Signs

7 Jul

june 5 flowers 8The other morning I was in a deep funk. I hadn’t slept well because I drank a cup of coffee around eight o’clock the night before thinking it was decaf. Big mistake. I’m sure at one point or another everyone has experienced that horrible feeling when you’re lying in bed and your body is tingling and your brain won’t stop analyzing and nitpicking. I didn’t fall asleep until almost dawn.

I woke up exhausted, crabby and shrewish, just to name a few—although I’ve no doubt my family could come up with an enhanced list of unpleasant adjectives that would better illustrate my mood at the time. I yelled at my daughter, glared at my husband and worked myself into a hot mess of resentment and dissatisfaction. Good Lord—I figured I’d better get out of the house before I killed someone. I quickly pulled on my tennis shoes and went for a walk.

For a couple of miles I wallowed in my rage and discontent—everything sucked, nothing was fair and nobody cared. The grievances whirled and foamed in my head until they formed stiff peaks.

Then I ran into an old childhood friend who was visiting her parents for the holiday weekend. Over the past few years she’s been dealing with some serious, life-threatening health issues. I immediately felt ashamed. Here I was, grumbling over nothing, when she had to worry about staying alive. I took a deep breath and decided to change my thinking.

I began to feel a little better on the way back home, finally taking notice of the beautiful summer morning that spread out before me like an overflowing smorgasbord of color. I passed a house with a jumbled yard full of trailing vines, flowering pots and whimsical garden ornaments. And right there in the front yard was this sign:

be grateful

“Whoa,” I thought, stopping in my tracks. The universe had given me a sign. Literally.

Always be Grateful. Such a simple concept, yet one we often have the most trouble understanding.

At that moment I decided to spend more time finding things to be grateful about—to appreciate what I would normally  take for granted. I’ve documented a few of them to remind us that those small, insignificant things are what make our lives meaningful.

From now on, I’m going to pay attention to the signs.

My husband, Rene and daughter,  Isa holding hands while watching a World Cup Soccer match. The blanket covering Rene's legs looks like a smiling face.

A Sign of LOVE. My husband, Rene and daughter, Isa holding hands while watching a World Cup Soccer match. The blanket covering Rene’s legs looks like a smiling face.

Out of the blue, my dear friends Michele and Julie invited me to a Joan Baez/Indigo Girls concert as an early birthday present. It was magical.

A Sign of FRIENDSHIP. Out of the blue, my dear friends Michele and Julie invited me to a Joan Baez/Indigo Girls concert as an early birthday present. It was magical.

A print my son, Nino made in one of his art classes. Profound words.

A Sign of PROFUNDITY. A print my son, Nino made in one of his art classes. I will choose wisely.

My daughter, Isa and my nephew J.J. hanging out on the couch. J.J. would not be here if his older sister Gillian had lived. Isa would not be here if she hadn't survived her leukemia. Take nothing for granted.

A Sign of MIRACLES. My daughter, Isa and my nephew J.J. hanging out on the couch. J.J. would not be here if his older sister Gillian had not died. Isa would not be here if she hadn’t survived her leukemia. Take nothing for granted.

A Sign of detailed complexity. The sun shining on the bench outside my music studio.

A Sign of complexity. The sun shining on the bench outside my music studio.

A sign of continuously changing beauty.

A Sign of BEAUTY. The garden is a constant source of changing beauty.

Now it’s your turn to look for YOUR signs.

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24 Responses to “Signs”

  1. Rossandra July 8, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Aww, Jessica, your words tap right into my heart. I want to know how you do it. Seriously. I love love love this!!

    You’ve probably had this website up for a while and I’ve zipped right through without noticing, but I’m noticing now. Very cool.

    • Allegro non tanto July 8, 2014 at 8:00 am #

      Thanks, Rossandra! Same website–I just like to change things up once in a while. xxoo

    • Britton Swingler July 8, 2014 at 9:38 am #

      Rossandra, I highly recommend reading everything Jessica has written. Each piece I have read has spoken to me profoundly.

      • Allegro non tanto July 8, 2014 at 12:00 pm #

        Britton, you are such a sweetheart. Thank you for saying that.

  2. Eleanor Winters July 8, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Lovely, Sweetheart: an appreciated reminder. You can send this to me daily!

  3. Britton Swingler July 8, 2014 at 9:43 am #

    Jessica, I’m not sure which morning this was, but you were strongly on my mind and in my heart, on Sunday evening (or was it Saturday evening?). I felt an unrest. Perhaps because I also cannot drink caffeine at night anymore, I was channeling your body’s response to it (ha ha).

    I am always struck by how profoundly a walk can change my perspective when I am in a funk. There is something about the rhythmic nature of it, and of course, the beautifully unexpected reminders along the way that all is not as it seems in our oft-tortured heads.

    Grateful for: friends, friend who write beautiful, open pieces, being home with my children, a garage that is less messy today than it was yesterday.

    • Allegro non tanto July 8, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

      It seems like I spent so many years longing for something else when it was really all right there in front of me the entire time. I still have to fight to remember this! Love you!

  4. Bonnie Gerstenfeld July 8, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    Thanks for the best pick me up in weeks. xoxo Here’s one-soon there will be the most adorable bundles of fur just steps away from you-puppies!!!! Even when they pee on you they are just so dang cute!

    • Allegro non tanto July 8, 2014 at 12:04 pm #

      I know, puppies–right? Little bundles of love! Can’t wait for puppy social time!

  5. injaynesworld July 8, 2014 at 10:05 am #

    “The grievances whirled and foamed in my head until they formed stiff peaks.” Yes! That’s exactly what they do! Thank you for the beautiful post. I’ve been really kvetchy lately and really needed to read this. Love you!

    • Allegro non tanto July 8, 2014 at 12:05 pm #

      We should start the kvetchy klub–get it all out and then drink wine and eat chocolate. Love you back.

  6. Tracey July 8, 2014 at 11:04 am #

    Beautiful. A great reminder.

  7. debatterman July 8, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    And let’s not forget that unstated ‘sign’ that told you to get out for a walk in the first place . . . . .. a reminder that a person like you, who truly understands the nature of gratitude, has a sense of that bigger picture in which the half empty cup becomes more than half full. 😉

  8. Peter Shikli July 9, 2014 at 12:40 pm #

    Britton S pointed me in your direction. Your blog reminded me of an Italian proverb, “Gratitude is the memory of the heart.” Since you mix photography with your writing, you may get a kick out of a blog I wrote years ago about what photography taught me about gratitude: http://www.shikli.com/blog/photography.htm

  9. Michele Abbott July 10, 2014 at 4:37 pm #

    Happy to be one of your signs. But you and Julie ended up being the sign of friendship and history and support that I needed at that moment. First notes of Joan Baez’s voice, broke me apart thinking of my Dad who used to sing folk songs by her. Wasn’t quite prepared for how much I would fall apart… weird… he’s been gone now for 6 years, but every once in a while I feel his influence and musicality so closely … grief still finds it’s way to me sometimes, even after time has passed. Thankfully you and Julie flanked me and quietly gave me the support I needed to stop from turning the rest of the concert into a blubberfest. It did turn into an extra large cup or two of wine I did not need…but you supported me through that too – thanks for the ride Jessie. The next day I passed by my Dad’s gravesite and played him a clip from the concert. “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue” seemed fitting. Many signs… friends, beautiful songs that touch our hearts and keep those we’ve lost alive in many ways, and the headache of the morning.. a sign that the wine won’t fix or fill the void. A song you know too well, Jessie.

    • Allegro non tanto July 10, 2014 at 7:35 pm #

      My dear Michele–I know the pain of grief felt when losing a parent. It took me a good ten years after my dad died to let go of the grief. I’m glad the concert helped you feel what you need to feel to get there. It was so wonderful to spend time with you. Thank you for being such a true and generous friend. I love you.

  10. Rich Wenke July 11, 2014 at 8:13 pm #

    Hi, Jessie- I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. This one really didn’t seem like you though at first. I thought that maybe your website had been hacked. Thankfully, you came to your senses by the end and it was another great post. I’m looking forward to your novel. How is it coming along?

    • Allegro non tanto July 11, 2014 at 9:41 pm #

      Rich, thanks for making me laugh (as you always do) and yes, my website did get hacked by a crazy menopausal woman! But she’s better today and isn’t barking at anyone–at least not at the moment. My novel is coming along really well (33 chapters so far–whatever that means.) It’s a long haul but I’m having so much fun. Who knows if it will be any good but I don’t care because I’m enjoying the process. Hope you and yours are well! Thanks for the wonderful comment.

  11. green surf grass July 27, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    thanks for the beautiful reminder!

    >

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