, and have just begun feeling sorry for myself. But the cool thing about being in the gratitude loop is that you can begin again if you find yourself having reared way off course and are wandering aimlessly through a field in Iowa. Just get back to yourself and think of what it is that’s yours–material, non-material, borrowed.

Start now. Don’t wait for a more convenient time. Now is the time. Today.

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 970:a good laugh

amsw5lmn0jgldztkhufoToday I bring you a good laugh. Who doesn’t need a good laugh in these dark days of you know who at the helm, not to mention these dark days (only 264 more hours until the days get longer again–parade!). I love me some William Sonoma, but you know, it’s marketed to the over-the-top family who doesn’t exist except in our sugar plum-laden dreams. Here you go. You’re welcome.

gratitude-a-thon day 968:hopeful

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Finding my way out of this flu/cold/virus/Trumpmoania (defined as physical, mental and moral misery derived from one cabinet member choice being more dangerous than the next), and looking out the window at the sun coming up behind bare trees, and just for a moment, I am hopeful.

I remember that the beauty in the world still exists (for now) in the natural surroundings and inclinations of most people. I remember that love is powerful and can’t, as a popular saying espouses, conquer all, but can do quite a bit. I remember that hope and possibility are sparkly beacons, and that no matter what gratitude is always within reach.

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 963:NOTICE the good stuff

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In addition to having a great day, I also found these ornamental kale stalks. Seriously, have you ever?

On this day before the mother of all days of gratitude, I am not going to go on and on about being grateful (shocker). Instead, I’m going to remind you to notice the moments in real time, as they are happening, that you can lay some gratitude on. This is different than just considering that which is making you feel big time thanks. It’s actually turning your radar on to notice when something in the gratitude department is happening. Because as they say, you can’t win if you don’t play.

Example. (You knew that was coming.)

Yesterday I was shopping at Whole Foods for Thursday’s wingding, and I bumped into a friend who I adore, but rarely see. We decided, despite our busy day, and groceries developing salmonella in the car, to have coffee, and we talked for like, 90 minutes. STRAIGHT. And there was a true and real sharing. Not just chit chat, but getting down to the real stuff. It was fantastic and so good, and I recognized almost immediately that this was a moment to get on my knees for.

But that is not all.

My daughter was getting a haircut, and I was meandering around Coolidge Corner waiting for her, and went into KaBloom and saw this fabulous woman who works there and who has helped me out buying quantities for school events over the years, and is smart and sweet and always just so damn nice (plus she has the MOST BEAUTIFUL EYES, not that that has to do with anything, but you know, I love a detail). I hadn’t seen her in a long time, and we hugged, which was so adorable! Again, this was a genuine moment and I so appreciated its rarity.

As we were catching up, another old friend of hers walked in and I let them  catch up and then she introduced me to the friend and we all started to talk. The friend had moved away from Brookline, and she did work for a homeless shelter and had a daughter also getting a haircut and we knew some common people and she gave me her card and then I told them both about the blog (because they seemed like people who would like it and it seemed we were connecting in a real way), and we talked about gratitude, and the woman who I had just met said “this is coming at me from all sides right now.” And I understood that to mean this wasn’t her first run-in with the g-word, because when you need something, sometimes it just keeps showing up, and if you are observant, you notice and it changes your fucking life.

Well, anyway, this woman, who I had never laid eyes on until 10 minutes before, took off her bracelet and said that a friend had given it to her as a way to remember to be grateful (you count the four pearls on it and give each a gratitude shout out) and she now wanted to pass it on to me. SHE GAVE ME HER BRACELET. This stranger, who by now, didn’t at all feel like a stranger, GAVE ME HER BRACELET. I tried to say no, but she wouldn’t take it back. She wanted me to have it.

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This is the bracelet. This is the bracelet a stranger gave me.

It was the most extraordinary moment.

And here’s the thing– I noticed it. I didn’t let it slip away, or get past me, or disappear without its due. I somehow got lucky enough to have these two completely amazing, enriching moments in my day. And I was not going to let them pass like they were everyday occurrences, like I was sitting at a light in my car waiting to go, I opened the door to them and let my every freaking cell take in the absolute fabulousness of these minutes of my day.

So, here’s the thing–YOU gotta notice the good stuff. You have to wear your gratitude specs 24/7. Throw a little celebration in your head every time you find yourself in a moment when shit is going well. And congratulate yourself for noticing it. It’s like a “where’s Waldo” kind of thing. And seriously, just being aware of what’s happening–that’s something to be grateful for right there.