Least Favorite

I just finished doing the least glamorous, most disgusting part of my job. I spent an hour getting cigarette butts off the sidewalks and bike lanes of my bridge. So many thoughts go through my head while I do this.

Smoking is a disgusting habit, compounded by the fact that these butt-throwers clearly have no civic pride or sense of personal responsibility. And if you’re health conscious enough to jog or bike, what the heck are you doing smoking in the first place? When it crosses my mind that I’m interacting with things that have been in the mouths of about a hundred total strangers, and surely some portion of them have a communicable disease, I start to dry heave.

When that happens, I have to force myself to put a positive spin on things, so as not to retch all over the sidewalk and then have to clean that up. So what am I learning by doing my least favorite part of the job? What is this bringing into my life?

  • It’s good exercise.
  • It shows me the type of person/pig that I don’t ever want to be.
  • It allows me to be out in the sunshine.
  • Inevitably one person walking by every time I do this takes the time to thank me.
  • It reminds me that the rest of my job is actually pretty freakin’ fantastic.
  • It gives me a stronger sense of who I am, who I want to be, what I’m capable of, what I like and don’t like and why.
  • It provides me with an idea for a blog entry.
  • It feels sooooo good when I’m done.

I suggest to you that your least favorite things shouldn’t be avoided. Rather, examine them closely. Deal with them with perspective and an open mind for the lessons that they provide. Gifts can come from the most unexpected places. I’m grateful for every gift that comes my way.

Butts

Thoughts on Gratitude

I’ve been thinking about gratitude quite a bit lately. In fact, it’s going to be the subject of my first anthology. As a topic it’s much more complex and richly nuanced than I first thought.

I’m finding that the more I view my life in terms of gratitude, the more blessings I seem to receive. There’s something about the mere act of sincerely acknowledging the abundance in your life, putting it out there in the universe that you realize that these things are gifts, not privileges. This seems to attract even more abundance.

The more pragmatic side of me thinks that it’s not actually that you’re getting more positivity. It’s more that you’re becoming attuned to the largesse that was always there. Perhaps you have just taken it for granted, or have been focused on the more negative aspects of your life.

Crunchy granola gifts or clear-eyed perspective? Either way, I’ll take it! Thank you. More, please.

While discussing this with friends, I was asked, “Can gratitude ever be inappropriate?” That question intrigued me quite a bit. I suspect that gratitude in general is very influenced by the culture in which you find yourself. People in some countries just seem to be much more instinctively gracious than those in others.

Is one viewpoint better than another? The fact that we have coined terms such as “obsequious”, with its seemingly negative connotations, would lead one to believe that there is such a thing as too much gratitude.

I tend to think that any gratitude, if sincere and genuine, is not misplaced. But who am I to judge? I’m just happy to be here!

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Thank You, More Please

I was killing time over the weekend on the deadliest of time-killers: Youtube. I came across a light romantic comedy called Happythankyoumoreplease. The title alone got me curious. Plus, Josh Radnor is in it, and he’s pure sweet candy to my eyes, so why not?

It’s a cute movie. It doesn’t surprise me that it didn’t win any Oscars. It’s not that kind of vehicle. But it was a pleasant way to spend an hour and a half.

One of the things I love most about life is that you never know where or when you’re going to be pelted with a pearl of wisdom. In one scene, Malin Akerman, the actress who plays Annie, was telling a story about a time she was in this cab and the driver told her that she had a lot to give, but her problem was that she didn’t express enough appreciation. When she asked him how she should do that, he told her to simply say thank you, and always add “more, please,” because with gratitude the universe is eternally abundant.

When I heard that, I almost felt a mental click. It just makes so much sense to me. Even if you don’t believe in the laws of attraction, or a higher power or anything even remotely new age or spiritual or crunchy-granola, it just seems right to remind yourself that not only should you feel grateful, but that you deserve good things.

I have always liked to take a moment and look up at the sky and thank the universe, even for simple things like the feeling of wind on my face. Now, I plan to add “more, please” to that thank you. At the very least it will influence my attitude. That’s a bigger payoff than the average lottery ticket, right?

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How This Blog Has Touched Me

Today this blog made me cry. It wasn’t the first time. I’m sure it won’t be the last.

So far it’s always been happy tears, thank goodness. (I’m waiting for the day that my writer’s block is so overwhelming that I shed tears of sheer frustration, but so far I’ve been lucky.) Still, I never thought this humble project of mine would bring out such strong emotion in me. Had I known, I might have been too intimidated to start. But I’m so glad I did.

This time, the reason for my tears was a comment from a girl named April. She read one of my more popular blog entries, Why I Hate Alcohol. Then she commented in great detail about how it impacted her.

Discovering that something I wrote has helped someone, or made them look at things from a different angle, or taught someone something they didn’t know, never fails to move me. Sometimes I sit up here on my lonely little drawbridge and I write these things and it almost feels as if I’m putting messages in bottles and throwing them in the ocean. That these messages sometimes reach someone’s shore is gratifying beyond words.

Because of this blog, I’ve also made some amazing friends. Art, Carole, Anju, Sonia, Tony, Lyn, Valarie… so many more I couldn’t list them all, but each one an amazing person that wouldn’t have come into my life without this forum. And then there are the many friends I’ve met in other ways who have followed this blog and given me feedback and support. There’s nothing more wonderful than getting positive encouragement from someone you admire.

I’ve also learned a great deal. I’ve explored topics I wouldn’t have bothered to delve into if I didn’t think I’d have some reader to share them with. I’ve introduced myself, and you, to people I would not have discovered otherwise.

I’ve exorcised a number of personal demons, celebrated a number of victories, shared perhaps more than I should have, and wondered about any number of things. And I’ve improved my writing skills. Those are things I knew I would do. What I didn’t know was that having people actually read what I write has added a whole new dimension. You’ve validated, supported, and commiserated with me. You’ve given me wings.

So my message in the bottle for today is: Thank you. Thank you so much.

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[Image Credit: artisticallyinvited.com]

Little Shards of Emotion

When I was around 17 it was decided that I needed my wisdom teeth removed. Unfortunately three of them were so deeply impacted that the dentist had to saw away parts of my jaw to get to them. Needless to say, the healing process was no picnic. But what they didn’t warn me about was the fact that for the next 6 months or so, I would occasionally eject little shards of bone at random moments. It would always bring me up short. “Ptooey! Where did that come from?”

I have noticed that at various times in my life I’ve had the emotional equivalent of that experience. During times of great stress and/or great change, certain issues will rise to the surface and take me by surprise. Fears or insecurities I didn’t know I had. Anger that I thought I’d long since gotten past. Gratitude for things and people I had been taking for granted for ages.

When I start reacting in ways that even I can’t predict, it’s time for me to take a deep breath, step back and really think about the true source of my emotions. Often the current situation is simply reminding me of something from the past. And the older I get, the more past I have to draw upon.

It’s important for me to keep in mind that the question of where something came from doesn’t just apply to little shards of bone. And answering that question when it comes up is the key to understanding, coping, and moving on.

Shards

This is one of my fractals, “Shards” and can be purchased in the form of greeting cards, mugs, and prints along with almost 600 other fractal items here.

You’re Alive!

A few days ago we lost a cultural icon and a great man by the name of Leonard Nimoy, and millions will mourn his passing. At times like this I’m reminded of something I learned the hardest possible way this year. Life is very precious.

I know several people who seem to exist in a constant state of fury and irritation. These people amaze me. I can’t relate to them on any level. I want to say to them, “You’re alive! Don’t you get it? You can do anything. You have choices. What the hell do you have to be angry about?”

I think these people walk through life with blinders on. They certainly don’t realize they are throwing away the most valuable gift in the universe: their very existence. I look at them and think, “What a waste.” There are plenty of people who are no longer with us, who appreciated every exquisite moment of the lives they had, who would gladly take even a day of someone’s unappreciated lifespan if only they could be alive again.

When you’re in a rage, your vision narrows to a tiny little point. You don’t see anything around you. You certainly don’t take the time to stop and smell the roses. You’re too busy pissing all over them. Why would you want to narrow your field of vision like that? There’s so much to see! Life is just so freakin’ beautiful, people. I wish everyone realized that.

So next time you are angry because someone has cut you off in traffic, try this instead: take a deep breath. Look around. Then drive home and tell the people that you love that you love them. Because that’s what matters. Nothing else does.

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