Beginner's Heart

Beginner's Heart

day of Thanksgiving #12: temper, temper

via wikicommons

via wikicommons

It may not seem like an everyday gratitude, but it is, if you think about it. Anger, I mean. It’s useful as both a gauge and a valve, obviously — letting you know when things are past your comfort zone. But also serving as a release for pent-up feelings of more complexity (inadequacy, taken-advantage-of, manipulated, etc.).

Today, when someone hurt my feelings, I reacted. Strongly. Explained my feelings were hurt, and why. And although I initially felt a bit bad — I don’t think it was intentional, at all — I also felt grateful that I can voice my feelings.

Many folks can’t, and/or just don’t. They sit on anger until it eats away at them, or until it blows up waaay out of proportion to the trigger. Which is NOT a good thing, for anyone.

I’m also grateful that I’m beginning to learn just how to voice anger — gently (except I don’t, always… :( ). With compassion and careful statement of what happened. In my mad youth, I would just blow up. Yell, cry, sometimes even throw things (not often, but it has been known to happen). Which accomplishes zip, nada, rien.

via wikicommons

via wikicommons

Nothing, in other words.

So this is a nod of gratefulness to the anger fairy. Thank you for teaching me (the hard way, and time after time of hard ways!) to catch my breath — even if I have to walk into another room, or let things slide for a bit. To articulate clearly (to myself, first of all) what’s angering me. And to be able to sift beneath the brightly coloured leaves of anger to the ground below. AKA what’s really wrong.

Here’s a suggestion: next time you get really mad, try to figure out the why of it. Yes, your beloved never folds the laundry. Is this really a big deal? Or is it emblematic of how you feel put upon, and taken for granted. Then sit down — calmly! — and share. I guarantee you’ll see why I think it’s something to be grateful for, anger.

And we haven’t even touched on righteous anger at injustice! Let’s save that for another day… :)

month of Thanksgiving #11: tea and chocolate

the author's

the author’s

This was my dessert today, which is just the kind of ordinary gratitude I love. BUT… It also was FREE! Another everyday gratitude. AND it was eaten across the table from my smart, funny, pregnant niece (to distinguish her from my other smart & funny nieces… :) )

It’s a Mexican chocolate petit four, and it was absolutely decadent. Just a petite bouchée, literally a mouthful. Perfect after an ENTIRE POT of tea (Golden Moon’s madagascar vanilla, a total departure for me, as I usually don’t do flavoured teas). Not to mention the chicken salad, or the tomato parmesan soup…

I wonder: does food really taste better when shared w/ people you love? Or is that just our social animal nature bleeding through? We are pack animals, after all: small shrewdnesses of apes scattered across the world, gathering over food. And I know that offering my niece a sip of my tea — she doesn’t drink caffeine these days — was as much fun as drinking it myself. Really.

Last night I sat around the table w/ old friends & colleagues. Two of us go back almost 20 years, but all are very dear to me. We broke homemade bread together, stirred homemade soup, and eventually dunked homemade biscotti into cups of hot tea or glasses of wine (yes — you read that right: it’s an Italian thing). And the meeting went both more quickly and more happily, centred as it was on what connects us.

the author's

the author’s

Someone asked me recently what these posts on everyday gratitude have to do w/ beginner’s heart. Everything! I thought. But I tried to explain more clearly: Our lives are rich w/ gifts we take for granted. And life around us can be stressful, leaving us feeling empty. Noticing, each day, where beauty hides, where goodness walk, where calm and comfort can be touched, is healing. And what heals each one of us works towards the happiness of us all.

So here’s today’s grateful appreciation: of sharing a table of good food & drink (tea qualifies!) with people you love. Everyday? Sure. But none the less appreciated for being familiar.

month of Thanksgiving #10 — a good book is bliss

via amazon

via amazon

As I’ve said as recently as this week, and just in general, reading is a big deal to me. So maybe that’s a big gratitude. But one book? That’s surely small enough to make the everyday list.

I just finished a marvelous book. It was on the library’s reserve list for MONTHS. I”m serious: I think it was more than two months before I finally got it after putting a hold on it. But it was worth the wait. I’m not reviewing it, so don’t expect that. Today it’s books in general — reading — that has me grateful.

Many books come to me via FB friend recommendations. Others come from a wonderful email book list, Shelf Awareness. While the list is free, I like it so much I’ve donated to the ongoing fund, so I never have to go without. :) To be honest, I don’t remember how I heard about A Man Called Ove. The description said funny, well-written, and heart-warming. All of those are big sells for me.

the author's

the author’s

When I was a small child, I read so fast and so much that my grandmother once chastised me. I didn’t have you come for the weekend to watch you read, she told me in exasperation. It was escape from moves, it was adventure for a girl who was taught by the same grandmother to walk w/ a book on her head. It was new friends — I still half-believe in the Velveteen Rabbit — and knowledge and, well, bliss.

The suitcase all residents of a warzone had to keep packed — even children — was at least 1/2 books. As it has been on every other large move, or family trip, or conference.

So today’s gratitude is for reading in general, and the gift of a book you don’t want to end. My shelves are full of books like this. It’s a great thing to be grateful for. And yes, I  understand that to be grateful for the everyday pleasure of a good book is also to be grateful I can read, that I had good teachers in good schools. That I have access to libraries. And that my culture allows females to read…

Funny: you give thanks for one things, and it turns out to be your whole life… Who knew? :)

month of Thanksgiving #8: the New Yorker and its companions

via flickr

via flickr

I adore the New Yorker. Even when the stack of unread ones that accumulates from time to time reproaches me.

Currently I’m reading (still) the Food Issue. MY FAVOURITE! Reading about food is almost as much as eating it. Seriously: something there is about food lit that comforts, seduces, educates, and just plain pleasures. When the NYer Food Issue comes out, I ration myself, as if it were very expensive wine, or chocolate. Only a couple of pages a day…

One reason is that it manages to juggle — w/out irony, or at least w/ ironic irony, if that makes sense — the Cronut craze (begun by NY baker Dominque Ansel) and terms like ‘Marxist materialism’ or ‘fetishized  hybrid.’ And yes, I absolutely recognise what a total nerd I am. Most folks HATE that crap. Me? I curl up like Hector the cat and purr. I mean, what fun is it to use our over-priced (and often over-rated) educations to critique the (HIGHLY) caloric treats we cram in our happy mouths?

As far as everyday gratitudes go, this is a big one,  feeding me for days (and yup, I did that on purpose). Perhaps because it combines food with reading, two of my great loves, which I do daily (eat & read? oh yeah). What’s more fun than sitting down w/ a sumptuous pastry, a great book (read one just last night!), and a cuppa tea or coffee? Throw in a day of warm autumn sun, and I’m ecstatic. All for well under $10.

I heartily recommend it as you gear up for big bird day.

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