Category Archives: Gratitude

Episode XV: Let’s Get Stoned

Episode XV

Let’s Get Stoned (made you look)

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Let’s go to sleep with clearer heads, and hearts too big to fit our beds. And maybe we won’t feel so alone- before we turn to stone.”

“Turn to Stone” by Ingrid Michaelson

 The Foda’s take: First off, if you haven’t heard this breathtaking song, listen to it immediately. Second, I like to think that what she means by this is that we should count our blessings. Perhaps if we become mindful to add gratitude to our bedtime routine along with our toothbrush and moisturizer, we’ll find that fulfillment most people search for outside of themselves their whole lives- and never find. After all, how can you hold on to something if you look for it outside of yourself?

 Alright, people, it’s Friday, and you know what that means! It’s GAME NIGHT! Okay, let’s start with 20 questions. Person, place, or thing. Wow, you guessed it. It’s a thing. Yup, you can find it outside. Mmmhmm, it’s smaller than a breadbox. Wow, it IS a mineral! This is unbelievable. Whoa. Wait.Yes, it’s a rock! How did you know? Okay, now that you’ve guessed it, go find one. It should be small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, smooth, and have a pleasing feel to you. Got it? Good.

Welcome to your new gratitude stone.

This is a practice first introduced to me by the magnificent Mandalf about a year ago. The idea is to put it where you’re likely to touch/see it every day- like a pocket, or even in your car. I like to put it in my pocket. (What if I wear something without pockets you ask? Why would I own something that doesn’t have a place for my lip balm??!!! People be crazy.)

So anyway, when you get dressed, pick up your gratitude stone, and think of one thing you are grateful for today. (And be creative, please- you can’t choose the same thing over and over, however true it may be.) This way, whenever you go reach into your pocket (to reapply your lip balm every hour….oh wait, is that just me??) you will touch the stone and remember what you’re grateful for.

You could also tattoo it on your forehead… but this way is much gentler.

Anyway, I used to do this everyday. But the practice got away from me once I got too sick to work, or even leave the house on my own. After all, it’s just not the same feeling, putting a stone into pajama pants, right? So I thought about it. And I have the solution.

Wear pajamas with POCKETS!!!!!

Or…..actually get dressed. After all, staying in your pajamas all day when you’re housebound is fun at first…. but eventually it becomes a tangible reminder that you’re isolated. After all, would you really want someone to see you looking like this? No? Then every time you look in the mirror, you remind yourself that you’re sick. (And by you, I do mean me.) Gulp. <Head-Smack>

So today, in the spirit of choosing happiness, I re-start my gratitude practice. I’m hoping it will remind me that even in the darkest times, there are good, tangible things to hold on to. I hope you’ll join me.

Still unconvinced? If I may quote from the bible, ahem: May he who is without gratitude hold the first stone….. wait, that’s not right……

But do it anyway.

Rock on, (heh. heh-heh. I’m so bad.)

The Foda

P.S. Now do you get the title? Might this be a good time to mention my affinity for tragic puns and play-on-words?

Episode XIV: The Small Things: Part III

Episode XIV

The Small Things: Part III

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Even in the most peaceful surroundings, the angry heart finds quarrel. Even in the most quarrelsome surroundings, the grateful heart finds peace.”

Doe Zantamata

 The Foda’s take: Yup, I second that.

 Hello fabulous friends of Foda! Welcome to the final installment of the small things miniseries on finding blessings and peace in life’s little lifts. After my last post on finding 5 simple ways to bring joy into your day, I was contacted by a very wise, very honest man. Let’s call him… Dobiwan.

Dobiwan shared with me words of honesty, beauty, and heartbreaking reality about what it’s like to be the support system of a loved one going through a longterm battle. I spend a lot of time in this galaxy delving into how to get through our own battles with grace… but what about the person who stands by you? The one who has the power to walk out the door, leave all the pain behind, but chooses to stay, knowing his (or her)  shoulder will be lent upon, leaving him lopsided and unbalanced. What about the people behind the people? After all, when you have a chronic illness, your wings have been clipped for you- you didn’t choose it, and you do all you can to build your mind and your body up so you can one day fly again. But…the people who love us… they clip their own wings using scissors from their own hand. They choose to fight, to stay, to learn how to love someone whose whole existence is likely becoming redefined.

Today I’d like to honor these people. People like Dobiwan and Mandalf who don’t have the illness, but still have all the pain, all the stress, and all the guilt. Guilt that their loved ones can’t walk away, but they can. Guilt when they feel happiness, then immediately feel like they shouldn’t while their loved ones are suffering so. Guilt that there’s nothing they can do but be there and offer what little comfort they can through the small things- letting her choose the movie, picking up his favorite dinner, staying in when they can’t go out.

And on behalf of people like me who are fighting their way back- I want you to know, I see you. And while you may think these small things aren’t enough, I need you to know just how much they mean. That phone call out of the blue from the old friend? Touching. The butternut squash soup from the sister who wishes she could do more? Warms the belly and the soul. The father who would go to the ends of the earth to find a Tibetan singing bowl just because he heard you mention once how peaceful it sounds? Priceless. The mother who talks about handbags and hairstyles with you when she knows you need a bit of normal? Comforting. And the husband who loves to explore and experience but stays home instead, and agrees when you ask to watch yet another romantic comedy? That means something. It’s small. It’s not going to cure me or fix me or take away all my pain. But it makes all the difference, because at least I know I’m not alone- even when I feel like I am.

So thank you to all the loved ones out there like Dobiwan who are just trying to do everything they can for the people they care for. What you do may feel small- but as we’re learning, it’s the small things that count.


The Foda

Episode XIII: The Small Things: Part II

Episode XIII

The Small Things: Part II

 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens. Bright copper kettles and warm woolen mittens. Brown paper packages tied up with strings- these are a few of my favorite things.” 

–  Maria, The Sound of Music

 The Foda’s take: This lady knows it’s all about the small things! Notice she didn’t say my favorite thing is my brand new <insert fancy car here> .

What, you really thought I knew something about cars? Please. I tell people I ride a marshmallow. Because it’s white. Duh. Besides, they just don’t make T-16s for blasting womp-rats like they used to….

 Welcome back, folks! Today we’re continuing our search for finding the small things that add color and brightness to our lives, especially during hard times. After all, when you describe someone you love, you start with the little things: the eyes, the laugh, the smile, the funny idiosyncrasies only he/she has. You don’t say: Oh, my husband? He’s a 6’3 non-smoking male, young, in good health, four working limbs and no known allergies. That’s the stuff you’d read off a health insurance form. It’s true, but it’s not what describes the person. Ergo, (I LOVE saying ergo!) it’s the small things that count.

So, when we’re beat down on the big things- well, appreciating the small things can make all the difference. I know this past week, I’ve really needed to find moments for joy in my life. So today, here is a list of five small every-day things that make me smile.

1. Making that morning cup of coffee in a single-cup percolator.

I love my coffee piping hot, and usually have to pop it in the microwave when I make it using the standard drip. With a percolator, it comes out steaming hot, and with a creaminess you just can’t get with a drip. Add a splash of soy milk, and I’m in heaven!

2. Bright pink corduroy TOMS shoes.

I saw a burnt orange pair of TOMS for the first time on a trip to San Diego and fell in love with them. But I was on a budget, so I never got them. Years later, a few months after being diagnosed, I needed a pick-me-up, and remembered the TOMS. I couldn’t find the orange ones online, but the pink ones looked so happy, I had to do it.They feel like slippers, and the best part is that TOMS has a one-for-one policy, where they donate one pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair you buy. How cool is that! I put them on before going for testing or treatments- and it always brings a smile to my face.

3. Aura Cacia Aromatherapy scents.

I love aromatherpy! My favorite is to burn equal parts of Lavender and Clove Bud essential oils in my soap stone diffuser. The combination is so relaxing with the calmness of the lavender and the added warmth and confidence of the clove. When people come over, they get so blissed out, they don’t want to leave!

4. Breakfast for Dinner.

My husband (Mandalf!) knows I’ve had a bad day when I want eggs and toast for dinner. There’s some sort of child-like joy to breakfast that’s so satisfying- and an almost mischievous feeling of eating it at the wrong time of day! If I want pancakes? It was a really bad day. If I want pancakes using our Star Wars Pancake Molds from William-Sonoma? It was a very, very bad day. But life’s always better after breakfast-for-dinner… Brinner? Dinfast? Breakner?

5. Being The Foda.

Every morning, I wake up eager to go on this website and see how many of you have flocked to my humble words of wisdom. I am so honored to have had so many of you reading this blog since its grand opening a mere 3 weeks ago. I never could have imagined I’d have such a wonderful readership so quickly, and it warms my little Foda heart to hear how many of you are finding hope and inspiration while working through your own journey. After all, whether you have chronic illness or not, life is hard. But as they say, it’s not how badly life treats you that defines who you’ll be- it’s how you climb back up when life pushes you down. Thank you for being a part of my world, and joining me in finding hope and humor through it all.

So that’s it, my top five small things that make me smile on a daily basis. Have you ever asked yourself- What would yours be?

Stay Small,

The Foda

P.S. I didn’t put my R2D2 robe on the list, because I’ve already mentioned it in two other posts… but yeah. It’s pretty awesome.

P.P.S. Have any awesome small things of your own you’d like to share? Share it down below; I’d love to hear them!

Episode XII: The Small Things: Part One

Episode XII

The Small Things: Part One

 Today’s Words of Widsom:

 “When it Rains, it Pours.”

-Unknown… and apparently 50 Cent

 The Foda’s Take: Yes, this can sometimes feel true. But often, it’s just a result of being pushed over the edge by the small things. And the small things in life, the every day things- those are what make or break us.

 It is cold as Hoth today! The persistent arctic chill in our area has seemed to settle into my bones. However, it has also given me justifiable permission to wear my R2D2 robe all day long- something the UPS delivery man really seemed to get a kick out of.

While I sit down with some coffee, trying to get warm, I start to reflect. The past week has been really hard. It reminds me of the expression: “when it rains, it pours.” Well, it is really pouring on my family right now. It seems like one by one we’re being struck down by sickness, medical bills, and countless years at high-alert that never seem to end, all which seem to coincide with my latest dip in the journey to health. I sat on the couch yesterday after receiving some more bad news, and thought: how does this keep happening to us? I grew up with sickness; it’s no foreign concept to me. While I was lucky to be healthy most of my life, my family has been hit with cancer, auto-immune diseases, and other such trials to deal with. When people asked me how I dealt with it, I used to shrug and say it’s my childhood- I never knew anything different. But now I do. And it seems like we just never get a break.

So what’s a Foda to do? I sit on my couch in the same place I sat 24 hours ago when I got the phone call- the one that started with: I have some bad news. And I think. And think. And I come to realize that we, as humans, are fighters. We see an obstacle, a wall, and we get out our hooks and handsaws and find a way over that darn wall. The big stuff- that’s not the hardest part. We handle it. We have to. It’s the small things that trip us up- the thorns on the wall that come out of nowhere and push us over the edge. After all, they say it was a straw that broke the camel’s back- not a boulder.

So if it’s always something small that breaks the camel’s back- why can’t it be the small things that bring us the most joy?

I remember being on tour in Scandanavia in college with a singing group. Everything went wrong that trip. Our travel planner- a fellow member of the group- failed to plan ahead, and we wound up with no hotels, staying in seedy parts of town, getting kicked out of train stations with no place to go, and living on loaves of bread and nutella from the Swedish equivalent of a SevenEleven for days. But through it all, I was okay. Until one day, I thought I lost the necklace my boyfriend at the time had given me. It had fallen through a hole in the lining of my purse, but when I thought it was gone, I burst into tears. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I could handle sleeping on cardboard in an unlocked school basement with an AA meeting going on just beyond the accordion-style door- (true story)- but I couldn’t handle losing my necklace.

So again I wonder- if it’s the small things that push us over the edge- why can’t it be the small things that also bring us the most joy?

I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and be back to normal. It’s reality; I’ve accepted it. My family is not going to all of a sudden be perfectly fine. That’s the big part. So the small part, perhaps, is retraining my brain to see the small things- the daily things- and love them for the goodness they bring into my life.

As my mother says- oh, let’s call her…. Professor Momgonagall- that’s Gratitude.

So this is a topic I’m going to dig into over the next few posts. I invite you to join me in thinking about: what are the small things in your life that give you joy?

Gratefully yours,

The Foda

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Episode V: Gratitude

Episode V


 Today’s Words of Wisdom:

 “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” 

– The Bible… and then Abraham Lincoln

 The Foda’s take: Before you jump into the ring to fight- look very carefully at what it is you’re fighting. And then watch the barn raising scene from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers for a perfect visual (and musical!) example of what this quote means.

 Happy Thanksgiving, friends of Foda! As I begin this day of thanks slowly sipping some piping hot micro-roasted organic coffee, I’ve been pondering… what am I thankful for? It’s not so easy a question as it used to be. For the past four weeks, I’ve had a devastating relapse, and have spent the vast majority of my day on the couch, trying to keep my mind positive, active, and fulfilled while my body can’t travel. Anyone who’s ever had brain fog knows this is no easy task. The natural result is, of course, frustration, anxiety, and- let’s be real here- depression. But it wasn’t until I went to a doctor who sagely discerned that I was disassociating myself from my body that I realized how much I sometimes refuse to “live” inside my own tiny shell.

Grandstand Announcer: Step right up, ladies, and gentlemen, for the fight of your lives! Here, in one corner, is the Fabulous mind of Foda. Facing off in the other corner, feast your eyes on the fearsome Foda form – ooooooh, she looks mad! At the sound of the bell, they will attack each other with all of their might! Ready? Ding ding ding! 

Child: Mommy? Why do I only see one person fighting?

Parent: Because she’s fighting herself, Billy. 

Newsflash to me- I’ve been fighting myself this whole time? I thought I was fighting my disease! Turns out, somewhere along the way I began associating my uncooperative body with my disease, and my mind with the “real” me. How awful! How did I not realize I was doing this?? (Fumbledore says she totally told me I was. Apparently it didn’t sink in until now. Brilliant cunning vixen.) But I digress.

The point is, I am grateful for my body- flawed and weak though it may be. It has four working limbs, just waiting to be strong enough to morph back into the marathon runner I used to be. It has an expressive face, which made me (briefly) consider becoming a mime. (Very, very briefly.) It’s really good at being short and fitting into small places. And although I sometimes hate it, it’s really good at looking normal so that so long as I’m sitting down, I can pretend I’m just the same as everyone else.

My body is not good at healing itself as quickly as I would like. If you’re reading this, perhaps yours isn’t either. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t good at other things. Like- today- enjoying a delicious Thanksgiving dinner with the supportive and loving family I’m so very lucky to have! So have a wonderful day of gratitude and thanks. I am thankful that you read my words of wisdom and allowed me to share with you what I am most grateful for.

Party on,

The Foda