Friday, August 2, 2013

Blessed to Be...

It's about time I explained where the name of this little blog came from.

Back when I was in JVC, all of the volunteer communities in the midwest went on a winter retreat somewhere in Michigan. (Hrmmm... can't remember the exact location. Actually, it may not have even been Michigan. Faded memories.). There were actually several retreats during that year of volunteering and at each retreat, one or two of the communities would be responsible for a prayer activity. At our winter retreat, the Detroit community brought us a prayer that concluded with this song:

Blessed to Be a Witness by Ben Harper

The first thing I fell in love with was the sound of the tongue drum (the instrument that sounds like a deep marimba). The unique sound just surrounds you, almost vibrates through your whole body, and whisks you off to another, very peaceful world. It's just so soothing and lovely.

His voice also draws you in. It's so easy to listen to. It's like he's singing just for you.

And then, as with the singing and the unusual instrumental sounds, you let the words sink in to your soul, and it just completes the song and makes it the perfect musical escape. It puts me in a prayer-like state.

Though I'm not typically great at interpreting songs (especially when the meaning is not so very obvious), from this song I'm left hopeful, at least with my understanding of it. Bad things happen in this life, but we're all blessed to be a part of it. Blessed even just to be a witness.

I am blessed.
I am blessed.
I am blessed to be a witness.

A prayer that needs repeating in my life, for sure.

So when I was searching for my new blog's name, I thought about this song. And I thought, "Well, that would work just fine." But I didn't want to steal the whole title of the song. I thought maybe I'll change the last word and make it more specific to my life. Blessed to Be a Redhead? No, wait, not meaningful enough. Blessed to Be Me? Eh, kinda cheesy. Blessed to Be Alive? Blessed to Be Here? Blessed to Be John's Wife? True! But too specific. Blessed to be in Memphis? Blessed in Memphis? Blessed to Be Loved? Blessed to Be TTC?! Blessed to Be... ?!

"Wait a second, I'm all kinds of blessed! That's what's making this naming thing so hard."

Then, I thought back to my college days, about a sweet old woman who worked at the CVS on campus. I know, sounds random, but I promise it connects. Just give me a second to get there.

She went by Nonni and she was pretty famous at the University (of Rhode Island). She had (probably still has) a very popular facebook fan page, though I'm positive she didn't make it. It was surely made by an admiring student. Gosh they just loved her.

Her popularity wasn't because she was just the most precious thing you'd ever seen (although she was). And it wasn't because she was the best or hardest worker at the store (although she was probably that too). No, her fame came from one short line she always said as she handed you your receipt at the end of your checkout experience.

"Have an excellent."

Yup, that was it. "Have an excellent."

"Have an excellent what?" you probably ask. An excellent day? An excellent life? An excellent Christmas? An excellent hair appointment?

It sure did confuse me the first few times I heard it. But as more and more people talked about Nonni and her famous line, we all came to realize that she was leaving it open to interpretation for a reason. She wanted to wish you an excellent whatever-you're-experiencing-at-this-point-in-time. Or an excellent amount-of-time-til-I-see-you-again. Or an excellent holiday-that-you-specifically-celebrate. Or just an excellent, if that's how you're feeling.

I'm positive this was her reason for chopping off that last word. (...mainly because she did an interview for the campus newspaper and she explained her reasoning behind "Have an excellent" in the article.) And we all loved her for it.

Now, back to the blog name: Blessed to Be. It hopefully makes even more sense now, given Nonni's story. I like how you can really take it anywhere when you make it vague and slightly unfinished.

For example, today, I'm Blessed to Be Working.

And tomorrow, I'll be Blessed to Be Relaxing!

And the day after that, Blessed to Be Hanging Out with My Husband. And Blessed to Be at Mass.

But overall, I'm just Blessed to Be.

And though I may not always feel that way (especially with current babyless status in mind), when I log in to type-ity type a new blog post, I'll gently be reminded to think of the many ways in which I'm very blessed in my lovely life.

And I hope all of you will too!

Now go count your blessings. And have an excellent!

(Sorry if you have to leave my blog and go to to hear the song. I couldn't find another video of the song with the same quality recording that would play easily on the blog. I hope you'll take the time to listen to it anyway. It's definitely worth it!)


  1. So many reasons to be blessed for sure! Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love it and it is a good reminder everyday. Thanks!

    1. A necessary reminder for me :) Thanks for reading!

  3. I like the title a lot =) It's so hopeful and joyful. Blessed to be...[fill in the blank]. Such a great attitude to have! It reminds me of a theme in Hans urs von Balthasar's writing, that "it is good that you exist" - the being itself, being alive at all, is a gift because we didn't have to be! That still makes me catch my breath - thank you God, for creating me! I didn't have to be here, but I am, and I'm grateful (most days anyway!)

    1. Amen! Thank you God, for creating me! That ties in perfectly.

  4. I love it, the whole thing, the name, the way the two stories connect, Nonni, and especially being reminded everyday that I am blessed.

    1. Thank you :) I'm glad you enjoyed the two stories.


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