Gratitude

A Different Kind of Thanksgiving

In posts and on threads, on work chats and check-ins people continue to share their disappointment at not being able to gather this year for Thanksgiving. When listening, my stomach would twinge and my empathy drained. I couldn’t figure out why I was triggered.

Sacrifice of time together for the hope of remaining alive doesn’t feel like sacrifice to me. At least it didn’t. Not six months ago, when were were just getting started. Not two weeks ago when we were told, again, to stay safer at home. I know, this is exhausting. We are tired and lonely and sad. Food and connection are supposed to comfort, not kill.

Today when another colleague shared their deep sadness about missing family dinners, I felt my muscles tense.

“What gives?” I asked under my breath. “Why is this bothering me so much?”

I clicked over to the New York Times website and read Nora McInerny’s brilliant articles titled You Don’t Have to Fake It Through Thanksgiving. She reminded me it took her six years for the holiday season to feel festive again after her husband died. Six years.

I’m approaching year five.

Since, Thanksgiving has felt hard, sad, and a complex mix of hoping for bliss while clinging to gratitude. Nora’s words took me back to my own first Thanksgiving without Dad. I had gone with my in-laws to New York while my mom and my brother went to Texas. The guilt of being away and feeling normal split me in two. The distance between feeling good for minuscule moments while knowing people I love were hurting across the country ripped a canyon within me.

I remember sneaking away after to dinner to call my mom. I slouched on a velvet green couch in the bedroom above the garage and I dialed to connect us from across the country. Our families gathered around tables beneath us, smearing Karo syrup on warm plates. We wiped snot off of cell phone covers.

I spend the holiday season still split in two. Between longing and acceptance. Between people pleasing and taking care of myself. Between disappointing others and berating my attempts of trying too hard.

My empathy has dried up, perhaps, because I’ve been adapting to a different kind of Thanksgiving for a very long time. I haven’t given that longing the attention it deserves.

I’ve run out of patience for the ones who are acting like they are the only ones here for the first time, managing a less than ideal holiday because of forces outside of their control.

You may have to be on Zoom this year, but what about the festive name plates that could never grace your table again? For me, the risk isn’t worth it.

I know this is hard. I know being away from your people is sad. And I ask you to think about the millions of people who have been carrying this weight for a very long time.

I’ve learned to carry my grief like a backpack. Sometimes it’s heavy and full of old baggage. Sometimes light and open and airy. Other times full of boombox tunes that make me smile of Him.

This year the backpack is full of relief, of sadness, and tiny, fluttering threads of hope. We’re a little tattered. It’s ok. The backpack will continue to fill and empty as we go.

Nora’s words reminded me about the freedom we have to face these days however feels good. We don’t have to do the dinner, the fixings, or the mounds of pie. This year isn’t normal. These celebrations don’t have to be normal either. Grief and crisis won’t allow it. And neither will I.

As if you need my permission to allow anything at all.

Order sushi. Call Pizza Hut. Get on Zoom. Break the rules. Skip the parade. Pick up the phone and call a friend. Cling to gratitude but you don’t have to hope for bliss. For me, that’s too high a bar. Instead, blow a kiss from a screen, donate money, mail a card. Write a list of the good and the ordinary magic getting you by.

Pick up your backpack and fill it full of beautiful things.

Counting by Sevens

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The sun woke me this morning as cool air blew in through the blinds, pushed with a little help from the rotating blades of the plastic window fan working over time as the days grow hotter. From my bedroom window, I first watched our three-year old neighbor helping her father pick up sticks in a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle costume. Mask secured, she bent over and over again to clean the wreckage from the wind storm in her own backyard. Her squeals and kicks and appreciation for a costume warmed my heart.

Our home has been quiet lately – an unsettling calm in a world disrupted by sickness, racism, hatred, and positive action mixed with a crying call to be better.

This introverted writer hasn’t minded the pause – a time to be working from home and relying on comforts to make sense of things going on outside.

Only this week has the silence rippled in uncomfortable patterns in our home and my heart. I miss seeing my friends. I balance wanting to interact with more than just my husband and my parents via FaceTime with uncertainty of a risky world.

I am amazed by the bravery, determination, and willingness of hundreds of thousands of people standing up against injustice. Black lives matter. The work you are doing to change opinions, open eyes, call for action is inspiring me.

Does writing into cyberspace still hold power when my anxiety prohibits me from protesting in the streets?

Typing cautiously, I hold the heavy weight of pain in one palm, and unfurl my gripping fingers of my other hand with a readiness to accept good and beautiful things.

I tentatively wonder how long it will be for the open palm to fill with the same weight of horrific behavior and heinous tweets.

I have to believe it’s not as crappy as CNN chooses to remind me each morning.

I heard recently a positive thought takes seven times the reinforcement to stick in our brain than a negative thought. Seven times more powerful are the fears, the shames, the things you must protect yourself from.

In my continued silent sanctuary of home, surrounded by privilege- I know, I listen to dogs barking and a neighbor mowing the lawn.

In my aching sense of wondering,  I ponder and ask, “What beautiful things are here in all of this?”

For the world has always been messy – rarely are we all so privy to the pain and suffering we carry on a global scale. A mirror has been raised. The pain in me sees and honors the pain in you.

What would happen to our world if we could whisper those words to one another?

Father’s Day is coming and with it the ads land in my inbox like little paint ball explosions of grief. No one has texted me to see how I’m doing with the approaching marker.

Thousands upon thousands are missing their people.

We’re out of work and afraid to go to the grocery store and wondering when it will be safe to hug our friends.

I start counting and repeating to myself, seven times over.

Classical music plays and children pick up sticks, and protestors flood the streets with messages of peace and justice and the simple desire to be able to continue to breathe.

What privilege it is to start with a fresh, full breath.

You, too, can count and seek beauty. At seven times the rate of the negative we’ve been fed.

Classical music. Children picking up sticks. Cold brew coffee swirling with cream. Instagram messages of solidarity. Protests in the streets. Longing for connection. Feeling unsettled. Searching for someone to see your pain. All beautiful things.

Day 67 – 52 Good Things

As states start to open up, my confidence in being in public waivers. I felt brave and brought cookies to a friend. Panicked when someone I know got tested. Went to the hardware store to buy flowers and wanted to yell at those not wearing masks. I wonder if I’m missing out by staying home and still practicing presence by remembering to take things one moment at a time. I’m still home and still counting. Here are a few more good and beautiful things, even during a pandemic.

What’s on your list? Send me an email and we’ll keep counting together.

190. Irises cut fresh from the front yard

191. Plant starters given freely

192. The promise of tomatoes

193. Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist

194. Ham and cheese and bread

195. Clean water with slices of lemon

195. The Fitzgerald cocktail 

196. Bike Rides through neighborhoods

197. Waiting for Colorado Strong Pale Ale

198. Big, long, snotty cries

199. Puppy snuggles

200.  Warm nights with the windows open

 

 

In All the Rooms of My House

I grabbed the blue handle and tucked the blades into the red, re-usable grocery bag.

“I’m going to go try” I told Dylan as I put on my sandals.

“Ok, good luck” he shouted up from the basement.

I’d spent the last hour psyching myself up for the task. I was going to do something I’d been thinking about for the five years we’ve lived here.

At the corner of a busy intersection where you can turn into our neighborhood sit three large lilac bushes. Each year they bloom and the blossoms sit and open their fragrance to the cars driving by. Without attention, the plants flicker and fade.

Technically, the bushes sit on public property tucked behind cement sidewalk and rest along a worn wooden fence to the west.

Fewer cars are driving by these days and I wanted to give the blossoms a home. My home.

Technically, it’s stealing right? Cutting blooms off of a plant not my own?

Hence the apprehension and covert attempt at covering my scissors in a silly grocery bag. I don’t like breaking rules, getting yelled at, or being conspicuous.

I slammed the door behind me and breathed in purpose. I walked the winding streets and approached the intersection. The only car near me was driven by a teenage boy clearly not paying attention to the woman dressed in unassuming athletic shorts and Saturday gray t-shirt.

I once again grabbed the blue handles, opened the blade, and snipped, snipped, snipped. I wasn’t greedy and took only three bundles of blooms, tucking them into the bottom of my bag.

I sighed and walked back home. No one said a thing.

Opening the cupboard, I found jam jars, and mason jars, and a wine glass and filled the vessels with cool water. I pulled off the green leaves and snipped branches again to make mini bouquets of flowers knowing their essence will only last so long.

I placed the jars in all the rooms of my house.

And the fragrance of lilac slept next to my pillow, reminding me of the good and simple beauty on my nightstand while I breathed in dreams.

The little blooms are fading today, trying to hold on to their strength when they were removed from their source to live out their own purpose.

The sight of light purple, the smell of spring, small rebellions and gratitude for public plants doing their thing. All beautiful things.

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52 Thankfuls – 2019

“Gratitude is wine for the soul. Go on. Get drunk.” – Rumi

52 Things to be thankful for this year. In a sorta particular order….allie-smith-h5K9F-gXr5I-unsplash.jpg

1. Family as we choose to call them
2. Flannel Sheets
3. Whats App Face-to-Face Phone Calls
4. The Dinner Party
5. Keyboards
6. Mentors
7. Donuts in Portland
8. Hot-springs
9. Snow shoes
10. Warm winter coats
11. White mugs full of coffee
12. Vanilla syrup
13. Book Club
14. The occasional steak dinner
15. Beaches in Mexico
16. Sunscreen
17. Access to medical care
18. My job
19. My husband’s job
20. Olive-pants
21. Sandy Flip flops
22. Remakes of The Lion King, Aladdin, Alice in Wonderland
23. Birthday Tea Parties
24. Moms who sew
25. One Hope Wine
26. Gin and Tonic
27. Moscow Mules
28. Paint and Drywall and Wood
29. My general contractor
30. Summer Camp-like experiences
31. Men who play harps
32. Lake Michigan
33. Hiking Trails
34. A clean hot tub
35. My grandmother’s stories
36. Old friends
37. New friends
38. A leaf blower
39. Whiskey
40. Rental Cars
41. Hot Chicken
42. Improv
43. Teachers
44. Music lessons
45. Side hustles
46. The power of the internet
47. My words printed in ink
48. Good night kisses
49. Airplanes
50. Sunday night dinner
51. Walks to the lake
52. Hope

What are you thankful for this year?

ABC’s

They tell me to worry about all these things. You could go through the alphabet, much like my mom does with her toddler students at day care.

A is for Airplanes. The 737 seems to be failing.

B is for bacteria. It’s crawling all over you. Wash your hands. Bleach.

C is for cancer. Don’t drink Diet Coke. Put down that cigarette.

D is for Donald… Ugh. Yes I am afraid.

E is for Eggs. Are the ones I just purchased cage-free and do the chickens producing them even have beaks?

F is for Future. Uncertainty looms.

We could go on and on… at least until X. It always gets tricky at X. I’m not afraid of xylophones. Some people are afraid of their eXes I suppose.

I want to stop the worrying. I’ve caught myself tuning in to CNN too much – hoping for good news. Am I crazy? They thrive on my anxious clicking, fine-tuned to hone in on the bad.

So today, here’s a beautiful ABCs – let’s bring it in and focus back to the basics.

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Photo by Jessicah Hast on Unsplash

A is for Apples crunching – honey crisps falling on bending bows of bountiful trees

B is for Babies – brave people keep making them

C is for Cheese – have you had cheese! I bought burrata and more gorgonzola for those gorgeous pears

D is for Dogs – mostly my dog Olive

E is for Eggs – soft boiled with a dash of salt

F is for Family – as messy as we are we keep trying to show up

G is for Grandmothers. Mine makes me smile.

H is for Home. However you define it, may you find comfort in those walls.

I is for Iced coffee – just a few days left to drink your java on the rocks

J is for Juice – spiced apple cider – cinnamon swirling, spice sediment mixing in magic

K is for Koalas –  k is a little tough…

L is for Light streaming in, sun rising slowly, dancing in the golden leaves

M is for Marriage – it’s hard and messy and comforting and wise

N is for Not Yet – I don’t have all the answers – there are things I’m waiting on. Not yet

O is for Octopus. Isn’t it funny God gave animals eight legs?

P is for Pumpkins on porches, in pies, and in breads

Q is for Questions – the big and the small

R is for Remembering – the good times, the vibrant memories of love

S is for Silence. Deep breath. Slow down. Hear the pauses your breathing creates.

T is for Time. We think we have more.

U is for Underwear – a fresh, basic staple

V is for Vacuum lines on the carpet

W is for Walking in the evening before the sun sets

X is for Xylophone – everyone knows this

Y is for You – you have purpose, passion, meaning

Z is Zinnia – flowers linger while seasons wait to change

How can you turn your fears into gratitude today?

 

 

52 Thankfuls – 2018

52 Things to be thankful for this year. In a sorta particular order….

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  1. Family
  2. Fireplaces
  3. Big coffee cups
  4. Paris
  5. Carousels
  6. Honest Friends
  7. Olive-pants
  8. My house
  9. Books
  10. Bosses who care
  11. Chasing dreams
  12. Mountains
  13. Yoga pants
  14. White dishes stacked
  15. Wool sweaters
  16. Twinkle lights
  17. Keyboards to type on
  18. Pasta makers
  19. Learning to sew
  20. Art supplies
  21. Walking paths
  22. The gym
  23. Ham, bread and cheese
  24. Phone booths
  25. Ukulele
  26. Clean water
  27. Flannels sheets
  28. Popsicles
  29. Champagne bubbles
  30. Hiking boots
  31. The Dinner Party
  32. Blog readers
  33. Magazine editors
  34. Roasting pans
  35. Our piano
  36. When my husband plays the guitar
  37. Text messages
  38. Bitmojis
  39. New friends
  40. Old friends
  41. Mussels
  42. Eiffel Tower
  43. Sunsets
  44. Hands to hold
  45. Cozy socks
  46. Handy men
  47. This is Us
  48. Traditions
  49. Learning new things
  50. Monet’s water lilies
  51. Gelato roses
  52. Magic

 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. What’s on your gratitude list this year?

At Parties, Pubs, and Places People Gather

My inbox is filling and people are chatting. At graduation parties, the pub, and places people gather, folks are taking time to think of things going well in their worlds. I’m thankful to the following contributors who have brought our list over the 300 mark!

#273 my eldest daughter reading books
#274 my little one pretending to read
#275 the cup of chamomile tea I have in the evening each day
#276 the blessing of having another day to live
#277 my health is great
#278 my kids playing with their tea set in the middle of my bedroom
#279 looking over at the man I chose to spend the rest of my life with
#280 sharing a cup of coffee for 10 minutes in the morning with him before
the kids wake up

#273 – #280 Contributed by Alice V

#281 having a job that works to make a genuinely positive impact in the lives of others
#282 beautifully positive relationships with my family members
#283 living in a location where a lot of people would choose to spend their vacation days
#284 new friends choosing to do life with me
#285 old friends that have chosen to grow with me
#286 stainless steel drinking straws (and other eco-friendly efforts)
#287 having a rescued dog and cat to love me
#288 a partner that loves me even when I don’t act very lovingly
#289 days off from work
#290 a trustworthy Higher Power

#281 – #290 Contributed by Bailey Dutko

#291 this beautiful day
#292 Music
#293 Beer. Beer. Beer
#294 My grandson’s health
#295 Family. All family.
#296 Food
#297 Hiking outdoors
#298 Photography and Instagram
#299 Books and comic books
#300 Bourbon
#301 Naps

#302 – #311 Contributed by Sharon
#312 my job
#313 the outside
#314 my friends
#315 I have the ability to travel
#316 delicious food
#317 tea
#318 whiskey
#319 games
#320 – colo-f’n-rado
#321 my family
#312 – #321 Contributed by Renee Wanger
#322 alcohol
#323 my girlfriend
#324 my health
#325 my bed
#326 5:30 pm every day
#327 family
#328 my roof over my head
#329 showers
#330 date nights
#331 caramel ice cream
#322 – #333 Contributed by Tanner Hunt
#332 I have incredible, and I do mean INCREDIBLE people surrounding me who love me unconditionally.
#333 Life has turned out so differently than I ever imagined it. Honestly, it’s better than I ever imagined it.
#334 I’m starting a business that I am so excited about, I could explode. So many people have come together to support me in this. The feeling of being believed in is so precious, I cannot describe it.
#335 I have beautiful forests just 10-15 minutes away that constantly renew my heart and soul with their beauty.
#336 The month of September is here and it’s my absolute favorite. Everything so gently shifts into a state of glory before the winter.
#337 I’m laughing a lot these days. And laughter has elevated my heart.
#338 Hugs. They are super important and I’ve been blessed by so many of them lately.
#339 The amazing animals that have crossed my path lately. This weekend, I had an encounter with a coyote who leapt out of the bushes not 4 feet in front of me, gave me a piercing glance and then ran back into the forest. At this very moment, I can hear a hawk scratching up above. I believe animals have medicine and can help remind us of our own truths.
#340 Books! I just recently got back into reading after a long hiatus. My mind feels nourished by the words of so many beautiful humans.
#341 Long, hot, showers– not very environmentally sustainable, I’ll admit. But man, what a long hot shower can do for an anxious mind.
#332 – #341 Contributed by Katrina Nilsson-Gorman

When you are ready to contribute your list of 5 – 10 things going right in your world, send me an email at 52beautifulthings at gmail dot com. If you’re feeling stuck, Morgan Harper Nichols created a fun joy template that can be a great place to start. You can find the image on Instagram.

More details about how to submit your list here.

I remember … and now I understand.

It’s September 11th. Seventeen years ago I was twelve when my dad was driving me to school. He was trying to chat my way out of my pre-teen morning grump with a joke when he paused.

“Turn up the radio,” he said.

I had no idea why he got so serious, so quickly.

I still remember what intersection we were at and I absorbed his somber energy.

I remember watching news footage over and over and over again that day.

I remember not understanding the severity of the day, but knowing that this horrific attack would influence us as a generation, as a world, forever.

Seventeen years of national grief.

This year, that same news footage has me thinking. Anniversaries of the death of loved ones are hard enough. I can’t imagine how it feels to have it being played out on t.v. on repeat.

I’m sad for those who lost loved ones that day. I’m sad for those still healing.

I remember and now, perhaps worse, I’m beginning to understand.

The gut wrenching feeling of loss. It sucks you into a hole and drags you into the darkness. All those clips of buildings crumbling, people falling, smoke consuming those who were trying to run away. Trauma lingers on the news, in our nation, seeping into our hearts.

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Go hug your loved ones – our time is short – make lists of beautiful things.

Here are #46 – in the Resistance of a Different Kind movement. Can you help us get to 1,000?

#46 and # 47 – 2 beautiful daughters – one for each
#48 A loving husband
#49 A roof over my head
#50 God who surrounds me with love each day

#46 – 50 Contributed by Elizabeth Timpe

#51 Silence after a long day
#52 My cat curling up in my lap and purring
#53 Having random moments of appreciation towards life
#54 Long sleep
#55 Cake

#51 – 55 Contributed by @lemonzandtea

#56 hugs
#57 fall colors
#58 crisp, cool air
#59 bike rides
#60 sunsets
#61 football games
#62 reading
#63 puppy breath & just puppies
#64 date night
#65 transitions (positively looking at change, trying to admire learning experiences & acknowledge the growth- easier said than done)

#56 – 65 Contributed by Donell Betts

#66 Buying a ticket to see a musical which is one of my most dear pleasures in all the world
#67 Calling my mom whenever I want and knowing she will listen to everything I have to say
#68 Feeling okay enough every day to do one thing to further my goals.
#69 Watering my plants and watching them grow. And talking to them until I feel more than a little crazy
#70 Sleeping until I wake up (on the weekends)
#71 Planning outfits for fall.
#72 Having good health and choosing to respect it.
#73 Cooking dinner for my friends.
#74 Writing my truth and sharing it with others.
#75 California avocados. I grew up in the Midwest, you know what I mean.

#66 – 75 Contributed by Meg Schmidt,
Writer and Executive Producer of Hello Humans

#76 Smelling something in the oven
#77 The first signs of fall
#78 Knowing a poem by heart
#79 Aspen trees
#80 Buttered toast
#81 Church bells ringing in the distance
#82 Freshly washed sheets
#83 Staying home when it rains
#84 Handwritten recipes
#85 Taking a step

#76 – 85 Contributed by Zoë Trout

#86 warm summer nights with fireflies in the trees
#87 sharing a spot on the front porch with a friend during a thunderstorm
#88 a warm fuzzy blanket
#89 being silly
#90 singing in the car at the top of my lungs
#91 a shared smile with a dear loved-one
#93 a new pen to write with
#94 dragonflies
#95 looking someone in the eye saying “don’t change a thing” … and meaning it

#86 – 95 Contributed by Carri Adcock

#96 We just jammed to Bohemian Rhapsody as a family in the car

#96 Contributed by Heather Anderson


When you’re ready to contribute your list, send me an email or leave a comment of your 5-10 beautiful things. Details about this movement are here – I can’t do it without you.

 

 

#1 – #45

 

“I am going to make everything around me beautiful - that will be my life.”― Elsie de Wolfe (2)

It’s Friday!

As you, hopefully, know I started a little challenge for us to create a list of 1,000 beautiful things in an effort to combat the nasty swirling around us. Not sure what I’m alluding to – read this post first.

I’m thrilled people are responding. Here’s the list so far. Think on these things at work, in the carpool lane, when gritting your teeth at the customer who can’t seem to stop yelling at you.  It’s out there – the good, the beautiful, the bold. May I suggest reading while listening to this song by The Fray?

#1 Peanut butter M&Ms
#2 Long, handwritten letters
#3 Nostalgia
#4 Carousels
#5 Bohemian Rhapsody
#6 Wendy’s frosties
#7 Honeysuckle
#8 Punch with Sherbet in it
#9 Summertime
#10 New beginnings

#1 – 10 Contributed by Lindsay Song

#11 – A dog curled up next to me keeping me warm
#12 – There are free apple trees all over the city, we’re picking them this weekend so they don’t go to waste, and they’ll provide snacks and syrup for us all year long
#13 – The leaves are starting to change
#14 – Dylan’s dad is making serious progress on Nathan’s house
#15 When the cream is swirling in your morning coffee
#16 – Fresh baked bread – specifically this recipe

#11 – 16 Contributed by Tegan Plock

#17 literature
#18 a spiritual path
#19 chocolate
#20 art
#21 music
#22 cookbooks

#17 – 22 Contributed by Christine Christman

#23 Friends with different political beliefs but still being able to get along
#24 crisp autumn days
#25 new lipstick
#26 holding hands with someone you love
#27 traveling to new places

#23 – 27 Contributed by Brittany Larsen

#28 The heavy breathing of sleeping babies
#29 Coffee shops with great decor
#30 The feeling when the song you’ve been wanting to hear comes on the radio
#31 Amazon Prime wardrobe instead of clothes shopping with two small children
#32 Highwaisted jeans are in style
#33 It never fails to make me smile – the way my two-year-old son says toot/tooted/tooting #34 I married across the aisle, and if we can continue to believe the best of each other, there is hope for the rest of us yet
#35 Gyms with childcare
#36 yoga
#37 that there is just so much possibility

#28 – 37 Contributed by Emily Alman

#38 There’s food in my fridge
#39 Grocery stores and corner markets sell bouquets of fresh flowers all over the world #40 Candy corn
#41 text messages with loved ones
#42 acoustic guitars
#43 writers
#44 creatives
#45 believers in beautiful things

#38 – 45 Contributed by me on the launch

Let’s keep resisting the notion that bad is all there is.  Ready to add your contribution to the list? Jot down 5-10 things that are going right in your world RIGHT now. Send me an email or leave a comment on the blog. If you prefer to be anonymous, that’s fine!

To resisting together!