You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘counting your blessings’ tag.

purple flowers in tilt shift lensThe lockdown due to COVID-19 has changed our lives and caused hardship, but it’s also a chance to take stock of the blessings we all take for granted:

  • A steady supply of food and water (so you can make meals, eat too much, try to exercise it off and, finally, re-hydrate).
  • Paper products for the posterior (like those inexplicably sold by a family of bears on television).
  • The ability to travel wherever you’d like at any given moment (to spend money in foolhardy ways, then wonder why you’re always broke).
  • Being able to get together with friends who just “get” you (so you can split a piece of cake three ways, thus draining all the calories out of it).
  • Interactions with humans (just the pleasant ones. The unpleasant ones, not so much. Feh.).
  • Information (from reliable sources who help us live healthier and happier lives. Not from ones promoting dangerous misinformation).
  • Income (if you work and are currently on furlough), so that you have enough Outgo (the monetary opposite of income) to pay the bills.

For me, this time in our history is about remembering that all of humanity is connected. The virus is passed from one human to another, but so is compassion. People are healing each other by treating them in hospitals, volunteering to deliver groceries to those who can’t leave home, and by the kind gestures being shared online to keep us all in good spirits.

Just as you “suit up” to go to the grocery store — mask, gloves, sanitizer in hand — remember to keep that same kind of armor around your psyche. Focus on what you can do, stay positive, and leave the rest in God’s hands. 

Kind people, I don’t wish you hardships. If anything, I wish you only softships. Luxury liners, even! 🚢 And, on the road of life, if you stumble here and there, I hope you’ll always have a soft place to land.

But you know as well as I do that hardships are life lessons. It really is where the rubber meets the road. Your “wherewithal escrow” increases during those times you have to take the long way and come up with creative solutions.

“Discontent is the first necessity of progress.” This nugget of wisdom was on a strip of paper inside a fortune cookie.🥠 When you realize a situation isn’t working, that’s the nudge from your soul to make changes.

The opposite of “hardship” isn’t life on Easy Street. It’s purpose. Community. Working toward a goal. Self-acceptance. Contentment. Kindred spirits. Partnering with Providence.

It’d be great to be able to get ahead of the bills, but you and I both know that if we got more money, we’d spend more money 💰 and we’d just end up with new bills.

All right, so you don’t own a yacht. If you’re lucky enough to have a roof over your head, food on the table and loved ones in your life, you could just fill up your bathtub with water, put a rubber ducky 🦆 in it and call it your houseboat. If you have a place to call home 🏡 and hope for the future, you know as well as I do, you’re truly blessed indeed.

I just read a biography of Buddha, who’d been born a prince and lived a life of luxury, then gave it up. He came to believe Nirvana would be achieved by eliminating all desire.

I think the key to enlightenment is to stay in the Heaven in your head all the time instead of expecting some event, thing or person to complete you so you’ll feel worthy. Waiting for some momentous change may make us forget that there are blessings all around us, every day.

In a previous post, I wrote of how I was reminded during a power outage of all the daily gifts God sends to me. Love letters such as lights that turn on with the flick of a switch. Hot and cold running water. Toilets, faucets, gas burners. A little laundromat in my own basement.

Right there, in the dark, in the cold, I got into a warm fuzzy space in my own soul and I find that I can get there again, every time I read this line:  This was a gift to me today. A reminder to appreciate the power, all the way up to the power source.

The light-bulb moment comes when you accept that you’re blessed. You remember you’re remembered. You’re not forgotten. God loves you enough to send countless provisions your way every single day.

My moment of enlightenment came when the lights went out. I didn’t need the heat to work at that moment. I literally felt warmed up. I hadn’t felt like that when all of the systems in my life were percolating on as usual. It took a moment in which God blinked to remind me he’s always got his eye on me. That interruption in my life’s regular programming reminded me never to take grace for granted.

The quintessential prayer called “the Hail Mary” goes like this: “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death, amen.” But you probably already knew that. What you maybe didn’t know — what I didn’t know until recently, even though I’ve prayed that prayer about a million times in my life (lots of rosaries…lots and lots of rosaries) — is that it doesn’t really start out the way you think it does.

The words in the first half of the prayer come directly from the New Testament, from Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, who greets Mary when Mary comes to visit her. Both are pregnant. In fact, Elizabeth’s baby (known in future as John the Baptist) “leaps in her womb” when Elizabeth catches sight of Mary. It’s all very sweet. As it’s a greeting, it’s natural to assume that by “hail,” Elizabeth means, “hello” — a sort of “hey there, girl! You are marvelous!” But guess what? “Hail” doesn’t mean that.

In this sense, “hail” means “rejoice”: As in, “You are marvelous! Smile! Be glad!” Certainly, Mary had much to rejoice about: She was carrying the savior of the world in her womb. On the other hand…she was an unmarried teenager who was widely thought to have cheated on her fiancée and gotten knocked up. So…not so much. What did it mean to her to have her cousin greet her this way?

And what would it mean if we greeted each other that way? “Rejoice, co-worker!” “Rejoice, postal carrier!” Such a greeting would garner some odd looks, to be sure. But wouldn’t it also serve as a nice reminder that, despite our burdens, we all have something to rejoice about?

Maybe that something is just the fact that we have a new day in front of us, ripe with possibilities. Or maybe we should rejoice because, well, here we are, in a great country, with a job, with a family, with whatever it is we have. And we all have something. Even when the world feels as if it’s turned against us, even when we are at our most bereft, we have the love of God. A God that does not, by the way, have to love us, but does so anyway. Hailing each other in this way would serve as a nice knock in the teeth to remember our blessings…things we so often classify as simply what is due us, and not so very special after all.

So my word of wisdom to you today is “hail.” Hail, dear readers. Rejoice in whatever it is that makes you you. Because you are marvelous, to God and to me.



Last weekend, my family and I hiked at Lake Wappapello. Photo by my husband, Dan Edwards.

Last week, Ruth wrote a post about being able to count a good cup of coffee as a blessing. She discussed how we need to be able to locate these gifts even in difficult times.

I have to admit that this isn’t easy for me, especially when I am super busy. You know what I mean. This weekend we had family over for lunch, pulled up carpet, tore out tile and got ready to sand floors. Tuesday, if not also Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, I have jury duty. But I also have work deadlines on the 15th and 28th of the month. Blessings? Maybe I can work in a few but it won’t be for days and days. I’m just too busy.

At times like this, in order to spot my blessings, I need to do something meditative. Note: I do not say meditate. I have monkey mind. It’s a Buddhist term for a frantically active mind. Maybe its my tendency to be Type A, but I don’t think I have monkey mind so much as screaming band of monkeys mind. My brain is far too busy to be only one monkey. Because of this, I find meditation difficult if not impossible.

This means that I do things I find meditative. I have to have some kind of fairly mindless activity to distract my brain while I relax. When I have the chance, I walk the local labyrinth. Depending on the season, I pull weeds or shovel snow. Knitting also works for me. When my family is with me, I like to walk outside, through a natural area.

When I take time to do these kinds of activities, my frantic little brain can expend a certain amount of energy on what I’m doing. But it also mellows out enough that I can take the time to look around.

Like Ruth, I notice the little things. A rich cup of coffee. A decadent piece of chocolate. A song that stirs my soul. Or just the pleasure of getting to be, for an undetermined amount of time, while I do something that let’s me lose myself in a simple task.

Speaking of which, over this horde of screeching monkeys, I can just barely hear a skein of purple wool calling my name. And beside it sits a cup of coffee.


This is a really good cup of coffee, I thought, slightly surprised.

Thank You.

I looked around.  Drinking in the day with the java.

My son and his friends were still sleeping, and I decided not to insist on them waking up early as planned so we could go out for breakfast.  The diner serves breakfast all day, I reminded myself.

It’s summer. Let them be kids.

This is a really good day, I thought.

Thank You.

I forgot what that was like.  A really good day that is. Not that I haven’t had good days; lately my focus has been so much on the pile of stuff in front of me that I forgot there are always things going well.  I just may not be attuned to that channel.

I’ve put my mind on the channel that only runs “Extreme Disasters” and “When Things go Horribly Wrong and Somebody’s  Got a Camera Phone Handy” so I tend to forget that always running at the same time are shows like “Touched by an Angel” and “Highway to Heaven.”

Here’s a Bible verse that gave me comfort today.

This is the day that the Lord has made.

We will rejoice and be glad in it.

This is such a well-known verse, it almost seems trite, but it was really speaking to me.

It’s like this.  Even on a day that there’s a hurricane churning through the Southern states – or the equivalent emotional storms in your life – it’s possible to sit in stillness and have a moment of repose.

Let yourself be in the “okay” times if things are okay.  Don’t remind yourself that things haven’t been going well in general.  Let this specific “not-so-bad” moment be not-so-bad.  It might even veer into being… good.  Really good.

Wow.  That was a lot to drink in.  And my coffee’s still hot.

Weren’t there muffins?

These seem like such small things, but somehow it was all adding up to feeling warm, blessed and hopeful.

That was some really deep wisdom, I thought.

Thank You.

At the doctor’s office the other day, I began chatting with a nice older lady named Mary.  She and I were the only two women in the waiting room wearing sensible shoes and carrying jigunda purses (some of us still say “handbags,” dearie.)  On the way out of the office afterwards, I saw Mary sitting by the door waiting for a service for seniors called “Dial-a-Ride” to pick her up.

“I could cancel it…” Mary said, as if to say she wanted me to give her a ride.  “Of course,” I said, although as a rule in New Jersey, we don’t offer strangers a ride.  It was raining and she needed a hand to get down the steps and into my car, so I held onto her arm and covered her with my hinky umbrella with the spoke sticking out.  We drove down the road for a while and she told me about her kids and grandkids, her friends and her church.

“Turn here!” Mary exclaimed at one point, only to realize it wasn’t her street.  “Oh, that’s not it.  I’m sorry.  Keep going.”  We took the “scenic route,” turning down one wrong street after another.  It was no problem, I told her.  I was in no hurry.

We finally arrived at her senior apartment complex and I gave Mary my card so she could call me if she ever needed a ride again.  I let her keep my hinky umbrella since she didn’t have one, and you would have thought I was handing her the Hope Diamond.  “This is so kind of you,” she said.  “Thank you so much.”

After I dropped off my new friend, I stopped at the supermarket. Shoppers milled about in the store’s bakery, and I wondered if they knew how blessed they were.  To be able to linger.  Savor.  Impulse shop.

I roamed the aisles, thinking about how quaint it was that Mary had dressed up for the doctor in her nice slacks and Sunday coat and how these small gestures of respect are often unnoticed. I thought about how little it really takes to make someone’s day.

I thought about the grace I’ve always taken for granted and the people in my life. And I thought about how blessed I’d been to help out a stranger and in the process, receive a reminder to count my blessings by name.  And that’s just what I did all the way home.


Have a Mary Little Christmas

%d bloggers like this: