I’ve written and rewritten the top to this post, and planned and shelved the actual posting of it. It’s felt wrong to post lists of good things when such horrible things keep happening – when, in the words of Jimmy Kimmel, it seems like a window to hell has been opened.
But then I remember that it’s in these times that we need to look for the good. We need to be reminded that even amid horror and hate and heartbreaking sadness, good things do happen every day. They’ve felt a little hidden at times in this last year that I’ve been away from these posts, but the more I look for the things that make me smile, the more I find them.
And so, as the first notes of Tom Petty’s “American Girl” ring in my ears, I give you what I’ve loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately.
(Full disclosure: Some of the items on this list may be old news to you, but I still think they’re worth counting.)
Things I’ve loved lately:
- The Hamilton soundtrack. Yes, I may have been one of the last people on Earth to catch on to the wonder of Hamilton. I’ve caught up this year, endlessly streaming the soundtrack, watching and rewatching the PBS documentary, scrolling through #ham4all social media posts – and starting to plan my trip to see the show. What’s your favorite song? “Dear Theodosia” has felt particularly resonant to me lately.
- I Mom So Hard. There’s so much truth in these moms’ videos, and I laughed so hard at their live show that I cried. Any of their episodes is an instant 5-minute mood brightener.
- Pret a Manger’s spiced pumpkin latte. You didn’t actually think I’d get through a whole October post without mentioning pumpkin, did you? I treated myself to my annual Starbucks PSL on Teddy’s birthday, but I grimaced at the price tag and even I had to acknowledge that the taste is a little…lacking. Enter the Pret SPL: more pumpkin, less $$$. Now if fall would just get here and stick around so I don’t have to sweat my way through my coffee, that’d be great.
Things I’ve learned:
- What will happen when Queen Elizabeth dies. This exhaustive piece from The Guardian goes into great detail of “London Bridge,” the plan for the days after QEII’s death. On the one hand, it’s kind of creepy. On the other, it’s fascinating. “It will be 10 days of sorrow and spectacle in which, rather like the dazzling mirror of the monarchy itself, we will revel in who we were and avoid the question of what we have become.”
- How to support your favorite authors. Are you on Goodreads? Did you know that you can help an author just by shelving their book? (It gets them greater visibility as other people search for books with similar titles, genres, etc.) I learned this and six other tips for supporting writers you love – apart from buying their books – from my favorite book blogger and podcaster, Anne Bogel (of the Modern Mrs. Darcy blog and What Should I Read Next? podcast).
- Stephen King’s writing lessons. Last winter, I finally read Stephen King’s On Writing, and I understood why so many writers say it’s an indispensable part of their bookshelf. His story of selling Carrie is striking: it came after lots of rejection, when he and his wife had so little money that they were living in a trailer without a phone. The publisher sent a telegram to tell him he’d sold his book. On Writing is part memoir, part writing lesson. He expanded on those lessons in this Q&A with Jess Lahey. Good stuff.
Things I’ve been grateful for:
- Read Something, Anything Book Club. We started a book club based on the premise of, “let’s get real, a bunch of moms probably aren’t all going to read the same book every month.” Hence, the read, something – anything – name. Some months we all bring different books to discuss. Others, most of us are lucky to have glanced at headlines. But the club has given me renewed incentive to find some new books, and my favorite read of the year (The Boston Girl) came on the club’s recommendation.
- Good health, and good work on health care policy. As I approach my 10th (!) cancerversary, I’ve been reminded often that I was healthy, until I wasn’t. Much of this year has been dominated by health – Teddy’s, on a micro level, and on a more macro/work level, a seemingly never-ending battle to save the Affordable Care Act. I’ve shed a lot of tears on both accounts, out of frustration and exhaustion and fear. I’m so grateful that Teddy’s healthy, and that we’ve been able – at least so far – to stave off efforts to repeal the ACA. (On a related note, there are so, so many allies in the health care fight to be thankful for, but chief among them are the Little Lobbyists – families with medically complex kids who helped policymakers and the public understand the very real risks to cutting health care funding and rolling back important protections.)
- The Calm app. I don’t think I’m alone in saying that this year has been a tough one. Not all of my coping mechanisms have been the healthiest, but I am thankful that one of my friends nudged me to buy the paid version of the Calm meditation app. I use it most nights to fall asleep, Teddy and Katie love its kids’ sleep stories, and during the worst of health care this summer, I did a 3- or 5-minute meditation before I dove into work. I may or may not have also used its “emergency calm” meditations a few times in there, too.
What have you loved, learned, and felt grateful for lately?