Wendy Hodge


Have you ever noticed that, when a song or an idea or even a word catches your attention you begin to see it everywhere? There’s a clinical term for that, but I prefer to think of it as the universe bestowing little gifts on our life, if only we are on the lookout for them.

These days it’s that way for me with the word ‘intentional.’ I’ve heard it used in so many unique contexts lately. In a business course I’m taking via Zoom, our instructor used the term ‘intentional journaling’ when referring to writing down our goals and struggles and plans. “Writing with intent,” she says, “is the only way to inform your brain that you are serious.”

My best friend and I are watching a documentary series about prescription drugs and the pharmaceutical companies that develop them. Lawsuits and criminal prosecution have resulted and revolve around that one word – intentional.

My daughter even used it last night when describing the young man she is dating. “He’s so…. intentional,” she said. “He means everything he says, and he does what he says he will.” I think I like him already.

So now I’ve decided on a phrase that will be a new mantra for me, one that I can add to the list of words that I use as touchstones when I find myself losing my way.

Intentional gratitude: Making it a daily routine, like the first item on your To Do list when you start your day, to actively seek and acknowledge all the things in your world for which you should be grateful… every single day, without exception.

It turns out, that even when the times we’re in have brought out the worst in so many, when it is easy to see pettiness and hate and prejudice and shameful behavior, there are acts of kindness and moments of beauty that shine like rays of light. Here are a few that have acted as a beacon of hope for me – a reminder that, from our souls outward, we are all citizens of an amazing planet:

This morning the car behind me paid for my breakfast biscuit at Hardee’s. My grin got in the way of my chewing for a minute. What a nice start to the day.

Scrolling my phone yesterday, I saw a video of a man who risked his life to save a dog that was stuck on a railroad track. A train was approaching, but the man jumped on the tracks anyway. And then he took the dog home and they lived happily ever after.

A conversation on the phone with a customer last week began as a routine appointment reminder but ended up with the two of us chatting as if we had been friends since high school. We laughed and commiserated on the state of the world and shared gardening tips. I almost didn’t want to hang up and continue with more mundane calls. I had the urge, in fact, when we both hesitated before ending the conversation, to suggest we get coffee sometime. But I didn’t. Next time, I will.

Sunday morning, on the lake with my best friend, we both were fishing with an Alabama rig. This genius invention has five hooks and is perfect for trolling – my favorite way to fish. We both got a bite at the same time and reeled in our lines to discover we had both caught two fish each. A double for me and a double for him. A double double! In the pictures we took while wrestling several pounds of bass and stripes, we have that giddy glow that comes from hauling a load of fish into the boat…another moment we will recall for years to come.

The Pandora station that serves as background music for the office where I work is set on “Dinner Party.” It is a mix of crooner classics and golden oldies. I am stunned by how much I love hearing it. I sway in my chair while Nat King Cole sings “The Thought of You.” When I am the first one to arrive in the morning, I dance across the room to the printer while Frank Sinatra sings “I Won’t Dance.” Oh, yes, I will, Frank. Yes, I will.  I even enjoy Bobby Darin’s “Mac the Knife.” But I am clueless as to what exactly those lyrics mean.

There is a high school teacher in Arkansas who taught all his freshman students how to tie a tie and bought them all new shoes for the school dance. I saw a picture of him, smiling with a look of profound contentment, surrounded by a couple dozen pimply-faced boys grinning at the camera. They may still be boys, but they all stood a bit taller and prouder because of one man’s compassion and just plain sweetness.

There are at leave five dogs on this planet who love me with complete abandon and trust the way only a dog can do. There’s Elvis and Darryl, Shelby and Chico, and Camo. No matter what I have failed to accomplish on any given day, if I reach for any of these five sweet beasts they will curl up next to me and remind me I am loved unconditionally. (Even Chico, who is a completely unlovable Chihuahua with terrible hygiene and a slightly Satan-possessed demeanor.)

These are all just bonus gifts. We all wake up with an embarrassment of riches, don’t we? A home, a bed, clothes and food, phones and televisions, family and friends.

There are babies and kittens, Betty White and amusement parks, birthday cakes and daylilies… and chocolate!

There are sunsets on the water and the Hunter’s moon at night, clean sheets on the bed, Sunday morning sleep-ins, live music on Friday nights, and Hershey, PA where the streetlights look like Hershey’s kisses and the air is breathable chocolate.

I’m grateful for the new journal I have that will serve as my daily log of intentional gratitude. Next on the list is this column I am privileged to write and all of you who spare a few minutes now and then to read it. May you all have a list as long as mine.


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