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Posts Tagged ‘gratitude’

  1. When Life Knocks You Down, Reach for This

    May 24, 2015 by Diane

    Old wooden tool box

    “Did you forget your teeth?”

    “No dear. They’re in my back pocket.”

    -overheard in my head


    Your teeth are your tools. You use them to chomp your food. If you have the removable kind and you forget to put them in your mouth where they belong and instead you shove them into your back pocket, what good are they? Unless you’re eating through your ass.

    Your teeth are your tools.

    Like the other tools we have. Our brains. Our breath. Our sense of smell. Touch.

    Deep breathing is calming. That’s a tool. Positive thinking. That’s a tool. Taking a walk under the redwood trees and inhaling the moist gooey needles. Another tool. Singing in the shower, eating a chocolate truffle, rolling down a hillside, walking barefoot on the beach, clasping the hand of your grandfather as you watch the fireworks from the tailgate of his red pickup…these are all tools. Tools to stash in your emergency kit so the next time you’re visited by the brittle critic, or the anxious cowering panic-stricken one, or you’re stepping into the coiled snake of your dysfunctional thinking, you can reach for a tool to lift you up.

    This past week, when my car was totaled by a big rig, I spiraled from shock to anger to frustration to loss, negotiating with insurance agents, agonizing over the financial burden, scouring websites and dealerships for something I could afford—until today, when I felt that I, too, had been hit by a big rig.

    My energy left me.

    My brain froze.

    My heart sank.

    I needed my emergency toolkit.

    I needed to take those teeth out of my back pocket, stick ‘em in, clack ‘em together a few times, open wide and chomp down on something nourishing, something oozing goodness. I needed to take it in.

    As Rick Hanson says in Buddha’s Brain, take in the good. That sunset on the beach—take it in. That conversation with your sweetheart on the porch—take it in. That hike to the peak of Mount Whatchamacallit—take it in, the whole 360-degree view.

    And when darkness seems to descend, if those good feelings don’t sustain you, then draw on your other tools: family, friends, meditation, prayer, writing, jogging, old movies, Earthing, an uplifting book, relaxing music, a priest, rabbi, therapist, a nap. Whatever your tools are, know them. List them. Refer to the list when you’re blindsided, and use them.

    Because some day the hurricane will hit. Some day. And you want to be prepared.

    Now it’s your turn: What’s in your emergency toolkit?

  2. This Will Make Your Day

    May 17, 2015 by Diane

    Big Laugh

    If you place a call to, oh, say your mobile phone carrier, and the customer service rep asks for your name, and you tell her,


    and she asks,

    “May I call you Miss Diane?”

    and you say,

    “I’d prefer to be called Your Highness,”

    and she happily obliges!…

    this will make your day.

    * * *
    When you remember the gray cat you had as a child, the cat who suffered the indignities of wearing your doll clothes and riding around in your toy baby carriage, the cat who bounded out of the baby carriage wearing those same doll clothes to chase an annoying German Shepard up the road…

    decades later, this memory will make your day.

    * * *
    When your parked car, your tiny Toyota Corolla, is hit by a beast of a big rig and tossed onto the curb like a toy, and the driver continues on his merry way without stopping, this will not make your day. But…

    When a construction worker wearing clunky boots chases down the big rig, and this construction worker happens to be a photographer, and this photographer happens to take pictures of the guilty party and his driver’s license and insurance certificate, and happens to call the police to file a report, and then sticks his business card on your windshield so that you have all the information you need to recoup a portion of the cost of your now-totaled vehicle, you will be filled with such gratitude for this noble do-gooder (whose car was also hit by the big rig, and shoved twenty feet), it will make your day.

    I know, because this just happened to me.

    It doesn’t take much to turn a so-so day, a rotten day, a “why did I bother to get up” day into something wonderful. Not much at all.

    A shared joke.

    A memory.

    A good deed.

    The important thing is to be aware of these fleeting moments, and soak them in.

    So if you’re feeling blue, or you’re spiraling down the anxiety rabbit hole, here’s my prescription: three times a day find something of beauty, or something to laugh about, or something to be grateful for, and soak it in.

    That’s it.

    Be aware, and soak it in.

    And share it with somebody else.

  3. And So It Goes

    November 2, 2014 by Diane


    We get up in the morning, those of us who operate on automatic, and instead of seeing the miracle of light beyond those closed shades we grumble, and fumble for our clothes, our eyeglasses, our shoes. We pour ourselves over a bowl of cereal, bleary-eyed, thinking about something else or nothing at all, shoveling it all in blindly: the sugary crisps, the anchorman’s words, the print on the cereal box, the bark of the dog. We make sure the mirror finds us presentable and we check our watches and we get in our cars.

    And so it goes.

    Without a thought, a word, a whisper of gratitude, we take it all for granted: the pinkely-orange dawn, the pool of blue sky through threads of white clouds that glide and disperse and fade away. The universe holds us, beckons us, shows us its glorious endless depths, but we see only the rounded toes of our old-man shoes, our old-man Greyhound bus shoes.

    And so it goes.

    The shoeshine man reads the newspaper, waiting for better days. The paper boy shoves hands in pockets and slouches to school, hearing only the rhythms from his IPod. The teacher presses chalk to board, straightens papers, polishes her apple-hearted smile, tired from last night’s pizza dinner with a man who didn’t give her a second thought in the morning.

    And so it goes.

    Time passes and we pass too, backwards or forwards, depending on which direction we view the clock. Are we in the past or in the future? Time is leaking through our days, our lives, and we are helpless to stop it. As quick as a hummingbird’s wings, the moment is gone. But did we live it? Did we inhabit it? Are we paying attention? Are we seeing the light or the dark, the love or the hate, the smooth or the rough? Are we paying attention?

    Attention will escort us safely across the street. It will catch the micro warning on our lover’s face. It will still the moment of recognition in a baby’s focus. It will keep us here, now, centered, breathing with the rhythm of the earth, the sea, the tribe of humanity that we have joined, with or without choice—the jury’s still out on that one. But we do have a choice. To be or not to be. Here. Now.

    Let’s lift our heads.

    Open our dull eyes to the light.

    Be mindful of the crisp morning air against our cheeks.

    Ask ourselves: did I notice the gift I was given? Did I let my heart taste the goodness, the sweetness, the chocolate center of this ball we call home?