Tag Archives: appreciation

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.

Advertisements

Simple Gifts

6 Jun

It used to be that I thought I never had enough. Now I know better. Today was just another day, but I’m able to walk through it and see how each moment is such a gift. I took these photographs to document that it’s the insignificant things in life that matter the most.

These things make me happy.

Billowing white  hydrangea bushes blooming under my living room window like wedding bouquets.

hydraenga

My lovely daughter, Isa who had her last day of second grade today. Here she is holding one of twelve puppies born only a week ago.

isa and puppy

A month ago, I cut this vine back so severely that I thought I had killed it. I was wrong. Every day it climbs a little higher up the fence.

purple vine

The newest love of my life, Cody–the Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix that my husband brought home without my permission. I was livid. For one day. Then I fell in love. Here he is, cuddling at the feet of my daughter, Nora who stopped by the house to take a nap before work.

cody and nora's feet

I’m always inspired by what goes on in the garden. Such color!

flowers june 7

My wonderful son, Nino and his lovely girlfriend, Kristen. He’s a remarkable young man, although I think there’s something wrong with him because he still likes to hang out with his ridiculous parents. This is how great he is: he goes to Starbucks to get me coffee and sometimes he even pays.

photo (6)

A surprise gift from a dear friend–and my absolute  favorite composer, too!

music

What is more precious than a pile of puppies?

pile of puppies

I’ll be away for a while, so I’ll leave you with my simple gifts in the hope that you can find yours…Happy Summer!

If you’re in the neighborhood, come on over sometime for a puppy play date!

Because of Daisy

17 Feb

daisy

A bald-headed, freckled-faced girl named Daisy died in her sleep after being sick for a very long time. She was at home, surrounded by her loving family, and she felt no pain. But she died, and I must say that I’m so very weary of hearing of yet another family’s tragedy and loss. I’m sick and tired of children dying from cancer.

Not again, is all I can think. How can it be that another sweet, funny and adorable child has died? Why was there no miracle this time?

I’ve always believed that a positive attitude is beneficial to one’s well-being and that our life experiences are never random or fortuitous. I truly believe that what we experience here on this earth is revealed in order to teach us something essential that we’re meant to learn. I’ve discovered these fundamental lessons are usually about love.

When my own daughter, Isa was diagnosed with leukemia, an incalculable transformation took place in my life.  I saw first-hand the astounding and unquestionable shifts in consciousness that came to pass in our family, friends, and even our community during our struggle with Isa’s cancer. Love was always the main component.

I see these miraculous changes have also occurred in Daisy’s family and in the huge number of people who knew and loved her—even strangers who’ve only heard of her fierce battle through her blog http://prayfordaisy.tumblr.com  or on Facebook.

I know Daisy’s family carries the strong faith that she’s all right now and I believe this, too. But from what I’ve seen over the past five years since I first became a part of the pediatric cancer world, the pain and hurt is only just beginning for them. Every time I think about her mama and daddy not being able to hold their precious Daisy in their arms, my heart breaks a little more.

When I think about what Daisy’s family has faced and what they’ll continue to face in the coming days, months and years, an infinitesimal part of their burden becomes mine and it hurts deeply.

Yet, I am grateful.

I’m grateful because each time a child dies from cancer, I’m reminded that by some small shred of grace that was bestowed upon me and my family, my daughter is still here, and I’m blessed with the chance to watch her grow up.  I will never have enough words to express my extreme gratitude for this miracle. I only wish that Daisy’s parents had been able to experience this miracle, too.

Yes, Daisy suffered and ultimately died, and we all know that this is the worst thing that could ever happen to a family. Yet, because of Daisy, we are changed forever. Because of Daisy, we can appreciate the blessings we have in our lives. Because of Daisy, our love and compassion for others keeps growing and expanding and filling up the universe.  I believe that this understanding of love is one of the greatest lessons we could ever learn. This kind of love is the real miracle.

Bless her little heart,  Daisy taught us well.

My Big Anniversary

31 Aug

I love anniversaries. I especially enjoy marking a particular date in time because it allows me to think about and feel grateful for what has come around again. I don’t usually place too much emphasis on the actual celebration of anniversaries as I’m kind of an introvert and don’t care for the idea of being the center of attention at a huge party. That being said, I would never turn down a piece of cake (or two) when celebrating any anniversary, and I sincerely believe that the person responsible for choosing cake as the symbol for celebrations is a complete genius and all I have to say to that person is thank you very much.

The reason I got to thinking about anniversaries recently is because I’m coming up on a big one—no, it’s not my twenty-fifth wedding anniversary (did that in June), and no—it’s not my fiftieth birthday (did that in July) and no, it’s not even my seven year-old daughter, Isa’s five year anniversary of being cancer-free (did that in August, and by the way, hands down, it was the greatest anniversary I’ve ever celebrated in my life.)

The BIG anniversary that is coming up next week is that I’ve been blogging for an entire year.

Now, I know—you’re thinking: Whoop-de-do—BIG DEAL—everyone’s a blogger these days! Who cares?

And it’s true—throughout the past year I’ve read hundreds of blogs out there in cyber land and I’m sorely disappointed to report (pure jealously on my part) that there are many, many good—even great—writers out there, blogging regularly and making me laugh, making me cry, and even making me curse aloud and bang my fist on the desk (this is something I do frequently and is often very gratifying—I recommend it highly.)

What’s important about marking my one year blogging anniversary is that what I’ve experienced through blogging has changed me deeply. Through  the act of working through my ideas, writing them down, editing them, and then throwing them out there for you to read if you so have the inclination, I’ve learned a little bit more of who I am. As frightening as that’s been at times, it’s finally allowed me to learn to accept myself. In turn, it’s made it that much easier for me to let go of the hurts from my past. It’s just been damn good therapy! So thank you all for allowing me to be narcissistic and self-absorbed over the past year. I take full responsibility for my utter selfishness, and for this I apologize in earnest.

I’ve learned that blogging is all about connection with others. Through blogging, I’ve strengthened the relationships I have with my friends and family. I’ve reconnected with old friends, and even made new ones. I would’ve never imagined that I could form such a strong bond with a group of women writers from a Facebook group—and that after nurturing our cyber relationships through daily encouragement and support for each other for almost a year, six of us would manage to come together (one woman came all the way from New York!) and meet in person for the first time. It was thrilling and magical—you would have thought by the way we behaved in the restaurant with all the laughing and screaming that we were long-lost sisters who had been separated at birth!

So I want you to know how appreciative I am that you’ve read my blog posts and have left me such lovely and thoughtful comments. Only my fellow bloggers know how very exciting it is to hear my smart phone ding notifying me of an email that says:

 comment-reply@wordpress.com

telling  me that someone has left me a comment on my blog. It’s like receiving a special present each time it happens.

This connection I share with all of you has made me realize just how very lucky I am to have had this blogging experience over the past year. And now that I’m finally in that place where I’ve longed to be all of my life—the place where I can say that I’m actually happy—really blissfully happy, I’ll probably never write another blog post again.

Well, all right, I will.

If you insist.

An Old Dog with New Tricks

25 Apr

I never used to believe it, but it is truly possible to teach an old dog new tricks. I know this from my own recent experiences, because I’m that “old  dog” (in canine years, I’m about 215 years old—I actually looked it up on an internet website that calculates human years into dog years) and I’m astounded that I’m capable of making such great change in my life after so many years of persistent bad behavior. I’ve been stuck in my ways like a skittish mutt who’s spent most of her life cowering in the corner with her tail between her legs feeling worthless and ashamed, just waiting for someone to shout “Bad Dog!”  This fear of being chastised caused me to hide out in my smelly, self-imposed dog house, licking my wounds and playing the victim. I spent hours there, dreaming of the day when someone would come by and scratch me behind my ears and coo in a validating, high-pitched voice, “Oh my—what a good girl you are!”

Well, enough of that nonsense! I’ve always been a loyal and faithful companion, but I know when it’s time to take the leash off and run free. I’m done waiting around for the praise and approval because I’ve learned I can give it to myself. I now know that this here doggie is capable of learning new tricks, and with a little work and the right mindset, I’ve lost the urge to chew on old tennis shoes or bark incessantly at nothing. I also don’t need to eat an entire box of doggy treats in one sitting or drink out the toilet anymore. 

I’m letting go of my bad habits one by one, and it all began with a simple, yet essential change in the perception of myself—the realization that I’m intrinsically good, inside and out—just as you are, even if you don’t know it yet. This simple knowledge has been the key for me in finding the happiness that has eluded me practically my entire life.

I’m so grateful for all of the blessings that have revealed themselves to me over the past year as I’ve worked to stop thinking of myself as a “bad dog.” I’m especially thankful for all of you out there who have read my blog and posted comments and told me that what I’ve written has touched you in some way (pant, pant—yes, I admit the praise always feels good.) The support you’ve demonstrated to me means more than any of my written words could ever express. As I reveal my true self through this process of writing, I’ve been able to heal and grow in ways I never imagined possible, and you’ve been such a great part of that. Thank you for taking this journey with me as I hang my head out the car window, the wind blasting my face as I joyfully navigate down this wild and winding road of life.