I have been learning things from Maddy, my mother-in-law, for over 30 years.
Lately she’s been teaching me about what I want to call “micro-gratitude”: being grateful for the very smallest things in life.
Many things are hard for Maddy right now: getting out a chair, walking across the room, keeping track of the round-the-clock caretakers, and worrying about whether we really did close the windows. But through all this, she continues to be deeply grateful for the feeling of warm water when she washes her hands.
Every time I turn on the water for her, she says “Oh thank you!” as if I had just given her a long-awaited gift. Without fail, she tells me how wonderful it feels. She luxuriates in the clear warm water and the ritual of washing.
I try to be grateful every day, but I tend to think of the big things, always starting with the health of my loved ones. Maddy is teaching me that there is plenty of gratitude to go around for the little things, some of it as close as the nearest faucet.
Today I learned another great thing about being optimistic: You get to have more fun!
Yesterday on a rainy afternoon, I was ready to bail on a Sunday morning 5K with a 90% chance of rain.
Sally told me that she was OK with not running in the rain, but not OK with not running if the weather turned out fine. And since we wouldn’t know until the start gun what the weather would be, we decided to go for it. I stayed overnight, we took the Red Line to Harvard Square nice and early, ran a great race, and had a fun morning together, including a great brunch (don’t do the math, it’s better that way.)
Optimism won the day. As it often does.
“The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.”
I learned this from Steve, who sent a post from the New York Times: “The Surprising Shortcut to Better Health”
In this, science writer Gretchen Reynolds explains the research behind this claim, which she has distilled into her new book on the topic.
Here is a radical quote from the post, one that speaks to me directly: “It would be nice if people would look at exercise as a way to make themselves feel better and live longer and not necessarily as a way to make themselves skinnier.”
Here is another quote that speaks to me (as I sit): “I really do stand up at least every 20 minutes now, because I was spending five or six hours unmoving in my chair. The science is really clear that that is very unhealthy, and that it promotes all sorts of disease. All you have to do to ameliorate that is to stand up. You don’t even have to move. I’m standing up right now as I talk on the phone. I stand during most of my interviews now.”
I would love to hear your thoughts on this – click the link, check it out, and then post a comment here!
Years ago, after we spent a cloudy-turned-sunny morning waiting to meet Hillary Clinton, Sally taught me a lesson that I used every day since: You need to wear sunscreen every single day of the year. Steve and I were burnt. Sally was not, at least not on her face. What’s up with that, I asked. I told you Mom, she said, you need to wear sunscreen EVERY day, not just the sunny ones!
Please take a minute and watch this video that I got from Sally’s blog. There is a second life-saving lesson in here, on top of the sunscreen one.
This is awesome. I learned, from Sara, about an interview with Sylvia Boorstein in which she suggested that we could all learn from the philosophy of the GPS.
When we make a mistake, it calmly and evenly says “recalculating” and then suggests a course correction. Even if you get that wrong, it says “recalculating” and suggests another correction to get you back to where you said you were going.
No yelling. No beating anyone up for making a mistake. Just recalculating.
Here is an excerpt from the interview, below, but I recommend the whole interview. What do you think??
“If something happens, it challenges us and the challenge is, OK, so do you want to get mad now? You could get mad, you could go home, you could make some phone calls, you could tell a few people you can’t believe what this person said or that person said. Indignation is tremendously seductive, you know, and to share with other people on the telephone and all that. So to not do it and to say, wait a minute, apropos of you said before, wise effort to say to yourself, wait a minute, this is not the right road. Literally, this is not the right road. There’s a fork in the road here. I could become indignant, I could flame up this flame of negativity or I could say, “Recalculating.” I’ll just go back here.”
Now that I have been Far From Home for Way Too Long , I have learned what I miss the most and it is this:
2. Being close at hand when my daughters need me
3. My house /my kitchen/ my bed
4. Wearing a variety of clothing
5. Spending time with my friends in person, including walking with Gale and having dinner with Michelle
7. Seeing my co-workers, work friends, and customers in person
8. My commute (!)
9. My espresso machine
10. Land lines
11. Sleeping in a room that is cold due to winter
13. My home office with its ergonomic setup
“I learned that listening to others is great, however, hearing comes from the heart. Very important for our family as Mom’s Alzheimer’s is moving into it’s final stage.”
A Friend* learned that she could return to the natural rhythms of her body, get more sleep, and be much more productive, by giving up large amounts of caffeine.
She traded a pattern of very late nights for one of earlier mornings, and is getting more done, while feeling much better.
* I almost didn’t get this lesson to share. Unlike me, my friend does not want to publicize every detail of her life, by name. If you will share something valuable and don’t want me to use even your first name, just let me know – I can do that! Learning through others is what this is all about!
I learned, in two lessons less than two hours apart, to question my sources and to look again when what I’m hearing makes no sense at all.
In one case it was the GPS telling me that I was 30 minutes away from my destination and then, a mile away, telling me I was 50 minutes away and that I needed to go in the opposite direction than what I thought. It turns out that it thought I was already in the southbound lane of the nearby highway, not in a parking lot nearby, which would have meant (and unfortunately DID mean) driving 10 miles south to the next exit to turn around and go 10 miles north! If I had questioned this, or tried another source (MAP anyone?) I could have saved time, driving, and stress.
Soon after this, I learned that a medical opinion that I heard second-hand, that made less sense than my GPS, was … well… a lie. I really should have questioned it and/or found another source. The truth came out eventually, in a scene somewhere between a sitcom, a bad reality TV show and a drug-induced dream, and all’s well that ends well, but next time I will ask “Really?” and then check another source.
Lava taught me to not worry! It’s this easy! Look!!!