gratitude

Weekly Dose of Gratitude and Joy

Don't Hesitate

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don't hesitate.  Give into it.  There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be.  We are not wise, and not very often kind.  And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left.  Perhaps this is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world.  It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant when love begins.  Anyway, that's often the case.  Anyway, whatever it is, don't be afraid of its plenty.  Joy is not made to be a crumb. -Mary Oliver

My week, in general, was pretty fucking craptastic.  Depression, like the Swamp of Sadness, came creeping in with a vengeance this week, causing me to break down sobbing (not just in tears, but the ugly, nearly hiccuping sobbing) more than once and for more than one seemingly trivial reason.  I'm not ready to share all the details here, but it hasn't been fun.

Despite that, there were moments, like Mary Oliver said, when I experienced "sudden and unexpected joy."  I'm trying to focus on those.

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1.  Phone calls with my besties.  I fell out of touch with most of my community the second half of last year, those far away and those close by.  This week I had calls from two of my best friends from Pittsburgh, and the instant I saw the name on the caller I.D. I reverted into my joyful, giggling, girly self.  I love these girls so hard.  They know me and they get me.  We grew up together out at the barn, riding, nerding, later teaching.  I was in Niki's wedding and Jessie was in mine.  Any time I'm with either of them, I feel little parts of my soul start to fill back in.

2.  Let Your Life Speak / We are imperfectly gifted.  When I was in Albuquerque last weekend I had a conversation with Greg, one of my brothers and fellow board members, about my struggle to find my next path in life, after realizing several months ago that I'm not in the right place (mentally, physically, spiritually, vocationally...).  It began over Brene Brown's "The Gifts of Imperfection" that I'm currently reading, after which Greg mentioned Parker J Palmer, the speaker, writer, teacher and activist, whom I had not yet heard of.  When I got home Monday night, his book "Let Your Life Speak" was waiting for me, a perfectly timed gift from Greg.  If that wasn't enough, the following day I found a sermon online given by Greg, a Unitarian minister, from this past summer delving into Brown's "Gifts of Imperfection."  Synchronicity at work indeed.

3.  Camera Lens.  I'm following my creative curiosity (thanks Liz Gilbert!) and pursuing a life-long love of photography.  I'm taking some classes and lectures and taking my camera everywhere I go.  It's already led to some interesting conversations - an ESPN photographer I met along the river in Austin, my massage therapist who was a former product photographer of 25 years.  This week I bought a wide aperture lens and was giddier than a kid on Christmas morning when tried it out and I realized that I can take low light, active, indoor photos with no flash!  It felt like the best $200 I have spent.  Can't freaking wait to start using it!

4.  Running across a field with a dog.

5.  Email from a grateful student for quickly helping them out.

6.  James Corden's Carride Karaoke with Chris Martin of Coldplay.  Don't ask, just do yourself a favor and watch.

Weekly Dose of Tranquility and Gratitude

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My word to follow this year (thanks to the Susannah Conway "Unraveling the Year Ahead" workbook) is tranquility. I think finding a word is much more fluid than coming up with a resolution per se.  It can mold and transform into what you need throughout the year.  I need to slow down and find tranquility in nearly all parts of my life - I ended 2015 feeling ragged, defeated and exhausted.  Part of finding that is noticing life's details that bring me tranquility and fill me with gratitude. I've done a "5 Things" or "Little Things" post from time to time, so I'm going to see if I can reinvent that tradition.

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1. Snow.  I'm a northern girl.  I love snow.  Growing up it rarely stopped me from doing much - I still ran, went to the barn to ride and work with the horses, skied when I could.  Even though everyone below the Mason-Dixon line seems to shut down upon the mention of snow, I love the beauty it brings to a stark winter landscape, forming crystals on a canoe or a window pane, allowing us an excuse to stay warm and cozy indoors.

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2. Today's snow formed the perfect backdrop to my writing space.  I have an old, garage-sale find of a desk in the corner of the guest room where I keep my collection of paper and notecards, pens, postcards and natural treasures.  My grandmother's blue glass lamp illuminates an idea board hanging over found bones and birds nests, gifted elephants and painted stones.  Bon Iver played quietly on my iPhone while I penned my Thank You notes on gold glitter cards.  I'm so lucky to have such a space.

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3. Our dear friends celebrated the arrival of a baby girl last Sunday, who kindly came a week early, avoiding the blizzard.  So precious and so tiny (look at those toes!! Can they be real?!).  My heart poured out with love.

4. During the extended hospital stay of above friends, there was a 7 or 8 person Google Hangout, including the new parents and other local friends.  Since we couldn't all be together, we received updates, shared pictures and sent encouragement (and distraction when needed). It was an amazing experience for me to be a part of such a connected tribe.  I love our tribe.