gratitude: splish, splash, ahhh…

There’ve been a few things in life that brought me sheer joy.  The kinds of things that drop me to my knees in gratitude, kissing the ground because…well, because why not, it’s something people in the throes of joy do.  Things that swept me off my feet in terms of my word, this is life changing and I will never forget this moment even if I live to be 105.

Finishing our bathroom remodel was one of those moments.

I know, I know…it’s not curing cancer or finding a solution to hunger, but it rocked my world.  There.  I said it.

I fully own that these are first world problems because hey, any indoor plumbing at all, can I get a hell yeah? But finding that moldy and rotting subfloor beneath our shower’s tile was beyond distressing.  There was the psychological factor of omg, how long has it been like this, and how long is it going to take to fix, and how am I gonna live anything resembling my real life while they do.  Then there was the physical trauma – how long had I been breathing crap into my lungs, the illnesses I lived with while they tore out and removed the bathroom materials, how my body reacted when I passed through that space to get something from my closet during demo and construction.

Compared to all that, sharing a bathroom with my 13-year-old son was relatively painless.  Although I don’t know if he’d say the same.

At any rate, after a number of blips and blunders (all of which were fixed by our second contractor, a group I shall forever refer to as The Saviors of Our Master Bath) the remodel was finally complete at the end of November.  Yep, you read that right.  September, October, November, plus those two weeks in August – three and a half months of insanity in our house.  It’s kind of a miracle we all made it to the other side.

But when we did…my word.  I stand in this room now and am blissfully, ridiculously, unbelievably happy.  It is my peaceful space, and I am ever so grateful for it.

gratitude: not everyone has a grownup tree

I’m not surprised people feel a special fondness for Christmas trees.  They’re beautiful and often wrapped in a lifetime of fond memories, family and friends and nostalgia galore.  Some of them are actually gorgeous – grown up trees with a theme and coordinated colors, ones that make you stop and gaze in awe.

My tree isn’t a grown up tree, never has been, but I surely do love it.

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gratitude: safe travels

Roads, rails, and airways are crowded with people moving from here to there right now.  Holiday travel, they call it, which makes sense.  Sort of.  It is winter break for students and teachers, and folks do like to see their people around the holidays.

Except not everyone is in school, and not everybody celebrates a holiday in December…so why are the roads and airports so freaking crowded?  And, I must say, crowded with people often on the edge of losing their sh*t.  I don’t have firsthand knowledge of the train stations but I’d imagine they’re just as nutty.

Regardless.  I’m grateful for safe travels.  With so many loved ones going place to place, we need our guardian angels in overdrive.

gratitude: “though she be but little, she is fierce”

We grow up compiling images of brave people.  Firefighters.  Police officers.  People in the military.  People fighting for justice.  But the older I get, the more I see acts of bravery all around us every day.

It’s in the friend who holds your hand quietly while you deal with a loss.  The kid who shows up every day no matter what they get called at recess.  Adults who speak out when somebody tells an off color joke and stand strong when they see someone treated without dignity.

Teens who fight the urge to fit in, no matter the cost.  Kids who make friends with the outsider.  People who speak truth in even the hardest of times.

Brave comes in all shapes and sizes.  And thank goodness for it.

gratitude: Thanksgiving, a prelude

Half a step past Halloween and we’re solidly into NovemberDecember.  I’m calling it this from now on because there’s no point in kidding ourselves – November isn’t some sweet spot in fall when leaves slowly change as we sip hot apple cider.  December isn’t a leisurely waltz into winter either.  These two months combine into the holy grail of activity as families revolve around each other.

Yep.  Welcome to NovemberDecember.

On the way home from school last week Bear asked me which holiday was my favorite and, like a typical mama, I turned it around on her.  And she told me – wait for it – that most of her friends say Christmas is their favorite because of gifts (duh), but that her favorite is Thanksgiving.  Because Thanksgiving makes her think about being together with everyone she loves.  Thanksgiving is about family and good food.

It may or may not be because we’ve started watching This Is Us, but that answer?  That one made me just a teeny bit weepy.  It’s all the feels.


gratitude: the yin and yang of light

I’d planned to write about the beauty found in both light and darkness.  These two opposites mix into a thousand shades of gray, yet each stands just as strong on their own.  But the more I try to settle my head, the more I find myself leaning into the concept of how we handle light and its absence.  There’s a post in there, I’m sure, but I’m trying to rein myself back in here.

As a child (and, frankly, a young adult as well), it seemed the perfect world would be made of light.  Joy.  Peace.  Love.  Cooperation and generosity blending to make space for everyone.  Just…Goodness.  It seemed like Goodness was what we should strive for.

I understand now without darkness there can be no light.  They dance around each other in ways far too mysterious for me to understand, and that we are all the luckier for it.

gratitude: put that stress in timeout

Recently the topic of stress relief came up in conversation – how different people handle stress, how to do it in a healthy way, that sort of thing.  To say it was a bit on the nose for me is putting it mildly.

At any rate, one point in particular stuck with me: that it’s so important to find something you’re passionate about, because those were the things mentioned over and over as stress relief.  When life seems overwhelming or scary or uncertain, submersing yourself in your passion eases the mind.  Muscles relax and endorphins swim around your brain.  It’s like giving your freak-out permission to take a timeout.

Your passion can be anything, and a lot of us are blessed to have more than one.  Music, writing, photography, reading, art…these are all things I’m passionate about, things I reach for when I need to detox from the world.  Here’s hoping you’ve found your own endorphin boosters.

gratitude: heath toffee, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and M&M

I’ve waxed poetic on the ice cream sundae before – perfect scoops of rich, creamy ice cream covered in warm fudge, and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  Ahhhh… 

You can do a lot of miraculous things with truly outstanding ice cream.

Like milkshakes.  Milkshakes inspire poets the world ’round.  Also teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, and parents.  Hell, milkshakes could probably power peace talks if folks would just give them a chance.

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