Posts Tagged With: connections

How Many People Does It Take to Change a Lightbulb?

It’s Gratituesday! I’m sure you know a few “how many people does it take to change a lightbulb” jokes. I actually found a website that has them listed alphabetically by profession.  My favorite is this one:

How many psychologists does it take to change a light bulb?

Only one, but it has to really want to change.

What do lightbulb jokes have to do with Gratitude? You’d be surprised at the answer. If you were to seriously ask how many people are involved in the actual process of changing a lightbulb, you’d be surprised. Really. Stay with me here.

I remember sitting in the theater after the movie “Apollo 13” as the credits scrolled by. Astounded by how many people it took to put this movie together, I then naturally wondered how many people it took to put even one actual Apollo mission up into space.


Japanese calligraphy meaning Gratitude.

From there, for days, even weeks afterwards, I wondered about all the background people we seldom see, pay attention to, or know about that make different things work.

At a restaurant I see a greeter, a server and maybe a food runner, occasionally a manager makes the rounds. Yet, there are cooks, prep cooks, dishwashers, bussers, cleaning crews after hours, delivery truck drivers, garbage truck drivers, food processors and handlers at a factory, sellers, buyers, equipment manufacturers, harvesters, growers, farmers, ranchers, dairymen, water purification workers, just to name a few obvious ones. I haven’t even touched on who made the aprons, napkins, plates, lights, the building or the tables and chairs.

And that’s just a restaurant. What about a college or university or an elementary school?

My simple trip to the grocery store or to the corner drug store involves thousands and thousands of people working to create, produce, package, order, process, sell, ship, inventory, stock, price, and then finally run the store.  All that, just so I can pop in, choose a four pack of lightbulbs and take them home to replace the burned out ones. I’m sure I missed a few steps in there.

How many people does it take to change a lightbulb? We may never know.

My youngest sister posted this as her Gratituesday Facebook status last week. (She’s the one who got me started doing Gratituesdays a few years ago. She’s a smart one! Thanks Becky! )

“Naikan therapy reminds people to be thankful for everything. If you are sitting in a chair, you need to realize that someone made that chair, and someone sold it and someone delivered it – and you are the beneficiary of all that. Just because they didn’t do it especially for you doesn’t mean you aren’t blessed to be using it and enjoying it. Life becomes a series of small miracles, and you may start to notice everything that goes right in a typical life and not the few things that go wrong. ~― Will SchwalbeThe End of Your Life Book Club

I love this expansive way of thinking about the world. I feel more connected, more aware, and more thankful. When I eat my breakfast, a part of my brain thinks briefly of the many people that made my simple meal of yogurt and granola possible. Pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Just a thought here and there about all that goes into making everything in my world exist, work, run smoothly, and my life easier leaves me feeling more blessed than ever today!

Another rock find!

Another rock find!

I’ve decided to get back to my daily practice of a gratitude journal. I’ve run across some slick smartphone gratitude apps. Debating if I want to try one, or if I’m going old school and pulling out a blank book to write in every evening before lights out. Either way, I know, from experiences going back over twenty years, it can and will make a difference in my outlook, my focus and my life. I’ve written a little about it previously in this post if you’re curious.

I’d be interested to know if any of you have tried gratitude journaling, on your phone or in a traditional notebook. Has it made a difference? Or is it just another thing on your to-do list that weighs you down?

Oh, and if you have a favorite lightbulb joke, I’d love it if you shared in the comments. Thanks!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday, People | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Anyone Up for a Game of Scrabble?

April 13 is National Scrabble Day.

I think there’s at least one or more “holiday” for every day in the year. Don’t even get me started on the weekly observances, the monthly commemorations. The lists are endless. The silly things people want to “celebrate” boggles my mind.

Français : Lettre K dans le Scrabble

Scrabble (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

But Scrabble?

That’s different.

Scrabble was my portal into the world of words. My Grandparents owned that mystical box with the beautiful wooden tiles, letters pressed into them with the a tiny number in the bottom right hand corner. The colored squares in a radiating design mesmerized my very young mind.

Then to watch words form, seeing the connections and intersections of the words, helped me see the patterns and understand the different sounds and connections of letters. Two letter words beyond if, or, it, of? Wow! And then bigger words appeared that I’d never heard and wanted to know and use.

I wanted to play. I wanted to play and score high points. I wanted more words in my life.


Scrabble (Photo credit: williamhartz)

I didn’t get to play often as we didn’t own a Scrabble board at my house. But when I got the chance, I was in all the way.

Then a few years ago, in a serendipitous reconnection with a cousin I’d lost touch with for decades, I found Scrabble again. It became our medium for rebuilding a relationship. Those little chats we had as we each played a word or two over the internet were really parts of a bridge. Sure the game is fun and builds my vocabulary, but the real score was a solid friendship, a supportive two-way road between two family members, two almost-sisters.

Now we text, email, Facebook, call, and even travel across a mountain range to visit in person. Thanks to a simple game of letters we are now the cousins and friends we started out to be.

So yes, today I celebrate the game of Scrabble!

I hit a lifetime bingo high, with a triple letter score included, simply by playing the word R-E-L-A-T-I-V-E.

What it really spells is F-R-I-E-N-D.

Am I lucky, or what?

Categories: Family, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Power of Family

The power of Family swirls around me. You can’t argue with the simple evocative strength of the word Mother, Father, Son, Daughter, Brother, Sister, Cousin, Aunt, Uncle, Grandmother, Grandfather, Grandchild, Husband, Wife, Niece, Nephew.

As strong as the ties of friendship might encircle and bind, they cannot entirely compete with the strength and veracity of Family. Maybe they aren’t supposed to compete.  Maybe they are supposed to complement.

If you doubt what I say, then attend a funeral of someone whose life touched thousands.  There are a select few who warrant inclusion in that sacred circle of Family ties, but only a few.  The rest are inherently barely outside the circle, pressing in with love, support, tears, memories.

There are many family like relationships out there.  I am called Auntie or Sister by those I have shared incredible life-changing experiences with. But does that make me Family?  It feels like family, it tastes like family, the hugs mimic family hugs; perhaps sometimes even exceed them in emotion.  But it isn’t Family.

Big “F” little “f”

Maybe the distinction is merely semantic or the difference between Family with a capital “F” and family with a small “f.”

Or is it all about legality and blood lines?  I have no idea.

I do know that I want my Family to know I love them.  I want my Family to know that those connections include a willingness to sacrifice for them.  They come first.  They are the why behind everything. I draw strength from the collective power of the love they have for me.  I count on their unconditional acceptance.  I am who I am in large measure because of their influence in my life, present or distant.  They are foundational and firm and forever.

Schorn Log Cabin, ca. 1700, with the cemetery ...

Schorn Log Cabin, ca. 1700, with the cemetery in between the cabin and church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What about that second circle that surrounds me, my family of friends?  They are included in my willingness to sacrifice.  In fact, it’s that sacrificial nature of those relationships that has made them feel unbreakable.  Their losses are my losses.  My losses, and I’m sure of this, are their losses.  They are family in ways my blood kin are not, in different ways, like chinking between logs in a cabin, or shingles on a sturdy roof.

Both kinds of family feel necessary.  Both house and clothe me in safety, love, reassurance, gentleness and kindness.

To be the recipient of both Family and family is a rare and opulent gift of surpassing beauty.  I hope never to squander such richness.  I hope I can share it, one on one. One heart, one tear, one smile, one hug at a time.

My New Year’s Wish would be that such circles include more people that feel outside of one or both. Does that sound unrealistic?  I don’t think so.  If one person this next year feels more loved, safer, cared for, part of something bigger, because I reached out and pulled them into my Family or family circle then their world and mine improves, lightens and grows.  Would you join in with me in reaching out, including, caring, loving?  Just one person. That’s all it takes.

Categories: Family, Love, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Merry Conversation and Happy New Connections

There’s a Peanuts cartoon that shows Charlie Brown writing a letter that reads:

“Dear Santa Claus, Well, it’s that time of year again, isn’t it? There are so many things I would like to say to you, but I find it hard to put them in writing. It would be so much easier if I could talk to you in person.  Do you think maybe we could have lunch together sometime?”

English: Santa Claus with a little girl Espera...

Some things are just better in person. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Seems to me there are some things better said face to face, in a conversation.  Letters are a bit one-sided, as are emails.  Texts can be sort of like a conversation, but threads can get tangled, inflections are missing and smiley faces don’t really convey intent that well. Texting is a kind of shorthand we lean on that enhances the efficiency of communication without really advancing the quality of it.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a total fan of texting. It’s saved me hours on the phone, gotten me unlost, given me a forum for all sorts of things I want to say to people.  I think some relationships are better because of texting.

But, I know there’s nothing like a real conversation.  The rambling, wandering discussions that leap from topic to topic in a convoluted but totally natural flow of give and take. That’s why I look forward to a daughter’s visit over the holidays, and why my sister coming into town will be fun. We’ll be able to talk and ask questions and see the response in a facial expression or in a gesture, before the brain sends words to the mouth.  So much gets said by what we see.

I feel almost giddy with excitement at the prospect of all the pending conversations with family and friends.

Having a meal together isn’t about the food, not entirely. It’s about the talking that happens over and around the food.  It gives us a reason to be face to face, to read the eyes, the mouth twitch, the sighs. There’s a solid human interaction that I absolutely cherish.

Phone conversations are good too, but still, there’s that up close and personal thing that happens when you’re in the room together. A hand reaches out, a hug can happen, a fist bump connects, a strong handshake can pull someone in close.

And then there’s whispering.  There’s simply no other communication like a whisper.  Think about it. Private, quiet, stealthy, intimate, personal, direct, breathy, warm, ticklish.

I wish I had time to do lunch with every single relative, every individual friend, every happy acquaintance, every person that has meaning in my life. I’d love for all that one on one time to happen.  It’d be some ride ,wouldn’t it?

Alas, I am but one person, with a limited budget, and limited time.  And so I write, saying the things I think, talking about the things I’d share in a conversation. Hopefully I’m connecting a little with someone. It’s a good feeling.

In another letter to Santa, the words of Peppermint Patty say it well:

“Dear Santa, Just a last note before you take off. I hope you have a nice trip. Don’t forget to fasten your seat belt.”

I hope you get to have some great conversations over the next few days. I hope you go for a walk and chat a bit. Or sit on the couch, or the porch swing, or around a puzzle at the table and share some words between each other. I hope you eat something delicious and talk of real things together. I hope you make some great connections. I plan to do just that. It’s the best part of the holidays I can think of.

Categories: Family, Food, Joy, Relationships | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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