Thursday, September 16, 2010 • 12:00 AM Comments ()

That Whole Three Good Things Idea

posted by Sarah Werthan Buttenwieser

I wrote about being reminded of this simple practice, one I often do with my kids: note three good things about the day. Like getting enough sleep, it’s so deceptively simple—and, if you do it, so powerful.


I’ll admit, this recent patch has been quite… challenging. I’m not the most comfortable with transitions and there have been loads of them. Even the glorious autumnal weather has me reeling just a bit: what to wear? What to cook? How to adjust to the darker mornings?

I could list the things that have felt vexing, from appliances breaking to about a zillion forms to fill out, the self-imposed (fortunately, finally) pressure of the ongoing rid-house-of-some-clutter project (and seriously, there are ever more places where you can see surfaces and floors; it’s happening, long ways to go, but happening), the very-many-children-very-little-quiet equation of summer’s end, and of course the starting school mountain climb. Add in some really poignant losses and you’ve got yourself a kind of stirred-up, emotional time.

Whenever I’m feeling most like I’m up against toomuch, I always reach a similar moment, a sensation really, one that kind of resembles the one that that you have when holding a rigid infant—maybe one who’s gassy and cranky—an infant you’re trying to fold into a nice ball shape (because that helps soothe babies, really and truly), the moment when rigidity gives and the baby comes into the ball. It’s not exactly an exhalation; it’s not exactly deflation. It’s a kind of relief, though, a letting go of some sort.

Anyway, I don’t necessarily curl into a ball when I experience the sensation, which is kind of a whoosh, an acknowledgement… a moment of it-is-what-it-is that’s always followed by feeling relieved. I’m relieved because somehow I let go of everything being on me. I guess I surrender to the giganticness of life and of being unable to manage or direct or control every little and big thing.

When I do surrender this way, I feel incredibly tender and vulnerable and much stronger and more durable all at once. And I feel much more aware of all the three good things in my life.


Here are mine:

My corner is, after some fussing by the neighbors, receiving some (much-needed) improvements (bumpouts, bike lane). It was gratifying to agitate successfully. The whole idea behind traffic calming is to slow drivers down and raise their awareness about other movers (i.e. bikes, pedestrians). During our meeting with the engineer, I learned this traffic-calming phrase I’m enamored with knowing: when cars are forced to be on a narrower road, thus closer to one another what’s created is “visual friction.”

We were given the gift of our friend’s weekly farm share last week (her dad was ill; he’s on the mend now but she was gone and now she’s back). We put together a little care package—a little tomato sauce the middle kids plus pal made that was wholly delectable, a loaf of peach-apple bread (roughly this recipe but far less sugar, half local whole-wheat flour and plain yogurt instead of applesauce), some pasta to make with the sauce, some roasted beets (from the farm share) and applesauce (my first autumnal feeling end-of-summer batch)—and she was appreciative. This is a person who does (and does more) for others, so it felt especially lovely to do for her.

As I was coming up the stairs from the first and second grades’ classrooms’ hallway, a blond boy was barreling down the stairs (it was time to be in class) and before I reached the second landing, he’d turned and was headed back up the stairs (again, racing). I asked whether he forgot something. His reply: “Third grade.” As in, he’s a third grader who headed for his past two years’ hallway the second week of school. I told the principal the story on my way out and he laughed, too. I am, I have to admit, still chuckling. A priceless moment! I wish I knew exactly who he is to share the story with his parents. That said it’s actually really a nice thing to have a story like that just belong to you because you were there to witness the moment.

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