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The 52 Lists (for Happiness) Project #30



List the compliments you want to give to others:

When I want to give compliments, I do. I’m pretty bold about it. If I have regrets, they go back thirty years. Then, extreme shyness often kept me from speaking up. Thankfully, I haveĀ  had, most often, the opportunity to make up for it.

I had the chance to tell each of my parents how important they were in my life, and how hard I know they tried, all their lives, to do the right thing, and the solid foundation they provided, and all the precious, joyous memories I have, thanks to them. Family and friends hear frequent praise from me, for their determination, abilities, looks, parenting, stubbornness, conversation skills, intelligence, hard work…whatever comes along that warrants a pat on the back.

Loss has given me a keen sense of how important it is to take advantage of each moment, and to not let things go unsaid. So, I let compliments fly, whenever I see a reason. I voice appreciation to customers for a nice shirt, a good haircut, an excellent choice of paint colors, or for figuring out a plumbing problem on their own. I commend other employees for their hard work and a job well-done. I offer honest acclaim to other artists and other writers, from a position of knowing how much heart and soul goes into the process, and of knowing how important it is to hear it.

Though my dogs hear an occasional, “Not good,” my conversations with them – much like conversations with my children when they were small – center around what they are doing right. Compliments form the basis of all of our best discussions, from “Good girl, pee outside,” whenever that happens, to “Good dogs, protecting our family,” as they madly bark at the County road truck when it drives by. Their belly rubs and ear scratches are accompanied by murmurs of “Such a nice dog,” and “So pretty…”

So, I have a very abbreviated list today, of the compliments I wish I had given others, and didn’t.

  • On the first day back at school after Christmas vacation when I was in the seventh grade, when mohair sweaters were the big fashion item, and all of our parents had scrambled and saved to provide them for Christmas gifts, every single girl came in wearing a mohair cardigan in a pastel shade of pink or yellow or blue. Except for Dee Lynn Hathaway. She made an entrance with a red, sharply-pleated wool skirt and a prim white blouse topped by a deep red, cable knit mohair sweater. I think every girl gasped. All of a sudden, our prized and coveted best-present-ever paled in comparison. Why hadn’t any of the rest of us thought of red? Why hadn’t I? I’m sure Dee Lynn knew how stunning she looked; maybe some of the other girls even told her. I didn’t, but I should have. In more than fifty years, I have never forgotten it.
  • Mrs. Price, the mother of my best friend, made a huge impression on me, growing up. From the attractive “babushkas” that she’d wear to cover her head in church, to her sweet smile and musical laugh, to the hamburger buns that she steamed before serving, Mrs. Price was a valued bonus to my friendship with her daughter. I’m sure she knew it. I wish I had told her.
  • My father-in-law, Jack should have gotten more compliments from me. He always knew I loved him and appreciated him, but we didn’t talk about things like that. He influenced my life in a thousand different ways. I hope he knew it.

The compliments I want to give – or wish I had given – are no longer possible. My chance is gone. Which is a reminder to me, always, to not let those chances go by.


The 52 Lists Project #47



List the things you are grateful for:

  • My loving family who also happen to be interesting, intelligent, compassionate, creative and funny. I appreciate each and every one.
  • My friends, near and far who share my past as well as my present, giving validity and joy to both.
  • My dogs, who make every single day more enjoyable (except for the getting into the trash, Darla, and the peeing on the laundry room floor, Miss Rosa Parks…nothing enjoyable about those things, just in case you’re reading).
  • My teeth. I broke a back tooth last week while eating like my eighteenth caramel apple of the season (I know! I should have seen it coming!), and it caused me to appreciate my teeth even more.
  • My dentist, Wendy Widmayer-White, who shares my passion for Affy Tapple and kindly and painlessly keeps my teeth functioning properly.
  • My cozy little house.
  • The stars in the sky (Beaver Island is one of the – rare – dark sky areas in North America, so it’s possible to really appreciate the stars here).
  • The water all around. There really is nothing else quite like living on an island.


The 52 Lists Project #44


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List the words that warm your spirit:

  • Peace
  • Mama. Though my daughters are all grown up, when a child calls out “Mama,” I still look around to see if someone is calling for me. it’s not the name I grew up with, but the name I identify with most.
  • Gramma…rolls off the tongue easier than “Grand-ma” and is usually what I hear when my grandchildren address me, no matter what their intent.
  • Soup…warms from the inside out.
  • Dinner…evokes thoughts of a big Sunday meal, with family and friends around the table.
  • Dearest
  • Sweetheart
  • Safe
  • Shelter
  • Courage
  • Suppose
  • Water
  • Welcome
  • Rest
  • Easy
  • Hello
  • Lullaby
  • Slumber
  • Comfort
  • Joy
  • Christmas
  • Family. That one came to me as I stumbled down the stairs this morning, with two dogs at my heels. “Come on, family,” I encouraged them.

The 52 Lists Project #2


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Week #2: List your favorite characters from books, movies, etc.

(Well, I love this assignment!)

  • Heidi, from the book of the same name, for her love of animals, devotion to Grandmother, and her trust in Meadow Nuncle.
  • Jo March, from Little Women, for her temper (that she worked to control), for writing, thinking contrarily and challenging the ideas of how a woman should behave.
  • Huckleberry Finn, from the book of the same name, for coming through a hard life with a spirit of good fun, his daring nature intact and a true sense of right and wrong.
  • Lulu Lamartine, from Love Medicine and other books by the same author. Louise Erdrich creates wonderful characters. They are as real as any fictional people I’ve known, with deep flaws, big hearts and attitudes that I know I’ve run into in real life.The central character of one book may show up as a bit player in another, so it’s possible to get a sense of their whole lives, and how things turned out.
  • Taylor, from The Bean Trees and Pigs in Heaven. Barbara Kingsolver is another author with great characters. Her men are good; her women are strong. She gives me hope for the world.
  • Garp, from the book and the movie, The World According to Garp. John Irving, again, is an author with a whole collection of wonderful characters. Garp was the first one I got to know, and is still my favorite.
  • E.T., from the movie of the same name.
  • Superman, as played by Christopher Reeves, in the movie of the same name.
  • Billie Elliot, from the movie of the same name.
  • Erin Brochovich, from the movie of the same name.
  • Amelie, from the movie of the same name.
  • Mr. Holland, from Mr. Holland’s Opus.

This should be a much longer list.

With time to research and make up for my failing memory, it could be a much longer list. I have been enriched and inspired by characters created by others for all of my life. These are just the ones that I remember today. They are the ones that made the list this morning.