Friday, November 30, 2012
Today I a have to admit that I am thankful that this challenge is ending and I can write about other topics again.
But to close on a positive note, I am so thankful for the weekend and not being scheduled to work at all! It's clearly a sign of aging but I am really looking forward to a bikram yoga class after work followed by Papa Gino's bread sticks and watching Pet Cemetery with my husband tonight. It truly is the little things......
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
Let me explain.....
I'm not at all saying I am the best. But I am real. And in my book, that's so much better than anything else.
One blog I just read-a really popular one that I actually really adore and has multiple writers so I can't hate on it across the board-was just way too long. I'm reading you for distraction, funny blog. You are not a novella and since you are trying to make it funny, keep it a little shorter. Also, this blog did the thing I hate most about blogs: they used "y'all".
The word/term y'all is acceptable in verbal speech if and only if you are indigenous to a part of the US that frequently uses this. "Y'all come back now, ya hear?" is charming if you are from, say, Mississippi or something like that. Texas, sure. But I don't think it's okay to use it in a written form, especially just because it's trendy. Just be real. I am from Massachusetts. I can use the word wicked the way you might use the word very. It works for me. It can't work for Mississippi. That's why they have the word y'all. We are all special, unique flowers. Let's embrace our diversity, folks.
Another blog I read today, a travel blog (of which there are far too many, in my humble opinion), was trying so hard to suck in readers that it offered nothing of actual value. It was a bait and switch and I didn't even realize you could do that in a blog. Joke's on me! It went a little something like "I can tell you how much it will cost you to travel" and then answered that question with "it depends" and only went on to elaborate with other common sense answers such as "it costs more to sleep in a hotel than in a sleeping bag in the subway". Or something akin to that. You feel me.
The thing is, that blog definitely has a ton more readers than my blog does. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's good. And that's the weird thing about personal blogs, right? Travel blogs, in particular, don't even get me started. They are a dime a dozen and, admittedly, I am slightly envious that they have figured out how to get paid to go explore the world. But it takes something away from that if the product they are putting out there isn't very good.
So today I am thankful that I am true to myself. I am thankful to have a platform to give voice to my snarky opinions. I am thankful for freedom of speech, free blog sites, and the diversity of voices that are out there nowadays. I am thankful for the progress of social media outlets and the ways that they make me feel connected to old friends, new friends, people I can relate to and people I can learn from, even if I am sometimes daunted by the rapid growth in technology at the same time. I am thankful that you read all the way to the end of this, too. I hope you have a wicked awesome day, haha.
Monday, November 26, 2012
But in keeping with the spirit, I will tell you that I am thankful for Connect 4. I am ridiculously good at Connect 4. And that's okay to say because I don't have a lot of obvious talents so you have to kind of give me some space to gloat about a skill as measly as crushing opponents in a game targeted for 6 and above.
Last night we hosted our first ever Friendsgiving. Holiday gatherings seem to get more and more complicated as I get older and people marry off and then you have all sorts of in-law variations to contend with. I kind of wanted to run away from it all and just celebrate with my homies but I knew my mom would be upset about it so I stuck with tradition. The idea pleased me so much, though, that we decided to do an addition to our traditional Thanksgiving and have friends over on Sunday just for pie. We then appropriately named it Friendsgiving: Pie Edition. And when I say "we" I mean me because my husband made fun of me for it.
It was really intimate; I invited 4 people and my husband invited 3. One person from each side dropped out so it was quaint. Everyone invited was part of our wedding party five years ago, with one exception. These are the people we call when you are freaking out. Friends who know you without you having to give a backstory. For me, these are the people who keep me as sane and grounded as I ever get. When family gets crazy, when big life crises erupt, these are the people I know will support me, have fun with me, tell me I am right. And it just felt appropriate to celebrate the family that we have created in some way.
One of my friends was going to write speeches for everyone but got sidetracked. Then she decided she would orate her speeches but I only heard one (and it wasn't mine! :)) So I guess this post ended up being a taste of what my speeches would have been if I had come up with her brilliant idea. I would list the times I called on them and how they helped me. I might have talked about a couple of shared highlights from the year past. But that stuff is private and you probably don't want to hear about all of it anyway. Except maybe the time....wait, no. That's a secret.
So how did I get here from Connect 4? Good question. I almost forgot. We played Connect 4 at Friendsgiving: Pie Edition and I am the reigning champion. It only sweetened the night.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
This week I am finding it much easier to be thankful for the little things as I notice them. Last night after seeing a friend, I reveled in how grateful I am to be able to spend time with good friends and that I have them. This morning, the parking lot I was in was next to a farm that had a llama as well as a number of horses and it was so nice to just sit and watch them for a few minutes. The combination of moments like that and hating to drive in the city make me so thankful for living in the suburbs. Also, twice this week I have seen people picking up trash or debris at a park or on the side of the road and have been thankful that they were willing to give of themselves in that way. Sometimes it just takes a little mindfulness to look around and appreciate what you see.
Part of my cheery disposition is that tomorrow is my favorite day of the year. No, I'm not forgetting a day on my calendar; my favorite day of the year is the day BEFORE Thanksgiving. Since I was in the first grade, so over 25 years ago (gasp!), my mother and I have gone to Plymouth-home of THE rock-on this day. More specifically, we go to Plimoth Plantation, a living museum where people represent colonists from the year 1627 and act and speak as if they were a specific resident in that year. Last year was extra awesome because I had just learned that my mother's family descends from a Mayflower passenger and we got to go into 'his home' in the colony and chat with him.
Not only do I love history and the strong roots that I have grown up with in the midst of New England, but I just adore traditions. This is the most salient tradition I have in my family, though there are many smaller examples. I am so thankful that my mother came up with this idea years ago and that she raised me to appreciate all that it teaches and represents. Through the years, different people have come along or dropped off but it has always been my special day with my mother. Even as an adult, I think it's great to have a mommy/daughter day each year!
For a long time, we followed this tradition to a tee. We would buy the same fudge afterward, visit the rock and then go to the same little restaurant. The last few years, we took it up a notch and have bought tickets to eat a Harvest Supper with the pilgrims after our visit to the village. They pray, they sing, they come joke with us at the tables, all in character. The food is all traditional to what they might have consumed in 1627....and they make a mean rice pudding!
So, I am really looking forward to all of that and a few days off. What are you thankful for today?
Friday, November 16, 2012
That sounded so cheesy, sorry. But it's really true. I was super sour yesterday but after some time with friends and family, it all turned around. So I am really thankful for this upcoming weekend because I have lots of time with people I like planned. I wish my house would magically clean itself , though.
Tuesday, November 13, 2012
It never ceases to amaze me how much easier it is to note the things you are not thankful for. That's kind of where I am today. It's raining and grey out and I'm already sick of it being as dark as midnight at 5pm; it impacts my mood. I had to work on the holiday yesterday when most of my coworkers were off. And I even had a bad day at church. When my husband called me Sunday afternoon I said "I had a hard day at church" and then I thought, who even says that? Me.
But I guess that's why it's all the more important that I think of things to be thankful about today since the negativity seems to be oozing out of me. When you focus on the positive, maybe you notice it more?
Today I am thankful for my mother. Unfortunately, a friend's parent passed away this week and my heart is kind of breaking for the family that is impacted. This is the third parent death among my friends in a short period of time. Sorry to be morose and I don't want to share anyone else's private pain but it really makes me feel somber. And even though I don't want to be depressing here, there's no other way to explain why I feel so thankful for my mom today.
For whatever reason, being nice doesn't come easy to my family. Except to my mom. The rest of us are crotchety as hell, to be honest. And we can't get out of our own way most of the time to give voice the nice feelings we have about each other. It makes me sad that it's hard for me, even a little embarrassing, to express how fully I love my mom. But I do and days like today make me even more aware of it. My mom is my world. When I say my prayers at night, before I list any of the other things, I always say how thankful I am for my husband and my mother (and my cats, in the spirit of full disclosure). Because while family, in general, is a challenging concept for me in light of some experiences I have had, I know that the core people I am connected to are the best possible people I could wish to have in my life.
Sometimes it takes some bad days to put things in perspective that this version of bad is so much better than other people's versions of bad, or even some of your own other versions of bad.
Friday, November 9, 2012
- Political ads on tv being done for a while
- The sunny day that it is and a prediction of warm temps this weekend
- The granular sugar on the top of Dunkin Donuts chocolate chip muffins
- Days when I can wear my jeans to work
- My yellow converse sneakers that I bought at a street fair in Paris. They just make me happy.
- My kitchen being painted as we speak!
- The cooking lesson from a friend last night
- The hope of sleeping in tomorrow. Yawn.
- Police officers
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
I am both a Mormon and someone who leans toward the ideals of the Democrats. To me, this makes all the sense in the world as my main focus in doing so is to ensure that government can help to assist people who are in need. Actually, I have a really hard time understanding how any Christian can feel differently about such issues, if I am really being honest. But I am not here to debate the merits of those who won and lost, truly. I need to express my immense disappointment in the response of others to the results of the election.
I understand that Romney supporters are feeling sad, worried and discouraged, among other things. But being in the position that I am, I get to see how a handful of those people are choosing to express those feelings and it's not pretty. In fact, I'm embarrassed and ashamed on their behalf. I am speaking mostly to the Mormons I know who supported Romney, admittedly a huge chunk of the church affiliated folks who I know. I was behind them in their excitement for someone they can relate to being on such a precipice of power in this country, even if all of his plans for the country differed from what I would like to see. But the responses I have read last night and so far today are making a population that, as this election season and research has shown, many people are uninformed about and even prejudiced against, look as bad as people expect. It was hard for me, personally, not to want to defend Romney a lot of the time even if I actually wasn't rooting for him so I can only imagine how defensive it must have made people who identify with him and were, indeed, rooting for his victory. But the anger, vitriol, fear inspiring doomsday messages and unkind words that I am reading are just not right. Comments about "uneducated idiots", "ignorant" people, and the word evil being featured prominently do not look good on you, folks. That kind of aggression makes YOU look like the bad guy, and definitely not Christ like as you say that you aim to be. And the scripture quotes and doomsday messages that I can only assume are meant to shame others are inappropriate in their intentions.
I can honestly say that I respect the different opinions and points of view that make people feel and vote in the different ways that they do. Frankly, I think some are uninformed and that if church members did more service outside of the church community they would benefit from being exposed to people who have had experiences you can't even fathom and who don't have a church welfare system to back them up, unfortunately. I really love the ideals that say we don't need government to help people because people should help each other but that's just not the way this country works at this point in time. I work for a non-profit agency. I see the overwhelming generosity of a small group of dedicated people but also the tremendous amount of energy it takes to cultivate donors. And I actually don't see a lot of church groups jumping in, I am sorry to report.
So while I can empathize with the frustrations felt by many today, I sincerely hope people can quell their emotional reactivity a bit and heed the words uttered by so many concession speeches, the official statement offered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and many well intentioned, peace seeking citizens. Do things that work for you to release your negative emotions and then do all you can to make the world the better place you would like to see it be by the sweat of your own brow. Pray for the elected leaders. And help create as much unity in this country as we can all muster. But, most importantly, don't lose your integrity by being a hostile person in the process of standing up for the things you think are important.
Be the change you want to see in the world. I am thankful for that quote offered, I believe, by Gandi.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012
It won't come as any surprise that today I am thankful for voting. I almost wanted to write about one of the other many things I have already taken note of today like the beautiful swans in the pond near my parent's house or getting a good deal on gas this morning because I paid in cash or the great customer service at Boloco just so I could avoid being redundant and talking about the same thing that everyone else is talking about today. But when I got teary as I saw the line of cars waiting to pull into the local high school to vote, I knew I couldn't ignore the gratitude I felt for the democratic process.
I will not turn this into anything that even resembles a political message because I have found throughout this race that the spirit of conflict and tension rises (at least in me) as people put candidates down or make sweeping judgmental statements about this or that party. Frankly, I just don't like that. Honestly, I only had two political conversations this season that felt good, like we were all just sharing our points of view. But what I would like to say about the candidates is that I think it's an amazing testament to the growth of our country to even be considering the two candidates that we are.
Some might guffaw at the concept of Mitt Romney being in any way in the minority given his wealth and status but since I share a similar religious cultural background with him as well as a New England area address, I can say with a high degree of confidence that there have been times he has felt like the odd man out in a situation. Perhaps he has felt uncomfortable with those kinds of situations. For me, being a religious minority, even at times that I wasn't practicing my religion to it's fullest, is certainly something that has defined my world view. And I am proud of an America who, even though it was a heavily discussed topic and often the focus of ridicule, could put someone so "othered" in a position of potential power.
Clearly it goes without saying that Obama has faced very explicit ridicule and alienation as a result of his racial minority status. I am thankful that kind of messaging seemed to be less of a focus in this race than it was his first time around, or at least that was my experience of it where I am. When I think of all the people out there who still think in backwards ways or the even larger population of people who don't want to consider race at all and don't even understand the concept of white privelage, I am amazed at the country's ability to elect a president with black heritage. Amazed and proud because even in my generation growing up (not sooooo long ago!) and in one of the most liberal states in the union, I definitely got some messaging that being, in particular, biracial would (not just could) cause inner conflict to a point of detriment. I'm sure there's a smoother way to say that but that's essentially what I took away from it. As a part of an interracial relationship, it fills me with more hope than you can know that this generation and the next will get such different messaging and images of strength and power. My someday-children will know that they can rise as high as anyone else, as all children should be allowed to believe.
Monday, November 5, 2012
This weekend I was thankful for a lot, actually. Saturday was a rare weekend day when I had nothing scheduled. I felt amazingly liberated and had plans with a good friend who is always down for an adventure so we kind of made up our minds as we went along. We made an outstanding, memorable day out of a road trip to Wegmans, a half hour in one direction, and a mall that is an hour away in the other direction-even though we passed two other malls en route. I am grateful for finding fun in the small things. I am also grateful to be in a financial situation that allows me to have enough gas in my car to make extraneous journeys like that. Of note, I was also pretty thankful for the free cider and pumpkin bread that I got to sample at Williams Sonoma. Yum!
Sundays are for church and spending time at home. I was thankful that my husband helped me with some tasks around the house that would have been insurmountable without his assistance. I was thankful for the fabulous shoes I wore with my church dress. And, most of all, I was thankful for having a faith community. I can honestly get why "religion" can turn some people off-I can see where they are coming from on some of their points. But, for me, there is such a great benefit to the group of people that comes with the religion. It's such a joy to me to see people each week who have known me my whole life; people I really enjoy knowing.
Finally, I was extremely thankful for last night's episode of The Walking Dead. Laugh if you must but watching tv is one of my favorite escapes and a good episode of a good show is kind of like getting a present when it's not a holiday. That show rocked my socks off last night. I would go so far as to say it was the best episode of the show, period. I don't want to give any spoilers for people who haven't watched yet but WOW.
What are you thankful for today?
Saturday, November 3, 2012
This morning I'm feeling pretty psyched and grateful just to have an unscheduled day. I'm actually looking forward to running errands. But I'm extra aware of the gift of my morning routine when I don't have to jump out of bed to get someplace. Stella, my cat that was super sick last month-to the point that I thought losing her was imminent- comes and chills on my bed right by me. If I get up, she gets up. It's our quiet time. So this morning I am thankful for the companionship of pets.
Friday, November 2, 2012
Regarding my title......Do you remember that song from elementary song? "There are many things I am thankful for. Let me tell you what they are." If you don't, then you definitely didn't have the pleasure of sitting with Ms. Conway, a heavy chain smoking music teacher who was the best at holiday theme songs and traditions. And letting us play with tambourines. So let me start by saying I am thankful for having a teacher who did something right if I remember her and her songs two and a half decades later.
A lot of people use November as a time to update their Facebook status every day with things they are grateful for. I am not going that route so that the people who complain that some people glamorize their lives publicly won't have anything to say about my sunny disposition this month. If you read my blog, it's your own fault if you are exposed to some less cranky words coming from me.
So, following the inspiration of some fellow bloggers such as The Sleepy Bard and The Next Step, I am accepting the challenge to spend November blogging about the things for which I am grateful. Here are my caveats: I don't promise every day blog posts but I promise to think about and somehow acknowledge the things I am grateful for each day. Actually, even before this challenge, I did this verbally with my husband last night. And I don't promise long posts. Sometimes just a line or two. But I promise to be mindful of the things I am grateful for and to see how that makes a difference in my life.
There is research out there that shows that keeping a daily gratitude journal increases perceptions of happiness and lowers symptoms of depression. Those are good things, right? Plus, Oprah recommended it ans she is the greatest sage of my era.
So today I begin simply, leaving room for to grow the list for the rest of the month. I am thankful for good friends. I went to a movie last night with a good friend to see The Perks of Being a Wallflower-it was really good-and was so content in the simple pleasure that it was to be together to eat some popcorn and watch a movie. The older I have gotten, the more I value the people in my life who are genuine and constant. Even if my social circle is still broad, there are only a handful of people that I know will care 100% about my good days as well as my bad and I am so blessed to have a full handful of those kinds of people in my life. So I am thankful for my friends everyday but giving them the shout out they deserve today.