Tag Archives: gratitude

40 Days And The Jar of Awesome

8 Mar

When he said it … I thought … dude. Yes! Why hadn’t I thought about that before.

So last Wednesday I revamped my search for appreciation in the little things, in addition to the big ones, during this 40-Day Fish-Stick-Friday Lenten Season. People are always giving stuff up, stuff that’s bad for you, but you can also give something to yourself or others, something that might be lacking or something you know you need.

I’m big on gratitude as it’s a daily practice of mine, because I’ve learned if you don’t appreciate the little things the big ones might lose their fluff after a couple of days.

But I learned this lesson as an adult.

I thought it would be great to get my kids to be mindful of moments and practice gratitude with me. I thought maybe I’d step it up as a parent.

So I got the idea from Mr. Tim Ferriss, and if you haven’t met or heard of Tim Ferriss, I stronggggggggggggggggggggly suggest you check out his podcast. He’s right on the mark, discovering strategies, routines, and stories that can affect change and help improve your life.  From Navy SEALs to Tony Robbins, to storytellers, to scholars, to actors like Jamie Foxx he covers it all and I’ve definitely picked up some good tips. Over 200 episodes and I found the one, well several actually, that gave me a moment … a pause … a shift that added something. This one in particular helped in parenting, helped with kids, could help with anything really, but thought kids would learn from this lesson.

The Jar of Awesome.

Just a regular mason jar with the word AWESOME written across it and any time a moment of awesome, big or small, took place, we’d write it down and put it in the jar so that we could remember. We’d write it down, so that when things happen, we can be grateful for them, mindful, we can remember things that were made to be Kodak moments of the heart, even when you don’t have a camera.

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So we’re off on the mason-jar journey, and I’ve realized the kids enjoy being reminded of their awesomeness. They forget the little moments, but smile the feel-good smile when they’re reminded. And I know we’ve only just started, but I’ll be sure to take a picture of it once we’re at the end of our 40-day journey. Who knows? We might actually keep it for 365 days.

The Jar of Awesome … here we go.

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Gratitude With Diane Lane on Valentine’s Day

15 Feb

You know, I was never one for elaborate celebrations or grand gestures of love on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked being the highlight of someone’s thoughts and getting some chocolate, or a nice card with hearts on it. I still liked knowing that I was on someone’s mind.

And I never made a huge deal of it so as not to put added pressure on whoever I was with at the time. But a card, a nice meal, some chocolate, some laughs, and a genuine hug that expressed heartfelt connection and intimacy was all I needed.

I look back now and remember times when I was younger and felt lonely, when grandiose productions of others professing their love made the loneliness bigger. I remember the Aquatnet days wanting that candy gram and plastic flower to be presented in class, you know, from that special someone. Now they have it on Facebook or Instagram for the whole world to witness this romanticism. Some people share just to be genuine and open up their book of life, letting us read a small page of it, others do it for showboating-look-at-me reasons, cheapening the heart and romance.

When you’re younger these things seem important.

But I realized how gratitude on Valentine’s Day is just as important as love.

I may not have gotten the red-carpet treatment, but I was able to share moments of life with people I loved. Babysitting for a friend over the weekend so that they could have some kid-less alone time and feel like normal people again made me smile. Getting a card with the best kindergarten spelling and Crayola Crayons masterpiece from my daughter filled my heart. Playing Valentine’s Bingo, cupid’s arrow, making kids at school smile and being helpful in my kids’ classroom hit the spot. Eating a steak dinner, I didn’t have to cook for myself brought a smile to my face. Finishing the night with a small band, playing some good tunes, while sipping a margarita felt nice. Ending the night with Haagen-Daasz chocolate ice cream and watching Netflix a definite plus.

A day and night filled with non-Facebook worthy moments, but special nevertheless.

During all this, I was reminded of Diane Lane in that movie Under The Tuscan Sun. I love Diane Lane. In the movie she talks about how she wanted a house, a home, dinner parties with family, being with people she loved, kids running around, laughter … that would have made her happy. Fast forward to the end of the movie when someone asks her if she remembered what she wanted when she first moved to Italy. Does she remember? She smiles as it hits her. She had a house, a home, dinner parties with people who had become her family, people she loved and that loved her, kids running around, not her kids but kids that brought her joy anyway, and laughter. She realized she had it. Happiness. They both smiled.

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Valentine’s became a day of gratitude, grateful for all the small acts of kindness and love that gave the sun more shine. It could have been a regular Tuesday for anybody, but it was my Valentine’s Day adventure, and I felt love from those that mattered most.

 

 

Getting Through The Twilight Zone

6 Jan

A night of smiles, laughter, celebration, and pride. A night of feel-good feelings to be remembered all year long never happened.

I turned to Plan B ready to find the silver lining, to have a good night despite the bad taste in my mouth. A quiet night of resurgence that included a comeback story waiting to happen was foiled by a bad conversation that exhausted my being. The DMV-clerk-type-of encounter … that kind of exhausting.

Bad conversation people you just need to stop.

I mean do you hear yourselves when you talk? I feel like I’m trapped in the Twilight Zone, the Pig Nose episode where nothing makes sense. This circular logic of bad conversations does nothing for my sanity, it makes me sigh louder and rub my face harder.

So I zoned out. The rest of the words, I chose not to hear them, I just let them think what they wanted to think. I let them have the last word because that’s what mattered to people like this … having the last word. It’s a power thing I guess.

I had given up the possibility of a rational conversation when I came to the conclusion that I could not say anything to make this person see the light and change their mind. Normal people might say … hey why don’t you say how they make you feel, even though you tried and tried and tried different approaches, why don’t you try again until they hear you?

To which my reply would be … there are no hearing aids sophisticated enough to improve these listening skills.

Some people are just permanent residents of the Twilight Zone.

So after a couple pieces of chocolate failed to remove the funk hanging over me I closed my eyes for  a bit and imagined that the A-Team was really real. I tried to think of a way to contact them, but remembered newspaper circulation is down.

And so I closed my eyes and thought of Plan C to help turn things around and during this meditative state, I remembered a moment in the day. I saw the sun hitting the outdoor skating rink and my orange skates cutting through the ice. I swayed from side to side and found the magic. I remembered Bruno Mars and Andy Grammer blasting through the outdoor speakers.

I closed my eyes and remembered that.

I was grateful for it. I thought I felt that magic today despite knowing what the night was supposed to be. Then after a bad conversation … I was still able to close my eyes and see the smile on my face while a zig-zagged on the ice. I had one moment today … today when I thought I would not have any … I had at least one and it carried me through the Twilight Zone.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

 

Blessed Project

12 Dec

Throughout all the dramatic moments that require a Costco-sized portion of chocolate and comedy, I find that gratitude helps change perspective. I can be angry, sad, frustrated, and gutted but if  I can find a moment of gratitude that changes my compass, and after a while I’m able to find the funny in not so funny situations.

I like to live by the Silver Linings Playbook when I can and finding blessings, big or small helps me stay on that page.

A good blogging buddy, Susie Lindau, kicked off The Blessed Project this month, which I thought was such a great way of sending positive vibes out to the universe. Can’t feel too much negativity when you’re thinking of things to be grateful for …

So I’ve found the beginnings of my list. I imagine that by December 31st, I will have added more and will definitely revisit as the year comes to an end and a new one begins.

So what’s on the list …

 

 

Family.

They make me try harder than anyone and anything. I’m lucky to love somebody this much and to have this love  make me a better person. Every morning I get up with purpose, exhausted, but with purpose. They make my half-empty glass look half-full and I’m continually trying to appreciate the present, so that the years don’t feel so short.

I’m blessed with …

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Laughter …

I’m blessed to have a sense of humor to get me through the hard times. I feel really blessed that I find strength when others might have broken down by now. My ability to look for the funny helped me persevere through multiple bouts of failure in everyday life, in motherhood, parking wars, writer rejections, customer service reps, supermarket sweeps, and crazy lawsuits by some crazy chick. I’m blessed that I can write about my journey and know that laughter will be a large chapter.

I’m blessed to live in …

California … where the beach is my escape during weekends in the summer, spring, and fall, where the waves can help calm inner turmoil, where we can play soccer, baseball, and volleyball in the sand with my kids, where a boogie and the waves can wash away a bad mood and where nature is so close I can feel her whisper good things to me as the sun warms my face.

I’m blessed  …

 

that my father’s spirit is with me even though he’s passed away. I’m blessed that I remember the lessons he tried to teach me and that in the end I could call myself his friend. I wasn’t only family I was his friend.

I’m blessed that …

 

 

I find moments of inspiration and strength from unlikely places and they stick with me, they change my course and I’m better for it. I’m blessed to have learned lessons.

I’m blessed …

with a handful of friends, college buddies, work-out pals, life long friends that support me and accept me as I am, that don’t curb my enthusiasm and let my Marty McFly freak flag sail high.

I’m blessed …

 

with a love for sports, adventure, and bucket list shenanigans and for the opportunities that make these things happen. I’m blessed with opportunities that help give me peace, awesomeness, rejuvenation, feel-good feelings, confidence, mojo, juice, and that awesome Gatorade-Commercial- worthy-Ninja-Warrior feeling that gives me that Super Soul Sunday moment.

I’m blessed with opportunity … even though I might not see it sometimes, they’re there. Just got to take a closer look.  Everyday there’s a new chance, a new opportunity, for something amazing to happen, a moment of awesomeness that’s all I need.

 

 

Looking Through The Right Lens …

29 Jul

Turning the corner feels so good, when the day before seemed like such a nightmare.

I was secretly hoping things were going to get better but I didn’t want to jinx myself. It’s weird when people think like that, I know. But I was just hoping for a little luck from the universe, and it turns out, the universe was definitely conspiring with me that day.

Even though we had to cancel our Bucket List Adventures that day, turning 41 ended up being pretty good. I found so many tiny blessings that added up to such a cool day, small moments to be super grateful for, and if I hadn’t been looking, my perspective would have been so different. So glad I was looking through the right lens …

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101-degree fevers and vomit gone …

No traffic on the way and Flock of Seagulls on the radio …

Realizing it’s 99 degrees where you live but a cool 77 on your beach spot …

Warm sand, low tide, cool waters, and no beach space invaders …

Catching some awesome boogie board waves that make you feel like you’re on a the Travel Channel Special, in slow motion, and Morgan Freeman is narrating  …

Great picnic with no sand in the sandwiches …

Splashing in the waves, hearing my kids laugh, hearing my own laugh …

Relaxing on a Tommy Bahama Beach Chair and taking a moment, a couple actually, to check out the peaceful scene …

Driving out for an early dinner and not getting lost on the way …

Eating the best fish tacos I’ve had in 12 years … Duuuuude.

Driving home, in traffic, but kids watching Despicable Me and I’m bopping my head to The Boss, The Zac Brown Band, The Rolling Stones,Tears for Fears, The Beastie Boys, New Edition, and La Pollera Colorada … ahhh best mixed tape ever …

Chocolate cake with chocolate frosting, flan, triple chocolate mousse, one candle, a happy birthday song, and a great wish waiting for me at home …

Buen Camino my friends.

 

 

Small Moments On A Buen Camino …

25 Jul

101-degree fevers accompanied by vomit and tears?

It might end up being a tradition.

Maybe.

Three years in a row when everything that can go wrong does go wrong on the night before? Yeah, maybe. It’s Birthday Eve and I’m remembering last year and being in a somewhat similar position where things beyond my control were out of control. Well it’s happened again, only this time I had to cancel a trip because of it.

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Image from Santa Barbara Adventure Company at Channel Islands National Park

 

No bucket list adventures for me this time around, no sea cave kayaking off the coast of California to ring in another year. The Birthday Eve bad luck bandit has struck again.

But …

It was Birthday Eve … it was Birthday Eve two years in  a row where I had to ask for grace and work hard to find the bits and pieces of gratitude throughout the day. It happened on Birthday Eve and I expected it continue onto the next day. But come sunrise things changed.

The universe decided to rain sunshine down on me and helped turn things around. I found spectacular moments to be grateful for on my adventure last year, and so I’m counting on that happening again. I’m counting on all that bad luck hitting the night before, making way for blessings and happy moments for the next day.  The day.

I was sad about cancelling our trip, our little get away on such short notice, but vomit, fever, and kids are unpredictable on vacation. So no hotels, no kayaks, no sea adventures.

So now Plan B is in full effect …

They’re turning the corner and health is looking up. So day trip is in my future tomorrow. Just a single day trip with small moments of happiness and gratitude throughout. That’s  what I’m hoping for …small moments that will eventually add up … small moments that turn the corner on a Buen Camino.

 

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The Sandlot Moment, Fireworks, and Gas In The Tank

5 Jul

Sometimes it’s about the fireworks, about checking them out, about being able to see great ones, about being wowed, about barbecues and pie.

Most of the time it’s about getting together.

We forget about George Washington and those other cats and all the drama they went through, unless we’ve been watching TURN on AMC. Then you think about the significance of the 4th weekly. But for the most part you catch glimpses of it in between the hot dogs, carne asada, and the Yankee Doodle Dandy song while the fireworks explode into the night.

That’s what I caught — a couple of good Sandlot moments throughout the day. Sandlot. I love that movie.

We caught a baseball game last night and managed to eat overpriced hot dogs and popcorn with our lemonades and enjoy our home team beat The Orioles 7-5.  And we’d been to baseball games before but it was the first night both kids had seen fireworks on the baseball field. We’d seen fireworks before but nothing with Ray Charles singing O’ Beautiful in the background.

And while I was sitting there next to my kids I felt grateful. A sense of gratitude just covered me up like a blanket, being there at peace. Even with all the everyday drama and weekly failures that life brings me, breaking me down at times, wallowing in pints of Ben & Jerry’s or raging in frustration at my punching bag, right there and then, I was grateful for that moment. Grateful that I was able to have the freedom to hang out with my kids, at a ballpark, watch a baseball game, and enjoy fireworks. Simple stuff, I guess. I felt like I was having a small-town moment.  It was a Sandlot moment, actually.

And I tried to breathe it in. If I had a mason jar I would have tried to capture it and hold onto to it for a while, you know for the days where you can’t find anything to be grateful for. I would have held onto that one for sure.

 

 

And I was sitting there in parking lot traffic after the game, just trying to get out onto the freeway, the craziness of the scene didn’t bother me. Most drivers were honking, frustrated, and angry – building up road rage. 38 minutes will do that to you.  I was just sitting there listening to John Cougar Mellencamp, The Go-Go’s and the rest of the 80s lineup, thinking about my Sandlot moment. I had no worries … the kids were asleep, no one had to go to the bathroom, and I had gas in the tank.

It Wasn’t Just a Freeway Sign

30 May

I see his name every time we drive to Legoland. At first it didn’t mean much. I didn’t know him. Just some guy’s name on the side of the freeway.

But I realized later that this wasn’t some guy. Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg made me aware.

Now granted Spielberg is a bowl of cinematic awesomeness, and when combined with the passion of storytelling that is Tom Hanks … man! They open your eyes and make you care about the lives of these people, people who shouldn’t be forgotten.

He had been awarded The Congressional Medal of Honor because of his courageous efforts during the Battle of Guadacanal, and was given The Navy Cross posthumously. United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone was killed in Iwo Jima during WWII. He had just been married a couple of months before.

I enjoyed learning about his strength and character in the story, but I imagine in real life there was so much more to this down to Earth guy who believed so much in doing the right thing. He probably had a favorite baseball team, a favorite spot on the beach, a favorite meal he liked to enjoy with his mom, a favorite spot where he found peace, or something that always made him laugh.

I was sad to learn that he had died on the battlefield, bravely, but nevertheless his life ended there. But I was glad that I became aware of his story.

 

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I had no idea who he was until 2010, and now every Veteran’s Day and Memorial Day I think of him and the sacrifices he made so that I could hang out with my kids at amusement park surrounded by Legos, or splashing in the waves at the beach. There were a lot of men, and boys, that died on the battlefield and today was one of the days that I’m reminded  … Be grateful.

There are a lot of people in history that have gone unnoticed, some have dedications and plaques, while others do not. But regardless of whether they’re famous or not, they all deserve to be remembered for trying to make our world a better and safer place, in between the hamburgers on the grill or sandcastles on the beach, remembering unsung heroes is important.

They provide us with opportunities of happiness that might not have been there.

 

 

 

Lost and Found

28 May

Sometimes you give it 100% and feel like you failed anyway. It’s the Parenthood mantra.

People don’t like to admit their failures. I don’t know, they want to feel like they can be on the cover of Parents Magazine, looking like the weather chick on your local news with three kids in matching outfits, harvesting their organic produce and skipping in their garden. They want people to see them that way.

But it’s all good. I’m not one them. I’m a Failure Survivor. The gray hairs on my head are the scars that prove it. Parenthood is both a joy and a battle.

But most of the time at the end of the day you’re so exhausted that you forget about some of the joys that warmed your heart throughout the day. You forget about the small victories that took place during the day because the failures tend to overshadow such things, which is why practicing gratitude is so important when you’re a parent. Gratitude and finding the funny, those have been my compasses throughout these parenting years.

They help find things that get lost.

Whether it’s in the moment, or at night when it’s just you, Netflix and a cup of tea your compasses help you remember.

Moments of gratitude. They help when chocolate is gone.

 

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Celebrating at the finish line.

 

Like today … I remembered about the front-door parking at the stadium, the smiles of making it to the starting line for the first wave of the race, the laughter and dancing of the finish line party, and the hugs of knowing it was a good Parenthood day.

 

 

 

Hugs, Kisses, and Boogie Boards

15 Feb

Molly-Ringwald-Sixteen-Candles-Tina-Fey-Steve-Carell-Date-Night type of romance was out there yesterday, somewhere between the picnic lunches, steak dinners, heart-shape boxes of chocolate, smiles, and kisses it was out there. People celebrating a little thing called love.

I celebrated love as well  … the one with sandcastles, plastic shovels from Target, a Batman Frisbee, and a great laugh as the waves tickled their toes.

 

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And yes … there were boogie boards. But also hugs and kisses.

Love comes in many ways, and makes you feel good whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not. It happens everyday and I was grateful for it yesterday.

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