Monthly Archives: September 2012

flirting with gratitude


when i graduated from the college of st. rose with a master’s degree in english and not one company answered my exquisitely written cover letter offering me a job, i had to do some serious soul-searching.  i was almost 24, single, and, with 25 looming on the horizon, ripe for a quarter-century crisis.  i dove into julia cameron’s the artist’s way.  i wrote morning pages and discovered just who in my life was supporting me (my mom and my favorite professor) and what in my life was holding me back (self-doubt.  i think…)

desperate for answers, i turned to oprah.  oprah pointed me in the direction of sarah ban breathnach and her pretty pink book, simple abundance.  between those pages i learned the value of gratitude.  i began keeping a gratitude journal.  i discovered i was thankful for warm socks on a cold night, thankful for the braying of wild dogs outside my window, thankful for a single cucumber (i grew it myself).  the more i was thankful, the happier i became.

fast forward a few years.  i got married.  that is a whole other story. (see previous eleven year’s worth of poems.)  happy, i was not.  i tried a gratitude journal.  it didn’t work.  or perhaps, i didn’t give it a chance to work.  maybe i didn’t work hard enough.  maybe, just maybe, even gratitude couldn’t save me.  whatever the case, since my separation (nearly two years now), i have been eyeing that journal.  i have been flirting with gratitude.

today, my long-time poetry mentor kelli russell agodon spoke to me.  not in real life.  i didn’t hear her voice.  still, she sent me a coast-to-coast message, a bi-coastal s.m.s. (save my soul).   in need of poetic inspiration, i dug out her book, letters from the emily dickinson room.  a few minutes later i received an email update from kelli’s blog, book of kells.  today’s post: what are you thankful for?

i am a big believer in synchronicity.  i have been thinking a lot lately about gratitude.  i have been thinking a lot lately about moving further along my poetic path.  that one of my favorite poets is writing about gratitude the same day i am looking to her poems for inspiration is enough for me.  i am going to start being more grateful. 

let the happiness begin!

what i am thankful for:

1. the story my son told me about getting a girl’s number in math class.  it was the answer to a math problem.

2. not one, but 8 hugs from preschool drama students.

3. making coffee for my sweet baboo.

4. having a sweet baboo.

5. having sally brown to steal a pet name from.

6. reading the american academy of poets awards list and NOT thinking “i will never be on this list.”

7. the sun coming through three layers of trees.

8. playdates.  my children’s.  plus the fact that i am still able to be home for these moments, and not working a 9-5 job.

9. a necklace made from a zipper.

10. love, love, love.

now, here’s the amazing part of gratitude.  just the act of writing it down can have immediate effects.  take the colored pencils, cat hair and popcorn kernels spilled all over the carpet, for example.  and the homework on the couch.  i’m not one bit annoyed by any of it at the moment.  that’s what gratitude can do for you, people.


The Second House from the Corner, the One Falling Down


Love is in charge of lightbulbs.  Standing in darkness, unscrewing and screwing, licking filaments.  I am in charge of seeing.  I see the light through half-shut eyes.  I see in the half-light. I see the door shut behind him.  Love does not wash the dishes.  Love remembers how to boil water, how to add oil, how to stir the pot.  I am in charge of peeling the explosion from the ceiling, of returning what is missing to what has boiled over, of making a meal out of an abandoned kitchen.  There are children who eat here.  There are children who wear headlamps to avoid getting bruises.  When we all sit on the couch in the light and eat warm pasta we are full.