A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

blue skies January 25, 2011

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 7:00 pm

I hate to rub it into our friends on the East Coast, but I’m really loving, and am extremely thankful for, the beautiful 75-80 degree weather we’ve been having. I know I should be missing winter, but as I’m sure cold days will soon return, I’m going to lavish for now in our blue skies.


pay it forward January 10, 2011

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 9:49 pm

I have a serious soft spot in my heart for kids and adults with Down Syndrome. My dad’s brother, Frankie, had it and lived for over 50 years, mostly because the love and care his family provided for him. Frankie was born during a time when the doctors told my grandma that he would be better off in a home/orphanage and people often called him “mongoloid” and my dad got in a lot of fights protecting his brother.

Times have changed, I know. It would be rare to hear someone call out a slur against a child with Downs and it would be unheard of for a doctor to suggest an orphanage to a family with a newborn born with Downs.

Times have changed so much that it is now possible for expectant mothers to have a simple blood test during the first trimester that checks for human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone produced by the placenta in early pregnancy. Abnormal levels are associated with an increased risk for chromosome abnormality. If the test comes back positive, more tests can be performed to determine if the unborn baby has Down Syndrome. If that test comes back positive, the parents have the choice to abort the pregnancy.

More and more people are choosing to terminate a pregnancy that will bring forth a child with Down Syndrome. I make no judgment of parents who choose this route, but because the Down Syndrome population is dwindling, so is funding, and that is a shame.

Thsi is one of the reasons I donated and am urging everyone I know to donate as well to The National Down Syndrome Society. The blog, Enjoying the Small Things, by Kelle Hampton, has become a nationally recognized blog since the birth story of her daughter Nella made its way around the blogging (and facebook and twitter) world. I’ve already been thankful for this blog before and the reasons are numerous, but I enjoy it mainly because it’s a well-written, heart-warming account of being a mother to a baby with Down Syndrome (and other things as well).

Well, as the one year birthday of her daughter Nella comes around, Kelle decided to ask readers to pay it forward and donate to the NDSS. As of today, $37,000 has been donated. I am proud to have contributed a few dollars to that amount.

It feels good to donate. You should donate to this cause as well. Everyone will applaud you. Everyone will like you.

I promise. You’ll feel as thankful as I do to be able to give, help, love, and support.

My dad always said Frankie was an angel sent to teach us all how to love.

I think he was right. I think all kids and adults who struggle with a genetic condition are angels.

And who wouldn’t want to help out an angel?





tidbits December 20, 2010

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 4:49 pm

*I finished grading essays and exams for the community college and turned in all grades. This means I am finished and don’t have to work until January 3rd. This is one major reason I LOVE my job: holidays and summers off! I am so, so, so thankful.


*Got a massage today. I have been thinking about calling my massage therapist for weeks now, but because it’s the holidays and I shouldn’t be spending money on me, I’ve resisted. But then, after finishing a two-week marathon of grading, my back was really killing me. So, I gifted myself and went for the massage. Absolute heaven. My back feels 100 times better and I’m thankful or the hour of complete bliss and relaxation.

*Giving back! TheBlogges (a blog I follow and love) had a post where in the spirit of Christmas, she told readers that she was going to give away $30 gift cards to the first twenty people who didn’t know how they were going to give their kids Christmas presents this year. And, as expected in these harsh economic times, there were many comments and the 20 gift cards went quickly. But then something amazing happened. People started leaving comments that they would also send a gift card to someone in need. And the whole thing just took off. TheBloggess spent many, many, many hours (more than I can even imagine) connecting donors with needed recipients. In just 5 days, 900 gift cards were donated to people in need. Many people sent gift cards for a $100 even. I participated and though I had originally offered to send an amazon gift card for $50, the spirit of giving took over and I wound up sending a $100 amazon gift card to someone I’ve never met, but know needs some help right now. I LOVE this. It’s what Christmas should be all about, and I’m so, so, so thankful that I was able to give back and help. I’m also thankful for TheBloggess for organizing all of this: and all because she had a little idea to give away twenty $30 gift certificates. I’m in awe.


dear God, thank you… December 11, 2010

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 6:42 pm

…for finally answering my prayers and sending to me (and my town) the most amazing coffee shop EVER.

As you’re well aware, God, I have been a coffee-house wanderer for the past 3 years. You’ll remember how for years and years I frequented the same coffee shop, and of course, that’s where I met my ex since he was working there at the time. Suffice to say, in the course of our divorce, he got the coffee shop. Not that this was a written or even verbal request; it was more of an unspoken agreement. Plus, he had said so many awful things about me to his co-workers and other regulars that I was just too ashamed to show my face. And while there are a whole host of new employees who wouldn’t know me from Adam, I have such a negative connection to that old coffee shop that I almost feel like it’s jinxed. So, alas, for years I’ve just been hopping from one coffee shop to another, really never feeling at home.

Until I finally made it to the much talked about new coffee shop downtown, and upon walking in, I realized that you, dear God, have been listening to my prayers and then some.

This new coffee shop is also a used bookstore! There are huge couches and comfy window seats with plush pillows and everything is surrounded by books! God, you must have realized that this is my image of heaven.

The employees are kind, the coffee is great, their sandwiches are excellent, Maddie claimed the blueberry muffin she had was the best ever, and to top it all off, they play amazing music (heard and loved for the first time the band “Horse Feathers”).

The best part of the entire shop is a little station with an old typewriter and paper. Patrons have typed out poetry, thoughts, messages to others, and even complete nonsense. It’s beautiful.

(I’m copying this idea. I’m on the search for an old typewriter and I’m going to set this up in my room; then Maddie, eventually Luke, and I can type out our thoughts and ‘publish’ them on my wall)

Thank you, Thank you, Thank you God. I’m so incredibly thankful to have a coffee shop, one where I feel at home and inspired, back in my life. I did thank the owners and they said they just felt inspired one day, which is why I assume you had a hand in this, God.

Now, onto bigger issues….world peace, the environment, human rights, and perhaps a good man for me!


a magical day November 3, 2010

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 8:53 pm

Okay, the title of this blog is a bit misleading since nothing spectacular happened: I didn’t win the lottery, meet prince charming, or buy a new car.

No, it was just a totally average day.

And yet, something was different, and I don’t know what it was. I was just in a good mood the entire day. No, better than in a good mood. More like a smiley, affectionate, I love everyone good day.

Perhaps it was the warm weather and the blowing Santa Ana winds. Perhaps it was because I gave all four classes at the university midterms today, which meant quiet time for me to catch up on grading while the students took exams, which is kind of ironic: I’m catching up on grading, feeling like I’m getting somewhere, only to receive a HUGE stack of midterms to grade. But today, even that didn’t bother me.

The student who came in with a shit-poor excuse as to why he didn’t finish his homework? I just smiled.

The student on a bike who almost ran me over as he zig-zagged through the crowds? Just smiled.

The student who made loudly sighed throughout the midterm? I smiled and then patted him on the shoulder in sympathy.

Walking around the same, boring campus I’ve been walking around for 12 years? I loved every second of it and actually stopped to look at some beautiful art installation designs set up around the campus. I even waved and said hello to the goddamn construction workers that have made the campus a labyrinth to get around lately.

Standing in a long line at Rite Aid to fill a prescription for Luke? I chatted with the woman behind me and then even let her cut in front of me because she had to get home. I did it all with a smile.

Coming home to a house full of kids (my kids, my sister’s kids, and a friend’s kids that I am babysitting until 9:30) tonight after my longest day at work? Another smile, a few jokes, and I even bought my sister a 12 pack of Sierra Nevada for coming a half hour early this morning so I could have time to make some changes and finalize my midterm.

I was in such a good mood today, I barely recognized myself.

I don’t know what is going on with me, but I am ultra grateful. It’s not like I’m a grumpy person. Far from it, in fact. But I feel like I’m floating today. I really feel like the day was just magical.

If only I could bottle this feeling up and sell it. I’d make millions.


cut, dyed, and clean October 30, 2010

Filed under: noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 8:45 pm

I am so thankful I got in to see my stylist and get my hair cut and dyed. I’m further thankful those little gray hairs that keep popping up are hidden (for now)

I’m also thankful that my house is clean. I even washed my couch covers (Can you tell I’m procrastinating from grading?).

It feels so good to have a clean house and good hair. I just feel bad I’m not having a party to show off my sparkling house (though I guess that would mean recleaning tomorrow…not fun) or my styling new locks (especially since at a meeting this morning a colleague pointed out my little gray hairs. The nerve.) .


good luck saturday October 9, 2010

Filed under: adult fun,friends,noticing sweetness — courtsbrogno @ 7:06 pm

There was something brewing in the air today; actually, maybe it was the warm Santa Ana winds that blew all day, but something was different from the moment I woke up. It was just one of those days when everything went right and was pleasant; in fact, was more than pleasant.

I started the day by heading back to my local coffee shop to get some more grading done, but instead I wound up engaged in a long conversation with a man I just met.

Oh, not that kind of conversation.

No, I was sitting, drinking coffee, and grading when this man–probably in his mid to late 50s, short, very Jewish looking, wearing Birkenstocks–stopped and asked what I was grading.

“Essays for my English class, “I replied.

He then mentioned that he taught as well and at the local community college.

“Me too,” I said.

And so we started a long and philosophical conversation about pedagogy, the interests of a university and a community college, what’s wrong with education in America, the beauty of learning the mechanics of grammar. Oh….so much more.

Usually, I’d be annoyed that someone was trying to start a conversation with me. Not because I’m rude, but rather because I’m a bit behind in my grading, and I don’t want to waste what precious little time I have without kids and interferences on chatting.

But, this man. Well, he was so intelligent, and well spoken, and philosophical, and inspiring. I wish I had taken notes–I wanted to take notes throughout our entire conversation, but that would have seemed really odd. can you imagine meeting someone and then having an enlightening conversation and then that person takes out a pen and paper and jots down what you say? Weird. Definitely weird.

But he was so profound. And I would gladly give up hours more of my grading time to listen to his ideas on education and writing and probably just life in general.

I’m so thankful I met and spoke with this man.

A few minutes after our conversation ended, I had to leave, and as I walked to my car, I realized I was probably 5 minutes past my allotted meter time. And as I rounded the corner, I saw the meter maid writing me a ticket. But I was in such a good mood from my time with the other professor that I just apologized and took my ticket. The the parking lady looked at me and told me that she appreciated my kindness and that if I fed the meter, she’d take back the ticket.

Woah. Really? I’m so thankful for that.

Later in the day, I had the pleasure of attending the wedding of one of your reader’s group members. While it was awesome to see Brandon get married, it was also awesome to see how many of his friends and family and his church helped with the wedding. Everything was done by a friend: the food was cooked by friends, the cake made by a friend, the event decorated by friends, all tables moved and chairs assembled by friends, and even the design and printing of the programs was donated by a friend. The effect was magical:

I really love bearing witness to such love and affection, both in the wedding couple and those who surrounded the couple. I’m thankful to be privy to some of life’s best moments.

Furthermore, the wedding was even more awesome because almost my whole reader’s group was there and I just love every damn one of them so much that I wish we could meet once a week instead of every few months. We’re all so different and interesting and kind and funny and understanding. Really, I’m quite lucky to be involved with such cool people, and since we won’t meet for another 2 weeks or so to discuss our current book, I’m thankful I had the opportunity to spend time with them today.

I’m calling today my good luck Saturday. It definitely feels like I received some luck and spread some luck.