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Baby’s First Mural

Some mom’s, upon learning that their daughter is teaching herself how to be stealthy and skilled with a spray can, would “tsk tsk,” point fingers, and remind their child that vandalism is wrong.

My mom?  She asked me to spray paint her back fence.

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And now this is the view from the room I sleep in at her house.

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Words cannot express how grateful I am for my mom, the funniest most supportive woman on the planet.

I LOVE YOU MOM!!!

be patient, please

Sitting in my seat on the plane, waiting to fly to LA. There’s construction on the runway at SFO, and Virgin sent out an email trying to prepare us delicate travelers for possible delays. And guess what? We’re delayed. 15-minute delay to board, and now a 20-minute delay to take-off.

At the 20-minute delay announcement, the entire flight responded in unison with an entitled and impatient “UGH” (present company included).

I texted my friend who’s picking me up to update her and complain and heard more “ugh!s” and “come ON!s” from the seats behind me.

At that moment my heart rate slowed and I realized I’d rather sit here gratefully on this coolly-lit air conditioned plane watching Bravo, then sit here impatiently, pissed that I had to text my friend AGAIN with a different landing time.

Ok, so our flight’s delayed a bit. Look around – you’re sitting in leather chairs, the AC is blowing, and you have endless amounts of media in front of you for entertainment. Think of how much worse your situation could be and be grateful for the extra time to enjoy the one we’re in (but seriously, can we take off already?!?!).

thank you please

At my mom’s today I came across a stack of journals from right before, during, and right after my accident. As I read through everything, I started wondering if I’d find THE moment I decided to make “be grateful” cards as Christmas gifts that year.

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It says:
10.9.07

Lauren’s due date was today. I should call her.

I’ve been trying to figure out what to give everyone for Christmas.

I want it to also be a “thank you for being there” and a “let’s ALL learn from my mistake” present.

I want to draw/write something having to do with gratitude.

I was thinking of drawing “I’m grateful for you” and somehow photoshop it on a picture of me and the person.

But there wouldn’t be enough meaning in that.

I’m grateful for you.

Hopefully I come up with something. I can NOT stay up all night tonight.

Love, me.

I love being able to go back to the beginning like this, and to remember that all I’ve really wanted to say is – thank you.

Come Alive.

This morning at the 16th and Mission Bart station, as I stood at the kiosk looking up how much a Bart ticket to SFO costs, I realized that the person singing with a basket out for money (there’s usually at least one at every station) at this station on this morning was actually really fucking good. The kind of soulful music and voice that could make even the coldest heart melt.

So in between figuring out which way to put my card in the machine, and how many times I should hit “Subtract $1” and “add $.05” to equal $8.60, I decided he was getting all my money.

About a month ago I collected the spare change that was piling up on my dresser, put it in a little sandwich bag and dropped it in my purse. My plan was to eventually hand it off to one of the people I encounter everyday in San Francisco who ask me for my spare change.

And sure enough, I came across plenty of people everyday who asked me if I had change to spare. But I was surprised to find myself not moved to give them anything except eye contact, a nod and a smile.

I couldn’t make sense of it at first but eventually I realized that my resistance to hand off this money wasn’t me being shy or greedy, it was me being choosy about the experiences I bring into my life. Clearly I hadn’t been inspired to have an experience with any of the San Franciscans I’d encounter thus far.

Until this morning.

That music. That guy. He stood tall by the escalator, in clothes that suggested he was neither homeless nor in-need, playing a guitar and singing a song that I’m fairly sure was an original (you know… because I’ve heard ALL the songs ever written).

The passion and love in his voice told me that he wasn’t singing for Bart this morning because he needed the money. This wasn’t his attempt to collect enough change for a McDonalds hamburger. He was singing in a dirty Bart terminal because he loves singing that much. He practiced and prepared for this performance. He lives for it.

He was singing a new song now, as I walked up and placed the little sandwich bag on top of quite a bit of $5’s and $1’s in his basket. We made eye contact, both smiling for each other and nodding in recognition of the transaction we were having.

I stood by him for an extra second as I reached into my bag one more time and pulled out a “be grateful” sticker. I held it up for him as he sung, so he could see what I was giving him. He smiled, closed his eyes and nodded “thank you” and as I bent down to add my sticker to the pile, I smiled, closed my eyes and nodded back to say “no, thank YOU.”

I turned to walk away and looked back one more time. I think I was maybe beaming this time, glowing from the inside out from that sweet experience I just had and when my eyes met his again, I saw that we both were.

I’m so grateful for the people who do the thing they love anywhere, everywhere and all the time.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Find what makes you come alive and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” -Howard Thurman.

The true gifts

Last Saturday morning, my sister Katie handed me something in a little plastic bag, mumbling something about “not doing Christmas this year” and “give it to you now.”

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Last Christmas my family all decided to skip the presents this Christmas.  It always becomes too much and none of us need anything anyway, except each other.

This little ring is something my sister just saw somewhere and thought of me, so she bought it for me for no other reason than that.

I realized today that my sister probably has always bought us Christmas presents in April.  But this year she had no reason to wait to give it to me.

I also realized today that she handed me this ring three days ago and I haven’t taken it off.

I am so grateful for my sister, who is one of the most thoughtful and supportive people on the planet.  And for my family that has created space for all of our true gifts to really shine.

 

PS. #banchristmas

The app for that

Ok so I talked a lot of shit about our obsession with technology in the last post, so I wanted to tell this story, give credit to the technology, and “out” myself as a techie-nerd iPhone-lover as well as the earth-mother nature-appreciator that I am.

Last weekend, a friend and I were sitting outside a cafe as the sunny afternoon turned into evening.  We were half-a-block up from the art gallery Fifty24SF and I had read about an art opening there that night.

It wasn’t displayed on a flyer, I didn’t read about it in a newspaper under “art openings.”  I knew about this art opening because I read about it online.  And I didn’t just read about it online – I read about it on Instagram.

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My mom is reading that (and you may be too) thinking “I have no idea what she’s talking about.”  My mom never learned about something and grew to love it because of a photo sharing social application on her phone.  That sentence didn’t even exist not that long ago!

I knew about this art opening, and most of the background behind it, because I follow David Choe on Instagram.

photo (7)So as my friend and I walked around the tiny gallery that night, I found myself explaining the show’s backstory to him… that David Choe is a famous artist and the works on the wall were by his mom Jane and his buddy Critter.

And as more and more information came out of my mouth I realized that the only reason I knew any of the things I was saying was because of an application I downloaded to my cell phone.

I love the underground(ish) art scene happening all around me, and am grateful for Instagram for giving me a closer peak inside it.

photo 2 (2)@davidchoe @sylviaji @rekaone @osgemeos

photo 1 (3)@upperplayground @mr_aryz @einesigns @samagram12

So I just have to be clear – while I am genuinely embarrassed and concerned by how addicted my generation is to our cell phones, I am still very grateful for the richness it has brought into my life.

And let’s not overlook that I was able to create both of those collage-pictures and load them to this blog in a matter of minutes purely thanks to apps on an iPhone.

Siri is not your friend.

This morning I sat on the bus for 35 minutes next to a couple who never once looked up from their individual iPhones.  They were talking to each other at least but the conversation 100% revolved around their devices.  How to reset their mail count, which version of the phone they had, had they downloaded the new IOS, what did people say about it, how many people had downloaded it, etc etc etc.

I almost got up and moved to another seat.

Technology is great, sure.  It’s enabled us as a civilization to accomplish so many amazing things.  I mean, I can push a button on a screen and then tell you the song that’s playing on a nearby speaker (Shazam is my favorite app ever).  I intentionally built a career for myself in digital media when I started understanding the things that it was going to enable businesses to do.  But after 5 years, I’ve found myself wedged in a digital corner surrounded by hours and hours of work and energy-spent that makes ZERO actual impact on the world.  Yesterday, at the office, I had my more-common-that-is-healthy mini-meltdown about it.

This shit is out of control you guys.

But right, this blog is about gratitude.  I’ve been wanting to post about this for a while. Well, since Thanksgiving of last year.  My friends Todd and Eric hosted dinner at their place for the first time and I went over early to help set-up.  Eric didn’t want any phones out or even nearby during dinner.  He didn’t want any phones out or nearby at all.

One of my jobs in setting up dinner was doing all the lettering; name cards for the table, “put your shoes here” for the entrance, and “put your phone here” for the basket he’d set aside for our phones.

I was legitimately concerned that people would feel uncomfortable parting with their cellphones, so as I sat down to make a sign about it, I thought about a way we could position this so people would be open to it.

cell phone day care

Cell phone day care.  With “be here now” written all the way around it.  Your phones are a part of you, we know.  We’re not asking you to abandon them, we’re just opening up an opportunity for you to have some time apart.

To my surprise, when our friends saw the basket, most of them immediately happily threw their phones right in.  It took me a little while but eventually this glass rectangle became such an unwanted distraction so I willingly and happily threw mine on the pile too.

And I’m not sure if it was completely responsible (the food and the company were amazing as well), but that was one of the best nights I’ve had among friends, ever.

SO. I’m grateful for the perspective that even though technology has changed our world for the better in a lot of ways, I still know how much better it is to look up, look out the window, and talk about something real with your friends.

Next time you’re out with your friends, make a pile and look each other in the eye instead of Siri.

put your phone down

Better than this?!

Each time you find yourself in complete awe of your life, try this little trick.  Sit still for a second and ask out loud (to no one in particular), “How could it ever get better than this?”*

Eventually you’ll forget that you asked the question, but then something new will happen and you’ll realize – the Universe just answered it. All of a sudden, that blissful feeling which you thought couldn’t possibly be topped – had been topped!

8 years ago I was sitting at the edge of the world on a dark and cloudy day at the Cliffs of Moher, just breathing in all the amazingess of my life (had just spent 8 weeks traveling Western Europe) and I thought, “how could my life ever get better than this?”  Two minutes later, the clouds parted just in time for us to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.  I still look back on that moment as one of the best of my life.

When I sat there and wondered about that moment getting any better, I thought, “no way, not possible, I’m the happiest I’ve ever been, and maybe the happiest anyone anywhere has ever been.”  The Universe had been listening and took that as a challenge.  In lightly sweeping those clouds away, the Universe responded, “You’re not sure if this moment can get better?  Watch this.”

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How can it ever get better than this?? I have no idea but I’m excited to find out!

*I was taught this little trick by the amazing Alexandra Kavanah of AQUAMANTRA

Plain and simple

I’m grateful for it all.

life

Karma is real

Tonight I decided to order delivery for dinner because somedays, you just don’t want to leave the house.

I ordered it from Beautifull in Laurel Heights through Eat24SF.com.  It’s a Saturday night, 7:30pm, so I expected it to take a while.  My email confirmation said 60-90 minutes so I kept on “puzzling,”* as my roommate would say, and only started looking at the time about 60 minutes later.

At about 75 minutes I chatted the online support thing just to be sure (I have been burned and gone to bed hungry once before) and they said  my food would be here in 15 minutes.  Perfect.

Then maybe 5 minutes after that, I get a call from an unknown number and it’s this perky, high-energy fella saying “Hi! This is Aaron with your Beautiful delivery” and proceeds to apologize for the wait and explain they had a bit of an issue with a previous delivery, etc etc etc.  I told him it was no problem at all, thanked him for the phone call, and clued him in on the best way to get here from Masonic.

I had already left a 20% tip on my credit card when I placed the order, but because Aaron took the time to call my cell phone from his cell phone to give me an update on my food (that he was driving to me and would carry straight to my front door!) on what I can imagine had already been a busy and stressful night, I decided I was also going to give him the $6 in cash I had when he got here.

When the buzzer finally rang, I opened my door to a smiling larger guy, completely out of breath (I live on the third floor).  He hands me my food and I hand him the cash, explaining that I’d already tipped them but that because of how awesome he was, I wanted to give him more.  He was speechless and grateful.  So speechless he almost walked away before telling me he put an extra meal in my bag because someone made it by mistake and he thought, “why not?”

“Ah ha!” I said, “see, everything works out for everyone!”

Aaron was considerate and thoughtful, I was patient and appreciative.  And because of that energy loop we created, we both walked away from a potentially negative and upsetting situation with a warm fuzzy feeling that everything was happening just as it should be.**

I’m grateful for my Karma, which just happens to be written on the necklace I’m wearing right now.. which I’m also very grateful for as well.

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*”Puzzling” refers to when you are sitting on the floor of your living room for hours working on an impossible puzzle and enjoying every minute of it.
**k it’s kind of an assumption on my part that he felt that too.. but come on, he probably did.