Posts Tagged With: paying attention

Tiny Toes and Sticky Fingers and The Best Snuggles Ever

It’s Gratituesday! It’s been a day where I couldn’t narrow down just one thankful thing. The day simply felt abundant and overflowing.

But then, I had some company for the evening. That helped me focus on my best thing for today, or most days for that matter.

Tiny toes, big energy.

Tiny toes, big energy.

See these little toes? They’re attached to a bundle of mischief and non-stop energy. It’s almost miraculous that I’ve ever captured a picture of them at rest. They belong to my favorite one-year old.

She and her sister spent a few hours at my place while their parents took a breather. MSH played his jazzy stuff on the piano while they danced and I looked on, loving their creativity. Then I suggested we trade places so he could see what great dancers they’ve become. They know how to move like you wouldn’t believe. But, sadly, I don’t play the fun songs you can dance to. I play the kind of songs kids sing along with.

The one-year old climbed up on my lap and helped me play the piano, just like her mother used to do at that age. As I turned the pages of the songbook, the Big Yellow Songbook, and played and sang, I realized I’d come full circle again.

You see, my mother used to play those songs for me on the piano while she sang and I looked at the pictures. Then I played for my daughter. And I played for her oldest daughter and tonight I played for the youngest.

I wanted to freeze the moment, take a forever photo. But the one-year old got squirmy and climbed down and the moment slipped away. I suppose an image and a feeling mentally stored is the best I ought to hope for.

I know I’m lucky to get to experience such a collision of past and present. I’m grateful I noticed when it happened.

Life doesn’t usually morph into slow motion complete with background music at the important scenes. Sometimes we don’t have a clue that we just witnessed a pivotal interaction until much, much later. They don’t usually arrive on holidays, or at orchestrated photo sessions, or during recitals or at organized events.

Most of the time the important stuff occurs without fanfare or fireworks.

Thankfully I had a chance to watch dancing and sing songs and, (here’s the important part) I paid attention. Lucky me.

Now my heart is dancing to the music.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How Many People Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

It’s Gratituesday! I’m sure you know a few “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb” jokes. I actually found a website that has them listed alphabetically by profession.  My favorite is this one:

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but it has to really want to change.

What do lightbulb jokes have to do with Gratitude? You’d be surprised at the answer. If you were to seriously ask how many people are involved in the actual process of changing a lightbulb, you’d be surprised. Really. Stay with me here.

I remember sitting in the theater after the movie “Apollo 13” as the credits scrolled by. Astounded by how many people it took to put this movie together, I then naturally wondered how many people it took to put even one actual Apollo mission up into space.


Japanese calligraphy meaning Gratitude.

From there, for days, even weeks afterwards, I wondered about all the background people we seldom see, pay attention to, or know about that make different things work.

At a restaurant I see a greeter, a server and maybe a food runner, occasionally a manager makes the rounds. Yet, there are cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, bussers, cleaning crews after hours, delivery truck drivers, garbage truck drivers, food processors and handlers at a factory, sellers, buyers, equipment manufacturers, harvesters, growers, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, water purification workers, just to name a few obvious ones. I haven’t even touched on who made the aprons, napkins, plates, lights, the building or the tables and chairs.

And that’s just a restaurant. What about a college or university or an elementary school?

My simple trip to the grocery store or to the corner drug store involves thousands and thousands of people working to create, produce, package, order, process, sell, ship, inventory, stock, price, and then finally run the store.  All that, just so I can pop in, choose a four pack of lightbulbs and take them home to replace the burned out ones. I’m sure I missed a few steps in there.

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? We may never know.

My youngest sister posted this as her Gratituesday Facebook status last week. (She’s the one who got me started doing Gratituesdays a few years ago. She’s a smart one! Thanks Becky! )

“Naikan therapy reminds people to be thankful for everything. If you are sitting in a chair, you need to realize that someone made that chair, and someone sold it and someone delivered it – and you are the beneficiary of all that. Just because they didn’t do it especially for you doesn’t mean you aren’t blessed to be using it and enjoying it. Life becomes a series of small miracles, and you may start to notice everything that goes right in a typical life and not the few things that go wrong. ~― Will SchwalbeThe End of Your Life Book Club

I love this expansive way of thinking about the world. I feel more connected, more aware, and more thankful. When I eat my breakfast, a part of my brain thinks briefly of the many people that made my simple meal of yogurt and granola possible. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Just a thought here and there about all that goes into making everything in my world exist, work, run smoothly, and my life easier leaves me feeling more blessed than ever today!

Another rock find!

Another rock find!

I’ve decided to get back to my daily practice of a gratitude journal. I’ve run across some slick smartphone gratitude apps. Debating if I want to try one, or if I’m going old school and pulling out a blank book to write in every evening before lights out. Either way, I know, from experiences going back over twenty years, it can and will make a difference in my outlook, my focus and my life. I’ve written a little about it previously in this post if you’re curious.

I’d be interested to know if any of you have tried gratitude journaling, on your phone or in a traditional notebook. Has it made a difference? Or is it just another thing on your to-do list that weighs you down?

Oh, and if you have a favorite lightbulb joke, I’d love it if you shared in the comments. Thanks!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, People | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

My Own Personal News Hour

English: Canary Wharf stock ticker

Canary Wharf stock ticker (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Life could use a ticker tape. You know that scrolling thing across the bottom of the screen during the news that has stock numbers, brief headlines and weather for major cities? Yes, that thing. I need something like that for my daily life.

Why? Doesn’t Facebook already sort of serve that purpose, you ask? No, thank goodness, I reply.

No, I’m talking about a quick update about what’s going on in my body and brain and heart that might explain the why’s behind what I’m doing.

Like a little news blip that pops up about a traffic accident on the interstate, you’d know before you left the house to take a different route in to the office. If something like that let me know that there’s a psychic fender bender that’s not even in the clearing stages yet, I could reroute myself around the mess and avoid some tears or heartache.

Delays at airports over two thousand miles away make sense when explained by a little news note about heavy storms in a city with a major airline hub. In like manner, if a little news scroll reminded me of what I ate just before bedtime, mixed with the not so wise choice of dinner condiments, I’d be better informed about the reason behind the morning headache or the sluggishness I’m feeling.

As interconnected as the world works there’s no need to register surprise when something in Eastern Europe affects the stock market in the U.S.

Brains and bodies work together in even more intimate ways than the world operates. A little heads up that the worries I’ve stuffed into the dark closet in the back of my head are contributing to some sleeplessness might change how I deal with both issues.

Maybe more than the news ticker, I also need a couple of analysts in the background, my own personal Gergen and Shields, debating the merits, causes and results of various choices and events. They’d be way better than a shoulder angel and a shoulder devil because they’re unbiased. Well, maybe not completely unbiased, but they wouldn’t get emotionally involved. Imagine how intelligent, efficient and effective I could become with such well-informed people weighing in on my life.

I suppose that’s not really practical or affordable for an ordinary person like myself who’s isn’t trying to run a country or a large corporation or anything like that.

And the ticker tape thingy would get annoying pretty quickly, to the point that I’d ignore it, or resent that it’s covering up part of the screen.

I probably just need to pay attention to my life a bit better. Maybe it’d help if I were more mindful of what I eat, how early (or late) I get to bed, whether I’m thinking things through or just rushing in without much thought.

“Life moves fast,” as Ferris Bueller says.

I guess I need to “stop and look around once in a while” so I don’t miss what’s really going on.

But wait. Does that mean I need to speed up? Or do I need to slow down? I guess that’s the problem with taking advice from a fictional teenage character. Not really the most solid place to get life coaching from.

Where are Gergen and Shields when I need them?

Categories: Mental Health, People, Wondering | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Thousand Different Colors in One

Baja California Desert in the Cataviña region,...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Once in a while the incessant heat of the desert southwest surprises me. Those incredible dust storms that approach like something out of an apocalyptic movie! Skies that sometimes open up as if Niagara Falls has been rerouted directly overhead! Lightening that flashes then becomes the sound of the earth cracking open and rolling in an ominous wave of booming vibrations.

And there’s sometimes a rare day of soft misty rain that lightens the air and sets the scent of creosote wafting about. Not at all desert-like in its gentleness.

You see, the desert seems made of extremes. Incredibly hot in the daytime, even in the winter, and chill you to the bone coldness at night. Then Summer sends its death rays beating down, threatening any and all. Even summer nights press in and slow bake a person to a parched muddled mess.


Desert Sage blooming like gang-busters.

Just lately, in the past day or two, and for a week or more, the desert sends surprise gifts to those who are paying attention. Venturing down almost any road you’ll see bursts of lavender and purple, nearly iridescent and glowing with saturated color. Desert Sage has popped and fills a bush to overflowing masses of tiny buds, almost completely obscuring the green bush it grows from.

Other flowers are blooming, just not in the shouting, hog the limelight way that the sage is doing. The purples act like highlighter on a page, pointing out the good stuff, the memorable, the positive.

Every plant sighs out a breath of beauty, a whisper of hope, a mantra for life.

Seeing such abundance amidst the oppressive center of summer provides an emotional cooling. Amazing what a bit of color can do for the soul.

What colors light up your day? Do you even pay attention to the colors around you? Or is your life all black and white and gray? The unique narrator in Markus Zusak’s YA novel The Book Thief sees life in colors beyond imagining. (Read it and thank me later!)

“People observe the colors of a day only at its beginnings and ends, but to me it’s quite clear

that a day merges through a multitude of shades and intonations with each passing moment.

A single hour can consist of thousands of different colors. Waxy yellows, cloud-spot blues.

Murky darkness. In my line of work, I make it a point to notice them.”— Markus Zusak

Desert Sage Bloom

Desert Sage Bloom (Photo credit: lowjumpingfrog)

I think I need to open my eyes more often to the color and variety of everything around me. It’s easy not to notice. It takes some conscious thought to pay attention and see the extraordinary in the everydayness around us.

“Every hour can consist of a thousand different colors” he says. I’m not sure I could count that many in one hour. Perhaps I, too, need to make it a point to notice them.

The purple will serve as my reminder this week, to open my eyes and really see.

Categories: Nature, Outdoors | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Small Delight, Immeasurable Joy

It’s Gratituesday! Today I am grateful for tiny pink toenails, sticky handprints, sidewalk chalk scribbles, sand-filled shoes, small hands clasped in mine, here and now thinking and snuggles.

My two-year old granddaughter calls back long-lost days as a young mother. I feel almost, but not quite, like a time-traveler. There’s something about the intervening years that allow me to relish her tiny, detail-oriented, focus-scattered perspective.

The tiniest of bugs receive her full, undivided attention as they travel across the sidewalk. Butterflies, pebbles, birds, airplanes, the moon, dirt specks, water droplets, the small and the large all occupy the whole of that specific moment. For having such a short attention span she sees more than I do in a day.

Seeing the world anew through toddler eyes opens my own eyes wide with wonder.

It’s refreshing to slow to her small steps and engage again in the tangible world.

At the same time she seems to travel at light speed at times. Focused on doing a task she’s set for herself, such as filling the tub with toys for bath time, or getting ready for a trip to the park. It can take all I have to keep up with her rocketing from room to room, books to buckets, kitchen toys to stuffed tigers, blankies to sippy cups. Her toddler speed can take my breath away with her energy and excitement and unpredictability.

There exist few other delights as rich and full as those this sweet girl brings me. For her smile that brings one to my face I am ever so grateful.


Cutest two-year old I know.

Categories: Family, Gratitude, Gratituesday, Joy | Tags: , , | 4 Comments

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