Tag Archive | gratefulness

30 Days of Thanks – The Day Itself

Day 28

Thanksgiving. The day itself. I’m thankful that a day exists to stop and reflect on our gifts, our blessings, our accomplishments, our dreams, our loved ones, and our values. Abraham Lincoln said it best:

The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquility and Union.

Whether you relate to the presence of God that Lincoln spoke of in reference to Thanksgiving, no doubt we can all agree that perhaps even more importantly than taking a day to acknowledge all that lets us count our lucky stars, we must also remember all that needs to done; all who need our help. For those with a void of things to be thankful for, we must create those things. So today I’m going to list some things I’m not thankful for, and I’m going to vow to do what I can to make the list shorter this time next year. Not thankful for:

Hunger, not just in the third world but in our backyard. I’m surrounded by hungry faces every day in downtown L.A. and Venice Beach. I can do more.

Disease. I’m tired of losing people. I’m tired of sick friends. I’m grateful the list is short, but one friend lost is one too many.

Access to healthcare. Goes hand in hand with the above. I lost a friend earlier this year and partially due to the fact that he did not have affordable access to healthcare. This makes me sick. I hope it changes. Obamacare, you give me hope. Please work!

Anxiety. It weasels it’s way into my life too often. Away with you!

That lady who killed that lion and sits next to it like a trophy in that picture with that ugly smile on her face. Ugly. Face. Ugly. Ugly. Don’t like her.

 

The endless battle of opinions. I think it’s grand how the internet has turned us all into experts on everything; but I think it’s important to remember that none of us actually knows anything about anything. While it’s great to have opinions and to get engaged, I wish we did so with more respect. I enjoy engaging in debate with friends on Facebook, but I insist we keep things civil. This country is currently led by a bunch of buffoons who can’t stop name-calling. Let’s do it better. Don’t let the anonymity of the computer screen zap all of your empathy.

I won’t go on and on, I just wanted to list a few things that I’d personally like to focus on in the next year to enrich not only my life, but hopefully my neighbor’s as well. Happy Thanksgiving everyone. I’m thankful for you!

And I really strongly dislike that lady with the lion.

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See ya tomorrow

 

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30 Days of Thanks – Just Take a Look, It’s In a Book

Day 26

So here’s the thing, if there’s anything to be said about anything, chances are Carl Sagan has said it better. Such is the case with today’s topic of thanks: books. The other love of my life, the source of all my creative tendencies, my inspiration , my favorite companion on a rainy afternoon… my books. So here’s what Carl has to say:

A book is made from a tree. It is an assemblage of flat, flexible parts (still called “leaves”) imprinted with dark pigmented squiggles. One glance at it and you hear the voice of another person, perhaps someone dead for thousands of years. Across the millennia, the author is speaking, clearly and silently, inside your head, directly to you. Writing is perhaps the greatest of human inventions, binding together people, citizens of distant epochs, who never knew one another. Books break the shackles of time ― proof that humans can work magic.

Yep. Carl’s got it. The book you read is the only version of that book that will ever exist. Unlike a film; everyone sees the same version of the story, but when you read The Great Gatsby, that is your version, and only yours. That’s really an amazing thing to think about, and why the book is always better. No one’s green light across the bay will look exactly like mine, because no one will ever get inside my head. How intimate. What a magic gift. The greatest of human inventions.

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30 Days of Thanks – Mac & Cheese and Metamorphosis

Days 12 and 13

I may have missed yesterday’s post (bad blogger!) but that doesn’t mean I missed the chance to contemplate on what has made me grateful. So today is a two-fer. I’m grateful for two things, seemingly anachronistic, but actually vital to each other’s worth.

You know what they say about sharks that don’t swim forward. Well, humans too in my opinion. Our “swimming” may look different, but if we don’t change and move forward we’ll die. Either emotionally, psychologically, or literally. Truly literally, not Chris Traeger literally. Many of the cells in our body are constantly regenerating and changing. And while that whole “our body is completely regenerated every 7 years” factoid is partially a myth (which I was disappointed to discover as it would have been a great zing to illustrate my point), it is true that millions of our body’s cells regenerate every day, and all but the cells of the cerebral cortex, the inner lens of the eye, and the muscles of the heart will completely regenerate several times in our lifetime. (Glad the point still pretty much works). To sum up, change is a necessary part of life.

I’ve been thinking back to last year and how much has changed just in the act of getting engaged. I’ve gone from someone’s girlfriend to someone’s fiance. Next year I will become someone’s wife. Not just someone’s. Brad Light’s. My sweet wonderful Brad. I’ve been thinking back to some of the trepidation I had at first of going through this transformation. So many unknowns. Such big steps. I think now about how happy I am. What a wonderful place I’m in; a place of excitement, eagerness, and honor that I will partake in such a sacred rite. So grateful that I didn’t allow fear to stunt this metamorphosis.

A year ago I still wanted to be a professional actor; well, to be more specific (and more honest) a movie stahh! There was a bitterness and toxicity attached to it that I just kept repressing and repressing. Finally in accepting my heart’s truth that I may be changing into something else, I have found peace of mind, I’ve found a renewed and more vibrant love of acting, and most importantly I’ve found goodness in my heart. I’ve let go of the jealousy, the anger, the bitterness, the worry, the judgement. I’ve discovered what it means to truly follow your bliss.

None of this would have happened if I hadn’t allowed change to occur, and I would have never survived the change had I not had the next thing I’m grateful for in this two-for-one special:

Routine. If all I do is routine, a serious case of the blues won’t be far behind. If everyday I wake up, drink coffee, go to work, drive home, eat dinner, watch TV, go to bed, sleep, wake up, repeat…. you get the picture; I would be a dead shark. And yet creature comforts must not be discounted completely for they are just that, comforts. In times of my life that I’ve suffered from terrible anxiety (usually related to fear of change) it is turning to certain routines that has given me the strength to let change occur. Bubble baths. My favorite foods. Mac & Cheese! A date with Brad. Walking along the beach. Snuggling with my cats. Talking to my Mom. Painting. Writing. Watching my favorite movie. This time of year is such a perfect example of the comfort and strength of routine. You know what makes it palatable to face a new 365 days of unknowns every year? Christmas carols. Eggnog lattes. Holiday cards. Mistletoe. Cinnamon. Apple cider. Baking. Snowmen. Snuggling by a fire. I love Christmas because it’s the epitome of comforting. And it rolls around like clockwork. Like a routine or something.

All of these things are not wildly outside of my comfort zone. They give me peace. They are the layer of security I need in order to walk boldly into the unknown.

So for today, a double-bill of thanks is appropriate for their respective topics. For Day 12 and Day 13: I’m thankful for the yesterday that brought me to today.

See ya tomorrow.

30 Days of Thanks – Day 11: Those Who Give Most

Not nearly enough time or energy in one day to properly thank the men and women whom this day honors. Our Veterans. Among them I count my father, both of my grandfathers, my soon to be father-in-law, and many more. My father fought in Vietnam when he was still practically a kid. My grandfathers fought in WW2, one in the Pacific, the other in Europe. It’s hard to imagine what they had to face and to witness.

To all those who face and have faced atrocity and danger every day for the good of our country, we simply can’t thank you enough. Maybe some of you knew why you were fighting, maybe others simply fought because that’s what soldiers do. Whatever the reason, I hope you feel honored not just today, but every day. We have miles to go in regards to how we take care of our veterans, but hopefully at least today, today you feel the unending and unmitigated gratitude.

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There is one particular veterans ceremony that I simply must mention here. Have you ever seen the Flag Retreat Ceremony at Disneyland? I know, you hear Disneyland and you might think of silly childish fun. I tell you what, it’s one of the most patriotic, reverent, and lovely experiences I have ever seen in regards to our men and women in service. Every time we are in the park during the day I try and catch it. I mention it here in case any of you have a trip planned in the near future; don’t miss it. It happens every day in the late afternoon. Bring tissues because I get teary-eyed Every. Single. Time.

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To our Veterans. We salute you with endless love and gratitude. Today all of my thanks go to you.

See ya tomorrow.

 

 

30 Days of Thanks – Day 9: Apple Picking with No Apples

This time of year, all peoples of the Greater Sacramento area make a pilgrimage to Apple Hill in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada. It’s a place where nearly everyone I grew up with in Sac has forged some special family memories. Apple picking, apple cider, apple pie (no shortage of apple associated things as you can imagine), also beautiful rustic hills, train rides and pony rides for kids, animals, craft booths, face painting, and a general lead-up to holiday cheer. It’s a place I hold in my heart fondly.

This is also the time of the year where NorCal transplants living in Southern California get rather heartsick for the annual tradition. Luckily, thanks to my friend Janet, I discovered a rather suitable substitute about an hour and half outside of Los Angeles. It’s called Oak Glen and it’s a charming scenic loop of orchards and farms that sit at the feet of the San Bernardino Mountains. The San Bernardinos surely aren’t the beautifully dense and rustic Sierra Nevadas, but they’ll do. Oak Glen and Apple Hill, as far as charm and attractions go are forged from the same mold. The two locales are so similar in fact that I can’t help but think that in either Oak Glen or Apple Hill, one must have been based on the other. Not sure if that’s true, but I do know that I’m thankful Oak Glen exists. This autumn-deprived lover of all things fall is grateful.

Unfortunately due to a tough year, there were no more apples to be picked. 543927_10101868626479360_135696702_n

 

Whah-whaaahh. Sad fact for an apple-picking outing. We had fun nonetheless. Luckily there were still plenty to be eaten. Oh the apple pie! Yum. Oak Glen, I’m thankful.

Strawberry Fields

There WERE Strawberry Fields

I stole one. Shh!

I stole one. Shh!

We went to place called

We went to place called Riley’s Farm, which is an old Colonial style orchard and farmhouse, so naturally they do Revolutionary War reenactments. Those rascally Redcoats!

We met a blacksmith. Never broke character. Well done blacksmith.

We met a blacksmith. Never broke character. Well done blacksmith.

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So nice to see some color on the trees.

So nice to see some color on the trees. Still too warm for my taste, but I’ll take what I can get.

Oak Tree Village. Shopping, food, and creepy mannequins in carriages.

Oak Tree Village. Shopping, food, and creepy mannequins in carriages.

Yay for Fall!

Yay for Fall!

 

And Brad already made a video of the day’s adventures. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

30 Days of Thanks – Day 8: Theatre of NOTE

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Yesterday my little blog here had the most views in it’s short history; a statistic deserving of Scott’s visit. Thank you for reading everyone. I know the bulk of those readers were members of my lovely theatre company, Theatre of NOTE. They are my extended family and like any family we have our share of occasional drama, but only to match the presence of love.

I am so thankful that I found a little black box in Hollywood filled with compassionate creative artists, and that they let me hang around. They are the most talented people in Los Angeles. And the wackiest. Both admirable attributes. The truth is, without you guys, I think I would have gone crazy. Probably left L.A. This town can be a vortex of ego and loneliness and you need a tether to keep you from getting sucked in. A community. For the past 6 years I’ve had the most wonderful tether.

Without NOTE I would have never met the love of my life. That one gets the theatre brownie points to last a lifetime no matter what ever else happens.

I’ve had some of the most incredible theatrical challenges both at NOTE and because of NOTE. Every year I eagerly await what new opportunities will come down the pike, either to perform in or just shows to see that I know will blow me away.

For all of the late rehearsals, the fundraisers, the company meetings, the dance parties, the terms of the AMC, the endless font of acronyms (just when you think you can’t come up with one more…) the committee meetings, the drama, the love fests, the long emails, the joy of being cast, the heartbreak of not, the love that keeps you coming back despite the heartbreak, the performance marathons, the NOTEwoods, the Scott McKinleys. I love it all.

It’s good to have a family. You all are so precious to me. Maybe more than you’ll ever know. I’ve always wanted to feel like I was a part of something, and here I do. It’s a warm and Thanksgiving-y feeling.

Go theatre club. Now turn in your hours!

At a company meeting. Packed in like sardines.

At a company meeting. Packed in like sardines.

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Holy Ghost

Scott McKinley photobomb series

Scott McKinley photobomb series

NOTEwood

NOTEwood

a band

a band

PTSD

PTSD

Rehearsal for Mulholland Christmas Carol

Rehearsal for Mulholland Christmas Carol

Mulholland Christmas Carol

Mulholland Christmas Carol

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See ya tomorrow

30 Days of Thanks – Day 7: My Lucky Penny

Yesterday a series of events occurred which reinforced my belief in serendipity and magic. Before I begin there are a few things you need to know.

Earlier this year the corporeal Earth lost one of its best creations. Scott McKinley. He was an angel on earth and as of yesterday I’m even more convinced he continues to be an angel of the universe.

I think about him often, and most often in scenarios where I ask myself “what would Scotty do?” You see he was the kindest and most loving man I’d ever met. No matter what troubles befell him or what mood he found himself in on a given day, he made everyone feel special when he saw them and he greeted them with the most warm and loving “Hey there.” I often think that he played a part in my life to teach me about kindness, to be a living example of what the Golden Rule is really all about.

Now here’s another thing you need to know before I tell the story. There was this thing he and I had with pennies. One evening at Theatre of NOTE Scott handed me a penny. I was in a grouchy and cynical mood and guffawed. I told him half sarcastically that I thought pennies were stupid and lucky pennies just perpetuated their ridiculous use in society. Of course, magical love creature that he was, he was shocked and appalled and insisted I take the lucky penny, while he proceeded to school me on their magical attributes. It all made such perfect sense. In a moment of cynicism and grumpiness, here is Scott to remind me that beauty and goodness is a better choice. From that moment on every time I saw a “lucky” penny on the ground I picked it up and thought of Scott. And the pennies have reminded me that I always have a choice, to be good, or to be a grouch. To be like Scott, or not.

The night before last he visited me in a dream. It wasn’t just a dream wherein he made an appearance. It was one of those conscious/aware dreams where I knew I was dreaming and I knew he was visiting me. I said to him “Scott! Thank you! Oh my God it’s so good to see you!” And we caught up a little, and he smirked his Scotty smirk. And then I woke up.

So that’s what you need to know. Now here’s the story:

Yesterday evening I was walking to my car after work. Traffic was heavy downtown, as it often is. I’m waiting on the corner of 8th and Olive to cross the street. It was one of those situations where cars were pulling into the intersection because they had a green light, but the traffic was so backed up there was no way they were going to make it all the way through before the light turned red, and thus the cross-traffic wouldn’t be able to make it through their green light, causing even worse traffic. This is a pet peeve. I feel like there’s a special circle of hell reserved for those who block the intersection. Back to yesterday. There is a minivan stuck in the intersection obviously hoping to get through, but her light turns red and MY light turns green to walk. What I could have done was wait a minute before I started walking and let this poor woman in the minivan who’s probably late to something important just pull through so she wouldn’t feel like a jerk for blocking the intersection. But I don’t. Like I said, I’ve got a beef. I want to teach her a lesson. The moment I walk in front of her car and grab a glance at her distressed face, I think, “This isn’t right. What would Scotty do?” i.e. what is the kind thing to do? Once he enters my mind I realize instantaneously that I should have done the right thing. I make it to the other side of the street feeling a bit like a jerk and thinking about how I failed the Scott test today. For whatever reason I look down briefly. What is the first thing my eye catches?

I’m stunned. The exact moment I’m thinking about him, there he is. I stoop down to pick up a lone penny. To make sure it’s real. I don’t know what compels me, but I check the year of the penny thinking, now THAT would be weird.

1957.

The penny was from 1957.

Same year Scott was born. This penny and he came into the world the same year.

I stand there on Olive and 8th under the lamplight and start to cry. At once sadly reminded that such a good soul has parted, and joyfully reminded that he never truly left. Serendipity. Goodness. Magic. It’s real.

lucky penny

I want to keep the penny. I want to make it into a necklace and wear it next to my heart every day. But I wonder if I shouldn’t send it back into the world. Leave it on another boulevard for the next person who needs it. I don’t want to be greedy. I do, but I don’t. What would Scott do? My heart’s desire is to take this little sign of him and hold onto it with all of my might. Should we keep such tokens? Or send them down the river? I haven’t decided yet.

Everyone slips away into the cosmic dust. Maybe when we do we get to leave little signs of ourselves around the ol’ neighborhood. Little bread crumbs that we’re still there.

Thank you for being my lucky penny Scott. For being everyone’s. I’ll keep following your bread crumbs. I love you. I miss you.

Rebecca and Scotty 1