We are at the point in the season when the leaves are falling like golden snow. The difference is that actual snow is quiet, lays a blanket of silence over everything. There’s a music to the leaves, their final moments still attached and their falling.
1. Privilege. Putting away clean dishes, loading dirty ones into my new dishwasher, folding clean laundry while listening to a Mike Birbiglia comedy album on Rhapsody using my smart phone which is connected to my wireless internet, taking a warm shower using my favorite soap, getting in my car which starts right up and driving to work, where I have a job.
2. A new shower curtain. I’m typically not too excited about that sort of thing, but I am really loving it, and somehow it helps me to see the new bathroom we’ll have someday.
3. Colorado Cell Dogs. This is what rehabilitation looks like.
4. A new album from Yuna, Nocturnal.
5. Fall colored Aspen leaves. I have never seen them turn any shade of red or orange, so I had to pick these up, collect them and take them with me.
2. KIND bars, especially cranberry & almond, and dark chocolate nuts & sea salt.
3. Schlumbergera, more commonly known as Christmas Cactus, but mine bloom closer to Thanksgiving, and right now the two in my office are covered in blooms that are about to burst, ready to pop.
4. Cooking dinner. I don’t do it that often. I used to do it all the time when Eric and I were first married, but then when I went to graduate school he took over, and he liked it whereas for me it was a chore so he kept doing it, but lately I’ve been trying some new things, some that have worked out and others not so much, and it feels good.
5. Reconnecting with a friend. At a certain point when you haven’t talked or seen each other in a long time, you start to think, “are we fighting? did we break up?” but then yesterday, I forwarded an email that I thought might be of interest, and finally, finally just said it, “how are you? I miss you. are we okay?” and found out that she felt the same way, was also wondering what had happened.
Bonus Joy: Hugging Eric in the kitchen first thing in the morning when neither one of us is really awake yet, when Sam has already eaten breakfast and is back in bed.
1. First snow of the season. Although, it did make me a little sad, reminding me as it did of how much Dexter loved playing in the snow. His favorite game was “oh no, where’s my toy?!” where he would bury a toy, then pretend he’d lost it, and then dig it out and celebrate finding it. That dog was so full of joy.
2. The golden, shifting season of Fall, which may have been cut short, interrupted by the snow — we went directly from our first freeze (and thus, the end of our garden, *sob*), from picking the last tomatoes and first orange pumpkins, to the first snow only a few days later.
3. The final bloom of the season. She is sitting on my writing desk this morning, open and full after being a closed bud only yesterday. I’m so glad I brought her in, otherwise she would have frozen in that tight moment just before bloom, and she has such a sweet face, the golden bridge between summer and fall/winter.
Bonus Joy: The texts Eric sends me. Yesterday, my favorites were “Love love love you” and this picture of Sam hiking.
2. Communicating with Sam. I don’t know if we are closer because Dexter is gone or if I’m paying closer attention for some other reason, or both, but Sam understands and can communicate so much more than I realized. Although, when he stands in front of the TV, whining and talking to the various animals he sees, I don’t know if he’s the smartest dog we’ve ever had or the dumbest.
4. Where we walk. I realized yesterday, as I was Instagramming pictures of the fall colors and naming the locations on our morning walk, that we go through three parks and four natural areas on our route, that we simply open the front door and go, get to visit all these beautiful places. One thing I didn’t get a picture of yesterday was the three white-tailed deer we startled in the fog, who ran from us, leaping, tails raised high, like giant bunnies.
5. Open Heart Project. This evening, we will start our second annual virtual retreat. Susan schedules time for creating and resting, along with meditation and dharma talks and discussion. I can’t wait.
Bonus Joy: Eric. Two specific things this week made me stop and think how incredibly grateful I am for him. One is I’m reading a book Brene’ Brown recommended, Marriage Rules: A Manual for the Married and the Coupled Up, and it’s making me realize how good we have it, because so many of the issues the book works with are things we just don’t struggle with, or that we worked out already — not to say we are perfect by any means. The other was I noticed he’d recaulked the bathtub while I was away at my retreat. He’s always doing stuff like that, taking care of things, and not bothering to brag on himself for it, like I probably would. In just a few short weeks, we will have been married for 20 years. Partnering with him was the smartest thing I ever did.
1. Spit & Polish. I am only beginning to process the wonder of this workshop, this retreat. I was writing this morning in my journal, listing all the specific things I was grateful for about this past weekend, and I filled two pages. The short version is two supremely wise and kind teachers, a magic location, a group of willing and creative participants, and amazing support staff which included a sweet dog with tiger stripes, a gray muzzle, and ears that stood up only sometimes.
2. 27 Powers Court. As I said, this location is magic. It reminded me of when I finally took my meditation practice seriously enough to create a shrine. I knew that it would enhance my practice, but what surprised me is how that sacred space came with me when I left my meditation cushion, that I carried it with me, took it out into the world, a warm glow in the center of my chest that hummed with energy. 27 Powers Court is like that.
3. Eric, a partner who supports me going even though he hates me being gone, takes care of things at home and where I am, supporting me the whole time I’m away by doing things like telling me not to worry about the parking ticket I got or being fully present and comforting while I tell the story, through tears, of the shame and fear I felt when I thought I’d gotten on the wrong ferry and the workers treated me like I was drunk and the people in the cabin laughed at me, how he made me feel like it was okay in a moment when I just wanted to come home, how he encourages me to go after my dreams.
4. Fall, soup and biscuits for dinner, socks, being cold.
5. Milder weather in Colorado, less rain, flood waters starting to recede. It’s going to be a long recovery and there’s so much damage, to landscape and roads, to homes and hearts, but the rain has stopped, this storm has passed.
Bonus Joy: Getting to spend time with friends in California, some that I’d never met in person before, even though I already loved them.
This post is a mashup of The Little Bliss List and Joy Jam, and as such is meant to celebrate: the little things that brought me hope and happiness this week, the sweet stuff of life, those small gifts that brought me joy this week. By sharing them, I not only make public my gratitude, but maybe also help you notice your own good stuff and send some positive energy out into the world.
1. Fall. The colors (vivid green, gold, red, purple, and brown–even the gray of rot and dust and the white of ice shimmers like it’s on fire), the temperature (sunny and warmish during the day, cool at night), the clothes (everything so soft and warm and cuddly), and the food (soup and warm drinks and cheese and carbs, solid comforting food).
2. 19 years with my favorite person. I still can’t get over how lucky I am.
3. Another Aimee Mann concert, with some of my favorite people in the audience. She’s so good, so talented and smart and funny, (Eric and I think we’ve seen her at least seven times now, including her Christmas variety show), and so gracious even when people in the crowd who’ve had too much to drink won’t stop yelling at her, (btw: wasn’t me).
Here’s the original Til Tuesday video.
4. Good days for Dexter. When there is no cure, and the treatments don’t make much difference, and you get closer to the end when the amount of time no longer matters as much as the quality: you can let go of the search for a better therapy, you can stop trying to control the outcome, you can let go of wishing things were different, you can surrender your panic and dread, and sink into fully experiencing each single day. All that matters is “was today a good day?” and if the answer is “yes,” you feel gratitude and agree to move together into the next day. You are present, you connect and love and are together for that day, that moment. You don’t spend your now banking time for later, waiting or hoping or dreading. This is exactly what life should be, what it is, and you experience it with an open heart. In this way, you won’t miss anything, won’t have regrets. Your heart will still break, but this is the deal when you love anything mortal.
5. My Writing Online, writing for the web class. I am grateful for how funny, smart, and creative these people are, how they laugh at my dumb jokes and make me laugh, how they help each other and the way they celebrate their successes, the way their particular voices are emerging. If this does end up being the last time I teach it for CSU, this will be a great community to end with.