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.
We are a culture of success. We want everything to be perfect, dialed, and done right the first time.
My father ingrained it into us as kids “do it right the first time.” I do not know if that was ingrained in him as a kid or if it was after being in the military, but he was hard-core and would often yell if we did things (mostly chores) and our results were not up to his standard. Imagine over time knowing that if it was not perfect the first time — you would receive his anger and frustration. Yet, it meant that we only learned to fail with negative consequences.
When I heard about Pema Chodron’s book: “Fail, Fail Again, Fail Better: Wise Advice for Leaning into the Unknown” I knew I had to read it. It is the transcription of her 2014 commencement address at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado. Her granddaughter is in the graduating class. It is a quick read (a book with text on only the right side pages, and small, so it can be read in less than an hour), but a powerful message.
I love this idea she shares:
“‘Fail better’ means you being to have the ability to hold what I called in the talk ‘the rawness of vulnerability’ in your heart, and see it as your connection with other human beings and as part of humanness. Failing better means when these things happen in your life, they become a source of growth, a source of forward, a source of, as I say in the talk, ‘out of that place of rawness you can really communicate genuinely with other people’.” Page 115
To think about failing and being vulnerable — that is where we learn. There is so much I can take from this in work and home life, and especially with this ‘lil man that is going to soon join us. I vow to let my son learn in his own way, fail, and be vulnerable. Hopefully it means he will not have the message that has haunted me for years — that I always had to do it right the first time.
Oh man, sometimes you read something and it is a home run. You wonder how did the author or poet put the words together in a way that makes you feel like each word choice is perfect. It speaks to you in ways you have not been spoken to before that moment.
Thank you, Emily Parkinson Perry – for your post and introducing me to Rupi Kaur. I now want to read Kaur’s book “milk and honey.” This poem shared on Perry’s blog makes me think about all the times I might have told a little girl how pretty she was, or how I liked her dress. Or, to the adult women who I might have envied.
I want to apologize to all the women
I have called pretty;
before I have called them intelligent or brave.
I am sorry that I made it sound as though something as simple as what you were born with is the most you have to be proud of…
when your spirit has crushed mountains.
From now on, I will say things like, ‘you are resilient, or ‘you are extraordinary.’
Not because I don’t think that you are pretty,
but because you are so much more than that.
We are so much more than our bodies, our face, or our ass. We keep our families going, our work world alive, and have the adventure and drive to make sure all the pieces of the puzzle fit together into the masterpiece called life. I only want to be seen in a meeting for what I bring to the table, not the size of my waist or the shirt on my back. I want to be seen for me.
We are so much more. We are so much more. We are so much more.
How often in life are you surprised? Once a month? Once a day? Do people easily shock you? There is a little part of each of us that loves to be shocked and in awe. Whether it is our husband that is capable of keeping a secret, our closest friend, or sister — not having a clue something is going to happen can sometimes be an amazing thing.
I have the hardest time keeping a secret from Chris (that should be a good thing). We talk about everything, and sometimes it is hard to keep my excitement inside or hidden from him. I am crazy transparent so he can probably pick up on the fact that I am hiding something. Take for example his 30th birthday. I wanted to surprise him and take him to San Francisco for a week. I could not keep it inside and I wanted to plan the trip with him and let him research a bit of what he might want to do. A week before we were to leave I decided to tell him — I could not resist! I wrapped a box of Rice-a-Roni (you know “A San Francisco treat.”) and my secret was finally out.
Somehow though Chris loves giving me the element of surprise and he enjoys the shock value it leaves. He can easily plan things and not tell me because he knows timing can be the perfect way to surprise someone, especially me. He is good. What if the many companies we are patrons of shocked and surprised us? Many companies do not even come close, so the smallest detail could result in a surprised and happy customer. How often are you surprised by a company? It is nice when it happens. It makes the experience more memorable.
I am going to hone my surprise tactics. Just you wait, Chris. Just you wait.
Over the weekend, my sister and I were discussing a blog post, called: “Give me Gratitude or Give me Debt” that we recently saw on Facebook. It was about a woman who posted pictures of her kitchen on Facebook and received comments about all the things she could do to upgrade her kitchen. Never expecting the comments and pondering them further, she realized how grateful she was and shared more about what she had then what she was lacking. It was an eye opener for me. Think about the endless possibilities of comments that others can share with one – to many on Facebook. It can mean an amazing outpouring of love and support, and it can also mean and outpour of critical comments that might not been so helpful to you.
Her blog post was a reminder that we all have way more than we can ever imagine. Take my sister for example. She has a beautiful, extremely happy, brilliant (no I am not biased) daughter. A family that is just what she wants. She lives in California, loves the sun, and is about to embark on a new adventure in the next few weeks. What is not to love about that life? Of course, as with any change in life, there are many unanswered questions, but that is part of life right? I feel amazingly blessed. I enjoy my job, love my home, have an amazing husband, and hope that one day we too will grow our family so that our niece Charlie will have a little cousin to boss around. What is not to love about my life? Sure I work hard, sometimes am stressed out, and often do not allow enough time for myself. If I were to say I lacked anything in life, it would be: time.
I am grateful.
Back to that kitchen and the comments on Facebook. Those comments are ones that come from this “perfect world” mentality that surrounds us. It is definitely a “first world” problem, and I do not know if it is an American issue, or one for many affluent countries. We strive so strongly (and I am just as much to blame) to have this perfect world. We want everything to be just so. The kitchen with the updated refrigerator, stove, updated cabinets. The list can go on and on. We do just the same for our body, clothes, furniture, and other worldly possessions.
Yet, if we just start with what we already have, I think we’ll realize that we have so so so much more than we can ever imagine.