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At the end of my life when I ask “What have I done?” one final time, I want to answer: I have done love.                          – Jennifer Pastiloff

This month of grace and gratitude has been downright revolutionary in my life.

Little did I know that the commitment of having to write about my most grateful moment of the day would force me to pay attention to each as they unfolded. Small moments were elevated into the sacred, and all were opportunities to see how connected we all are.

I also wrote notes of gratitude throughout the month.  To sit and express how much someone meant to me, that was life changing.  At first I felt self-conscious about it (because who does that??), but now it feels natural.  Some notes were to people I’ve known for ages; others, to people I don’t know very well at all. Regardless, all sentiments came from a place of love.  I’ve learned not to leave love unsaid.

Love matters.

Almost every time I acted on an instinct to reach out to someone with a note of gratitude, the person responded by saying how much they needed to read the words I’d sent.  I’ve learned that instincts are holy, that they are messages from some unknown place.  I’ve learned that when you think of someone, when you think to reach out to someone, do it—it matters.  Love makes a difference.

What was completely unexpected were the sentiments that were sent back to me from people I reached out to.

“I get the feeling of home when I’m with you.”

“You are a special person.”

“I feel like you’re a kindred spirit.”

I have been deeply moved by the love that has come my way.  Acts of love are mirrored by other acts of love.

Love is what matters.

And to all of you, my dear readers, thank you for taking the time out of your day to read the words on this blog.  That you spend precious moments to read what I’ve written touches me more than you know.

I am grateful for you and the grace you show every time you visit this page. Sending each of you love and gratitude—may we share many more moments of goodness. xo

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Change me, divine beloved, into one who can let go of what wants to go, and receive what wants to come.                              — Tosha Silver

This quote randomly made its way into my orbit this week.  It stuck with me, mainly because it was so well-timed.

Have you ever had something in your brain—a thought, a situation, a person—that grabbed hold of you and wouldn’t let go?

Something has had its grip on me this summer.  The specifics of it don’t really matter in this space, because we all have our stuff.  Whatever the stuff, we have our ways of dealing with it.

Some of us will ignore it.  Some of us will take it out on other people.  Some of us will cover it up with whatever our vice is—food, shopping, alcohol, whatever.

This summer, I chose to sit with my stuff.

I asked it to sit next to me as I befriended it.  I asked it to tell me its story, to show me what it wanted to teach me.

Some days I let it hang with me, even if it felt sad and uncomfortable.  (It often did.)  Others, I felt as if I was ready to set it free.  Enough, I wanted to say. Enough of you.

As I got ready to workout this morning, I felt it gripping onto me.  Today, I decided I needed to send it on its way.  I decided it was time to make room for what is next, for whatever wants to come to me but won’t until I’ve made the space for it.

As I pedaled in my early morning cycling class, I struggled to connect with the class as I normally do. I decided I was going to use the rest of the ride to work out the thing that won’t let me go.

During a sprint, the instructor asked us to envision a rainbow beginning with us and extending to our imaginary finish line.  As she called out each color of the rainbow and what it represented, I chose to make the sprint into a prayer, a call to action for me to set my stuff free.

I honor you and I let you go.

If you decide to make your way back to me, I will welcome you with open arms. But for now I have to let you go.

Thank you for sitting with me.  Now it’s time to let you go.    

After class I felt emotional, yet lighter.  I wish I could say I had fully released all of it—I can’t—but I can say that pieces of it have begun to break away from me.  I can feel the space emptying, maybe little by little, as something is readying itself to be born.  All I can do is wait.

But as I wait, I feel grateful.

Even our difficult stuff, maybe especially the difficult things, have much to teach us about ourselves.  And it opens doors to beautiful things that we’d only recognize after we’d embraced the tough lessons.  Often, our stuff is grace hiding in disguise.

Before today, I hadn’t had a cup of coffee in over two months.  I don’t drink coffee for the caffeine rush; I drink it because I love the taste.  With soy milk and a sprinkling of sugar, it is soul satisfying.

I missed it.

So during my midday walk away from the office, I decided to treat myself.  I went to Starbucks and got a grande iced coffee.  It tasted good.

Almost as soon as I got back to my desk with my drink, I knocked it over.  The cup hit the desk, along with it the whoosh of the liquid streaming over my files and the clanging of ice on my supplies.

A voice on the other side of my cubicle wall said, “Don’t worry, I got you.”  My neighbor Sarah came over with a stack of napkins.

“I heard a scattering of ice, and I knew it wasn’t good,” she said.  She stood by to make sure I had everything I needed to clean the mess up.

Such a small gesture of kindness, but it made me feel looked after.  I got you.  

That is grace.

I left work at 6pm tonight to meet a friend for dinner.

Most people would not think there is anything unusual about that—because normal people end a work day at the same time each evening.  But for me, it’s hard to leave at that time without feeling as if I’ve done something wrong.  It’s a hang-up of mine from years of working much too hard.

I can recognize this in other people and I give great advice on maintaining a balance of work and play.  But I’ve rarely taken my own counsel.

When I discovered a few health problems a couple of months ago, I realized that most of them could have been avoided if I’d taken better care of myself.  I’d heard the call of self-care over the last couple of years, but more often than not, I left it knocking on the door.  If I wanted to reclaim my health, I couldn’t regularly work late and then eat a late dinner and then go to bed and then get up early to start it all over again.

I was exhausted and spent.  So I set an out time for myself, a time when I needed to be done with my work day so I’d have time for the personal part of the day.  For the most part, I’ve managed to honor my deal with myself.

And I feel guilty every time.  I’m still working on that.  But I’m grateful to have decided that my well being matters.

As I sat with my friend over a beautifully delicious vegetarian meal, she talked about her turning point.  She realized that she wouldn’t be any good to her family if she continued down the workaholic path.  So she found work that allowed her the flexibility to respect her personal and professional needs.  

Our relationships deserve to be just as important as our work.  We may struggle to prioritize, but the grace is in the attempt. 

 

I’m a New Yorker through and through.  But though I’m native to the Big Apple, I grew up in California.

While it never felt like home, I’m proud that I’ve managed to maintain friendships with a few people from my adolescence in the City of Angels.  We may never see each other in person, but each of them holds a special place in my heart.

There’s Stuart, with whom I bonded immediately in Mrs. Stern’s 10th grade English class because we had the same dictionary.  Decades later, I still have it and think of him every time I look at it.  I also have all of the letters he wrote me when we were in college and he was studying abroad in Spain.  It’s fun to read those letters now, all full of dreams and so wide-eyed at the world.  Now married with three kids, our letters have morphed into emails we send each other on birthday and holiday milestones during the year.  They always make me happy.

Then there’s Melanie, with whom I reconnected on Facebook.  She was my friend throughout my junior high school years, from 7th to 9th grade.  I remember her as vivacious, kind, and a free spirit.  She was a theater kid, always performing and lighting up whenever she talked about it.  I love knowing that she is still a singer as an adult, affirming that childhood dreams can carry over to adulthood.   We sometimes comment on our social media posts, and I love knowing that my sweet tween-age friend is still in my life.  Seeing her pictures always reminds me of the girl I used to be.

My 7th grade self was in love with her brother, two years older than us.  I would type Melanie notes in typing class, and I would always end them with, “P.S. – Say hi to Greg!”  I remember the first time he said hello to me I thought, “Well, my life is now complete.”  I laugh when I think of how boy crazy I was back then.

And there’s Floriza, who I met in high school.  Like Stuart, we also studied in the same English class.  I just remember her as a constant presence, calm and funny and very smart.  She still is.  I moved away when I was 16, but in those days before the internet, we stayed in touch with long letters about our lives.  To this day, she’ll send me a postcard from wherever she’s traveling in the world.  I love getting messages from Peru, New Zealand and other far reaches of the globe.  As she moved into adulthood, her new friends began to call her Riza, but I, much like an immigrant mother, still call her the name is knew her as when we were girls.

After I moved away, she sent me a gift she made in wood shop – and how can you not love a girl who held her own in wood shop class? Whenever I need a little inspiration, I just look at this.

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What beautiful grace there is in having people in my life who knew me before any of us were fully formed, when we were innocent and wise enough to believe that dreams can come true.  These are the people who remind me, just by their presence, that we still have our whole lives ahead of us.

I am grateful for them.

Today was the first day in this month that I sat down to my computer and had no idea what I was grateful for.

There were no howling thunderstorms followed by double rainbows.  No bite of food that transported me to another place and time.  No flirty glances that made me giggle and feel the depths of my feminine self.  No moments of riotous laughter that made my face hurt.

It was not a bad day.  It was, in fact, a perfectly fine day.  But it was a day where I didn’t feel particularly connected to anything or anyone. It was a day that just was.

In the hopes of remembering something spectacular to write about, I took a moment, closed my eyes and just breathed.  A deep breath to focus on nothing in particular, except for the goodness of being alive.

I breathed in and I relaxed.  For today, having the space to just be would have to be enough.

Then, I realized the privilege to just be is the grace of everyday.  And for that, I am grateful.

These words came to me in a beautiful conversation about the importance of the company we keep.  I do believe that the people we surround ourselves with directly affect the quality of our lives and how successful we become.  I am grateful that they helped to kickstart a day where I began to focus on what I’m looking to manifest in the future.

Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds, and their feet on the ground.  Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…”  — Wilferd Peterson

Beautiful words of grace to contemplate on a summer Sunday afternoon.  xo

There’s a guy in my apartment building that tries to flirt with me every time I see him.

This is unfortunate, mainly because I am not least bit interested in him. He talks too much, cracks unfunny jokes and his energy is too intensely focused on me.

I hadn’t seen him in several months, but when I got on the elevator this evening, I heaved a heavy internal groan. He was looking down at his phone, so I thought he didn’t see me and that I would make a quick getaway when we got to the lobby.

“OMG, I can’t believe it’s going to snow tomorrow!” Another sigh on the inside as the bad joke signaled that he definitely saw me.

As we walked out the building, his stride was a little too close to mine. The doorman looked at me quizzically, as if to ask if we were together. I wanted to mind meld with him so he’d know the truth.

I let out a heavy, and audible, sigh of relief when he walked in the opposite direction.

I’d come downstairs to make my way to my neighborhood park.  I’d just finished doing the laundry and had done a bit of tidying up in my closet, so I wanted a respite from my chores.

As I sat on the bench, I took in the late summer evening and its uncharacteristically cool breezes. I felt the wonder of nature.

The interconnectedness of everything became apparent to me: the symphony of insects in the ivy behind me, the sway of the trees surrounding the park, the intimate conversations of neighbors all around the perimeter of the park. Everything felt woven together as part of some big cosmic tapestry, myself included.  I felt transported by the serenity and mesmerized by the sense of connection everywhere.

I was humbled and grateful.

The spell was broken by thoughts of the guy on the elevator.  Why did it always seem that men I wasn’t interested in were interested in me?

I wish I could say that the answer came to me in that moment and now I’ve found the secret to finding true love.  It didn’t and I haven’t.  But, if I could feel grace of the world just sitting in the park, then couldn’t I find the space in me to appreciate that someone finds me attractive?

After all, aren’t we all connected?  Aren’t we all bound by love?  Couldn’t I turn my annoyance into compassion?

I may need some time before testing those theories on my overzealous neighbor. For the moment, the grace will have to be in the quest to find the answers.

In today’s post, I was going to declare how grateful I was for it to be Friday.  But somehow it didn’t quite seem right.

The truth is I woke up at 4:45am so I could take a 6am spinning class.  I got up and I showed up for myself.  I’m sure many people do that every day and it’s no big deal for them.  But I don’t do that…or I haven’t.  For many years, I put myself at the bottom of the to do list, and rarely made it that far down.  Everything and everyone else was deemed more important than what I needed.

And then a doctor’s appointment two and a half months ago made me see that I needed to make some very big changes.  So I did.

I needed to learn that I was just as important as everything else in my world.  So I learned.

Today I got up and I showed up.  For myself.

And, that fills me with grace and gratitude.

I first started working when I was 17.  I loved it immediately – the responsibility, the camaraderie, the independence.

All these years later, there are many days I feel so exhausted that I wish I would win the lottery so I could go far away from any responsibility.

I am fortunate to work in a place where every team member is treated respectfully, where everyone is encouraged—no, mandated—to have an opinion, where you are required to take ownership of the work you do. But I juggle many detailed projects. And sometimes in trying to get it all done, I feel as if I’m not doing anything well.

Today was a day when I remembered that I am very good at my job.

I was reminded that I’m good at anticipating what may happen, I’m skilled at coming up with plan B, I’m experienced enough to know that you can still ask the question even when you think the answer will be no…because every now and then, the answer will be yes.  I am good at what I do.

And maybe, just maybe, the next time I feel exhausted and think I cannot do one more thing, I will remember this and know that it’s worth hanging on.

That is the grace of remembering who you are.

I like to find the poetry in my favorite things each day.

Some days, though, the poetic morphs into hysterical laughter.

As I walked home from work this evening, I called my friend who had left me a message earlier in the day.  She regaled me with a hilarious tale of a date she had with a man she just met on a dating app.  (I will keep the details between us girls.) It was so amusing that I had to stop into a park and find a place to sit, just so I could fully focus on giggling.

People still looked at me as if I was insane.  I don’t care, though.  It felt good to laugh unabashedly.  I embraced the joy of the moment.

Tonight, I am grateful for crazy stories, living in the moment and the gift of girlfriends who make me laugh.

Today I’m grateful for the beams of light that were bookends for my day.

I’ve struggled on and off with insomnia over the last year, which at times has brought me to the brink of madness.  (Or the need to be very dramatic, at least.) For a time this summer, I held it at bay, finally sleeping through the night.  But, some mornings these last few weeks have have found me awake at the too-early hour of 4am.

This was one of those mornings.

I tossed and turned in that state where you know you are awake but are afraid to open your eyes for fear that you will never, ever sleep again.  (Did I mention that my lack of sleep has made me very, very dramatic?) That state where every worry you have resides in the pit of your stomach, seizing the moment so now you must pay attention.

And then.

At the time I needed to get up for work, I reluctantly allowed myself to be awake. And I was greeted with a heavenly light.

Sometimes when the sun rises in my neighborhood, I can see its glow on the trees outside my window or the way the sunlight falls on the building across the street. This morning, the light was oddly concentrated in one pane of my window – an intense peach-hued globe of radiance that literally mesmerized me.

It felt like a showering of a morning blessing, so transforming that I forgot about how tired I was.

My work day was filled with the usual chaos.  The lunch eaten too quickly in order to get to the next meeting.  The co-workers that you see in passing but don’t actually engage in conversation.  The moment where you step outside to get air, but can’t remember whether the air was warm and humid or cool and breezy.

And then it ends, and the act of leaving the office offers a chance for soul restoration.

It was then that it caught my eye and stopped me – a sunset full of grace.  The giant, perfectly round orb of luminonsity, its color otherwordly, made me feel fortunate to be in that spot, in that moment, in this particular city, to have the privilege of witnessing such beauty.

It’s in those moments that I believe in the magic of the world.

A relaxing weekend turned into an insanely hectic Monday.

Happily, that morphed into a lively night out in celebration of a friend’s birthday.

Like life, it was layered with an abundance of sentiments.

The wonder of grown people with serious professions enjoying playing dress up as much as preschoolers.  Wistfulness for a friend going through a hard time. The giddiness of riotous laughter that can only come from a group of people who know each other well.  The surprise of an unexpected deep conversation with a new friend I’m just getting to know that culminated with the kind of full-bodied hug that you didn’t know you needed until you received it.

It was the kind of evening that ended with my face hurting from so much laughter.

And when two Elmos join in, it was the sort of amusement that even they would be grateful for.

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For my belated birthday celebration, today I visited a friend who lives in Westchester County, just outside of New York City.  It was a great, simple day of walking and talking and eating.  Her friendship is the kind where I feel completely heard and seen.  Isn’t that what we are all searching for?  I am lucky to know her.

On the train ride up to see her, this sign caught my eye.  I’ve learned to be open for signs, both literal and metaphorical, and immediately this made me smile.

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Because gratitude was misspelled, I wondered if there was a special meaning to the billboard.  I Googled the word and came across The GrAttitude Project.  

Their Facebook page says that our attitude is often the only thing standing in our way between being grateful and happy, and that The GrAttitude Project is a “daily reminder that no act of kindness is ever too small when done with a pure heart.”  

What a beautiful, inspiring mission.  

For more info on The GrAttitude Project, click here.

Today was a perfect city summer day.

Today I found myself wistful, feeling the breezes of the impending fall in the air, but then I remembered to pull myself back into the moment.  Days like this call us to be present so we can appreciate their beauty.

Today I started the day early, meeting my parents for breakfast.  It is our Saturday ritual that starts with good food and ends with a long meandering walk through the downtown streets.  I always walk away from these routine visits feeling loved and supported.  It is what I wish for everyone.

Today I walked almost 60 blocks back home, taking in the Summer Streets that has become an August ritual.  Park Avenue shuts down on Saturday morning and becomes a celebration of the season, with bicyclists, joggers and walkers hitting the streets with unabashed abandon.  The walk made me feel alive.

Today I got a manicure, a favorite act of grooming that I’d neglected for the last few crazy weeks.  Happily, my favorite manicurist worked with me, so quiet and meticulous in her work.  And I discovered the perfect red nail polish for me, OPI’s “Just A Little Rösti At This.”

Today I took myself on a dinner date at my favorite restaurant, where I got to experience beautiful new dishes, catch up with my culinary comrades and get up to date on my reading list.  The meal ended with a sweet offering of a bowl filled with colorful M&Ms.  I contemplated snapping a picture to share here, but I wanted to remember how the gesture made me feel, so I put the camera phone away and happily munched on a childhood favorite snack.

Today I was present for the simple pleasures and magical moments of another ordinary summer New York City day.  And it was lovely.

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