You Are My Thanksgiving

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For best-friendship, in sickness and in health. For hand-holding and whispered prayers every morning. For thinking of a thousand, thousand ways to love. And then a thousand more.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For serving your country.

For your integrity, intelligence, and honor.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For calling. For texting. For coming home on time. For staying safe. For your tenderness with a mother who worries too much, who loves too much, who’s too sensitive, and too serious … and too, too.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For turning two into four. For your humor and your talents and your lighter way of looking at life. For being where you were needed … in the moments you were needed most.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For driving long distances to be family.

For being steady and true.

For your care and concern.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For soups and warm pumpkin bread. For listening. For understanding and knowing and hoping and wishing. For the sharing of yourself and your family, time after time.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For brownies on a Friday and flowerpots full of bright yellow mums.

For picking up right where I left off.

For teamwork.

For laughter.

For dancing girl emojis.

For love. One love.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For the many ways you inspire and motivate me. For helping me believe I can.

You are my Thanksgiving.

For reading what I write. For commenting.

For reaching, teaching, listening, and encouraging.

For hoping right alongside me.

One hopeful year after another.

You are my Thanksgiving.

 

Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom

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Acceptance.

Courage.

Wisdom.

I first became acquainted with the Serenity Prayer as a young girl. Alcoholism lived through and through my family, and according to information I’ve just found, the Serenity Prayer was adopted as a kind of anthem prayer of Alcoholics Anonymous in 1942.

My grandmother sometimes brought me to the Al-Anon meetings she attended, and I remember my mother embroidering the prayer, framing it, and hanging it front and center in our home – the first thing you saw when you walked in the door.

Funny how I remember a detail like that. Just now.

Probably because it’s now I need it most.

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.
Amen.

There’s no doubt times are tough. For many of us. And for as many reasons as there are people. Your reasons may not be mine, nor the reverse, and perhaps we share some common troubled ground.

But I’m hanging my hope for today and tomorrow on that prayer. On faith. On hope. As best I can, as much as I can, for as long as I can.

I will begin with acceptance, moving forward, and saving all my energy for whatever action is needed. I’ll find the courage to act when I can and and however I should, all the while searching for the signs which direct me to that pathway to peace – fairly certain I’ll be pointed in the right directions as need be. I trust in my own wisdom and the collective wisdom of those I respect, honor, and look up to.

Here’s some suggestions for living out the Serenity Prayer in our every day:

  • Do normal things. One way to firmly plant my feet on the ground at times of trouble is to find comfort and courage in the normal. Change the sheets. Respond to student journals. Bring the recycling to the curb. All regular. All routine. All necessary.
  • Restore order. When I feel anxious, stressed, or like the world’s spinning out of control, I look for ways to restore order in my world. This week that means cleaning out the linen closet and reorganizing the pantry shelves which somehow – as I’ve been preoccupied with other things – have taken on a life of their own. Side note: I’m all set with confectioners’ sugar for a good long while.
  • Alternate self-care with other-care.  Now’s the time to be gentle with ourselves and others. Be on the lookout for ways to be kind, tender, and nurturing. Tough times invariably bring out the very best of us, but we need to be well-rested, well-fed, and emotionally, physically, and spiritually healthy enough to be so. Remember to laugh. It’s no accident our comedians are the very first to help us sort through our feelings by bringing us a laugh.
  • Look for opportunities to help.  Because they’re out there.

I’m remembering Mr. Fred Rogers who’s quoted as follows:

“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.” – Fred Rogers

When my family, students, and community members look around, I want them to                  see me as one of those helpers.

  • Share.  Your thoughts. Your fears, worries, hopes, and gratitude. Share of yourself. Your resources. Your inspiration. Your ideas. And dreams. Now, more than ever, is the time to reach out to others. We are not alone.

I started this blog as my personal reminder and an invitation to whomever reads … to hope – year after year. I remain committed to that hope – in what’s left of this year, and the next, and the one after that.

Together, we can.

 

On Taking a Decorating Risk

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It’s almost always impossible for me to make a decision.

I can think on my feet when I need to, but almost everything else requires an endless amount of back and forth consideration.

I think I’m afraid of making a mistake. Also, I take myself way too seriously.

I’m not much of a risk taker.

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vintage wooden shoe forms

Which is why it’s a little surprising that I would both conceive of and execute an off-the-wall change in our family’s main living area. All. In. One. Week.

Especially a change involving – of all things – black paint.

I’ve loved the bookshelves and cabinetry flanking either side of our family room fireplace from day one when we spotted our for sale townhouse online.

I style and restyle them seasonally. It usually takes me a few days’ worth of fussing and fidgeting around with stuff to get these shelves looking the way I like. Simple. A little minimal, I think. And prettied.

But last Sunday, I noticed the white back wall of the shelves seemed to go on and on and on. Each individual shelf felt like a box leading into some sort of white neverland of eternity.

Yawn.

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before

I needed some drama.

What if?

What if I painted the back wall … black?

Fast forward six days and a trip to Lowes for a quart of HGTV Home/Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black.

Some decisions are best made quickly before I change my mind. Still, I checked Pinterest before making the final commitment and didn’t find a single pin like what I had in mind. Not one. But, I reasoned, I could always repaint.

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after

But I don’t think I will. Repaint, I mean.

Because I love it.

It looks exactly how I imagined it would look.

An easy and inexpensive change. Simple. Classic.  And dramatic.

Maybe I should take risks more often.

Starting Now

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I know I can squeeze in a half hour of writing time.

If I start now.

That’s really key. Starting now. And it works with anything you might need or want to do, anyone you might need or want to become.

Starting now works with chores, large and small. Exercise. Diet. An earlier bedtime. Better skincare. And cooking dinner.

Starting now moves my pieces around the game board, so I show some forward movement and overcome my own personal inertia.

I sit with my dreams far too long. So starting now gets me up and on with it already, making a shift from … I don’t think I can …  to just watch me.  Stubborn petulance can be one of my biggest motivators. My husband thinks its cute.

If I start now, I’m choosing. I’m active. Successful or not, pass or fail, win … lose … or tie. But if I wait, one more minute’s passed along with another opportunity.

(And who knows what I’ll have to say to myself about that?)

So.

Are you ready? Are you ready to start now?

I am.

Taking Steps

dsc_0823-2According to the Fitbit strapped around my wrist, I logged close to 7,000 steps by the end of yesterday’s work day.

It’s interesting to think about how many different kinds of steps there are: Long, purposeful strides. Short steps bridging space between this person and the next.  Steps on stairs, up and down, and those errand kinds of steps taken to get things done.  I’ve noticed how my steps slow a bit when my thoughts stall and I don’t quite remember where I was going, or why.

dsc_0725-2Home steps aren’t all that different than work steps, really. Back and forth between the dishwasher and the cupboard, the stove and the fridge, down the stairs to the laundry room, and back up the stairs to fold. Steps walked in circles to pick up, put away,  and tidy. My very favorite home steps: my husband washes dishes  and I dry, walking and talking and loving right there at the sink.

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I take slippered steps down the stairs in the morning to my coffee pot and my writing. I’m ready to take on the world and tackle the list when I lace up my sneakers. I wonder about the steps my sons’ shoes have taken as I curse where they’ve been left and I trip over them, one more time.

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The very best kind of steps are thoughtful and slow. Meandering steps. Steps and stops. Ellipses steps … like pauses … taken almost always on a Sunday with my camera in hand. Smiling steps.  Hopeful steps. Happy steps.

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Roles

2016-10-07-20-36-34I’ve been a teacher this week. A wife. A mother. A daughter, sister, and friend. I’ve also been an insurance claim reviewer, a bill payer, and some sort of  unpaid hybrid of an Uber driver and chauffeur. I’ve been both problem solver and whiner. The very best of me and only a shadow of what I should be.

So it’s been a regular week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about how I choose to spend my time. In the scheduled blocks of my day, much of my time is spoken for, but what I’m becoming gradually more aware of is the wide open and unspoken for spaces in the daybook.

So far this season, I’ve not dropped any balls, but I sure do get tired of juggling. Ask anyone what I complain about most and, presidential election aside, they’d likely say my consistent go-to is lack of time. I rush and stress and hurry and power walk through the hallways of my day until the sun sets, and it’s time for David Muir on World News Tonight.

From Friday’s perspective, I look back over the week and see how far I’ve walked to make it to this point in time. What I’m questioning, however, is not how far I’ve traveled but rather, how much I remember about the journey. What stands out as the moment to be most savored? In all seven days from one Friday to the next, what felt most important?

There’s a bit of rain outside this morning, and it’s peppering my thoughts,  We’re in the midst of a severe drought, so the rain is welcome. I’ve been so worried about our well. I hear the splash and splat, the growing and then easing of intensity, the gathering water spilling from the roof and trees,  I’m thinking about the leaves. How many will hang on though the storm and how many will fall?

It’s Friday morning. And today, I’ll be a teacher. A wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. But I’ll also be a woman who listens to the sound of rain. A woman who thoughtfully chooses how to live better in those wide, open spaces. I’ll be a slow breather, a daydreamer, and a watcher of leaves.

And I hope someone will ask me about the moment most savored. Because today, I’ll know how to answer.

A Good Hair Day

It’s a good hair day.

Not only that, but the dress didn’t need ironing, I found matching shoes, and the bed got made. Lunches did too.

All feels right with the world.

I know.

You’re waiting for the shoe to drop. You’re waiting for … the rest of the story.

Don’t wait. Because it’s all good.

2016-10-02-03-09-41Some days – especially after sleeping – I wake up feeling so powerful and strong and confident … and put together, I’m pretty sure I could run for president. And win.

(Especially this election year.)

I notice these days when they come along. Revel. Celebrate. And rejoice.

Happy Tuesday.

Be glad in it.