Gratitude Gram #2: Tiny Beautiful Things

Photo by Curt Brinkman of Life’s a Story Photography.

“We can find evidence for whatever mindset we choose.” – James Clear

A while ago, my book club read The Elegance of the Hedgehog, by Muriel Barbery.  It’s been awhile ago, so I don’t remember a lot of the story, but one image sticks with me.  It’s of a soccer player.  The player is described as so “in” his body–never walking out in front of himself.

Out in front of himself.

As I shift from school teacher year me into summer teacher me, it’s hard at times to unwind the tightness that has me ever out in front of myself somehow.  My hope for June is that the sunshine and my kiddos might remind me how it feels to be never walking out in front of myself.

I don’t want to be so busy buzzing that I miss the good stuff.  Cheers to summer and the energy of fun, play, and the bright pink peony blooms that have just started.

A Writing Challenge (because even though it’s summer, I’m still a writing teacher):

Inspired by the book, The One Thing You’d Save.  Imagine your house is on fire (I hesitate to type this as a dear friend really did experience this–it’s just a writing exercise.)  Okay, fake fire. . . you can take one thing.  Family and pets are safe.  It doesn’t matter how big.  Avoid overthinking the “rules” and just think on this a sec.  Write any thoughts for 5 to 10 minutes and let ideas flow.  No perfectionism allowed, just write.   This little exercise got my junior high students laughing and crying this spring.  Even though I’m glad school is out, I do miss our daily interactions. Here’s my quick write from class:

  • I would save a quilt–not just any quilt.  It’s the one my mom made for me when I went to college.  A lot of kids got fancy dorm-style comforters from Target, not me.  My mom and I went to a small fabric store and laid out what felt like100 different colors to see what went together  Mom always says you have to have some “uglies” to make the quilt work.  I picked navy, greens, muted purples, and nature prints.  We cut squares and pieced them together.  She put cozy flannel on the back–with an angel print.  Along with the quilt, her excitement for my next step was such a gift.  I took that quilt to the hospital when I had both my babies, wanting to feel at home somehow with all those bright lights and medical equipment.  Today the quilt is frayed and has been repaired more times than is reasonable.  It’s so very worn out, but it’s my favorite.  

Some Reflection Questions for a Saturday morning coffee in a cozy chair:

  • What do I want to experience this summer?
  • What do I want to not do this summer?
  • What’s something I’m looking forward to right now?

This & That

  • A quote: “To become aware of the possibility of the search is to be onto something.  Not to be onto something is to be in despair.” – Walter Percy, The Moviegoer.
  • A book: A Burning in My Bones: The Authorized Biography of Eugene H. Peterson.  I’ve read his memoir before, but this biography is really something different–in a good way.  While the beginning is a little slow with lots of details, once he gets to college, Eugene Peterson’s life is so compelling.  Here are just a few random quotes: “He sensed a magnetic pull toward the truth and beauty he felt must lie at the core of all things. . . I (Eugene) like people who act like they know where they’re going.  I like people who live aggressively–who have a purpose.”
  • Worth a listen: Tiny Beautiful Things.  This collection of advice columns penned under the anonymous name “Sugar” was written by Cheryl Strayed, author of the popular book and movie, Wild.  Cheryl moves beyond advice into short pieces that read like memoir.  She’s such a true, fierce, deep writer that I always have to catch my breath reading her.  She has a beautiful way of looking at the hard things in life, while still reminding us we’re not alone.
  • Worth a watch: As They Made Us, a movie written and directed by Mayim Bialik (a.k.a. Blossom & Amy Farrah Fowler from The Big Bang Theory.  I paid to rent this–her writing and directorial debut–and it was worth every penny.  The depictions of Jewish ritual, along with its reflections on grief and family ties make this worth the watch.  Bring tissues.
  • Something that’s inspiring me:  Asparagus.  I know this sounds silly, but what other thing in the world is like this?  I do literally nothing, and it comes back each year, stronger, and more prolific.  Plus, it makes your pee smell weird in minutes–this stuff is magic!  Cheers to the asparagus winding down after a great season. 

May right now be a time to slow down, a time of thanks.  Cheers to that. 

Evi (rhymes with Chevy) 

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