It has felt like a rough few weeks. A few days ago our water heater burst in our basement, ruining the floor, baseboards and some of the walls, and they found asbestos. Luckily we were home and not traveling, as the water heater was continuously refilling and emptying, it started in the middle of the night and we found it the next morning. We took this week off to recharge a bit, so starting Sunday morning using the wet vac to suck out the water, call plumbers for new water heaters, and the insurance company was not how I wanted to start a week of vacation. Additionally, most of Nico’s toys are downstairs and it is where we spend the most time with him.
I am not going to lie. I’ve been extremely frustrated and short. I had a plan for how we were going to spend the week. Day dates with Chris, sleeping in as much as Nico would let us, and definitely not waiting for contractors to come or sitting on the phone to find out the insurance process is extremely slow and frustrating.
And then…we take a moment and realize that the insurance company is slow and frustrating because they have been on the phone with families in California who have lost their homes. My heart goes out to those that have lost their homes and it is a startling reminder that the flooding in our basement while annoying and disruptive is not nearly as big of a deal when I think of all the families that may not have a home. Interesting how quickly things can be put in perspective.
A few weeks ago a good friend was attacked in the face by a stranger and may need to undergo reconstructive surgery to his face. It took me almost a week to process that this happened. My friend is extremely fit and definitely capable of taking care of himself and hearing about the experience made me realize how vulnerable we all are – which can be scary. As a woman I am always aware of when I am safe or not, and when I am alone at night how freaky it can be. To learn that someone I care about was hurt, and probably did not have a moment to react, makes me fearful, but also aware that we never really know what is going to happen next. If we live in fear then we are never really living. A group of friends that love him started this Go Fund Me to raise money for his recovery. Feel free to contribute if your heart desires. He is one of the really good ones, and always takes care of others.
Like I said it has been a rough few weeks (other things in addition to the water heater and my friend) but I will not bore you with the details. Instead I am hopeful that I am reminding you to look up and squeeze the hand of someone you love, give them a hug, tell your kid how much you appreciate and love them, or maybe it is a coworker that could use a little lift. We always have more than we realize even when the world throws curveballs our way. Just take a moment to see and be grateful for the little things even when they may be hardest to see.
Someone on my team told me yesterday about how “Cards Against Humanity (CAH),” the brilliant card game gone wild, released a Black Friday stunt of sorts to “experience nothing for $5.” The company made $71,145 in sales on Black Friday. That is an average of 14,229 people who decided to give up $5 for nothing — if all donations were at $5. Their site indicates that some individuals gave more. This link shares a list of what CAH did with the cash. My favorites:
Alex: 760 pounds of cat litter: $500 — how many years will it take to use that?
Amy: 1.5% of my student loan debt: $2381 — the comment to that list item says “$100,000 for a BA, $60,000 for a MFA and now I design dick jokes for a living.”
Jon: Dinner for 2 at Alinea in Chicago: $840 — Jon I am with you. I know all about the talents of chef Grant Achatz and that is definitely an experience I would have on my list.
Kevin: Not sure what you need 11 boxes of Tylenol PM for, can we talk? ($60)
Nick: Taking CAH team to mini golf, batting cages, and ice cream ($500) — I am a kid at heart and I love that you are thinking about your team.
I loved seeing (whether by request or design) that most of the lists had one or more listings for charities of their choice, and most lists were balanced. My curiosity is, for those that donated was their $5+ tax-deductible? Was it worth it? What was the reasoning for giving $5 for absolutely nothing? Would you do it?
Whether or not the $71,145 should have gone entirely to charity, it was great marketing. If you had not heard of Cards Against Humanity before their stunt you may know about them now. Whether you can appreciate the game for its crassness or vulgarity, everyone has to play at least once in life. I mean we have to make sure Amy truly uses her education to its fullest.
Last night before crawling into bed after a long day and week I took a few moments to catch up on Facebook. Since my week has been a blur, I forgot that today is September 11th, and maybe it is the emotions and hormones of being pregnant, but I got emotional thinking about 14 years ago today and where I was that morning. There are a few times in your life when you can remember where you were, who you were with, and sometimes vivid details of that day.
I have a bit of an intuitive streak that over time no longer freaks Chris out. Fourteen years ago today, Chris and I worked together, our desks were literally a few feet apart. I remember coming into work that morning in quite a funk. Chris asked me what was wrong and I said: “I do not know why, and I cannot figure it out but something big is going to happen today.” New to my intuitive outbursts, he at the time thought nothing of it. Not 30 minutes later, he saw what happened with the World Trade Center and quickly broke into a large meeting in our big conference room on the floor. The only place that had a television where we could see what was happening live. The rest of the floor proceeded to join us as word got out about the events of the morning. We were literally watching live as the second plane hit.
Now, at the time we lived in Boston and were in a building with 25 floors. We were on the 18th floor with views that looked toward Boston’s Logan Airport, where the planes took off. The building across from us was one of the tallest buildings in Boston at the time. The hijackers originated in Boston and they had stayed in a hotel just down the street from our building. While nothing near the fear and destruction happening in New York, there was quite a scary feeling of is Boston next? What is next?
There may be many of you that are too young to remember what happened that day, and others that have lived through other more traumatic experiences, but for someone my age this was the first time something had happened where I was not too young to understand. It definitely had an impact and, as we all know, still has an impact on the safety we feel in our country. Some Americans may have felt nothing could ever happen to us. We had put our guard down. In other ways it brought Americans together. Regardless, it was a horrible day, and I hope today you take a moment to appreciate the people you love in your life. Each and every day is precious.
It is only nine days into the year and the thought that was going through my mind yesterday is why is it so hard for us to stick to things? We spend so much time talking about New Year’s resolutions and how we are going to keep and honor them throughout the year, and why is it such an ongoing conversation from year to year? Do we not have the self-control, resilience, and tenacity to follow through on what we say we are going to do? Do we just get bored? Or do we not set up realistic expectations that are obtainable?
I have not been able to decide. There is a part of me that is already hard on myself for letting a few things slide in the last nine days, where I think “wow, great track record so far this year.” Yet, why are we so hard on ourselves? What is the big rat race that we are running so fast in? Where is it taking us? I know I often carve out too many items on my to-do list for each day and it feels great when I am able to accomplish what I set out to do each day, but is that what really matters? If we look back from year to year, will we remember what we cross off on our to-do lists, or will we remember the hearts we touch, the conversations we have, and all the things we learn? I hope it is the latter.
While I do not want to add another thing to my list, I loved taking moments to capture the good that was happening in my life (and of course for Chris too) in 2013. I mentioned a few blog posts ago, that I want to continue doing that for 2014. It was fun to sit down on New Years and pull each item out of our jar and remember things that happened early on in the year. A few made us laugh and think, “wow, that made the jar” and I am sure there were many we missed that should have been documented. In any case, I think what I would like to track and appreciate is what I learn each day, week, month. Maybe there is nothing for weeks, and maybe there is a lot. Who knows, but I believe if we are consciously watching and we think about tracking it, we start to see those learnings show up everywhere. All because we watch for it. I think that will make for an even better 2014.
Rather than berate myself for not sticking to things completely, why not try, learn in the process, and celebrate the good that does happen? We have so little control over so many things in our little worlds, what we can control is what we witness, see, and appreciate. Are you with me?