Two Fixes for What Needs Healing


mirror 2

So this happened last week.

You can picture it. On a rushed, early morning, a harried mother backs her minivan out of the garage. She failed to notice that the last person to drive it (not her!) had made a small (but crucial!) change to her typical parking job.

And thus it was that the van just missed taking out the basketball stand, settling for the passenger side mirror instead. What followed (to my son’s great delight) was a stream of profanity that kind of rivaled the dad in The Christmas Story.

A broken mirror is a relatively small thing. Still, it stings. And not just because it may have happened one other time when THE OTHER family driver pulled too far to the ride side thing as opposed to RIGHT DOWN THE MIDDLE WHICH MAKES SO MUCH MORE SENSE. (Not that I get agitated about such things, we writers like to use all caps for emphasis.)

There’s just so many worries already, large and small, close and global. It feels like a piling on; it gets a body down. And then I chanced upon this NPR story: “Gratitude Is Good For The Soul And Helps The Heart, Too.”

Paul Mills, a professor at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine, did a study that found gratitude is good for the heart, probably because it reduces stress.

“Taking the time to focus on what you are thankful for,” he says, “letting that sense of gratitude wash over you — this helps us manage and cope.”

Dr. Mills not only found that grateful people seem to have less stress in their lives, but that it’s not too late to get to that place. After only two months, people who kept a daily journal and wrote down a few things they were grateful for had improved health benefits.

Well. The study inspired me to make my own list, using a broken minivan mirror as my starting part. Here’s what I came up with:

  1. I am grateful that I only took out the mirror and not the weighted basketball hoop, as that thing would have done truly serious damage. As nice as a new car would be, they’re not cheap. Plus that would be a truly sad way for the old girl to go (the van, not me).
  2. I am grateful that my son found my rant hilarious; that it gave me the opportunity to explain, once again, that curses are powerful words and should not be used on a regular basis but rather saved for those moments when they are essential. As they were here.
  3. I am grateful for my daughter’s sympathy. Also, I suppose I’m grateful for her ability to remain diplomatically neutral on the question of fault. It will serve her well in life.
  4. Ok, I am also grateful that when I called my dear husband to tell him what had transpired, he had a two-word answer. He used the exact two words that I knew he would say and those words still make me laugh. Duct tape.
  5. I am grateful for a still-working minivan that sits in a driveway in need of repair, next to steps in need of repair, in front of a house that holds people working on their stuff, and it is all good. Because we have each other and we make it work.

That may have just unleashed my gratitude floodgates. Because there’s a whole list of things tumbling out, now that I’m off the van and its wobbly but working mirror. Gratitude for family who are caring and generous. For my flat iron and coffee, which both save me on a regular basis. I’m grateful for people who celebrate birthdays all month long, for karaoke, penguin memes and my husband’s calm. I’m grateful for story-tellers and humor writers, for the cardinal who sits outside the front window and preens. I’m grateful for really busy people who still find time to reach out and connect. I’m grateful for my children’s empathy and their absolutely wonderful friends. For my wonderful friends. We are indeed lucky.

My heart feels stronger already. Because not only does gratitude relieve stress, it strengthens us for the hard stuff that lies ahead. The world is not an easy place these days. Fortifying ourselves with regular doses of gratitude, love, self-care, coffee, fresh air… that can only be good, right? And hopefully, it’ll make us all the more prepared to help those who most need us.

So don’t forget the gratitude journal and a roll of duct tape for the holidays–one to help your heart, the other for household repairs. (Just don’t use duct tape on the turkey. That can’t be good.)

In gratitude,



16 thoughts on “Two Fixes for What Needs Healing

  1. Jeannie says:

    Happy Thanksgiving Kristin! Enjoy the holiday with your family. I’m grateful that I met you this year and our boys became friends, as well as teammates. Your writing makes me smile!

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Thanks Jeannie! It goes without saying we are grateful for baseball and the great families we’ve met. Have a wonderful holiday.

  2. Molly O'Keefe says:

    Love this. Gratitude is a powerful emotion. I needed this today. and yesterday. and probably tomorrow too. xo

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Thanks Molly, I’m so glad it resonated. It does feel good to find the gratitude–I should have included photos of sweet babies on my list. Those really help the heart! xo

  3. mom says:

    I am grateful for thoughtful children and grandchildren and for a kind and loving husband.

  4. T.O. Weller says:

    Hi Kristin! I always know I’m in for a treat when I click the link to read your posts, and this one was particularly wonderful.

    Your transition from a broken sideview mirror into a gratitude moment was superb.

    We only know one another in a very “online/acquaintance” sort of way, so I hope this doesn’t seem too odd, but I wanted you to know that I am grateful for you. Our connection has blessed me with smiles and encouragement many times this year–a year that has presented challenges to us all in so many ways.

    In fact, you may not know this, but your mention of my little blog a few months back came at a time when I wasn’t sure I’d come back to it all. I didn’t think anyone would notice, being so small.

    Thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Thank you so much, T.O. You know I’m a big fan of yours and your blog. One of the most unexpected and lovely surprises of this writing adventure is connecting with other writers, sharing work and encouragement. It’s a grand thing indeed.

  5. T.O. Weller says:

    Oh, and one more thing … I just read your article to my husband. He looked at the picture of your sideview mirror and wanted me to tell you: you can get duct tape that matches that red color!

    Yes, it’s really true! Just one more thing to be grateful for. 🙂

  6. Darlene says:

    Hello Kristin, I am grateful Tribe Writers connected me to you…(but then I believe we would’ve found each other through some other avenue if not there.) Thank you for an inspiring essay and a great way to close my evening after work…I wasn’t feeling so grateful having to deal with all of those customers. I have a little leather bound “Grateful” journal that I use. Putting pen to paper is magical. Cheers- and Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family, Darlene

    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      Happy Thanksgiving to you too, Darlene! Your know I’m grateful for your work and whimsy. Here’s to much gratitude for another year of art, writing and internet friends. Cheers.


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