Day 17 – 52 Good Things

And the list continues.

104. Mousse made in a blender

105. Old movies

106. Baby photos

107. Melted cheese

108. Jon Krasinski’s Good Things segments

109. Phone calls

110. Offers of help

What simple, beautiful things did you encounter? Let’s keep this list going for as long as we need to.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.

 

Day 16 – 52 Good Things

I’m losing track of days. I think it’s 16 for me. Folks in California are closer to 21. Either way – maybe I’ll just start saying DAY. It’s a day. Another day.

How did today go for you? Here are a few more good things.

95. A Jane Fonda exercise video

96. Jimmy Fallon and the Roots

97. Finally getting around to burning the Christmas tree

98. Chocolate cake

99. Sitting in the sunshine

100. The smell of freshly cut grass

101. The Hallmark channel playing Christmas movies.

102. A brand new baby.

*99 – 102 submitted by Suzanne M

103. Putting on real pants again

What simple, beautiful things did you encounter? Let’s keep this list going for as long as we need to.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.

What My Grief Gremlin Taught Me About Pandemics

 

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Photo Courtesy of Unsplash

March may be the worst. Historically, the turning pages of the longest month ever continue to bring bad news to my doorstep. Four years ago, we lost my dad unexpectedly smack dab in the middle of the month. On that day, a grief gremlin took up permanent residence in my front pocket. She waves her ugly wings and tattered feathers on anniversaries, the start of football season, or when I see a man over 60 in Starbucks. She also flaps and flitters in the middle of a pandemic.

Bad news comes in threes, they say, and in 2016, our three rounded out with two more job losses before April.

All of our supposed-to-be doings came to a screeching halt. To cope, we gathered around the worn kitchen table in the home I grew up in and stared. Our eyes glazed over at blank walls then would drift to the floor. I’d make note of the raspberry color of my shoes and watch the puddles of tears dribbling onto the mesh just below my ankles. I’d lift my head and smear the remainder of tears on my t-shirt sleeves.

Grief is a powerful force – she takes what you once knew and shreds what was to bits.

Two weeks ago, life all around the United States came to the same screeching halt. We packed up our desks and set up spaces at home. We went to work remotely and just when the desk was looking beautiful, we found out the dream job we just landed crumbled into dust.

People are dying and communities are slowing. All of our supposed-to-be doings have come to a halt. It’s March and people are hurting again.

In our homes and at hospitals, we sit staring at walls. At screens. At puddles of tears dribbling down our faces and onto tile floors. Tears smear on sleeves. We can’t gather around the kitchen table because we aren’t allowed to be together. We can’t hug or touch or greet.

The pain is broadcast on the news, captured in memes, and thrown angrily at others in tweets and mad dashes to grab the last package of toilet paper off the shelves.

I’ve been thinking about what I’ve learned from the loss of a parent and how, if I let them, the lessons grief continues to massage into my heart can serve me during a global pandemic.

Writing to you from the same basement where I heard the news my dad had left us, I hug myself and realize grief can be a teacher in times of duress. My gremlin has taught me how to cope with the squeezing, the panic, the uncertainty, and the pain.

Here are her three lessons that prepared me for a pandemic:

1. I was never in control – I’m not now. I can choose my responses. 

Elizabeth Gilbert recently posted on her Instagram this quote, “You are afraid of surrender because you don’t want to lose control. You never had control, all you had was anxiety.”

After experiencing unexpected loss, my anxiety came into sharp focus. It hasn’t eased in four years. I’ve accepted the anxious little bug living – roommates with gremlin – in my front pocket as she accompanies me everywhere I go. I worry about getting texts, not getting texts, and the ten pm phone calls. I worry about hospitals, and diagnoses, and imagined accidents.

I worry about who will go next, and where I will be, and if I said I love you enough because you just never know.

This week, we’ve all been reminded we just never know. With all that never knowing comes immense anxiety. Bank accounts are examined. Rice is rationed. YouTube distracts.

As humans, we think we have a say in how things are going to work. I realized in my mid-twenties, this is a lie. We have influence. We have preference. We have choice. We don’t have much control.

This truth has allowed me to live more deeply and experience the ordinary in a richer way. Seizing the day doesn’t take away the anxiety. Believing I have a choice in how to respond to the things outside of my control changes my perspective. I don’t have control of global markets, government relief, or the small company I wanted my husband to work at indefinitely. I do get to choose to stay home, to connect with loved ones, and to weep in the basement.

2. Find Comfort

The best advice I got when I lost my dad was, “Find comfort.” Surround yourself with things that bring delight, warmth, light, and tenderness into your space. Make a list of at least five things you can draw upon when the unknown feels too much. My pile has ground coffee beans, a white blanket, my mom’s number on speed dial, knowing where my dog is, and sweatshirt of my husband’s.

What’s in your pile?

Be careful of what you consume. You know yourself. Moderate unhealthy substances and be wary of who and what messaging you are letting into your space. Now is the time to be diligent about boundaries, turning off the news, and asking for help.

Self-medication isn’t always negative. What positive things can you allow to bring you comfort right now?

3. It’s going to be ok. 

I share those five words with immense empathy. It never feels ok when we lose something or someone we love. My life will never be capital O-K, because my dad will not be a part of it in the way I had hoped. But my family is doing ok in the way we’ve adapted. We hurt, relationships are still strained, things are far from perfect. And yet, we’re still here.

When we come out of this pandemic, which I believe will happen, things will not be capital O-K. Lives are being drastically altered. Grief is seeping in and taking up residence in thousands of heart pockets. Our hopes have changed permanent shape. We will have to adapt. Our resilient spirits will get to choose to lift their chins and answer the question, “How can I make what I have lowercase o-k enough?” You need not push the gremlin away.

Weep, release the tension in your hands, stare at walls. Yes.

And wait and see what is yet to unfold.

What we make with the things that remain can be beautiful.

Day 13 & 14 – 52 Good Things

I skipped yesterday so here we are – day 14.

How did today go for you?

Here are a few more good things – even still.

87. People taking the llamas for a walk (submitted by Cathy H)

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88. Homemade hamburger buns

89. Bike rides

90. Cutting up old t-shirts for crafts

91. Cubes of ice dancing in gin

92. Recipes on the internet

93. Support from family members

94. A full bottle of ketchup

95. Sleeping in

What simple, beautiful things did you encounter? Let’s keep this list going for as long as we need to.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.

Day 12 – 52 Good Things

How did today go for you?

Here are a few more good things. I can’t wait to see what good you’ve got happening in your homes, on your screens, and in your connections. Even STILL.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.


77. This Tai Chi video submitted by Joyce D

78. A travel bracket on Instagram

79. Ice Cream made in mason jars

80. When best friends bring you ground beef

81. Feeling angry at all of this – anger is allowed

82. COBRA insurance coverage

83. Stretchy pants

84. Naps

85. Sunshine

86. Paint called Squirrel Tail

Day 11 – 52 Good Things

I know how hard it is to stay grounded in a chaotic world. For over six years, I’ve written about my search for beautiful things in a world that aches and groans. Hundreds of readers have trusted my posts to whisper into their hurts, search for the good, and find simple things to delight in when things aren’t going as perfectly as they could.

We live in the challenging dichotomy of good and bad. Of catastrophe and regrowth. Of pain and beauty.

Babies are born, flowers bloom, and magic exists in a bowl of pasta. People die, jobs are lost, families are estranged.

In my writing, I honor the mystery that God allows both the dark and the light to exist.

This week, we got news Dylan lost his job. We know we are privileged and we have back ups. Not everyone does. We know we have family. Not everyone does.

There are hundreds of worthy causes to donate to right now and asking for help is hard. If you have read my blog over the years, gotten encouragement from my words, or want to support a friend, please consider throwing a few dollars in the new tip jar available on here.

Stay safe. Stay searching for the good. We’re going to get through this by looking for beautiful things.

And now on to continue the list:

68.  This video – even when she smells the lilies (submitted by Christine C.)

 

69. This artist who is designing hugs you can send in the mail

70. People who offer to grow you plants

71. Prayers

72. Sleeping until 8

73. Positive attitudes

74. Teriyaki marinade

75.  Seeing a hawk in my backyard

76. This blog post on purpose during a pandemic by Zach Mercurio

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.

Day 10 – 52 Good Things

How did today go for you?

Here are a few more good things. I can’t wait to see what good you’ve got happening in your homes, on your screens, and in your connections. Even STILL.

As a reminder, send me a note with the good in your world at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com or a DM on Instagram. Keep em’ comin.


58. Singing Happy Birthday in the Street

59. Video Chats from Living Rooms

60. Soft boiled eggs

61. Having other people in your boat

62. Online Art Therapy

63. Drawing your own boundaries

64. Words of support

65. Watching three year olds throw snow balls from six feet away

66. Which Paul Rudd is older? (submitted by Annie H)

67. Bad Lip Reading (submitted by Annie H)