An Attitude of Gratitude

It’s Sunday morning, a time I like to reflect and write…and as I start this, I am not quite sure where it’s going to go.

I think I will start with gratitude and faith today – something that I rarely write about.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
― Marcel Proust

Since I wrote my New Year’s post last month (Onward), I have heard from many friends, family, coworkers, and strangers who shared words of encouragement, and in many cases their own stories of heartache and joy. I am deeply touched that some said my post helped them in some way. That is why I write this blog – and I am so blessed to feel I was able to connect and help someone else.

Thank you to everyone who reads this. Thank you to the people who feel compelled to share your own pains, struggles, and joys with me. It means more to mean that you will ever know.

Last week, I had 150 nuns along with a Mormon temple praying for me, as well as many family and friends (my faith is not bound by my religion…but my religion is part of my faith if that makes any sense). I had a friend light a candle at the Grotto at Notre Dame for me. And I got to visit with my real live guardian angel, Anna Lee Crumpton, yesterday. How lucky am I?

Anna Lee is my friend Tiffany’s mother in law. I met her when Tiffany married her husband John a few years ago. I feel that Anna Lee is a guardian angel because since I met her a few years ago, I instantly felt a spiritual connection to her. Anna Lee always tells me how she prays for me (as she does for many of my friends too). She is certain that God has a plan for me – that my journey will completely make sense to me. I always feel better after spending some time with her, because she is such an inspiration to me and to people who know her.

Anna Lee has been fighting cancer for some time, but you would never know by talking to her. She emanates joy, grace, and peacefulness, which comes directly from her faith. She is one of those people who walks the walk. Tiffany and John brought Anna Lee over to see my new house yesterday, and we shared a bottle of Prosecco and visited for a little while. When we spoke about her most recent treatment, she shared a funny story about how her granddaughter Tristen went to chemo with her…and how they watched their favorite TV show and laughed their way through. Laughing through chemo? Wow – she is something else!

When Anna Lee left my house, we promised to pray for each other like we always do. She asked that when I pray for her, that I express her gratitude since she has everything she needs. Wow. Since yesterday, I have been thinking about that, and am trying to learn from her example.

Anna Lee is in the middle. These are just a few of the people she prays for!
Anna Lee is in the middle. This was taken a year ago. These are just a few of the people she prays for!

My journey continues to be unpredictable and challenging, but today, I feel peaceful because of the support I feel from my “village”, and from the faith I share with them. I don’t have any more answers than I did a few weeks ago, but I feel stronger.

Gratitude is powerful. I know most of us know this…and yet it is so easy to forget or ignore. But it is impossible to ignore with people like Anna Lee in my life. Today I am grateful!

My Favorite Things

Unlike Oprah, I will NOT be handing out any items to you at the end of this post…no new cars, no Ralph Lauren V-Ceck Sweaters, and no Tory Burch Michelle Totes for you. Sorry about that! I was just in the mood to relax and think about something simple – things that make me happy. My favorite things. In no particular order.

  1. The smell walking in my door the day my house has been professionally cleaned…smelling the piney/lemony scents of a clean house. This happened to me today – so that is probably what made me starting thinking of this list. WORTH EVERY PENNY.
  2. Walking on the beach when the tide is going out, and finding whole sand dollars bleaching in the sun.
  3. When my iPod plays the perfect song for my mood. Last month, I got in my car to drive to the airport to fly to Chicago for the Notre Dame/Miami game. My iPod was on shuffle, and the first song to play was the Notre Dame Victory March (out of 700 songs). Perfection!
  4. White Christmas lights. One day I am going to have an outdoor patio with a pergola covered in white lights, and will host outdoor dinner parties for my fabulous friends.
  5. The combination of mountains and the shore. Like the view on the drive from Vancouver to Whistler. Kaui – seeing waterfalls coming down the mountains while sitting on the sandy beach. Two of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. I can’t wait to go to Alaska one day!
  6. Reading a book that I can’t put down. The kind that makes me stay up way too late, or stay in bed way too long trying to finish it. The kind where the character stays with me forever, like Francie Nolan in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. My most recent favorite – The Perks of Being a Wallflower, with Charlie – one of the wisest, most sincere, most vulnerable teenagers I have ever encountered in literature. How did I miss this book that was written in 1999? Now securely in my top 5 favorites of all time.
  7. Yellow flowers. I buy fresh cut flowers every week – almost always yellow…roses, gerbera daisies or sunflowers.
  8. Greeting cards.

    One of my greeting cards…featuring another of my favorite things – red wine
  9. Photographs of my friends, family, and places I have been. I have framed photographs all OVER my house. I print my pictures and keep photo albums since I had my first 35 mm camera at age 15.
  10. Sunday night TV lineup…Once Upon a Time, Revenge, The Good Wife and Homeland – so many dramas, so little time!
  11. Our annual Cookie Exchange with the girls – the social event of the season is coming up! I have been sharing my pizzelles and rum balls for 8 years with these ladies…and I always bring the requested pigs in a blanket to help us soak up the wine. Only a few weeks away!
  12. Spending time with my nieces and nephews, and watching them grow into themselves…Joseph who created a few surprise Pandora stations for me this week, including Judas Priest and Van Halen (he’s only 13)…my sister’s influence of course…Jana who em ceed all night during our Guesstures game last Friday as if we were an actual reality TV show, Dillon who declared during the Notre Dame/USC game last weekend that he wanted to go to Notre Dame (he’s only seven), Bridget, who seems so quiet and unassuming and then can pull a sudden diva move that no one expects, and then Trevor, my 2 year old nephew, aka Tazmanian Devil or Bam Bam…strong, fearless, and hopefully indestructible!
  13. Those perfect scenes in romantic movies: Lloyd Dobbler standing outside Diane Court’s window with his boombox blasting “In Your Eyes” (and remember – Lloyd also sent Diane a greeting card), Noah and Allie paddling their canoe in the Lowcountry creeks surrounded by swans, and Maria and Captain Von Trapp singing “Something Good” to each other and kissing for the first time in the gazebo…and Captain Von Trapp also plays a guitar…hmmm.