Thankful – Through the Eyes of a 13 Year Old

Recently I was organizing the clutter on my computer’s desk top when I came across a poem my Peter wrote last year in 8th grade.  I was as moved this time as I was the very first time I read it.  As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, I felt compelled to share the message of gratitude through the eyes (and words) of a 13 year old.

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Thanks – By Peter Feinman

As my eyes rise from the depths of silence,

Peeking over the warmth of my blankets,

My mind begins to tick,

The rays of the golden sun greeting my sensitive pupils,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

I tip toe into the bathroom as I complete my morning routine,

And I slowly scan the room in awe as I notice how much I am provided with,

And how fortunate I am to be able to clean my body,

And wear the clothes I do.

While walking to the bus I hear the crunch, crunch as the gravel rolls beneath my feet,

I hear the honking of car horns,

And I hear the whines of other children,

And at that point I know that I do not have to go to school, I get to go to school,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

I feel a breeze of excitement rush past me as I open the school doors,

I feel the loneliness wash away as friends reunite at 8:50a.m.,

I feel the love between the teachers as they watch the students glide by while sharing a cup of coffee,

Then, I realize that I am surrounded by friends and teachers who care about me,

Who I can share conversations and laughs with,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

I take a seat in a smooth leathery chair of a yellow school bus,

And as I stare out the window, all I do is think,

I think about how great our nation could be if all men were not just created equal, but we stayed equal,

If race, religion, ethnicity, and social class did not make up who we are today,

If people looked at others from the inside and by the way people act,

If all people were born with the same opportunities and chances in life,

With freedom, a gift from God, people can rise to the highest parts of life,

And I know that because I am free I will have many more opportunities that will come my way,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

I sit down and start to turn the slick pages of my textbook,

And the steam coming from the fresh food finds its way to my nose,

And I smell the sweet soap from the upstairs bathroom, and I smell the pumpkin scent from the crackling candle mounted on the countertop,

And I am grateful to sit with my family and taste the warm food melt in my mouth,

Before sipping the ice cold water to wash it down,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

I drown myself with the blankets that rest on my bed,

And I squeeze one more yawn out as I stretch until my body tingles,

And I wonder what adventure will I be in tomorrow,

And I tell myself each day a new story is told,

And it is my job to live each one to the fullest,

And I am grateful that I am healthy and able to live my life,

And I think to myself how lucky I am.

 

So I want to say thank you,

Thank you God,

Thank you Mom,

Thank you Dad,

Thank you Ben,

Thank you Gigi,

Thank you Poppy,

Thank you Pagi,

Thank you family,

And thank you friends and teachers,

For allowing me to be myself,

And standing by me in the lows of life,

And flying with me in times of celebration,

Thank you for the life long lessons you have taught me,

And for the amazing experiences and memories that are planted in my mind forever,

And for the inspirational quotes and ideas that have blossomed within me,

I am grateful for everything you do for me,

And thank you for loving me and showing me how lucky I am.

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Me and my favorite poet!

Happy Thanksgiving!

with Joy & Gratitude,

Awesome Action – Grow a Thankful Tree

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Thanksgiving is one of the two times each year that my dad, sister and her two boys travel south to visit us….and I am counting the days (hours & minutes) until they arrive!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, because the expectation is simply to BE with family.  It’s 4-6 days filled with cooking together,  playing board games, sleeping in, overdosing on football, taking walks, eating large quantities of once a year yummies, and watching late night movies.

Each year, the Sunday after Thanksgiving arrives and I’m filled with sadness that the time passed so quickly and my family is leaving.  In an effort to combat this already expected outcome, I’m going to set the intention to be totally present to my family, to honor the relationships and to share my gratitude with them.  This is going to require an awesome action to help me fulfill my intention…..

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In anticipation of next week’s holiday – this awesome action is…..

To GROW a THANKFUL TREE!

When the kids were little we used to create a thankful tree each Thanksgiving.  Sadly, it was one of those family traditions that disappeared as the boys hit double digits.  This is the perfect year to bring back this awesome action and  reestablish it as a family tradition.

I love growing a thankful tree because it’s an outlet for each of us to express and share what we are grateful for, plus it’s a visual representation of our family’s expanding gratitude.

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How to grow a thankful tree…..

1.  Collect fallen sticks or small tree twigs and place them in a vase to create the foundation for the thankful tree.

2.  Cut leaf shapes out of red, orange and yellow construction paper, mimicking the richness of the autumn leaves.

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3.  Set the paper leaves around the base of the vase with a few pens, and family members can write down what they are grateful for.

4.  Punch a hole in each leaf and use a thin ribbon to attach it to the twig tree.

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5.  By Thanksgiving dinner, your thankful tree will be in full bloom.  Throughout the meal, take turns reading what everyone is thankful for.

You can grow your thankful tree, exactly as I described.  Or feel free to take the concept and mold it into something better suited for your family.

*  Thankful journal – purchase a journal and invite your family members to write (and date) their gratitude directly into the journal.  This would be an awesome way to keep the gratitude lists together year after year.

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*  Thankful box – use a shoe box or photo keepsake box to collect each person’s gratitude list during the holiday.

*  Thankful whiteboard (blackboard) – leave a whiteboard and dry erase markers easily accessible, allowing the family to create a colorful graffiti board filled with gratitude.  Before erasing it, be sure to add the date and take a photograph to capture it forever.  Better yet – take a family picture around the thankful whiteboard.

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*  Thankful scrapbook – build a holiday thankful scrapbook with photos, handwritten gratitude and other memorabilia and keepsakes.

*  Thankful chain – cut construction paper into 5 inch by 1 inch strips.  As each person writes down something they are grateful for, curve the strip into a circle (held by staple, tape or glue), creating links that connect, building a chain.  Each year could be an individual paper chain, or add on year after year, creating a growing chain of gratitude.

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Get creative or keep it simple.  The point is to give your family a way to express, share and record what they are grateful for.

with Joy & Gratitude,

Hello Curve Ball!

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My day was perfectly planned.  Planned for everything, but the unexpected.  While sitting at Starbucks writing (what was supposed to be today’s blog piece), I received the dreaded phone call.  It’s the call that makes your heart sink when you see the phone number pop up, the call from your kid’s school.  With urgency, yet slight hesitation, I answered the call to hear my little guy on the other end.  Before he could finish saying “Hey Mom”, I blurted out “Are you OK?”.  His response was “Sort of….”, which I instantly knew meant something was wrong, but he didn’t want to tell me.

Apparently he was playing football in gym, and while running with the ball in his left (dominant) hand, he was accidentally tripped and fell full force onto the left side back of his hand.  Having broken his thumbs five different times over the course of  two football seasons, he was familiar with the pain of a broken bone, and was pretty certain his hand was broken.

Hello Curve Ball…..and there goes my perfectly planned day!

A baseball player pitching with spin on the ball. (motion blur on ball)

Some weeks I’m able to write days in advance, other weeks I find myself backed into a self imposed corner, writing at the last minute.  Today was one of those squeak it out kind of days, and by the time I received the dreaded phone call, I was just half way through writing.

I never made a public announcement, but my commitment, both to myself and to my readers, has been to be consistent and publish three times a week – on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.  I’ve been able to accomplish that for almost 5 months, but now I was being tested.

I couldn’t possibly recover from today’s curve ball…..

Or could I?

Do I crumble under pressure?  Get stressed and overwhelmed?  Worry more about how to share my blog than how to care for my son’s injured hand?

Or….

Do I ebb and flow?  Roll with the punches?  Catch the curve ball instead of letting it hit me in the face?

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Today was a perfect day to practice what I preach.  To embrace that which I could not control, and choose to have an awesome day anyway.

In all the imperfections of this day, here is what I’m GRATEFUL for…..

*  A friend of a friend got us in to see a sports physician within the hour.

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*  The doctor had the most amazing bed side manner.

*  We left with a doctor’s note stating that my little guy couldn’t write or type tonight – which meant NO homework.

*  Our next stop was the emergency room for x-rays.  With a doctor’s prescription in hand, we were quickly moved to the outpatient department, completing the entire process in under a shocking 20 minutes!

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*  Although we spent a total of 3 hours in the doctor’s office, traveling to the emergency room and getting x-rays, we still managed to get to my guy’s football game just in time to watch the opening kick off.

*  The Ruffner Middle School team was dressed in their traditional green and gold…with a splash of PINK for Breast Cancer Awareness month.

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*  Just 30 minutes into the game I received a phone call from the doctor letting me know that he reviewed the x-rays and there were NO broken bones, just severe bruising that would require ice and rest.  Can I hear a WOO HOO!!??

*  The game ended 28-28, taking it into over time.  Over time ended 34-34, leading to double over time.  Double over time came to a close with a score of 42-42…..hence TRIPLE OVER TIME – with a final score of 48-42 – RUFFNER BULLDOGS WIN!!!!

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Today was a great day.  It didn’t go anything like I had planned.  I ebbed away from my role as a blogger, and flowed into my roles of mom, nursemaid, wife and football fan.

Just remember….when life gives you lemons, make a lemon drop martini!

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with Joy & Gratitude,

Grateful for the Ordinary – part II

What a magnificently ordinary day!

In my recent post ‘Grateful for the Ordinary’ , I wrote about how we often forget to be grateful for those parts of our lives that are ordinary, common and oh so simple.

Today, I’m practicing what I preach.

For the past 4 hours my family has been hanging out in our back yard.  We didn’t plan any special event or discuss how the day would unfold, other than to agree that it would be one of our unstructured, ‘do-nothing’ days!

As I sit here watching the family interact, I find myself in awe, grateful for the ordinary!  We are together, and yet separate at times based on our backyard activity of choice.

Our day has been simple, average and uneventful.  And it has been AWESOME – a day worthy of unspeakable gratitude!

 

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Ian – Snorkel Jumping (check out his fins & goggles)

 

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Levi – Sun napping….on a pool float

 

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Pagi – Tossing balls to the boys as they jump in the pool

 

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The boys – Jumping and attempting to catch the balls Pagi throws

 

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Becky – Reading & relaxing

 

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Me – sneaking into at least one photo….

while Ben & Levi play water basketball

 

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Pagi & Bobby – Surfing the internet

 

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Ian – Playing baseball

 

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The Boys – being boys!

 

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Peter & Ben – Playing corn hole (little bro kicked big bro’s rear end!)

 

It’s easy to be grateful for the extraordinary, the rare and exceptional moments in our lives.  But the real power of gratitude is felt when you pause and are thankful for the ordinary!

with Joy & Gratitude,