Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.
– A.A. Milne, English author and poet, from Winnie the Pooh
I got on Facebook to help promote my writing, but I soon discovered that it connected me with friends both near and far-flung, friends from my deep past to recent acquaintances. I rarely participate in the chain-letter-type activities that make the rounds on Facebook. I read about the Gratitude Challenge being taken on by a number of friends and was soon nominated by my good friend Laurel Kallenbach. With my participation now concluded, I share my seven days of gratitude here on my blog.
Day 1 – baseball is life, life is baseball
Thank you, Laurel Kallenbach, for nominating me for the Gratitude Challenge. I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 21st, is my first day (baseball gratitude theme) and I nominate Jack Beaudoin, Kara De La Paz, and Cecie Uytingco Mendoza.
1. I am grateful for David, who told me to go ahead and go to the baseball game today and he would do the tons of laundry and cleaning today and watch Isabella and her friend Kelly.
2. I am grateful for Jacob, who said, “Mom, I want to go to the game with you.” (Because David and Isabella didn’t want to.) I’m grateful that he still wants to spend time with me, even though he’s a teenager, and that we have more meaningful conversations and discussions.
3. I am grateful that my last regular-season Oakland A’s game that I attended this year ended with a win, which allowed us to celebrate with the crazy right-field bleacher loyal fans. “Never Quit” and “Keep Fighting”
Day 2 – labor day
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 22nd, is Day 2 (Work gratitude theme, appropriately for a Monday) and I nominate Gordon Hunt, Eric Wicklund, and Diana Manos for the Gratitude Challenge.
1. I’m grateful to have great, hardworking colleagues around me to get the job done. Even though I work remotely, I am part of a great team who appreciates and supports what I do.
2. I’m grateful to work at home and be there for my kids – like the time both had pneumonia two winters ago, separate times, of course, and both were out of school for two weeks each. Did not have to eat up vacation days. Working at home also allows me to walk Isabella to school every morning.
3. I’m especially grateful for my geriatric companion, Rex, who keeps me company in the nearby library. While he’s not a great personal assistant, at least he sleeps most of the day and lets me get my work done. I can’t imagine my work day without him.
Day 3 – supporting our public schools
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 23rd, is Day 3 (school gratitude) and I nominate Juliet Jamsheed, Daniel Philippe, and Denise Portello Evans.
1. I attended my first Investing in Academic Excellence meeting at El Cerrito High School last night, and I’m really excited to help this important organization raise funds for various school initiatives. I am grateful for the ECHS families who are working really hard for the school – the new families I’m meeting and the good friends whom I’ve known for years and whose end of journey together is less than four years away. I’m grateful that Jacob is off to a great start as a freshman there and has some inspirational teachers and a solid principal.
2. I am grateful for the two years we concluded at Portola Middle School (Korematsu now). We had two really wonderful teachers who have made a lasting impression on Jacob and a hardworking principal. Looking forward to returning there next year, in the new campus.
3. We are finishing up 10 years at Harding Elementary School this year. While I’m excited about finally leaving elementary school, I am forever grateful for the inspirational teachers and the many wonderful families and friends I’ve met and worked with on behalf of the school. I’ve made life-long friends and I’ve watched some pretty special kids grow up with my kids.
Day 4 – or purpose in life: giving back
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. I just read an article on Melinda Gates and her work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and was inspired by her desire to make the world better. Today, September 24th, is Day 4 (giving and helping others theme) and I nominate Anja Hakoshima, Kimi Ynigues, and Kathy Brackett.
1. I am grateful for the work that my friend Jane Fischberg and her colleagues do at Rubicon Programs, whose mission is to “prepare low-income people to achieve financial independence and to partner with people with mental illness on their journey of recovery.” Especially in this current political climate, supporting both groups is not very popular, making their work even more challenging. But my friend Jane has a big heart and strong resolve. In an interview with me, she said, “I really do believe in giving back and I feel like a life of not giving back is not fulfilling. I’ve always felt the reason for living is to be of service, so that informed what I’ve always done.”
2. I am grateful for the work that my friend Alissa Hauser and her colleagues do at The Pollination Project, whose mission is to “expand compassion to the planet, people, and animals.” The Pollination Project’s mission aligns with Alissa’s philosophy: “What I’m most committed to is creating more kindness and compassion in the world,” she said. “There are so many ways to do it; there are so many ways I have done it. But at the end of the day, I just want to be a person who inspires other people to be nice to one another, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.”
3. I am grateful for my daughter, Isabella, who also has a big heart. She and her friends have baked cookies and made lemonade to sell at various parks to raise money for the Milo Foundation. She talks about wanting to save endangered animals, rescuing dogs from being put down, saving the earth from the harm that we do to it, and more. I want to continue nurturing in her that desire of giving and helping others.
Day 5 – our Indian summer fall
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 25th, is Day 5 (Nature theme) and I nominate Rose Cee, David Bruce-Casares, and Claire Richardson.
1. I am grateful for the rain that woke me up early this morning. While we have a long way to go to erase California’s drought, it’s a start, an early one at that.
2. I am grateful for the maple leaves changing color, announcing autumn’s return. The display is definitely not as spectacular as the leaves changing in the Northeast or other parts of the country, but all I need is a golden ginkgo and a flaming red and orange maple tree and I’m ready to celebrate one of my favorite seasons.
3. I am grateful for the small resurgence of my garden, which was stricken with powdery mildew in late July and pretty much petered out and left me with charred buds and dried-out sticks. However, with our Indian summer in full force, the carnations, fuschia, scabiosas, and poppies are bursting from their pots – a final send-off and blast of cream, purple, pink, red and white ripples.
Day 6 – TGIF
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 26th, is Day 6 (TGIF theme) and I nominate John Buettner, Julie Redlin, and Maria Francesca.
1. I am grateful for my pumpkin-spiced chai latte that gets me through the mornings. My day starts on East coast time, so by the time I sit down to eat my breakfast and begin work again, I have already gone through my work e-mail and immediate, deadline-oriented work tasks, done my exercises and ridden my bike, walked Rex, and dropped off Isabella at school. The moment I settle into my office chair and sip my chai latte, I literally catch my second wind.
2. I am grateful for the mellow glass of red wine that will help me unwind in the evening. It’s something I look forward to when Friday evening hits and the work week is behind me.
3. I am grateful for a quiet Friday evening, watching the A’s win and now enjoying the rest of the fall evening with David and Isabella.
Day 7 – a writer’s heart-felt thank you
I was nominated to list 3 things I’m grateful for every day for a week and nominate 3 people each day to do the same. Today, September 27th, is my last day, Day 7 (writer’s gratitude), and I nominate Yoko Morita, Alex Davis, and Nancy Donovan.
1. I am grateful for discovering and embracing the written word and the many gifts it brings – the sentence that dances, the character who enrages you, the places you can taste and touch, the moment created that brings you to a moment of truth in your past, the page that keeps you turning it, the book that leaves you bereft because the magic has ended.
2. I am grateful for the community of writers I have met throughout my life and call my friends, mentors, fellow writers, and careful readers – you know who you are, but a special shout out to Jack Beaudoin, Laurel Kallenbach, John Farrell, and Sands Hall.
3. I am grateful for my non-writer friends and family who have nurtured me in so many different ways – as careful readers, muses, emotional supporters, and more – you know who you are, too, but a special shout out to Kathy Brackett and David, always.
This exercise made me realize how many things, events, and people I am grateful for every day but oftentimes in the rush of the day I don’t reflect fully or give appropriate props. I’ll remember this challenge and remind myself every evening, during a quiet moment before I retire for the night, to look back on my day and give gratitude. Thanks again, Laurel, for the nomination!