Grace & Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos into order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. Melody Beattie

On Saturday, I dropped my cell phone into the toilet. The details aren’t important. And I suspect no one is interested in hearing them anyway.

Then I compounded the problem by ignoring the advice I would have given Dan or Molly and kept using the phone, rather than turning it off and sticking it into a bag of rice. Halfway to the Bay Area, my phone turned itself off. And it hasn’t worked since.

Being without a phone these past four days has been an illuminating experience. I realized how often I tune out what’s going on around me to check my email or read Google news. Without my phone, I’ve been more present and engaged in what’s happening around me. I had a conversation with a lively, friendly woman wearing the coolest purple band on her iWatch while she and I were waiting for our coffee at Peet’s. I started to enjoy the feeling of being unreachable while I was in the car and focused my full attention on the podcast I was listening to (Dirty John, as recommended by my friend Steph — it’s fascinating .. and terrifying). And over time, I found that I didn’t rush to my computer to check my email during the day the way I would if my phone were working.

I think I landed in this Zen space because of everything that’s going on in the world right now. Between the hurricanes, fires and horrific conditions in Puerto Rico, somehow that phone in the toilet just wasn’t that important.

These lives of ours are filled with such magic and wonder and moments of grace. Sometimes it’s important to just be still and experience them. It’s a newer, soon to be dear, friend saying “Me, too!”, when I had to confess what I’d done by way of explaining why she couldn’t reach me by cell phone. It’s coffee with a mom who’s also lost a son, sharing her heart and grief with me as we compared notes on what it’s like to belong to this shitty club of ours. It’s taking Buster for a walk at sunset and focusing on the red sky and hordes of deer that live in our neighborhood instead of being distracted by texts.

These are the moments that heal. Nature … connection … furry, four legged friends … other people who share their hearts and want to know how you feel, too.

Right after Jimmy died, there were days when I could hardly breathe. Days when letting my breath out felt too hard and scary. Being without my phone these past few days has helped me to realize that I’m better now. Not back to normal. Not healed. But healing. Finding grace. Connecting. Being present. Feeling grateful for the people I have in my life, the way they hold me up and carry me on the dark days. And the way they say, “me, too” when I stumble.

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