Better Luck Next Time Pinterest. Gratitude Experiment: Day 41

Okay, so I’m trying to figure out this Pinterest thing.  I’ve got an account and a few bulletin boards.  I don’t use it much at all, but I look around on it every now and then.

I did create a board for how I want my funeral to play out.  Can’t decide if that’s too weird.  I’ve got the perfect song to be played, and poem to be read and flowers for my attendee’s viewing pleasure.  It’s possibly a little darker than your average Pinterest board about decorating or cooking, but you’d be surprised how many “repins” I’ve gotten on that board.

And after a few months of minimal use I start to notice that, just as with most social networking these days, the site was clearly harvesting my user habits for a profit somehow.

So I wasn’t surprised the other day I got an email addressed to me by name from Pinterest. The subject line read “Hi, Pinterest has some great boards that would be of interest to you!” Cool, I think. My ADD personality doesn’t want to really meet my deadlines today, so I’ll open the email and check out these boards they picked out just for me.

First suggested board — “Tattoos.” Uh, nothing against them, but I’m much too fickle to be able to commit to any one tattoo image for a whole week, much less a lifetime.  And the thought of having one stretched over my eighty year old skin someday makes me throw up in my mouth a little. So I really don’t want to spend time looking at pictures of  tattoos people have gotten of their dogs, girlfriends and photography equipment. Who knew camera tattoos were so popular?

Next up –“Birds.”  If you’ve read my post that talked about birds, you know that I am pretty much terrified of them.  I’ll never forget being dive bombed by a family of cackling Blue Jays years ago.  Barely made it out with both eyes. So  looking at pictures of birds with sharp, grimy claws up close and personal wants to make me run for the hills. Even though learning how to make a bird house out of a cowboy boot would be pretty awesome procrastination material next time I’m avoiding a work project.

And lastly — “Fun Crafts with the Bible.”  Hmmm. Not sure how to put this, but I really don’t want to learn how to make crafts based on Bible characters.  Although next time I need to know how to carve Noah’s ark out of a watermelon, I’ll know where to look.  And the twelve disciples do appear to fit nicely into an egg carton.

Better luck next time, Pinterest. I can’t wait to see what you come up with for me next time.

Today I am grateful that online data mining doesn’t always work.  Because it’s pretty entertaining when it doesn’t.

I’m no prude, but put your shirt on. Gratitude Experiment: Day 37

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I live right by a beautiful state park. And I live in the number one state to make you feel like a lazy pathetic slug.  Seriously, the ninety-nine-year-olds run uphill marathons here. I’m doing good to take the stairs at a fast clip.

So every day when I drive through my neighborhood there are easily four dog walkers and two or three runners in my line of sight. Today, two men were running without their shirts on.  I had to do a double take in my rear view window on one of them because for a second I thought it was a woman running topless.

Now I have never been called a prude. And frankly, I’m known to occasionally blurt out some purely shocking and crude stuff just to mix things up. But come on guys, put your damn shirt on and leave your nipples for your girlfriend’s viewing pleasure. I don’t want to see them. Or anything else under your shirt, sorry.

Women don’t walk around without any pants on just because they don’t have an extra piece of equipment.  So why should you just because most of you don’t have boobs?

Even if you are some hot hunk or you have fabulously cut muscles, no thanks. I’m sure there are some circumstance where it might be okay in public like at the beach, but I find it pretty skeevy most of the time.  And it immediately makes me think you’re not very smart. And even if you’re just mowing your own lawn, it still makes you look like a tool.

And you know that saying about how women who leave a little to the imagination tend to be a little more classy? It applies to you too, jogging hairy boob chest man, sorry.

Today I am grateful that my handsome husband doesn’t jog, bike or mow without a shirt on and because the thought of doing so really doesn’t go through his mind at all.

There’s an Alien in the Coffee Shop. Gratitude Experiment: Day 36

Okay since I used up my Kleenex writing my last post, let’s get some things clear.  This post is not going to be a) heavy, b) depressing or c) lengthy.   Okay maybe a little lengthy because I can’t figure out how to get my posts to be shorter.  Thanks for your patience.

So early this morning I went to get my hair colored because this new getting gray hair thing just plain pisses me off.  Along with needing reading glasses.   No one told me that my body would start immediately deteriorating at warp speed the minute I turned 43. This isn’t funny.

So I’m in the salon waiting the allotted 20 minutes as my color processes and I check my email.  Two emails are friends letting me know that the Denver Post printed my letter to the editor in today’s paper.  Crap, I forgot to check my paper before I left because I was running late.  Not surprising for me.  And before I left I had a client sending me messages with RED FLAGS of importance for matters far from urgent.

I clicked on the email link to the paper.  Cool, they really printed it.  But it just looked like a blog post.  I wanted to see it in real life because that’s the closest thing I’ve had to a byline in years.  Since they don’t let me add bylines to my data sheet copy selling underground fuel storage tank monitoring equipment.  (Yes, my work is Sexy.) I wanted a paper.

I looked at the timer that my stylist had set next to me and then I looked in the mirror.  I have never had so much dye and so many crazy looking foils all over my head in my lifetime.  I’ve gotten highlights before but this time I was switching things up with my color, so she had to empty the store room of color product in order to apply it all over my graying head.  And all the foils where gathered and gooped together into a column pointing up and out the back of my head.  I looked like that creature from Alien, but without all the spit.  I was looking hot.

But I wanted a paper, damn it.  I looked at the lady in the chair next to me.  I asked her if she thought I would frighten people if I walked over to Dazbog Coffee to ask if they sell papers.  Her eyebrows raised and she suggested I have one of the receptionists at the salon go get a paper for me.  But I was perfectly able.  And I’m sure Dazbog would be nearly empty at this time in the morning.

So I grabbed my purse and headed out.  I now had 14 minutes and I wanted a newspaper.  And I didn’t want to wait.

I walked down the sidewalk past people having coffee and got some stares. No biggie.  Then I walk in, with my sassy salon smock and Alien-shaped-hair-color- foiled head.  The place is packed.  With business people. Really? I made a joking comment to the lady in front of me in line so she wouldn’t be frightened if she turned around and wasn’t prepared.  I looked across to my left and at least four or five men were motioning toward me and staring, among plenty others there.  Maybe guys really have no idea what we go through to look so freaking fabulous? Good grief.

Another lady walked up and totally got it.  Time is money.  Gotta get stuff done.  Next, Dazbog girl points me in the direction of the newspapers in the middle of the cafe loungey area.

The clock was ticking.  I was over it. I grabbed a stack of papers, pulled over at a table near the line and started looking through the sections to find my letter. Then I get the feeling that someone close is watching me even more closely.  I turn my head slowly and see that there is a little three-year-old girl who is squeezing her Mom’s hand and staring at me with her jaw dropped.  Just like the kid  in the  Monsters, Inc. movie.  I think she may have wet herself, I’m not sure.  She was scared to death. I apologized to her Mom and told her I was worried this might happen.  She told me it wasn’t a problem and she does the same thing sometimes.  Yeah right.

The Dazbog gal told me I could keep the paper so I sprinted back to the salon, passing more tables of people staring.  I was over it by now and wanted to pull a foil out, hand it to them and keep on walking.

Mission was complete: hair turned out okay, I looked a little less mommish and I had a pretty good time freaking people out, except for the little girl who may have wet herself.

Plus I got my paper and saw my name in print.  Oh, and helped my cause. For all this, I am grateful.

The long way home. Gratitude Experiment: Day 35

This post is from yesterday…  forgot to hit publish.

Once in a while I purposely take the long way home.  Usually it happens when a great song is playing and the car windows are rolled down or the top is down.  Overcast or misty days are the perfect settings for this.

There is a great winding road near my neighborhood that cuts through part of our state park.  It feels like it’s miles from nowhere yet it’s not at all.  It branches off from a much more direct route to its end, so there are usually few cars on it. And right when I reach my neighborhood entrance, it’s like my car sometimes knows when I need to recharge for a just a moment or two.  And when I need to keep going straight and follow this road, making an extra loop before returning home.

I’ve decided this little road is sort of like my own little spiritual retreat.  Like a drive through recharging station.  This is where I crank up whatever song that most likely inspired me to blow off my original turn.  Usually Janis Joplin is whaling about Bobby McGee, Rod Stewart about his sexiness or the Beatles about places they remember.  Any old song that makes me a little sentimental.

And as I make the wide bend of the road (the best part when I go a little too fast) and refocus, I almost always notice a flock of birds in formation.  I’m always in awe of how these birds can perform such a complex and scientific maneuver. Did you know that birds can fly 70% further with the same amount of energy when in formations like this?

I must admit that I have very little affection for birds.  I had a really bad Blue-Jay experience once when my dog found a baby bird, so I am pretty much terrified of most birds.   I’m not sure what kind of birds these are, but I would assume geese or ducks.  And they never cease to fascinate me when flying in formation.

I love that there always seems to be that one little guy at the end of the formation who can’t quite seem to figure it out, probably losing out on much of the drag reduction benefit of the whole exercise.  I always wonder if his cohorts are giving him a hard time for being a slacker and that just stresses him out even more.

And then at that moment I remember a reference in one of my favorite poems.  A poem that I have given to many dear friends in their times of sorrow.  It’s called “Do Not Stand” and the author is unknown from what I can tell.  It’s written from the perspective of someone who has passed on speaking to someone they’ve left behind in this world.  They urge the reader not to stand at their grave and weep, for they are not there. They are a thousand winds that blow, the diamond glints on the snow, the sunlight on ripened grain, the gentle autumn’s rain. And the swift uplifting rush of quiet birds in circled flight.

I can feel my heart leap up as I watch the formation pass over me and I think of my sister. Maybe somehow I connect with that little guy at the end of the formation. Like it’s my sister reminding me that everything’s okay, even for the little guy trying so hard to keep up.  I think a therapist could have a heyday with the psychological theories that might explain this series of thoughts.  Probably many theories would be spot-on, or maybe I subconsciously want to be reincarnated as Janis Joplin’s uncoordinated pet bird?  I’m not sure, but I suspect there’s more to it than that. I’ll be sure to save up for that  session.

Then as I turn my car around at the traffic circle and head back home the opposite direction, through this same stretch of winding road, I breathe a sigh and I am renewed.

Today I am grateful for my long way home.

 

RUOK Day. Gratitude Experiment: Day 34

 

 

Photo from http://www.RUOKday.com

One of my lovely followers who lives in Australia liked the post I made about depression the other day after my friend lost her son (the funeral was today). This blogger mentioned Australia’s national  RUOK Day. I was intrigued and had to look it up.

According to the RUOKday.com website, R U OK? Day is a national day of action dedicated to inspiring all Australians to ask family, friends and colleagues, ‘Are you ok?’  The day encourages reaching out to one another and having open and honest conversations in order to become a more connected community.  And in the end, to help reduce the country’s suicide rate.

The day is celebrated on the second Thursday of September (last Thursday).  The site explains that in the time it takes to have your coffee, you can start a conversation that could change a life.

RUOK? is a not for profit organization that works wiith various Information Partners to provide national focus and leadership on suicide prevention by empowering Australians to have open and honest conversations and stay connected with people in their lives.

R U OK? Day was inspired by the son of Barry Larkin (1940 – 1995).  The day is dedicated to his father and all people who have died through suicide, as well as the family and friends who love them. The first RUOK? Day was in 2009 and after only three years an estimated 58% of the Australian population knew about the national day of action. By last week, which marked the fourth year, I’m sure the number had increased.

The website provides resources for connecting with people in the workplace, schools, health facilities, universities and community and sports clubs.

The Aussies are onto something.  I’m not aware of a single, unified suicide preventive effort like this here in the U.S., and I think we could use one.  And frankly, the more we rely on technology to communicate, the more disconnected we become. And the more we need a day like this to promote awareness for the importance of staying connected.

We should all think about asking R U OK? more often.  We never know when we could impact a life with a just few more moments of connection, listening and empathy. 

Today I am grateful for the many inspirations that come from my fellow bloggers, like this heartwarming and sensible concept.

For more information about the organization, as well as steps for how to reach out and start these conversations, visit http://ruokday.com.

 

I’m Seeing Purple. Gratitude Experiment: Day 32

I walked in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s this morning. What a terrific feeling of hope and camaraderie to walk away with. Last year the Denver walk broke its record with 8,000 walkers.  I guarantee you it was an even bigger crowd today.

I walked with a good friend who walked in memory of her mother who she lost to Alzheimer’s three years ago.  And I walked in memory of my Aunt, who we lost to Alzheimer’s a year ago this month and in honor of her sister, my Mom, who I’m losing to Alzheimer’s a little more each day.  I drew a picture of them on a huge sign they had for people to paint memories of their loved ones.

In a sea of purple, I saw photos on the back of so many walkers’ shirts. Photos of loved ones lost to this hateful disease. The thought that so many like me are fighting this fight is both comforting and terrifying.

This disease isn’t going away anytime soon, as the numbers continue to climb.  Yet it seems like the world is in denial about this disease and how very real it is.  Perhaps it doesn’t seem as real because you don’t visit anyone in the hospital when they have this disease?  And because you never hear anyone with it describing their suffering?  Because they can’t speak for themselves.

But it is very real.  And someone new is diagnosed every 68 seconds.  And by 2050 it will be someone new every 33 seconds.

Ironically, federal funding for Alzheimer’s research pales in comparison to that for other chronic diseases. According to University of Mississippi Medical Center, the $450 million allocated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) is equivalent to less than 15% of the research funding for HIV/AIDS, less than 11% of funding for cardiovascular disease research, and less than 8% of funding for cancer research.  And for every $28,000 spent on Alzheimer’s patient care, only $100 is spent on research.  In fact, the government funds more nutrition research than it does Alzheimer’s research.

I recently had the privilege of listening to a scientist discuss research initiatives and progress made. Scientists believe we are getting close and even at a tipping point.  We just need a commitment from the federal government to fund research.

And we’re getting there. In January of  2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law by President Obama. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) will create a coordinated national plan to overcome the Alzheimer’s crisis and will ensure the coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer’s research, clinical care, institutional, and home- and community-based programs and their outcomes.

But it’s going to take much more. The public has to make it known what our federal priorities with regard to the impending Alzheimer’s epidemic should be, especially given shrinking budgets at every turn.  More people need to speak up and take action, contact their Congress representative or become advocates through the Alzheimer’s Association.  To put faces on the need. The website of the Alzheimer’s Association has advocacy pages dedicated to helping you do just that. http://www.kintera.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=mmKXLbP8E&b=7516993&auid=8520366  I know this is  a blatant plug for my cause, but I know with every molecule in my body that you DO NOT want to watch this happen to anyone you love.

If you’re still reading this and you’re not exhausted, I commend you.  And I appreciate you taking the time.  I’m truly grateful that you are reading this, that I went on that walk today, and that we can end this.  Let’s do it.

Why Alzheimer’s Is a Drag. Gratitude Experiment: Day 31

Even though it goes against the grain of my 100-day Gratitude Experiment, I feel the need today to write about why my Mom having Alzheimer’s is a drag.

I’m convinced that some gratitude will come to me by the time I finish writing this.  And I’m hoping these thoughts will help my readers cherish every moment they have with their loved ones.  And take nothing for granted.

My Mom having Alzheimer’s is a big fat drag because:

1. I wish I would have spent more quality time with her before she got sick.

2. I wish I had asked her if her favorite color was still yellow when she could still tell me.

3. I wish I would have paid better attention to the signs in the beginning.

4. I desperately wish for rare moments of clarity to happen when I am near.

5. I worry about her dignity.

6. Most healthcare workers have no clue how to treat a person with Alzheimer’s.  And it makes me want to help change happen.

7. She is afraid to take a bath.

8. I wish I could remember the name of that flowery lotion my grandmother used to give her every Christmas.  And I wish I had someone to ask that would know.

9. I worry about my Stepdad being sad and tired.

10. I worry about my Stepdad getting hurt and me not knowing.

11. I wonder how much of what I say she understands.

12. I wonder if I offend her by babying her.

13. I  wish I had taken better notes about my family history.

14. I wish I really knew when all this started – so hard to tell.

15. I worry about when the next shoe is going to drop.

16. I think about how she would not want to be this way.

17. I worry that she is frightened and she can’t express it.

18.  I’m scared to death it’s going to happen to me.

On the other hand, I am still able to be grateful because:  (whew, glad some gratitude came through)

1. I love it when I have what seems like a tiny a breakthrough with her.

2. I am happy when she smiles her old smile.

3.I love to be silly and make her laugh (when I use Three Stooges type humor it cracks her up).

4. I can tell she enjoys changing the bed sheets with me.  Especially if I’m silly while we’re doing it.

5. She’s still my Mom in there.

6.  I love that she said  really sweet things to me that day a year ago when I did her hair for her, when she was better able to comprehend and talk.

7. My stepdad is solid as a rock, and I love him for it.

8. I’m lucky that she lives close now so I don’t worry even more.

9. I can have these tiny moments of joy with her to always remember.

Thanks for reading.

My Kimono Won’t Close. Gratitude Experiment: Day 28


My husband uses the term ‘open kimono’ to describe my transparent ways.  It’s because I’m not physically able to tell you one thing and really mean another, even if I tried really hard.  And why I would really suck as a salesperson selling anything that I didn’t believe in.

It explains why women who host home trunk show clothing parties, jewelry open houses, or cooking gear parties can’t stand it when I’m one of the guests.  Because everyone there knows that I’ll tell you if you look 30 pounds heavier in the latest trendy vest or if you look like you’re drowning in the latest fashion-forward floor-length dress.  Usually ten minutes in, guests realize that I’m someone who will give them an honest opinion despite its potential impact to a bottom line.

Urbandictionary.com defines the ‘open kimono’ phrase as: (adj.) – business marketing plan that allows consumers to know what’s behind the entire operation, with no secrets kept inside the proverbial kimono.

Some say the phrase dates back to feudal period of Japanese history, when warriors or adversaries would open their kimonos as an offering of trust to show they had no hidden weapons.

My open kimono explains why those who are friends with me know right where they stand with me at any given moment.  I don’t attempt to hide joy, worry, appreciation or aggravation. (I’m actually not sure if I would be physically able to.) I’ll tell you if you’ve hurt my feelings or upset me and I will be completely honest about it.  I’ll also make sure you know if you’ve touched my heart.

I cry at school plays, I cry at weddings, and I cry when I sing Amazing Grace because it reminds me of my grandmother who cried when she sang that song.  I still cry when I say goodbye to my parents after a trip back home. And sometimes I cry when I tell a happy story that makes my heart swell.  And I’m okay with all of it. Even though tears make stoic types uneasy, I know that letting my guard down allows me to tap into depths of emotion that left untapped could make me stale.

Sometimes I think about closing my kimono a little more often.  But then I remember what a fleeting gift this life of mine is.  So why waste time not getting to what’s real when it could all change tomorrow.

I realize this is who I am, open kimono and all.  And for that I am grateful.

Breakfast Club Flashback. Gratitude Experiment: Day 25

Today as I sat waiting in the high school parking lot to drop off my son’s tennis equipment before he left for a tennis match, I was transported to another world.  Actually back to my world back in high school.  And the world according to the Breakfast Club movie in 1985.

This movie has been hailed as one of the greatest high school films of all time, by John Hughes (God rest his fantastic movie making soul).  And the song – “Don’t You Forget About Me,” that instantly reminds my generation of scenes from the movie that have stayed with us since.

The movie follows  five students—Allison Reynold (Ally Sheedy),  Andrew Clark (Emilio Estevez), John Bender (Judd Nelson), Brian Johnson (my favorite Anthony Michael Hall),  and Claire Standish (Molly Ringwald) as they surprisingly find common ground with each other throughout a single day of detention on a Saturday.  Each student represented a different clique or stereotype within the school.  If you haven’t seen it, rent it.

Watching the disbursement of high schoolers on a Friday after school took me right there. I watched each stereotype pass the front of my car. During a phase when I am feeling a little old and thinking things are so very different, I suddenly realized things really didn’t seem that different. Had nothing really changed except for the fact that they each had a cell phone and ATM card in their pocket?

The ‘Jock’s (although in this case both male and female) were gathered on the sidewalk high-fiveing each other.  The ‘punk’ hard edge type kids were all walking alone with a jolted gate, looking very guarded. I even saw one bump into a jock, then the jock got upset and held his hands out just like in the movies (if only he had been wearing a letter jacket), then the punker extended his hand and they shook hands and did a “bro” hug.  I should have been filming as it was stereotypical perfection.

Then I also watched as the many ‘princesses’ dialed for their rides exhaustedly while flipping their hair in frustration and simultaneously watching peripherally to see who was checking them out.  Then came the ‘brainiacs’/nerds as I watched them attempt to talk to the cute girl jocks while the huge guy jocks with gelled hair stood to the side fanning their feathers.  They didn’t stand a chance but I was rooting for them.  And I sadly watched a ‘misfit’ walk out to her car alone.

Maybe they will all be in detention together one day and bond over their similarities, but I doubt it.  More likely, they will all find themselves in different cubicles of the same corporate world and bond over the lack of sunlight.  Sorry, that was dark.

Today I am just grateful that the world isn’t really racing ahead as fast as I thought.  And that makes me happy.

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.

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.

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!

Gratitude Experiment: Day 3

Okay, so I think this gratitude experiment is definitely working because I can’t narrow this down to just one thing to be grateful for today.

Thoughts include:

A fortuitous and great conversation I had with a mother I barely knew at my sons’ haircut place yesterday which tipped me off on college coaches.  I seriously believe there are no accidents in life.

A wonderful call from my son’s tennis coach late yesterday. These tennis coaches continue to impress me with their genuine concern for the boys’ success.  And my son is making me proud.

The fact that my youngest son actually wanted to snuggle with me last night like old times (he is quickly getting way too cool for this so it was an unexpected treat).  And that he actually liked his haircut yesterday.

The fact that my kids can forgive me when I lose my temper sometimes and that I have the ability to apologize and help them realize that we are all human.

Thrown to the wolves by his mother

So thank goodness there are really nice moms out there. My faith in humanity is temporarily restored. My post-concussion former lacrosse playing son is now officially involved with his high school tennis team.  But he’s going in bruised and battered.

Once I realized his symptoms had ceased,  I researched and reached out to a very involved tennis Mom I knew from lacrosse.  Here’s the humanity part – she then took the time to talk to one of the main coaches about my son and his concussion situation and what a great athlete he is. In turn, that coach took the time to call me personally about getting him involved at this late date. This I am certainly not used to as it seems many high school coaches are not into parent conversations, to say the least.

After asking about his tennis background (he played team tennis a few summers back and was one of the fastest, though skinniest, kids in lacrosse), the coach suggested I bring him to the camp that was that very day in a few hours.  They had been running morning and afternoon training camps for two weeks.  Wow, I was thrilled, this was happening. He warned that these kids were pretty good but suggested my son ‘give it a shot’ and then come to the next day’s camps as well. It wasn’t too late.

Foreshadowing note:  these are the LAST two days of a two week intensive training camp. And my son’s only sport activity has been three private tennis sessions after a 4 month concussion sport hiatus from a lacrosse injury.

To my amazement, I talked my son into going.  We got there and my stomach began to sink.  These tennis kids looked beyond HARD CORE and I tried not to let the fear for my son’s very life show in my eyes before I left. I drove off afraid for his already fragile post-concussion ego.

At pickup, he was wrecked, both physically and mentally.  I felt horrible.  He felt he did not measure up to these kids’ skills and had no business playing tennis.  I think a few curse words were used, his head hung incredibly low, you get the point.  It was bad.  Fast forward a few hours –  I learned that the coach had failed to mention that the afternoon camps were for area CHAMPIONSHIP tennis players – some college aged.  These kids were lifers, had been playing since birth.  Some even had sponsors and everything. For real. What a great entry for my broken son.  I could not have felt worse.

Thank goodness the coach called that night (again, the humanity) to check on him and encouraged him to come to the less intense session the next morning.  The next day went beyond well (no comparison) and I now can see a glimmer of my son’s former swagger in his eyes, bruises and all.