After a touring colleges in two cities, flying through two additional cities because of missed connecting flights. After watching hour after mind-numbing hour of CNN. After learning that our bags were elsewhere. We were happy to drive home to Newton. Even if the shit was still hitting the fan one town over. Even if our town was under a ‘shelter-in-place’ order. Even if the house reeked of dog when we walked in. Even if the news continues to startle and shock. We are home.
A neighbor of mine died suddenly (another one). He was 45. He truly was a bright light — giving, cultured, dedicated to non-profit work — with two young children. It is such a reminder to let each day be lived with some measure of gratitude. My brother is an ER doctor and has daily, often gruesome, reminders that he has plenty to be thankful for. My sister lives on SSDI and counts days when she has food and shelter as good ones.
I, however, live among the affluent and get caught in the ‘comparison game’.
Would I be happier in Waltham or Watertown, where blue collar families predominate? Alternatively, why can’t I live right here and not get hung up on the differences? The whole Power Ball drama brought this up this week. It was fun to make a list — new couch, new towels, two new cars, repaired stoop, painted living room ceiling (by a CONTRACTOR), relief from worry about college tuition, insulated basement studio… It was less fun to notice how few of the people I know would have to win the lottery to get these things.
To wake up each day and say, “ah…… thank you for another day” would be a giant improvement. Everybody — from Oprah to Buddhist monks to Deepak Chopra to anyone you can name with a book about the five (or six, or seven) keys to happiness — recommends it: a gratitude practice.
So what am I grateful for in this moment? I’m grateful for the snow falling down, the smell of soup on the stove, coffee – always coffee, Jack sleeping at my feet (snoring just a little bit), a movie to watch for later, my cyber-community, friends who call, friends to walk with, a good book to finish for book group tomorrow, book group, Christmas and how much I love baking for it, shopping for it, decorating for it, a neighbor turning one years old this week showing that there is always new life, too, chocolate, a fireplace, my camera, my threads, a healthy family, family – period, my cashmere sweater (I know where to find them for $10!!), my wool socks, the smell of balsam, this energized rat terrier making me smile…. for having time to create.
What are YOU grateful for today? And more, how do you keep yourself feeling grateful? Do you keep a journal? Pray? How do you intervene with you notice that you are feeling sour or downtrodden?
- Today the weather outside of Boston is clear and hot, a lot like yesterday. The air feels fresh – a good day to take a walk.
- One thing I did well yesterday was to put first things first (bank before color copier…) and to make a yummy onion tart with black olives from the store and oregano from the garden.
- One thing I could have done better yesterday was to coordinate the purchase of a loaf of bread with C., who had a 3:00 to 8:00 shift at the supermarket.
- One thing I can commit to doing today that I might not otherwise do is – to make a double batch of black bean soup, so I can give some to CS, who just lost her mom.
- Another thing I can commit to doing today that I might not otherwise do is – to vacuum our bedroom.
1) Weather — The weather is cool this morning. That leaf, the one that looks like it’s waving, must be waving goodbye to summer. Ground is moist for a change. Plants continue to wilt in the absence of rain.
2) One thing I did well yesterday: listened to my holosync track 3x to make up for lack of sleep (waiting for Ken’s return from China; the cat taking her morning exercise doing laps around my head at 5:40; getting up to go to work). Made a big difference, I think.
3) One thing I could have done better yesterday: restrained my blurt about Season Two’s ending episode of Dexter in front of C. (“thannnks, Mom…”)
4) and 5) Two things I can commit to doing today that I might not otherwise do: Return the library books that the city is ready to make me pay to replace, they are so overdue, and walk Jack with a pair of pruning shears in my pocket and finally prune the witch hazel over at B. Elementary.
1. Weather — Today is cold. Steely sky, breath condensing. Hat and glove weather.
2. One thing I did well yesterday — Can’t think of anything. I’ll have to come back.
3. One thing I could have done better yesterday — Responded more neutrally when D. said he had a sore throat.
4. and 5. Two things I’ll commit to doing today that I might not otherwise get done —
- download H1N1 vaccine forms and fill them out for the boys. √
- cut out pictures for SoulCollage® gathering this weekend. √
Back to doing something well.
What DID I do well yesterday? I made a muslin angel that I ALMOST love — but I loved her better before I sharpied in a face, which on some level feels to me like I ruined her, so THAT doesn’t count. Overcooked the pork chops, which were still okay, but can’t count that. Spent hours on the phone finding out about Mass. Health, ECOB, COBRA for my sister… but all of that felt like a big muddle so that even though I came out of it with a couple of appts. and a located birth certificate, I wouldn’t put that on the list. So, what then?
Can I count NOT being awful as doing something well?!!
Yesterday, I contained my rage waiting for 25 minutes at the post office. There I was picking up a certified letter (on my sister’s behalf — so there’s THAT) that my postal carrier SHOULD have rung the bell for me to sign and receive at the house. He had THREE chances to make life easy for me.
There it was, the first ‘real’ business day after Thanksgiving and presumably the beginning of package-mailing-season and my wonderful post office branch had ONE window open (the line was ten deep the entire time I waited). Furthermore, (does this count as TWO things I did well?) I did not call the postal carrier a liar when he claimed to have rung the bell and knocked when he delivered the three notices, which I know for a fact, he did not. I was there when the mail hit the floor every single time and no bell was rung, no door was knocked.
And now, I’ll rant about this guy.
This is a postal carrier that defies the notion of service and veers into some creepy realm of vindictive laziness. When he was assigned to our street, it was all anyone could talk about for weeks — what stupid, incredulous thing he had done THAT day (e.g., drop envelopes with checks in them onto the curb, not deliver mail because a rug-cleaning hose was threaded through the front door, refuse to bend over and pick anything up on a stoop because of a bad back, act like my dog is a vicious, postman-eating predator). Many of us reported his errors to his supervisor, he was put ‘on probation’ for awhile, and now he is back to his tricks.
Though it serves no purpose, I spend a fair amount of time wondering, as he strenuously cuts corners and makes life difficult for everyone on the route, whether he is acting out of a generalized incompetence or out of some sort of shrewd and calculating desire to inflict misery on his customers. I tend to think the latter.
Can’t I come up with ONE THING I DID well yesterday? Oh, here — I added some machine stitching to my Full Moon in Taurus quilt, and miracle of miracles, located the missing moon, by, again miracle of miracles, cleaning up my work area a little.