The Thankfulness Project - Part 1

Last October my heart wrote a check my commitment couldn't cash. I started #thankfulnessproject2016 on Facebook, and I barely got started before it fell by the wayside. A few weeks ago I got to thinking about it and looking at my list. 117 posts I didn't get done... Then I looked at how many days left in 2017. 117. I decided it had to be a sign. So, here is the original post:

For the rest of 2016, I will be doing a self-created project here on Facebook.  I'm calling it the Thankfulness Project.  In the last couple of years, I have whittled down my Facebook friends list a lot with the goal of knowing and appreciating everyone I connect with here.  I think about all of you a lot, day to day, and I want to share my favorite memories and the reasons that I'm thankful to have my friends and family in my life.  I'll be posting every day with a new post about someone or someones that I am glad to have in my life.  <3

I'm only a few posts into it, and I am so grateful that I pushed myself to start it again.  Today at work we were talking about how some people are lifters and some people are put-downers.  I am a lifter.  I absolutely love telling people how much they mean to me, and in their reactions I see that as humans, this is something we should absolutely do more.  It's so easy to go through life taking things and people for granted.

So much has changed for me in the past few years, and I have made a huge effort to fill my life with people and activities that add positive value and energy to my life, and to get rid of things (when I can) that add negativity.  I already knew that I was blessed by so many good people in my life, but this project is helping me see just how lucky I am and returning the feeling of love and connection to my life that I let slip to the back of my mind.

It's a huge project and Facebook isn't always easy to navigate, so I want to also share my thoughts here to make it easier to go back and read them and remind myself just how much I have to be grateful for.

October 27, 2016

I spend too much time on Facebook, there is no doubt about that.  I have taken breaks, and even thought about leaving a couple of times, but there are so many more plusses than their are minuses to this online world and the community and connectedness I find here.

I'm thankful for being able to keep in touch with and follow the adventures of old friends.

With Temris R, who I first met as a pretty little kid and have watched grow from afar, and who inspires me with art and with her fantastic relationship with her husband.

With Athena W, who was maybe a bit of a frenemy in high school, but who I am so glad to be in touch with as grown ups now that we can look back on things and whose help in filling out and filing my divorce papers was invaluable.

With Elizabeth D and Annie K, who I met through my sister, and who I have watched grow up and have families along with my sister, and who have been an integral part of her life and peripherally of mine, and who have also led me to friendships with people like David Wilbur and Kathy, and Tori as an adult.

With Jamie G and Teri EK, who I went to high school with and now have reconnected with, and who only contribute to the feeling and wonder of having good and beautifl people in my life.

With Jess N, who I will never forget maybe having a little bit of a crush on at some point in high school (best friend's brother crushes are unavoidable), but also remember at other times despising in commiseration with my friend.  Memories of RX7s and Suburbans, and screwdrivers the night before his first wedding (still can't drink them to this day), who has wound up with a lovely family, and who I'm happy to connect with even if we don't see eye to eye all the time.

How can I not be thankful for Facebook when this is one of the paths it takes me down?

October 27, 2016

I met Tom Patterson at Lake Forrest Park Presbyterian Church. The first time I went there was when Lorelai was baptized, so I suppose that was the first time I saw him.  I attended church with Brooke and David off and on through the years, and was immediately put at ease and able to really connect with the sermons that Tom gave, in a way I hadn't at any other church I'd attended.

After we had Sam, we wanted to join a church and give him the chance to have some background.  When we started attending new member classes at LFPPC, I thought I would just learn about the church some and that Justin would be the one to join.  I have written before about my experience in the class, and how things clicked, leading to my baptism on a cold September day.  I don't think any of these things would have happened without Tom.

It has been quite a while since I saw him, we had coffee after he had moved on from LFPPC and started his coaching business.  But, we are still friends on Facebook, and I have enjoyed watching as he has gone on to the next adventures - including his business and becoming a grandparent!

Anyone who has Tom in their life in some capacity knows that he is kind, compassionate, accepting, welcoming, supportive, and funny.  A great guy all around, and one who managed to work an Alias reference into his sermon on at least one occasion.  I'm so thankful to have had him in my life, as part of a time that was important in shaping the person I am today.

November 7, 2016

I first met Jillian N through the Bellingham Moms Meetup Group when we moved back to Bellingham from Seattle.  It was a hard transition for me.  I moved away from my friends and it was the beginning of me becoming more isolated and less supported.  In the Moms group, I found a few friends that I felt I connected with.  Only a couple of them are people I still consider friends, and Jillian is one of them.

Jillian is a smart, strong, and sensical woman.  I know that might seem like a strange compliment, but there is so much nonsense in this world all the time, and sometimes Jillian is like the voice of reason.  She is unapologetically herself, which I find refreshing and inspiring, because that's not always an easy place to get to.  She's been there for me through some really, really hard times and given me a kind of support that was both helpful and empowering.

I have a goal of surrounding myself with good people, people who make the world a better and more positive place.  A lot of people who will be part of this project are strong women, the kind of people that make my life better by being in it, and Jillian is definitely on this list.  I'm so glad to call her my friend.

November 7, 2016

You know how sometimes you meet someone, and their spirit is just so big and warm that you feel immediately at ease and kind of loved even though they're sort of a stranger?  Pascale  is that person.  Her favorite color is pink, and she IS pink - bright, cheerful, lovely, warm and full of joy that she is generous with sending to you in the form of a smile or a hug.  We can talk about our hearts or the things we do for fun with equal ease, or commiserate over glittery manicures and sparkly eye shadow.  She's the kind of friend you could go months without seeing, but when you see them again, there is a close comfort that you'd swear had been there all along.  She is lovely, and I am so lucky and thankful to call her a friend.

November 7, 2016
To:  Kari, Becky G, Jamie C, Tommysole, Ty, Nate, Zev N, Heather E, Daniel, Courtney S, Naomi P, Elwood, Phil T, Ian L & Dana P, Jolyne, Jonathan LR, Stephanie O, Phoebe, Nicole C, Destiny L, Annette T, Autumn M, & Forrest

My life has changed a lot in the last few years, and with that has come something wonderful and amazing in the form of a community that I really connect with.  It can be hard to find your place or your people in life, and I spent 6 or 7 years after moving back to Bellingham sort of wandering confusedly wondering if I would ever feel at home - not in the physical sense, but in connecting with people.

I'm home now.  Some of these people have become close friends, and others I am still just getting to know, but am beyond happy to have in my life.  In these people I see qualities like beauty, kindness, acceptance, self-love, strength, compassion, connectedness, support of my community and city, vulnerability, beautiful beautiful art, geekiness, thoughtfulness, and probably 100 other things I am forgetting.  They are teachers, mothers, business owners, writers, artists, activists and more.  They provoke thoughts, feelings, and ideas in me that I wouldn't be the same without.  Some of these people I know better than others, but I am thankful to know each and every one.

September 5, 2017

 I don't remember the day I met Rachele Davison. I imagine that we had some sort of instant bond the way only two fourth graders with the same name and last initial can. We commiserated about how much we disliked our 4th grade teacher, performed in school plays together, talked about boys we had our first crushes on, and had our own little troop within a troop in Girl Scouts. We had sleepovers upon sleepovers and ran around outside. One time we filled a punch balloon with water and carried it around in my mom's giant soup pot. We went to Girl Scout camp together and navigated the 5th
grade together.  We even had our own song. It was Rhythm of My Heart by Rod Stewart. Shut up. We were 10.

Its really hard for me to believe that we only shared a school for 2 years. But after 5th grade I moved to Washington. We were pen pals and I have boxes full of letters we wrote to each other. Rachele even flew to Washington the summer after we moved for a visit and it was like no time had passed.

After that, we lost touch for a while. But then, something magical happened. Facebook. We reconnected. We found that we both have almost the same tatttoo (trinity knots in different colors) and that she named her first daughter Abigail, which is the name I'd picked out for if I had a daughter.  Two years ago, Rachele's plans for spring break fell through and on impulse, she said "I should come to Washington." I replied, "buy a ticket!"

So she did. The first few hours were odd, but then we clicked and had an amazing few days together and it was so cool to think that when we were kids and signed all our notes YTFA (yours truly, friendship always) that we could really make that happen.  I am so thankful to have Rachele in my life and that we have been able to stay friends. I hope next time I will get to go back to Michigan and see all the places we used to run around in as kids. Rachele and I have both been through some shit. And we have made it. And we are here. And that is something amazing.

❤ you, Da.

September 7, 2017

Today I am thankful for my friend Erik!  It happens to be his birthday today, so I figured that it would be a good time to embarrass him with some sentiment.  Erik came into my life a couple of years ago as a pair with Kate. You know how sometimes you meet people and it is only about 5 minutes before you can't imagine your life without them?  That.  Erik is one of the smartest people I know and uses words the way a painter uses color to create vivid and breathtaking vistas, while still managing to incorporate sarcasm, bawdiness, and wit.  It is one of my favorite things.  Erik is a pretty quiet addition to my life, but sometimes that's a welcome break from the day to day hullabaloo.  I'm so glad that he is a part of my life.

September 11, 2017

Today seems like an appropriate day to express thanks for Allison.  See, this week, Allison is moving back to California after decades in Washington.  I have known Allison since I was 11ish years old, so to me, it kind of feels like she has just always been there.  I have known her in different capacities through the years, she has been a friend of the family, and when Danny was little he went to her child care center.  I can’t tell you how much easier it made it for me to go back to work knowing that Danny was with someone loving and caring who I trusted.  It was still hard, but I didn’t have to worry.

The best thing I think Allison has been to me, though, is my Mom’s best friend.  I know that might seem strange, but the thing is that my Mom is one of my favorite people who exists, and so Allison’s support and love and friendship with my Mom means a lot to me in some weird peripheral way.

Allison has been someone in my life who is strong, she has been a woman who is not afraid to speak her mind or be herself, and even though I haven’t spent that much time with her, I know that being around her and hearing her ideas and watching her work with the babies and kids at her child care center made me a better parent.  I got a little bit emotional when I went to pick up some furniture from her house on Saturday.  I can’t imagine being in a house for decades and whittling everything down to an RV worth of possessions.  Even though I don’t see her that often, it will be weird to know that she isn’t here anymore and is a couple of states away.

Tonight we will have dinner, and then we will wish her safe travels.  We will celebrate new chapters, because no matter how hard we try, the pages never stop turning.  I will always be thankful that Allison has been a part of my life, and I hope I will get to see her again in not too long and hear about her adventures in RVs, road trips, and returning home.

September 12, 2017
To: Sam P, Crystal, Rachel, Annette P, Becky C, Gretchen, Samara, Rachel L, Laura T, Nikki, Pan, Tami, Hayley, & Tiffany G

One of my goals in the last 3-4 years has been to focus my energy on keeping things in my life that add positive value.  The idea isn’t that everything should be all rainbows and glitter all the time (though, let’s be honest, it SHOULD), but that the people and things I spend my time doing should overall be adding positive value.  If I invest my energy into the world in ways that are positive, I can work to make sure that I’m not adding stress or negativity to my life that doesn’t need to be there.

One of the greatest things that has come from this intention is that I’ve made some amazing friends, and found some amazing spaces where I can connect with people who have amazing energy and who I absolutely love having in my life.  Today I’m feeling particularly thankful for some of the women who I have gotten to know in this time.

Looking at their names, I see inspiration, beauty, authenticity, fierceness, open-heartedness, a willingness to be vulnerable, and an incredible amount of strength.  I see women who follow their dreams, artists and makers, supportive, kind, and empowering.  I see magic and camaraderie.  These ladies inspire me, they help me feel not only normal, but sometimes extraordinary.  I couldn’t be happier to call each and every one of them my friends.  Thank you for being a part of my life.

September 13, 2017

Any of our mutual friends will understand that when I say that Tiffany Burke is a shining light in the world, I am not exaggerating or being hyperbolic.  There is a spirit and aura about her that is pure light.  No one is perfect, but out of everyone I know I think Tiffany is one of the people who adds beauty and positivity to this world every single day.  She sees the silver linings in everything, even when life has handed her the most enormous lemons, she’s able to make herself some lemonade, and she’ll probably make some to share with you, too.

Not only does Tiffany create beautiful photographs in her work, she empowers people.  I have had the privilege of having two boudoir sessions with Tiffany and wrote a little bit about what the first one mean to me here.  The thing about Tiffany is that she believes that there is good and beauty in every person, and that is something that I think is incredibly important.  I look at everything she does, from preserving people’s most special moments, to the way she parents her children, to carrying her brother’s twins as a surrogate, to opening a community art studio and transforming her annual coat drive into a full-on shopping experience for people who can’t afford coats, and I see innovation, creativity, and underlying it all, a person who is good and kind and who believes that we all deserve a hand.

I first met Tiffany under sad circumstances.  She had volunteered to photograph the funeral of a young boy from our neighborhood who died a tragic accidental death several years ago.  I was acting as a ‘second shooter’ of sorts, and the moment I met her I wanted to be friends.  I feel so absolutely lucky that when I sent Tiffany and Melissa an email after that day saying that I would love to hang out sometime, neither of them thought I was a complete spaz, and I have remained friends with both of them.  I’m thankful to have Tiffany’s light and energy and enormous, silly, open, caring, lovely heart in my life.

Thankfulness Project - Part 2