Monday, January 26, 2015

Gratitude Journal #261

Today, I am grateful it snowed on a Monday off from school...convenient, that.

Today, I am grateful for Jack's IEP team and for their genuine concern for Jack's education and success.

Today, I am grateful for my church and the sense of community it provides.

Today, I am grateful for Barnes and Noble.

Today, I am grateful for laughter, which really is the best medicine.


Today, I'm grateful for donuts.

What are you grateful for today?

Friday, January 23, 2015

Goethe and Strangers in Parking Lots

"Each one sees what he carries in his heart." Goethe

One day last fall, I was walking to my car after buying absolutely nothing at a craft store. (Yay, me!) A woman in front of me locked her elderly car with a real key and walked toward the store, a bit unsteady in heels and overdressed for a morning of craft shopping.

Her body language caught my attention, even at a distance, and made me think of a beaten puppy...shoulders drawn up, back hunched, head down, trying to make herself smaller.

As she drew closer, I caught her eye and smiled. Her face lit up in a beautiful smile, her shoulders went down, and I realized she was extremely tall and thin. For a moment, just a moment, she made eye contact. Then, her eyes hit the pavement again, and she turtled down, putting up her defenses, withdrawing into her shell.

It broke my heart.

Each one sees what he carries in his heart. I've smiled at a lot of strangers in parking lots, especially since I began easing into mindfulness last summer. Sometimes, people don't see, sometimes they see and don't react, but mostly they smile back, comfortably, to another human, an equal.

This woman, however, couldn't comfortably accept a smile from a stranger in a parking lot. What sort of abuse, what sort of shame beats down a human being so completely? I have no idea and cannot imagine.

But her brilliant smile and its quick, absolute disappearance still haunt me.

I pray she finds love and peace and compassion and kindness...and that they change what she carries in her heart. I also pray my smile helped her, even in just a small way, even though I will never know.


Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Why Imagination Is So Much Fun


This reminds me of browsing a used book store in Madison with my sister-in-law Angela last September. The dusty smell of magic; the sense of discovering important, hidden, forgotten secrets; rounding a corner and seeing an ancient, giant book press and wanting to take it home....

For his imaginative adventures, my son Nick prefers the woods, where he can fight off lions and tigers and bears (oh, my!) with nothing more than a pocket knife and a wizard's staff.

Where do you have adventures of imagination? Don't you dare say you're too old for them. If your imagination has had too little exercise lately, warm it up and give it some love!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Gratitude Journal #260

Today, I am grateful for smart, respectful, compassionate people who know when to say nothing.

Today, I am grateful for tissues.

Today, I am grateful for this picture, which pretty much sums up our weather lately.


Today, I am grateful for schools that take icy conditions seriously.

Today, I am grateful for leftovers...delicious ones that make me say, "Yum." Thanks, George.

Today, I am grateful for paper and the trees that gave their lives to make it.

What are you grateful for today?

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year!

As I've contemplated finding a new word for 2015, it occurs to me that my original plan to have a word a month for 2014 died back in April.

I'm really not good at this sort of thing.

In the fall, I did a prayer study called The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson. Batterson encourages his readers to make a list of life goals, and I honestly found this exercise incredibly difficult. What do I want?

Good question. I don't have a good answer.

Over my 48 years, I've had lots of answers that mostly ended up being wrong. I've made plans that never happened the way I'd envisioned, despite my best efforts. And I have watched others miss blessings because they were too focused, too determined to follow their plan. I've seen negativity and resentment of plans unfulfilled drag down some of the most blessed people I know. These experiences have lead me to resist planning too much, resist limiting my life to just what I want. To paraphrase Professor Dumbledore, people do have a habit of wanting what's worst for them.

My life is an example of blessings unplanned.

Or, at least, unplanned by me.

Various opportunities have popped up, and I've seized them. Perhaps that's my gift: to seize the blessings as they arise and to trust that they will, indeed, arise as needed. I don't have to control everything anymore, and that keeps me looking for whatever blessings life has to offer. It's quite the adventure, and I'm happy with it.

So what are my resolutions for 2015? Looking back over the years, a few have stood out as broadly successful. Cultivating gratitude. Learning new things. Making stuff. This year, I'd like to continue cultivating gratitude for all these unplanned blessings. I'd like to learn some new things...specifically, a few Bible studies but also whatever else pops up in front of me. I'd like to make stuff, especially my book and more writing on my blogs. I'd like to continue to treat myself kindly and to treat others kindly as well.

That seems good enough.

What are your goals or resolutions for 2015? Please share!