holy wow. what i found in my grandma’s gratitude journal

#gratitude quote - part of my post on losing my grandma, and what I found in her gratitude journal

Oh, friends. I have so much to tell you, it’s hard to know where to begin.

Maybe here: my Nana is gone.

After 40 days in residential hospice, she passed away on Saturday morning. And though I know I’ll hear from her soon enough (she promised, after all, to be in touch), I will miss so much about having her physically here. Her hugs. Her sense of wonder. Her sing-song voice. Her sense of style, even at 90. Her relationship with my kids.

I will never regret spending Nana’s last 40 days by her side (often quite literally, curled up in bed with her!). I did my best to be fully present when she was awake – taking walks, holding hands, listening to songs she loved – and Brad did wonders for the worrywart in me, frequently reminding me these were once-in-a-lifetime moments with Nana and that our little family would be fine while I devoted chunks of each day to being with her and my mom. He was right, of course.

Nana at Hotel Loretto in Santa Fe, September 2013

Nana at Hotel Loretto in Santa Fe, September 2013

As those of you who followed our journey on Instagram know, Nana’s health would take steep declines in hospice and then, to our surprise, she’d perk back up for a bit. Even at the end, after the nurses predicted she had mere hours, she stuck around several more days! Amazing resilience. In those times , I would stay overnight – not only to be there for Nana, but to give my mom support. I would tell Nana it was just like having another slumber party or girlfriend getaway. (Our last trip as a threesome had been to Santa Fe, exactly one year prior.)

The days since Nana’s passing have been crazy-busy, planning a celebration of her life and prepping for lots of family coming in. I’ve barely had a chance to let it sink in that she’s gone. But last night, as I was putting some things away at her place, I discovered buried treasure and found myself all choked up. I opened a drawer in her hutch and saw a familiar book – The Simple Abundance Journal of Gratitude. My mom had given all of us copies one Christmas, many years ago. It was an odd place to find a journal, given that Nana’s hutch holds placemats, silverware and greeting cards.

Notes from Nana about Santa Fe, Inn at the LorettoI pulled out the book and when I opened it, several sheets of paper fell out. They were all from the Hotel Loretto, our favorite place to stay in Santa Fe, and contained Nana’s handwritten notes from our first girlfriend trip there 15 years ago, for her 75th birthday. Holy wow! Among her notes:

My plane took off a little late, and I was fearful that I was going to miss Tunie and Liv (and a connecting flight), but there they were, smiling ear to ear in matching cowboy hats. What a thrill to see them there – I am so blessed! Thrilled being with my girls. 

Finding that little celebration of our bond, in her beautiful handwriting, was such a gift. Neither my mom or I recall the cowboy hats (!!!), but we will always hold dear the thrills we had as a threesome. Even the very last one, as we watched Nana head into the sunset, into the Great Beyond. We showered her with kisses on behalf of everyone who loves her here and reminders that she’d soon be seeing all the loved ones waiting for her over there.

I need time to process the loss of a great light in my life and to soak up the warm hugs and belly laughs with family flying in to celebrate her. It’s what she would want, and it’s all I have energy for right now.

the art of choosing beauty ecourseSo, work will have to wait a little longer. I am so grateful to everyone who’s accepted with such grace and understanding my need to push back Firecracker Calls, classes, newsletters and meetings. I have postponed my Art of Choosing Beauty ecourse, which was scheduled to kick off this week; it will now launch September 22nd. That class is all about finding and making magic every single day – even (or especially) when life feels hard.

It feels like divine timing, really – to choose beauty with a bunch of brave hearts this month, and to be able to incorporate private stories and powerful insights from my journey with Nana into this next round of the class (the only time I’m teaching it this year). I believe that, like finding Nana’s notes, these gifts that feel like magic – the ones that catch us off guard and connect us to what matters – appear for a reason in our lives. Nana LOVED to give thoughful gifts, and I have a feeling she has no plans to stop. As Nana always said, God works in mysterious ways – and I bet she’s got a few tricks up her sleeve, too.

 

A Beautiful Mind. A Beautiful Moment.

The other day, while going through my dad’s old notes to prepare for this, I found these words he’d scribbled on a little pink post-it:

“Thriving kids have a look – a demeanor – like when flowers stretch out to meet the sun. A vibrancy, an energy, a buoyancy, a curiosity.”

Just a quick thought he wanted to remember, I’m sure, but so beautiful it took my breath away.

Yesterday, while playing with Truman in the backyard, I snapped a quick pic of these flowers. When I looked at the resulting image, my breath stopped short again: the flowers were stretched out to meet the rays of sun – as my little guy, thriving like crazy these days, giggled in the background.

The synchronicity felt Heaven-sent and too sweet not to share. Hope you agree, dear ones.

 

Serendipity Strikes Again {Win Art From SARK}

I love when someone pops into my head – and then pops into my life. Those daydreams or “whatever happened to…” moments are like little whispers from the universe that someone special is about to cross my path.

It happened just the other day. I was thinking about the fact it’s been nearly a year since my radio show, Get Real, ended {where did the time go!?} and one of my favorite interviews came to mind – with SARK {artist/author Susan Kennedy}. She is all about coloring {and living} outside the lines and told a story about a day when she was at the bank, feeling really tired. There was a long line for the bank tellers, so she curled up right there on the ground for a cat nap! 

A security officer came over and SARK asked if there was a rule that everyone had to stand in line vs. lay down in line. He wasn’t sure how to respond, so she continued to just rest on the floor while waiting her turn. She harmed no one in the process; just ruffled some feathers by doing the unexpected. I listened to her story in  horror {I would never have the guts to do that!!} – and with great admiration for her courage and confidence. It’s what makes her art and writing so appealing.

A couple of days after daydreaming about her, SARK showed up in my inbox, reaching out to say hi and wondering if I’d be willing to tell you all about her exciting news: her glorious posters are back and she’s giving tons of them away. I told her about the perfect timing – that I’d just been thinking of her and that story – and that of course I’d spread the word!

So here’s the deal. SARK’s posters – poems brought to life in vivid color – have been printed by millions {her “How To Be an Artist” poster has been seen in major films and even TIME magazine!}. Well, she’s just re-released 15 of them and, to celebrate, she’s hosting a huge sweepstakes with 67 prizes up for grabs, including poster collections and even mentoring sessions with her. All you have to do is add your name to the {super colorful} hat at www.planetsark.com/sweepstakes. Hope you win big ~ and that serendipity touches your life today!

 

P.S. SARK is also a contributor to my blogging ecourse, which is re-launching tomorrow – stay tuned for details. So excited!!

 

 

 

Sweet Serendipity: Signs From the Road

Shortly after we lost my dad last fall, I felt like I was being called to California. He had planned to spend time teaching there after his so-called retirement this year. So, when I learned about two creative workshops in Berkeley with awesome-blossoms Andrea Scher and Kelly Rae Roberts, I knew it was my cue to head west.

The first two days of my California trip were primarily spent with academics that my dad worked with and loved. I stuck out like a sore thumb, I suspect. I over-shared, I cried a couple of times, and I probably didn’t even use the right fork at meals. But I cherished my time with these professors and researchers as I gather information and contribute to pushing my dad’s vision for Sparks forward. I listened to their stories about him, learned more about their work, and imagined him walking through those campus courtyards and hallways with books under his arm and pens in the pocket of his button-down shirt. I wondered whether he was aware of and okay with my interactions with these scholars, despite me stumbling all over myself.

Next, I flew up to the bay area for the second leg of my trip. On Saturday, the photography workshop with Andrea started at 10am. I just assumed the second workshop, on Sunday, started at the same time. Umm, it did not; turns out I was an hour early. So, I walked to a nearby cafe in Berkeley and began to write down some reflections in my itty bitty notebook. I sat down by the window with my chai latte and had only written about 10 words when my phone rang. It was Suzanne, a friend I’ve mentioned here before who’s a professional intuitive. I answered.

“Where are you?” she asked.

California, I told her. And she proceeded to say she just had to call because she could see me so vividly writing in a quiet place with a little notebook, by the ocean. The closer I am to the ocean, she said, the clearer I am. It’s totally true; I feel more like myself whenever I’m by the sea. I told her I had already spent some time at Santa Monica Beach, but she urged me to find a way to get back to the ocean again before leaving.

And then she said my dad was “with” her, hand over his heart. Saying I did him proud. Saying I did better than he could have {which is so like him}. Saying I brought a modern energy to the work, to the conversations, and that he couldn’t be more proud. In tears, I told Suzanne what he was talking about, that I’d just spent two days with some of his peers talking about sparks. I thanked her for reaching out at the perfect time. Had she called an hour later, I wouldn’t have been available to get that sweet message from my dad.

I walked back to Teahouse Studio, hoping my face wasn’t too blotchy from crying. The place looked magical; I found my seat and saw this beautiful message awaiting me:

It took my breath away. It was such a sweet gesture to lovingly call out my own spark – and extra-meaningful after my experience at the coffee shop. After our workshop, I asked if anyone knew how I could get to the ocean before flying out the next day. Someone suggested a nearby bay, but Andrea stopped them.

“No, you want the real shit, right? Like the ocean ocean.”

EXACTLY! She pointed me to Cliff House in San Francisco – a restaurant perched over Ocean Beach. It wouldn’t be easy to get to and I’d have luggage with me, so she said, “Let’s just manifest a really kind person there who will take care of your bags.” The girl speaks my language. I immediately envisioned it being a total breeze – and I could sense her doing the same for me.

The next morning, rather than navigate the subway and train systems with my suitcase, I splurged and took a cab. I had no idea the ride would be so long, but I was lucky to have a fantastic driver named Ricky. We talked about his background, his dream of becoming a police officer, his love of helping people – essentially, we talked about his spark. He absolutely lit up when I offered suggestions for furthering his dreams.

When we finally arrived at Cliff House, he offered to pick me up later and take me to the airport. I wouldn’t have to worry about calling another taxi. And you guys? He kept my bags while I ate lunch and took pictures along the beach. It was the perfect ending to my trip; another sign from the road that I am always right where I belong.

 

 

 

 

Close Encounters of the Thrilling Kind: There’s Magic in the Air

Have you ever run into someone you were just thinking about? Whenever that happens, it unhinges me. It’s the strangest sensation – a split-second rush of shock and awe. Don’t laugh – but whenever it happens, I tend to wonder…

Did I do that? Did I just pluck this person out of my imagination and place him here for realz? Did I attract that person to me – in the flesh – while I was holding her in my heart? 

I believe thoughts create things. I believe there are no coincidences. I believe everything happens for a reason, that we are always given exactly what and whom we really, really need in any moment. So, when I have one of these not-so-chance encounters, my head spins a little. I’m reminded of all the unseen forces at play, pulling us all together.

You can imagine, then, why I could hardly catch my breath on Monday. I had not one, not two, not three of those out-of-the-blue run-ins but – FOUR of them. Enough to make a girl woozy.

One brush with serendipity was with a magazine editor, Melissa, whom I’d been meaning to email for days; I’d literally had her name written down on a to-do list all week. On Sunday night, I’d posted on Facebook that I’d be appearing on a  local TV show the next day. Guess who left a comment saying SHE was scheduled to appear on the same show?? Yep.

So, when I got backstage on Monday, I walked into the green room fully expecting Melissa to be sitting there. But the first person I saw was not Melissa – it was Andrea, a former colleague I hadn’t seen in probably five years.

{Cue head spinning}

Her four-year-old daughter was going to be modeling some kids’ clothes on the show, so they were sitting backstage. We were both so surprised: what an odd place to reconnect! And while I hadn’t been thinking specifically about Andrea lately, she shared some work-related info with me that was so helpful and perfectly timed. It was like God had just planted her there, in the most random of places, to mention some projects and people I needed to know about.

Melissa was there, too – and we had a chance to catch up. 🙂 But not before I realized yet another person I knew was on the same show.

{Please start playing the Twilight Zone theme song in your head for full effect here}

When I was taken into the studio, the hosts were wrapping up a cooking segment with BT, a local radio personality I met several months ago and had just been thinking about days before. My heart skipped a beat as those questions – did I do that? – started swirling ’round my head. When he popped into my head last weekend, I was driving and daydreaming about our chat at a mutual friend’s party. I remember thinking to myself, that’s weird – wonder why he just came to mind.” And then BAM! – there he was, a couple of days later. We shared some laughs after the show . But, ahem, I didn’t inform him I’d just been thinking about him {that would have been a little creepy, no?}.

All these seemingly coincidental but mind-boggling run-ins happened mere hours after another crazy-cool encounter. I ran into a former co-worker, Marsh, who’d been on my mind so much lately. He lost his wife, Vicki – so suddenly and unexpectedly – days after my dad died. I hadn’t had the energy at the time to reach out to him, but thought of him many times over the holidays – his family’s first Hanukkah and New Year’s without Vicki. On Monday, I ran into him in a waiting room, sitting right by the door as I left an appointment. At a place where I didn’t even wear makeup – that’s how sure I was that I wouldn’t see anyone I knew there. I think he was equally stunned by the synchronicity of seeing each other there. I felt so grateful to have a chance to give him a hug. And I just knew Vicki and my dad were right there with us, probably giving each other high fives for orchestrating it seamlessly.

I suppose I could just chalk it all up to coincidence. Tell the story of my day of “chance” run-ins and be done with it. But I’m easily dazzled by a single bolt of serendipity – so, when FOUR appear within a matter of hours, I sit up and take notice. I see magic in it. I feel comforted by the ways we’re all connected by invisible string, pulled to each other at just the right moments – in thought, in heart, in a waiting room.

What if every coincidence is actually a nudge, a sign, a gentle hand offering evidence that we’re not alone? What if dumb luck is actually a brilliant plan? What if you’re reading this not by chance, but because something or someone led you to it? What if serendipity keeps showing up in your life, just waiting for you to notice?