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.
“You can’t run through a closed door without getting hurt. It’s usually better to accept it as one of those little dead ends on a maze that helps bump you back onto the path that will lead you to the open door! (I learned this when I bought my VW Bug…that I’m still paying for…..HUGE lesson learned)”
As Barbara would say, it’s all about the “context.”
I have learned that if someone asks me “How’s your job going?”, they don’t necessarily need to hear the gory details, the highs, the lows, the frustrations and delights, if they happen to be my financial adviser who just wants to know how long I plan to stay in this position at this salary!
Sorry, Chris! Next time, I’ll save the deets for my peeps!
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.
From Gale H: “I have learned life can be unexpected, throw you curve balls but facing forward can get you home”
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.”
I have learned that it’s always a bad idea, but it’s a particularly bad idea when in a lonely place, for me to read depressing books at bedtime. Death? Check. (actual) Dismemberment? Check. Dead and/or missing children? Check! What was I thinking?????
So one yard sale ($1 a bag) and one consignment shop later, I have a nice pile of books from which to choose something much better suited for reading before sleeping and dreaming. A Wodehouse, a Westlake, and a whole bunch of Chick Lit. Sweet dreams!
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 love my books from Audible and I love to listen while I run on the (very few) sidewalks of my sweet home town. But I learned that my headphones don’t belong in the scene when I’m running by the ocean. I have a new soundtrack there: one of the waves and the wind and the birds.
Years ago, Geoff taught me the word “ideaphoric” and told me that it describes both of us. I have learned that it describes many people, if the circumstances are right. When I took off the headphones and ran by the ocean, the ideas came flooding in like the tide. So many things to think about!