Gratitude Blitz: Definitely Try This at Home
We have discovered a new thank you, it is something you might like, and it is safe to try at home. And, I can be pretty clear about it. Which, in these odd times is a bonus, because none of us know what we are doing or what is safe or real.
Besides never knowing what day or time it is since the Covid-19 quarantine began, the other thing I am uncertain of is what to do. We have done our very best to stay at home. Frankly, this is the hardest part, being bossed around in our late forties. My husband Justin and I already worked from home together. And we homeschooled our two youngest sons. Of course, human nature dictates that we loved this lifestyle until someone told us we had to do it.
That took the fun out of it.
Suddenly we are like disgruntled teenagers, grounded for missing curfew. I have stopped using the front door and have been caught several times exiting the house out the window. I don’t even have anywhere to go. But darn it if I don’t want to be told I can’t go out. Window exits make me feel empowered, alive. Also I might need to see a counselor before I end up “throwing my life away at the expense of my parents, who just love me and don’t want me to destroy my future before I can truly mature.”
So I made a trip to the grocery store. With a full face of makeup and a new outfit I bought to wear, however many months ago, to a speaking event that was canceled. I ventured out of the window to buy milk and bread. And I drove the 3 miles with the top down on my new to me convertible, listening, most loudly to 99 Red Balloons, the English version. Having said that, I really should download the German version, it would match my German car. To my surprise, it looked as if all life had returned to normal. The store was packed, which made me feel both concern and reckless abandon. I didn’t wear a face mask. First of all, I didn’t have one with me. And second of all, it seemed a shame to cover-up this freshly made-up face.
I exited the store, where I acquired milk, bread, some glares from those that I assumed were offended by my unmasked face, and three compliments on my shade of lipstick. The compliments outweighed the shame because I am nothing if not vain.
I entertained the shame for a little bit but then decided that the offended were probably just jealous of my shade of lipstick. Even if you aren’t going anywhere, or are wearing a mask, you should try it at home, it is Maybelline Color Stay #118… Dancer. And it won’t rub off on your mask and it matches my car.
Anyway, as I was leaving the store a man in front of me pushed his grocery cart into the return shoot and the keeper of the grocery store door, a 4’0 foot tall, heavyset woman in her early 90’s, dressed in a fluorescent orange safety vest, started screaming. “SIR STOP! YOU CANNOT DO THAT! THE CONTAMINATED CARTS HAVE TO GO OUTSIDE TO BE CLEANED! READ THE SIGN!”
The rest of the exiters and I pushed our grocery baskets out with righteous indignation. We all knew that, of course, the baskets must be decontaminated. This poor sap will be the death of us, the careful consumers, responsible shoppers, just trying to get milk for our babies.
However, if any of that was caught on video, all of us would have shepherded our germy carts right in behind his, because none of us really know what we are supposed to be doing.
The next day it was discovered we were out of Frosted Flakes. This is a reason to get out and go to the grocery store. Do not judge me, you try living in quarantine with a 6 and 8-year old without Frosted Flakes. It is like a scene from a World War II history documentary. Oh, but they suffer.
So, I put on a full face of makeup and climbed out the window and went to the store for the second day in a row. You should try this at home, climbing out the window to run obscure errands, that may or may not be essential. It really is very liberating.
But this time, upon exiting the store, a woman in front of me tried to return her basket to the cart shoot and I took the liberty to inform her of her folly, I did so with just a hint of piety for her lack of knowledge. “Ma’am, the contaminated baskets have to be returned outside where they will clean them.” She said, “Oh gosh, thank you. Wow, what color is that lipstick?”
Before I could answer her the same keeper of the door from the day before, who now wore a regular blue vest said, “Ladies! Return your baskets here! I don’t want to have to go outside to get them.”
In spite of my fancy lips, that match my car, I looked like a real dummy. The returner of the basket gave me a look like, “well, don’t you just know everything, what are you the queen of Covid-19?” I shrugged and said, “Sorry, I don’t watch the news.”
I drove home with the top up and listened to the news to see if there had been an announcement about grocery shopping protocol. No, I didn’t hear anything new. So, I climbed back in the window and decided to do what I know everyone else is trying at home, clean a room a day.
I ventured into my young sons’ room. It looked like a scene from Hoarders. There was literally an empty pizza box under the sheets of the 8-year-old’s bed. I cleaned and cried simply because so many things are out of my control, and I had no excuse to climb out the window. When I got to their closet I sat on the floor and flipped through their baby books. Well, I am being really honest so I confess, they aren’t really books. They are piles of things that are meant to be put in baby books. Sam and Charlie are our fifth and sixth child, everyone knows that they don’t get a baby book, they just get a shoebox full of documents. Also, I found some of our scrabble tiles and some Halloween candy from 3 years ago.
I am happy to report the candy was still good. Bonus.
Among the stacks of keepsakes that won’t ever be categorized were the little boys’ adoption applications. One line read, “We will provide this boy with a safe, clean home, he will be greatly loved.”
And we greatly love. But clean and safe should have read, “this boy will be raised in a frat house. He will crawl into bed with refuse from Pizza Hut, fully clothed in a Sponge Bob t-shirt he has worn for three days in a row. And I will randomly climb in and out of windows, wearing lipstick that matches my car and cry in the Walmart parking lot.”
If you are planning to adopt, don’t try this at home.
I gave up on that room with confidence. It cannot be salvaged.
All this to say, although, after that wreck of a confession you might not want my advice, we have been doing one thing, that I can recommend. Something you really might want to try at home. We have a new way of saying grace at dinner.
It dawned on me… I don’t know when… that I was using gratitude tools to cope through long days forced to stay home when I was already staying home. I call them Grace Blitzes. If I am losing it beyond the normal parameters of losing it, I write out or say 100 things I am grateful for. And while I know this seems like a lot, it isn’t like any of us are crunched for time.
And, it is actually fascinating how quickly things come to mind, once you get started. It is amazing how greatly it can change one’s mood in a flash. One time I listed how many spoons we have. If these notes are ever found in a box with Sam and Charlie’s revised adoption applications, Halloween candy wrappers, and scrabble tiles, future generations will be faced with much stricter guidelines for adoption.
But it was at dinner one night, I don’t know which one, I realized, I was practicing gratitude to cope and the rest of my family needed an opportunity to try this at home too.
So, I suggested that instead of the common practice of grace, the .004 second speed version of “Bless us Oh Lord and these they gifts which we are about to receive from they bounty from Christ our Lord, Amen,” we would do a Grace Blitz.
With BBQ chicken legs in their greedy paws, mouths open, I said, “WAIT!” My family all froze as if I was about to announce they were about to be poisoned. They weren’t. No, really.
And I explained, “we are going to try something new at home, a Gratitude Biltz.”
I went first, “Today I am thankful for my new to me car.”
Then I invited Justin to go. He was thankful for the weather, which has been simply glorious.
Sophie was thankful for a loving family. That is a lie. She rolled her eyes in perfect 17-year-old quarantined with her parents and little brothers for her senior year of high school style. Sophie said, “I am thankful for Netflix.”
Sam was thankful for chicken legs.
Charlie was thankful for me, “dat best mudder in the worlB.” Charlie is kind of a kiss-up. Also, I always go after Charlie now, so I don’t look like a jerk. We repeated the process about three times. The mood shift is palpable.
So much so, I have noticed that after dinner activities have shifted. And since implementing the Grace or Gratitude Blitz the little boys often stay at the table longer. Justin, Sophie, Sam, and Charlie usually play a card game. I don’t like card games, no amount of gratitude has changed that. Truth be told, the only game I really like is Scrabble, and well, obviously I don’t know where all the letter tiles are.
Then, a few nights ago we got on a roll of gratitude and immediately after clearing the dishes, Sophie and her little brothers went outside to play and then came back inside and watched Star Wars.
And while my advice is often questionable at best, except for lipstick recommendations, this is a great way to change the atmosphere of humans forced to stay together; humans who are worried, tired, and exasperated by their circumstances. Gratitude really is the best of us.
It is always available, and the rules don’t change. Giving thanks shifts the environment, it delivers clarity, and it is germ-free and doesn’t cost a thing.
Go on, try this at home. And if you are still losing it, I also recommend climbing out of windows.
Jesus be all over you… be healthy. Love, J