cranky day gratitude


today is one of those itchy soul days. the kind of day when i want to yell at the world for being ignorant and anti-science and racist and sexist and willfully moronic, if not demonic. instead, i am grateful for:

1) the sane, smart, kind people out there.

2) my new sweater sweatshirt. so cozy.

3) words with friends. scrabble any time i want it is so satisfying and fun.

4) the blazingly hot pink sunsets that have been lighting up the brooklyn sky all week.

5) the amy poehler book yes please. so far, loving it.

6) the bear. the baby bear and his stiff-legged toddler walking. he’s going further and further and it’s just so incredible to watch him become this like, person.

7) pumpkins. specifically those pumpkins that resulted in the pumpkin chocolate chip mini muffins i made from this recipe. omg. so good i want to make them every day.

8) our cozy family love home nest. i never really thought i could feel whole in a family. and i do. it’s like all these old cracks are healing as we love each other and offer our son a model of a version of what that can mean. he loves it when we hug or kiss. he stares and smiles. i realize i didn’t really have that, and it’s a whole lot.

9) this piece i wrote for onfaith, 10 Things I Wish Everyone Knew About Yoga. it was so fun to get to be irreverent and sassy in a piece of paid writing. i usually just have to slip into another voice entirely. but this was done in one of my own authentic voices. that feels good.

10) soft little cheeks. nom nom nom.


Valerie Reisscranky day gratitude

clouds with light gratitude


i am grateful for:

1) the way the clouds out my window over manhattan are bruised but full of light.

2) next month = 10-year cancerversary. lots of feelings.

3) this month = baby boy turns ONE. lots of other feelings, some overlapping and related to above.

4) grady’s cold brew with om almond milk over ice in a mason jar.

5) working from home.

6) possibilities that might shake things up around here, in a good way.

7) children’s books. he eats them more than he pays attention to me eating them, but i love having them around.

8) toys, ibid.

9) a partner who is  a full-on dad. not a babysitter dad. but an equal parent. which burns sometimes when baby boy likes him better, but overall, so blessed.

10) walking! baby boy taking first steps and first uncertain jaunts across the room. it’s like seeing kermit ride a bike in the muppet movie. strange because you just don’t associate that kind of movement from him. amazing because it looks so free. and sad because, not like kermit, my baybeeeeee!

11) a slow and steady fall.

12) staying mostly centered despite the terrors out there.

13) socks. goodhew is the brand, cozy is the feeling.

14) cooking curry dishes. and mexican and italian and chinese. yum.

15) amy poehler’s smart girls organization. tag line: change the world by being yourself. amaaaazeballs.

Valerie Reissclouds with light gratitude

radio interview gratitude

a couple of weeks ago i did a really fun interview with sister jenna, director of the meditation museum. being in new mama mode for so long it was good to remember things like yoga and meditation and how they can help us stay sane and happy. i start at about the 8-minute mark.

Check Out Self Help Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with America Meditating on BlogTalkRadio
Valerie Reissradio interview gratitude

sunshine through the clouds gratitude

i am grateful for…
1) organic blueberry toaster waffles

2) the love and support of a man who has a similar sense of humor as me. being able to laugh at the same stupid shit makes everything sparklier.

3) the little face in my life! the face! the big eyes and perfect lips and puffy cheeks and four little squirrel teeth! and curly, puffy hair hair that’s exactly like mine was. it’s just nothing short of magical.

4) even the less magical moments like yesterday when tiny face was hysterically screaming and crying and would not be consoled. (i know why like humanity knows why we’re here.) i had to kick into actual mommy gear. like: i am going to show you you are loved even though you are not responding to my love. i am going to give you some ibuprofen in case you are in severe teething pain. i am going to take you to the doctor if this doesn’t abate soon. i am going to put you into the stroller even though you don’t want it because i think it might calm you down. and if it doesn’t, off to the doc we will go! the second we got outside he stopped crying, all that was left of the storm was wet lashes and pink cheeks and a pout. he chugged water and we strolled. it’s all such a mystery, these pre-verbal storms. i wish he came with a read out or a print out or a baby-o-meter of some use to tell me pain, location. feeling, intensity. something. instead we must guess and throw all our caring at the small child. and be patient. and try 800 different things. none of which may work more than time passing.

5) our dear sitter chelsea, whose last day was yesterday. she’s off to be a midwife. baby loved her so much. i almost sobbed when she left, on his behalf as much as mine. baby’s first goodbye, even though he doesn’t know it. i imagine he will miss her, in his own way. and wonder if he knows. i told him. but don’t know if he knows any of the words yet. how do you know “leaving” until someone has left and you feel her absence? i’m tempted to say “baby’s first loss.” but maybe he doesn’t need that projected. maybe it’s baby’s first successful relationship with someone who is not his parents. maybe it’s a gain.

6) the new sitter who starts monday. i am nervous, of course, fearing all the possibilities. but excited, too. and curious to see how he will grow with another soul tending him a few days a week.

7) my shoulder getting better, finally. i still can only raise my arm parallel to the ground. but that’s much better. so, yay.

8) the world—in all its love and agony. oh how is it possible to write now and not just weep? it’s so ugly out there. it’s so brutal and unfriendly and horrific in so many places. i honestly don’t even know how to digest the horror and know i am of no use when i try. so my aim is: read enough to know. not enough to break down. focus on the positive. send out the positive. be as warm as i can. speak up as needed.

9) the pre-tinglings of fall.

10) love.

Valerie Reisssunshine through the clouds gratitude

crib-flying gratitude

i am grateful for:

1) elizabeth gilbert on facebook. because this.

2) finding books read and scribbled in by younger me. 20-year-old me, to be exact. enabling me to post things like this:

“When pleasant feelings arise and we automatically grasp them, or when unpleasant feelings arise and we try to avoid them, we set up a chain reaction of entanglement and suffering. This perpetuates the body of fear. However, if we learn to be aware of feelings without grasping or aversion, they can move through us like changing weather, and we can be free to feel them and move on like the wind.” – Jack Kornfield, from “A Path with Heart” (I just found this underlined in a copy I read in college that I likely bought at the Kripalu bookstore, circa 1993.)

UPDATE: Oh my, I love me. Scrawled by 20-year-old me on a blank page in same wonderful book on mindfulness: “what happened to the good ol’ days when we made out till we thought our genitals would implode because the “actual act” was barely thought of as a reality, much less expected?”

3) stephen king’s paris review interview from 2007-ish.

4) iced coffee in a mason jar at home.

5) the boy being ok. yesterday, i was waiting for the post nap-put-down crying to quiet and i heard an odd fabric shuffling, then THUMP. then WAHHHHHHHHH. yep, he jumped or fell or leapt out of his damn crib. i sprinted of course, and there he is, on the floor, howling. i hover my hands over him a second while talking to him and thinking holy shit holy shit holy shit. because i know if he’s broken something major i should not move him myself. but he is thrashing and waving and squirming as usual, just more. i scoop him up and try to hold him but he is having none of it, so i lie him on the bed and pet him while he howls, and say sweet things as i see how high that crib railing is and how small he is and think that if i flew off something 50% taller than me and landed on my face then belly that would hurt. that would be scary. i keep doing this math. he finally calms down enough to pull my hair, which makes him laugh and i know he’s going to be ok and we have just dodged a very scary bullet. he’s just babbling now so i call my husband, which i rarely do when he’s at work and he immediately asks what’s wrong and i tell him, “he’s ok. he just jumped out of his crib.” and there is silence and oh my god. and laughter. because wow what a little mischief maker and how are we such crappy parents that we hadn’t lowered the crib yet (he hasn’t pulled up and really only yesterday was he able to get from his belly to sitting on his own, so i guess that’s why, but still). and also the laughter is relief that he’s ok. i see his pupils dilating normally. he’s moving fine. so i get out the porta-crib, which will be his temporary home. i feed him and sing and rock him and put him down for the nap he still hasn’t had and he goes down like a boo and i slip out and take deep breaths and down some rescue remedy and text with my husband and eat some homemade granola. whew. whew. whew.

6) a non-sweltering august.

7) a job, a cozy home, a lovely family.

8) being emotionally healthy enough to have all of that and to appreciate it, even when i get overwhelmed by the world and my world.

9) pinterest. the beauty, the beauty.

10) the “silly tails” book series for babies. check them out. the best.

11) sunsets at our pad.

Valerie Reisscrib-flying gratitude

lush summer gratitude

Prospect Park Trees

Prospect Park Trees

i am grateful for…

1) finding the owner of some keys i found by calling the number on her rite aid key fob thingy. she brought me three red roses with glitter on them. super sweet and made me feel a part of things.

2) some awesome lady writers i’ve been meeting lately. sometimes all you need is some serious shop-talking to make you feel sane again. especially with writing, which we do in a tiny corner by ourselves.

3) FOUR teeth. baby boy has FOUR teeth. and more coming soon, judging by the drool and crying and finger-chewing. i dreamt last night that he was a teenager already—a tall female who wanted to be a model. and i thought, “it really DOES go fast. i can’t even remember his childhood.”

4) getting a cortisone shot. well, hopefully liking this. it went smoothly, just waiting on something to feel better. we’ll see.

5) so much lushness in this not-too-sticky, warm summer weather. i love the green, green trees, the fluffy grass, the high bushes, the blocks that smell like sugar from all the flowers.

6) our sunsets. they really are so big, with the sky rolling out like it does, high up and wide, then over manhattan, and above us, as if to say, “there, there, small people.”

7) having a dishwasher. major appliances in nyc just never gets old.

8) dear husband, for making dinner, for taking us out to dinner, to the DEEElicious talde. and they made everything major non-dairy for me, for the boy by the transitive property of breastmilk. lovely to have a date with my husband, to see him on the corner, waiting for me, staring at his phone in his work clothes. gave me a little thrill back to when we were full-time dating and i’d get a jolt seeing him there. old sexy context brought into our sleep-deprived context.

9) the baby boy army crawling everywhere.

10) great childcare. the boy lights up when she gets here and she’s so patient and calm with him, reading books, going for walks, bouncing on the giant white yoga ball.

11) chopped, the tv show. we/i are/am a little obsessed. it actually inspires me to be a better cook. to try more things, to see what i can do with what we have.

12) infant advil. we all actually got some sleep last night. only one waking between 11pm and 5:45am. down from three to four. the teething guy!

13) doing a new magazine article. i love the interviewing, the putting together, and yes, probably even the feeling that it will never come together and that it sucks.

14) learning this: a group of starfish is called a constellation of starfish! go, baby flashcards!

15) having a blog, which is basically always saying: “what have you done for me lately?” keeps the writing channels open.

Valerie Reisslush summer gratitude

photo-strip gratitude

goofy wedding day photo strip

goofy wedding day photo strip


goofy day-after-wedding photo strip

i am grateful for…

1) a napping babe.

2) PT massage on my left hip, which has at least 20 years worth of knots in it. i could actually pull my knee near my chest (well, nearish) today. usually it clicks and grabs and stops. so cool.

3) sweet riot quinoa crunch chocolate. like a much healthier krackle bar. and i once loved me some krackle.

4) opening the mailbox to a check instead of bills. rare but lovely.

5) a gorgeous park walk yesterday. warm but cool, somehow. we’re actually having a spring, i.e., the non-freezing, non-sweltering perfection in between. it’s beautiful.

6) sleep. ok, so BB (baby boy) woke at 5:30 am for good (somehow so much more painful than 6 am). but not so much in between, even though he is clearly working on Tooth, Part II: Bite Back.

7) dancing with the BB to a chant while i feed him. he’s heavy as a couple of wriggly bowling balls, but i won’t be able to cradle him for much longer, so it’s the bittersweet pre-nostalgia thing. also, so sweet.

8) hard boiling eggs with apple cider vinegar in the water. so much less life wasted in unpeeling. yay!

9) finally sending out the photo strips from our brad-made wedding photo booth almost two years ago. such happy photos! i’d like to print them in a book, but nowhere i can find lets you print digital photo booth photos. super-freaking weird, considering there are a zillion apps that let you take digital strips of them. but ZERO let you print. know of one? let me know.

10) TGIF? friday ain’t what it used to be, with BB and DH working weekends. my two hardest days of the week are coming at me, 3D-style. trying to: be present, breathe, take each moment as it comes, stay outside as much as possible. especially with BB teething. after five minutes of playing he’s fussing and nothing makes him happy. it’s rough for us both. but pretty soon i will forget these hard days and think his babyhood was so much fun. which it is. and isn’t.

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Valerie Reissphoto-strip gratitude

june-y gratitude

i am grateful for…

1) stepping out on my balcony yesterday morning at 6am (ok, don’t love that part), and the smell was pure JUNE. cut grass, new leaves, cleanish air. maybe it’s the perfect blend of all those things plus the way the sunlight hits everything and therefore releases scents, like heat from the backs of your wrists, in the exact way that makes all NYC junes smell similar. fresh, hopeful, free. anticipation for the summer and excitement that school will be OUT really, really soon. and sadness for that moment of not seeing my school friends all mixed in with the thrill being able to swim soon, and feel warm all the time.

2) another june memory: the june program at my elementary school. it was like a three-week stint between the end of school and the beginning of camp and it was one of my favorite times of the year. newly released from classes and homework, but not yet at camp with the mean girls. with school friends but free. we went to movies, swam at the extra-chloriney Y, did art projects at school, and walked around in groups together through the city. i remember one of the june program outings was to see e.t. when poor e.t. was in trouble, i cried and cried, unfortunately while sitting next to david sellar who made vicious fun of me. when i went home and told my mom about it, she said, “honey, he was just making fun of you so he wouldn’t cry himself.” this struck me as true and wise and shocking. and also confusing—Humans Are Complicated 101. Boys 101. so much for school being over…

3) my physical therapist. so grateful he is good and that it seems to be helping.

4) the bear boo cute boy. oh my goodness. we just look at pictures of him after he goes to bed. and say, oh my goodness, we can’t believe how cute he is. and he has a TOOTH. first tooth busting through. which means he is cranky, which means i am also very worried that he is not getting enough milk, because that is what breastfeeding mothers do.

5) this fab old blog post on my friend mick’s “bad mommy” blog. so made me laugh.

6) writing while two boys sleep. peaceful yet cozy.

7) writing. feels good.

8) this banana bread recipe. no dairy. add vegan chocolate chips. yummmm.

9) marie forleo’s b-school facebook groups. you need to have taken b-school (her awesome course that i have not finished) to have access, but there is such an awesome, supportive, smart community of mostly women cheering each other on, sharing information, and generally helping. it is worth the cost of b-school alone.

10) a husband who does the dishes. like, i do some (hey, don’t laugh, husband!), but they’re his “bodega,” to borrow some handel method lingo. my least favorite thing about being an everyday human. it allows me to cook and eat and generally feel good about being in the kitchen. grateful galore.

Valerie Reissjune-y gratitude