Wednesday, October 20, 2010

A Year of Gratitude

For the past year I've kept a special notebook just for gratitude. This began at a time when I really didn't think I could make it through another day of the sedentary indoor lifestyle that has become my habit in response to the oppressive heat in Phoenix. So I began on October 1st, 2009 with "I am grateful for the heat." Sometimes, acceptance is the first step to making it through those bouts of doldrums. So each day I write down something that I'm thankful for, just to remind me again how very fortunate I am.

Today, I wrote that I'm thankful for Jose and Carlos, two guys I hired to help out with my out-of-control yard. Mind you, it wasn't Jose and Carlos that bothered me; they are both fine young men! But I've always loathed the noisy diesel-powered blowers landscapers use around here to clean out the debris of bean pods and leaves that gets embedded in our gravely xeriscapes. Yup, after years of cursing the vile machines that ruin the peaceful ambiance of our neighborhood on a daily basis, I hired a couple of experienced workers to rescue me from the hideous task of restoring order to our front yard. (Forget the back yard...the HOA doesn't see that!) I did not check their legal status and I paid them cash. They both did an amazing job in short time. The place has not looked so good in all of the eight years we have lived here, even after the semi-annual occasions when we've put in our own efforts with a power blower and rake. Jose and Carlos are real pros and worth every dime.

This is a good way to make peace with the world, to somehow find a way to love what you hate. So along with leaf blowers, I've listed weeds, the bathroom scale, Highway 17, mosquitos, text messaging, donuts, guns, my vaccuum cleaner, taxes, and the plant that gave me a wicked rash last spring. Each of those horrendous, annoying and loathsome things has some benefit or lesson to be thankful for.

Has this year of very conscious gratitude helped me deal with the heat, to really truly be thankful for 90-100 F days in October? Honestly, no. I still whine and complain and get very depressed. But what I do know very well now, is that I have about a gazillion wonderful things to be grateful for in this suburban life. My journal is overflowing with flouncy purple blossoms of jacaranda trees, white winged doves, clean water, amazing sunsets, good health insurance, Odwalla carrot juice, friendly crossing guards to escort my son to school every day, really cool desert insects, great libraries, two very happy cats to keep me company, high speed internet service, a big park to toss the football and fly kites in, flowers blooming year round in my garden, sharing excellent homemade matte lattes every morning with Tom, a cozy backyard where we celebrate life with campfires, yoga and swimming, early morning bird walks guaranteed to see at least a dozen species, big fat trails to hike and mountain bike on.......

So turn up the heat! I am so grateful!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Rainbows & Reflections

Three days ago a spectacular storm drenched the Valley, leaving flooded streets, downed power lines, hail-pocked cars and uprooted trees in its wake. Heaps of gravel and mud eroded out of the mountains onto streets. Highways and side roads were grid-locked by the mayhem for hours. Mountain trails were scoured into deep trenches.

Those are the stories you may have heard or read about in the news. But did they mention the brilliant rainbows that arched over the hills while we reveled in the sweet sound of rain? Or the crystalline reflection of mountains in the flooded park where we waded up to our ankles the next morning? Or the sweet smell of fresh air after the storm?

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Gratitude for Brisk Mornings

Today is October third. In previous chapters of my life, this time of year has always been brisk. I love brisk mornings. As in cool, sometimes frosty mornings, sweaters, hats, and time to put the down comforter back out.

I've had to redefine what "brisk" means while living in Phoenix. Last night, winds blew through the valley, causing a slight dip in the thermometer. We woke to a blessed 75 F at six in the morning. This is brisk for the Sonoran Desert, meaning that is cooler outside than inside the house. Only 101F forecasted for today's high. We biked to the grocery store and back to get the Sunday paper and didn't come back soaking in sweat. So today, I am grateful for a "brisk" morning in the Sonoran Desert, and praying for more!