What Are You Grateful For?

My 10 year old daughter just heard someone being murdered in the middle of the night. I have the kids for two weeks so for part of the time we are staying in a hotel in NYC and going to bookstores, shows, swimming (in the hotel), etc. The idea is to tire them out as much as possible and at the end they will only remember the whir of activity. The wicked witch in "Wicked", the pool, the special desserts, etc. They won't get bored.

But the first night my ten year old goes anywhere, there are the inevitable nightmares. She wakes me up at 2 in the morning and she's scared. She just heard someone screaming. We sit on the couch and listen for a moment. "There it goes again," she says and she's scared. In my 20 years of staying in hotels, and often living in them, I instantly recognize what she just heard: "that's an 80 year old man sneezing about 3 or 4 doors down."

"How do you know?" she said.

"I know." But she wasn't convinced.

I told her I'm glad she's having nightmares. "How come?" she said.

"Because when I first separated from your mother for some reasons there was one crazy thought that stood out in my head. That when you kids had nightmares I wouldn't be there in the middle of the night to comfort you. And now here I am. Comforting you at 2 in the morning. So I'm happy.

"That's weird," she said. And then she heard a bathroom door close from the room above us. "Did you hear that?" she said and a whisp of fear was in her voice.

"Someone is going to the bathroom," I said. "And they spent all night drinking and eating. I probably wouldn't want to listen to that one anymore." She laughed a little but I'm not sure she believed me.

Finally I said, "why don't you try going to sleep." She said, "I'm afraid I'll get nightmares."

I said, "Your brain has evolved this way. You're in a new jungle. So you are overreacting to any predators that might be hidden in the trees. But we are 16 floors up in the safest hotel in the city and the doors are bolted and you can't even get up here without using a key in the elevator. And I'm here to protect you even if all that fails. This is a good opportunity to practice being the master of your brain instead of the other way around."

"I cant do that," she said.

"Here's what you do. Take ten deep breaths while you are lying down. Then think of all the things you are grateful for. Your sister loves you. Your mother loves you. Claudia and I love you. You just went to the American Girl store today. You bought Japanese pastries today. You went swimming. You're going to see "Wicked". Start with that. And keep going. Find 100 things you are grateful for. And everytime you hear a scary noise start from the beginning."

"Ok..." she said and I can tell she didn't believe me but I tucked her in and went back to sleep. Six hours later I'm writing this and she's still asleep so I'm hoping it worked.

Dear reader, I've been writing a lot for the past two years. I'm really grateful some people have read my stuff. I can't even begin to tell you how happy it's made me. A lot has even happened to me in the past two years but through it all I've always had this blog and it's always something I've returned to to make me happy.

Now I have one request. Can you write me at and tell me one thing you are grateful for and why? It could be anything. Something from childhood. Something from now. Something with a little bit of both - an elixir of gratitude. Unless you say otherwise I'm going to share the results in a post but I won't include names. I hope you each write me something. I hope you sleep well tonight.

comment on August 21, 2012: What Are You Grateful For?

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