~thankful thursday~ don’t overthink it, bro

11-4-16 day 4

i’m thankful that i am having such a hard time deciding what to write about for my gratitude post. i guess what i’m thankful for today is abundance. i just can’t decide between the yummy food we ate for dinner, the sleeping kitties purring near the crackling fire, the lanky boy soaking in the bathtub who is home at last after the long week away at his dad’s, the friday field trip with his class out in the beautiful sunny autumn weather that i got to join in on, or the million other things i take for granted on a daily basis. the basic needs are covered, we are surrounded in abundance, a solid shelter, organic food, clean warm clothing, companionship, all of our needs met. and that doesn’t even begin to mention all of the individual precious people in my life for whom i am so thankful. i am more concerned about running out of days (hahaha unless i re-write the rules!) than i am about running out of things i’m grateful for! i really am truly blessed.

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11-5-16 day 5

so there’s this kid i’m pretty thankful for. i saved posting about him for the weekend since i knew i’d probably set a new verbosity record when i write about him. maybe take a potty break and grab a refill on your beverage and come back, if you want.

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ok, ready?

my son cracks me up. he dropped the phrase “what the crap” in casual conversation with me the other day. sigh, public school. also, he keeps calling me “bro.” i was like, “dude, i’m not your bro, i’m your mama.” he does, however, persist in maintaining a solid vocabulary. he got over dropping f-bombs quickly at age two, after a quick trial period, when he realized how many other wonderful words there were for adding emphasis. given the choice between the right word and the almost right word, he chooses the right word every time. he told me recently he learned a way to get pain out of his body. you just firmly hold and kind of shake the body part (like say, your wrist), and, “then it sears, but then it goes away.” because, you know, searing pain is a turn of phrase all the nine year olds use a lot.

i see evidence that he has been reading things. he will say words, and i can tell what words they are, even though he has made up his own unique pronunciation. he was telling me about wanting to hit a certain poke-stop “at the epi-SCOPE-al church.” reading calvin and hobbes, he came across some mar-TEE-ans (you know, people from mars).

he’s also familiar with sleet, though he has never experienced it. we were talking about how zeus controls the weather, with a little help from poseiden, when rain is involved.

“or any precipitation,” i said.

“yeah, like snow, or hail, or… whatever sleet is…”

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i like listening to him quote passages from the heroes of olympus, and make inferences about greek mythology, while he munches on blue chocolate chip cookies. we like to make funny literary references with each other, such as when i yell like buford the wonder table, “put some clothes on!” when it’s time for him to get dressed in the morning.

as parents we like to think we are so aware of what is going on… now, i am pretty attentive, but he schools me on that on a regular basis. it took me until this year to discover his synesthesia. he sees each letter in its own specific color! it’s been happening for him all along, and i never knew that, for him, m is purple, q is green, and the number 9 is red. layer upon layer of realization unfold that “this is a whole separate person” with a kid. it’s hard, because this person was floating in your belly at one point. you held them in your arms, and now they’re so big they overflow elbows and ribs and kneecaps and giant feet all out the sides of the chair when they sit on your lap, cutting off circulation to your thighs. they are becoming activists on issues you didn’t even know they were aware of, and they are developing friendships and embracing and accepting others’ differences while you’re not even in earshot anymore. they are calibrating their inner compass and you just get to watch as they start doing things like helping their grammy walk down some stairs, without being asked. you get to watch them decide that “being a friend” is something they feel they are good at, on the survey at school.

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you know how some birthdays are no biggie, and others can feel deeply meaningful? i had one of those when he turned nine this year, as it hit me on a gut level that my baby is halfway to 18. i really felt that one, and while i don’t want to grasp and cling, i do want to be sure i’m savoring this fleeting time i have left with him tucked under my wing.

so while i can, i’m trying to say yes to as many games of dungeons and dragons and pokemon as i possibly can, while still attending to my household duties. i know he won’t ask me as often in a few short years. i hide dragon eggs and dragon skeleton dig sites on pieces of graph paper and we roll 20-sided dice and slay orcs and goblins together with our long swords. i keep putting food and stacks of books in front of this drumming, karate chopping, fly tying, game creating, lego building, theater camping paleontologist, and shaking my head in awe of the wonderful human being blooming before my eyes on a daily basis.

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11-6-16 day 6

my gratitude post for today wrote itself at bedtime last night, when i found rich sobbing:

“not even a mention! i was a one-hit wonder!”

today i am thankful for laughter! long belly laughs that warm me up on chilly nights. running jokes about skinny legs that catch each other off guard. running narration of the kitties’ inner thoughts, keeping the daily routine light and fun. all the irreverence that is possible because of a strong, secure foundation.

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a few minutes after he popped the question, and i said yes, (i never said no, even though he had been telling a story for months about how he had asked me numerous times but i had kept saying no…) we were feeding each other peanut butter brownies and having coffee, and when he claimed he had been too jittery and nervous to get coffee earlier, i didn’t skip a beat. “and were you also full of shit?” in the division of labor of our relationship, one of us does the overthinking. i’ll give you a hint: it’s not him!

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last year when we lived at the vacation house, we’d repark each other’s vehicles as needed, based on who would need to leave first in the morning. whereas he could get our bumpers so close i couldn’t walk in between, i would back his truck up so close i just knew one more inch would mean a collision, only to get out and see i was still ten feet away. he’d thank me the next day for saving him some of his drive by parking him part of the way to work.

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it’s been almost five years since i asked him out in a laundromat. we still like to pick each other up, though, whenever we get the chance.

“i must be from alderaan, because you blew up my world.”

i love you, you mischievous, hilariously funny man. and your skinny legs, too.

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11-7-16 day 7

today i’m thankful for my best woman.

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she’s the silly reason in a goldfish laugh. which is to say, there’s no logical reason why she ever became my friend in the first place, and yet, 20 years later (more than half of our lives!) she still is.

it’s not because of the existence of a blackmail video tape of us singing aerosmith’s pink into our hairbrushes. neither of us would threaten the other with releasing such an atrocity, because we’re in it together.

it’s not because we are anything alike. we’ve influenced each other’s music preferences (rich appreciated that i was excited to go see tool with him) and clothing colors (actually she still mostly wears black… i wore some black when i used to be able to borrow it out of her closet…) and our height difference is holding steady at a lot of inches. she has brooklyn roots, and we still joke about how my grandma answered the milk house phone when she called me for the first time, after receiving my “howdy, roommate” introduction letter. hello milk house? this is brooklyn. yes, we were assigned to one another freshman year, and still, against all odds, remained friends. you don’t know what a milk house is, you say? neither did she, but we fixed that.

it’s not because we actually get to spend any time together. we’ve spent much of our friendship 2972.11 miles (give or take a few hundred) apart. the last time we hung out, i was having a baby shower. that’ll be ten years ago. yup, half our long friendship ago. and for this second half, i’ve been a mama, so i neglect her like crazy and completely take for granted that she still wants to hear from me when i do pick up the phone on her 17th attempt to call me.

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it’s something else. i’m still trying to put my finger on it. so i keep emailing her long babbles and she keeps wanting to read them, and she writes them to me and i marvel at her perspective on everything. my mom gave me some wisdom a while back, not to try to meet all my emotional needs in one individual, and i should value my friends. i believe rich is grateful that i dump the entire dissertation of details on lau each time i’ve got something to process/overthink, and wait to deliver the synopsis to him after i’ve gotten it pared down by 90% and mostly resolved. you guys think i’m being verbose on this blog, but she and i are looking into a private email server to hold all of our correspondence (jk! little election humor on election eve!) she’s a life saver, she keeps me honest with myself, she keeps my journal pages safe and gets all my inside jokes. she’ll hide under a rock because i am drawing attention to her, but i’m doing it anyway, because i’m a lucky duck. she’s laufashau galore!

love you as big as the sky, lauren marie!

 

11-8-16 day 8

today i was noticing so many little things that i feel thankful for, everything from convenient little coffee filters, to drive up ballot drop boxes, to papa murphy helping me out with dinner. the gratitude exercise is working for me in spades, when it comes to helping my mood improve, because it is seriously habit forming to focus on thankfulness! when that is the energy i am putting out, more to be thankful for keeps coming at me. but this evening as i sit down to write this, i am feeling that instead of a list of the wonderful tiny things, i want to focus on the big things in life, the ones that are bigger, even, than election drama.
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quinn has a free state parks pass because he’s a fourth grader, (yep i’m thankful for that, too), and so we parked for free at the lighthouse, a beautiful spot we rarely visit, due to the parking fee. we had two hours in between school and karate, with a sunny day on our hands. we spent a full hour of it just marveling at the size of the waves crashing into the rocks right below us, trying to stay upright in the strong, steady wind.

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this place… from sea to shining sea, it feels messed up to me, and i am feeling and hearing that from so many. but at the same time, this land is your land, and this land is my land, and feeling like it’s our responsibility to do something about this mess, feels so daunting, too.
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but then i remember the whole country is just a small place within in a much bigger place, and if we zoom out and out and out, it quickly disappears and loses all of its significance.
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today i am thankful that i am so insignificant. all of this will pass away, but the waves will still continue to crash, one after another, onto these rocks. the impermanence of it all, the smallness of myself, can be comforting on a day like this.

 

11-9-16 day 9

i am thankful for the gift of words.

i streamed a free conference this past weekend called education: next generation. i got to listen to some progressive thinkers on topics like self-directed learning and parenting with empathy and the neuroscience of connection. dan siegel, scott noelle, peter gray, many others. i’m familiar with some of these thinkers, so it was a refresher course in some ways, but in so many ways, my mind was blown.

we become who we are in the storytelling we do. several of the speakers i listened to this week reminded me of truths i’ve learned before; my thoughts are not who i am; my thoughts are not even necessarily to be believed; integrating my storyline into an unbroken line is the best way to ensure my own well-being; focusing my energy on gratitude for this abundance begets more abundance in my life; i have the power to choose a different brain patterning; our storytelling is powerful, and can change the course of our life, depending on the words we choose.

in the context of parenting, marji zintz reminded me of one of my favorite parenting quotes, to “attribute to children the best possible motive consistent with the facts.” i also remember back to when i was articulating for myself that i wanted to step outside of a paradigm that focused on getting “it” to “work” and let go of controlling the short term issues, and instead set a goal of connection/attachment, with my sights set on longer term goals. i think this was a timely refresher for me, because these concepts aren’t restricted to kids. i can think of adults i could extend the benefit of the doubt to; and in the actual communication with people i disagree with, i can see how focusing on connecting and finding common ground is going to get us much farther than other more prevalent conversation formats.

at the end of the day, i can assign a meaning to the votes my acquaintances cast, and i can certainly assume that they meant their position as a personal affront to me. just like the old slogan about resentment, it would be like taking poison and hoping they die from it. most likely, my fellow americans were not really thinking all that much about me personally when they voted, though, and even if they were, my assumptions about what they think or how they feel are going to get us nowhere. reaching out and asking where they were coming from? not taking other people’s stuff personally? these have potential.

some of my favorite words from the conference:

consent; scott noelle connected some dots for me in a way that my mind has been hovering just outside of for a while now. one huge reason why i value self-directed learning, in its truest sense, when a student/child can actually opt out of a lesson they don’t wish to participate in, is that we are so messed up around the concept of consent, and it has so much to do with our kids lacking choice. and here’s what i mean by choice; it’s not just having three learning options, if that still rules out “no” as a valid choice. we are forgetting that allowing for “no” makes “yes” so much more profound.

connectome; dan siegel said this word, at least i think this is the word i heard him say, and if not, i like it anyway. he says that integration is the “best predictor of every facet of well-being” and calls the linkages in the brain that, having made sense of your life, are connected in an integrated way, your “connectome.” this is a pleasingly geeky word for someone who works on things like genomes and transcriptomes.

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some more words i liked, from charles eisenstein: “how can i be of service to that which wants to happen.” a small snippet of his talk concerning what he sees as our transition, on a cultural scale, from the story of separation (a mythology that divides self from other) to the new story, the story of interbeing. i checked his book out of the library so i can absorb some more of his wonderful words, which i obviously have done a horrible job of paraphrasing.

this evening, the words of garrison keillor made me nod and chuckle. the way words connect us, something that you say can resonate with me, and  grow that…. linkage, maybe we can call it the human family connectome, the web to which anything we do affects us all.

my favorite words from today were read during yoga class, and as i tried to unfurrow my brow, i contemplated a passage from the book of awakening about what salmon have to teach us about facing things. as they swim up a waterfall (seems impossible, but they do it), salmon know to turn towards the impact; by aiming their soft underbelly into the oncoming force, they borrow the energy of the river to propel them upward.

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being able to show up for this period in time, be vulnerable, show our underbelly even though the impact is going to be direct and hard; this seems to me to be the way we can ascend from here.

 

11-10-16 day 10

10, 10, 10, 10 is for everything, everything, everything, everything!

i’m thankful for everything. especially music, today.

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dang it, i got that far with writing my post, plus a few other notes jotted in an outline, and then found out about l. cohen’s passing. and the way i found out was my bff texting me that she had chosen music as her gratitude for the day, only to find out about his death. you remember that whole connectome thing i was talking about? there are a higher number of linkages going between that woman and me among the tangled threads of consciousness than expected by chance. too many synchronicities to count.

i had the above mentioned violent femmes song in my head the day rich and i got engaged because it was the 10th of july. lately he has been waking us up with a wonderful selection of songs, but of course i feel that way, i picked them out and burned them onto those cds for him. the mix tape is still one of my favorite ways of expressing love, even though i no longer do it in tape format. i will have to check whether we have any l. cohen songs on our stack of cds from the various anniversaries and trips to country fair for which i made him mixes, because if not, we’ll need to add a few. “dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on.”

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one of my favorite wedding traditions that i’ve done for several different friends and family members, is to collect songs from the family and friends of the people getting married. love songs, “our” songs, if you will. my poppy used to sing “you do something to me” to my nana. my mom and dad had charlie rich’s “a very special love song” played at their wedding by their live band. i got serenaded just this morning when a certain someone turned up the volume for robert plant singing “sea of love.” it’s super fun to be nosy with people i don’t even necessarily know that well (asking after the other side of the family’s grandparents’ songs?) and it turns into a time capsule full of wonderful musical tidbits that the newlyweds now know about their support network.

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lauren and i used to have a wake-up song system, when we were roommates. she’d program her stereo to whatever time i needed to wake up (my classes always started earlier) and then when the cranberries or the smashing pumpkins would come on in the morning, she would wake up to the clicking on of the stereo, i would sleep through the song, and she would say my name loudly so i’d actually get out of bed.

“there’s no need to argue anymore….”

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and of course, music was on my mind already this morning because of the little folksinger i posted yesterday, belting out woody guthrie. sometimes you need a little folksinger to get you through your day.

 

 

part of me wants to go lay down and sob into my pillow. “dance me through the panic til i’m gathered safely in.”

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but how about this instead… today if you leave a comment, pick a love song and share it! we desperately need to have more love in this world.

 

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