Monday, November 30, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 30

I'm grateful that I sometimes have the courage to be vulnerable.

You'd think that for someone like me -- who wears her heart on her sleeve -- opening myself up to other people is an easy thing.

It's not.

When I wear my heart on my sleeve, it exposes me to the possibility of getting punched in the arm. A few sad souls do it just for the fun of garnering my reaction.

I wear my heart on my sleeve anyway.

Over this last birthday weekend, I received over 100 wishes for happiness. A few in person. Some on the phone or by email. Most were via Facebook. My daughters noted it first, "Mom! Your timeline is EXPLODING!"

My birthday was on Saturday, but I waited until yesterday -- after the last family member backed his car out of our driveway -- to start reading and responding to my birthday greetings. What strikes me most is that, with each post, I picture that friend's face at the time that I met them or, more significantly, at the moment we became friends because we dared to open ourselves up to one another.

Even a little.

The memory snapshots flip through my mind. I recall the conversations and re-feel the tingles each person evokes in me. I've deeply loved many - and have been deeply in love with a special few. With tenuous ribbons of words, bits and bytes and images, we remain connected. The nature of the relationships alters over time. We grow. Or sink. Some of these reconnections solidified after years apart. Some of the friendships exist solely online as we share common interests.

With each, there's been at least one moment of vulnerability, one moment of intimate connection. We've immersed ourselves into a conversation, daring to ask a personal question or share an opinion or a memory or a dream or a story or some poetry or a bit of humor. We dared to bond.

So on this last day of my month of gratitude, I'm grateful that I dare to initiate or respond to these invitations. I'm grateful that I crack my safe shell, and break into vulnerability.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 29

I'm grateful for a superb family weekend.

(and re-learning how to use a selfie stick)

Saturday, November 28, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 28

This lovely young woman came into my life 31 years ago. She's the best birthday present I ever worked for!


I'm grateful for you.

Bonus: my red wig looks really good on you.

Friday, November 27, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 27

We call the day after Thanksgiving "Gingerbread Friday."

It's the day my daughters and I begin our annual gingerbread project. In 2013 we made a gingerbread house. Last year, a gingerbread village. This year? A railroad yard!

We also planned next year's art projects for AuralArtists. So today I'm grateful my girls caught the crafting bug from me.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 26

On this bustling day, I'm grateful for moments of stillness.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 25

I'm grateful that my very favorite weekend of the year begins tonight.

I'm also grateful for my sister Janet who celebrates her 60th birthday today.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 24

Today, I'm grateful that I have enough.

Enough love.
Enough food.
Enough money.
Enough shelter.
Enough friends.
Enough children.

And a happy marriage to boot!

Monday, November 23, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 23

I'm having an "iffy" day today. Sort of stuck in neutral. Not a lot of energy. Hard to move things forward.

On days like today, I'm grateful for the little things ... like a working garbage disposal in the kitchen sink. All the electricity on that one circuit was out for a week or two. We called in a very nice professional electrician (who also happens to be our neighbor). He fixed it in a flash. Now it works.

I'm grateful to have it in order before the Thanksgiving cooking begins.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 22

I'm grateful for those professionals who help me through dark times.

Today, I'm having a great day. The aromas of Thanksgiving are beginning to waft through the house. Chex Mix (a family holiday staple) and home made soup.

On my good mental health days, it's hard to call to mind how small situations can trigger difficult mental health days. I've learned a lot of tools to help me cope and come out of those low times in large part from our family counselor. She's been working with us on and off for almost 15 years now. She's a great coach. I feel blessed that she has cared for me and my family with strength, and gentleness, and kindness.

My heart bleeds a little when I see folks who are obviously under mental stress, but have not yet found a professional to help them through the hard times. I have no joy in watching someone spin into harm's way, hurting others in their path because they aren't aware of how their words and actions are affecting those around them.

It's no fun observing the pain from a distance, knowing help cannot be had until the person is ready to accept help, ready to take responsibility for themselves, ready to transform from a victim attitude, ready to accept life and learn to navigate through it with grace.

So today, I'm grateful that I had that help and that my daughters know how to seek it when they need it. I celebrate how much all of us have grown with the help of compassionate professionals.

I'm wholeheartedly grateful for today's wonderful mood.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 21

Today I'm grateful for Crafternoons.

My eldest, Jeanne, spent the day with me today. First we worked. She helped prep the house for our Thanksgiving guests. Everything looks so nice now. We scrubbed, and dusted, and vacuumed, and swept, and wiped, and, well, you get the picture. It went so fast because she's a great hand, now that she's no longer "kid help." It zoomed by because we laugh a lot while we work.

After lunch, we spent the rest of the day in my Studio for a crafternoon. Jodie Skyped in and we all worked on some Thanksgiving decorations together. We're only a little tipsy from huffing the paint fumes.

In less than a week, we'll all be together. Baking. Laughing. Cooking. Laughing. Eating. Laughing. Playing games. Laughing. Crafting. Laughing. And did I say laughing? We'll have a bit of a slumber party on Thursday. On Friday we begin this year's gingerbread project.

There is no such thing as too many crafternoons with my girls.

Friday, November 20, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 20

I'm grateful for the days when I get out of the house by myself.

I'm such a homebody that, unless Dale and I are on a date or running errands, I rarely leave the house. Today I was out running errands and prepping for Thanksgiving. It's a bright, crisp autumn day here in north Idaho. People are exhibiting good moods. Two men held the door for me today - chivalry lives! The stores are beginning to decorate for Christmas - which I love.

I have a feeling of well-being. For that, I am grateful.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 19

I'm grateful for my Happy Light.

Light therapy helps me stave off the winter blues (S.A.D.) and helps me keep my Circadian rhythm functioning so that I get enough sleep. Adding light therapy to writing in my gratitude journal or coloring makes for a very restful hour. Time to jump into my day with both feet.

Design from "Kaleidoscope Wonders Color Art for Everyone" 
published by Leisure Arts

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 17

I'm grateful we made it through the wind storm without another tree falling through our roof or the power going out!

Monday, November 16, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 16

I'm grateful I've rediscovered coloring as a form of meditation.

I like meditation. I do. I like what it does to calm my head for a while. My problem is that I have trouble keeping still. My hands want to do things. Create. Photograph something. Crochet. Sew. Knit. My mind is more still when my hands are busy.

So I've taken to coloring again. I color within the lines. I color with pencils instead of crayons now. I color in beautiful books filled with lovely designs on the ideal paper to make the coloring smooth and relaxing.

Like a kid.
Who knew?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 15

I'm grateful that my daughters and I have officially begun our Thanksgiving plans.

This year we're celebrating at our house with our newly extended family - Julie's new in-laws. And we're adding in Dale's mom and brother, too. So dinner for 11 is in the works.

My daughters and I are organizing the internet way ... Google Docs keep all our ideas and lists at hand. Pinterest gives us decor and recipe ideas. Texting and Facebook provide real-time conversation between the four of us.

So it's travel, housing, baking, meals, decor, gingerbread decorating, and birthdays on the agenda -- so far!

It's awfully nice to have grown, talented daughters who are taking responsibility and adding to the fun.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 14

I'm grateful for lazy Saturday afternoons.

Kickin' back with my best guy
Eatin' junk food and buffalo wings (is that two different things?)
Watchin' a week's worth of our favorite comedy shows
Pokin' along with washin' and foldin' laundry from the trip
Snugglin' up in sweatshirts and afghans
Makin' jokes that only the two of us would laugh at
Dreamin' up our next adventure on the road (to Rathdrum)

(Perhaps only others from Post Falls will understand that joke)

Friday, November 13, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 13

Tonight I'm grateful for this little car and, most especially, its driver
who drove us and all our suitcases 2500 miles round trip to Monterey, CA and back.

Dale had a work conference and had me travel with him as his sidekick.
Being Dale's sidekick is my favorite role!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 12

Today I'm grateful I got to go geocaching with my GeoBuddies

We always look a little wild-eyed after finding a few caches.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 11

I'm grateful for beautiful objects around my home that remind me of my mom, Emily.

Long ago, a Fullerton, CA artist asked to have some paintings hung in my parents' pizza restaurant. This was my mom's favorite, so my dad bought it for her. After my parents died, this piece came to me. I love it because it looks like my favorite holiday - Thanksgiving, and because it was special to my mom.

That the artist's name is "Rose" makes me smile.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Monday, November 9, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 09

Today I'm grateful I've been able to watch YouTube videos all day long - guilt free!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 08

Today I'm grateful for computer games that keep me amused ... and for which I can get some crazy high scores.

This one's from Zap Da Bugs ... in which I killed more than two bugs every second!
Hey, I get my thrills where I can.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 07

Tonight I'm grateful for long hours in the convertible with Dale, ending in extraordinary sunsets.

[click for a larger image]

Friday, November 6, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 06

I'm grateful I've made plans to meet up with this girl soon!

Love our Jodie.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 05

Today I'm grateful for a long autumn.

Around here, we usually get our first snow before Halloween. But, I'm happy to say, not this year.

Today, the sky is gray, we've had rain off and on all day, and I hear there are snow flurries in the nearby mountains.

Through my window, I see this glorious tree in my neighbor's yard. Soon Nicky and her kids will be out with rakes. But for now, I get to enjoy the bright tree and it's skirt of fallen leaves.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 04

Today I'm grateful for hearth and home.

Twenty-eight years ago today, I had neither. I did have two toddlers. My marriage had just fallen apart due to my first husband's severe depression and alcohol abuse. After a night of terror, the girls and I moved into a women's shelter.

The shelter had just lost its supervisor, so we were alone in the creaky, drafty Victorian house. The three of us rattled around in it. With one baby on my hip and the other clinging to my leg, I read the notes taped to walls, bulletin boards, and cabinets. We found diapers, bedding and food. I made apple pancakes using government surplus canned goods.

We went outside in the chilly afternoon sun to rake leaves. I watched the girls toss them with joy, their giggles filling the backyard. Staying in the big white house was an adventure. As night washed over us, I bathed my babies in the oversized claw-foot bathtub, dried them off, and tucked them in for the night.

The shock of those weeks has worn off -- mostly. There are some movies that can instantly zip me back into those stupefying feelings of loss and abandonment and fear and failure.

This morning, those memories are remnants of a nightmare. I force myself to uncurl my body, beg my adrenalin-flooded brain to drain, and shake the flashbacks from my head.

Instead, I look around this peaceful home that Dale and I have created, feel the sun on my face, know that we are safe. I hold my husband's gaze, hear his reassuring words, and feel the benediction of his kisses on my forehead.

We are safe.
We are safe.
We are safe.

And for that I am truly grateful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 03

Today, the most important and supportive people in my life

  1. Dale
  2. Jeanne
  3. Julie
  4. Jeff
  5. Jodie
  6. Ken
  7. Susan
  8. Louise
  9. Vicki
  10. Lucy
  11. Debbie
  12. Mary Elizabeth
  13. RonDee
  14. Merita
  15. Joanne
To you all, I say Thank You!

Monday, November 2, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 02

Today I'm grateful for the concept of the Home Blessing.

"What's that?" you ask?

Well, some people would call it "housework." It's the cleaning and spiffying up that goes beyond daily tidying. Cleaning bathrooms, washing towels and sheets, scrubbing countertops, sweeping and mopping and vacuuming, fertilizing the plants, cleaning the pine needles off the deck and porch, dusting, gathering the trash from around the house, washing the door mats.

I've learned to look at this routine as a blessing rather than as drudgery. As I care for my home, I care for my family. At the start of each week, we all get a new beginning. The house looks tidy and smells nice. It feels cozy. It gives Dale a place to rest peacefully after working hard all day. It's my contribution to our family life. I have the skill and ability and time to give to those I love in this everyday way.

Mostly, it's a reminder of how nice it is to have a warm home, nice furnishings, and a place to gather in peace.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 01

I'm grateful for November, my favorite month of the year. It's the month I was born. The month two of my sisters and two of my brothers-in-law were born. The month my eldest daughter was born. The month of Thanksgiving.

It's a month of celebration!

So every year in November, I do 30 Days of Gratitude where I give thanks, out loud, in front of the world, for the gifts I've been given.

Today it begins.

I'm grateful that this morning I got to put away the Halloween decorations, and set out the Thanksgiving decorations.