2020

63 Random Acts

63 random acts

It’s his birthday tomorrow. It bothers me that I have to sit down and do the math to remember the number of years he would have acquired. The days don’t matter so much, but the forever stuck at 58 continues to be odd to me.

We would have gone to a baseball game, a new tradition started by the survivors three years ago. Except the MLB is on pause and hot dogs don’t taste as good when you aren’t in the stands.

We would have eaten a burger joint and let grease down our hands as we sipped beers in frosty mugs or dipped fries in milkshakes.

We would have licked on cones of cinnamon ice cream or made fun of him how he ate his ice cream from a cup with a spoon.

He would have eaten pizza with a fork.

He would have splurged on a tall cup of Pikes Place coffee and let it beep in the microwave all day long.

He would have steak and salad for dinner.

We would have done all sorts of things.

Grief throws a wrench in things. Add on a pandemic and anniversaries and birthdays and milestones seem to melt into something murky and weird with a few sprinkles thrown in.

63.

He would have been 63.

So this year, I’m hoping to inspire another sort of list and hoping you can help. I am wondering how many random acts of kindness we can accomplish in honor of Roy on May 15th, 2020.

Drop some cookies at a neighbors. Pay for the people behind you in the drive-thru line. Bring flowers to a friend. Draw some chalk on a driveway. Send a love note. Tip a delivery driver more than you usually would. Donate to a charity.

I want to get a list of 63 ways to care for the world in honor of my dad tomorrow. Send me a pic or a note of your random act, and I’ll see how many we can get. Gestures don’t have to be big to make a difference.

Join me in remembering and celebrating my dad. In helping others. In celebrating while we are far away and from behind screens and windows and walls.

Let’s get to 63. You can start today.

We aren’t doing enough.

I dreamt with him last night.

swingWe were at an amusement park and I was strapped in to one of those large swings for adults. The yellow bucket seat was cold on my legs and my sleeping self felt afraid of the lacking worn-nylon restraint. I could only see out, and down over the rolling hills and green grass, but I knew he was sitting in the swing behind me.

When the ride ended and we landed, we sat on a bench with people from all stages of my life. He handed me a white McDonald’s bag, the yellow arches pronounced on the front.

“Sorry I had to go” he said.

I woke with an adrenaline rush of sadness and a soft smile and I said to myself, “I bet that bag was full of burgers.”

Dad doesn’t come to me in dreams all that often. It’s a tortuous balance of comfort and despair upon waking. These glimpses of him spun in a storytelling of bizarre memories, recollections, and persistent reminders of the anxieties of where we are currently, living without him.

I keep thinking, as a nation, as a globe, we aren’t doing enough for new grievers. Our president isn’t saying sorry; no empathy drips from his lips. The online communities I’m a part of are trying –  touching on our triggers and sharing reluctant welcomes to the clubs none of us wanted to be a part of in the first place. While online tributes teach us how to facilitate a virtual funeral, few leaders are acknowledging emotional pain. Few news outlets are telling stories of the encounters, the painful goodbyes from screens, or sharing the connection between personalities and preferences of actual humans who make the numbers tick up, up, up.

All over the globe, thousands are taking their steps into the first weeks and months of mourning. Milestones are met without. We’re being reminded of the pervasiveness of loss daily, and still, very few are saying, “I’m so sorry you’re here. That our lack of response led to this painful unraveling and gaping whole you now live with.”

We aren’t doing enough to create space, to hold space, to allow such dark feelings, questions, and unfathomable realities.

Instead we are fighting on Twitter, and bickering about masks, and continuing to hope for less restriction and more connection.

I continue to pray, please not me, and still desire to help. I don’t have profound wisdom and my dad did not communicate anything wise to me about our current situation.

He just gave me a bag of supposed burgers in my semi-concious state. None of us are really sure what to do.

This week, I went to Starbucks for the first time in eight weeks. The drive-thru felt beautiful and as the signature green straw plunged into my plastic cup full of coveted vanilla latte, I sighed with gratitude. And then I washed my hands.

We are still here, in this pandemic, hoping, and wondering, and still being ourselves.

Part of myself, my journey, my searching, my purpose, is to help people in pain.

I can point fingers and blame and say the grand “THEY” aren’t doing enough.

And I can turn, once again, to where I have control. From my kitchen table, I choose to still use words to share pain, and hope, and comfort, and acceptance for the dark places in people’s lives.

I’m so sorry we’re here. That people are dying by the thousands and our culture doesn’t know how to talk about grief. That you’re here and you’re hurting and that this year will forever be one that changed your life.

Perhaps soon, your people will come to you in your dreams.

Until then, I recommend the drive-thru. Starbucks or McDonalds. What gives you comfort in cups, in memories, in connection. You’re feeling now and that’s a beautiful thing.

 

Day 51 – 52 Good Things

So close to 52. I didn’t think we’d get here and I’m rather surprised the amount of energy it takes to make a mental list of good things still surrounding us. But I continue searching and invite you to join me as we stay home and stay safe.

I’m called again, in whispers, to remember the choices we make when things seem the bleakest are opportunities for our wondering souls. What we focus on, while not ignoring painful realities, makes or breaks our spirits.

In conversations with friends and co-workers and texts and Instagram conversations, I’m reminded to look for the good.

181. Seeds for plant starts

182. Fingernails covered in dirt

183. An evening breeze through an open window

184. Aleve for back pain

185. Grocery delivery

185. Peanut M&Ms

186. Cacio e Pepe

187. Signs of support (contributed by Christine C)

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188. WhatsApp

189. Letters to children read via Instagram

What good and beautiful things are you seeing in your life these days? Please send them to me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com

 

Blursday Favorites

Recently, someone I love received a meeting request for time on Blursday at 2 pm.

Blursday. That about nails it.

I’ve been here 46 days now and in the blur, forgot to share a few of my favorite things. Here are some items getting our tiny family through quarantine.


Artisan Sourdough Made Simple: A Beginner’s Guide to Delicious Handcrafted Bread

Yoga with Adrienne videos using this mat and this bolster

Starbucks Pike Place Coffee with Vanilla Torani syrup– they also do instant if you are into the whipped coffee craze

Health supplements including Tumeric, Zinc, Echinacea Sleepytime Tea, and Power Adapt for my anxiety

We’ve attempted to play Scategories and Catch Phrase online with friends

I’m late to the Schitt’s Creek party, but it’s hilarious and I now want to buy this mug. While Stevie is my favorite character, David is close behind. These stickers are fun.

My at home desk now has these pens, this notebook (pages come pre-numbered!), and I’ve been using this light to fight the basement blues.

I’ve also read the following books:

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro

In Pieces by Sally Field

Harry Potter & the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling

Turtles All the Way Down by John Greene

The Year of Living Danishly:Uncovering the Secrests of the World’s Happiest Country by Helen Russell

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid

This new song by Jason Mraz says it all:

What are you relying on for fun, sustenance, and comfort these days?

PS – don’t forget, there’s a virtual writing session tonight and you still have time to sign up.

Day 44 – 52 Good Things

Still here. Still counting good things.

What’s good and beautiful in your life right now? What are you thankful for? My list continues here.

171. Sourdough cheese crackers

172. Clean sheets

173. Being vulnerable

174. Canned soup

175. Waiting for lilacs

176. Choosing how we want to “commute” to work

177. Orange nail polish

178. Hair ribbons

179. Plush carpet

180. Virtual Writing Workshops – there are still spots available for the Thursday evening session. Will I see you there?

What good and beautiful things are you seeing in your life these days? Please send them to me at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com

Real

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I sent a text pleading today. Standing on the fading back porch, I typed with tears in my eyes.

“I already lost a parent, I don’t want to lose you too.”

The black letters clicked as my fingers pressed into the digital screen.

My thumbs seemed numb, typing heavily as emotion welled in my chest.

I could have picked up the phone, but hiding behind typing and screens felt safer.

Grief slipped between my sentences as I passed my Covid anxiety from my gut to the pocket where his cell phone lingered.

Crying in the kitchen, Dylan hugged me this afternoon and I whimpered, “I just don’t want to lose anyone else.”

On Instagram, and blogs, and videos across the world grief experts are sharing comfort, perspective, and expertise for those new to loss. Coping mechanisms creep up in posts and in video chats and healthy ways to channel our triggers seem to zip in the spaces connecting us on the internet. As someone who writes extensively about my experience with life after loss, I’ve been wondering and waiting for epiphanies to come.

What wisdom can I share to help the newly bereaved? The same lessons apply to the panicked, the hurting, the newly unemployed? What responsibility do I have as an “influencer” who is using personal pain to help guide others?

I’ve stayed quiet because I don’t have much.

I return to the basics and I encourage myself and others to find comfort.

Soothe yourself with warm blankets and cups of tea. Splurge for the brand-name tissues as you wipe your eyes. Light a candle. Nourish yourself. Take a slow walk around your neighborhood. Wear a mask.

And today, when my own imagined panic crept in like fog moving over the mountains, I let the wave consume me. I felt the overflow of emotion leak up out from my chest and onto the laminate floor.

My grief wounds drip fresh with the fear of loss not yet real.

I imagine thousands around the world are feeling the same.

Rather than whisper antidotes and remedies, tonight I give permission.

I’m not an influencer. I’m a human living an experience of life after loss. I finger my scars and I breathe deeply and remember I am human, prone to loss and intense experiences in an aching world.

I give myself beautiful permission to live in this uncomfortable, seemingly horrible space.

I give you permission to ask for a hug. To send pleading text messages and grace for the tears sure to fall. I welcome the beauty found in the permission to accept a warm embrace, even if the arms wrapped around your shoulders are your own.

Pandemic life is scary and hard. The fog licks our fingers and faces and leaves a chill in our bones.

Give yourself the beautiful permission to feel all of this. To weep in the kitchen. To send the texts and express your love and ask for what you need.

At the end of the day, I only want to influence real.

Real is beautiful.

Day 40 – 52 Good Things

Quarantine has roots of the 40 days it takes for plague to pass. I’m at day 40. I know we will be here longer and that’s ok. I want people to be safe. Stay home. Still. Please.

Here are a few good and beautiful things from my week. Let’s keep counting.

160. Attempts at making powdered sugar – fine dust coating counters

161. Chocolate buttercream

162. Leslie Knope is coming back

163. Birthday celebrations from curbs with cupcakes

164. We sent FatHeads of ourselves to my in-laws. This is making me laugh EVERY TIME I see our picture.

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165. Time to write

166. Sharing eggs

167. Dinner prayers

168. Flowers blooming

169. Still sourdough

170. Virtual Writing Workshops – there are still spots available for tomorrow’s session. Will I see you there?

 

Day 37 – 52 Good Things

This morning Dylan and I pretended to commute to our jobs via Subway. Why not?

We turned on this soundtrack(154) and imagined we lived in a metro area and sent solidarity to New York. And laughed.

There are still good things. Even still.

155. This Praise Song for the Pandemic

156. Corn chips dipped in pub cheese

157. Recipe exchanges via email

158. Waking up to curl your hair

159. Virtual Writing workshops – Don’t forget there’s still time to register for this one!

using your words

 

Using Your Words for Light and Levity

using your words

Announcing the first roll-out of 52 Beautiful Thing’s Virtual Writing workshops. My goal is to keep us connected and our spirits light – even if we pause from the pain for 60 minutes or so. I hope you can join me this month at one or both of the virtual sessions outlined below.

Share with a friend. See you soon.

Using Your Words for Light and Levity: A Virtual Writing Workshop

Being a human is hard. Knowing how to take care of ourselves and see the world with hope is a practiced skill. Join me in a one-hour virtual writing workshop. You’ll learn how to use simple sentences, poetry, and writing prompts to reconnect to joy and possibility in an uncertain world.

Come with pen and paper and willingness to be silly and seek out the good.

Each Class is limited to 15 spots

Cost is $25

Registration is a 2 step process:

1. Pay for your slot here

2. Then Pick Your Time and Register on Zoom

April 25th at 10 am MST

OR

April 30th at 6:30 pm MST

Questions? Send me a note.

Day 33 – 52 Good Things

It’s Friday. And before I tune into news or my inbox, I’m counting my blessings and focusing on gratitude. What can you be thankful for first thing in the morning?

141. Snow sparkling on trees against a blue sky

142. A spritz of perfume even if only I will smell it

143. Blush on a makeup brush

144. New patterns to score bread

145. Hot coffee steaming

146. Vanilla syrup

147. Puppy curled in a white comforter

148. Clean shirt and real pants

149. Tiny gems on fake gold earrings

150.  getting an e-library card to access audiobooks

151. TWLOHA virtual 5k: https://twloha.com/runforit5k/ – “Forward is forward no matter the pace”
152. A sweet old man in my building saying “have a super day!” on his way to the mailroom (while keeping properly masked and social distanced).
153. Conscious Ink Temporary tattoos
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(150- 153 submitted by Katie M.)
Hope you’re well my friends. Keep sending me your beautiful things.