Gratitude Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

I baked this and will consume it shortly.

Here is my top ten list of things for which I am thankful:

  1. My family: my husband, and all he does to support me without question. The kids, and how freaking adorable and amazing they are. I’m very lucky.
  2. Health. Mine and my family’s.
  3. That we have everything we need. Food, clothes, shelter, clean water.
  4. My friends. They support me emotionally, they don’t judge me, and they make me laugh.
  5. My extended family. I know I am loved, and for that I am grateful.
  6. I have freedom and choice and privilege. I try not to take these for granted.
  7. Creative outlets, like writing and painting and singing. They make me feel alive.
  8. Entertainment (books, TV, movies) that awakens me emotionally and spiritually, and those that release stress by making me laugh.
  9. Opportunities where I can be alone. I like to recharge and explore my relationship with myself.
  10. Yoga. It is my happy place; it is my place of worship, where my body is the temple and I get to say thank you for taking me through this life.

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The One With All The Thanksgivings

This is the first year that my husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving.

I mean, there was one year where we had it just the two of us, in Boston, after we had just moved in together for the first time. That was…way back in 2006. It was kinda cute, because we didn’t have a dining table of any kind, so we ate sitting on the floor on opposite sides of our Ikea coffee table.

I don’t entirely remember what we did for all the food…we only cooked a portion of turkey, not a whole bird. I do remember feeling a little sad that we weren’t with our families, but also cozy, quiet, and comfortable being with my most loved one. No drama. No fuss. Just us.

Fast forward to now, when I was the one who decided to host and invite family over, and I am also the one who doesn’t cook. Ha! Hilarity will ensue! Let’s get a reality TV show camera crew in here.

My husband is a good cook, but I am a better planner. And I’m told that cooking for Thanksgiving, in the crazy all-out way that Americans choose to celebrate a holiday supposed to be centered around gratitude, is largely about planning. I’m optimistic that our dynamic Thanksgiving duo will be able to put on a fairly chill, simple-but-yummy holiday meal.

We’ll cut corners where we want. Like, we’ll cook some turkey parts again and forgo a whole bird. Ain’t nobody got time for that. I’m gonna bake the pie cuz I likes to bake. My mom is gonna make her famous potato casserole. Yum!

Our Thanksgiving will also have to include some kid-friendly backups, like turkey-shaped pb&js or something, because the last time I checked, my kids only eat the rolls anyway. Kids are so weird. STUFFING IS AMAZING, YOU GUYS! FOR THE LOVE, JUST TRY IT!

A side note about Thanksgiving, which I alluded to above. Only Americans could take a holiday supposed to be about appreciating things you have and surviving the winter by creating excess, by exercising gluttony. I picture the fat disgusting dudes from The Oatmeal cartoons saying something like, “Shit, James! We didn’t starve or die from the measles this winter! I’m so happy to be alive! Let’s celebrate the way our forefathers would want us to – by eating everything in sight and bringing on early onset diabetes. ‘Merica.” And then they high-five each other.

It just makes more sense to me that, in order to truly know and show gratitude for something, you’d need to know what it’s like to be without it. Maybe one of these days I’ll put my money where my mouth is and actually fast for Thanksgiving evening. Perhaps having control over the meal this year – and simplifying it – is one baby step closer to that goal.

And, having said that, perhaps my kids have the right idea by just eating the rolls.


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Meat, Vests, and Keanu Reeves

The past two days, my fellow hero in anxiety, The Bloggess, has encouraged her readers to first post things they hate that everyone else loves, and then the inverse – things they love that others don’t get.

This exercise was her way of reminding us that us, each of us, either who we are or what we write/produce/put out into the world (or all of the above) is not for everyone. Not everyone is going to like us or understand us, and that’s okay. Nay, it’s normal and expected.

As for me, I despise:

  • whiskey (I involuntarily shudder each time it touches my tongue. That’s what she said.)
  • David Sedaris (Okay, so despise is way too strong of a word for Mr. Sedaris. I just don’t get him, really. I’ve read several of his books and I keep really trying to find him funny, and I only find him mildly amusing some of the time.)
  • licorice (bitter and gross)
  • vests (your arms are still cold)
  • pot roast (dry and tough and I don’t want my meat tasting like carrots and my carrots tasting like meat)
  • potatoes that aren’t highly processed…like the kind in pot roast
  • turkey (like, the Thanksgiving kind. It’s dry and tasteless. I eat at Thanksgiving for the sides. And the pie. Mmmmm, pie.)
  • sausages (I’m a horrible mostly-German person)
  • I guess I just don’t prefer most meat, really…except bacon
  • IPAs (I don’t like drinking Pine Sol)
  • The Smashing Pumpkins (whiny voices)
  • Keanu Reeves (never cared for his acting)
  • Oregon.

And I love:

  • therapy!
  • the smell of gasoline
  • writing resumes
  • Hanson
  • Almond Joys (sometimes you feel like a nut)
  • really depressing and/or traumatic reading material

People who know me – was there anything I missed? I’m sure it’s easier for my friends to remember just how much of a weirdo I am. Much thanks.

Now you! You go; it’s your turn. What things do you love/hate that most others don’t?


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Contributions and Gratitude

I’m reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Option B, and in it she talks about how recognizing your contributions to the world helps to build confidence and a sense of agency. She urges people to recognize this in addition to things we are grateful for. Yes, gratitude is important for cultivating happiness and joy, but she argues (and claims the research shows) that because gratitude is passive, it only goes so far. Meaning, gratitude practices acknowledge things you receive, while recognizing and celebrating one’s contributions to the world is more active – it’s something I’ve done to make the world a better place.

And so, I thought I’d give it a try. Here are a few contributions of which I am most proud.

  • Everyday, I am raising my children to be kind, compassionate people. I try to show them with my words and also lead by example.
  • I try to do small kind things for people around me, both friends and strangers.
  • I blog. I put my feelings out there into the world, in hopes that maybe someone will read them and feel less alone.
  • In my previous life (and I will again in my next life) I devoted my career to creating a safe space where clients could come to vent, heal, and be heard. I served as a crucial witness and container for suffering.
  • I keep my household running pretty damn well.
  • In spite of it all, I actually manage to take care of myself, too.

As another year comes to a close, I am also extremely thankful for the following:

  • My health, my husband’s health, my kids’ health.
  • We have enough. Of everything. Food, housing, transportation, money, clothes. In a world that is hell-bent on telling us we need more, more, more – and the flip side of that is that we never have enough – I want to remind myself that we DO, in fact, have enough.
  • Choice. I am privileged, and I have choices in my life. Living under a presidential administration that is working to take choices of all kinds away from citizens makes me realize just how precious and important it is.
  • Freedom of speech. We still have the right to say what we want and fight injustice in this world, and for that I am thankful and do not plan to take it for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. I hope your day is filled with contentment, joy, and stuffing.

Snacks on a Plane

17packing

 

We’re going home to California for the week of Thanksgiving and I’m all excited to BE there, but I am not at all excited to GET there.

Here’s how it’s gonna play out. I pack and worry and scream to try and make everyone be on time. Then I’ll worry some more about what we forgot and being on time. Dylan will break down in the security line and go to his dark place where he goes limp on the floor. Audrey will thrash so hard in the Ergo that she’ll ram her head on my sternum and make several bruises. And that’s all before we get on the plane.

On the plane there will be more thrashing and seat kicking and trying to reach buttons and wanting to crawl down the aisle. And the kids will act up too. (See what I did there? I’ll be here all week.)

Once we touch down in the land of milk and honey, we’ll be greeted by loving, rested grandparents ready to whisk our children away for stimulating play and healthy snacks while Brian and I fall asleep pass out for 5 days. Then we’ll wake up and eat turkey and mashed potatoes and go comatose for another 3.

Too soon it will be time to get on another plane and head back to Waterworld Oregon, where hopefully our cat hasn’t resentfully pooped on our pillows and vomited in our shoes. All the dirty laundry will steep in a small, smelly mountain in the hallway where I hope it will get so rank it’ll one day grow legs and walk itself into the washing machine.

I’ve decided that I’d actually like to enjoy our trip, so I plan to re-blog some of my favorite old posts while I’m gone, especially since I have some new readers and I’d like to share some pieces of which I’m rather proud.

Stay tuned, dear Psychos.


NaBloPoMo Day 16

A Thanksgiving Poem

Thanksgiving is almost over and I need to post on my blog

Today my kid got licked in the face by a dog

Food was eaten, some got sauced

We watched the Packers who sadly lost

Today’s California weather was unseasonably cold

We visited with family young and old

We ate turkey and pie

Until I felt like I might die

How very very thankful am I 

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Thanksgiving-shmanksgiving

Two weeks ago I fell ill…it was bound to happen sooner or later what with all the thesis stress going on up in here (see last post), and so I was very very thankful for this past long holiday weekend.  My goals were to sleep and eat and interact with people who are related to me and, in between all that, sit around and do nothing.  And guess what?  SUCCESS!  It was a glorious weekend!  So glorious, in fact, that I neglected to write this blog post during the weekend (hence the doing nothing), and it also included me having contact with a baby.  With its parents’ permission this time! Excellent.

But I wish to back up and first summarize the notable events from before the weekend.  Ahem.

On Monday, November 14th, Brian presented/defended his thesis and it went swimmingly!  I was/am very proud of him!

On Wednesday, November 16th I had a migraine but went to work anyway.  Bad idea.  By Thursday morning, I was full-blown sick from all that stress, so I took a half day and went straight back to bed.  Good idea!  Unfortunate timing for my immune system, Brian and I woke up at 4am on Friday (bad idea, in hindsight) to catch a plane to Seattle for Brian’s friends’ wedding filled with aero-nerds.  Sac airport just recently built and opened a new terminal (good idea!) but neglected to add proper signage so that people could actually get to where they desired to go (baaaad idea).  As we were walking, in the dark, in the cold, through construction to get from one terminal to the next, we came across a nice (read: not nice) man with a large camera.  He turned on the blindingly bright batman camera spotlight, shined it in our eyes, and began firing questions asking if we were lost due to the new terminal and lack of signage.

camera guy: “Are you two lost?  Is that why you’re having to walk to this terminal?”

brian: “yup, we are.”

me: “GO AWAY! HISS!”

camera guy: “So, you didn’t see any signs to get you to the right terminal?”

brian: “nope, we didn’t.”

me: “MELISSA ANGRIES!”

and then I sprayed plague-filled snot all over him (the camera man, not Brian).  Later on Brian’s coworkers said we made the evening news.

We would have been late for our flight due to lack of signage, but the flight ended up being canceled. Sooooooo, Brian waited while I tried to sleep with the incessant blinging and dinging and announcing of flights over the PA system for 5 hours in the airport while I was a seething pile of viral plague.  Yummy.

Summary:  Seattle was way too cold, I was way too sick and tired, but we managed to have fun at the wedding, which was 20s themed (as well as nerd themed!).  Observe:

We do the 20s in style

Also, I figured I’d use this blog to help out some poor kid or teenage boy or seriously mentally repressed adult male find what he had lost:

Here is Brian doing a very great job of displaying fake empathy.  Or maybe it’s real empathy.  I suppose if I had a dinos- nope, fake empathy.

Thank goodness that following week was short, because I was slowly dying and turning into a walker from The Walking Dead. Moaning, slow walking and all.  The Thanksgiving break was just what I needed to recover and relax and get an added boost of baby-crazy.  We spent Thursday with Brian’s fam and had amazing food.  The Packers won handily against the Lions, which means that my Detroit-born supervisor at work must wear my cheesehead and have his picture taken.  Friendly bets=future leverage.  We spent Friday with my family and my brother almost killed my elderly childhood cat.  Good times.

One of my good friends from high school politely managed to have her baby on Friday as well so that I could visit the following day while I was still in town.  Talk about cuteness!  This was more exciting than reading about unmedicated Bipolar Disorder!  I got to hold the youngest baby I have ever held – 21 hours old.  Beat my last record by over 5 days!  Pretty soon I’ll have to hang out in delivery rooms to keep breaking my record.  Special thanks to my friend for letting me visit!  I think I have enough oxytocin running through me to last a while now…at least til Christmas.