August 7

I was invited to a four year old’s birthday party last night. She got the scooter she had been wanting for the last several months and her reaction was just what you’d expect. That’s just what I wanted she said several times. And as she opened her other gifts, she was smart enough to show some enthusiasm, even commenting on one of the board games that my boyfriend and I gave her that it, too, was something she had always wanted. But the scooter was a definite highlight. She wanted to ride it immediately after gift opening, going in circles inside a few times until finally getting to go outside with it. But what was sweet is that she didn’t want to ride it alone. She asked if I’d walk with her. So we went up and down the driveway a few times until she decided she was done with the scooter. Then we played with other toys for a while and then raced a few times up and down the driveway. She pointed out where her mom had written happy birthday in chalk on the sidewalk. She explained why she loved a Wisconsin postcard she was given. We made faces in a plastic mirror that she found in the garage and sat outside and ate birthday cake. And that was pretty much it. Complete excitement. She got the scooter she wanted, rode it for about 10 minutes and was perfectly happy with her birthday celebration. What a great reminder to appreciate the small stuff. I think sometimes our expectations for things, especially things we have been anticipating or waiting for, are too big. Adults sometimes expect the things we desire to fill more than what they’re designed to…we expect the attainment of “things” to somehow drastically change our lives, whether those things are objects (new car, nice clothes, new house) or people or jobs. But really, a scooter is just a scooter. Good for about 10 minutes of fun. Getting the things we desire won’t change anything unless we are somehow content already. At least reasonably content. Because if we aren’t, then we simply start looking for the next thing on the list that we think will make us happy. And the next thing. I’m thankful to have been reminded by a four year old that the things I yearn for will only be gifts (realistically or metaphorically) when I see them as additions to my life, not panaceas for any discontent. Once again, gratitude is key.

April 2

I’m thankful for my journaling because it reminds me of where I’ve been and how far I’ve come. I wrote this poem back in late October on a particularly rough day. Thankfully, I’m no longer stuck there.

there’s a hole in my future
where all the meaning should be
piece by piece robbed by those
I trusted most
my little light smoked
softly out
I’m carried away by the darkness

Feb 21

I had an excellent evening with some lovely women. A good friend of mine had a get-together that she dubbed Love Your Life…Get Inspired. She asked everyone to bring something that inspired them personally, a poem, a book, a quote, a recipe…whatever. The idea was to share inspirational tidbits with others. She’s the type of person who wants to lift people up and help them grow and become the best version of themselves. A great person to have in your corner.

I have to admit to something, though, and I didn’t tell her this. I was a little hesitant to go. Not because I didn’t want to be part of the inspiration, but because she had invited a lot of people–and many people I didn’t know. And not just people, but all women. I was intimidated by that. While I think I am more extroverted than introverted, I really shy away from groups. Anything more than 6 people, and my introvert comes out. And if those people are women, I will clam up. It’s not that I don’t get along with women, but a group of women can be a tough crowd to navigate. There’s a reason women have a reputation for drama. Because there’s usually drama. I’m not trying to perpetuate stereotypes by saying that. From my experience,  I think a lot of women worry about what’s not being said as much as what is being said in a conversation…and that can lead to misunderstandings and hurt feelings. To protect myself, I’ve learned from a rather young age to either listen more and talk less, or avoid groups of women all together.

So, back to my evening. I love my friend and want to support her whenever I can. She would and has done the same for me. Therefore, I put on my big girl panties and went to her party, ready to share some things that inspire me. As it would turn out, several women had other obligations/parties/whatever, and it ended up being a smaller group than expected. Rather than be disappointed, my friend was thrilled that those of us who came embraced the whole idea of sharing. We ended up having some very real, open conversations with each other. In fact, we touched on the disappointment that as women, it is sometimes hard to connect in ways that are honest. We also talked about how it’s easier to embrace the notion that as we age, it’s necessary to cull through the relationships we have and let go of the ones that are damaging or toxic. I felt I learned something and contributed something and left feeling better about myself somehow. Certainly something to be thankful for. Not bad for a girls night out.

Day Three

Every year during the winter I end up with bronchitis at least a couple of times. My mom is convinced she and my dad are at fault because of the years they spent subjecting me and my sisters to their second-hand smoke. They were both heavy smokers for most of my childhood, but thankfully, kicked the habit many years ago. Because I know that it really worries her, I tell her that of course that can’t be true. (Although it may be true.)

Whatever the cause, I’ve spent almost every year of my adult life dreading head colds because I know at any point, they could turn into days of barely breathing and nights coughing myself awake. One winter a few years back I was one of the lucky ones who contracted the bird flu, or swine flu, or whatever horrible version was going around at the time. It truly was horrible. When I watched the Infection episode of The Walking Dead, I could relate. Well, not entirely, but you get my point.

At any rate, I’ve gotten to Jan 3rd without bronchitis. Or even a head cold. Seriously, I’m knocking on wood and throwing salt over my shoulder. The only difference I can attribute this to is that several months ago I got on an exercise routine. I started going to the gym 3-4 times a week and even took up running. I’ve not noticed much difference to my physique, but apparently my lungs are in better shape thanks to all the huffing and puffing. For that, I’m grateful.