Archive for August, 2009

gratitude

August 31, 2009

i’ve always been a big believer in saying thank you. it doesn’t matter if someone handed you something you asked for or gave you enough money to cover your student loan or they simply gave you work materials on time, i always take the time to say thanks a bunch. thank you. thanks so much. it might be because my mom always made me write thank you notes after christmas and my birthday and so i got used to acknowledging someone when they did something for me and so the expression of my gratitude became habit. or it might be because i like how i feel when someone thanks me, so i’m just trying to return the favor. or maybe it’s a combination of both?

anyways, as i was catching up on my friend kristen’s blog (http://moodswingmusings.wordpress.com/), she had a post about the gratitude tree she had come across in July. there were little white tags all over the tree, each with a small statement of something that particular person was thankful for. she said “I liked stopping to think about the people and things that add value to my life. So every night before bed I repeated the action of recalling the one thing I wanted to remember about the day. I like to think it impacts how I sleep, how I wake, and the way I treat others I encounter throughout the next day.”  because her iphone can only hold so much, she decided to transfer her nightly musings to a new blog. i too really like (and support) this idea, so ever since i found out about it, i’ve been adding things i’m grateful for to the comments section. you can access her delicate and genius writing here:  http://thegratefulproject.wordpress.com/

in other news, i was recently turned onto podcasts, specifically oprah’s soul series, by erin. these podcasts have changed my life in so many ways. (1) instead of being bored with my music while i walk to work, my mind is being stimulated and educated and enlightened. (2) i don’t feel alone because i’ve got oprah and whoever she’s interviewing as company. (3) i’m learning A LOT about spirituality, something that’s always confused me, yet interested me too because how come my siblings get it and i don’t? (4) i’ve been learning about myself and my attitudes and how i can overcome particular shortfalls to be a better person.

so yesterday’s podcast was with sarah ban breathnach who wrote the book “simple abundance”. the main idea of the book is gratitude. when i heard them first talking about gratitude, i started to laugh out loud because this topic had just been introduced into my life through kristen and her blog. and when the same exact concept is told to me twice in one week? well, i think it’s time to take notice. i haven’t read the book yet (i just ordered it from amazon), so i don’t know too many of the details behind it. i’ll have to update you once i’ve had a chance to read it, but since this idea is just so gorgeous to me and since it’s the middle of the year and i’m now “behind” in writing down things every day, i thought i’d start off with 100 things i’m grateful for. and these are in no particular order:

(1) my family
(2) my friends
(3) my (stable) job
(4) my (stable) rent
(5) my bed
(6) falling asleep at night
(7) hitting the snooze button in the morning
(8) my box fan
(9) air conditioning
(10) sunshine and SPF and sunglasses
(11) the beach
(12) taking naps
(13) reading
(14) YA novels
(15) the authors who write those YA books so beautifully that it’s become much more widely accepted for adults to read YA.
(16) working in publishing
(17) my typing skills
(18) emails
(19) twitter
(20) the internet
(21) cell phone, which keeps me in contact with those who don’t live around the corner.
(22) laughing so hard you shake silently
(23) that fact that i’m surrounded by so many people who can make me laugh like that.
(24) my electric toothbrush
(25) my master’s degree
(26) myring that was once my aunt’s and once my great grandmother’s. it’s so fantastic to wear something everyday that has sparkled in the early 20th century sunshine.
(27) my mom’s (and now dad’s!) home cooked meals. i’ll gladly do the dishes if it means i don’t have to eat my own cooking.
(28) my car
(29) the independence my car affords me, even though i don’t take advantage of it all the time and even though i don’t always like that i have to do things on my own, it’s liberating to be able to.
(30) fruit
(31) chocolate milk
(32) pizza and salad
(33) walking to work, even though my hair is sometimes messed up, my clothes get rained on, or the sun makes me sweat, it’s the days inbetween when i don’t have to worry about traffic reports or snowy/icy roads or the temperatures are just right that make it so delightful to walk to work.
(34) my davis square apartment, while quaint (ahem, tiny), it was the best place to live while getting to know the city.
(35) my upcoming office move. while the recession is in full effect, it’s nice to have an office upgrade, especially since my salary is not.
(36) netflix
(37) ipod
(38) people who return my calls
(39) a big work bag, which fits everything and more.
(40) scarves, hats, mittens
(41) living in a city that is so sports obsessed.
(42) having access to both coaching and playing lacrosse. i can’t get enough of that sport.
(43) my work softball team
(44) the food network — without it, i’d be even more clueless in the kitchen.
(45) having the courage to do things that are scary or undesirable at first, but benefit me in the long run, as putting yourself into difficult situations makes you learn about yourself.
(46) conversations about nothing
(47) conversations about really important issues, concerns, and opinions.
(48) having the ability to really listen when a friend needs it and vice versa.
(49) having a newfound ability to speak up when i don’t agree with something.
(50) ice cream
(51) s’mores
(52) campfires
(53) bonfires
(54) a clear sky at night with no city, no buildings, no interruptions. just you and the sky.
(55) my big trampoline that lives at my parents’ house
(56) a grill
(57) steak tips from mckinnons
(58) a reason to grill, friends to grill with, a place to grill, and a patio/porch to eat on.
(59) front porches
(60) rocking chairs
(61) flashlights
(62) candles
(63) running water
(64) running shoes
(65) willpower to get up out of bed to run before work, before caffeine, before makeup.
(66) words
(67) GPS
(68) friends who don’t laugh at the dumb questions i ask.
(69) friends who will answer any question i ask with an honest answer.
(70) post-it notes
(71) chapstick
(72) lip gloss
(73) chewing gum
(74) bagels from the bagel club in NJ
(75) traveling to new places
(76) traveling to old places
(77) a familiar face in a crowded room
(78) earrings
(79) bracelets
(80) watches
(81) new ideas
(82) having a piece of paper to write those ideas on.
(83) having the support of people when i’m trying that new idea out.
(84) my bike
(85) the bike path
(86) my niece and nephews
(87) my siblings
(88) thanksgiving dinner
(89) the turkey trot
(90) warm family reunions
(91) feeling homesick because it means i have other places to go and i’ll still be loved.
(92) homemade mac and cheese
(93) funny emails
(94) night lights
(95) my imagination
(96) having so many gifted mathematicians in my family
(97) a bookmark
(98) tissues in the winter
(99) the pictures of family and friends that decorate my office
(100) this project.

on dads by sara benincasa

August 4, 2009

2009-06-22 – 10:06 a.m.

let me preface this by saying, i did not write this. sara benincasa did. but some parts of this are so spot on, i had to do a little copy and pasting. the entire entry can be found here:

http://sarabenincasa.wordpress.com/2009/06/22/on-dads/

and so she begins:

For me, the most surprising thing about becoming an adult was discovering that I actually liked my dad. It certainly hadn’t always been that way. At times throughout my childhood I’m fairly certain we mutually despised each other, though he might protest that he never, ever stopped loving me. As if you can’t love someone and hate them in equal measure at the same time. For most of my upbringing, I’d say he thought I was brilliant and selfish and I thought he was brilliant and, well, selfish. We fought a lot….
…Incidentally, my Catholic father has told me repeatedly over the course of my life that he doesn’t care about the religion of the person who I bring home. “As long as he’s nice to you,” he says. Should I have offspring, I intend to pass the same attitude on to them. Life is too short and love is too precious to squabble over which version of the God fairy-tale you were forced to listen to on the weekends….
…Grades were of the utmost importance in his father’s household, and thus in his own. I learned early on that high grades merited approval and a certain hands-off approach to my extracurricular life, while low grades (and in math they were always low) resulted in tense father-daughter tutoring sessions that generally ended with someone cursing (that would be him) or someone crying (that would be me). The fact that these sessions even occurred at all was evidence of how much he cared, but I’m not going to sugarcoat the fact that he could be a total asshat when frustrated….
…Once, when I was a baby, my dad sat in a rocking chair with me and held me until I fell asleep. He has a great affinity for babies, and they bring him joy and peace–which in turn tends to make him sleepy. That particular day, my 24-year-old, overworked, underpaid, semi-clueless, probably-totally-freaked-out dad relaxed so much that he fell into a slumber of his own. His arms relaxed, and I rolled down his torso and legs into the crook of his feet. I didn’t scream or cry. I didn’t even wake up. We were just there, breathing together, two bundles of nerves and feelings, sleeping in tandem, and even asleep we both knew we were safe.

Shortly thereafter, my mother appeared and raised holy hell, as was her right. Having carried me successfully inside her body for nine months, she was naturally peeved that my father could not carry me for ten minutes without falling asleep on the job. Shifting the blame, Dad protested that it was my mother’s yelling that caused me to wake up and start screaming. In a sense, he was right; I have always been painfully sensitive to my mother’s shifts in moods, a tendency that I later learned to curb by holding her at a distance, sometimes harshly. My dad laughs about the story now, and teases my mom. I have to say that if my future babydaddy ever falls asleep while sitting upright and holding my spawn, my reaction will mostly likely not be sunshine and cupcakes, either.

But the key element I take away from the story is this: even when he fucked up and fell asleep on the job, he didn’t drop me. He still held me up, by the skin of his teeth or the crook of his feet. His heart–and his ankles–were in the right place, even if his brain was on vacation. And so as an adult, I’ve come to define what I want in a partner not by whether or not he drops the ball, but whether he manages, somehow, to catch it at the last second. And to try harder next time. And to forgive himself for fucking up. And to laugh about it later.

So, belatedly, Happy Father’s Day, Dad. Thanks for never letting me hit the ground.

P.S. I could use like fifty bucks. I’m just saying.