beauty

Day 2 – 52 Good Things

How did today go for you? Something about 5 pm marks another day in the books.

Like when I was in college, I felt better if I made it to 3 pm.

I know you’ve got hours to go and weeks to unfold.

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.

Sending love and light

6. This Guinness ad

7. Free yoga and barre workouts until April 1st with Down Dog

8. Fill up a growler or buy a t-shirt at local breweries (submitted by Katie M)

9. Cancel your personal care appointments and pay the stylist or teachers anyway (submitted by Katie M)

10. These penguins at the Shedd Aquarium

11. Get outside. (Photos submitted by Beth U)

 

52 Good Things

Here we are.

In times unprecedented, checking our phones, our screens, the constant news streams.

I know it’s scary right now. Uncertain. Unclear.

I’ve been holding tight and sitting on my fingertips for fear of typing something ignorant. I don’t know how the details of this pandemic are affecting the multitudes of us working from couches, those not working, those wondering how this will rip everything apart.

I do not want to trigger, or isolate, or add to the hurt.

I’ve got my Christian memorization ringing through my ears and think, rather begrudgingly, on Psalm 118:24: This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.

How can we be rejoicing when things seem to be locking down at each moment?

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.

For the foreseeable future, I’ll be sharing roundups of encouragement, joy, connection, and heartwarming examples of the human spirit. I’m also asking you to pay-it-forward. Please send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com and I’ll share your examples here too. Let’s start something big – a record of kindness – an inventory of good in these next few weeks. Let’s see how many lists of 52 Good Things we can come up with.

52 Good things

Here are my ideas today:

  1. Write a card to a nurse in your life. Say thank you for their service and sacrifice.

2. Buy an online gift card from a small business. Use it later this summer.

3. This guy is encouraging folks to log on and learn how to Doodle at 1 pm every day.

4.This woman is giving away eggs to those who need it.

5. Share a roll of toilet paper. Throw it over your neighbor’s fence. Make sure to tape the end first.

Whatcha got?

 

I Counted the TP

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Photo by Anna Franques on Unsplash

I just counted our toilet paper rolls.

I never have done that. I always assumed I could hop on out to the store and purchase more.

Or get on Amazon and the delivery gods would bring me whatever I wanted.

Out of curiosity, I went to Big Lots, and Target, and Trader Joes tonight.

All fresh out of toilet paper.

I stared at rows and rows of Bounty paper towels and heard a man come up behind me, swearing under his breath.

“I don’t want to STOCK UP” he said to me. “I just need the stuff.”

And when I typed “T” into Amazon, TP was the first to come up.

All normal brands are out of stock.

You can buy generic, or perhaps this novelty roll that has cartoons having sex on the sheets. Entertainment for while you wipe. Or maybe unicorns are more your style.

Why does toilet paper make us feel safe right now?

This month, I spent seven days in Cuba and during my time there, I got a tiny glimpse of what it feels like to not have everything at my finger tips. I paid to use the bathroom, and crumpled up flimsy squares of recycled paper used when nature calls. I tucked wads in my backpack and was annoyed when public facilities lacked what I considered to be the basics.

And today, under threat of public health concerns, my fellow Americans are stockpiling the rolls. I sit in my well lit kitchen and scroll on an expensive computer about the novelty choices left in stock. Apparently pictures of presidents and rolls of printed dollar bills are still available.

I could also spend over $100 to buy over 50 rolls that could last my small family of two for months.

I fell prey to the fear and I wandered the aisles at the grocery store. I picked frozen veggies left in the cold, white, wire bins. Broccoli seems to be a coveted item and cauliflower was gone. No one wants to eat frozen asparagus.

As if a full freezer will protect me from the unseen virus lurking on airplanes and sneezes and hellos from strangers. I wish I could tell you I wasn’t a little scared.

I am. I counted my toilet paper.

As of right now, I have seven rolls.

Before I left to travel abroad, I received lots of comments about the risks I was taking getting on a plane and going to another country.

I wrote in my journal, I cried, and I created anxiety coping plans with people who loved me.

I chose to get on the plane anyway.

I was met with a richness found in kindness. Open doors and flowing cocktails. Dark coffee, syrupy in strength, served in tiny cups. I wandered dirty streets and got seconds on strawberry soft serve, and looked up to the lights people strung across worn alleys and dark doorways. These people didn’t have toilet paper and they were doing the best they can with what they’ve got.

Their stories, their art work, their hospitality were all immensely beautiful.

I’ll be processing for awhile.

Upon my return in a grand 747 flying metal bird , I saw mansions from the air, scrubbed my hands in airport bathrooms and sank into the abundance the USA has in our aisles and our homes and the stores on the streets.

I kept thinking of the woman farmer we met who is teaching people how to cook and prepare vegetables. Her father’s dream was access to Home Depot.

With the threat of quarantine, fear of germs, and pending isolation, I hope we can learn from the millions of others who live life without toilet paper and so much more every single freaking day.

It’s not about wiping our tushies or stocking our fridges or making our own hand sanitizer.

Can we open our hearts, sit down for a bit, remember to breathe, and still take care of one another?

I’m not the only one worried.

Of course, use common sense, access medical care, and seek expertise if you need it.

For those of us wondering and stocking up, what if it could be different?

What if, instead of isolating ourselves, we tuned in to the strength in shared experience and sent a text or note to those we loved. What if we picked up the phone? What if we donated to causes bigger than ourselves in our worry and panic?

What if you donated just $5 you would have allocated for toilet paper?

Wouldn’t that be a beautiful thing?

 

 

 

Pivot Forward

Yesterday, I was every bit of a capitalist consumer. I spent the afternoon searching for  key pieces for an upcoming trip and bopped into a few shops, heading straight for the sale rack towards the back of the stores.

Each time I checked out, the cashiers I interacted with said something along the lines of, “Enjoy the sun while it lasts. Snow is coming tomorrow.”

I was ready for big flakes, fluffy blankets, and savory food warming in the oven.

When I checked the weather before bed last night, I was disappointed. Our anticipated snow day had gone from a sure thing to a 30% chance of flurries for just a few hours. When I woke this morning, no snow had fallen. The ground was dry. The light was grey.

In Colorado, this change of weather and threatening inconsistency is nothing new. I’m used to being told to wear layers to prepare for multiple scenarios.

I have been trained to prepare to be flexible.

Like a toddler pushing the limits, I frequently go in to work on blue sky mornings wearing polka-dot flats only to come outside at five wishing I had worn socks as sharp little ice drops bite at the tops of my feet. If I’m going to get cold, I’ll do so on my own terms.

We wounded wonderers are masters at pivoting.

Turn for the needs of others. Turn for the wallops of pain. Turn for the things we didn’t see coming. I’m used to pivoting to protect myself, to mask disappointment, and to forge forward telling my spirit, “It’s ok. It’s ok. It’s ok.” when really, the situations are anything but.

Yes, the soft landings of snow flakes are missing today. In the grey sky surrounds I sit and I wonder, “How can I teach myself to pivot differently? What if I moved, not away-from but towards the things I want? Can preservation be channeled into motivation instead?”

This week I walked into the gym and climbed onto the elliptical stationed in front of the big t.v. showing the Food Network. The absurdity of watching Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives while attempting to burn off calories does not escape me. The choice, however, was better than the ever-present terror unfolding on CNN, NBC, and ABC after work hours.

I spent thirty minutes pedaling backward and the lights on the whirring machine began to flash.

Pedal forward. Pedal forward. Pedal forward. 

The green words blinked at me across the digital keypad.

It was time, again to pivot. To change my legs and my weight and move forward with my movements even though I was going nowhere at all.

March is coming and with it birthdays and anniversaries of death. In my head I’m pivoting between how it was then and where I am now and what it feels like to sit in the grey.  Four years have passed and I’ve found myself forgetting the electricity of shocking loss in my veins. The memories are softer now, still cold and wet and powerful in congregation with their fellow flakes.

I want snow and protection and warm food and calories to cushion me.

Machines are beeping, I am weeping, and conversations with encouraging strangers are telling me, “Now. It’s time. Pedal forward. Pivot towards the places you want to be. Create your work – the world needs you just as you are. ”

March is coming. Maybe this year, pivoting forward can be a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

Caught an Edge

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Photo by Emma Paillex on Unsplash

“It’s happening!” I heard my brain say to my left leg as it lifted from the slush and jolted painfully, pulling me up and then down.

There was a loud crack and a solid thwack as my back met the iced-over ski slope. I don’t know if my turquoise helmet hit first, or my shoulder, but I was dazed.

I’d caught an edge and ate it. Hard.

I stared up at the blue sky for a moment or two.

Or seven.

I knew I had to sit up. Wincing, I raised my upper body to vertical.

“Skis still on?” I asked myself. Yes, the bindings did their job.

Poles were close by.

I tried to breath deeply and a kind woman stopped and asked if I wanted help standing.

“Yes please,” I said as I tried to make eye contact. “It’s been years since I’ve fallen on skis.”

I haven’t fallen because I haven’t been on skis in years. I haven’t fallen because I’m cautious. I take calculated risks. May I be one with the slope, not one laying on the slope.

As the stranger reached for my arm, she reminded me to turn my skis parallel from where I sat, rather than pointing my tips straight down the hill. If I could lean my body weight into the mountain, I could stand again.

I had to push into the very thing that hurt me.

I stood and eventually swooshed the two hundred yards to where Dylan was waiting for me.

“I hit my head.” I said, “Hard.”

My ski afternoon came to an end after a medical check from Ski Patrol and a gondola ride back down to base.

As the incident replays in my brain this week, I’ve been wondering what it means to be brave. We tell ourselves to muster up the courage and to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. Being brave can be an active choice, yes, but what about when we are attempting to enjoy life and plans go otherwise? When our instincts kick in and the hard things require actions we feel we must do – not the ones we are brave enough to do?

This weekend, I didn’t cry when I fell. I said yes to help from a stranger, asked Dylan for water, and thought it would be smart to get more medical help. I chose the safe route down the hill rather than pushing myself to move on two sticks of waxed wood. I wobbled in ski boots and found my mom who was waiting and sat quietly in the car, imagining all the things that could have gone wrong. I didn’t feel brave.

Grief looks very much the same.

I didn’t feel brave when I wrote my dad’s obituary or called the organization in charge of his pension. I wasn’t brave when we spread his ashes or gave away his golf clubs, or each week when I choose to share my experience here. I wasn’t being brave.

I was surviving.

Are they the same, beautiful thing?

Life gives us edges to catch, limbs to flail, and places to fall. We’re lucky if we remember to wear our helmets and rely upon the little, beautiful buffers to help us feel a smidge safer in a scary world. We spread out, stunned, staring at the sky, trying to catch our breath as people swish by. And we remind ourselves to sit up again.

In order to do so, you must lean into the mountain. The majestic destination, the reason we are there out under big blue skies seeking solace and cold crisp air.

Lean into mysterious source of the beauty, of pines, jagged rocks, crisp, hard, sometimes powdery snow, and possible pain.

What a beautiful thing.

 

 

 

 

 

February Favorite Things – 2020

It’s snowing again. While February is the shortest month, it’s often a long haul. Here are a few favorites to delight you while the weather is cold and gray and the promise of Spring is still tucked around the corner.

  1. The BFG by Roald Dahl

I’m sure I’m late to the party, and the movie version of Roald Dahl’s classic book warmed my heart. We all need to believe in magic just a teeny bit more.

2. Snake Skin boots

Because we all want to feel sassy. I’ve been told that trend was ‘So last summer’ so if you want to be on the forward edge, I guess leopard print is in.

3. Surface Dry Shampoo

Again, late to the party, but here I am. Perfect that tousled look and avoid wet hair for another day or two more.

4. Salt Lamp Tea Lights

They tell me the benefits of Himalayan Sea Salt are endless. So we put the lamps by our electronics and I light candles at my desk. Warm glows of healing rays. Perfect for gray days.

5. Winter bouquets

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Surround yourself with bright berries, and blue thistles, and tiny, delicate blooms of chamomile. Add some color to your space while we wait for things to think about preparing to bloom. You can buy online, or Trader Joes does a great job with flowers for cheap, cheap, cheap. This florist does floral subscriptions! Get fresh flowers delivered to you once a month.

What do you do to get through the long month of February?

Looking For Beauty Amid the Pain – A Conversation with Non Wells

I have a hate-love with internet. I tend to spend so much time here. I easily get distracted, depressed, or feel stuck in endless comparisons. Hate.

Then, at other times, I realize this vessel is how I can connect with you, share updates, and change the narratives our culture tells about how we must live and operate. Love.

I was so excited to come across Non Wells and his project You, Me, Empathy last year. He’s setting out to tell stories and make connections for what he calls “Feely humans.” He explores topics of mental health, emotional wellness and human connection and I was tickled when he agreed to host me on his podcast.

Our conversation went live this week and you can listen in here.

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We kick off the show talking about my early childhood, wherein my parents valued downtime and play, often using the term (as did Non’s mother), “only the boring get bored.” We explore saying yes to the things we truly want to say yes to, using our time well, and tuning into what we actually want.

As two introverts, we talk about what that means to us, feeling the pressure to be a certain way in life, moving through the world at our own pace and not anyone else’s, having sensitive hearts, and then I share my experience of losing my father. From there, we talk about why grief isn’t contagious, the discomfort many have with death, and the ebbs and flows of life.

We delve into the origin of this blog and explore the highlights of the small joys, the unforeseen beauties perhaps we overlook in life—not as a dismissal of the pain, but a recognition of the overwhelming beauty that exists in our world, and the meditative practice of taking notice.

I hope you take some time to listen. You can learn more about Non and his efforts to support Feely Humans here.