A Moment on Appreciation

You will notice I did not title this “A Moment FOR Appreciation”.  No, this is about appreciation itself. Because I believe we do not, generally speaking, appreciate enough.

We don’t appreciate the things, the experiences, the tastes and textures which all enrich our lives.  And for sure we don’t appreciate the people in our lives – certainly not as we should, on a regular, warm, expressed basis.

I bring this up because I stuck another note in my (sort of) daily appreciation jar this morning – two days late – about the platform Jeff built for me, for the front-loading washer and dryer.  He bought a couple of sheets of plywood, scrounged around the workshop for still more leftovers from his dad, put in a few hours, and ta-da… the machines are up off the floor and doing laundry is just that much easier. I mean, I giggled pulling clothes and towels in and out of the machines, that’s how much easier it was.

I appreciate the time and love that went into building the platform and how such a simple thing has made one of my chores almost fun to do.  And I have told Jeff so.

But I haven’t always told him how much appreciate the little things he does.  The big things, yes, always, but the  little things? Not so much.  For example, he always brings me coffee in the morning.  Wherever I’m standing, trying to break through the haze of the first of the day, there’s coffee in hand. And he’s the one who remembers to put the winter-time washer fluid in the car.  And he’s always there to help me put on my left boot.  (Yes, just the left boot. The right one slips right on but apparently I have a vastly different left than right foot.  Sigh.)  I appreciate all those things and more, and I’m making an effort to keep the memory of them alive in my jar.

So what else do I appreciate and need to express?

I appreciate the family I married and the family into which I was born.  They’re quite different from each other in many ways but there are essentials which are alike.  They are fierce in their love for each other, quick to point out the others’ flaws but willing to live with them, keen to spend what precious time can be carved out of busy individual lives for a few hours’ family companionship. I must tell them all, tell them each, I appreciate their love, time and support.

Just a few days ago I was reminded of why I appreciate my sister-in-law Karen who makes her own greeting cards for all occasions and skews them for the recipients.  Our Valentine’s card had symbols of Paris on it because she knows I’m stalking Paris.  I must tell her I appreciate that thoughtfulness.

I appreciate my writers’ group because they are helping me keep my nose to the grindstone, more than they might think, although perhaps not as much as it should be kept.  They’re smart, funny, good writers, and I appreciate their support, their critiques, their writing and their friendship.  I must tell them that.

I appreciate my Facebook friends.  Of course, I appreciate all my friendships, but when one is far from home, or where home used to be, and far from many of the circles of friends made over the years, having Facebook as another way – a quick, witty, silly way – to keep the friendships warm, that must be appreciated.

One of my friends – on fb but also in real life – posted something the other day that made me feel just so much… warmth.  We had worked together briefly, gotten to know each other fairly well in just a few months, and when I left our place of employment, I wasn’t sure that anything I had done there would be remembered well.  He told me at least one thing was, so now I need to tell him I appreciate that remembrance.

I appreciate the kindness of strangers.  I was leaving the library last Tuesday night and felt a back cramp start.  I bent over, holding on to a tiny tree in the tiny front plaza of the building and this kind man stopped and asked me if I was alright.  I told him I had gotten up from two hours sitting at a desk and moved too quickly out into the cold without doing any stretching and my back was reminding me it wasn’t as young as once we were, but I was fine.  He asked again, just to be sure, and then went on.  I should have told him I appreciated his stopping to ask; I will next time a stranger is kind.

On a physical level, I appreciate the smell of fresh spring flowers, especially lilacs, because they are smell of renewal; I appreciate the bittersweet taste of a really fine dark chocolate for the pure pleasure it offers; I appreciate the sparky bubbles of an ice cold champagne for delight of tickles in my nose; I appreciate the infinite soft warmth of a mohair blanket on my naked toes; I appreciate the beauty and skill in the painting hanging in my house (and try not to envy the artists’ talent) because they enrich me every time I stop to really see them; I appreciate hearing Jeff practise violin because it gives him pleasure and makes me feel “homey” inside; I appreciate the memories of past loves because they helped me become who I am at heart.

hearts

 

I think my Appreciation Jar will fill up faster now.  And I can appreciate that, too.

 

 

 

 

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Chocolates Half Price Tomorrow!

I was going to write something profound about love and commitment, about sharing and intimacy, about the joy that is being with your soulmate not just on Valentine’s Day, but every day of the year. Then Jeff walked through the room, exclaiming “The cat puked again!”

Romance ain’t what it was once, eh?

Actually, I don’t think romance was EVER what we think it once was, even when we and our love were young. For Jeff & I personally, pre-marriage romance came in 16 days over 5 years with endless letters and occasional, very expensive (this was back in the days of telephone regulation), long-distance phone calls. Post marriage romance is a little more complicated, starting with a blissful first year of being married.

Okay, I’m exaggerating. It wasn’t completely blissful. For one thing, I discovered this man I hardly knew squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle. In the middle! And when he walks through or into a room, he has to turn on the overhead light, and then leaves it on, even when he’s done. I hate overhead lights. Hate them. Hasn’t stopped him from turning on and leaving on every overhead light in our house(s) for years and years and years… wait, wasn’t this about bliss?

Yeah, backing up a bit, I did discover some terrific things in that first year. Jeff can fix anything! And even the stuff he can’t fix, he tries to. It’s so cute, and useful. And he makes great waffles. And he taught me how to drive a standard shift without wanting to leave me on the side of the road or divorce me. And he smells good first thing in the morning. These are all blissful things to learn or share in the first year of marriage. And in year two, he went away for 13 months.

Really. In 13 months, he was home for 28 days. We did see each other a little more than that. We finally had a delayed honeymoon (Rome, Naples, Munich & Venice… sounds like we were indulging in an Axis travelogue, doesn’t it?) and a family emergency brought him home for a few more days, but still… only 28 days in your own bed, with your own wife, in 13 months. That’s a long time.

I don’t remember much of year 3, other than the motorcycle he didn’t keep, and then we moved, again. And again. And again. Which means making new friends while trying to keep old ones, which means finding new places to live, which means finding new jobs (for me – his was always there, that’s why we moved), which means starting from scratch. And that’s also hard, and less than blissful.

We don’t have children of our own, although we seem to have collected a lot of kids along the way whom we have loved and cherished as if they were ours. One hears & reads a lot of stuff about kids and how they may or may not keep couples close, and I just don’t know. Jeff & I definitely have different approaches to child rearing, and I suspect that there would have been many, many bliss-less moments in heated arguments lively debates about which tactic was the better one. However, being a host parent or a house parent, or even a doting aunt & uncle, only gives one so much perspective. The best I can say is that for us, not having children as we stroll, or stumble, through middle-age, means we are much more reliant on ourselves, and to a lesser extent on our friends (not to mention the grey cat), for the bliss we still seek.

So as we celebrate Valentine’s Day, writing on our computers, sorting through receipts for the visit to the tax preparer, listening to the melting snow fill the cistern, having the grey cat keep us company as we enjoy a little Strauss on the radio, we would certainly still welcome bliss. But we cherish what we have, which is contented companionability, the gift of laughter, and half-price chocolates tomorrow.