Lately I've seen lots of people put their "30 Days of Gratitude" items on Facebook. Well, I don't want to be bound to thinking of 30 things, but it did get me thinking about the many things I am grateful for.
On this rainy Saturday afternoon, with Eric in bed fighting a cold, I'm in a quiet house with my laptop moved to the kitchen table thinking about my blessings. There are a lot. I'm sure if I thought hard I could think of much more than 30, but these are the ones that stand out the most, in no particular order:
1. My Husband: Meeting my husband, Eric, in January 2009, kicked off an incredible chain of events I never would've predicted. Who would've thought that a simple "hello" message on MySpace would lead to a wonderful friendship, then a short courtship, then a wedding, then an interstate move, and life with the man I know I was meant to be married to? He is a gem and a blessing. He is my best friend, he accepts and loves me fully with all of my flaws, he tells me he loves me many times a day, and he makes me laugh all the time. I feel loved, valued, respected, and protected. I cannot imagine my life without him.
2. My Mom: My mom, a single mother, provided my brother and me with a very stable childhood, despite the numerous challenges she faced--divorce, financial difficulties, getting her degree, and being a working mom. We never felt like something was missing, she supported us in all we did and does still. She raised us to have high standards in all we do and has shown us a level of trust that I really appreciate. I also appreciate the emphasis she put on education and going to college. When talking about college, it was never "if you go," but "WHEN you go!"
3. My Family: It seems like in the last 5-6 years, my family has gone through a lot of changes. The grandkids are grown up, 4 out of 7 now live out of CA, 4 out of 7 are now married, and we don't all see each other as much as we used to. When both of my mom's parents died in 2008, it was really the end of an era, because so many family gatherings used to be at their house. For most of us, that was the only place we had ever had Christmas Eve. But, even though we have had a lot of changes, those wonderful memories have helped us to adjust and find new ways to carry on and create new traditions. We 7 cousins are still very close, thanks to email and Facebook, even though we are spread across the country from California and Washington to New Jersey and Mississippi. I credit that closeness to the many family gatherings and traditions we built during our younger years.
4. Our House: As a self-professed homebody, the house I live in and the atmosphere in it is very important to me. When it became apparent that Eric and I were going to live in Washington state, not California, we didn't have a lot of chances to look at houses together. In fact, we only saw the inside of 4....a townhouse and a house in Vancouver, a house in a nearby neighborhood, and the house here in Longview where we now live. There just wasn't a lot of time, and the fact that I would be bringing a dog and 3 kitties into the mix didn't make things easier. All of that changed when he showed me the Old West Side neighborhood, which is full of trees and right near Lake Sacajewea and its surrounding park. I had a list of things I required in a house...not a tract home, lots of natural light, good neighborhood, a formal dining room and family room, and all of those things we found in the house we are living in. Sure, it has it's quirks, like the "ski jump" roof, and the very orange kitchen, but I love this house. We have made it our own and look forward to many happy years here.
5. My Ward: When I look back a year ago at this time, I had not started back to church yet, the weather was very dreary, and I had a lot more time on my hands because I was not working and the house was officially furnished and the moving boxes all unpacked. The winter blues and a little bit of loneliness were beginning to settle in, which probably added to the misery I felt during our first Christmas here and my first away from my family. Shortly after Christmas, I began attending church and became more familiar with the members of the Longview 1st Ward, so many of whom confided that I was so lucky to be in that ward because it was the best in the stake. Lack of humility aside, they were right! The people have embraced me and Eric in ways I only could've hoped and I've made lots of wonderful friends these last few months. The leaders are wonderful and the women in Relief Society are some of the more loving and talented ladies I've ever known. My ward family has definitely become my social lifeline since moving up here.
6. Eric's Job: After working full-time for 15 years, it seemed unfathomable to me to be a homemaker. I expected it to be boring and unfulfilling. Now that I'm in my 2nd year in my "new job," I admit I really enjoy it. I'm not into crafts, sewing, scrapbooking and other things like that, but I do enjoy taking care of the house. I don't mind cleaning and doing laundry (which, even with 2 people feels neverending,) and even cooking nightly dinners is something I like doing. I like knowing that Eric comes home to a good meal that I prepared, and it is one way that I feel like I'm taking care of my husband. So in that way, I'm very grateful for Eric's job, which makes it possible for us to be a 1 income family.
7. A Sound Mind: A weird thing to put, I know, but I am very grateful for a healthy and sound mind. I'm grateful for good common sense that has led me to some sound life decisions. I'm grateful to be a person who does not rush into things, for creativity, for the ability to read and absorb information. And I'm grateful that I'm not someone who gets bored and depressed easily. As some wise person said, "Nobody likes a whiner."
8. The Menagerie: And, last but not least....even though they drive me nuts sometimes, I must admit that I'm grateful for my pets, my big black dog, Bailey, and kitties Darcy, Ashley, and Ramius. They give unconditional love, Bailey makes me feel protected when Eric is working at night, and the kitties love to snuggle. They were especially great company for all those years as a single person living alone. And, although we probably won't keep so many pets once the older ones pass away, we'll still have Ramius and (most likely) a dog (the bigger, the better, in my opinion!)
Yes, I'm feeling very, very blessed.