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Author: bookgrrl Big red star, 1000 posts Feste Award Winner! Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 885566  
Subject: LBYM in hard times Date: 10/31/2002 3:14 PM
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One of the things that I've always liked about LBMM is how it leads me to appreciate life's small pleasures. The more simple my life gets, the more I enjoy the moments that drop into my day like small round stones - lying in bed for a few extra minutes, sharing an unexpected laugh with a stranger in an elevator, seeing my cat stretch out next to me and realizing that the old girl and I have been together for 9 years now.

When I LBMM, luxuries become more enjoyable, too - buying a bag of excellent coffee beans, hailing a taxi in a bitterly cold rain, ordering in Thai food when a girlfriend comes over. These small splurges have a resonance that goes way beyond their actual dollar amount. If I indulged in them more frequently, I doubt that I would enjoy them this much.

In a weird way, this disciplined attention to small things is now helping me swim through what feels like dark water. All through this awful month, there have been small gifts along the way - the coincidence of an old colleague appearing as the on-call physician for my emergency ultrasounds, and the bitter comfort of her straightforward and honest assessment; the Jolly Ranchers the OB nurse kept slipping into my pockets after she realized that we were losing a second pregnancy; the unexpected way my new OB put his arms around me after telling me that the time had come to give up hope. And then, even more reassuring, there have been all the small signs that life goes on around you, even when you feel as though your heart is underground - the tree in front of our house that suddenly burst into yellow bloom, the kitchen light that needed to be repaired, the night I beat my husband at Backgammon 5 times in a row. On the particularly bad days, when I had to return again and again to the hospital ultrasound even though we were pretty much past hope, and I would have to sit with all the happy 5-months-pregnant expectant couples in the waiting room, and I would want to beat my head against the wall and scream, I would recite like a poem all the things I was grateful for: ice cream sandwiches, best friends, the fact that cats have been domesticated, the way my husband looks in that grey sweater, the time he made me laugh so hard that I had to pull the car over to the side of the road.

Gratitude is a discipline. A few times during the past few weeks, I have felt myself slipping into a very non-LBYM place - and I'm using "LBYM" here to indicate a state of mind, not just a financial practice. I wanted this baby to make it, obviously, but I was also inching dangerously close to ruminations about "why me" and "it's not fair." I was losing my sense of gratitude, and becoming focused on what I coveted. I wanted a baby. I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted to stop having miscarriages. I wanted to stop struggling, I wanted to get lucky, I wanted it to be easy. I wanted to be like everyone else. I wanted to stop sitting naked in doctor's offices on that scratchy white paper waiting for bad news. Time and time again, I had to tell myself: the universe doesn't care what you want, grrl - its gifts are out there for you to experience, or not. The tree in front of your house will only be brilliant yellow for a few weeks, and your sole choice is to experience it, or not. You don't get to choose whether or not the baby lives. You do get to choose whether or not you pay attention to the changing light, the weight of books in your hands, the patterns in leaves on the sidewalk, the way you reflexively smile when you hear your husband's key in the lock at night.

On one particularly bad day, I went out and bought the KitchenAid mixer I've wanted for years and years, but had always thought was way too expensive. I immediately felt guilty and was going to return it, but then I thought, what the heck. I had waited so long for that damn mixer that just taking it home made me happy. Right after I unpacked it, I made an enormous "I wish you had the chance to have a birthday" cake, and became absorbed enough in what I was doing to forget, for an hour, that the baby's heart was slowly stopping no matter how many vitamins I took, no matter how long I lay in bed. Even though my back account was $250 lighter, that mixer was clearly one of the most LBMM purchases I've ever made. It is the essence of the LBYM mindset, at least for me - waiting, choosing carefully, living lightly, enjoying what I have.

This morning, I received the very essence of a LBYM gift. I logged on to find my email In Box full of messages from LBYM'ers, each of you somehow saying the perfect thing - we're here, and we're sorry. What a wonderful, unexpected, surprising, goofy gift, to discover that people from all over, people whom I have never met, could share a month of sorrow with me. Although it was free in the financial sense, it was more precious to me that I can say. It made me glad that I LBMM in all the ways I just described - because I can recognize how valuable and infinitely precious your presence is, sent over cables and now sitting here, in my computer, in a very sunny room in Chicago.

bookgrrl
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