Gratitude is on the mind — and not just because tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I just finished reading “The Gratitude Diaries” by Janice Kaplan. She spends an entire year focusing on gratitude in her life (her marriage, work, children, money, etc.) It gave me a lot to think about and was especially appropriate for this time of year, the holidays, Thanksgiving, and being at the home stretch of this pregnancy.
I thought I would share a list of things that are especially appropriate right now to me:
My husband: I wrote about him last week so you know all the good stuff, and if you did not read it take a peek at last week’s blogs. Yesterday I randomly said I do not know what I would do without you. His response was: “yes I am not sure what you would do.” So I started listing off all these things that would make my life miserable and he said: “You could just live in a hotel.” Ha. It is so much more than that my better half. So much more.
My health: It is not perfect — but I am making it through each day, and look forward to meeting this little man and taking the tests to find out how I am after delivery. If all goes well, then I look forward to getting back to my running and feeling like myself again.
My future son: I am just so excited that we have made it this far together. Your dad and I are ecstatic and cannot count the days to meet you. That and I would love my body back.
My family and friends: So grateful for each of you. Thank you for being a support to me, a listening ear, and an inspiration. I miss you mom, dad, and Granny Smith.
My team at work: You work hard and play hard, keep it fun, funny, and real. Thank you.
For all of you reading my blog I appreciate you too. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Cherish each moment.
Of course preparing myself to have a baby boy has me thinking of a lot of different ideas. I always thought it would be easier to raise a girl than a boy — for the simple fact that I am a girl and it felt more relevant to me. Having said that I have never really been a girly girl (nevermind the few years growing up that I was adamant that my sister play Barbies with me). Then I had to grow up fast and, well, my most girly girl self was replaced with real live survival.
Of course I enjoy a bit of dressing up — you know once every year, where I bring out those uncomfortable high heels, and Chris oohs and aahs, and then those shoes collect dust in the back of the closet. I am and always will be most comfortable with myself when I am comfortable. Flip-flops, comfy outfits, and hopefully all that just falls in the background so that others see just me. Not what I am wearing or how it fits. As none of that really matters. I digress — this blog post’s intent is nothing about that at all.
Over the weekend, I came across this article “Why Boys Need To Play With Girl Toys Too” and I thought I wonder what Chris thinks of that? No matter at the moment, because whether he is okay with it or not, the message that I left with that I want to bring in to our parenting (we’ll talk Chris) is that I want to teach my son to care. For some that may mean a boy playing with a doll, or maybe it is about nurturing an animal or pet, whatever the vehicle I want to make sure to show my son how to care. That in my mind starts with Chris and me. For a long time he will watch us, emulate us, and learn the way of the world from our example. If he wants to play with dolls and we do not let him, that sends him a message. You get the point.
And in the end, while I have not really even started this raise-a-child thing, I can tell you I was one (with not the best childhood), and I spent from the age of 9 – 23 babysitting, working in day cares, and nannying — what matters most is that you show them you care. You do this by being present, listening, and appreciating what they have to say. By showing you care, they respond and show that to others. To me that is what matters most.
I was talking to a friend a few weeks ago about a topic that tends to come and go in my life. It is one that always seems a bit hard to put into words. I can remember a time almost ten years ago when I was sitting on our bed in a loft we were living in. I had this surreal moment when I looked around and thought: all these things happening in my life are all a distraction to get me to not look at the painful stuff. A clearer thought was: working through the painful stuff is what moves you forward to that next level of understanding. It was not a fun time in my life. That day I was alone. Chris was traveling in China and life felt rough, bumpy, and not much fun.
The conversation from a few weeks ago circled back to that same feeling. Do we all have the craziest of lives because it keeps us distracted from the real and raw stuff we are supposed to be looking at the most? We do not want to so we stay hyper-focused on all that we have to do? We stay extremely busy, and then we never have to get really quiet and listen to that voice inside that tells us where we should really be looking? It has been true for me from time to time. I like to think that I am still listening even between all the many responsibilities and deadlines. Am I lying to myself though? Is it really possible? Or do you just need to walk away from it all, whether for a week, or month to really be able to see inside?
I just finished reading a book called “Dinner with Buddha” by Roland Merullo. At first it was a hard book to read. I could not get into it, and then as I found a few morsels of inspiration I was pulled into the quiet, thoughtful ideas inside. While it is a novel, it reads like a self-help book. There were quite a few ideas that come from the story and analogies the author shares. This idea in particular resonated as it made me think of that day ten years ago, and the conversation from a few weeks ago:
“Plugging along at monk-speed, I couldn’t help but wonder if it wasn’t all some kind of trick we were playing on ourselves. Maybe the more we crammed into a day the less we actually experienced. Maybe the addictive hurry was all a kind of racing away from our existential predicament, as if we could outrun old age and death, and as though, if we kept busy enough, kept moving, traveled farther, checked more items off the to-do list on any given day, then, like astronauts in orbit, we’d escape the bonds of ordinary time. Or escape, at least, the manic workings of our minds.” Page 118-119
Is that truly why we do so much? We are trying to get away from our minds and true thoughts? I sure hope not, but I can see it being true. I know it from the tricks my mind plays on me. Yet I want so badly to slow down, stop moving, get rid of the to-do list and live moment by moment into what my mind wants me to learn, however painful as it may be to look into all that is there for me to learn.
Learning. I am a sponge. I learn from books, and listening intently to perspectives from other individuals. I stare. I become fascinated with the nuances of why people say the things they do, and act the way they act. Often we do not realize how we are perceived, and whether people are nurtured and inspired by our presence, or if they are repelled and drained by us. At times the story we tell, and how we express ourselves greatly dictate other’s perceptions of us.
Each of us have such a unique past and specific experiences that mold us into who we are and how we embark on our day. We constantly absorb the moments, attitudes, mood, and energy of those around us. As we consume those around us, we decide moment by moment how we are going to respond and react, or maybe do nothing at all. Some of us have a harder time letting go of any bad energy that exudes from those around us. Others make it their mission to get rid of any toxic energy that comes into their experience.
As a sponge, it can sometimes be hard to react quickly, because the absorption process happens so quickly. In that way, we have to protect ourselves from others, and sometimes ourselves. For those of us who are sponges, we have to be aware and take care of ourselves. Keeping tabs on the energy around you, and what drains you can be a step in determining if you are breathing in toxic energy. Learning how to be less absorbent in those moments is a protection in sanity, and what you want to breathe into your world.
Soak it all up, just watch what you let touch you.
Yesterday I was talking to a friend about relationships. The ebb and flow of the romantic relationships in our life. Men and women are so different. We often really are from different planets. Recently Chris and I have disagreed about different topics and the key component of our disagreements have been around listening.
Listening. Such an interesting aspect of relationships. In the end all we really want is to be heard. We want others to listen to us and most of all we want to be understood. The rare occasions that Chris and I fight and bicker usually results to being heard, trusted, and listening. Kind of a no-brainer really. Who does not want to feel like they matter and the person they love and care about most is there for them?
There are ten other great signs, but those are the ones that stand out to me most. Chris will tell you, when I am all in, I am all in. Step aside because when I get something in my mind and decide to do it, there is no stopping me. I am not a quitter. It is a strength and a weakness, but hey, we all have flaws. We all fart and burp, puke and stink. We are gloriously flawed. And since I am an open book, he always knows what I am thinking unless I am deep in process/thought mode, but even then I am usually discussing my thoughts with him. Nothing is off-limits. However, it does not mean we talk about every single thing. There are things that happen in the quiet and stillness of being together and doing our own thing.
In the end, and what matters most is that we stay true to who we are. I am an all in, flawed, say-what-is-on-my-mind, badass woman. He has the unique and special opportunity of waking up next to me everyday.