How to Be Thankful


Talking about the weather is a sure sign of:

1) A dull wit.

2) An old crank.

3) A long winter.

Yes, all three! It's been a long, wet, gray winter in Oregon. But, wait, this is not a weather report. This is my how-to-survive guide.

A Guide to Gratitude
Or How to Be Thankful When Life is Sucking The Life Out of You

Drink Coffee
Or tea, warm milk, warm water . . . anything that soothes.

Watch Flowers Grow
So much better than watching paint dry or water boil. Did you know daffodils — my favorite flower — are only $2 a bunch? That's a pop of sunshine for less than a latte! Go ahead, splurge. 

Wear Something Soft
I love cashmere, and regularly stalk Goodwill for thrifty luxury. But a soft scarf works too, or snuggly mittens, a smooth blanket. The world can feel so hard, cocoon in softness.  

Caution: Don't park yourself in comfy clothing. Bursts of comfort are good. Living in sweats (or yoga pants) is bad. 

Bathe in Books
This is a two-for-one pick-me-up: take a bath and bring a book. Or skip the bath and just bathe in words. Either way, you'll immerse yourself in sensory pleasure. 

Eat with a Friend
Or drink and eat. Try not to drink alone or eat junk food alone (for me, chips and cookies are guilty binges devoured in the shame of solitary over-indulgence). Still, to be of healthy mind and body, I try to eat with others. And rarely drink alone — that's just sad. 


I loath exercise until I actually do it, and then I wonder why I didn't get moving sooner. When you're feeling low the pit of lethary is deep, so you gotta start small. Get off the couch, then out of the house, then take a walk around the block. Fresh air is invigorating, no matter the weather. And that first jolt is usually enough to make you want more. 

Start easy. One page. One line, even. You're allowed to write junk. You're allowed to babble. This is just for you. Keep the pen moving. Keep your mind open. Just write. Like moving your body, moving the pen across that page reinforces that you can. Keep on. Write on. As Naomi Shihab Nye says, "No one feels worse after writing."

Get a Chia
I don't like dirt or gardening and rarely remember to water the plants. But my Dad — bless his goofy heart — recently sent me a Chia pet. Remember those ceramic pots shaped into animals and objects in which you place seeds and they magically sprout? Yes, so kitschy and corny and fun. 

For sun, for spring, for just a hint of light in the sky. For patience.


How do you get through? 


It's Thankful Thursday, a weekly pause to express appreciation for people, places, things and more. Joy contracts and expands in relation to our gratitude. What are you thankful for today? 



Long winter. Longish life.  


I haven't written in a while because I talk too much and say only one thing: rain, rain, more rain. 

It's grey again and my stomach rumbles, or is that my hip? Something is rusted, shut. 

This long winter. This season of life. I celebrated a half-century and a friend reminded me that there was a time when 25 seemed like a feat I would fail. Oh, but for the grace of . . . protecting me from myself. I did not know what I did not know. 

For months now, we hurry up and wait. Each day is crisis or calm. 

At the nursing home where I work, people die. And I am always surprised. Not that they die, but that it always feels sudden even when I know it's coming.

I want to say life is long stretches of gray. Not just the sky but day-to-day. It's murk. You think you'll make decisions, or have time, or just know. But such defining moments are rare. And yet we keep expecting to offer a yes or no or now. As if we have control. As if we hold both charity and clarity. 

Today I drove for hours across farms and fields and rain-soaked road. As a young reporter, wide-eyed, eager, open, I traveled country roads just like this.

I'm trying to say I've circled back and have learned so little. And yet the mind, the body now hold much more. Is this of use? Am I of use? I do not know.

I was once charmed by these small towns half asleep. This would pull me: empty storefront, broken window, wide sky. I'd search for the sagging barn, a falling down house. I was camera and focus, giving image to a brokenness within.  

Now, I feel a numb sort of sad for the struggle of getting by, of nothing stretched across years of it'll do. Even the silos seem to be mourning. Never full but not quite empty. A perpetual vacancy.

Yes, I've gained weight . . . there is a heft to me now, in years and experience. I'm not so much "older and wiser" but living with a lens that offers a longer view. In this, some perspective, some relief. 



Buy! Buy! Sold.

See Me  |  an adverpoem


Sleep is the ultimate luxury. Buy it for bragging rights.


            The best seats in the house are no longer in your house.


Love is complicated. Make room for more.


            The choice is simple, and it’s yours.


You’re an expert in the art of compromise.


            Convenience. Convenience. Winsome.


Be the breakthrough. Do beautiful work.


 — Drew Myron


A found poem, featuring ad taglines from: Novartis Pharmaceuticals, Beautyrest Mattress, Moen, Ford Motor Company, LaraBar, Cost Plus World Explorer, Genentech, Delta, Amazon, Toyota, Pepperidge Farm.



Love that line!

Inside the car, it feels like 

           the devil is grilling sinners. 


We Need New Names
a novel by NoViolet Bulawayo




Thankful Thursday on Friday

My gratitude grows but my attention is short. Let's make a list.

On this Thankful Thursday, I'm thankful for:

1. No knowledge
My new reading trick is to avoid book flaps, blurbs and best-seller lists, and to dive in without preconceptions. This approach worked recently when I read The Girls, an engrossing and engaging novel by Emma Cline. I liked the book very much, and it was refreshing to learn about the backstory and author after I had finished the book.

Is this how we use to read, before fevered promotions and author platforms?

2. Noteworthy
A friend sent me a card. She is "remembering to send handwritten mail every now and then" and I was the lucky recipient.

3. Retread
I rarely watch movies more than once or return to books I've already read. But this week I found myself bookless. In desperation, my eyes darted across cereal boxes and classified ads. Words, any words. Without time for a book run, I reached for my bookshelf and one of my favorite novels: Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner.

Over the years I have gifted this book to dozens of friends and family but could remember few details (I can barely remember the book I read last week, and I read this one 15 years ago).  

Much to my relief,  I slipped back into those creaky yellowed pages and still liked the book.

4. Pie
Though I dislike Valentine's Day (forced affection and obligatory gifts), I'm thankful I ditched my sour mood and allowed a sentimental groove. Now we're eating cherry pie and we're both happy.

Sometimes, most times, it's good to get out of your head and into your heart.


It's Thankful Thursday (on Friday, because life gets full), a weekly pause to express appreciation for people, places, poems and more. Life expands with gratitude.  What are you thankful for today?