365 Grateful: Goose Pimple Index (GPI)


My first vocal coach, exuberant, funny, and wildly talented, always said that when a singer really nailed a performance — I mean nailed the technical, emotional, spiritual essence of the music — the hairs on his arms would stand up as the goose bumps rose. He called it the Goose Pimple Index, or GPI, and it was his sure sign that the planets had aligned at that very moment in perfect musicality.

Tonight, I’m reading this passage from don Miguel Ruiz’s The Fifth Agreement, and I’m stunned. Why did I not make this connection before? The GPI for my vocal coach may have registered musical perfection, but for me, the GPI registers pure truth. When I’m in the presence of something so true and real and breathtakingly elemental, I experience the GPI phenomenon, in conjunction with the involuntary prick of tears that always signals the presence of authentic, honest truth.

As don Miguel writes, “I … know when their words come from truth, and I know because I can feel it.” Oh, yeah. I really get that. Grateful for insights that may lie dormant but that eventually bubble their way to the conscious mind.


365 Grateful: base metal or awesome nature?

365 - 04-05-2015

There’s something fascinating about crystals. Rocks. Geodes. Creations of geology, of Mother Earth. Particularly amazing are the iron pyrite crystals — fool’s gold. They’re not like any crystals you probably imagine. They’re square. Four-sided, square crystals. Super-fine specimens are smooth, others may be striated, depending on how and where and under what circumstances they grew.

IronPyrite2015I picked these up at a relatively local rock shop; since then Charlie broadened my collection with an amazing specimen from Spain, in its original matrix. Awesome.

Perhaps it’s because they remind me of square pegs fitting in round holes. Not a perfect fit … not at all. But just because they don’t match the classic concept of a crystal doesn’t make them any less of one. In fact, it makes them rugged, individualistic, unique — almost as though they’re growing to the sound of a different drummer.

I’m grateful for these solid, square crystals, because they remind me that it’s OK to think for myself, to trust my instincts, to be authentic. Fool’s Gold? Maybe they should be considered True Gold instead.


365 Grateful: Happy Birthday, Charlie


June 10. It’s Charlie’s birthday, and today I’m awash in the joy of time spent with him on the golf course. He loves the game. I like to ride the cart and read a book, coach him a little bit on what he’s doing wrong (seriously?), and enjoy nature as well as companionship  … even if my activity has little to do with the sport.

I used to think riding along during a golf game was a gift I gave to Charlie, but I’ve come to realize that it’s a gift I also give to myself — we both get the gift of time, connection, love, and companionship. It’s priceless.

Of course, a few golf lessons and a brand new driver don’t hurt, either.  Happy birthday, hon. I’m grateful for you and the time we spend together.

365 Grateful: Remembering To Not Rush

365 - 06-06-2015We’ve lived in our new home for six months now. Nearly every day, and sometimes several times a day, we drive this route that’s cut by railroad tracks. Never once have we encountered a train. Until today. Forced to sit, and wait, I’m reminded again of the promise of slowness, of living in the moment, of not hurrying time. Grateful for little reminders — and for discovering that, yes, Virginia, trains do run on that track!

365 Grateful: Tall Grass and Invisible Creatures


Ever notice how gracefully the wind sweeps through a field of tall grass? This morning it’s as though some invisible, playful creature is gamboling through the field, its path so easily seen and yet so wonderfully random, impossible to track. I’ve fallen in love with it; I could watch it forever, it seems, but I must go to work.

I’m talking grass with arching blades and seed heads nodding, the rhythm of nature loving an unmown expanse, not the cropped and manicured lawns of suburbia. There’s no evidence of wind in those shorn locks; they’re sterile; shell-shocked by the mower’s assault.

We’ve just planted grass around our new home and I’m doing my best to figure out how to let it grow and stretch in the wind for as long as possible – all summer if I have my way. Indeed, if I can figure out how to exchange a lawn for an official wildflower meadow garden, tall grass fescue mixed liberally with prairie flowers, I’ll do it. It would mean no mowing but, more importantly, it would mean nature wins one battle against the unnatural human construct of “lawn.”

As I stand here by the back door watching invisible creatures skipping and swooping through unmown grass, I’m grateful … for the awesome beauty of nature, and for the chance to flout suburban lawn rules for a while.

365 Grateful: It’s the Little Things

365 - 06-01-2015So I’m driving past this house, one I pass every day en route to work. Well, technically, I’m riding past it, because Charlie and I are traveling in the same car these days. It’s a tired, little house, desperately in need of some new clothes and a good, long soak in a restorative bath. A new hat to cover its head, a little window dressing, and a manicure would do wonders.

Maybe that’s why I notice — really notice for the first time — its beautiful porch light. The brass gleams, the glass is crystal clear, the glow of light in the early morning softens and pleases. I’m taken aback, because it’s such a juxtaposition of new and old, of fresh beauty and old bones, of — yes, this is it! — pride and neglect.

Pride and neglect. That single glowing addition speaks of pride of ownership. Not the kind of pride that’s ego-based, but the pride that’s deep inside, that says “I value this place, this tired place, and it has much to offer. IT.IS.MY.HOME.” Pride and caring can be found in the most humble of places, and neglect can be found in the most haughty of places. Sometimes that’s easy to forget. and way too easy to judge.

I’m grateful for this lesson. Whether it has brand new bones or old familiar worn ones, it’s home. And if there’s pride in that place, it will show. Even if it’s just a shiny, new porch light that glows with welcome. And that’s just as important as the most well-dressed house on the block.

365 Grateful: Sprinter’s Just Fine For a While

365 - 03-29-2015So here I am, leaning against the door jamb with a cup of cold caffeine that’s helping my eyes stay open on this chilly “Sprinter” morning.*  That’s the unofficial season between winter and spring, when the two season siblings have their only chance to catch up, to share moments together, to bring each other up to date on their lives before Winter goes on holiday and Spring gets to work.

Out of the corner of my eye, the bird of spring itself — a cheery red-breasted Robin — lands on the fence rail. A second follows, then a third. Each bird alights, one by one, in neighboring sections. It’s almost as though they’re queuing up like thoroughbreds at the gate, waiting for an official signal, for Winter to diminish and Spring to bust forth.

Like everyone, I’m ready for warmth to seep into my bones, for sun and light to flood my world, and for chlorophyll factories to gear up for work. but I’ve appreciated the beauty and rest of Winter, too. At the moment, this day is more wintry than springlike, except for three Robin Red-Breasts sitting on the fence out back.

I’m grateful for the warmth of those cheery birds who assure me that, yes, spring is here, but be patient. She’s companionable, and  Winter’s precious to her … just as precious as she is to Winter. So I’m good with that, with allowing time for the siblings to enjoy one another’s company for a bit. After all, the Robins are here. That’s good enough for me.

* Thanks, Jon Six, for introducing that word to me. It’s so very appropriate.