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402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Month: December, 2012

Day 32: Daily Do

Thank goodness for structure and accountability. I’m tired and content today, and would rather zone out and watch my dad make midday pancakes than write a post.

But, them’s the breaks. This blog is a daily commitment through December 31, 2013. It’s an exercise in following through, managing time and writing when I would rather sleep/eat/read/sleep/dance/organize the sock drawer.

One of the many nice things about a daily resolution is that the resolver gets to experience a daily sense of accomplishment (even when the product isn’t perfect).

Instead of making a giant yearly list, maybe this year we should all resolve to do something daily. Once a day, we can say hi to a stranger, say “yes” instead of “no,” read a chapter, run a mile, eat something green, put down the phone, write a blog, make a mess, make the bed, call mom, send a note, recycle something, create something, be really quiet, yell really loudly, light a candle, thank a friend, sit still, dance around, smile big, giggle and snort, breathe, pet a dog, feed a fish, help a kid, encourage a parent and/or look at the sky.

What can/will you commit to doing every day?

Journal The journal image will link you to a blog writing resolution project set up by Meg Waite Clayton. 

Day 31: Merry Family

On Christmas Eve, my sister and I drove around the lakes near my apartment and spied into all the cozy houses with cozy families having cozy holiday parties. And then this morning, we woke up early and took a cab to the airport, ready to fly to a cozy celebration with our own cozy family.

Admittedly, we got a bit of a bumpy start. Less than a block from home, I asked the cabbie to turn around and go back because I forgot something (holiday candy) in the apartment. He complied, I ran, they waited, I hopped back in the cab and we made it to the airport nice and easy.

Here’s a little conversational snapshot of Sister and my morning:

Me: (clutching candy) What’s wrong with you?
Sister: What? Nothing.
Me: Really? You seem crabby.
Sister: I’m not.
Me: Really?
Sister: Uh huh.
Me: You sure?
Sister: Yep.
Me: I think you’re crabby.
Sister: Well, I’m not.

(30-second silence)

Me: So… are you mad?
Sister: No!

Two smooth plane rides, lots of quiet time, two and a half coffees, multiple candy exchanges with airport personnel and some yogurt-covered raisins later, we’re here—awake, smiling and ready for some holiday hugs.

Here’s hoping your day is filled with peace, joy, unconditional love and someone asking if you’re crabby over and over again. It’s the stuff of families.

Sister and me

Sister and me.

Day 30: The Note

When I moved back to Minnesota for the second time (there have been many times), I funded my volunteer internship at a nonprofit arts organization by working at the front desk of a downtown hotel. Travel can be a little discombobulating, so for 32–40 hours each week, it was my  job to be nice to people and help them find things. In my tenure, I found lost watches, lost phone chargers, misplaced luggage, a couple of kids, restaurants, “that one building with the red sign,” extra towels, lost wallets, room keys and sunglasses. I also found a number of lost purses.

One afternoon, a woman arrived fairly frazzled. When I asked for a credit card “for incidental charges,” she realized she left her purse in the cab she took from the airport—but she couldn’t remember which cab company she used. I let her know it would be fine and made a few phone calls. A few minutes later, the cabbie was on his way back to the hotel, purse in-hand.

I didn’t think about it again until later that week when my manager gave me a note the woman left at the front desk when she departed. I still have it. Her words have stuck with me over the years because she helped me truly understand the powerful effect our everyday actions have on others.

I’ve typed the note below. It’s a reminder to me (and hopefully to you) to take some extra care with people this year and next. Be kind. Be respectful. Be patient if they’re a little difficult or upset. Listen. Smile. A seemingly insignificant exchange may make a big difference to someone.

The Note

To: Hotel Manager
May 12, 2005

Greetings,

I arrived this afternoon and inadvertently left my purse in the cab that brought me from the airport. Of course, I felt complete and utter panic.

Ashleigh greeted me and was immediately sympathetic, helpful and reassuring. She took complete charge of the situation—called around to cab companies and facilitated the speedy return of my purse and all associated belongings. I am so grateful for her gracious and effective assistance.

What she had no way of knowing is that this is my first business trip since being diagnosed with breast cancer about three weeks ago, so I came into the situation already feeling rather vulnerable. She didn’t know that—or me—but her care and concern were genuine and her tactics flawless. My appreciation extends to her manager and company for creating an environment where she was able and willing to be of great and immediate service.

Please thank her profusely.

Sincerely,
J.C.

Our interaction was probably no more than five minutes long, but it meant something to her. And her response—the note—means something to me still.

However you celebrate your holiday this year, spread a little love around to the strangers.

Day 29: Sister Sister

My sister is here! Yesterday, I managed to achieve nearly everything on my list of items to accomplish before she got here.

Unfortunately, I did not fix the running toilet. In fact, I made it worse. But I did devise a complex system of handle jiggles that temporarily solves the problem between flushes (I can only assume you’ve been waiting patiently to hear an update about my toilet).

So far, she and I have:

  • eaten chili
  • talked a lot about obstetrics (don’t worry, parents… neither of us are pregnant)
  • slept for a combined total of 22.5 hours
  • bought some really tiny cheeses (seriously, they’re adorable)
  • finished our Christmas shopping
  • discussed our other sister’s wedding plans
  • eaten apples
  • checked Facebook on our iPhones
  • discussed the pitfalls and triumphs of online dating
  • returned a shirt at Target
  • agreed that Zach Efron is going to hate his YOLO tattoo in a couple of years
  • put on yoga outfits

We’re about to go to a yoga class together. Cute.

Here’s hoping your holiday weekend is as fun and sisterly as ours!

Day 28: Still Sun

Yesterday was many things. The winter solstice. The end of a long and sad week. The beginning of a cheery and spirited season.

Solstice. Sol—sun. Sistere—stand. The sun stands still.

During the winter solstice, the sun gives us our distance and stands still on the other side of the world. It barely rises, blinks and then sinks. Somewhere around December 21, the sun reaches its southern-most distance from the celestial equator and is closest to its southern-most Earthlings. In the north, we feel the darkness.

Then, slowly, the sun begins to ascend again and we prepare to start fresh and greet the light.

If we aren’t paying attention, I think we experience this shift as holiday cheer. In reality, we are incredibly connected to the movement of our universe. However tiny they are, our cells respond to light and dark, ebb and flow. We carry the history of creation in our bodies. As Carl Sagan once put it, “We are made of starstuff.”

The danger of attributing our feelings of mirth and togetherness solely to the holidays is that they tend to disappear once the new year has begun. As the January commercials for fitness centers describe it, we experience a little post-holiday letdown. But—what if we keep noticing the light instead of focusing on the holiday bustle? What if we take a deep breath every morning and thank the sun for coming back? What if we smile every evening and greet the darkness like a quiet, warm friend?

If we get too wound up in stuff and events and obligations, we miss the experience of being alive amidst a living universe. The solstice is the perfect opportunity to reconnect.

Sometimes, a little distance from the light can be very illuminating. (Hey-oh!)

BenchThis photograph of the Oregon coast was taken by my lovely mother right around the 2010 winter solstice.