Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Holiday Casserole

Hey there, friends! Long time no blog. You may be wondering how we're doing since I've been so uncharacteristically e-silent (surely it's a word) these last few weeks.

I don't know what's come over me, but I've just felt so damned PEACEFUL lately. Sort of mildly anesthetized with happiness. I feel all this goodwill towards others-- why? I frequently find myself striking up unnecessary conversations with strangers in stores (I feel like I've actually found some unexpected friends this way-- I can still recount all the conversations). I feel extra generous. I've been rounding up when I tip. Even tipping people who don't necessarily need to get tipped, like mumbling take-out clerks who won't make eye contact with me. Smiling maybe a bit too earnestly at strangers I pass on grimy Rainier Avenue South, even if they seem scowl-y. (Ok, especially if they seem scowl-y, because, CHEER UP, PEOPLE.) Asking folks with less groceries to go in front of me. And I've been "slowing it down" more than I used to. I've stopped my car off the winding, 2-lane highways to show my kids the clouds lingering thickly over the mountains, or the way frost is now settling over the field. (Please don't groan. I really did. And it was really cool for all three of us.) We personify the goats and horses as we pass their paddocks on our way to town. We've got them all named and have developed their personalities and voices. I've felt extra patient, wide-eyed and curious, quietly calm and content. The Eagles would call it a "Peaceful Easy Feeling". I'm not sure what Menudo would call it.

We've been filling our days with all the characteristic happenings of November and December: turkey-eating, Xmas tree cutting/decorating, shopping, Nutcracker-ing. Dressing the kids up in holiday jammies. It's all seemed like a joy to me this year. Not a big production, just an easy, happy time. I'm serious. I don't quite understand it.

I'm not trying to paint some hunky-dory (I had to use that term, I've always hated its clunky, hyphenated weirdness) portrait of my life, I'm just reporting it as feels. Today it occurred to me, you know, Shelly, this is really such a tremendous GIFT you've got going on here. OKAY, OKAY, I KNOW, I've also some serious lumps of coal in my life's "stocking" (wince. the writing!) these days, but let's forget that for now. And we're not ignoring it, but it's just not as INTERESTING or valuable as the recognition that true happiness is a gift. That phrase I just used, "true happiness is a gift", sounds so played-out, almost trite, in its simplicity. But really, consider it. I know I am dealing with cancer. That's NOT a gift. That's a slab of shit casserole served cold and raw on my plate. But the ability to feel truly happy IS a gift. I am SO LUCKY to have cultivated it. I've got so many friends dealing with various unhappinesses now (health crises, relationship struggles, career dissatisfaction, family issues, loneliness, low self-esteem, regret, fear, etc.), and I really feel for them, just as they probably feel for me dealing with all this crappy chemo and cancer. I wish I had their health--I hope they appreciate THAT. But I'm so deeply appreciative for my peaceful state-of-mind and my overall "happiness". It's got to be helping me in this stupid "fight". Imagine me using my fingers to punctuate all those quotation marks I just heaped on you.

I guess we all have our shit casseroles AND our gifts. What a holiday table that makes. The trick is to appreciate the good things you have going for you, of recognizing a gift when it arrives, however it's wrapped. If you can do that, THAT'S a gift.

It's even better than a Chia Head.


  1. amen, shel. amen. (& that's all she has to say, that religious fanatic! ;))

  2. Sorry, Shelly

    Nothing is better than a Chia Head. Nothing.

    Oh, ok. Holiday tables maybe...

  3. You're brilliant. Merry X-mas and I'm glad to hear you're doing well.