gr’attitude

We just celebrated Thanksgiving with extended family, for whom we love and are grateful. I won’t lie, though… The drive was long and exhausting. We didn’t sleep well, and I felt lethargic for a few days.  A cherished child’s motorcycle of Noah’s had been stolen.  Grandpa didn’t feel up to taking the boys out shooting with the bb gun like we had planned on.  There was a bit too much TV watching.  I wished I could have compensated, and that we could have been our best selves, but I am saved by the grace that comes with…gratitude.

When I’m at the end of my rope, bubbling to the brim with Brinly blueberry-monsterness akin to the likes of Violet Beauregarde in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, I turn to gratitude.  When I’m as desperate as a man without a paddle, I turn to gratitude. When I’m as lost as a two-year-old screaming for the mama they can’t find (and who might happen to be in the bathroom), I turn to gratitude. When I’m disappointed that something is broken, changed, or messed up…I TRY…to turn to gratitude. Hopefully, I turn there before I get lost in other emotions, because it never fails to rescue me.

One of the most important parts of the daily prayer book in Judaism is the Amidah, estimated to have been written roughly 2000 years ago. If you need an attitude adjustment, check out the text of the section titled modim (“we thank”) or hoda’ah (thanks/gratitude, and also acknowledgement/submission). This 18th blessing within the Amidah recites:

We thankfully acknowledge that You are the L-rd our G d and G d of our fathers forever. You are the strength of our life, the shield of our salvation in every generation. We will give thanks to You and recount Your praise, evening, morning and noon, for our lives which are committed into Your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to You, for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences. You are the Beneficent One, for Your mercies never cease; the Merciful One, for Your kindnesses never end; for we always place our hope in You.

We place our hope in YOU it says. Because Hashem (lit “The Name”…the mighty, precious, beautiful “Name” of G-d) is a peace, a provision, and a place that can always be trusted. His kindnesses NEVER end.  No matter how much your nose is down in the dirt, how black the cloud is over your head, or how bleak the outlook you think is part of your future…His love is there.

Sometimes I am in a pit, and I need to get out. Sometimes I want someone to be there to pull me out, but there is no one. What do I do?  If my eyes are shut, brimming with tears, I can open them, and say THANK YOU. I can take a deep breath, and think of what I am thankful for, and say it out loud.

Rabbi Levi Potash wrote recently about Thanksgiving that, “Most importantly it is the time to express our gratitude to Hashem for all the blessings that he bestows upon us daily, hourly and even every moment… and having gratitude and developing more of it in ourselves has a great fringe benefit for us to lead a more enjoyable life. When we have an attitude of s’kumpt mir – entitlement, then no matter what blessings we have in our life, it is not good enough. It is never good enough. We are always expecting more and better. On the other hand, the more gratitude we have, the less expectations we have. Then everything in life is a pleasant and surprising gift. The less expectations we have in life the more we can enjoy the blessings that we do have.”

Who is rich? Those who rejoice in what they have. (Pirkei Avot, 4:1).

I am not always thankful for lollipops and ice cream, but I know someone who is. And I LOVE where her attitude leads…

photo(23)

I thank G-d for his many blessings, and I thank each person reading this for taking a moment to connect with us. May you be blessed with a grateful attitude!

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dwell

this blog is going to start off slow. i enjoy writing. i process life through writing. i wax poetic at times. but there is a lot happening in life right now, and i’m going to start this off as a journal, a chronicle of sorts.  i’m not going to hold myself to such high standards that i never post, because i will probably not find the amounts of time i feel i need to properly think, edit, analyze.  to start:

A place to live…that is the biggest thing on our minds these days.  Right now, we live in a two bedroom one bathroom house.  It’s actually quite comfortable, and in some ways easier to manage than a larger house that has more places to clean and more space for things to get lost. Not that I am such a great manager of our home.  “Everything has a place and everything in it’s place.” Well, let’s just say we have greatly improved in the area of “everything has a place.”  We recently had the blessing of a dear woman, a 30 yrs retired schoolteacher and (usually) paid professional organizer, volunteer to help our family by working with us during the month of October.  We really accomplished a lot in the way of purging, clearing, and just generally bringing order into a small home that is plagued by 7 wanna-be free spirits, albeit who want to have a nice place to store their paintbrushes, journals, books, surfboards, dirty diapers, and princess dresses (and who need clean non-dress up clothing).  Now it’s up to me to enforce the chore charts, expectations, and icons of success, such as:

“Organization”

Can you see the halo forming over my head just now? Do I hear singing?  Oh wait, that’s  “hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work we go…”  or is that, “one, two, buckle my shoe…” ?

Seriously (my 8 yr old’s favorite word), this is progress. Unfortunately, my chore chart shows that I clean the bathroom every Monday, and today is Tuesday. I am a day late, but not a dollar short. That must mean I am lucky. I get free rain checks!

The home we currently occupy is  owned by a non-profit center that has already submitted plans to build a 15-unit low-to-very-low-income apartment building, which is desperately needed in this community.  The center gets 7 calls a day now for people looking for housing, some of whom are living in cars and just asking for a place to do laundry and take showers. These are working families with children in school. Our problem is a very common one in this community. How does it happen? Let’s say a family of 5 can only afford to rent a one bedroom apartment. The children sleep in the bedroom. The parents sleep in the living room. New management comes to the apartment building and raises the rent. They can no longer afford it, and rental prices have increased in the area that make it difficult for them to find another affordable place to live.  Their jobs, schools, and community have not changed, but now they are homeless. Others, like us, find ourselves in health crisis or other types of situations that also make it difficult to afford standard rental prices. The home we previously lived in worked very well for us, but the owner needed to move back in.  In the meantime, rental prices skyrocketed, and our income plummeted.

The GOOD NEWS about finding a place to live is that we can actually KEEP this house (the building) *if * we find a place to put it.  Noah, being a planner, is going to be in contact with the city about possibilities. We heard that the city is actually considering ideas for non-conforming lots, and wonder if this home could fit on one of them.  Our house is pretty narrow because it looks like this:

photo(21)Pretty cute, eh? It would be wonderful to find a place for it, both to keep it from being torn down, and also because it would mean we can keep on living in it, and could (far fetched potentially) possibly be a home we could own and modify as we are able.

In the meantime, we are spreading the word, perusing craigslist, and praying that we will find a  4 bedroom mini-farm suitable, affordable place to live in vicinity of Redwood City by January 1, 2016.

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