#100HappyDays: Days 81-90

I’m so close to the end of my happy days challenge. It’s kind of freaking me out. My days are flying by so quickly this fall. Once again, I am grateful for the opportunity to stop, even for a few seconds, to mark the small moments.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

81Day 81. New artwork hanging in the upstairs hallway. #myboys

82Day 82: I missed this live this weekend, but I’m so glad Connor has such a good buddy on his corner.

83Day 83: This man. That is all.

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Day 84: Fall sports season. Flag football on one field, soccer on the other. All boys playing.

85Day 85: Always a happy day when the finished magazine arrives on my desk. #Blueprint

86Day 86: Matt had such a great day with his best buddy Angel at the zoo.

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Day 87: A repost from my mom. A few hours of food, tea, Scrabble and old photo albums. Just what I needed on a rainy Saturday.

88Day 88: it’s been a while since the 5 of us were able to sit down to eat together. #grateful

89Day 89: Rocking it old school. At Smeltekop Music for trombone repair. The place hasn’t changed in 20+ years. — at Smeltekop Musical Instrument Repair.

90Day 90: #tbt Proof that my mother has always found vacuuming, not just enjoyable, but maybe even glamorous.

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

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#100HappyDays: Days 71-80

Another installement of my happy days. These 10 days actually reflect a crazy, chaotic, up and down week in my life so I’m thrilled to still have recogzined a moment of happiness each day.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

71Day 71: that’s his face when he contributes to the win with an RBI double — at Baseball Alley.

72Day 72: Still as handsome as ever, just with braces.

73Day 73: at the Berwyn Oktoberfest awaiting #16candles #whyberwyn #myboys

74Day 74: 20 years ago I directed these amazing actresses, and beautiful women, in Mill Fire — still one of the best experiences of my life. So thrilled to reunite tonight.

75Day 75: Pat took the boys to Wrigley for the Cubs vs. Dodgers game. Happy boys. Happy mom.

76Day 76: Pre- bed quiet time with Book 12 of Ranger’s Apprentice. #amreading

 

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Day 77: Nothing better than watching father help son as he learns about music. #band

78Day 78: At Antico Posto, celebrating with my love.

79Day 79: I loved having Pat and his friends as Naz shadows today. I can’t believe the next school day he spends there will be as a freshman!

80Day 80: Class of 1989. 25th high school reunion. Wow — what a night this turned out to be.

 

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 61-70

I already feel like I am drawing to the end of my #100HappyDays Challenge. It hasn’t really been a challenge at all as I am now in the habit of stopping to capture a moment of happiness, which is the ultimate challenge. I am truly, consciously, intentionally aware of happiness and I am very thankful.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

61Day 61: Watching these two boys cheer on the @nazarethlgp Roadrunners! It’s so great to be able to take them to work with me and get them excited about high school. #GoNaz — at Nazareth Academy.

62Day 62: Sunday evening on the deck with the perfect combo — beer, pretzels & book. Such a great way to spend an hour. #amreading — at Bistro 3513.

63Day 63: Posted by Random House today, this one made me smile.  #booklove #booknerd

64Day 64: boys, books and baseball. One of my favorite combinations. #fallball #amreading— at Baseball Alley.

65Day 65: Cooler weather is fine by us. Boys are still in the yard for some sunset sports. I love this time of year.#brothers #family — at Bistro 3513.

66Day 66: My day started with a beautiful card from a friend. Feeling so lucky & blessed to have her in my life.

67Day 67: A lovely long lunch with my mom and Jane. We toasted my dad and talked & talked & talked. — with Jane St Pierre Murguia and Karen Skinner.

68Day 68: Buona means good. Sunday lunch with my guys at one of our favorite spots. — at Buona Beef.

69Day 69: Some days it’s the smallest thing. By luck of the draw, I get a  parking spot until the end of October.

70Day 70: The saxophone has arrived. Matty has joined the band. — at Bistro 3513.

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

#100HappyDays: Days 51-60

I can’t believe how quickly the past 10 happy days have flown by. Now that I am into the second half of this challenge, I’ve found it’s become a part of my daily routine. I am truly, consciously, intentionally aware of happiness and I am very thankful.

#100happydays began as an Instagram exercise in gratitude, a challenge to take a moment to be purposefully thankful for the many happy moments that make up my days.

Because this is an Instagram project, I am limiting myself to something I can photograph. Likewise, I use very few words to describe these images.

51Day 51: Fall baseball, game 1 for Patrick. Playing on the big field. That’s him up to bat for the first time. I’m behind the iPhone with a lump in my throat. Where did the time go? — at Baseball Alley.

52Day 52: Admiring the sculpture outside the Berwyn Library with Connor. I was just going to take a pic of the sculpture but Connor insisted on getting it. It’s way better this way. #reading #booklove #publicart

53Day 53: out to dinner at Paisan’s Pizza. Ordered the sampler platter in honor of Aunt Therese. A bit of an inside family joke, but that’s OK.

54Day 54: Out to lunch at Lalo’s with great women and great margaritas. What could be better? Maybe the fact that one friend I’ve had for 20 years and one was brand new.

55Day 55: Pat & I celebrating the long-awaited marriage of our friends Tim & Tom. One of the most heartfelt and meaningful ceremonies I’ve ever witnessed. #love —  at St. Chrysostom’s Episcopal Church in Chicago.

56Day 56: Final tomato harvest + good Italian bread. Simply add butter, kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper. Thanks for breakfast Pat.

 

57Day 57:  A quiet living room and a free hour to read. What a delightful surprise. #amreading

58Day 58: The time a high school student baked cupcakes for our entire floor. Yum. I never fail to be impressed by the generosity of the students at my alma mater.
59Day 59: #tbt stolen from my mom. I want to focus on the cake (which was awesome) and the wallpaper (which still gives me nightmares) but I’m too freaked out about seeing Matty’s face so clearly in this pic.
60Day 60: I know it’s another throwback, but I forgot I had almost the whole Murguia clan in this photo from my wedding. #family

 

 

 

How about you? How do you practice gratitude?

All the images in this post are my own. Please don’t use them as yours.

My Ann Patchett project: Truth and Beauty

Cover of "Truth and Beauty: A Friendship&...

Cover of Truth and Beauty: A Friendship

Having now read Ann Patchett’s honest look into her inspiring and unhealthy friendship with Lucy Grealy, I feel I have a greater understanding of the complex female relationships in her works of fiction. She delves deeply into what it means to be a friend, what it means to love unconditionally, and what it means to lose yourself in someone else’s pain. I felt like a fly on the wall of their 20 year relationship.

Patchett tackles this memoir unafraid to expose both herself and Grealy. From the very beginning, we understand that she is unapologetic about this relationship. She will present it honestly, warts and glories.

…after all, what novel or poem or play in an Introduction to Literature class couldn’t benefit from a truth-and-beauty discussion?”

Knowing nothing at all about Grealy, but feeling deeply familiar with Patchett, I tended to wonder how the two got entwined so deeply. It seems one of those inexplicable attractions when the solid, grounded anchor (Patchett) attached itself to a flighty, yet dynamic bluebird (Grealy).

I love that Patchett is willing to let Grealy look bad, really bad. Grealy is selfish and angry. She spends any money she has and continually “borrows” from her many friends.  She must, at all points, be the center of attention and, on the surface, does not seem to return Patchett’s loyalty and dedication. And yet…I too grow to love her, to understand her fierce talent and deep longing.

About Grealy’s desire for one true, all-consuming love, Patchett compares her need to the scale of Grand Central Station. She talks about first filling it with Grealy’s friends and lovers which might fill one restaurant. Next you could add her fans and those who have read her book and it might look like a smattering of bodies against that immense space. But, ultimately, Grealy could not find enough people/happiness/love to fill the space.

You could pack in thousands and thousands more people, and still it wouldn’t feel full, not full enough to take up every square inch of her loneliness.”

That image just about broke my heart and I immediately understood Patchett’s deep love and devotion. Not that she tries to portray herself as a saint. Just like with Grealy, she writes her own strengths and flaws with precision. It’s no fun to always be the anchor and she tries (unsuccessfully) to shed her own persona. But, as Grealy points out to her,

It’s your blessing and your curse. You’re always going to be fine.”

More than a memoir about two talented, engaging women, Truth and Beauty is an ode to friendship. Patchett celebrates the deep love these women share. Despite the tragic outcome, the reader comes away with the feeling that Patchett would not have done it differently.

Whenever I saw her, I felt like I had been living in another country, doing moderately well in another language, and then she showed up speaking English and suddenly I could speak with all the complexity and nuance that I hadn’t realized was gone. With Lucy I was a native speaker.”

Monday Quote: Friendship

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

I have often beaten myself up because I am not as good a friend as I want to be. I don’t call as often as I should. I don’t remember birthdays. I frequently need more than I give. And yet, I have remarkable friendships.

My mom used to tell me that all you really need are a handful of people who would help you without question if you called them in the middle in the night and needed bail money. “If you have three friends like that, you pretty much have what you need.”

Over 40 years, I have been lucky to meet and befriend dozens of women and men who meet and really exceed both Shakespeare’s and my mom’s requirements. These people not only understand me, they accept me flaws and all. Some people scoff that I call individuals “friends” whom I’ve not seen or spoken to in years. But I do not need phone conversations or cards to know that I could see Irene or Laura or Ty and know that we could pick up our relationship exactly where we left off. They would (they will) simply get me. I will not need to explain.

Likewise, my “theater friends” who are no longer part of my daily life, still are individuals who watched, encouraged and helped me through some important “growing” years. With them, I share a deep bond that is not easily broken even by geography or time apart. Newer, but not so different, are my “mom friends,” about whom I’ve already written. I even have “book friends,” people whom I might not even know were it not for our love of and passion about reading.

I am truly blessed to have close deep friendships with people who are a part of my daily life. My family, both by blood and by marriage, has listened without judgment, accepted without expectation, and encouraged me to become whoever I want to be. The handful of intimate friends I have managed to keep in my regular orbit have done the same (and apparently not because they don’t have a choice.)

Lately, I’ve come to feel all these friendships in a tangible way. As I have opened up about my new job and changes in my life, I have felt the acceptance, understanding and encouragement of all these friends. Plus, I have no doubt that many, if not all, would bail me out without question. I would do the same.

Thank you friends.