What I am Thankful For

As I stand at my kitchen counter, defrosting the turkey three days before the big event of Thanksgiving, my mind wanders to what I am most thankful for. Soon my house will be filled with the noise of family and friends and of course, I am lucky to have them in my life and have all of the blessings that surround me, yet I can’t help but think about the little things I am grateful for. The quirky, small details that would never make it onto anybody’s top ten list, least of all mine, but yet I can’t do without.  So here goes nothing.   Here is the list of my top fifty. I won’t be saying this out loud at the dinner table on Thursday but it doesn’t mean I won’t be thinking about these.  I am thankful for:

(1) Hair dye (preventing my aging process just a little while longer).

(2) Toe tapping country music never going out of style.

(3) Footsie pajamas.

(4) The fact that romantic comedies will always make me laugh.

(5) The fact that Pride and Prejudice still gives me hope that there are soul mates in the world and that eternal love does exist.

(6) Spanx (I don’t think I need to explain this one).

(7) Margaritas, strawberry daiquiris and apple martinis (especially when drunk with good company).

(8) Ice cream as a comfort food.

(9) Good books and delicious soap opera type TV shows.

(10) The fact that my daughter thinks I’m beautiful.

(11) The fact that people out there really like my books!

(12) Colin Firth (with or without the wet shirt).

(13) A good belly laugh.

(14) Gasps after a tough hour long work out (It lets me know I’ve still got some steam left in me).

(15) Multitasking(16) Post it notes (I’d be lost without them!)

(17) The fact that I know how to text, tweet and Facebook (and sometimes all at the same time).

(18) I know the words to every Madonna song.

(19) Forgiving clothes (especially after the holidays).

(20) Horizontal stripes

(21) Scrumptious meals.

(22) Hershey kisses.

(23) Watching a movie at the midnight showing.

(24) Dancing with my heels off in the middle of a dance floor.

(25) A beautiful sunrise and an unbelievable sunset.

(26) My children’s smiles.

(27) Sunscreen.

(28) Steamy baths.

(29) Dipping my toes into the sand.

(30) Floppy sun hats.

(31) Hot cup of coffee in the morning.

(32) A scale that is off by minus five pounds.

(33) Morning talk shows.

(34) New Year resolutions (and the fact that I can start over every year).

(35) Smell of pine cones.

(36) Flat iron (especially on humid days).

(37) Designer shoes.

(38) The sound of my fingers typing away on the computer keys.

(39) The smell of freshly baked cookies.

(40) DVRs.

(41) Discounts at my favorite department stores.

(42) Free shipping.

(43) Brown Amazon packages waiting on my front porch.

(44) Finding five dollars in my pocket… (even better…when it’s in my husband’s pocket!)

(45) Downton Abbey.

(46) Eight hours of uninterrupted sleep.

(47) Lip gloss.

(48) Push up bras.

(49) Gentle kisses.

(50) Little hands giving big hugs.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving!


I Sometimes Hear Voices

I hear voices.  And before you ask-no, I’m neither a medium nor crazy!  I’m also not that kid in the movie, The Sixth Sense.  I don’t see dead people and am very glad for that.  I prefer to keep a healthy distance from me and those who have crossed.

When I say I hear voices, I mean that I hear my own subconscious.  I think we all have that particular inner voice.  It’s always there.  Sometimes, we choose to ignore it and sometimes we choose to embrace it (it depends on the message, doesn’t it?).  Sometimes, we wish it would just go away (when we don’t like what we hear).  My voice is called Mabel, has a Southern accent and tells it like it is (hey, I’m an author-what did you expect?  My characters come from my imagination, as does my inner voice).

But before you start sending me the names of some really good psychologists or home remedies to combat my “issues,” I have to tell you that “my voice” is my compass.  It’s my roadmap.  My intuition.  I owe getting out of a lot of close calls to that inner voice yelling at me in her Southern drawl: “Run the other way, lady!”.

Sometimes, I may not like Mabel  because she tells me to do the hard thing, the unpopular thing but always, always the right thing.

So the next time you are stuck in traffic and see a woman driving the car next to yours, talking to herself in a very animated way and she doesn’t appear to be on her blue tooth and no one else is sitting in the car with her, don’t worry.  It may very well be me having an argument with Mabel.  She can be very stubborn sometimes!


Helping Hands

Last night, I sat with my daughter and traced our hands onto a sheet of paper with different color crayons.  After we were done, what was left was an array of rainbow colored fingers, both big and small.  We then counted them up: at least 30 hands with 300 fingers, all overlapping each other on a single piece of paper.  It gave me pause to think for a moment.  In the last few days, I’ve gotten emails, text messages and word of mouth announcements from friends, family, non-profit organizations, church groups, soccer leagues and local retail stores, reaching out to everyone in the area, calling for any assistance that anyone could provide towards the relief efforts of Hurricane Sandy;  so many drop-off points, so many collections, so many voices calling out for help!

All done by caring hands; hands that can slice an onion and make a hot meal; hands that can pick up cartons of water and piles of blankets then load it all up onto the bed of a pick-up truck; hands placed on a steering wheel of a car to drive it to those in need; hands that can hold a flashlight to lead someone out of darkness and hands that can reach into a pocketbook or a pant pocket and donate money.

Most importantly, those hands, the ones my daughter and I traced onto a single piece of paper-in hues of purple, pink, blue, brown, red and yellow, can reach out to someone in pain and give them a hug.  Those same hands can clasp together in prayer for those who really need them answered.   Those hands can make a whole lot of a difference in the world.

What started out as a fun activity to keep a child busy from yet another stormy day in New York City, where snow falls and icicles form on trees still covered with leaves, turned out to be a life lesson for me.  That single piece of paper now hangs up on my refrigerator door, staring at me, challenging me to do my part.  It’s a lesson I intend to continually learn, even after the memories of this terrible tragedy will have faded.


After the Eye of the Storm

In the mist of the chaos following Hurricane Sandy, I found myself without power, without gas and without heat- waiting for the magical moment when the comforts of my modern life would be bestowed back to me.  Despite the inconvenience and my huddling underneath layers of blankets to shield myself from the blistering cold, I had a warm heart.  Why?  Because I have seen first-hand the true nature of the people I call my neighbors, my friends, my fellow New Yorkers and those in other states and countries miles away.  I have seen how communities have rallied around those in need.  In the mist of tremendous loss, I have seen compassion in their eyes and the willingness to do whatever they can to help those who are facing the devastating reality of having lost everything-their home-or worse yet a loved one.  They speak with action, not words.  In fact, the silence speaks more than a book ever could. They collect clothes, canned foods, bottled water.  They raise money and give out hot coffee to strangers waiting on gas lines that snake around for blocks.  They open up their homes and share their beds and electrical outlets.  They do this with an open heart.  Such displays of kindness have only confirmed what I’ve known all along-that despite the tough exterior of New Yorkers, there lies a sense of compassion I’ve seen once before-during those dark days after September 11, 2001. It is this sense of community, the ‘one for all’ mentality , an indication that no matter what gets thrown our way, we will get through this together. The grief I saw then is the same I see now.  It is heartbreaking.  There is not a day that has gone by this week when I have not cried over stories of houses destroyed, lives uprooted, and childhood memories erased.  But yet what I see all around me gives me hope.  Hope that we can survive.  What has happened is unbelievably sad.  Our patience has been put to the test.  We are tired, cold and wish life would go back to normal.  For many that will take days, weeks, even months or years. But what I’ve learned is that we will overcome and we will rebuild.  In my heart, I know this to be true, as I know that the sun will come up tomorrow.  It is not a wish, it is a certainty.  We are New Yorkers-we are made to last.

For those who have lost so much, my heart and prayers go out to you.  I know I speak about New Yorkers in this blog but many from New Jersey have also lost so much and my thoughts are with them as well.

A grateful thanks to all of you who have provided assistance to the victims of Hurricane Sandy.  I am humbled by so many acts of kindness from people around the country and the world.

If you wish to help, please consider making a donation to the American Red Cross at www.redcross.org/Hurricane_Aid or the Salvation Army at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/.

Erin Brady