Tag Archives: gratitude

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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Grateful For In 2016 …

9 Jan

 

A California night …

 

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… Under the twinkle of the stars and light of palm trees, California Dreaming.

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Flawsomeness and Juice

31 Dec

Goals. 2.0 better versions of yourself. To-do lists. Bucket lists. Happiness projects.

Yup. I’m one of those people. I didn’t used to be. Lists would burn me out. I’d never get to cross anything out.

I’d come up short all the time. But then something changed and I learned about silver lining playbooks, and finding and keeping those good-times-noodle-salad moments close.

I still fail, lots of times but I get off my beaten ass and try again.

I wanted the 2.0 version of myself, but the 1 1/2  life I’m currently living seems to be pretty badass at the moment, because I realized that I’m always undergoing construction, and humor and gratitude continue to be part of the blueprints that are helping build a better me.

With all the failures this past year, being able to focus on gratitude and what I got right, instead of what went wrong seemed to help minimize the breakdowns and tune into a more positive state of mind. Continually trying to write SNL skits of the not-so-funny moments in my life also seemed to help turn some difficult corners.

I was hoping for  a better year, just like everyone else.  I was hoping for more A-Ha! moments, more Super Soul Sunday moments. But most of all, I was hoping for more turning points, for finding them, for paying attention to them.

That’s what I set out to do at the beginning of the year, just find my turning points, find ways to thrive and I realized that humor and gratitude were gonna make it happen for me. When there was no more chocolate in the house, humor helped the disasters of parenthood and friendships gone bad. When frustration and profanity rose up because nothing seemed to be falling into to place, gratitude helped remember the good times with my kids, my staycations at the beach, my skydiving adventure, my triathlon victories, my message exchanges with WordPress buddies, my 40-year-old celebrations with my comadres, my morning Power-Hours, my Mixed-Tape Mondays, my chocolate cakes, and my cool-side of the pillow ZEN feelings.

I’ve kept my don’t-give-up attitude. I’ve found my turning points and been present within them. I became the stumbler, I didn’t build my life by being better than others, but by being better than I used to be.

I kept my 2015 plan in tact, and I’m better for it.

And so what’s up for 2016? What’s my plan?

I’ve been reminded that I’m Flawsome, and that there’s Big Magic out there for daydreamers that take action, and don’t give into the negativity that surrounds them. They embrace their flaws and live a creative life by “continually and stubbornly” trying to find the pockets of inspiration that give them the juice. Even when negativity surrounds them.

I’m looking to “continually and stubbornly” keep my juice.

 

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One page at a time, one day at a time. Writing this 365 page book with gratitude and humor. And Flawsomeness. And Juice.

Buen Camino.

 

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I Had Gotten My Spark

26 Oct

I thought there would be fireworks and it would be magical. 

I’d built it up to be such a great thing because I’d gotten so much out of the book… but being stuck in traffic, parking way across campus, and showing up 20 minuted late really seemed to fizzle things out. Nothing was going according to plan…
I had met her when my life was in shambles, Telenovela shambles … the kind where you wish you weren’t the main character because everything was so jacked up but it turned out that when you looked in the mirror you were that character, you were in shambles. 

Yeah that was me some years ago, and  I found such comfort and Aha! moments in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love novel that it helped me transition through such a tough time. Going through that with her words swirling in my thoughts and settling in my heart, I’d expected that same transformational lightning-bolt moment to happen again. But the two hours in traffic seemed to take the umph out of the lightning.

Sadly … I’d missed the opening. I hate missing anything, I’m the kind of person that gets to the movies early just to enjoy the previews, I don’t like missing the Oscars monologue, I don’t like missing beginnings, they sort of set the tone for everything else. So missing out on the first half of anything, especially this speech was kind of a downer. 

But just then and there as I walked into the auditorium, sweaty and hair in desperate need of a hat or some Aquanet hairspray, I saw her and gratitude kicked in. I wasn’t focused so much on what I had lost, on how far I had parked, on the disasterous traffic, or what nugget of Big Magic I had missed, but I was centered on my gratitude.

 I had caught the second half. 

I mean in sports that’s when things matter, the second half. That’s when Hail Marys are thrown and the crows go wild. In books that’s where thing matter, in the second half. So as I stood there in the aisle leaning against the pillar I focused in on that voice I had heard so many times before in the Magic Lessons podcasts, and it appeared.

The spark.

I came away with two great take-home moments from stories that seemed to resonate with the writer and creative force inside me.  Great lines that made there way into my morning routine and do t-give-up inner dialogue.

And even though after the lecture ended the bad luck continued, I still found gratitude. The line was long for the book signing, and even though the chick in front of me took longer than she was supposed to and stole my moment with Gilbert making her posse quickly usher me away after she signing my book, I still felt good.

I had gotten my spark.

 I had gotten my take-home moments … two of them and I was thankful for the mini lesson.

  

In Between Now And Then

8 Sep

I actually took advantage of it.

I didn’t have anything planned really, but I still took advantage.

Another stay-cation on the books for the Guats this Labor Day Weekend. A camping vacation would have been nice, but nevertheless I still found myself being grateful for the extra 24-hour period. Even though I didn’t have the “happening” plan I still found a way to find bring “cool” to our weekend. Cool and gratefulness. You see, the scenery and the peace I felt made up for the lack of traveling this three-day weekend. I figured a lot of people would probably be traveling to a get look at a place just like this …

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Appreciating the beach, the surfers and gaining peace at the same time. :)

Appreciating the beach, the surfers and gaining peace at the same time. 🙂

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And the miraculous thing?

I had plenty of personal space. Plenty. And you know how I feel about my personal space and those hijackers who always try to crowd me. This time, at this beach … it didn’t happen.

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Discovering personal space exists

Discovering personal space exists

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There were people but for some reason they didn’t wander all the way down to my little spot. They hung out by the tidal pools, which we discovered bright and early before anyone arrived. My kids enjoyed checking out this new beach and the anemones, crabby-crabs, and tiny fish that lived in its tidal pool waters.

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Exploring tide pools

Exploring tide pools

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I rediscovered that my California beaches can make up for nonexistent plans on a three-day weekend, on a free day, a free 24-hour period. You get to spend it anyway you want and instead of feeling bummed about staying in town, I just felt grateful that I had another school-free-don’t-have-to-pack-up-lunches-fight-school-traffic-and-snobby-PTA-moms-for-a-parking-spot kind of day. Labor Day was a beach day, filled with gratitude, boogie boards, sand toys, and plenty of Coppertone 45.

I felt myself being present in the moment, not worrying about the one that just passed, and not rushing to the next. I wasn’t worrying about the future of chicken dinner, or the picking up of Legos, or the fact that the purple Crayola crayon broke in half. I was just in between now and then, and that took place on the beach.

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Catching Moments

7 Aug

I catch them more often now.

The moments.

I catch them and they stay with me. Sometimes they’re amazing, spectacular, fireworks type of experiences. Other times they’re quiet. This one was simple. It was a pretty simple moment, something that might not be significant to others, something that might not even be Facebook or Instagram-worthy to others, but it mattered to me.

And the fact that I knew it mattered made me smile.

I didn’t miss it and that made me think of my Dad. He would have been happy that I didn’t miss it. I sat there and held onto it …

Do you see the jaguars? :)

Do you see the jaguars? 🙂

We hiked up hills and walked through sunlit pathways checking out zebras, orangutangs, hippos, silverback gorillas, meerkats, and elephants. We explored all kinds of animal behavior but it wasn’t until we reached a quiet spot in the rainforest area near the jaguar exhibit when it happened. That’s when I caught it.

We decided to sit on the bench, a place we all looked forward to, seems that with all that walking we developed a deep appreciation for the shade. I opened up the Batman lunchbox and passed out the mortadella sandwiches, Goldfishes, and CapriSuns. We talked about the favorite parts of the day and sat still in this man made environment that felt pretty real.

Then in mid conversation my daughter stood up and walked over to the glass for a closer look at a rainforest ambiance and then the Jaguars that everybody had been wanting to see, but couldn’t because they were hiding in their own awesome shade walked on over and stood in front of my daughter. She didn’t take a step back, she took a step forward. She didn’t turn away, she looked closer.

Jaguars are pretty amazing animals, they provide you with the stop-and-stare kind of moments. And just then things went in slow motion and I was grateful for it. Happy that my kids were discovering something that mesmerized them, happy that they had front-row seats (something that rarely happens for us), happy that I was part of that and grateful that I had noticed, I had caught the moment.

Here’s hoping that you keep catching yours.

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