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Lighten Up


photo by Calgary Reviews

Thank you, Gretchen.
Why, you wonder?  Why am I thanking a woman I’ve never met?
I could thank her for writing a book that’s reached millions and isn’t drivel.  For writing a book that’s so well researched it made me want to run to the library and read Tolstoy and Virginia Woolf and Ann Patchett. All at once.
I could thank her for being a kindred spirit, a fellow list keeper and seeker of gold stars.  For writing a book that made me feel like I had climbed inside and was speaking from its very pages. For her age-old but still sage advice to Be Yourself.
But this isn’t a book review post.  And that’s not why I’m thanking her. 
This morning, I’m thanking her for helping me keep in check that irascible pest who lurks around the corner of my bleary-eyed mornings: my temper.  Her words were fresh in my mind as I held my tongue and tone.  They came back to me as I resisted the urge to allow a massive frown to overtake my forehead. I’d risen early to get ready before the older boys (for anyone who knows me, this tidbit—rising early—is a flaming red flag), then my youngest son and I left home twenty minutes early so I could take him for a treat of hot chocolate before school.  Before long, the aforementioned hot chocolate was all over his jeans and winter jacket.  Seven minutes before school started.
But he felt bad enough. He was worried about his jeans. Heaping my frustration on top of his feelings wasn’t necessary, wouldn’t help, could only hurt.
In her book The Happiness Project, Gretchen Rubin’s dedicates an entire chapter, and month of her life, to a topic it would do me good to emulate: Lighten Up.
And so this morning I tried.  I really tried. Who could imagine that a little hot chocolate could be so frustrating?  Although I must admit, in my experience anything can be frustrating that early in the morning!
So my son’s off to start his day. His jeans are a bit damp but his spirit seemed fine.
Thanks, Gretchen.

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