50 Happy Things: Bloggers Unite in Flood of Gratitude

This post comes courtesy of Dawn Quyle Langau from TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND. She had this great idea for bloggers to unite in gratitude. At this time of year, we may start thinking about the year ahead and our New Year’s resolutions. Why not think about the year we have had instead and reflect on the things that made us smile and what we are grateful for. I think we need to do more of this on everyday basis! Thank you, Dawn, for putting this together. If you would like to add your post, instructions follow my list.

The objective is to write out a list of 50 things in 10 minutes time. Setting the timer.

Here we go…

50 Things I am Grateful for This Year (2015)

I am grateful for:

  1. My two beautiful boys; their tender hearts and their wicked sense of humor and the boundless love I feel for them.
  2. My husband who still loves me and believes in me and accepts my flawed self.
  3. My family, sisters, brothers and the times we spent together. It’s always special time.
  4. My family watching my son play water polo this year and cheering him on.
    waterpolo
  5. My little one’s precious eyelashes (I want them) and his gentle, creative spirit and watching him dance. Wow, he can dance!
  6. Clean water; where I live it’s pretty good.
  7. The generosity of my mother-in-law; she’s a lifesaver.
  8. Having a glass of wine while I cook and dance in the kitchen.
  9. Having a glass of wine with a friend.
  10. Long walks in nature.
    Hidden Valley Falls - Mar 2015 062
  11. My sister’s generosity and knowledge and helping get through an IEP process; things could have turned out much differently had she not been there. Thank you!
  12. My guardian angels in true life: Ixchel and Dipali.
  13. My blogging community. I don’t know about you, but it feels pretty real to me. I wish we could all go out for dinner together.
  14. Discovering yin yoga, giving me a peace and awareness about myself; letting me spend time on me.
  15. Getting back into a ballet class and feeling right at home.
  16. My dance teacher Sunny and her genuine smile and all her joking around.
  17. Working out and feeling good about my physical self.
  18. Conversations with my mom on the phone; she has such wisdom.
  19. My furry, feline friends: Shasta, Orangey and Lucky. I’m happy to serve them. They have no idea how much joy they give me.
  20. Feeling stronger about my writing and the creative outlet I have here.
  21. My Friday Fictioneers community. They are so talented and I feel lucky to know them.
  22. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for leading the Fictioneers every week. I admire her dedication.
  23. Health. My family is healthy and my son is taller than me now. He will eat me out of house and home.
  24. Feeling inspired by other writers. I have so many great things to read!
  25. Family time; watching movies and playing board games.
  26. When my husband cooks a meal.
  27. The sun, stars and moonbeams.
  28. Friends that don’t give up on me.
  29. Going out for sushi with my friend Ann.
  30. Making progress on my book.
  31. Snuggling under a blanket and getting lost in a book.
  32. Swimming in the ocean.
    Junior_Olympics_2015 911
  33. Downloading and listening to music right away because I can.
  34. Fuzzy socks in furry slippers.
  35. Listening to the rain and not having to go anywhere.
  36. Waking up with the sunrise and feeling productive.
  37. Staying up and watching a late-night movie.
  38. Maple lattes from Peet’s.
  39. A soothing massage.
  40. Napping.
  41. A letter from a friend.
  42. Warm chocolate chip cookies with a cup of cocoa or anything chocolate.
  43. Sleeping in.
  44. Fresh roasted coffee in the morning.
  45. Laughter and for all the people that make me laugh.
  46. Listening to my son play his baritone and how excited he is talking about music, especially listening to him hum the music.
  47. Snuggling with my youngest. I know our days for this are numbered.
  48. Staying in pajamas all day.
  49. Getting away to Napa and living in such a beautiful spot close to so many great places.
    FullSizeRender (48)
  50. All my friends who are here right now. Thank you!
If you’d like to join in, here’s how it works: set a timer for 10 minutes; timing this is critical. Once you start the timer, start your list. The goal is to write 50 things that made you happy in 2015, or 50 thing that you feel grateful for. The idea is to not think too hard; write what comes to mind in the time allotted. When the timer’s done, stop writing. If you haven’t written 50 things, that’s ok. If you have more than 50 things and still have time, keep writing; you can’t feel too happy or too grateful! 

To join the bloggers who have come together for this project: 1) Write your post and publish it (please copy and paste the instructions from this post, into yours) 2) Click here3) That will take you to another window, where you can past the URL to your post. 4) Follow the prompts, and your post will be added to the Blog Party List.

I hope you’ll join in the fun. Thanks again for being here now and throughout the year. I have made some incredible connections here I never thought possible.

For more posts of Gratitude, visit the Linkup here.

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Aside

Here’s my list for the Love/Hate challenge you may have seen going around the blogosphere. After reading Mark’s list on his blog Exile on Pain Street, I felt this rush to write a list of my own and here it is. I wasn’t tagged nor am I going to tag anyone, but if you want to jump in and write one, I’ll certainly read it.

I didn’t think that I “hated” anything, because it can be such a strong, negative, unhealthy emotion. But, I found out I do really hate some things, and some of these things are, of course, of a lesser degree of “hate.”

I also didn’t censor myself too much, and realize that I if I wrote this list at a different point in my life,  it may be an altogether different list. Here’s what is today. Read on.

Love

  1. I love curling up with a book I can’t put down.
  2. I love dancing around my house for no apparent reason to my favorite music or to no music at all.
  3. I love fits of laughter when tears are streaming down my cheeks, and I’ve laughed so hard I forget what I’m laughing about. This usually happens with my sisters.
  4. I love watching my children sleep, their gentle breathing and their soft snores; they seem like angelic, peaceful creatures from beyond.
  5. I love that my husband still desires me after twenty-five years.
  6. I love great conversation over a delicious meal and bountiful amounts of wine.
  7. I love coffee, the smell, the taste, and knowing it awaits me (on most days) in the morning.
  8. I love when I absolutely forget about time; when I am so immersed in something I’m not aware of it passing; I’m particularly happy when this  happens when I’m creating something I feel passionate about.
  9. I love the kind of peace I feel after swimming in the ocean, the rush of the waves, and the taste of salt or after a good yoga workout lying in the corpse pose; I feel cleansed and relaxed.
  10. I love Mark’s post from Exile on Pain Street – the inspiration for this post – just read it! You’ll see. I’ll add, I love being inspired.

 Hate

  1. I hate insomnia and waking up tired, and knowing I will be tired all day.
  2. I hate when I worry, especially about money.
  3. I hate boring jobs. It’s not a case of only boring people get bored, which is what I typically say about boredom. A boring job feels like prison.
  4. I hate poverty, hunger and cancer with a capital H.
  5. I hate crystal meth and that it almost killed my brother.
  6. I hate my smart phone. It’s destroying humanity. No, I love my smart phone. The Internet at my fingertips. No, I hate my smart phone. I love my smart phone. Hate. Love. Clearly, this is a love/hate relationship.
  7. I hate it when my Internet breaks down!
  8. I hate getting older. I still feel like I’m in my twenties. Sort of. But I’m not.
  9. I hate death. It sucks.
  10. I hate car problems.

 What about you? What would be on your list?

Love/Hate

Sliding Door Moments

I take my title of this post from the movie Sliding Doors with Gwyneth Paltrow. Seen it? I saw the movie many moons ago and actually watched it again when I thought of writing this post. Silly me. It’s a lighthearted romance/fantasy movie made long before Gwyneth uttered those misguided statements about motherhood.

Here’s Gwyneth in her two separate identities:

"Slidingdoors". Via Wikipedia - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Slidingdoors.jpg#/media/File:Slidingdoors.jpg
“Slidingdoors”  Via Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org

I know. You want to flip it over, don’t you?

In the film, Gwyneth’s character’s experiences two separate lives based on the sliding doors of a train:

Scenario A: She misses the train and hits her head.
Scenario B: She catches the train and meets a new man.

Each scenario brings along with it new possibilities specific to each Sliding Door reality. Scenario B obviously is much more fun.

At this point in my life, I’ve had countless moments when I could have made different choices. Marriage, jobs, careers, friendships, hair styles. I could get lost thinking about them all. But the reality is, I don’t even need a sliding door of a train to experience what I call my “Sliding Door Moments.” Really, Gwyneth,  you never needed a train.

Burning the Salmon

IMG_0195 (1)
How could this happen? I don’t know. I closed my eyes and this is what I saw. A Flash Burn maybe?

Scenario A: Grill the salmon to perfection and enjoy a tasty meal.
Scenario B: Burn the salmon and be forced to eat chili from a can.

Well, you know what happened here, don’t you?

Not only have I now been denied a healthy and delicious meal and those essential Omega-3 fatty acids, but I have also suffered a tummy ache and was up half the night, so missed my early morning run, and pouted all morning and didn’t go out with my friend who was going to reveal to me her new sex toy and what’s more important than that? All this denied because I had chili.

Okay, I made all that up, but it could have happened. Just checking your attention span there. Except, of course, for the burned salmon, which did burn. Pictures don’t lie.

Next.

 The Mystery Mound

The brown mound in the corner…no, it’s not that. Look at the picture.

Just part of the old room decor?
Oh, my. We have a mystery on our hands. What could it possibly be?

This fluffy mound presents a myriad of possibilities in my day.

Scenario A: The opportunity to stretch your arms, put items into organized piles, and later distribute these piles throughout the house to designated areas.

Scenario B: Lay your head on something soft.

Nope. I’m not even going to open this door. Indeed, you have the option to not open the door at all.

Next.

My Morning Sliding Door Ritual

Truthfully, I have a “Sliding Door Ritual” each and every morning before my feet even touch the ground.

I wrestle with the following possible scenarios:

Scenario A: Boot Camp at 6:00 AM  – Get your sweat on.
Scenario B: Lay in bed and hit snooze.

So, it’s sweat, sleep, sweat, sleep, no sleep, c’mon sweat, but I’m too tired, sweat, sweat, but my pillow is soft. Get that workout in. I can’t open my eyes…sweat, sleep…sleep wins!

And then it’s too late for Boot Camp. Next. 

Scenario B: Lay in bed and hit snooze.
Scenario C: Get up and write like a real writer.

Write, sleep, write, sleep. Can’t I write when I sleep? I’ll write my dreams when I get up. I promise. I’ll work out my plot problems in my dreams. Dreams are good for writing, I just…write, write, sleeeeeepp wins again!

I just…I don’t want to be Crabby Pants all day…zzz. Next. 

Scenario B: Lay in bed and hit snooze.
Scenario D: Rise and shine.

Just a few more minutes…I can sleep, I can feel it…wait, my eyes are shutting. It’s time to get up! I might actually drift off. Hey, I never went back to sleep. Not fair, not fair, not fair.  I’m exhausted. Up you go!

That door slammed in my face.

What about you? Did you see the Sliding Doors movie? Do you have any daily “Sliding Door Moments” or rituals you’d like to share? Do you have early morning ambitions? 

photo credit: Metrò Parisienne via photopin (license)

“E” is for Effortless

Last week, I was Effortless in Twitter. I checked out this tool called the Social Effort Scale that measures your effort in social media; they can measure your profile in Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

I had achieved a score of 150 in Twitter, which is a score of Effortless. Go me! This week, I stumbled. Here’s my latest score:

But my Effortless marks are still high! I scored bonus points for sharing Neil Gaiman's tweet.
But my Effortless marks are still high! I scored bonus points for sharing Neil Gaiman’s tweet. Ignore Facebook.

Your score is based on the following:

  • Number of hashtags
  • Percentage of capital letters
  • Amount of emoticons
  • Exclamation marks
  • Punctuation

The resulting score gives you an overall view of how hard or how little you’re trying on social media, plus individual scores for each of your updates. Here’s some advice for an Effortless score: Don’t ever mention yourself (even in a link), keep exclamation marks and hashtags to a minimum, and don’t use capital letters. I repeat, do NOT use capital letters. And, if you retweet someone with lots of capitals, down you go. Or, in this case, up.

Trust me, I don’t take this too seriously, but I’ll admit I got excited when I got the “Effortless” score. Typically, I know I try “too hard.” A visit to a tarot card reader came to mind. It was many moons ago, and a friend suggested it after we walked past the tarot card reader’s window. After turning over the first tarot card, she took hold of my hands, and simply said, “You try too hard.” Maybe it was because I had PMS or that I was planning a wedding on little money, but I broke down and cried. I knew she was right, and it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. I really don’t know what I was expecting. A “How-to Guide” to life? Rainbows? I just didn’t like what she was serving.

My wedding plans had gone haywire; no one was performing their role as I saw fit, asking the wrong questions because they weren’t about me. They didn’t worry about the same things that I did, and believe me I worried; I wrestled with each decision until I could bear the weight of it no longer and released it to fate, a sort of passive-aggressive approach to decision-making. Sometimes it worked, but most of the time I second-guessed my decisions, or lack of decisions, anyway. Oh, how agonizing I was.

Little did I know at the time that I was marrying “The River.” It’s taken me a long time to embrace my husband’s “Que Sera Sera” approach to life. Now perk up. Here’s when my post will take a decidedly more cheerful turn. Enter “The River.”

I thought a visual might help. Feel the flow of the river...
I thought a visual might help. Feel the flow…

Let me tell you a more recent story of my husband’s ability to be “The River.” My husband registered for a conference for Union Educators in Los Angeles, one that required travel and hotel arrangements. He signed up at the last minute, and when he received an itinerary, he simply made a mental note of his travel date and that he would leave for the airport right after work. He never knew the time of the flight, his airline, or the name of his hotel. All that he knew was that he needed to arrive at the airport, which he did, ticketless, of course. Luckily he remembered his I.D., and the airline figured out the rest.

He had hoped he might see a colleague on the plane he knew; he saw no one. So, there he is up in the sky on his way to his conference, having no idea whatsoever where he would go once the plane landed, besides getting his luggage at the carousel. (It’s important to not get too ahead of yourself when you are The River. One step at a time.) At the carousel, who does he see, but the Union President. Oh, what luck! The President ushers him into a shuttle; it’s doubtful my husband expressed any confusion about their next destination. It was now in the hands of the Union President; what better person to run into? Did I mention that the Union President’s flight was delayed, so that it was a complete fluke that my husband should run into him at all? Double luck.

And it continues….

The hotel overbooked the “packaged deal” assigned for his group. Not to worry. There’s an available room in the penthouse. And guess what? My husband is bumped up to the penthouse with a slick view of the city and a balcony! Here, room service delivered free breakfast each and every morning; no phones calls necessary. Unbelievable!

I laugh at this, but then I also think it probably would not have happened this way if I were with him on this trip. I would have stressed, and consequently, caused him stress. We probably never would have ended up in the penthouse.

You have to ask yourself how willing you are to embrace the flow of the river, to indulge in oblivious forgetfulness, to just be in the moment…to be effortless.

Of course, by asking, you defeat the whole purpose of being The River altogether. It’s really a life philosophy and one that is not easily mastered.

I sense that a bigger part of it is letting go of self-absorption and being aware of others first. By letting go, the world around you is invited into your life, and just maybe they will set it on a smoother course. If you’ve broken all your New Year resolutions already, you might try the effortless route. You may be better off. You may even end up in the penthouse.

What about you? What end of the spectrum do you fall…The River or on the side of worry and indecision?

photo credit: Jezz via photopin cc

What’s your name again?

My ability to hold names inside my brain has reached its maximum capacity. I may recognize you, but it’s likely I won’t remember your actual name. If I make an attempt to call you by your name, there’s a high probability that I will get it wrong. I will call you “Lisa” when your real name is “Linda.” It’s in the ballpark, right? No?

Blogging friends, I appreciate that your name is written down for me. Thank you. Truly. I feel safe and successful here in the blogosphere because, even if I don’t know your actual name, I know I can call you by your written name and there’s a good chance you’ll accept it. In real life, things are not so black and white.

How did I get here? My husband would say that it all began with the birth of my first child. When my placenta left my body my brain went along with it. Oh, friends, this did not happen! This is false! However, he may have a point. Names flooded my brain at the same time that I was deprived of precious sleep. If you don’t have kids and have trouble recalling names, don’t worry. I’m sure you have your own story and I want to hear all about it. I know we’re not alone.

My story goes something like this. With my first child, I belonged to a mommy group where it was necessary to remember not only the child’s name, but the parent’s name…and one more step…connect them together. Now I was masterful at this, even when I had a screaming child on my arm. Fast forward to child #2 and the amount of names you must remember grows exponentially. Now it’s child #1…child #2…parent…connect. Things are getting fuzzy.

Enter children in elementary school and major slippage happens. My brain regains control with a school roster. That helps. Yet, I’m walking on the fault line when my kids play sports, and especially if these sports overlap, as they do. Do I know Johnny from baseball…or is it basketball?

Name recalling reached new lows when I began substitute teaching at the local dance studio, sometimes four or five classes in a night. In any one class, I might encounter the following names: ASHLEY, AUBREY, AUDREY, ALEXIS, ALEXA, ALEX, ALYSSA, and ARIANNA. This is only letter A. I’m not making this stuff up. Not to mention that they all wore the same leotard outfit and bunhead hairdo.

Same outfit, same hair, same moves...you understand.
Same outfit, same hair, same moves…you understand.

These girls smiled sweetly at me up, to a point. After months of trying in earnest, I do believe they turned their bunhead heads on me. For the first time, it became abundantly clear why substitute dance teachers of my youth were so aloof. Here, I had thought some teacher was a pompous prick and full of himself. No, no…this was about self-preservation.

There’s got to be an App for remembering names, right?  iName, iFriend, or WhoRU? I know what you’re thinking. I can practice, just try harder. I can say their name three times after meeting them. I can rhyme their name, create a mental picture of them in my head. Now, if I’ve already met them four times, this is tricky. Either you go on not remembering and continue your smiling and nodding or reveal the obvious and say “I’ve forgotten your name.” This usually works to clear the air.

You feel better if you both forget, don’t you? You are caught in that blank stare with each other and there’s that moment of pure clarity. You know. You breathe a little sigh of relief and say, “I’m sorry. What is your name again?” You both laugh, promise, and hope not to forget for the next time.

Do you have trouble remembering names? Is it a sign of the times? Are we too self-absorbed or distracted? Bad listeners? What do you think?

photo credit: Bunches and Bits {Karina} via photopin cc

Remembering The Silver Fox

I found myself wandering around in the woods the day my father-in-law died. For 24 years I knew him, and it passed in a blink of an eye. What’s it all for? Life, death, it’s seamless. One day he is here with us, the next he’s gone.

Fred was “The Silver Fox,” quick on his feet, spry, charming, a gentleman with a huge heart, although that was his little secret.

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Once early on when I was sick, delirious with fever, and I wanted to have a glass of water by my bedside. Fred kept removing my glass. When I awoke, the glass of water would be nowhere in sight. “I need water. I’m parched,” I told my husband. He would bring it to me, and then zap, Fred would whisk it away. I didn’t know the extent of his OCD then. Later, I laughed.

March_Madness 403

In my twenties, Fred told me, as he did everyone else, “You’re not all there.” The very first time I heard this, I wanted to cry.

Later I got it. He would say, “You’re not all there,” and point his finger to his head. I then laughed in agreement. You’re right, I’m not all there, Fred. Who is? The sooner you realize this in your life, the easier you’ll breathe.

For those who think “They’re all there,” they’re the most confused of us all. As time passes you by, you realize you know less, not more.

Woods

He always brightened someone’s day with small gifts. Me, my husband, his kids, his grandchildren, gas attendants, wait staff at restaurants he frequented, staff at his son’s work….he gave us baked goods, sweet treats, trinkets, statues of dogs and cats, jewelry boxes painted with religious figures, glass sculptures, books, paperweights with butterflies, latch hook rugs with seagulls, condom holders….things that were, uh, puzzling. Okay, things we would never buy for ourselves.

In one of our last conversations, he still wanted to give my sons a present.

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He was a giver in abundance. He wasn’t trying to impress anyone. He just wanted you to smile, shrug off your worries if only for a few moments, and “lighten up” as he would say. It’s just who he was.

I think about my own life and who I touch, who is on the receiving end. How can I give the way he did? I find myself clutching onto fear and worry. Why? In the end, all we have in this life is each other.

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I will miss you, Fred.

In loving memory
Thomas Fredrick Reese
December 27, 1934 – March 23, 2013