Michelle Obama 

Jan. 17: Michelle Obama. This is one of my favorite photos of Mrs. Obama. She has been a constant source of inspiration to me over the past eight years. I am thankful for her impact on me, as well as on all the little brown girls across the country and around the world. Happy birthday, FLOTUS! (White House photo taken by Amanda Lucidon) 

Clean Drinking Water

Jan. 13: Clean drinking water. I’ve been fighting some serious congestion for weeks now.  Everyone says, “Drink lots and lots of water!”. As I sit here staring at this glass of water that I know I need to drink, but don’t feel like drinking, I’m thinking about the millions of people in the world who don’t have access to clean drinking water. I am truly thankful to be able to go to the refrigerator and get a glass of water.

Power

We got about two and a half feet of snow this weekend.  The news told everyone to expect power outages.  I have never lost power at my home during a storm, but this storm sounded like a monster, so I got worried.  I was prepared.  Batteries, candles, matches, food that could be prepared without electricity, but I was still nervous.

The storm came through with a vengeance.

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But through it all, I never lost power.

My New Shop

I’ve been so excited over the past week because I started a shop!  I’ve been so excited and preoccupied with it that I forgot to write a post about it.  So here goes.

I started an online shop with t-shirts and accessories that will remind you to be thankful.  Here are two of my favorite t-shirts.

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Right now, all of the designs are just text, but I’m hoping to add some designs with artwork in the near future.  From now through Thanksgiving, $3 from each purchase will benefit the Feeding America virtual food drive that I’m doing, so please check out the shop and do a little early holiday shopping!

New Beginnings

I love the beginning of the year. It’s filled which such hope and possibility. For me, it’s like the first day of school – brand new clothes and a bookbag filled with new pencils and notebooks. Remember that excited feeling? I feel that way every January 1st, but somewhere about noonish, the excitement wanes.

I always make big plans to clean the house from top to bottom and I usually end up just washing dishes and doing laundry. Years ago, I stopped making resolutions when I found that I never really resolved in my spirit to make the changes. I learned that making the list isn’t enough. Making plans is not enough. Going through the motions just isn’t good enough if you haven’t resolved in your heart and mind to make the change.

This year, I am being much more realistic. Instead of resolving to do things differently, I’ve decided to do things I’ve never done before. I’m going on a few journeys this year, both literally and figuratively. I’m pulling out my favorite bookbag and I’m buying a new pack of pens. This is going to be an eventful year and I don’t want to miss a moment of it.

My one resolution – scratch that – My one promise to myself is to be present in every moment. This new year is a gift.  I am thankful for the fresh start and I will be thankful for all that it brings.

Reminders and Self Fulfilling Prophecies

Today, I am particularly thankful for reminders and self fulfilling prophecies.

I love yellow Post-It notes.  I probably use them way more than I should.  When I tripped across my life’s purpose back in 1999, I wrote it on a yellow Post-It and have carried it around with me ever since.

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As I was looking forward to the new year, I remembered another yellow square that I’ve had for some time.  About six years ago,  I jotted down a list of things that I really want to do in my life.  It’s different from a bucket list because it’s a short list of fundamental must-dos.

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I’m planning to accomplish three things on the list this year.  I’ve come to realize that if I don’t accomplish the other three things, I’ll be just fine.

I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for me.  It promises to be an exciting time.

What are planning to accomplish this year?

Grandma and The Sweet Potato Pie

Yesterday morning, my Grandma was taken to the hospital by ambulance. My sister called to give me the news. It was hard to make out what she was saying between her heaving and teary breaths.

Let me make an aside here. It’s actually kind of crazy how the news was disseminated. My Grandma in Virginia called my aunt in North Carolina to say she wasn’t feeling well and was going to the hospital. At least that’s what I think happened. My aunt then called my mother, who was in northern Virginia, to tell her what was going on. Mom didn’t answer because she was busy with my nephew and missed the called. My aunt then called me, but I too missed the call. I was pumping gas and had left my phone in the car. My aunt then called my sister in D.C. who should never be the first person in the family to get bad news about grandma. She and Grandma are super tight and my sister doesn’t handle even the idea of Grandma being sick very well. My sister then called me in Maryland and I in turn called Mom. Mom was using her irritated fussy voice with me when explaining to me that Grandma had yet to call 911. Grandma decided it best to get dressed first. That irritated Mom to no end. I don’t know if she fussed at Grandma, but she certainly used her fussy voice with me about the whole thing.

The symptoms that Grandma described were very serious and so we were all a little nervous and a lot scared once we heard what was going on.

Grandma’s birthday is coming up in a few weeks and the first thing I thought was, “Please don’t let her leave during this time of year. That would just be awful.” Then I started thinking about this time of year, which conjured up thoughts of Grandma’s Sweet Potato Pie. My Grandma makes the best sweet potato pie in this universe and the next. I know you think your grandma’s pie is the best, but you’re wrong. My Grandma’s pie can beat your grandma’s pie on any given day. Every Thanksgiving and Christmas I can be sure that Grandma will send me home with a pie.

A couple of years ago, I got her to teach me how to make the pie. I know I wrote down what she told me, but when I went to try to make the pie a few months ago, I couldn’t find the instructions anywhere. The result was horrible. I forgot some important ingredient and the thing didn’t bake up right at all. So right before Thanksgiving this year, I called Grandma with pen and paper in hand, so that I could once and for all have this recipe.

“Grandma, I can’t remember how to make The Sweet Potato Pie. I have three or four large sweet potatoes. How much butter do I need?”

“Three or four large potatoes? How big are they?”

“I don’t know. They’re big, but they all fit in my big pot without a problem.”

“Hmmm…. well, you’ll probably need three or four sticks of butter.”

“Three or four?”

“Yes. I bake by seeing, so if they’re big potatoes, I think three or four sticks should do it.”

“Ooookkkaaay…”

She went on to give me other general guesstimates of amounts of the other ingredients, but when it came to sugar, her tune changed.

“How much sugar should I use, Grandma?”

“You’ll need one cup of sugar.”

“Just one cup?”

“Yep. You’ll need one cup of sugar.”

Her sudden exactness made me laugh to myself. I made mention of it in the notes I was taking so that I would always remember it.

I made the pie filling the night before Thanksgiving. I baked one pie and froze the remaining filling. The night before I got the call that Grandma was going to the hospital, I unthawed that filling and baked the pie. Right before I got the call, I was thinking about how good that pie was going to taste for dessert that night.

I love Grandma for many, many reasons. She is loving and loyal, steadfast and resilient, funny, strong, and kind. Whenever I taste her Sweet Potato Pie I think of her; I think of who she is and all that she means to me. Now that I know how to make it, I can be sure that those thoughts and memories will never fade, for if they do, all I have to do is pull out my recipe to conjure them up again.

I talked to Grandma last night and she seemed her regular spunky self. She should be discharged tonight or tomorrow.

Tonight, when I eat a slice of pie, not only will I bless the food, I’ll also be asking a special blessing for my Grandma, the originator of the best sweet potato pie known to mankind.

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Me and Grandma at my law school graduation in 2006.

 

On Fridays, We Do Our Happy Dance!

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About a month or so ago, I started “On Fridays, we do our happy dance!” It’s a day to be happy about whatever. I’m usually most happy that I made it through another week and today is no exception, although it is a bit different. 

Normally, I have a soundtrack for my happy dance that plays in my head. I might not actually bust a move (Do people still say that?), but it does put a little spring in my step and a smile on my face. Last week, I was so excited about my boots that I kept hearing Nancy Sinatra’s anthem all day long. One of my standard happy dance, I-know-I’m-hot-stuff songs is “Stayin’ Alive” by the BeeGees. I’ve never seen “Saturday Night Fever”, but I have seen some of the more iconic scenes, so when I’m bopping to the beat in my head, I normally have a little strut in my walk just like Travolta.

Before I got to work today, I heard two of my favorite happy dance songs, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams and “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough” by Michael Jackson. Those songs usually get my blood flowing and produce a little happy wiggle or at least a loud exclamation of “Woo!” with MJ when the beat drops. Today, nothing. I’m dragging today and apparently I need something more powerful that Pharrell or MJ to get me going. 

So tell me, what is the soundtrack that plays in your head when you break out into your best happy dance?

Socks Postscript

Last night, just as I was about to turn off the lights for the night, my mom called. She wanted me to know that her friend, “Ann”, read my blog post on socks and was “moved”. I’ll call her “Ann” because she lives in a loft….Ann Taylor Loft…get it? Anyway, Ann said that she learned something about lupus, was moved by the post, and felt like she wanted to do something. She called my mom to figure out what she could do.

Mom’s birthday is coming up and she had already told me that she wanted to do a canned food drive for her birthday. Now she and Ann are organizing a socks, gloves, and canned food drive.

When I first started this blog, it was a completely selfish venture. I was trying to change my life and my perspective by forcing myself to find something to be thankful for everyday. “Something” is completely inaccurate. I wanted to force myself to pay attention to the small, sometimes seemingly insignificant things in life and to be thankful for those things. Writing every day kept me accountable. Somewhere along the line it has evolved into a mission. I think the advent of the FB page changed things for me. Now I still write to hold myself accountable, but my secondary purpose is to urge people to look at life differently and to be thankful for everything. When Mom told me that her friend was moved by my little 413-word post about socks, I got a little teary. To think that someone else in this world will have the simple pleasure of warm feet just because I took 30 minutes to share with the world why I am thankful for something as ordinary as socks is just so incredible to me.

Thank you, Ann, for reading the blog and taking some action.

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These are the extra thick hunting socks that Mom gets me for Christmas. This is my heather gray pair that is still in tact.

 

Who Is It Wednesday: McDonald’s Drive-Thru Workers

On my way to work this morning, I stopped at McDonald’s to pick up a hashbrown and an iced tea.  (Yeah, I know.  The breakfast of champions.)  It was 34 degrees this morning and the wind was whipping pretty hard.  Even though the drive-thru line was long, I was willing to sit in it because it meant I wouldn’t have to leave the warmth of my car.  When I pulled up to the window, the person taking my order was decked out in about three layers of clothes, topped off by a fleece McD’s jacket and black fuzzy mittens.  She only opened her window once she saw that mine was completely down and as soon as I began to pull away, she quickly shut her window.  The person that took my money was similarly dressed and was very quick with the opening and shutting of her window too.  I hate being cold and I can only imagine what it must be like to work at a drive-thru window during the winter. 

So today, I send a big and sincere thank you to fast food drive-thru workers everywhere.  You endure the cold so folks like me can get food and still be warm.
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