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Sometimes I sit down to write this weekly post and I feel pressure to come up with the perfect moment or something deeply profound to change someone’s life. But it doesn’t work like that, does it? And then I get in my own way, to the point where I convince myself I have nothing worthwhile to say.

These are the times when writing is hard.

When I am unsure of what to write, I get quiet, turn off the bad TV (I’m talking to you, The Bachelorette!), and listen to the still, quiet voice which lives far away from the crazy talk I hear so often.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I am cleaning out my apartment, intending to clear out all that has served its purpose to make room for the new things waiting for me. In the process, I have learned I’m a bit of a hoarder (being a writer in the shadows for so many years, a major hoarder of pens and notebooks), but the silver lining is I tend to save thank you notes that have moved me in some way. I’ve found notes from old bosses, congratulating me on projects well done—and one simply welcoming me back from vacation, saying I was “missed by all”—from old friends thanking me for support on major life events, and from beloved family members who have since transitioned on to some unknown place. As I sorted through all of these, I felt as moved as I’d been when I first received them.

Quite simply, I just felt grateful.

I’m grateful for:

…for rainbow sprinkles which never, ever fail to make me giddy.

…for the tough experiences that show me I am tougher than I know (though, most times I don’t know gratitude is lurking in the aftermath).

…for friends who feed me and give me wine and sea salt chocolate-covered marshmallows on a random Sunday night.

…for the sense of wonder in me that shows up for every sunset, moonrise and visible star I can see.

…for the love unceasingly appearing everywhere, if not always in ways I expect.

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So when I am searching for goodness, I remember the things for which I am grateful. And that is enough.

xo, with goodness and grace.

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It was not a perfect week.  But when I think of things of goodness I was blessed with, I cannot come up with one.

For that I am very grateful.

I’m grateful for the mantra that’s popped up in my head. Let go of what no longer serves you. It is life changing.

…for the conversation full of synchronicity which illustrated how nothing is random.  Sometimes we are messengers for each other, delivering words we didn’t know we needed to hear.

…for the nights of rosé. It’s become my water of the summer.

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…for the signs of love that were everywhere.

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…for this.

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May goodness find you everywhere you turn.

xo, with goodness and grace.

 

I had one of those days that felt like a runaway train, reminiscent of that scene at the beginning of The Fugitive when the prison break goes awry and Harrison Ford has to escape an unfortunate demise by jumping out of the train carrying the prisoners before it crashes. My work day started, and ended, like that.

It was the kind of day that was full of meetings that wouldn’t end and piles of work that just grew taller by the minute.

But then as I walked home tonight, I looked up at the moon, just fuller than half, and remembered how important it is to hold close the things you love on the days that feel out of control.  Moon magic made me remember what really mattered.  I was reminded that in the midst of frustration and fatigue, it is important to remember who you are.

That thought brought me back to the Manifestation Yoga workshop I wrote about in my last post, and how we were encouraged to write the rules that we live by. We all have rules, most unspoken, that define who we are and how we show up in our lives.

So as a reminder of who I am, here are my rules for a good life:

  • Be kind, and treat everyone as your equal.  My parents taught me through their actions that everyone deserves your kindness.  Many a late night I would visit my father in the office to find the cleaning lady sitting in a chair, the two of them in the middle of a deep conversation.  She mattered as much as any CEO who has crossed his path.
  • Hang with people who do the same.  I find out everything I need to know about a person by how they treat servers in a restaurant.
  • Laugh often, deeply and heartily.  You know the saying “angels fly because they take themselves lightly?”  Well, so should you.
  • Be in awe of the world.  Let it amaze you, and let its magic carry you through the day.  For me, the wonder of the ocean, the sunrise, the sunset, the moon all bring me back to my essence.  Figure out what in the world rocks you to the core of your being.
  • Give good hug.  Wimpy hugs make me feel like you don’t want to be around me.  Get in there with a full-bodied embrace.  Yes, it’ll make some people uncomfortable, but they just need to know what love feels like.
  • Food is the best medicine.  Honor your body by feeding yourself well.  Your body will then honor you by letting you experience your life with vigor.
  • It’s okay to have chocolate chip cookies for dinner every now and then.  Rules are made to be broken.
  • It’s okay to have cheese for dinner every now and then—but only if you have quality cheese and a good glass of wine to go along with it.
  • When people offer you their love, accept it.  I’ve let good men get away because I was afraid to hold a gaze or an extended hand.
  • Learn not to leave love unsaid.  If you love someone, let them know. Momentary awkwardness is infinitely better than a lifetime of wishing to have been brave.
  • Pay attention.  I used to roll my eyes (on the inside) whenever Oprah talked about gratitude as a practice.  And then I wrote about my most grateful moment of the day for 30 days straight and it changed my life.  It changed me. Let gratitude shape you.
  • Remember to say thank you.  Kindnesses big and small need to be acknowledged before the moment passes and they are forgotten.

With that rule in mind, last night I was deeply moved by the kindnesses shown by Katie Devine of Confessions of an Imperfect Life and Jennifer Pastiloff of The Manifest-Station.  They shared my blog post with their “tribes”, followers and families and opened up my words, thoughts and feelings to an entirely new audience.  For their grace and generosity, I am deeply grateful.

There is a famous quote by Meister Eckhart, “If the only prayer you ever say in your life is thank you, it will be enough.”

And so in the spirit of that quote, as well as my rules for a good life, to Jen and Katie I say, thank you.

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.

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