A Monday morning

smallkindnessWhen your daughter borrows your expensive earrings without asking, and your hair is a wavy mess, and you get a project dumped on you before you’ve even left the house, and one son almost misses the bus, and the other son generates an email from school for being habitually late to science class, and your parking ramp is full so you have to walk an extra three blocks with something in your shoe, and you can’t find your security badge, and you realize you’ve forgotten to plug in the slow-cooker so dinner is not underway as planned…

And then your dad sends you a note about how much he enjoyed your last blog post and how talented you are and how proud he is.

And all things in the universe around you breathe a collective sigh of relief and the day settles back into place.

Small kindnesses matter.

Hello, it’s the universe calling…

IMG_0191Sometimes when you send an S.O.S. out into the universe, the universe responds.

Yesterday I wrote a somewhat bitter post on self-reflection. Or maybe it was self-doubt. Either way, it left me feeling blue. When I finished it, I closed my computer and walked away from my desk to give myself a break.

As I reached for another cup of coffee, I heard my phone buzz. It was a text message from my teenage daughter:

Hey mama so we are in stress management class and we’re doing this happiness practice thing and we are supposed to thank somebody we are grateful for or who has had an impact on our life so mama thank you for always being there and keeping me from falling behind. I know that sometimes I seem ungrateful and tired and bratty but I really truly always appreciate everything you do. Thank you for being you.

I guess I’m getting it done after all. Although I might consider some discussion on the importance of punctuation.

Finished! An exercise in gratitude

IMG_0309Euphoria – that’s what I felt after finally finishing my deck this weekend. Or maybe I was just a little giddy from the deck stain fumes.

Yes, I know it’s a little late in the year to be staining a deck. I prefer to think of it as a head start on next year.

And in that spirit, rather than dwell on the negatives (like the 8,000 oak leaves that fell as I worked, or the birds who decided to party a little too hard on my freshly cleaned deck), I’ve decided to express gratitude for the people and circumstances that contributed to my success.

I’d like to thank:

  • Twenty-odd years of yoga for enabling me to work in a crouching position all weekend.
  • A well-ventilated area, that is to say, the outdoors, although even that was not quite ventilated enough.
  • My friend Barb who drove my daughter home so I could stay doggedly at my task.
  • Sherwin-Williams’ semi-transparent stain for covering up a multitude of evils.
  • That the deck is outside so every time I got frustrated with the quality of my efforts I could say, “Get a grip, it’s OUTSIDE, how good does it have to look?”
  • A couple of rain-free, just-windy-enough-days.
  • The Gopher-Michigan football game for providing energizing background noise (for a change).
  • The excellent gouda cheese my husband bought at Costco. It may not seem like there’s a link here, but trust me, there is.
  • Evening opera tix to La Fanciulla del West, which was the light at the end of a cedar-stain covered tunnel. (I know that those of you who don’t care for opera, which is about 99.75% of you, are wondering how an opera could possibly be the light at the end of anyone’s tunnel – and in fact would probably stain a deck to avoid having to go to the opera. I make no apologies.)
  • Scott and Heather who took my boys boating for a whole day. That was eight hours I was not interrupted every 15 seconds. Do you realize how fast all that time adds up?
  • That I remembered to “paint” myself toward the porch door so I was not stranded on the deck until it dried.
  • Coffee, ’nuff said.
  • Wine, see above.

So, my thanks to all – and one last grateful thought about all those leaves that fell during my project: At least it wasn’t snow.

I’m grateful, really – I just forget to notice

In the past, I’ve tried keeping a gratitude journal without much luck. I start out with good intentions but establishing habit is not my strong point. In fact, the last gratitude journal I started has entries for exactly four days. And they’re not even consecutive. Ouch.

But given that this is the season of gratitude, I decided to try again. Inspired by the efforts of 30 Days of Thanks, I vowed to tweet a note of gratitude every day during November. It seemed easy enough to do, a way for me to keep a gratitude journal of sorts. For a month anyway. Here’s how I did:

Day 3 – I’m late to the game so I tweet three things I’m grateful for to catch up.

Day 4 – Remember to tweet, but feel put upon because the kids have a day off school, can’t resist adding a snarky related comment.

Day 5 – Learn a friend has suffered a loss, tweet my gratitude that I still have my parents in my life. Feel truly grateful.

Day 7 – Realize late in the day that I forgot to tweet on Day 6, but sneak in a mention of gratitude that the Vikings won. Since that means I don’t have to tell my rabid-fan sons in the morning that they lost, this gratitude stretches into Day 8.

Days 9 through 18 – Forget to be grateful.

Day 19 – Find out to my relief that I didn’t damage my husband’s skis when I ran over them in the garage. Tweet my gratitude and determine to get back on track.

Day 20 – Sick. Forget to be grateful again.

Day 21 – Get all ready to tweet a note of gratitude and then notice it’s snowing. No longer feel grateful but fake it and tweet anyway.

Day 22 -Tweet gratitude. Almost immediately, receive an email for which I am decidedly not grateful. Tell myself grateful is grateful, even if it just lasts a moment.

Day 23 – Realize I can get a blog post out of my wayward gratitude. Feel grateful but too embarrassed to actually tweet that so tweet something else.

Day 24 – Have a quiet day at home ALL TO MYSELF! Truly grateful but enjoying it so much I forget to tweet about it.

Day 27 – Really grateful that someone else is cleaning my house – don’t tweet but leave them a gratitude-saturated note of thanks.

Days 28 -30 Thanksgiving weekend. Gratitude abounds. Truly grateful for all I have. But don’t take the time to tweet about it.

My evaluation? All in all, high on intent but lacking in execution. But maybe that’s not the point. Maybe the point is to pause, even if it’s only every once in a while, to give thanks. And then get on to the business of living.

What are you grateful for today? (I’m grateful I actually finished this blog post.)