Gratitude day 30

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I am grateful for helpful kids getting bigger. We had bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwiches for dinner tonight (in and of itself, something to be grateful for). Coop expertly sliced all the tomatoes, with a big, sharp, serrated knife. I am grateful for the help, and I am grateful for the constant source of opportunity to marvel at the things kids can do that they couldn’t do yesterday ALL THE CUSSING TIME.

I am grateful that after a crazy, off the rails morning that I mostly was not grateful for (confused, rapidly deteriorating logistics, kids pissing in pants at especially infuriating moments), it didn’t start to rain until the very last moment before I parked my bike when I got to work. If it started earlier. I may have lost it; or at least howled while shaking my fists at an imaginary camera on a crane, pointing straight down at me from the sky.

I am grateful for gravlax. So dang easy to make. So dang delicious.

Gratitude day 29

I am grateful for Farley’s recent debut of his new performance, the Monster ABCs. And I quote, “SING WITH MEEEEE!!!”

I am grateful for this TED talk that I watched while eating lunch at my desk today. Ted talks are frequently mind-blowing; this one was heart-blowing. In it, Brene Brown reveals some observations that resonate as true for me; about living whole-heartedly, courageously, and embracing vulnerability. All this is easier said than done, mind you. It’s frankly not even that easy to say, in public, for a guy like me.

I am grateful for my house. I like it. There’s lots of light. Even while it’s the wretched hive of littered coloured plastic and unfolded laundry that it currently is, it’s still bright when it is sunny and not a bad place to be, not a bad place to be at all.

Gratitude day 28

I am grateful for these nice, sunny, summery days as fall approaches. The rain, cold and grey skies will be here soon. I’m doing my best to enjoy this weather while it lasts. Seems trite to talk about the weather, but it cussing matters.

I am grateful for the cheap Campari tomatoes that are plentiful and cheap this time of year at the Root Cellar. I am also grateful for the delicious sauce they make when Julie blends them after roasting them in the oven with onion and garlic. Further, I am grateful there is tons of that in the freezer, to be enjoyed when the rain, cold, and grey skies come.

I am grateful for bike rides to school with Cooper. Today I am particularly grateful I managed to capture the thrill and fear that comes with screaming down a hill on a bike when you are 5 on video.

Gratitude day 27

I am grateful for this video my pal Trav sent me today. It’s a mashup of amateur YouTube musicians. It’s everything good about the internet, and this new direction music seems to be taking where the emphasis is more on the craft of editing than the art of performance.

I am grateful for the peach pie my spouse made for me today.

I am grateful for getting to see kids grow up. It’s an unforeseen benefit of getting old. Today my buddy Robert’s daughter, Lucy came to look after our kids while Julie and I attended to some urgent projects around the house. When I met Lucy, back in 2006, she wasn’t much older than Cooper. Now we are trusting her to watch our kids. Time flies, and little kids get big.

Gratitude day 26

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I am grateful that when the back stairs collapsed under me, I came away with nothing but a scrape. I’m not too excited about replacing the stairs, but I am grateful, VERY grateful, that it wasn’t worse. It sure could have been.

I am also grateful for the 7 year limit for how long you have to hang on to tax records. We’re decluttering to make way for a renovation in our basement, and it was with glee that I disposed of bank statements, receipts, and all that crap from 2000 until 2007. Dash you all to heck, posterity!

And I am grateful for the last half hour or so that the kids were up today. It’s too dang hot in the house, so we sat on the front step, where we could see the stage (albeit barely) and hear Deathcab for Cutie playing at the Rifflandia music festival a few blocks away. The sun went down, the sky got dark, the stars came out and so did the bats. It was a great way to wind down the day.

Gratitude day 25

Today, I am grateful for another surprise lunch date. My old friend Joe visiting from Vancouver emailed at noon to ask if I’d had lunch yet. Indeed I had not. It was great to see him. He’s gone into high gear this last few years, updating his marital status and earning degrees in a major career change project. Awesome. Just awesome.

I am grateful for mild Italian sausage from Costco.

I am grateful for Farley’s potty victories of late. I’ll spare you all the details; but anyone who’s had kids that have achieved this milestone know what a big cussing deal this is. Go Farley!

Gratitude day 24

I am grateful for an unexpected lunch with an officemate/client/acquaintance today. I had sat down in the restaurant at a table for one, when my compadre walked in about to do the same. Nice to have unexpected company.

I am grateful for the pad thai I had from that restaurant. Newly discovered reasonably priced
Thai food convenient to my work? Sign me up!

I am grateful for some great co-operation from my boys in cleaning up the living room, and grateful for the time we spent immediately after that getting it all messy again with a train set. Coop was a superstar, and I don’t know anyone who exclaims “CHOO CHOO!” As enthusiastically as Farley.

A few words about this whole Gratitude thing

So, you may have noticed, after several years of very sporadic blog entries I’ve starting posting about 3 things I am grateful for on a daily basis for the last while. Why? 3 reasons.

1) Everyone else was doing it on FaceBook

I had seen a bunch of Facebook friends posting about gratitude every day for 3 days, or a week, or whatever. I kept thinking, that’s a good idea, I should do that.

2) I had listened to this interview on CBC where I learned that gratitude promotes happiness.

This is really the catalyst that made me start. Neuropsychologist Rick Hanson states that we are predisposed to remember negative experiences, but by reflecting on the positive ones we can train our brain to burn in the pathways that are required to hang on to that positivity in a more habitual way, and make us happier. Well, I’d like to be happier, so here I am reflecting on positive experiences. I like putting it here on the internet because this way, I’m accountable, so I’m reflecting more as I write. It’s the internet, so it’s an indelible record – hopefully one day me, or someone who gives a cuss about me will find this and get a better understanding of who I am right now.

3) I’ve been thinking a lot about entitlement, and I think it’s not good for anybody. Further, I think gratitude is the antidote for entitlement.

In my efforts to raise kids and rase’em right, one can’t help but to reflect on how the behaviours I want to correct probably come from me. It’s hard to admit, but I think my through my background and experience I’ve developed a sense of entitlement. I’m a white male in a western democracy. That right there gives me all the privilege I need to feel like the world owes me something. Where’s my high paying 9 to 5 job? Where’s my new car? Why is this house a mess? I took the free ride from my family through university. I deserve what’s mine!

I think it’s hard to be around entitled people. Generally, they can be real jerks sometimes. Only recently have I begun to see my own entitlement for what it is. Turns out, the truth is that entitlement is painful for the entitled, too. That disappointment you feel about your station in life? Might be something else, but there’s a good chance that disappointment, right there, is entitlement.

Often, my kid exclaims “Where’s dessert?” or “This toy you just gave me isn’t the big blue Super Action Man one, I WANT THE BIG BLUE SUPER ACTION MAN ONE!!!”. While my knee-jerk reaction is to blame them for this outrageous behaviour, about 5 seconds reflection draws me to the inescapable conclusion that they are learning about what the world owes them from me. Also a key factor: they are learning how to respond to that notion by watching what I do as well.

Which is to say, if I am thinking there is something wrong with my kids’ behaviour, there’s probably something I should be looking at about my own behaviour. So in this instance, I say, CUSS YOU, ENTITLEMENT. Then, I try to have a little gratitude, and I try to do it every day on this blog.


 

ONE MORE THING

As I post all this gratitude stuff, I am aware of how posts all about how great life is can lead to unhappiness. And so, I’m writing this disclaimer: As I post about the things I am grateful for, I am editing out the stuff I am ABSOLUTELY NOT grateful for. The tone is always pretty cheerful in these posts, but the honest truth is that a significant amount of the time I am writing them, I am struggling to come up with one good thing to say about my day.

It’s worth the struggle though, because when I decide to look for it, I see that great things big and small happen to me all the time. The fact is, I’d probably miss those things if I didn’t bother to reflect on them.

 

Gratitude day 24

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I am grateful for news I heard today from Julie about Coop. Several weeks ago, we started putting both boys down at the same time, in the same room. I told Coop that first night that Farley might cry and fuss, because he often does if he’s not asleep when we leave the room. I advised Coop to consider singing the alphabet song in that event. I didn’t think he would; honestly that night I was expecting the worst, but Farley calmed down about 30 seconds after I left and I figured peer pressure was making him just want to go to sleep. Today Coop casually mentioned to Julie that he sings Farley to sleep with the ABC song every night. Farley has been singing the ABC song non-stop lately, now I know why, and my heart melted with joy when I heard that. I told Coop I thought that was great. “Well, I do just do it to keep him from crying” he said. His motivations don’t change my heart melting state. The fact that Coop can offer that comfort to Farley, and the fact that Farley accepts it, is all I need to be really, really grateful for my family.

I am grateful for halloween costumes. Farley will be a monster. It’s early, I know, but that kid loves a costume and he was into it. The more he puts that on the better, in my estimation.

I am grateful for small fiddly improvements to my bicycle. I installed toeclips yesterday. It’s a world of difference. Pre-kid days, I used to sport clipless pedals, but with kids on the back I wasn’t willing to risk the catastrophic failure that would be toppling over with my feet still attached to the pedals. After years of missing them with standard pedals, I wonder why I didn’t just revert to the toeclips earlier. They make for a big improvement!

Gratitude day 23

I am grateful for my new cel phone case. It’s also a wallet, which means I’ve reduced the number of things I need to remember to bring with me by 33.3%. That’s a big deal!

I am grateful for an extended lunch date with an old pal I’m pleased wound up in Victoria with me in our 40somethinghood after a teenagehood together in Calgary. It’s hard to make old friends; so it’s convenient when they are nearby.

I am grateful for usedvictoria.com. We’re undertaking a renovation soon and need to declutter. Decluttering is best done when you get to meet the person who is excited about getting the stuff you might be loathe to get rid of; and the cash in the pocket is swell, too.