Gratitude: A Years Journey

Month 1-

March 27, 2017: 20 years ago, more or less, to this day, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This is the start of my year long journey in gratitude to celebrate the gifts of time, love and beauty in my life. Stay tuned and we’ll see where it leads! Today I was so grateful that my dear friends surgery went well, that I had the joy of practicing yoga with Krystle the magical yogini, my morning walk took me to the Pacific ocean, and that I live here…in the path of beauty:

March 27, 2017: Carmel-by-the-Sea

March 28, 2017: This morning started with gratitude for the deliciousness of tea, which my partner brings to me in bed most mornings. And the brilliance of putting quotes on each tea bag…where would we be without tea bag wisdom! I especially liked this one which reminded me of a thought I had recently while walking in my beautiful town in the forest (see previous day). That thought being that all the walls and differences that we put up, and stand by steadfastly, to convince ourselves that we are better, worse or so different from the next guy, are so made up. Just the fact that we share this planet together at this moment in time, in the scheme of the universe and history, gives us a shared experience and should make us one. It doesn’t, but “we are more alike my friends, than we are un-alike”. Let’s be one…for sharing the planet earth with all of you, I am truly grateful!

March 28, 2017: Martin Road, Carmel

March 29, 2017: Today, I am filled with gratitude for Wisteria. Flowers in general, and all of nature, but especially wisteria and it gorgeous, fragrant, sensual big purple flowers that burst open as an early sign of spring. They are everywhere today, draped over fences, hanging from trellises and climbing up anything they can entwine in their sweet luciousness. Mother nature is out in all her glory today, but we also saw the dark side of her power yesterday. There was a horrific tragedy on our shores, and my heart aches for the family it affected. Our community mourns their loss. It also reminds me how grateful I am that I was fortunate to raise my two precious children in safety, despite a close call or two. So please, dear friends, respect the ocean and all of nature…so much power in all that beauty.

March 29, 2017: Atherton Road, Carmel

March 30, 2017: This morning began with a text from my daughter including a pic and this caption, “Us same age, think we look alike?”. The gratitude flooded in, for my beautiful, sweet, brilliant girl (and my son, but more about him another day), who can spark joy in my heart with a single sentence. And then I realized how grateful I am for the wisdom of perspective that’s a silver lining in the process of aging. Looking back at the two beautiful twenty somethings (see pic below), I remembered that at that age I was so self-critical. Hair too curly, breasts too small, too thin or too heavy depending on the year…how could I not realize how perfectly beautiful I was? Hope my daughter gets it and to all of you perfectly beautiful women who still angst, replay the narrative about all the things you DO LIKE about yourself and you’ll believe those more. Cause you are beautiful, just the way you are! Heart + Gratitude to my treasure.

March 30, 2017: NYC 2017 and circa 1981

March 31, 2017: Gratitude for rainbows! During this mornings outstanding yoga class accompanied by the soothing/energizing music that Peter creates with voice, guitar and harmonium, I noticed tiny spots of rainbows on the ceiling. I believe I was inverted at the time, and the blood rush to the head, the enchanting music and flicker of rainbows was intoxicating. It reminded me of the magical picture below that was captured early morning on March 6, and while I was not lucky enouth to see it myself, a double rainbow emanating from the top of the Mission chapel is pretty amazing. And that reminded me that I’m also grateful for the beautiful Mission ( officially named Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo) that presides over Carmel. While I’m not a fan of religion in general, the Mission is so appealing to me from an aesthetic, historical and cultural perspective. It’s easy to be drawn into it’s sensual beauty, and I have to admit that I thoroughly enjoyed sitting there for almost midnight mass on Christmas eve.

March 31, 2017: Mission San Carlos Borromeo del río Carmelo (taken March 6, 2017)

April 1, 2017: An early morning drive down to Big Sur, no doubt that I’m in the path of beauty now! To attend a painting workshop that was postponed twice as a result of the extraordinary weather the coast has experienced this year. Deep gratitude for the rain, and that it finally stopped, as well as those who are working diligently to re-open our beloved Hwy 1 through Big Sur. And feeling so much gratitude for creativity and expression, painting and color which I am reawakening to after too many years. Erin Gafill is a brilliant painter and teacher, seek out the chance to study with her if you can, as she is pure inspiration. I did my first painting in oils, I think ever, and a very long time since I’ve painted at all. SOOOO much fun and feeling grateful for my beautiful mind, heart and hands that dive into any challenge with passion. Can’t wait to get my hands back into the oils, and sending inspiration and love to all.

April 1, 2017: Studio One, Big Sur

April 2, 2017: I love to fly! Sending out much gratitude today for all of the many employees of the airline industry, especially at Delta, who make this experience seem so simple. I’m sure that I’ve been less than gracious to many of you, and apologize retroactively and in advance, for my past and future transgressions. Honestly, I have a love/hate relationship, but mostly love for the industry, which makes travel across great distances so easily possible. And I’m enormously grateful for the ability and resources to travel, explore, enrich, expand and gain perspective. Today I’m headed back to my native New York, center of our universe, and a place in which I am truly blessed to have lived and called home. Peace and love to all of my fellow New Yorkers.

April 2, 2017: Great Salt Lake from the air

April 3, 2017: Today was filled with so much to be grateful for. The subway, (efficient if gritty), the rebuilt World Trade Center (beautiful architecture if a sad reminder), and the incredible, sometimes overwhelming, abundance that the Big Apple offers up. Gratitude for a beautiful mani/pedi, and to all of the manicurists over the years who have made my nails colorful with love and kindness…especially you Wendy! Gratitude for yoga, and for my body that accepts the challenge with energy and abandon every time I put it on the mat. Today’s class at Laughing Lotus, was especially sweet as the teacher started with a discussion on her pursuit of an “attitude of gratitude”, and how easy it is to forget at times. Gratitude to her for the reminder that we are all human, and fallibility is one of our charming qualities. And for adding to my journey with this thought, “gratitude begins in our hearts and then dove-tails into behavior. it almost always makes you willing to be of service. which is where the joy resides”. Namaste!

April 2, 2017: Laughing Lotus, Manhattan

April 4, 2017: My father’s birthday today, and feeling gratitude for the lovable, funny, outgoing, friendly, hot-headed and very handsome man that was my Daddy. Sadly, his journey ended nearly 35 years ago and he left us way, way too soon. Miss you Dad. And it was a day filled with nostalgia and joy, as my two children and I converged in NYC, a very rare occurrence these days. I am so blessed to call these two magnificent humans my children, and so happy for every day that I get to spend with them. Gratitude for my precious son, his grandfather’s namesake, and a sweet, caring, sensitive, funny and very handsome young man who would have made the elder Jerry very proud. The younger’s love of sushi, has been a defining characteristic since he was about 4 years old. Few had ever seen a 4 year old eating octopus, ikura and the rare kazinoko. So today, the three of us journeyed via the LIRR to our old hometown of Port Washington, NY and our favorite sushi restaurant, Yamaguchi. It was a true home-coming, and grateful to the Yamaguchi’s for treating us like family, for their years of feeding us so beautifully, and a true feast of deliciousness. In the picture below, you will see (left to right), Mr. Yamaguchi (master sushi chef), Jerry (the younger), Jerry’s sister (aka Sam), Mrs. Yamaguchi (beautiful hostess), and Jerry’s mom (aka me). Gratitude!

April 4, 2017: Port Washington, NY

April 5, 2017: Sunshine over NYC, a 5-mile walk, spectacular Brooklyn Botanic Gardens with early cherry blossoms, decadent dinner at Gramercy Tavern, kitchen tour, a taste of wine from 1908…GRATITUDE!. And mostly feeling it today for my cherished and greatly missed parents. My dad who left us so early, and my mom who stayed with us as long as she possibly could. So grateful to have had you as my guides, protectors, champions and for your unwavering love. Sending it back to you every day, and happy to have a beautiful flowering crabapple tree, majestic and strong just like you, to visit in your memory.

April 5, 2017: Brooklyn Botanic Gardens

April 6, 2017: Enjoying my daughters crazy cat, Phoenix, and feeling grateful for all the cats that have been in my life. Despite a lifelong allergy to them, I’ve lived with cats most of my life. And feel such respect and affinity for the beautiful, graceful, funny, reserved, once worshipped, lovable and yet so misunderstood felines. These are the cats that I’ve shared housing with…Prinny, Buffy, Barney, Sari, Fluffy, Splash and Patch. There was also one dog, an Airedale named Moses, a hand-full of birds, bowls of short-lived goldfish and more than a few hermit crabs. At the instruction of an allergy doctor, I won’t have another cat of my own, and will feel gratitude for any time one of these beauties crosses my path.

April 6, 2017: Brooklyn Beauty

April 7, 2017: Great time in NYC, love to travel, reasonable flight home, typical Friday evening traffic, outstanding Thai food, and very grateful to be back in my new home state of California. Home sweet home… GRATITUDE! Nuff said for today.

April 7, 2017: Moss Landing, CA

April 8, 2017: Today brought gratitude for water and wine. The day started with a return to my soul-nourishing walks in nature. Sunshine at the start, which soon turned to light rain and then a real down-pour. My initial reaction was annoyance, but I was too far into it to turn back. Pressing on I realized that it really wasn’t that big a downer at all, and actually added a bonus challenge that was kind of exhilarating. And I felt grateful for the rain, which despite the end of California’s emergency drought situation, is so necessary and has created the lush and verdant landscape that I cherish. The sheep were out at the ranch and three joggers ran by doing their thing. It was fun to share the moment with these few kindred spirits. Well, the sun came out as soon as I got home, and the day eventually turned from water to wine. Tasting at one of the dozens of beautiful wineries in a ten mile radius of home, heaven on earth, for which I am eternally grateful!

April 8, 2017: Carmel Mission Ranch

April 9, 2017: Kindness, friendliness, warmth, and Flowers. A Sunday morning walk brought gratitude for the explosion of flowers that graces our neighborhood. And then a man called out, “excuse me lady, would you like some flowers”. And a total stranger, but kindred spirit in his love of gardening and his choice of where to live, picked a fresh bunch of Alstroemeria (aka: Peruvian Lily) for me. He tied it with a string, offered to me with warmth and wished me a great day. How could I not, and grateful to you John, for your lovely humanity! And also for the magnificent Egret that I saw while driving later in the day…so lovely.

April 9, 2017: Peruvian Lilies + Pear

April 10, 2017: The color green, so many different shades to be found in nature and so lovely to look at. My eyes are grateful daily to view the verdant hillsides. A happy color and very peaceful at times. I also viewed with gratitude the family of quail that ran across the road in front of my car…they scurry so cutely like little robots, with their feathery black plumes held high. I was thankful for their speed and that I did not hit them! And finally, at the end of a strenuous and enjoyable yoga class, our yogini reminded us to feel the inner space that we had created in our practice. New space to allow more of life to wash in, like the ocean waves into a hole in the sand. I felt it, and was grateful.

April 10, 2017: Mission Trail, Carmel

April 11, 2017: Today I started training for a volunteer program called CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate), where I’ll be working as an advocate for kids in the foster care system. Wow, what an overwhelming need and opportunity…and so much to learn over the next five weeks before being sworn in as a court appointee in Monterey County. I’m feeling blessed for the safe, supportive and loving environment that I grew up in, and grateful to have the time to try and improve the future for another child. I stumbled upon the CASA program, a nationwide organization doing amazing work, while researching local volunteer opportunities and it struck a note for me. Not everyone can be a good parent, but every child deserves a loving adult who is on their side. Gratitude for all the fine people that are currently making a difference in this organization, my fellow trainees, my kids who trained me (and let me practice on them), and the chance to offer up what I’ve learned in service to children in need. Love and be loved.

April 11, 2017: Salinas, CA

April 12, 2017: Back to my roots and a day of baking and drawing. So much gratitude to be getting reacquainted with some of my early pleasures. The rainy day turns sunny. My experimentation into chocolate pistachio pear cake turns out beautiful and delicious. And the late afternoon spent in the company of my life drawing group is divine. Beautiful model, generous and creative artists, getting lost in creation, the lively company of inspiring friends and a lovely communal meal…it truly doesn’t get much better than this!

April 12, 2017: My kitchen

April 13, 2017: Driving over to Salinas, through our nation’s salad bowl, and grateful to be so embedded in the path of beauty. My eye’s have truly never been happier and my head gets more connected to my heart every day. Seeing it growing before me, driving past fields of nourishment, and feeling gratitude for all the hard-working souls who put the food on my table. I’m especially grateful to the immigrant workers, legal or not, who contribute so much to this journey. And sending them a mantra of loving kindness…may you be safe, may you be healthy, may you be happy, and may you be free from struggle and pain.

April 13, 2017: Carmel Valley

April 14, 2017: Matzo ball soup. After 28 years of not eating it since my diagnosis with celiac, I found a gluten free version. Where have you been all my life? DELICIOUS! Gratitude to Whole Foods, Streit’s Matzo Bakery and my distant ancestors who invented this culinary delight. And I have to admit to the guilty pleasure of drinking a little Manischewitz Concord Grape with it. That much maligned “wine” brings back a lot of memories, and while I can’t imagine how one could survive drinking four glasses of it (Passover tradition), it actually tastes pretty good. SWEET!

April 14, 2017: MB Soup

April 15, 2017: One of those mornings that feels like we are living in heaven. A gorgeous, warm, bright sunny day. The air feels so soft and inviting as I do my energizing morning walk. Coming up to the ocean, the waves are rolling in, surfers are plentiful, the color of the water a brilliant blue/green, and I realize a deep sense of gratitude for my great fortune to live near it. And reminded of a sign on a house nearby that says it so well…(photo below). Later in the day, a beautiful evening with my dear friend Lori and cherished partner Franz. The wine was a bottle of Marques de Riscal Tempranillo. Wow, that took me back to the visit my daughter and I had to that magical vineyard in the Rioja, maybe five years ago. Imagine a Frank Gehry designed hotel with wine colored, undulating metal roof, a wine infused massage, outstanding five course dinner, tour of the vineyard dating back to the mid-1800s, and discovering delicious Olivares late night in their cozy cocktail lounge. A night to remember, Gratitude!

April 15, 2017: Carmel-by-the-Sea

April 16, 2017: Gratitude for the NY Times Sunday crossword puzzle, my favorite weekly ritual. This week, my brain was pretty sharp, very grateful for my better than average gray matter, and finished 14 minutes quicker than usual. The digital version has really improved the experience, though I sometimes miss the tactile feel and smudging of pencil and ink that accompanies the hard copy. The theme of the week was Saddle Up!, and involved matching the names of famous horses hidden in longer answers, with the names of their western star riders (ie. Diablo and his rider, Cisco Kid). And speaking of animals, did I mention that several weeks ago, we had a Bobcat walk across our back fence? Beautiful, graceful, gratitude.

April 16, 2017: Bobcat and Butterfly, PG

April 17, 2017: Lawrence O’Donnell is my favorite. So reasonable, thoughtful, sane, and brave. I’m really sorry that the world is so crazy that I feel the need to binge watch cable news, but Lawrence tells it like it is and at least I feel a kindred soul when I watch him. Thank you LO’D, gratitude for keeping up the good fight…and to Bill Maher, Trevor Noah, Steven Colbert, a few of the other strong voices for sanity and progress.

April 17, 2017: Tax Day USA

April 18, 2017: Feeling grateful today that the sun has come out and it looks like CA might finally start to dry out a bit. Funny that I move to CA after they’ve had years of drought and right into the rainiest winter in recorded history (over 102 years). My good fortune that the drought is over! Sunshine makes me happy and so does ice cream. Utter gratitude to walk into a new ice cream shop in Monterey and learn that their beautiful waffle cones are all gluten free. Ok, so I admit that I love food, especially anything GF, and since man can’t live on bread and water alone, I’m grateful for ice cream and wine. Fill that genius cone with bee’s knees and coffee ice cream and voila, GRATITUDE! No bite was left behind ;)

April 18, 2017: Alvarado Street, Monterey

April 19, 2017: Ladybugs! And getting to see this beauty doing her work of eating the mites on a rose bush. Never realized that’s what they do, guess I should have been paying more attention in whichever science class dealt with these matters. And grateful for the help in keeping the roses healthy.

April 19, 2017: Martin Road, Carmel

April 20, 2017: The luscious, red, ripe California strawberry. So plentiful at this time of year. And our wholesome farmer’s markets, offering them in abundance. I’m grateful for the farmer who thanked me today for my business, and I thanked him for growing these beautiful fruits and feeding us. Also feeling gratitude for the brilliant child and adolescent psychiatrist who taught my CASA class tonight. What a wealth of experience and heart. I was sort of overcome by the magnitude of the challenges some people face with mental illness. Gratitude for those with the strength to try and help them.

April 20, 2017: Farmers Market, Monterey

April 21, 2017: Friday morning and feeling grateful to have found a beautiful yoga community. Fifteen or so of us blessed folks who get to practice at 9:30 on a Friday morning accompanied by live harmonium music. And our teacher said this, “there is only one you, so it’s very important that you nourish yourself”. Seems simple, but it’s so common to forget or overlook that idea, and I have such gratitude for the awareness and resources to nourish myself! And really enjoying looking at the world upside down in downward dog today, the view through my legs is nourishing in and of itself! Sharing it with all below, as well as a quote that she opened the class with. It really spoke to me…Compassion.

April 21, 2017: Sunset Center

April 22, 2017: Gratitude for a beautiful walk around town with my favorite walking partner. A little bit of retail therapy followed by wine tasting in the midst of the bird sanctuary setting that we call home. Grateful for the quail, blue birds, hawks, red-headed woodpeckers and some that I can’t name. Elegant, playful, industrious and so much fun to watch. So happy to share our yard with them, or maybe they are sharing theirs with me!

April 22, 2017: Quail on a fence

April 23, 2017: Gonna keep it simple this Sunday…I’m so grateful for where I get to live, who I get to live with, and all my neighbors, friends, relatives across the country and all my fellow inhabitants of this planet (except maybe certain annoying insects and mountain lions who keep me fearful of walking alone through my nearby nature trails!). The latter I do find beautiful and they may be my spirit animals so I’m grateful, if afraid, of them. Today was a big reminder that I’m living in the path of beauty…peace and love to all.

April 23, 2017: Pebble Beach coastline

April 24, 2017: As previously discussed, I’m very fond of the neighborhood quail. The little feathery plume on their heads is magical, and watching them scurry around in their coveys is one of the myriad pleasures of nature. And on my walk today, I was gratified to learn that I live in a town that takes its quail very seriously, protecting them that is (and I hope not eating too many of them)! This is my kind of road sign. Namaste to quail everywhere.

April 24, 2017: Atherton Road

April 25, 2017: Today is a pretty momentous day for me, as it is the 20th anniversary of my breast cancer surgery. Wow, how did that much time pass and how grateful am I for every minute of it!! The answer is overflowing with gratitude and looking forward to the next 20 years x 2. So today I picked myself a beautiful bunch of flowers from the garden (and they smell heavenly), spent two hours totally immersed in life drawing (thank you lovely model), and had a hummingbird hover crazily close to me. He was really checking me out, maybe saying congrats on the milestone? Also, on my drive to Salinas for class, passed horses, cows and buffalo. Nature never stops amazing, it’s abundance, variety and healing powers. Gratitude and appreciation for every person, family, friends, doctors and other healers, plus a couple of cats, who helped me get to the 20 year mark. Heart and health to you all.

April 25, 2017: Fresh

April 26, 2017: Humble gratitude for last nights New Moon Circle. Getting a group of women together to celebrate the moon cycles and all the gifts of nature…to talk, sing, share our inner thoughts and be playful, is really a joy. I am grateful for the beautiful and generous new friends I’ve made, my opening heart and being able to share my home with them. White sage, rose, lavender, and ylang ylang essences combined to make a Love Potion, smells fantastic, and will be fun to try out! And so much good food was shared, including my favorite…sliced avocado with sea salt on tamari rice crackers. So simple and so delicious. Tremendous heart sharing and beautiful company…in the path of beauty!

April 26, 2017: Taurus New Moon