This is a tradition I started when I turned 40, and I think that it is something that everyone could benefit from---whether celebrating their 16 or 60th birthday. Gratitude is something all of us (self included) tend to overlook. While I am loathe to give advice on child rearing since I don’t have children, I do believe many children don’t realize the importance of counting their blessings.
In an effort to be more grateful, and in an effort to remind myself of what is truly important, I have made a pledge that each year on my birthday, I would list the corresponding number of items I am thankful for as praise to God.
Some are serious, some are funny, all are heartfelt.
As I’ve said before on this blog, I do not believe in browbeating people to believe as I do. While I respect the beliefs of others, I do not apologize for my own beliefs … and I think gratitude is an important lesson for anyone, anywhere, regardless of religious beliefs (or no religious beliefs.)
42 things I’m thankful for:
- A loving and supportive family.
- Gainful employment
- Good health (issues like cholesterol, needing to lose 20 pounds, etc. , pale in comparison to what so many go through)
- Health insurance (while we’re mentioning health). To my friends in other countries, health insurance in the US is VERY important. It is not unusual for middle-class, “lower” class (and even upper middle-class) Americans to go bankrupt from medical bills.
- Some of the best friends in the world. I still have no idea why you guys put up with me.
- The North Carolina Tar Heels basketball team (for better or for worse.)
- I have been blessed with probably the best manager I’ve ever had. (one reason I’ve stayed in Rocky Mount all these years). When you spend 45 + hours a week with someone, it’s very important that you get along. (I’ll be lost when he retires)
- Exceptional functionality in spite of a chronic health “condition” that is not serious but can become extremely serious. I’d prefer not to mention this condition on the internet. The fact that I’m not on disability is truly miraculous.
- Success as a fictional writer. There are tens of thousands of writers more talented than I who have not achieve the same success, so any time, as a writer, your work is recognized, it is a blessing. (There are also those who are not as talented as I who have loads more success---I’m looking at you Snooki---but that’s another blog post J)
- Thankful that I have friends who have been my friends for 20-plus years. The older I get, the rarer I realize that is—particularly knowing that I am the type of person people need to take in “doses.”
- Speaking of rare, I’m blessed to have parents who have been married for more than 50 years.
- Laughter. Especially Homer Simpson. He cracks me up every time.
- I have been able to travel abroad and experience a small taste of other cultures. It is an experience I wish everyone could have.
- I am thankful for the Bill of Rights.
- Regardless of political standpoints on foreign policy, we should all be thankful for the men and women who serve in our military.
- I’m thankful for the President--- any and all Presidents, good and bad. Whoever is in the Oval office needs our prayers, regardless of whether or not we agree with him (or hopefully one day, her). The US has one of the most peaceful transitions of power in the world. That’s nothing to sneeze at, regardless of your political leanings.
- I’m thankful for having been raised in a home with values.
- I’m thankful I was taught the importance (and honor) in good, honest work ---whether in the boardroom or at the K-mart sales counter.
- I’m thankful Martin Luther nailed those 95 theses to the wall of the church. (No offense to my Catholic friends.)
- I have a really cool apartment. Not a big deal in the big scheme of things, but I am thankful.
- I’m thankful that I have friends who are of different faiths. Why? Because I have learned a lot from them, while we also agree to disagree. It is such a blessing to be able to learn in love—and while we cannot truly walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, we need to learn what they believe instead of what we may think they believe. I have friends who are Muslim, New Age, Wicca, Ba’hi , Jewish, agnostic, atheist, and Unitarian.
- I’m thankful my parents adopted a three-month old baby girl from Greensboro. (That was me, btw.)
- Communion wine.
- My shake-weight (it was time to lighten things up a bit and cleanse the palette)
- Thankful for my education.
- Thankful that I broke up with those boyfriends I shouldn’t have been dating in the first place (you know who you are J)
- I’m thankful for friends from all around the world.
- I’m thankful for living in the U.S.
- I’m thankful for kayaking.
- Great blue herons. Amazing.
- Animals. (Except for roaches. They don’t need our gratitude. They’ll all outlive us anyway. )
- I’m thankful for being single, believe it or not. Someone once sneered at me, “How does it feel to be over 40 and single?” I said “Better than being over 40 and divorced.” (Divorce is tough. I’ve seen my friends go through it. )
- Ambien. Nuff said.
- Coffee. It is almost blasphemous that I put it so low on this list.
- Happy accidents.
- My art studio (insert shameless plug for the BelAir Artisans Center here)
- I’m thankful for the guardian angels who have allowed me and my friends narrow escapes from potentially devastating car crashes or disasters of any kind---not mentioning the near misses that I probably don’t even know about. There are days I’m sure my guardian angel may be featherless and putting in for a transfer.
- Did I mention coffee?
- “Toys.” Let’s face it, none of us NEED an iPad, or class ring, or cable TV. But it is a blessing to be able to have some “wants. “
- Literacy. Statistically you’d be surprised at how many are functionally illiterate. If you can read, you can do (or learn how to do) almost anything.
- Believe it or not, I’m even thankful for the humid, welcoming, bizarre, hardscrabble city where I live, Rocky Mount (which is neither rocky, nor a mount). Why? There are so many good people here. There are so many people trying to make it a better place, and seeing that sacrifice and love makes me want to be a better person. (There’s also novel fodder out the wazoo.) There are so many random shots of beauty in the landscape and buildings (well, and sadly, just some random shots, period.) There is also a strange sense of renaissance in the air as the city finishes its streetscape project. There are small but active coveys of artists, musicians, and so many families have adopted me as an honorary member that it is unbelievably touching. Inspiration is everywhere. (Speaking of which, STEVIE—WHEN are we going to where JACK KEROUAC lived? –yep. He spent his summers in Rocky Mount, NC. I believe he worked at a TV appliance store downtown. One of the train stations in “On the Road” is supposedly inspired by the Rocky Mount train station.)
- Jesus. I saved the best for last. Saint Paul claims he was the “chief of sinners”—but there are days I think I could give him a run for his money. The fact that God loves me in spite of that is the ultimate blessing.
Thanks to everyone who has helped make this a good birthday.