Gratitude – the Linchpin to our Reality? Gratitude Experiment Day 18

I can honestly say that after doing this gratitude experiment for 18 days straight, my attitude is definitely different than before I started. I thought about this in the shower today.  (Actually that’s where most of my blog entry ideas start.)  I’m by no means some kind of transformed person all of a sudden.  But I can tell you that being grateful is enabling me to more effortlessly start with a positive reaction to things instead of jumping to a negative.  As a result, my clients have been easier to deal with, my family and life in general.

Don’t worry, a) I’m not going to give you any more detail about my personal hygiene and b) I’m not going to get all metaphysical on you.  However,  I’m going to go out on a limb here and give you some background as to how this works – how gratitude can affect you and the universe around you, through the law of attraction. Feel free to log out now if the new-ageness of this all sounds too ‘out there.’  But I challenge you to bear with me.

This concept really isn’t new at all.  And trust me, Oprah and The Secret did not discover this idea.  The law of attraction dates back to the early 1900s and has been studied by hundreds of scientists since.  Many books have been written about it and it is at the core of many other self-help concepts though often disguised by different buzzwords.

It boils down to this:  the belief that “like attracts like” and by focusing on positive thoughts (such as gratitude), you attract positive in your life.  Transversely, if you focus on negative thoughts (what you don’t have, what you want to change, what bugs you), you attract negative.  There is much more to it, but that’s it in a nutshell.  You can look at this (as many do) and say that it is easily explained by the theory that positive thinking makes you more motivated, more aware and thus more open to opportunities that present themselves.  Either way you look at it, positive results are still the outcome, so why fight it.

The concept is based on the belief that you are the creator of your reality.  As such, you are also the creator of what you think your limitations are (even though most of the time these are driven by outside influences, and often from parents who didn’t realize they were doing it).

For example, my mom used to joke that I was not good at math (not as mean as it sounds; thank goodness I rocked at Language Arts – or English as it was called before the world of political correctness). I remember this all the way back to fourth grade and it stuck with me.  And guess what I joke about all the time with people when I get stumped without a calculator?  I usually say “Sorry, I’m a Journalism major, we don’t do math.”  That always gets a chuckle, but what if I hadn’t been somewhat programmed to believe that?  I probably would not be a mathematician, that’s for sure.  But I bet I would have put more effort toward learning math related concepts for the many school years that followed.

As another example, let’s say I’m in a grumpy mood and focusing on something that really annoys me as I am opening an email from a client.  Do you think there might be a chance that my mindset could more easily allow me read into the short wording of our back and forth emails on a project and take them the wrong way?  You bet.  But if I am in a positive place (which is automatic if you are staying aware of your thoughts and focusing on gratitude), positive results will most likely ensue.

The absolute best documented and most famous example of the law of attraction is the placebo effect, commonly used in medication trials. Even in expertly designed double-blinded studies, more positive results are almost always documented from patients who expect something positive to happen compared to the ones who didn’t.

Oh, and have you ever heard someone say that they have the worst luck ever?  I cringe when I hear it even though I used to say it.  Sometimes you’ll hear someone list all the bad things that have happened to them related to their car or their work, etc.  And it really does seem like one thing after another happens to them on the same day or in the same month.  That is the perfect example of focusing on the negative and producing more negative results.  Kind of like a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Trust me, I’ve done it.

So how does gratitude fit into all of this?  Simply put, being thankful for what you have gets you to the place of willingness to let new things come into your life (instead of Jedi-mind tricking yourself out of things with negative thoughts). Thus, gratitude helps you feel positive so you can attract more positive. (Translation: If you have a fender bender, you focus on not being hurt or worse, rather than the damage to your car or the stupidity or lack of insurance of the other driver.)

There is much more to it (visualization, asking the Universe for what you want vs what you don’t want, etc.).  Motivational speakers like Wayne Dyer swear by it (and have made millions discussing it).   One of my favorite books of all time is The Power of Intention which helped shift my thinking several years ago at a time when I really needed a shift in mindset.  (I contributed to Wayne’s millions and have bought this book for many people.  Tip:  all of his other books are just a different spin on this same concept).

So however you want to look at it, it’s certainly worth thinking about.  It works.

So, as cheesy and sentimental as it sounds, today I am grateful for gratitude, an open mind and the world of positive outcomes that are possible.

It Takes a Village. Gratitude Experiment: Day 17

Today I am grateful for all the support, follows and likes from so many wonderful people out there in this blogging universe.

I’m liking the blog world and discovering more about it each day.  It’s a great way to make connections on a new level.

The fact that I made a “public” proclamation of 100 days of gratitude blogging was genius.  I owe it to my subconscious mind which is much more upfront about what a procrastinator I am than my conscious self.  Because of this, I have to do it. No excuses. Love that.

Some days of blogging are harder than others and some days it all flows more easily, but all are enjoyable and more therapeutic than I would have ever imagined.

Thank you for reading and following!

Not forgotten. Gratitude Experiment: Day 16

I raced to get home after grocery shopping this morning to arrive before my step dad dropped off my Mom.   This is part of our routine.  He drops my mom off on the way to his weekly doctor appointment and I watch her for a while.   My mom has Alzheimer’s and is only 71.

Mentally, I have to gear up for visits with my mom, even though it has gotten easier since they’ve lived nearby for the last year and a half.   I used to be mentally drained for at least a day or so after every visit.  Sometimes it still really takes it out of me to see her this way while knowing that there is much worse to come.  But as I have worked through my grieving process for my old mom, I have learned to try to find a bit of  joy in our moments together as I search for her old self within her.  I like to think maybe my real mom is in there and it will just take me doing or saying just the right thing to get a piece of her back, even if just for a minute.

I looked out the door as she was getting out of the minivan. He usually lets her come up the sidewalk by herself .  Thank God she had her teeth in — my stomach sank at first when I couldn’t tell. Any casual observer would  think nothing of this.  Until she gets to my door.  She reaches for the door, then she stops and stares at me blankly.  Then today, in response to my hello, she said “hi” in her familiar mom tone.  (Hearing her old voice at the beginning of a conversation used to make me think maybe I just dreamed this whole thing.) At any rate, this was much better than her usual shoulder shrug.  I breathed a sigh of content.

As I walked her into the kitchen, the family history notebook she put together years ago was on the counter.  Secretly I was hoping she would recognize it. Maybe it could be the spark for today?  She spent a few years compiling it about 20 years ago and it is ever so thorough, with ancestry charts, old letters my grandfather sent home from WWII, newspaper articles, birth announcements and the like.

I point to it and explain to her that it’s the family history book that she put together years ago.  I told her how helpful it was for my youngest son’s school project last night.  She looked at me puzzled and said, “I did?”  I pointed out photos of her parents and her sister and she gave me a look that was both puzzled and blank at the same time. But I wasn’t giving up.

I motioned for her to sit down as I helped her understand the chair.  I let her thumb through some pages on her own. Maybe the pages would feel familiar?  I showed her the  photos of all of the houses her parents had lived in.  Photos have worked a little before. I narrated as I walked her though the book .  She was more intent than I have seen her in months.  I told her that I would be right back and I ran upstairs to answer a quick email for work.  I do this occasionally with ears perked in case she opens the front door in search of my step dad.  She is always looking for him when she is at my house, as though she thinks he’s in the house or just outside. She is much more at ease when he is at her side, which warms my heart like an old love story.

I started getting anxious and quickly jogged down the stairs, worried that I had taken too long.  To my surprise, I found her still sitting in same spot very intently thumbing through each page over and over and back and forth.  She looked content and engaged.

When my step dad arrived to pick her up she pointed at the picture of herself in a newspaper article when she was one of the beauty queens at her college.  She told him “That’s me” and smiled her cute little smile.

My heart sang.

On the second page of this 200 page family history notebook of my mother’s ancestry, it reads:

“I wish I had been more interested in what my parents told me about their families and early years.  I put this history together in the hopes that the knowledge and memories I have would not be forgotten.”

And for this I am grateful.

36 Windows Open and Counting. Confessions from an Extreme Multitasker. Gratitude Experiment: Day 15.

This is a definite trend with me.  Taking multitasking to an almost dangerous level.  It gives me some kind of adrenaline rush I think.  Maybe I should be worried?

I just counted and I have 36 windows open on my computer right now.  At least nine pertaining to work including several Word docs and Adobe PDF files, plus a few blogs that I follow, Amazon and Steve Madden shopping carts open with things I am on the fence about,  and several emails that I don’t want to forget to act on –  about work projects, writing, kid school stuff, kid sports stuff, you name it.  Oh, and I’ve got a painting behind me that I’m working on every time I walk by it.

My family has a feeling this is what the inside of my brain looks like.  And it frightens them. My husband jokes that he will never have memory issues as long as he’s married to me because I change topics so much it keeps him on his toes.  And my boys love to make fun of me for the random unrelated comments I make all the time, out of nowhere.  I’m so very glad that I give them such great material to work with on a daily basis.  I should charge them for it.

Any friend of mine will tell you that every time they walk in my house the furniture is rearranged or a different wall is painted or the chairs are recovered.  Something will be different.  They’re probably checking to see if I switched my kids out for ones who like me more. Maybe it’s a condition, keeping things moving and changing and happening. I’m not sure but it would make great fodder for reality television.  “Brain Seize. Extreme Multi-tasking” — new this fall on TLC.

Speaking of extreme, I’ve also been known to take my multitasking feats to extreme levels.  Many will tell you (as they choke back their laughter) that I’m not the most graceful person and especially when I’m multitasking. I’ve been known to trip and fall and bruise myself  regularly.  Usually it happens when I am watering the plants, talking on the phone, jotting a note down and checking my email on my phone or something — all at the same time while balancing with one foot on a step stool.  This must be inherited because my sister was the exact same way.  My dad tells me I just like to get things done fast.  He also regularly tells me that I need to slow down.

And as a true stacker type personality (if you are one you hear me), I must have these things visible – windows, files, papers, notes, husband, kids, you name it.  Things on most days are orderly at some level and grouped by category, but they’ve got to be out where I can see them.

The average person would find either of my desktops – physical or computer – enough to drive them mad.  And being around me when I’m on a multi-tasking high just plain exhausting.

So today I am grateful that my computer hasn’t shut down on me.  And my family hasn’t locked me up.

Iron Stomach Part 352. Gratitude Experiment Continues: Day 14

I’m convinced that my dog Piper has opposable thumbs which are retractable and only come out when we aren’t looking. Wolverine style. We’ve joked for a while about how she is a monkey dog, but I’m starting to think there may be something to it.

She’s a 25 pound crazy looking red mini golden doodle who is only 19″ tall, but her legs are quite long. And she can pull things off the counter from quite far back using a cupping technique with her paw. For real. And clearly, her grip is quite good.  I’m thinking she’s going to borrow my car one of these days.

On a regular basis I find remnants of her ‘counter surfing’ (which apparently this breed is known for) under our dining room table or in the backyard in a certain spot – her trophy areas. Tupperware lids, cottage cheese containers, butter tubs, packages from full bags of bread or bagels, cream cheese – you name it.   She’s even gotten plates off the counter and they’ve survived thanks to our kitchen rug. All I have to do is walk away from the kitchen counter for an instant and she goes in for the kill. She does this so stealthily that I usually think I’ve put whatever it is away already in the fridge or pantry. (I’m going to refrain from making an Alzheimer’s joke here since it ain’t no joke in this house.)

Last night I accidentally left the Cambozola cheese wedge (good size) in it’s wrapper on the counter after cutting a bit of it off to set out with crackers and grapes. Again, she came in so fast after I turned away that I didn’t think about it. Plus I knew I had pushed it almost to the back of the counter. So when it wasn’t on the counter when I returned five minutes later I figured someone had put it away.  Nope.

Before bed last night we found the complete empty Cambozola cheese wrapper (as well as a full size TRAY someone used to eat dessert on- not sure how she pulled that one off) under the dining room table.  Note: this cheese is a triple cream blue-veined cheese. And she ate a lot of it. A recipe for a gnarly dog mess for most dogs.

I heard a couple screams from the kids before bedtime when they caught a whiff of her breath. One son even offered to bathe her, it was that bad. It was ugly.  But amazingly, she never got sick.  We know from experience when she ate a full tub of mink oil shoe conditioner that she has an iron stomach. (That episode involved a very expensive vet call.)

And this time was no exception.  For this, we are grateful.

Luv-it jeans and dirty laundry. Gratitude Experiment: Day 13

I count myself as one of the lucky few to have so many friendships that date back to my Luv-it jeans days.  In 3rd through 5th grades I think I had a pair with roller skates and pair with the word “Disco” on them.  And friends from my junior high days when I wore guess jeans with zippers on the ankles, and high school friends who have proof of my insanely over sized bangs and blue eye shadow.  And college friends who remember my sound effect party tricks and hand sewn wrap skirts, and friends from my early work days when I wore purple power suits and panty hose (see earlier post).

These are people who know my darkest sides, my dirtiest of laundry, and still love me.  They’ve seen me do and say some stupid things and they’ve forgiven me.  And they call me on the carpet when it’s needed.

I can call on them in my darkest or brightest hours and they are there to support me or slap me out of it.  Sometimes they even call right when I need them to, using their old friend telepathic powers.  And when they need me to do the same, I am honored to be there for them, in sickness and in health.

They believe in me more than I believe in myself sometimes.  They can snap me out of any funk.  And cheer me on to do things greater than I could have imagined on my own.

For these old pals I am forever grateful.

Never say never. Gratitude Experiment: Day 12

Sometimes it’s the people who you would never expect to surprise you that do just that.  I’m sure I used the word never more than a few times in high school, during my self-focused adolescent furies.  Mostly about my stepdad and how I thought we would never get along, much less like each other.

My stepdad entered my life in the early eighties. I was part of the package when he married my Mom – the youngest kid still at home, very bummed that big sis had moved on and left me there stranded. I think my stepdad and I both started counting down the days until my exit as soon as the vows were exchanged.

I wasn’t his biggest fan in those days and he certainly wasn’t mine (I shudder at the thought of what a jerk I probably was). For the most part, we managed to mutually exist in order to keep the peace for my Mom. I didn’t touch his stuff and he didn’t touch mine.  My mother had to pay the price if we did. And I’m still convinced that my cat’s disappearance wasn’t as random as it was said to be.  She had a way of throwing up on his bright white Buick Regal with a navy blue vinyl top at precisely the moment he finished waxing it and walked away.   I would have high-fived her little white paw if I could have.

Those were not fun days. And luckily I ended up with a boyfriend who was equally as thrilled about his new step parent situation as I was. It was a perfect match at the time and it got us both through high school relatively unscathed.

As the years went on and my mother faced her own struggles in the face of losing my sister, my stepdad was there for her like no other. I gained a whole new level of respect for this man and for the size of his heart as he stood beside her. Over the years we became part of team Mom, working together instead of against each other in support of my fragile and hard to understand mother.

Her Alzheimer’s diagnosis many years later launched our improved relationship into overdrive, forming a strategic alliance with the strength of a small army.  At my suggestion, we moved them closer to me so that I could help, and he has taken my lead on just about everything.  I try not to let that thought keep me up at night as I don’t feel grown up enough yet myself to have someone look to me for so many decisions.

I never understood what my mom saw in him back in the day, but now it’s quite clear. I witness it every time I help out with my Mom. Just Friday I noticed he had to remove all of the knobs from the stove.  He’s had to install all key locks on the doors.  And he’s had to get good at hiding things he doesn’t want to disappear (we’ve learned the hard way). He has adjusted to their new life without a complaint.

This man — who had most likely never cooked meals before, never cleaned a house, never handled organizing doctor and vet appointments, probably never dressed or bathed his own kids — now does all of these things for my mother.  I am in awe of his grace and strength.  We have a silent, understood mutual appreciation for each other.  We recognize each other’s capes and the irony of our new found closeness.

They say hard times can make people shine brighter than any star.   And for this I am grateful.

Persistence pays, if you can stomach it. Gratitude Experiment: Day 11

I think I’m an addict. Addicted to my XM radio news channels that is. I love my XM radio news channels almost more than salty snacks, crème brulee and dry martinis (clearly my dietary discipline is hard core).

So when my free six month trial subscription ended today and my channels were replaced with repetitive XM radio promotions, I was horrified. Almost like I had run out of water. Not proud of it, but it’s the truth.
I have been through this process before, and I dreaded the thought of making the XM activation call. I had to gear up. I learned from my days of disciplined budgeting that persistence pays when you want a lower rate for almost anything. If you can stomach it, that is. So I mustered up all the patience and fortitude that I could and I started the call in the car this morning. I knew this was going to take a while so I settled into the thought of it.

After a good ten minutes of strong accent assimilation and phone number/name combination spellings and respellings, Ms. XM was able to locate my account. We were on a roll. The monthly subscription “special savings” offer of the day she found ‘just for special customers like me’ was $18.99 per month. I knew this was a jump from my last subscription so I asked her to pull up my previous subscription and tell me how it compared. But, she explained, it wasn’t an active account. I pressed on, explaining that I realized it wasn’t active but I wanted to know what I previously paid (clearly this wasn’t part of her script and I think her head spun).

After respelling my name another fourteen times with ” C as in cat, D as in dog, B as in brain damage” she was able to locate it and tell me the lower amount I used to pay, very quickly moving on to the new deal of the day which was several dollars higher. She moved on briskly, pretending like I didn’t just learn that information. (By this time she was most likely reading a screen from her supervisor to “Move on. Clock is ticking. CLOSE THE SALE”). I wouldn’t budge and she knew it. I almost felt sorry for her as a robotic “does not compute, does not compute….” went through my mind.

After another sigh of desperation from Ms. XM, she started quickly typing again to look for even more extra special savings just for me today. (I picture her pressing a button to play sound bite of recorded clicking so it sounds like she is searching diligently.) She “found” a $17.99/month plan. I told her I only listened to three channels and that still wouldn’t work. She sighed with exasperation and asked me to respell the channel names several times more, thinking that would cause me to throw in the towel and accept the terms out of exhaustion. I battled on.

Next I got it to $14.99 for the extra special deal of the day – again ‘just for me’. She said it with a wince in her voice as if she knew I wasn’t going to quit. And by this time I think she had another supervisor message on her screen telling her “The time/revenue ratio on this call is REDLINING. GET IT DONE.”

Then she plays the prerecorded clicking sound bite some more and finds a $9.99 special per month (at the end of the script). I pushed for a prepay option that would bring it down further. (By now there are probably just exclamation points on her screen from her supervisor, “ABORT ABORT. GIVE HER ANYTHING.”

I ended up at $7.09 per month, prepaid at an annual amount. After taking my credit card she slipped in that this rate would only be for a year. Then after repeating my credit card number, she quickly and casually mentioned that I would be authorizing a recurring payment (gotta give a girl credit for determination). I let her know that I would like to be notified each year before renewals (so I can do all this fun over again).

By this time, she relinquished all hope. I had won. We both needed a nap. I think it was 30 minutes later but still, I felt that I had triumphed.

Tip of the day: Know that this only works only if a) the Wall Street Journal has been reporting that the company’s business model is in trouble and 2) for cable and phone companies you must have the details of the specific promotional offering of the competitor at the ready. And it certainly helps if you can mention that your spouse likes the competitor and wants you to switch.

But have the Tums at the ready, you’ve got to be able to stomach it. And today I was. For this small victory, I am grateful.

Give me a dam break. (And it’s not what you’re thinking.) Gratitude experiment: Day 10

I had an interesting conversation with someone today about exploring new interests and skills and what compels one to do so. I find it strange that I have decided to get serious about real writing and also learn to paint this year when both of these things have been on my bucket list for years with little to no action on my part.  Why would I would pick a phase of my life when I have so many stressful events happening to get serious about two pretty big line items on my list?  The timing just seems odd.

Is it because I really am less content with the work I do for a living?  Lately it does seem kind of silly and mundane. And I have a really hard time getting as fired up about things as much as my clients do. Actually as much as I used to back when I donned the corporate cloak and meeting an ad deadline was worth ruining everyone’s weekend for.

Or is it because I’ve read enough self help and positive energy books to fill a library (and provide much amusement to my relatives with my new age philosophies and hypotheses).  I truly am a firm believer in the laws of attraction and the power of visualization.

Maybe it’s because I keep getting reminded of how short life can be.  Or worse…what if I’m falling in line with the cliche of the the middle aged woman who wants to “find” herself? Luckily I’m not dressing like a hippie just yet and I can’t stand the smell of patchouli.

It’s probably more likely that it’s some form of self-soothing to escape and to find a different kind of release.

I’m really not sure what the answer is. But it does makes me wonder what else is possible and what could happen if I decided to open the throttle a little more.  Maybe I’ve had it on halfway for a while – following the path of least resistance and what’s expected. I think we all fall into that trap more often than we’d like to admit – building dams of resistance that maybe just have to break at some point.  The result can transform the slow trickling stream of content into a swollen river of possibilities.

One thing is for certain.  It feels right.  And for that, I’m grateful.

Coming Clean. Gratitude Experiment: Day 9.

Okay I have to come clean on something.  I’m starting to get a complex that every day I need to have something profound to write about on my blog.  However, I’m finding that it’s not always that easy.  And I have enough self imposed guilt trips that I am not going to feel guilty about this too.

So, some days I will just list a few things that I am grateful for while ideas for more profound posts percolate in my head (I promise some good ones are forming up there).

– I am grateful today that my family is safe and healthy – I have heard lots of stories this week in our community of those not as fortunate and they are in my thoughts.

-Also thankful that I have a career that is flexible with nice clients (although I really need to quit procrastinating on my work projects – this blog is way too good of a procrastination tool.)

-And grateful for my dear husband, who puts up with all my bad habits and neuroses, making him  the most patient and kind human being on the planet.  For real.

***Can you think of one or two things that you are grateful for right now?  Think about writing just one to three things down each night before you go to sleep on a notepad you keep under your bed.  Nothing fancy required.  Keep a pen by your clock to remind you.

Studies show that those who practice daily gratitude feel better about their lives overall, are more optimistic about the future, and report fewer health problems. Studies have also shown that those using daily gratitude  get more sleep.  With less time spent awake before falling asleep, they end up feeling more refreshed in the morning — and who couldn’t use that?  Other studies show that gratitude can even have a protective effect against heart attacks.

And… it’s cheaper than therapy by a long shot.  Try it tonight. You will thank me later, I promise.

Invisible Capes Unite. Gratitude Experiment: Day 8

I’ve seen these words about beautiful people crop up lately and I truly appreciate what they say.  It is this very concept that I’ve thought about for years – mine involves invisible capes.

We’ve all had friends or loved ones who have experienced traumatic loss or hardships.  And as most of us know, issues like death or divorce or hardship are truly uncomfortable concepts.  But there are those who really just don’t know how to process it at all.  In turn, many times they shy away from supporting those in need of support for fear of saying the wrong thing or being uncomfortable.  Or they put it on their list, and get busy and forget.

The remaining population, in my estimation, are usually members of the invisible cape club.  They wear an invisible cape which they have earned from evolving through whatever loss or hardship they have endured .  A cape  that can only be detected by others who are wearing one.  A cape that enables them to sense when someone might need support, and to know what to do and what to say (or at least be willing to take a shot at it).  A cape that makes them nicer to the Walmart checker who accidentally overcharges them or the waiter with the late food, at least most of the time. A cape that makes them a little more human.

Not all who experience  loss or hardship are lucky enough to get a cape.  Only those who have learned from their hardships, evolved as humans, and deepened their compassion for the human condition.   We all shut down after tragic events, it’s expected.  But those who choose to make it all the way over to the other side get the cape.

They’ve put aside anger and resentment (and I know from experience that part isn’t always easy).  And they’ve learned that each of us has a choice of what and how we want to be every minute of every day.  And that there is no time like the present to make positive changes, or to write that letter or pick up the phone.  Or volunteer for that committee they’ve been thinking about for years. Because life will always be busy and as a previous post of mine discussed, if it’s important, you make it happen.  Plain and simple.

I’ve made a new friend who has a very sick sister who she may have to lose to Cancer soon. She has the cape and we talk the cape language.  My niece who lost her mother at age 12  has a cape. My friend who lost her father has one, and my dad who lost his brother at a young age and then his own daughter has a big cape which offers me protection when I need it.   Many of my friends who have suffered through painful divorces have capes.  And my friend who lost his wife and whose children lost their mother to Cancer have them (the kids have junior capes for now but they are just as powerful).

Also my dear friend who suffers depression and my neighbor who lost her husband after years of suffering, but whose beautiful smile greets me each day.  And my second Mom (my stepmom) who is one of the most selfless people I know who has herself experienced pain and loss.   She is the epitomy of a card carrying cape member – a woman who sets aside her needs for others more times than I can count.  Who forgives, who doesn’t get angry or feel sorry for herself – who is there for you when you need her before you knew you needed her.   This is all part of the cape language.

Cape members can usually spot each other or at least recognize others of their kind when real conversations can take place.  And once you experience cape language, it’s hard to go back to surface level conversation and falsities except in short doses.  Afterall, we have to recharge our capes at some point.

Today I am ever so thankful for my cape.  And I think I’m going to throw it in the wash more often and remind myself of its powers.

Kids survive first day back to school unscathed. Gratitude Experiment: Day 7

I am grateful that my kids had a seemingly great first day back to school with no complaints.  Instead they told some pretty funny stories on the ride home.  And even mentioned a few teachers they thought they were going to really like.  I’ll take that, plus a bag of chips, any day.

It was hard to get up at 5:45 am after a lazy summer, but we conquered.  For that I am thankful!

Stick figure decals as sticky notes?


This morning, on my first of 459 round-trips to and from my 8th and 10th graders’ schools for the coming year (different schools/different start times/bus route eliminated despite the impact of additional exhaust fumage multiplied by God knows how many families), I noticed a common sight.

It always provides driving entertainment as I see the many variations on the theme. And it is certainly not uncommon in my corner of the universe where my realtor told me people hock their wedding rings to move into this district with such highly rated public schools.  It was a back window decal on an SUV – taking up a large portion of the lower half of the window – with what appeared to be two parent stick figures (perhaps with career themed attire), three or four kid stick figures (with what looked like their respective sports apparatus) and what looked like a dog (not sure if he was holding a regular collar or harness to signal his preference).

I know there is a market out there for these stickers since I even saw a storm trooper version the other day.  And come to think of it, maybe they are a crime preventative measure (what car thief would be so bold as to take a large, active family’s mode of bulk transportation?).  And they do keep me amused on my routine jaunts to and fro.  But I think maybe I’ve finally figured out the real reason for them.

They seem to often depict larger families with three or more children  – all with different sports apparatus.  So maybe the real reason people have these stick figure decals is so that they can remember which kid plays what sport?  Or how high to count before they close the car door? Something to think about.

Note:  no stick figure decals were harmed in the writing of this post.

Back to school is a mixed bag. Gratitude experiment: day 6

Should I feel guilty for being grateful that school starts tomorrow? Everyone I have seen all month has lamented the end of summer.  My guilt is kind of a mute point since my mother was Catholic before she married my dad and 100% of her Catholic guilt was passed directly down to me.  If there is something to feel guilty about, I probably do.  So that’s settled.

On one hand, I am sad that summer flew by so quickly which means the kids are growing up far too fast.  And that our Florida trip was foiled by tropical storm Debbie.  And that we weren’t able to make our summer pilgrimage to Oklahoma to see family and the lake.  But on the other hand I am just plain relieved to get back to a regular schedule and routine.  And to get things back to some semblance of normal, whatever that is.

It has been a hectic and rough summer for our family.  Strike that – it has been an exhausting summer. Post concussion months for my oldest son were peppered with bad choices resulting from low self esteem and depression after being pulled from his sport in April and not released to play any sports all summer.  I’ve never seen him so down on himself  as these past months and felt so helpless at the same time.  The thought of it rattled in my head like a diesel engine many of these summer nights.

My younger son seemed to know it was best to take cover as the various storms erupted in our household these past few months, the poor guy.  I’m sure he’ll be in therapy over it when he is an adult.  Maybe we can get a family discount.  I wasn’t able to help out with my mom (who has Alzheimer’s in a big way) nearly as much as usual.  And my husband has had a less than fun summer at work.  All of this has helped fuel the idling diesel in my mind.

I have been the lifeguard of the group, throwing life preservers hither and yawn, only to quickly reel them back for relaunch.   But even as a weary lifeguard, I am starting to see past the rough waters.  I am grateful that these last couple of weeks have seemed more like our old life.  And that my oldest son’s sly smile is making a return, which sends a ripple effect of relief throughout the house.

So there you have it, I am ready for the close of summer and to move on to smoother sailing.  In fact, hot damn and hallelujah, let the school bell ring.