For gratitude

My lovely friend Beth made a post recently about what keeps her going in this crazy, beautiful, fucked up world we live in. It inspired me to list a few of my joys, just for me, but I encourage you to do the same. I originally posted this on Facebook, but thought I would expand on it better and pretty it up, just for me.

What keeps me sane?

You can’t help but smile at his face.

A man I am ridiculously in love with who loves playing barista and doesn’t mind if I steal the bowl of cereal he just made for himself. (Love you Val xo hehe)

I don’t think I would have gotten through this life without the support group that I have. With as crazy as the world is right now it is even more important. I’ve made it my mission in recent years, especially this year, to remember just how short life is and to gather my joys. That includes lifting as I climb and making room for helping good people.

Her first ever cinnamon roll. Yea, don’t get me started.

A daughter who loves looking after me, bakes like a madwoman, and loves doing giving work with me.

When my daughter was young, I remember my mother telling me not to get my hopes up that my daughter would be into the same things I was. When I was pregnant, part of my mantra was that this little gift had her own path and that I was just a guide. I’d walk it with her till she could navigate on her own, but it was hers and only hers. I was there by invitation.

Almost 16 years later she is so much like me it isn’t funny. She is very much her own person, and she puts her own signature twist on things. It’s beautiful to watch. She’s inherited the stubbornness that runs strong in our women, and that causes an issue at times, but she is unique and lovely and I love her strong will. I hope to see her hone her gifts and have them serve her well throughout her life.

Good music that I can loop till I’m sick of it.

I loop music. Mostly if I’m writing or working on something and want to tune out the world. It becomes white noise, which is helpful with a brain that never stops generating ideas. I have too many favorites to ever possibly begin naming, but don’t sell soundtracks for video games or movies short…

The soundtrack for both the Skyrim and Morrowind video games are beautiful. Assassin’s Creed as well.

Ludovico Einaudi
Adore this man. He sent me an mp3 of one of the first songs I’d ever heard of his, Primavera. I am currently working on a project involving his music and can’t wait to share it with you.

Amelie
A sample of my favorite song from the soundtrack of one of my favorite foreign films. I could and have sat and listened to this song all day…and just write and write and write.
::happy dreamy sigh::

Alternatively, I also listen to SoundCloud and things I find on YouTube like this one.

Good books and even bad ones that teach me and calm me and make me want to write.

I’ve read a lot of very different books. I’m one of those people that has a way-too-tall stack of books on their nightstand. We added three poetry books from local Kentucky authors today as well as a little Thich Nhat Hanh book on pebble meditation. I’ve updated what I am currently reading on Goodreads accordingly.

Sidenote – If anyone knows how to find your “author page ID” on Goodreads let me know. I’ve tried using my main profile ID for the WordPress widget to no avail.

Quiet moments with a deck of cards playing Solitaire to sort my thoughts…and occasionally win despite my grandmother’s rule.

I love playing cards. I grew up playing cards with my grandparents after dinner almost every night, EVERY night. We’d play Rummy to 500 points with house rules. Most times it would include my mother and I in giggle fits over her squeaky chair. Eye rolls from my grandmother would start my grandfather giggling, too, and it degraded from there. I learned to play cards really well.

My grandmother was a very serious card player. She and my grandfather ran a Thursday night poker game for eons. I started out very little, playing under the table with the chips, then progressed to her lap. From my perch on her lap, I learned to count and threw in chips for her. Older, I would help her make snack food for everyone. I remember the octagon shaped table with the green felt and cup holders on either side of the rectangular chip trays. I’d roll the table down the hall and help set it up in their dining room nook. Later, after my grandfather passed, she’d sold it. I remember how heartbroken I was. My grandmother was a very practical woman and had said I didn’t have room to keep “that old thing”, but I’d have made a dining room table of it with clear plexiglass and used it to hold mementos. I still remember the feel of the mahogany and the old hinges holding the legs on. I have their most used card decks and my grandfather’s poker chips which we now use in my own family. The sounds of the chips clicking together bring back good memories.

“He deals the cards as a meditation
And those he plays never suspect.”
– Sting, Shape of My Heart

My grandmother taught me to play Solitaire, too. Aside from cooking, I count it as one of the best lessons she taught me – stillness. To sit quietly with a problem in front of you and to know a myriad of ways to solve it, know that there was always more than one approach. Her house rule stumped me for a long time and still catches me to this day if I’m careless – you cannot leave an empty row until all the king’s are out and can only start a new row with a king.

Angry Orchard with Firefly and a room full of friends on cozy, overstuffed couches.

Running the Kentucky Browncoats is one of my passion projects and we’ve been doing episodal get-togethers. Two of our local Browncoats, lovely people with a fabulous dancers apartment, have been hosting us and it something I look forward to every month.

Friends who are as passionate and crazy as I am that give me nicknames like “Luscious” to make me smile. (I’m looking at you Jenni xxoo)

I met Jennifer in college online and we became fast friends. She’s been such an encouragement (and a kick in the ass) when I’ve needed it most. I adore the woman and she never ceases to make me laugh. I love having friends that feel like family.

Empty sketchbooks and Scrivener and waterbrushes with messy watercolor palettes.

I am constantly creating in one form or another, every new sketchbook a thrill of possibilities. I live a very digitally-analog life and blank pages in Scrivener thrill me equally. I carry my sketchbook, a mini watercolor kit, my waterbrush, and my aging iPad everywhere. Tools that fit any mood.

Teaching creative process.

Playing muse is second nature to me. I love passing on Aha! moments, tips and tricks, and seeing that light go on behind someone’s eyes. I love cheering people up and don’t believe in coincidences. I believe you are where you are meant to be when you get there and found myself in two situations recently with two different, very depressed friends. Someone telling me they are so happy they crossed paths with me makes everything worthwhile. Twice in one day and I’m over the moon.

Helping good people on their paths.

Lift as you climb. Always. There is room on this tiny spinning dot in the middle of vasty nothingness for everyone. Collect your joys, grow your dreams, and never give up.

Being myself and not giving a damn about validation from anyone.

I’m not always comfy in my own skin, but I’m too old to care anymore and there’s a freedom in that I can’t describe. I’m fiery, I’m blunt as a train wreck, and I’ll be straight up with you. If you’re one of my tribe you’ll do the same and I’ll love you for it. Life is too short to blow sunshine and I’d much rather be myself and enjoy you being yourself, too.

Be you. Love you. Live love.