I woke up at 4:45 am Sunday morning and could not sleep or get comfortable. I thought about just getting up. Instead the thought that came to me was to just lay there and be grateful. A long list of things came into my thought and eventually I fell back asleep. I woke up an hour or so later, not able to sleep and still uncomfortable. So I did the same thing.
I have had pivotal moments in my life when I have woken in the middle of the night and could not get back to sleep with very strong thoughts about another person in my life. Whether I had an intuition that something was not right in the world, or a moment of pause about a specific individual. Early on when I would have these pitch-black-middle-of-the-night intuitions, well they freaked me out. Over time I learned to stop, be quiet, and listen. Depending on how coherent I am I might lay there and pray, or think about how I can support and think good thoughts for the world situation or individual that woke me from sleep.
Waking in the wee hours of Sunday morning was not about a person, but it was a full body reminder for me. Why did I have to lay in bed unwilling to get out of my cozy bed to take moments to be grateful for my amazing husband, family, friends, colleagues, home, work, etc? The list went on in my head. Even to specific worldly pleasures, such as my new favorite sheets that I was laying between. That utter euphoria I felt for all the goodness in my life (does not mean it was perfect) reminded me to take more moments in the day to acknowledge that goodness. Why not before I fall asleep at night? Or at least on those nights when I do not fall asleep the instant my head hits the pillow… Who am I kidding? That never happens to me.
This is a reminder for you and for me. Be grateful. Keep it inside or let it ooze out and tell those that you are feeling gratitude for them. Snuggle in your bed and appreciate the sheets that have you smitten. Watch the video of your niece laughing over and over again. Forget the struggles that you have for a few moments and just be head over heels grateful for all the good in your life.
Sometimes we feel things deeply. We feel emotions to our core.
I just spent a few days with my niece. I am smitten. The girl is a hoot. She is the happiest baby. Let me tell you I am probably slightly biased, but I have been taking care of kids since I was nine years old. First I babysat. Over time I did summer nannying. Eventually I worked with infants in a day care for my four years in college. And I babysat all the years in between. Oh, and how could I forget that I fell in love along the way. There were many kids. Emma, and Alden, and Chazzy, and Matts. Evan, and Ryan, and Bailey, and Addison. The list goes on, but nothing compares to the absolute love I have for my own sister’s child.
It is like an anchor that goes down deep while on a boat in the middle of the ocean. It is heavy, and raw, and real. It is painful how much I love this little girl. I have big shoes to fill. With my parents gone I feel like her aunt, and her grandma, and hopefully someday her confidante. Chris and I just spent the last few days with her, and said goodbye to her last night. When we came back home and crawled onto the couch to rest and snuggle there was an empty, quiet space surrounding the couch. We both missed her so much.
She is just now ten months old and walking like crazy, babbling, and utterly cute. She walks on her own all over the place, but still loves to hold your hand (I think because then she has a buddy to go with her). She loved the Christmas tree (mostly the balls, but also the lights). She had the best time opening presents and then eating the paper. She finally loves zerberts (thank goodness, as I love to give them)! I tried to teach her how to blow a kiss so that when we Facetime she will start to blow kisses to me. She laughs and giggles, and like I said is the happiest of babies.
My favorite: when she wakes up from her nap and snuggles into your neck and her deep gut giggle. #beyondamazing
My family was never lovey dovey. I vaguely remember that we would hug and kiss our parents before going to bed. I never thought anything of it, it was just the way it was. It also meant that when we saw each other after returning from school breaks, vacations, or summer camp that our way of greeting each other upon arrival was to give a hug and a kiss. As I got older it started to feel a bit strange. Maybe not as much when I kissed my grandma, but definitely I thought about it when I hugged and kissed my dad. Somehow my sister and I just avoided it all together by not even hugging each other. Over time as my mom, dad, and grandma gradually died, there was no one left to hug and kiss hello or goodbye, so it was not something that I thought about much.
I recently read this blog: “Do you kiss your babies on the mouth? Or your parents?” It made me think about what we expect from kids. I am absolutely smitten with my nine month old niece and I want to love and dote on her, snuggle, and make her laugh, but I also want to be conscious of not making her feel like she has to do anything she does not want to do. I would rather her come to me and snuggle when she wants to, and yet that is hard for me. I have such a voracious strong love for her — so how do I hold myself back and let her come to me and yet still show her my extreme love?
It also makes me think about what I would do as a parent. I love the idea from the blog of how the dad decided to kiss on the head, and not on the lips. It allows kids to make their own choices and not feel like they have to kiss back. While I think at times that a hug is harmless, I also would never want to force my kids to hug anyone that they do not want to hug (See past blog: Consent: No means no). I have a hunch that my parents never even took the time to think about what was right, or what they felt was important. My hunch is that they replicated what happened for them during their childhood.
Yet, is it not a little strange to teach kids to kiss on the lips (unless they willingly decide to do so)? If you have kids, how have you thought about this? Hugs and kisses? Hugs only? Kisses on the head?
Shanghai has my heart. I cannot tell a fib. I am a bit smitten, but at the end of the day Portland is still my favorite. Every time we travel somewhere new we always compare it to Portland, and every single time Portland wins. While I am still smitten with PDX, that does not mean I cannot allow a bit of a few other cities into my heart. There are quite a few things I want to share about Shanghai, so I will split it into a few blogs over the course of the next few weeks. So, where should I start?
We walked. A LOT.
Crazy number of people in the street
Every day. In some ways it is like New York City in that there is a great subway system, buses, and cheap taxis, but somehow when it is nice out and warm enough why not walk? You find the great hidden gems in a city on foot. We found amazing food, funky shops, random neighborhoods, and loads, and loads, and LOADS of people. Our first day ended up being over their National Holiday, so the people that we saw were actually potentially from another part of China on vacation (of course I did not ask them, but that is what we were told). The photo below shows how many people are coming towards us as we cross a street. Hundreds at one time.
One of the things that stood out to me the most, is how genuinely nice everyone is to you. Of course maybe that is because you are a guest in their hotel, store, or restaurant, but hell I am a guest in hundreds of places a year in the United States and no one has ever treated me with such kindness. There is always a smile on their face (and maybe it is part of their job, but if it is they do not make it look painful). I found myself on the plane trip back saying: xie xie (said syeh-syeh) only to realize I was on my way back to the United States. Xie Xie is thank you in Mandarin. I got so used to saying it to everyone all the time, maybe because they have such an amazing service culture. The US could really learn something from their patience and poise.
Guy carries handbag
A few funny things. We often would see men carrying their spouse, partner, girlfriend, what-have-you’s purse/bag. You rarely see that in the states. Chris will ONLY do it when I am trying on clothes and do not want to leave my bag in the dressing room. Does that make men in Shanghai more carefree, egoless? Is there another word that describes it?
Mobile pet store?
This I guess is a mobile pet store? We saw bunnies, gerbils, a dog, and a few other animals. I did not want to stay long enough to find out, but it was a busy little portable pet store located on the outskirts of a park.
Open 25 hours?
There are other things that perplex me, like this shop that is open for 25 hours.
More to come in a future blog on my favorite food in Shanghai, taxis, and bathrooms (what is not to love about potty talk in a new city)?