Gratitude

July Favorite Things

Every time they say “It’s nasty out there” I cringe. The world is falling apart. Look up the hashtag on Twitter #Americain3words and people are not full of hope. We’re depressed, and scared, full of fear and angry, and hurt and confused.

Some days I am these things too.

How can you not be?

I cringe because by focusing on all the ick we miss out on the good waiting there, like a puppy, hoping to lick the salt from your tear-stained cheeks. Yes, cry, wail, hurt, advocate! But also sit, savor, ingest the magic surrounding the cells that make up your fingernails. You are not an accident.

I’m listening to podcasts now at the gym (any recommendations? Or better yet, know anyone who wants podcast guests? I’ve got a goal to appear on one this year) and I heard mention of this poem tonight. It’s number one on my list of favorites for July.

We’ve got to find delight.

  1. A Brief for The Defense – by Jack Gilbert
A Brief For The Defense

Sorrow everywhere. Slaughter everywhere. If babies are not starving someplace, they are starving somewhere else. With flies in their nostrils. But we enjoy our lives because that’s what God wants. Otherwise the mornings before summer dawn would not be made so fine. The Bengal tiger would not be fashioned so miraculously well. The poor women at the fountain are laughing together between the suffering they have known and the awfulness in their future, smiling and laughing while somebody in the village is very sick. There is laughter every day in the terrible streets of Calcutta, and the women laugh in the cages of Bombay. If we deny our happiness, resist our satisfaction, we lessen the importance of their deprivation. We must risk delight. We can do without pleasure, but not delight. Not enjoyment. We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world. To make injustice the only measure of our attention is to praise the Devil. If the locomotive of the Lord runs us down, we should give thanks that the end had magnitude. We must admit there will be music despite everything. We stand at the prow again of a small ship anchored late at night in the tiny port looking over to the sleeping island: the waterfront is three shuttered cafés and one naked light burning. To hear the faint sound of oars in the silence as a rowboat comes slowly out and then goes back is truly worth all the years of sorrow that are to come.

2. This Anne Boleyn Shirt

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My brilliant and creative friend Lynn Schwebach has crafted these funny, bold feminist t-shirts. Support a local artist, immerse yourself into the feminist narrative. I know this artist does not mean to downplay any harassment or trauma women have faced. Rather she stands in creative solidarity, pointing out just how absurd it is that women have dealt with these issues for the longest time. View her full Etsy shop here.

3. Grumpy Old Ove

I’m reading this book for book group and have been charmed by this grumpy old man. When we suffer it’s easier to want to be alone. In this book, the universe won’t let him. A poignant story on grief, joy, and showing up for others in the most unassuming of ways.

4. Chocolate Covered Espresso Beans

I brought a bunch of these little treats to work and filled up a bowl on my desk. Every time my co-workers go by they curse me under their breath, then pop two or three into their mouth. I’m a treat provider – what can I say. These are yummy.

5. 4th of July Gear

Most of us have complicated connections to what it feels like to be an American these days. I’m mixed on patriotism and still feel so amazingly grateful to live here. We’ve got work to do, yes, but much to be thankful for. So on Wednesday I hope you spend the day with family or friends, in the sun, and have time to lay on some green grass under bursts of fireworks in the sky.

Wear this shirt. People will love you.

This one works is a stupendous option to consider.

Order now. With Prime it could get here by Wednesday!

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She Gets That.

People have been sending me quotes from Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are for awhile now. An excerpt in an email here, a meme or two tagged on Instagram there. I received the book for Christmas and I wasn’t brave enough to open the spine. Until the book, sitting on my coffee table for weeks, began to whisper at me. I started reading slowly, in January, feeling the weight of such honest words in the pages.

Ann calls us to share in her practice of giving thanks. Much like what I do here, she was desperate to see the good in an aching world. Her list of 1000 things carried me through big questions and the small details in routines, laundry and mess. I’d digest a chapter each morning, while sipping my coffee and watching the sun rise.

Her beautiful prose made me stop, think, ache, and praise. Praise God for all of the good that is granted to us when we just lift our chins to the sun. Or the rain. Or the trauma lingering in our hearts. What happens when we say thank you to God for the experiences we have been given – no matter how painful.

Nothing new here. Not a new concept. Just a radical practice we must do every single day.

The weekend of my birthday I was so caught up in the message of chapter two that I brought the ingredients of communion to my birthday dinner.

On a snowy Sunday I wept into these pages, Ann’s words – Eucharisto – causing me to remember my dad delivering the communion message in front of congregations. Me sitting in the front pew as a five year old, legs dangling from the church bench scratching on old upholstery. The same girl turned teenager, new church, now cold metal chairs, same bread and grape juice. Same version of the last supper. Gospel of Luke. Same truth.

How long had it been since we broke bread and drank from the cup in remembrance of him? In remembrance of the promises that Jesus brings to our lives? Too long. I’m still wrestling with a Jesus who would choose to take good and holy things away from us. Away from me. Ann gets that.

Now grown woman, near thirty, sitting at the kitchen table dotted with turquoise plates. Same bread. Now wine. No father. He’s gone, but the memories remain, my voice picking up where he left off, taking over the verses with less command and familiarity than he. Practice, it will require. Still Luke.

I finished the book this week. And so, inspired again, I have been giving thanks.

Thanks for another birthday. For my health and my dreams of what I want to accomplish this year. For a list of 29 things to do before I turn 30. Gulp. What a privilege.

Whispered thanks in the grocery store that we have an amazing bounty of food to choose from. Thanks for the resources in my bank account to fill a cart without concern.

Thanks for Cara Cara oranges and for lunch with my husband at an overflowing Whole Foods. For the holes made in Ciabatta bread. For thick slices of cheese.

Thanks for friends who come to watch a Super Bowl. For my mom who opened up her house to us. For buffalo chicken dip and celery crunches and puppies staring curiously at the t.v.

Thanks for the woman who wanted to get rid of her piano and the man who daringly saved the beautiful instrument in a warehouse for twenty years.  For the dusty tarp protecting the instrument. For the father-in-law and friends who take time out of their day to move the music into my home.

Thankful for boxed cake mix turning to batter, swirling red, mixing chocolate, cold golden egg yolks pooling in a bowl.

Thanks for white cream cheese frosting on knives licked clean.

Thanks for the brilliant creators of This is Us and the reminder that we, my family, that me, that I, have come so far in this process of grief. Thankful for healing and hope and tears.

New music. Old memories. Thanks to raw writers who inspire and breath life into the aching areas of my bones. For the chin tilt that prompts a smile. Thanks for the reminder and choice to delight in the magic of suds in my sink.

The keys, just waiting to be played.

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Thanks that we get to play on.  How beautiful.

 

Is Your Glass Half Full?

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Because I believe in looking for the good.

Because I believe in feeling thankful for what we DO have.

Because I believe there is always, always, something to be grateful for.

In a world where all kinds of voices tell us to be scared, that we are not enough, that doom and gloom are coming or present, let’s take a moment to jot down what we are thankful for.

Send me your list between now and Thanksgiving and I’ll publish it here. Feel free to send in whatever format you’d like – a list – a poem – a song. Include a picture and your social media handles – or if you prefer to just include your name that works great. The important thing is to take a moment for gratitude and encourage ripples of gratitude.

Can’t wait to see what you have to share.

November Favorite Things

Put that down! October is over. You can’t eat candy corn anymore. The window has passed. Ok, ok, you can finish the bag you have in your cupboard, but no more candy corn purchases. I’ve got a hard rule.

Unless its a candy corn dog toy. Like this one which I just bought for my dog. I mean come on. I’m a sucker, but it’s cute. So that’s my first Favorite Thing for November. Technically, still a purchase in October, but hey, maybe they are on sale now since Halloween has passed.

Here’s the rest of my list for the month. Enjoy!

2. The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact

I can’t stop thinking about this book. It’s brilliant. I wrote about my initial thoughts here and the book has inspired me. What moments am I working to create?

So worth a read.

3. Isle of Skye Board Game

We have a lot of complicated, interesting, and creative board games at our house. This is my husband’s latest purchase. If you like learning new games, thinking outside of the box, and the idea of taking over as a Scottish man, check it out.

4. Lollia In Love Shea Butter Handcreme

I’ve had this handcreme awhile, but I’m starting to realize not many other brands compare. Delightful scents that replace my need for perfume and soft hands. For a low maintenance beauty girl like me, this stuff is a win-win.

5. Gratitude

It’s that time of year. Growing up at Thanksgiving we always went around the table and had to share what we were thankful for that year. I still make my family do this and I’m starting to realize how rare it is to stop and say thanks. I’m encouraging you to make a list, write your thoughts in a journal, share what you are thankful for here.  In fact – if you send me a list of your top 5 things you are thankful for this year – I’ll post it on Thanksgiving!

Need more fun ideas to share your gratitude with loved ones around the Thanksgiving table? Pinterest has tons, but I liked this idea below.

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From http://yellowprairieinteriors.com/fall-home-tour-2015/

Hey friends – yeah those coming over for Friendsgiving – I’m going to make you do this at my house. Use that Sharpie Permanent Marker on a white pumpkin.

Everyone, yes everyone, has something to be thankful for.

May this month be full of gratitude, good reads, good eats, and love. 

I’ll share my list of my 2017 52 Thankfuls on Thanksgiving Day as well.

Past year’s lists are here:      2016            2015 

Make Your List and Pick One

Don’t forget!

There is one day left to enter the Short & Sweet Giveaway.

Take a moment. Grab a pen, a real pen, and some paper.

Maybe it has lines on it, maybe it’s the back of your receipt from the grocery store.

Doesn’t matter.

Jot down a list of the beautiful things in your life right now.

Start with one. Add a few more. Maybe you can get to ten. Beauty and gratitude go hand in hand.

Then pick your favorite.

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Photo by Idella Maeland

Log on to Twitter.

Send me a tweet of your favorite beautiful thing in your life right now and you will be entered to win some of my Favorite Things.

You must be ok with your tweet being shared in a compilation post at the end of the contest.

The Twitter handle is @52Beautiful.

Winners will be notified via Direct Message on Twitter.

I can’t wait to hear from you.

xo

 

52 Thankfuls

 

52 Beautiful Things to Be Thankful For (in no particular order)

  1. My husband
  2. It’s snowing!
  3. My mom, my dad, my brother
  4. My in-laws
  5. The big front window in our living room that lets in light while we watch the world go by
  6. I was taught to cook
  7. I have a job
  8. Coloring books and Prismacolor Pencils
  9. Coffee – always, always coffee
  10. Slippers
  11. Growing Opportunities – even when they are so uncomfortable you think you might burst
  12. Our new house
  13. Old friends – the ones you’ve known since braces and pimples and your future was predicted in a game of MASH
  14. New friends – the people ushering you in to the next stage of who you are meant to be in the world.
  15. White wine
  16. I live in Colorado
  17. I have a college degree – Go Buffs!
  18. Essie Nail Polish
  19. Rest Days
  20. Yoga
  21. Sunshine
  22. Do-Overs
  23. Biscotti
  24. The Mountains
  25. Fireplaces
  26. Heat
  27. People who write books
  28. Books
  29. People who read my blog
  30. I was born in America
  31. Fancy breakfast – Eggs Benedict Please
  32. I can still hang out in the house I grew up in
  33. Bicycles
  34. Hard Work – it means our efforts matter
  35. Mentors
  36. Craft Beer
  37. The Internet
  38. Family Traditions
  39. The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
  40. Clean, running water
  41. Fresh Flowers
  42. Prayer
  43. Creatives
  44. Roots & Wings
  45. Crock Pots
  46. Modern Medicine
  47. Writing
  48. Pens – fine point, black ink
  49. Dylan’s handyman skills
  50. Happy Hour
  51. Lifelong Learning
  52. New Beginnings

Happy Thanksgiving to You and Yours. I hope you find something to be thankful for today!

Thank You Notes

Inspired by my on-line friend Chelsea, I am following in her footsteps, or rather her blog steps, and writing a thank you note to the things currently sustaining me. You can check out the post that I’m copy catting right here.  Do you watch Jimmy Fallon? Imagine I’m writing these thank you blurbs, Tonight Show style. Can The Roots come play the “Thank you Note” tune?

Thank you Dylan, for embarking on this journey called life with me, for always making me laugh, for dancing, for being the person who I can binge watch “Friends” with, without judgement.

Thank you Mom and Dad, for being a continuous stream of support for my venting, my processesing, my laughter, my sustenance.

Thank you Mike and Cathy, for embracing me as your own, for lots of wonderful dinners, and access to cable football. Go Seahawks.

Thank you coffee, for being my constant comfort in a cup. Whether served up Starbucks style, or out of my fancy miracle coffee maker mentioned here, you always know what to do to make me feel so much better. Add a little vanilla please.

Thank you friends, Tegan, Maile, Ashley, Katie – for walking through these 20 something days with honesty, accountability and trust. I’m lucky to continue to have sustained relationships with those who know my heart.

Thank you slippers, for keeping my feet warm during these frigid winter months. Even when it is not frigid I love me some slippers.

Thank you sunrise, for reminding me that the world spins madly on.

Thank you January, my birthday month, for reason to celebrate and love myself.

Jimmy Fallon is a bit more funny in his delivery, but these are the things that are keeping me grounded this week.

There is beauty in the practice of gratitude. The exercise of focusing on the good and what we have, rather than the bad and what we want to change. What are you thankful for?