What a difference a mood makes. And a blog comment with a simple suggestion: write a Gratitude List. (thank you, Jennifer!) When I was going through my dark night of the soul, my sponsor made me write one every day: list every item in my life I was (or needed to be) grateful for. Sometimes there wasn’t much on the list. “Right number of arms and legs. No viruses. My cat. My dinky studio apartment over a garage that gets light on all four sides.”
But having to write one every day, I became more aware of how many good things I did have in my life. Like a survival job, great friends, creative energy, and the cat. And the apartment that did, after all, get light on all four sides. It was still true that the majority of my friends were married, and/or had their dream jobs, and/or owned houses that got light on all four sides. But writing the gratitude list made me feel better, if not euphoric. You can call it the power of positive thinking, or spend lots of money on “The Secret” seminars, or you can read the old proverbs: ‘as a man thinks is his heart, so is he.’ It does work.
But oh, how easily one forgets those soul-saving disciplines after one’s soul feels saved or at least out of danger. How quickly I stop praying for help, or believing I needed it. And so I put the gratitude list away and coasted. So no surprise when life took a seeming downturn I found myself braying like Eyeore the ass.
So upon Jennifer’s suggestion, I wrote a gratitude list. Well the first night I thought about it. And the next morning I wrote one.
- Great house with great views. Despite the horrifying sound of gunfire last night. And the night before (we live near Glassell Park, home of the Avenue Gang).
- My cat "Honey."
- My current temp assignment that hasn’t been so bad after all.
- Larry’s new groovy hair cut.
- My mom is still alive despite her stroke-fragmented speech.
- My brothers and sister.
- My sister’s wonderful children whom I love being auntie to.
- Dark 84% chocolate.
- PG Tips Tea. And Barry’s Tea
- Going to the gym. Or as they say, ‘having gone to the gym.’
- Climbing the long flight of stairs up to our house to see Larry sitting there waiting, with the cat in his lap.
- The smell of Coppertone that makes me think of summer.
- The feeling of sleep before it overwhelms you.
- The kindness that falls like a blanket when I finally sit down and let God in. I can feel the stress unwind and my heart split open like a ripe watermelon and I rarely don’t cry.
- The palm trees in the neighbor’s yard that look like they’ve got birds of paradise sticking out of them. I’d never noticed them before. But there they are, poking out of the fronds like some bizarre skin graft.
- The view from our back deck. (not in the direction of the Avenue Gang)
- Getting to live the rest of my life with the cutest, biggest hearted, person on the planet. Larry again. Did I mention he got his hair cut. Yea, hooray.
- Riding our bikes on Fourth of July and stopping on the Colorado Blvd bridge to watch Rose Bowl fireworks. The rest of the ride home downhill, riding down streets on a summer night that made me feel like I was eight years old again.
- Blogging. All the wonderful people I’ve met by blogging: people who read my blogs and comment, who I then get to read their blogs; and the network of cyberfriends whose lives I feel privileged to peek into and they into mine. I suspect that heaven will be the place where we all live on the same street and can actually witness each other day to day. As long as we keep blogging.
- Live music: Mim and I heard Bill Malonee do a house concert at my friend Adam’s house. You forget how stunning live music is if you only listen to iTunes.
- 30 Rock. I haven’t watched TV in yonks, except for renting Extras or The BBC Office through netflix. I didn’t realize I had a 30 Rock at the top of my netflix queue, but whwen it arrived I was totally entertained. Larry had to come into the living room to find out what was making me laugh out loud.
- Jane Eyre, the recent BBC production with smokin hot Toby Stevens.
- Walking through Larry’s room and seeing him typing on his computer. He’s writing a terrific screenplay and I’m so proud of him.
- John Cusak’s Vanity Fair Proust Questionnaire: which included the following:
Q: Who are your heroes in real life? A: Let’s go with Jesus. Not the gay-hating, war-making political tool of the right, but the outcast, subversive, supreme adept who preferred the freaks and lepers and despised and doomed to the rich and powerful. The man Garry Wills describes “with the future in his eyes … paradoxically calming and provoking,” and whom Flannery O’Connor saw as “the ragged figure who moves from tree to tree in the back of [one’s] mind.”
This made me love John Cusack, and strive to write as well as Flannery O'Connor.
- My brother Jim’s girlfriend. He finally fell in love with the RIGHT WOMAN. Yea. And she’s coming over for dinner tonight. Which is pretty cool since she lives in Zurich.
- Our wonderful sometime-house mates The Rooneys, who got even more wonderful when they added Abe to their posse.
And that's my list as of Friday at 3:30. In a couple hours I'll add "quitting time." Tomorrow I hope to add new ones. But Larry will always be on the list. As well as that blanket of grace and my cat.
If you've got an item on your own Gratitude List that you'd like to share, please post!