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 2050: the absence of the annoying counts too

Sometimes it’s the absence of something that makes me grateful! Like yesterday I had a brutal migraine and today I woke up without it and shazam, gratitudeosity. Or like, even though world politics are dicey right now, not having to see or hear that orange thing spout lies all the time is such a fucking relief I can feel it in every one of my bones. It’s raining today and I had to walk the dog at 6 AM in the dark while water poured down on me in my pajamas and raincoat, before I even had a sip of coffee (DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME), and then when I came inside and had my big mug of caffeine under a dry blanket, the gratitude filled my cup.

Look at that butterfly all getting all up in its namesake bush. how can you not be in awe of this magic?

Noticing that one little drop of water in the center of my friend’s beautiful plant. Ba da bing, naturitude.

When you have an annoying hangnail, or project, or problem and they go away, that sense of relief is reason enough to have a big old gratitude parade. The object of your gratitude doesn’t have to be palatial. Little things, or the absence of them is enough to get you into the place where you’re noticing the good in your life. And noticing is where you want to be.

A necklace my daughter gave me because, well, because she knows me so well.
Avocado toast. No contest.

pandemicatude-a-thon day 2092: gratitude can help

 

There are kids in the neighborhood screaming and riding scooters and playing basketball like everything is normal. I watch them whiz by my window with all that anything-is-possible-ness, big smiles, adventurous eyes. I like hearing them because it reminds me that things used to be normal and that they will be again.  “Go faster,” one of them implores.

I wake up in the morning and remind myself that I will not be doing anything I usually do. I have to blink a few times to remember that we are in quarantine and the only time I will go out today will be to go for a walk with a friend and take my dog out. Otherwise, we are home, on lockdown. My husband has just gone off some medicine that makes him immunosuppressed and we’re not sure when his immunity will show back up to protect him, so we’re protecting him and really, everybody else we know. Because that’s the thing, you might be just fine if you get CO-VID 19, but you might pass it on to someone who will die. I am known for my hyperbole, but this is no exaggeration. People are going to die, mostly older people and those with underlying conditions, but make no mistake, they will not be able to fight this ugly monster that’s come to visit.

The government can’t seem to get it right, except for Anthony Fauci, who if you listen carefully to will make you want to get under your covers with a bottle of tequila. Trump is literally talking out of both sides of his mouth. He has not prepared the country for this new visitor and he can’t put up a wall that will stop it, so he’s pretending it’s nothing. He sounds like he’s doing an imitation of Alec Baldwin doing an imitation of him. He has become useless without his big crowds to cheer him on. It’s being revealed in real time what a preposterously bad leader (and person — the “Chinese” virus) he is. Him and his “tremendous” 15-word vocabulary. Yeah, we’re in really good hands with Dr. Trump.

But there are crocuses coming up in my garden. And although it snowed yesterday morning, winter is mostly gone now. I cleaned out my sock drawer! My yoga class went Zoom yesterday and it was fun! I was on a group chat last night and we all started dancing together and more importantly, laughing and feeling connected. And yesterday, my daughter got her LSAT score and she did well! We celebrated like she had become the first female president. I mean, when the chips are down and you get a win, you have to make the most of it. We went full-on candles and wine, mini-banner, sit down dinner (ok, it was leftover chicken and a killer fried rice, in which I used all of our carrots and celery and the last of our onions :(, but you can’t waste food when you don’t know when you’ll be able to get to the grocery store again.

These are pretty terrifying times. But I implore you to seek out the things there are to be grateful for. Because they exist and they are what will help us to maintain some sanity, some hope. At some point, this will be over, but what it will have done to each of us and to our world, may be life-altering. Use gratitude as a protective shield to the crazy around you. It can’t prevent the virus, but it can prevent you from forgetting what’s good in your life.

Ok, now, go wash your hands.

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2082: 2020

 

5196377443_a35e957fe8.jpg
His boy, Elroy. 

2020. I thought by now we’d be jet-pack flying around, a la The Jetsons.

A new year is always so full of hope. It’s a little like that back-to-school feeling, where you sharpen your pencils and get on all those projects you want to kill, but times 1,000.

I used to make all sorts of resolutions. In fact, I used to write down the things I wanted to say goodbye to and burn them, then make resolutions. This year I didn’t do any of it. But I do have several things I am working on. More patience, more kindness, more writing, more meditating, more gratitude, more laughing. But my number one resolution is to elect a Democrat to the White House, the end. That horror show that calls himself president has gotta go.

Gratitude to the hope that another year escorts in. (Setting my sights on flying by 2030.)

Unknown-1
Jane, his wife.

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2081: a christmas miracle: smarties

 

IMG_0219
Peter waking up to surprise Smarties delivery from an incredibly thoughtful little girl.

Yesterday we were reminded of the great neighborhood we’re lucky enough to live in, the way a teeny, tiny act of kindness can make us feel all warm and glowy like a fire in a fireplace on one of those frigidly cold winter nights Boston can throw at you.

Two Halloweens ago, a little girl and her friends came to the door and my husband, a rabid Smarties candy fan, asked her if she had any. He said they were his faves and he’d trade her some of our candy for her Smarties. She willingly and happily obliged. The next two years in a row, she came to the door with Smarties she’d actually bought for him. We both thought it was adorable and last year she was with her Dad and we thanked them profusely and we all had a giggle. We asked where they lived and they told us around the corner, but neither of us really took note.

Yesterday, Christmas day, my husband woke up to get the newspapers from the porch and there outside the door was a paper bag with Holiday Smarties! C’mon, really?! That sweeter-than-Smarties little girl brought Peter Smarties for Christmas.

There are so many completely awful and horrible things happening in the world, so many stories of unfairness, neglect, lying, cheating, poverty, terror, political insanity, immigration horror, terrifying climate change. The world just going completely mad. But this little moment of unexpected kindness seemed like a tiny little Christmas miracle. One person giving another a little bit of out-of-the-blue fun, a moment of sheer joy, a minute to forget all the bad and remember how transformative showing someone a little sliver of kindness can be.

Gratitude to the absolutely adorable girl, who we don’t even know, who took the time to be thoughtful yesterday. You reminded us that despite everything, kindness makes us better, changes our outlook, and always, always, always matters.

gratitude-a-thon day 2079: gratitude doggy bag, please

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 7.45.27 AM
I mean, of course, take leftovers home from that fabulous meal, but if you want something that will change your actual life–take the gratitude–to go.

This is our major holiday here at the gratitudeathon, (like you didn’t know that). But here’s what’s exciting  about it, you know, besides the turkey and mashed potatoes. MASHED. POTATOES (please sing those words in the tune of the Hallelujah chorus), is that there are people that might actually recognize the good juju of starting a gratitude practice today. Yeah, they might see the light, in between the infernal green bean casserole and those tasteless turnips. They might feel the total awesomeness of being in the moment long enough to latch onto all they have. Gives me chills, or is that just the gross weather today.

I will be spending the day with my best people, my family. I will be cooking and there will be football and maybe a game and maybe a movie and we’ll all remember who isn’t with us anymore and tell some funny stories about them and we’ll all be on the same side of politics, so the only thing we’ll be fighting over is who has to take the dog for a walk in the rain and amen for that.

The older I get, the more I recognize that simply being with the people I love is it. It’s as it as it gets. And I feel gratitude for that finally dawning on me. Things change, people move, get sick, pass on and all you can do is love them the very best you know how while they are here. Sounds very simple, and maybe a little boring, but I have found it’s actually all of it.

I hope your Thanksgiving is chock full of the people and the foods you love. And I hope, I really hope that maybe this year you find gratitude is something you can take with you from the table in a doggy bag. And if you have any leftover mashed potatoes, send ’em my way, wouldja.

gratitude-a-thon day 2072: mind altering

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-15 at 8.10.21 AM

Some days it’s easy for me to wrap myself in gratitude–noticing the tiniest of things–a person who holds a door for me, the garden outside my house, the way my dog’s fur feels. Other days, my mind clamps onto something negative and it permeates my thoughts and colors me dark and stormy.

Staying positive is a task. Feeling gratitude takes time. What I mean is we have to slow down to notice what it is that’s good. Gratitude is adept at hiding if you’re going over the speed limit. It demands your attention. Sometimes I have to put it on my TO DO list to remind myself to head for the light in a methodical way that wakes me and shakes me to the rightness of the world. But the thing is, if you’re woke to this trick, it can actually change your mind. Check out this article and some of the work done at University of California, Davis that shows scientific data on how gratitude can actually alter our heads for the better.

 

 

 

 

 

gratitude-a-thon day 2065: gratitude, oh gratitude, where are you

IMG_4375

I’ve had a lousy week. I won’t even go into it, but there has been a bug bite allergy the size of a small country on my leg that itches like someone is tickling me with a feather (Is it Jeffrey Epstein–what, too soon?) a knee injury for both my son and husband and a few other absolutely shit things. I was in a foul, read MISERABLE mood yesterday, feeling overwhelmed and angry and frustrated. Gratitude was missing, a droopy plant beaten down by the summer sun, in desperate need of resuscitation.

But this morning I woke up and slapped myself across the face after trying not to touch my bite, which I WANT TO SCRATCH LIKE I WANT TO EAT A BAG OF POTATO CHIPS, and gratitude came rising up in me, like a fiery fire. “Stop,” it said, “Pull yourself together, girl.” Sassy, that gratitude. “Time and modern medicine will heal you all. Get some gratitude on for that, wouldja please.”

And this is true. One hundred years ago, my bite and the knees could have meant death or a life of impairment. Now we have RX remedies and surgery. Now we have Netflix.

And so, with that, I once again bow to the intelligence and power of gratitude. A little goes a long way. If you get off course, just get back on. Gratitude, will open its arms to you and welcome you home (even if it gets a little snitty in the process).

gratitude-a-thon day 2055: storing up the good

Why-Do-Bad-Things-Happen

I am constantly trying to understand life (like that’s possible).

Why do things happen the way they do? I’m always running after a theory.

“Positive things happen for those who work hard.”

“Good people get what they deserve.”

“Everything happens for a reason.”

“Life is a fucking crap shoot.”

And just when I think I’ve hit on something that makes sense, something will occur to obliterate that thinking and I am once again wandering aimlessly trying to find the white paper on the reasons the chips fall where they may.

Is it all random? 

I give gratitude today for the good times, things, people in my life. Bad stuff happens that challenges us, pushes us to places we never want even to visit, leaves us asking why. Which is the reason that the periods of our lives that we feel happiness, must be celebrated and stored up in our souls for when the bad times come, uninvited, undeserved, unwanted.