By writing down one thing we are thankful for each day, we can improve our lives… (Dr. Wayne Dyer)
Instead of dwelling on what is challenging me, I’m approaching the next month with unabandoned optimism.
30 days: at LEAST 30 reasons to be THANKFUL
Follow along. I’ll add to this post each day. Let’s see how focusing on the positivity in our lives enriches our lives.
Day 30: 7/22
Today I am thankful for my faith. These last two months have been one blow after another and my faith that all of these obstacles are leading to something meaningful has been keeping me going.
Sometimes… All you can do is BELIEVE and I do.
Day 29: 7/21
Today, I’m thankful for the time I spent with my sisters. We don’t get this opportunity to have some talk time as much as I’d like. And my sister, Diane, gave me a very special birthday gift– just a little something– two stones, on one an angel & on the other the word believe because she know I need them right now. And I love the way such a simple gift can mean the world. It brought me to tears.
Day 28: 7/20
I am certainly thankful that 23 years ago I found my happy place. The funny thing is, at the time, I had no idea that it even was my happy place. We’ve tried other places for vacation, but Cape Cod (Yachtsman Condominiums, Hyannis) is the only place that feels so much like home that I truly never want to leave.
Day 27: 7/19
Today, I’m thankful to be done packing in anticipation of spending a whole week at my happy place: Cape Cod.
Day 26: 7/18
Today, it’s got to be the AIR CONDITIONING that I’m thankful for. We’ve been experiencing a heat wave, here, in the northeast for days. I long to live in a climate that is Spring and Fall-like all year long. Ironically, my son, Ryan, just moved to Santa Clara last week. His first words to me on the phone last night were, “The weather is PERFECT, here.” I’m so jealous. But, I least I have central air to make this heat tolerable.
Day 25: 7/17
Today, I’m thankful for the smile THIS VIDEO put on my face & for the very thoughtful friend who sent it to me. The Wizard of Oz has always been one of my all time favorite movies in addition to Judy Garland being one of the classic actresses that fascinated me. Not to mention being Glenda the good witch in my elementary school production– the very first experience that spurred my love of theatre. This year our school put on a performance of The Wiz which, along with this video, affirms how the classics never really go away; they become transformed and relevant.
Day 24: 7/16
Simply, I am thankful that my son is alive and physically in tact. And I pray this is the wake-up call he needed.
Day 23: 7/15
Today, thankful comes just before noon on this sweltering HOT day when I’m strolling outside, noticing the beauty that surrounds me. Normally, I’m not someone who enjoys the work that a yard takes to look beautiful, I do, however, enjoy the spring– planting season, when it comes time to prettify my yard. Planting flowers and watching them bloom, at all stages, throughout the summer gives me much pleasure. And today it is my muse. I took photographs of all the pretty flowers and shared the beauty on my blog for others to enjoy 🙂
Day 22: 7/14
So, I had another down-kinda day. I just kept really busy to keep me from getting into a funk. Late afternoon, I was exhausted, so I laid down to take a little nap when my puppies pounced on me to share their love. I swear animals have an innate sense to know when we need their love the most. Today, I am thankful for my dogs: Sadie (black lab), Layla (yellow lab) & Bailey (chocolate lab). They are so my babies!
Day 21: 7/13
I had a an overall crappy day today. Chalk it up to one of those days– rainy day, too much on my mind… So, in the midst of it all, a photo I saw on Facebook took me to a faraway place that reminded me how happy and blessed I have been to see it not once, but twice. Haworth is the home, now a museum, of my favorite author, Emily Bronte, author of Wuthering Heights. Whenever I visit Haworth, I feel transported to another place and time which is exactly what I needed to get me out of my funk today. So, for that, I am thankful.
Day 20: 7/12
Today, I have faced one of the toughest things I’ve ever faced– letting go of my child, literally. He’s moving to California (3,000+ miles away from me) and will be not be coming home for at least a year. Nonetheless, I am thankful for so many things on this day. I’m thankful that it’s only a year and on the other side of the country, not more time or on the other side of the world. I’m thankful I got one extra day to enjoy his company and his presence in our home. I’m thankful that he’s brave enough to make this move, with no safety net, and follow his dream. My friend said to me, “Momma, you’ve taught him the world is his oyster and he listened.” You know, she’s right. I’m thankful at how he turned out and that I had a hand in that. Sometimes, I just look at my children and I’m so in awe of them; I think, how could they possibly be mine? I’m thankful they are mine. And I’m thankful for that bear hug he gave me at the airport, today. I’ll feel that for a very long time. He’s on his way to creating a life for himself, and I couldn’t be more proud ❤ So, yes, there is some sadness today, but, mostly, I’m thankful!
Day 19: 7/11
Today is EASY. I’m thankful for the unexpected. As a turn of events would have it, my son gets to spend an extra 31 hours with us, and I couldn’t be happier. The unexpected last dinner, the unexpected last movie, the unexpected talk over coffee at the dining room table…
Day 18: 7/10
Today, I am thankful for something very special– one of many pleasures of my life: listening to the three of my children, sitting in the back seat of my car on the way home from dinner, all singing a song: Wagon Wheel by Darius Rucker. They were belting it out, trying to sing in unison, trying not to sing out of tune, but none-the-less they were, and it was beautiful music to my air. It made me realize two things. One, that I have passed on the necessity of music to my children. And two, it is in the seemingly insignificant moments that we experience the most joy.
Day 17: 7/9
I’m thankful for making sushi with my son, niece, Tea, and nephew, Grayson, who have been asking Ryan to show him how to make sushi for months. I actually taught Ryan how to make it, he perfected it and passed it on to the kids. We had fun & they were happy!
Day 16: 7/8
I am thankful that I started blogging a little over a year ago. It has been a platform for so many things: my passion, insights, feelings, reflections, thoughts. I’ve used this blog to showcase my experience as a teacher, writer and, my most important job, a mom. As a sister blog, I’ve created Jubilant Journey where I blog about my travels. And, this year, I hosted All that’s Left is to Write for my creative writing students
Day 15: 7/7
I am thankful for the device that brought me relaxation, today– something I really needed: my pool raft. I spent a couple of hours on the 90-something degree, hot and muggy day, just drifting in the pool. My husband joined me which he rarely does. And together, we enjoyed the water… relaxing, swimming, playing fetch with the dog. The whole time, I’m thinking, pretty soon it will be just this– just us.
Day 14: 7/6
Today, I am thankful for the highs and lows of parenting. Today, we celebrated Ryan’s graduation (along w/ a myriad of birthdays including Ryan’s as well)– all of Ryan’s friends here (I told them the next time I expect to see them all together, they’ll likely be celebrating someone’s wedding). I just felt so proud, today, that he’s successfully completed this stage of his life and he’s onto the next and that he has so many good friends, as well as a supportive family to share it with. Later, in the night, as the pendulum would swing– Tyler had a tough night, a real tough night. A reminder to me that these moments– these tough times with our children are the real work of parenting that make the triumphs so much sweeter.
Day 13: 7/5
Today, I am thankful for my mom. She came over to help prepare for Ryan’s grad party tomorrow, in addition to the Herculean task of going through Ryan’s room, so we could weed out what he doesn’t want/need in order to pack for his move. It was cathartic going through all of his things– a walk down memory lane, and, in the moment, I was grateful she was here to share it with us. So many memories being packed up and stored away until he has his first home. While he’s my first baby, he’s also her first grandchild, and I’m sure she enjoyed sharing that with us. Then, she chopped and chopped and chopped things I needed to make salads for the party, and, at one point, she said, “Your grandmother used to do this whenever I had a party, too.” Well, that was the icing on the cake. Sometimes, I feel my mother is too judgmental with me and sometimes she puts a guilt trip on me for what I should have or should not have done, but at the end of the day she’s my mom and I love her; she’s irreplaceable. And I know I need to cherish her while she’s here because one day she won’t be and I don’t want to have a single regret.
Day 12: 7/4
Today, I am simply thankful for food. Not literally the food itself but the way in which food seems to bring people together. There are two special people in my life who I associate with food.
First, my grandmother. She loved to cook. She spent hours cooking, especially food from her homegrown garden in the back yard. Eggplant, zucchini flower pancakes, broccoli rabe… I learned most of what I know about cooking from my grandmother. And, today is her birthday. She would have been 94 today. We always had a duel picnic/ birthday celebration on the 4th of July.
And, second, when my son came along– born on the 3rd of July, the celebration became about him, too. And now, the love of cooking has been passed onto my son. The chef. Chef Ryan. Chef Carbone. Who, along with his girlfriend, also a chef, but a pastry chef, made us breakfast this morning. Delicious French toast and hash potatoes. But the food wasn’t even the good part. It was all of us being in the kitchen together, helping with the preparation of the meal, each of us in our own way– celebrating family.
So, it’s the way food brings people together that is what I’m most grateful for, today.
Day 11: 7/3
Today, it’s easy to find something to be thankful for. Not only is it my eldest son’s 22nd birthday, but it’s also his graduation day! Nothing in life is easy, nor was it easy for Ryan to find out what his life’s passion would be. But he did. After attending Northeastern University and three majors later (I’d been convinced since he was in 4th grade that he’d go into politics and I think, at first he was too… then he changed to sound production, then veered toward music management), finally, he came to the conclusion that he wanted to cook. He wanted to be a chef and own his own restaurant. So we searched schools in the Northeast and he decided upon The Culinary Institute of America from which he graduated, today. It’s been such a pleasure watching him cook and eating his delicious food; I can only liken it to watching an artist create. On the way home from the festivities, the song The Riddle, by Five For Fighting, came on, and in listening to the words I was overcome by wave of melancholia. There aren’t too many moments in life where you stop and recognize an end to something, as life is just a big, blank canvas– and as you fill it, it’s a work in progress. Perpetual motion. Always working toward something. Well, in this moment, I stopped, looked at my husband and felt like WE DID IT! We created something magical, through all of the turmoil and self-doubt (particularly over the past 6 years with Ryan)– the questioning: Are we getting this right? Are we being good parents? In this moment, I felt like I could answer YES. We have been good parents for Ryan. Here he is: graduating from college, he’s found his passion, he’s headed toward a solid career and a job, he has direction, and most importantly, he’s happy. Is this the end of our parenting because he’s an adult, now, and moving out on his own? Most certainly not. But our parenting from this day forward takes on a new shape. And I’m thankful for coming as far as we have with Ryan and in his ability to fly to the other side of the country and do just fine on his own.
Day 10: 7/2
Today, I am thankful for taking a moment to reflect. Tomorrow is my son’s 22nd birthday and graduation from college. I bought him a card for each occasion, but they fell short of all that I really wanted to say. Not only does tomorrow mark two very important events in his life, but next week, he’ll be moving out to the west coast (3,018 miles away from our home on the east coast) because he accepted a wonderful job offer. I am filled with so many emotions– bittersweet every one of them. My baby, my first born will be 22. And he’s graduating from college. And he got a great job offer which takes him clear across the country. I decided to write him a letter, when last I wrote to him was throughout his senior year of high school. On the day of his high school graduation, I handed him an eight page letter. Today, it was two, but in it I thought back… all the way to his birth (ironically, he will be working in the very same hotel where my husband stayed when I found out I was pregnant with him– how’s that for serendipity!), the triumphs, the challenges, the hopes and leaps of faith. I poured all the words out and my tears. I am beyond excited for his prospects, but sad, all the same, that he’ll be so far away.
Day 9: 7/1
Today, I am thankful for completing the next phase of editing my novel. I wanted to jump up and down for joy when I came to the end– not because it was over (that part makes me sad), but because I accomplished what I thought I could not. I thought I’d finished it (finished, being a relative term in the process of writing– meaning completed that phase) when I sent it off to an agent who informed me I needed to cut out 34k words before he’d even look at it. Who knew genres had limits? I certainly didn’t. One more lesson to chalk up to experience. So, I went back to work and successfully eliminated what he wanted. When it was first suggested… I was leery, afraid it would change what I wanted my novel to be. I went through it the first time, really just tightening up the language. Then, I decided, to make it work, I needed to omit a whole character. She’s actually there, still, but more like a phantom character which actually works better. So, now, next phase… off it goes and now, it’s out of my hands. I’ve submitted up to the Gods who make things happen for me (being optimistic and THANKFUL!)
Day 8: 6/30
Today, I am thankful for life. We learned of the passing of one of Tyler’s friends, a 19 year old girl named Theresa who has been battling cancer for five years now. I will most remember her exuberant smile, her unrelenting spirit and her amazing strength. I wish her parents and brother (a former student of mine) courage and strength as they move forward, rebuilding their lives in her absence. And, for all her friends, I hope the scars her death leaves heals– so sad that this is part of their story, now, too. I lost a friend from high school and was devastated by her loss. I know how that affected me; something that changes over time but never leaves. There have been too many children I’ve known who have passed. I thank God for the health and safety of my own children and can only pray they live long, full lives. Only on days like today do we realize just how precious and tentative life really is.
R.I.P. Theresa Fitzpatrick. You will long live in our memory ❤
** Ironically, this very same poem is the one printed on her mass card
Day 7: 6/29
Today, I am thankful for the communication I share with my children. I strive to always be available to my children, making it clear that they can talk to me about anything. Today, I’ve turned a corner with one of my sons. I’ve gone from the mom who knows nothing to the mom he seeks advice from. It was a very pointed, “Mom, can we talk? I need your advice.” Just those simple words were music to my ears. And while I feel the pain he’s going through to seek my advice, I also tried to reassure him that it would all turn out okay. Sometimes, we have to work through the confusion to get to the good stuff. I’m not sure how much I helped, and I told him that. He responded by saying, “It just helped to talk to you about it.” And, that, made my day.
Day 6: 6/28
Today, I am thankful for the women in my life (my daughter, my mom, my sisters) with whom I had the pleasure of sharing a decadent SPA DAY. Once a year, we’ve taken to meeting for lunch, followed by massages, manicures & pedicures. We don’t take enough time out like this to celebrate being women, being related and acknowledging, if even for one day, we deserve to be pampered.
Day 5: 6/27
Today, I am thankful for validation. In regards to an issue I’m dealing with one of my children (one that I’m not comfortable talking about yet), a doctor told me “As far as parenting goes, you’re doing everything I would advise you to do.” Little does this doctor know, a huge sigh of relief followed. The thing with parenting is, and I’ve been doing it for 22 years now with 3 children (4, if you consider my sometimes child-like husband– that’s a joke, but wives know exactly what I mean), you never know if you’re getting it right until it’s well beyond the point of decision making. It’s a gut instinct, a leap of faith, hope that you know each child well enough to make the best decision possible for each of them because they are all different. I used to joke about “In what ways will I f**k up my child?” Because even though the intention is to get it right, as much as possible, you never know how it will be perceived on the other end. Once, one of my children brought up a comment that I’d made years before (one that I hadn’t even recalled) as something that stuck with him. It had hurt him. Not only was I shocked, I tried to explain what I probably meant, but the damage had been done, and it stung. I know, as parents, we all have those moments with our kids no matter how hard we try to do everything just right. And, while in this instance, any kind of thanks from my child will not come for a very long time (if at all), it really helped to hear that I’m doing the right things because it certainly is not the easy path.
Day 4: 6/26
Today, I feel blessed for (at least) two reasons.
The first is my passion for writing. This morning I literally got lost (in a good way) in editing my book for four hours. It was a rainy day, so I took advantage of having to be cooped up inside. Whether I am writing a novel or poetry or journaling or simply playing with words, I am always happy to have the gift of creativity. Writing not only allows me to create imaginary worlds, it also enables me to figure my world out.
Then I went shopping and ran into the dad of my best friend, Donna, who passed five years ago, already, from a tragic car accident. Donna and I been friends since fourth grade, so I know her father well. And it took me all I could muster not to tear up when talking to him about her children and mine. I recall so vividly sitting in her kitchen, there were 5 of us girls (who had gotten especially close during high school) talking about our weddings (we were part of each others’ wedding parties) and Donna’s mom made us some kind of dessert. While serving it, she said, “I can imagine the five of you as old ladies sitting around the table still talking about this or that.” This is the image that popped into my head today, along with a flood of others. With her loss, I feel like part of me is missing, too. We were always Big “D” and Little “D,” (me, of course, being the latter). I told her dad I kept tabs on one of Donna’s daughters and sister through Facebook, and I will always remember the smile that came across his face. He teared up too. I certainly am blessed with wonderful memories of a cherished friendship.
Day 3: 6/25
Today, I am thankful not to have waken up to the sound of my alarm clock– one of my favorite luxuries that summer brings. Normally I wake up between 5:30 & 6:00 a.m.– not at all conducive to my body clock, something I hadn’t considered in choosing my career. I am a night person. I’ve always been a night person. And I’ve really tried to become a morning person, but my body just doesn’t work that way. I long for Friday’s because my inner voice always screams “Yay! I don’t have to be in bed by 10.” Ten o’clock is the very latest I can go to sleep if I want to be at all coherent for a work day– that, and plenty of coffee to begin my day. But over the summer, I can stay awake at night to my heart’s content, which is usually before midnight, and normally, I’ll wake up by 8:00 the next morning. If I can sleep until about 8:00, I always awaken refreshed.
Day 2: 6/24
Today, I am thankful for my job. I’ve always been a proponent of change. Even when it’s uncomfortable, especially when it’s uncomfortable, it ignites growth. With change, two things are necessary: closure & new beginnings. I am lucky enough to have a job that, each year, the summer break allows me to shed the experiences of one year and provides me with the opportunity to begin anew in the fall. This year I experienced high highs and low lows. So, the catharsis is much needed. As far as I’m concerned, every job should come with a guaranteed month off. At the beginning of each summer, I’m exhausted, my creative juices depleted, my patience null. I take the time I need to just be– to escape any thoughts or deeds associated with my school– and, simply, relax or tend to other projects and people I’ve neglected, until I’m refreshed. Then, I reflect and plan for the upcoming year. I begin each year with a new sense of promise and perspective, excitement and vigor.
Day 1: 6/23
Today, I am thankful for the calm– the peaceful ocean water, quality time with my husband, the companionship of my black lab, Sadie, and, ultimately, an epiphany I’ve been searching for most of my adult life. After a blissful day on the boat on Long Island Sound under a cloudless sky, I returned home to find my eldest son had surprised me by coming home. I cherish the days when my family is together.