All posts tagged: Gratitude

How My Husband’s Cancer Changed Me — For the Better

At the start of 2014, I celebrated my half-century birthday. My New England home was packed to the rafters with friends, both old and new, family, music and food. I was enveloped in love and felt buoyantly optimistic about the upcoming year(s). My husband of 25-plus years, Ken, was starting a new senior role at a growing startup. I had launched a fledgling consulting business with a bunch of amazing clients. I had committed — finally— to getting on the biking bandwagon and going on a 62-mile race with my biking obsessed hubby. It was promising to be quite a year. Less than a month later, we learned that the funky little squamous cell carcinoma that my husband had removed from his lip two years earlier, to little fanfare, had metastasized. Stage IV cancer. The cells had spread into at least four lymph nodes. As a world-class problem-solver and fixer, I shifted into high gear. I researched and ranked doctors and surgical centers as my hubby, alternatively numb and angry, struggled to make decisions about …

tuenight grace amy barr lightness giraffe

The Story of the Rescued Giraffe

As I headed down Broadway toward the gym, I passed a woman pushing a stroller. Its occupant, a boy of about two, was pitching a fit, crying, straining at the straps and attempting a jailbreak with all his might. His mother cooed at him, but he was not to be comforted. I smiled to myself; I’d been in her shoes. As the mother of two sons myself, I know that sometimes nothing can soothe a savage little beast in the midst of a howl fest. But a block later, I spied the actual cause of the boy’s conniption. There, in the middle of the sidewalk, lay a small stuffed giraffe. I scooped him up and turned to call after the mother, but she was gone. I trotted back to the corner and looked around. No sign of them. But something pointed me eastward, and I jogged across Broadway and up 93rd Street. There! A block ahead, I spied them. My jog became a sprint as I took off, my big gym bag bouncing against my …

Thanksgiving Leftovers Sandwich

The TueDo List: Enjoy Your Leftovers, Shop Small Businesses and Indulge in Holiday Films

My goal for this weekend is to do as little as possible. And I’m grateful that I have an opportunity to lapse into inertia. Here are a few other things going on this weekend that I’m thankful for (and you may be too). Happy holidays, my friends. It’s on. Leftovers I could not be less interested in the mall this weekend, but I’m all about leftovers and television. As for the remains of your dinner, Food Network, Martha Stewart, Southern Living and Cooking Light all have recipes for Thanksgiving leftovers — and many of them not the typical turkey-stuffing-cranberry-sauce sandwich variety. Weekend TV guides from Mashable, Daily Beast and Indiewire can help with the glowy box entertainment. Indiewire’s guide is my favorite — they’ recommend watching The Leftovers tomorrow on HBO Signature, calling it a bleak but must-watch drama. Shop Small Amid the Black Friday and Cyber Monday chaos lies Small Business Saturday. It’s an excellent opportunity to remind myself to do most, if not all, of my holiday shopping in my community. This event is (somewhat ironically) sponsored by American Express, which provides a map of local …

Why I Was Ungrateful For Those Gratitude Lists

For many years, you could spare me your gratitude lists. I didn’t want any of that manufactured positivity. I didn’t believe in it, couldn’t abide by it. The last thing I needed was your swirly font and numbered reasons to dig life, doubling as a reminder of all of the things I didn’t have. Then, faced with a choice to change everything or die, I quit drinking. The first person who really helped me understand how to live as a sober person asked me to send her a gratitude list as soon as I woke up every day. It wasn’t really negotiable. She told me a grateful person had a better chance of not drinking, and my desire to quit was bigger than my hatred of gratitude lists. l had also opened my big mouth and told her I would try anything to get better, so I shut up and sent her five things (mostly) every morning, in a plain black font text thread. My gratitude lists include being alive and they often include coffee, as some mornings …

Why Don’t My White Friends Talk About Race? Here’s What They Told Me

My anger was palpable long before the announcement by the grand jury in Ferguson, Missouri. I was already antsy. Wanting to fight. Craving some sort of confrontation, as I often do when life doesn’t hand me lemons, but lobs them at my head. When I learned a decision was made, I was ready. I wanted to go in and tell people what I really thought of them and, most importantly, their silence. I am a feisty person and when I hurt, I use my words not for good but for bad. This pain was amplified by knowing full well that Darren Wilson wouldn’t be indicted. A feeling that many of us had sitting at the bottom of our guts like a heavy meal. I wanted my friends, my largely white, female following, to get angry, to say something and to feel that hurt. So, as a writer, I used my words. I put out 140 characters that explained exactly how I felt: I would love to see those social justice/social good folks to at least …

The Super Weird Thing I’m Thankful For

We asked a few of our contributors for the things they’re thankful for — not the obvious things, like family, food, water, health — but those little intrinsic things only they can appreciate. A dishwasher named Sven is perhaps my favorite.  In fact, two of our contributors actually named their beloved inanimate objects, because they are so fond of them. Let the weird begin… Vamps I can’t live without trashy romance novels, the worse the better, even better if they involve vampires — did I just write that out loud? Guess I did. There is nothing like a bad romance novel to wipe out the convoluted work of trying to build a tech start up and dealing with wireframes and coding by day. —Adaora Udoji Zzzs with JJ JJ is my travel-size down pillow. I really don’t think I could sleep without him. I come from a long line of pillow-namers 🙂 I can roll it up and put it in my suitcase! —Wendy Goldman Scherer Pick Up The Damn Phone I am thankful for people who still …

How a Community of Drug-Users Saved Us From Violence

In the mid-1990s, I worked for Philadelphia’s needle exchange program, Prevention Point. Twenty-plus years later, I cherish the community that the needle exchange created — that odd and random assortment of people of all ages, races, economic strati and degrees of addiction. The ties that bound us seemed so tenuous. Hundreds of people would line up at the sites — street corners in Kensington or Germantown known for open-air drug markets, sex work and gun violence. And we, the “helpers,” would arrive in a van to distribute supplies that would prevent the spread of HIV, Hepatitis C and other infectious diseases. I didn’t know then that I would be helped at least as much as I helped others. Many of the exchangers (people who used the needle exchange) were extremely tense when they arrived at a site because they were jonesing and had been waiting for a clean needle. To an outsider, our safety may have seemed at risk though those of us who volunteered or worked at the needle exchange rarely gave it a …

Thirty Years of Thank You

Q: What do you do if you miss your mother-in-law? A: Reload and try again. That’s one of my favorite mother-in-law jokes, which I tell with impunity here because I actually love my mother-in-law. In fact, as I sat down to ponder the subject of gratitude and who I am grateful to have in my life, hers was the first face that popped into my head. Truth be told, I also thought of my dog, which led me to consider what my MIL and my terrier have in common, besides a passion for dark meat turkey. I reckoned they both come whenever I call them and they both let me know how much they love me all the time. The fact I “got” Barbara simply by marrying her son is a total bonus. For three decades, she has spoiled me with kindness, not to mention skillets full of crispy brown rice and wheat berries (my fave) and buckets of hot fudge sauce (my other fave). Without preaching, she’s taught me much about being a good …

Practicing Gratitude: 5 Things I Do Every Day

As a recovering alcoholic, practicing gratitude is a key part of my daily life. It has to be — otherwise, I start to slowly slip back into a self-centered, self-pitying, reckless way of thinking that, if left unchecked, will most likely lead me back to the easy-out comfort of my former best friend, the vodka bottle. I use the word “practice” because for me, being grateful is not easy. Sure, on some days, when everything’s going my way, it’s a cinch. But on the more difficult ones, it takes effort. And on some days, I totally know I’m phoning it in. But here’s the thing — even just an ounce of effort is better than none at all. Because since I got sober and started incorporating these daily “thank you” routines into my life, my once non-existent self-esteem has started to soar. It’s actually quite amazing. I’m feeling more and more comfortable in my own skin, and I think that’s because I’m actually learning how to reach outside of it, and see the bigger picture …

Margit’s Note: Hey, Thanks

  It’s a rough day to try and be thankful. But there is something almost apropos that the Ferguson decision happened only a few days before Thanksgiving. Daring us to find our better angels. Find the commonality, find the hugs, find the conversation that needs to happen. For me, there’s a lot to be thankful for: health; family; a roof; the Metrocard that gets me where I need to go. a hot coffee in the morning; a book that changes my mind. And as TueNight, we’re most thankful for the community of diverse voices that share their brave, hilarious, surprising and insightful voices with us every week. You are everything. This Week: Heather Barmore asks why you’re being so quiet about Ferguson Laurie White writes her thank you notes Kathleen Warner realizes cancer was a catalyst for change Julie Parr is grateful for a community of drug-users Amy Barr finds friendship in her own family Our contributors share the weird things they’re thankful for…. And I talk to an angel (investor), Susan McPherson And a Few Ways We Can …

8 Charities We Love and Why We Give

Most of us have at least one, if not a handful, of charities that we contribute to. All of them provide wonderful services, but some are particularly special as a result of how we relate (or are related) to them. We asked our trusted TueNight contributors to share some of the causes that are close to their hearts.   1. The Liz Logelin Foundation “The Liz Logelin Foundation was started by blogger Matt Logelin, who lost his wife 72 hours after she gave birth to their first daughter, Madeline. Logelin took the outpouring of support for him and his newborn daughter and turned it into a nonprofit that helps widows and widowers with young families in need.” –Rachel Kramer Bussel [hr] 2. Head for the Cure “Inspired by a loved one who died of brain cancer in July 2013, I volunteered at two Head for the Cure 5k fundraisers in the Kansas City area. Contributing to the non-profit helped me through the grieving process, and donating money to help find a cure is one way …

In the Middle of the Night: Two Friends, Two Babies, Two Phones

  Christina and I had babies two days apart, and we went through the exact same thing at the exact same time. Even when babies are a just month apart, there are already variances—especially when they are newborns. There is not a shared sensitivity of what is happening right now. Christina shared everything I was feeling, especially in the wee hours of the night.   I don’t think anyone ever impressed upon me just how lonely and long nights can be when you’re the only one up, nursing and bouncing and rocking your fussy, lovely, crying, wonderful baby back down. When most of the world was sleeping and our men were snoring beside us, Christina and I had our babies in one hand and our iPhones in the other. And because we were bent on breastfeeding on demand in the beginning, this meant we were up 2-3 times a night. l was so bleary eyed, crazy tired, falling asleep while sitting up in bed holding on to my blob of a newborn. I am not sure how it started really, …

How I Stay Sane On Turkey Day: A Chef Shares Her Secrets

  Kim O’Donnel is a trained chef and author of The Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations  Here she shares six tips for staying sane in the kitchen during the holidays. 1. Don’t Fret. It’s a waste of energy and emotion to work yourself up into a pre-party lather. Before stepping into the kitchen, I actually meditate and/or practice a bit of yoga, or go on a solo walk. 2. Everyone Gets a Job. It doesn’t always work out perfectly, but everyone who comes to our house for a big holiday meal gets a job: Setting the table, dish duty, carving the turkey, making gravy and so on. I’m done with the days of being the maid and not enjoying the meal. 3. Feed the Cook. Have a grilled cheese sandwich or a fried egg around noon for the cook; a little stove top nosh to keep up the energy level and provide a brief respite from the work. 4. Shower Zen. Allow time to rinse off in the shower before guests arrive. Sounds obvious, but it’s another way to get a “time …

6 Tips for Putting on Your Face (Why I’m So Grateful for Makeup)

When I wake up every morning, always after several snoozes, I drag myself to the bathroom, pee, wash my face, pat it dry and take my first look in the mirror to say good morning to myself. But if I’m honest, the first conscious thought I actually have at this moment is: “Thank GOD for makeup.” Because it’s all I need to go from this: To this: I have been genetically blessed (both sides of my family have always looked about five to seven years younger than their actual age, myself included). But I am getting older, and I see it in under-eye circles, crow’s feet, forehead crinkles, a hazy, cranky glare…. you get the idea. Oh and let’s not forget the 10-plus years I spent abusing my body by drinking heavily, staying up late, sleeping very little, smoking cigarettes on and off (and on again) — all of which I’m sure have added to these delightful new facial developments. Don’t get me wrong — I know I’m still a young(ish), vibrant, sober 38-year-old who …

Thanks Patricia, Ellen, Danyel and Sue

  The black and white photocopy is riddled with thumbtack holes, pinned to various bulletin boards over the years. A photo of four women music journalists: Patti, the punk poet, Ellen, the trailblazing New Yorker critic, Sue, the one who dared write about rave music and Danyel, who grabbed your arm and took you along to a hip-hop concert. The image illustrated the 1992 Village Voice article by Evelyn McDonnell, “Feminine Critique: The Secret History of Women in Rock Journalism.” When that article came out, I was a devoted music writer and “listings editor” for the City Paper, a Philly alt weekly. For me, the photo offered — and offers — hope, inspiration, a reminder to be myself. The variety of faces and scenes (from Bleecker Street to a bedroom) suggest that great writing can come from anyone, anyplace, anytime, with any approach. Which kind of had nothing to do with being a woman, and yet had everything to do with it. Your voice, your point of view, might be intertwined with gender but it …

Manju and Me: Finding Gratitude in an Unlikely Friendship

Her name was Manju and she’d come to us on a rainy afternoon from an employment agency that specialized in hiring out domestic help. She wore a faded orange ‘salwar-kameez,’ the baggy pants and tunic that are the everyday dress of scores of women across India, and she’d covered her head to protect it from the spattering rain with an even more faded ‘dupatta,’ or scarf. She wore chunky-heeled sandals, her toenails were painted red, and although she looked tired, she smiled, her eyes sparkling. It was the summer of 2006 and I was over the moon about moving to India, the country of my birth, to spend two years during which my husband conducted his doctoral research. But I was also terrified. I had visited India many times, but I’d never stayed there for more than six weeks at a stretch, I’d never run my own household or managed — dare I use the common Indian term —“servants.” The word itself made me cringe, but in India, servants are part and parcel of most …

Agatha Christie: Hercule Poirot and the

Mysteries, Christie and the Love of Books

One of the things I’m most grateful for, naturally, is the ability to read — and for that I thank my mother, who not only helped me learn to read, but kept me supplied with library books for years. It’s because of Mom that my heart still beats faster when I see card catalogs (on Etsy, repurposed as recipe-card files… I do have to live in the modern world!). But it was my mother’s sister, my Aunt Mary, who turned me on to the “hard stuff” — mystery novels. Back in the day, when we didn’t have a plethora of YA fiction, I was constantly searching for new books, authors and genres. It was Aunt Mary who had the idea of letting me read Agatha Christie’s output, when I was around 11. She gave me Ten Little Indians, and before long, I was reading every battered hardcover and worn paperback of Dame Agatha’s on our library shelves. Yes, these books are formulaic, but that was perfect for a young adolescent. Trying to out-sleuth Hercule Poirot …

If Wishes Were Horses: Letting Daisy Go

Daisy came from an old farmer friend’s stubbly hay field. We bartered her for a stone retaining wall my husband built. She was the second-to-last filly to come from a quiet mare named Cricket, one who had been over-bred by any stallion that jumped the barbed wire. Daisy was, what fancy-horse-people call: “backyard bred.” I had ridden plenty of horses in my life, preferring a challenge to a lazy plug any day, but I stood now wondering exactly who had control over whom. I had no idea how to train a horse from the ground up. “Give her friendly lessons,” my husband said. I began simply by brushing the burdocks out of her matted mane. Over seven years, Daisy blossomed into a fine-boned, brave beauty of an event horse. A dapple brown bay with long, delicate legs, she jumped anything we put in front of her, loved a good flat-out gallop across the neighbor’s cornfield, and judging by her misbehavior in the ring, she agreed with me that it’s like running on a treadmill. We …

Thank You Squash! A Recipe for Thanksgiving

We understand if winter squash has been on your “avoid” list — you practically need an axe to pry it open. But there’s no need to give up on these beta-carotene bombs entirely; there’s a thin-skinned, quick-cooking option and her name is Delicata. Shaped more like a mini football than a turban or a pumpkin, the delicata squash usually comes in shades of deep yellow, frequently accented with very stylish hunter green stripes. Unlike its cousin the acorn squash, the delicata actually has flavor, a delightful mash-up of corn and sweet potatoes. Ingredients 1 ½ cups water 1 cup Bhutanese red rice (Plan B: long-grain Wehani; cooking times and liquid amounts may vary) 3 to 4 delicata squash (about 1 pound each) ⅛ cup olive oil, plus extra for brushing ¼ teaspoon salt, plus more to taste Freshly ground black pepper ½ cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped ¼ cup unsalted shelled pistachios, chopped (Other options: walnuts, almonds, or pecans) ⅓ cup dried cranberries or cherries, chopped 1 teaspoon fennel seeds 1 teaspoon peeled and minced fresh …