Much has been written and said about gratitude, especially as we move into a new year. Most of us would not outward admit to any downsides to this practice and some of us stumble when it comes to making time to consider what and whom we are grateful for in our lives. Or we might find articulating that gratitude challenging. Or perhaps we are so in the muck of life, that it is actually a challenge to see what we might have to feel gratitude towards.
I’ve been there. Often. Work, health, parenting – it all gets heavy and busy. So busy that any sense of gratitude gets weighted down, if not suffocated.
I am decidedly not there right now.
I’ve also noticed that milestone birthdays are often greeted with disdain, regret or even shame. “Feeling old” becomes the expectation even simply said in jest. I’m celebrating one of those milestones this week and honestly, I have not one bit of regret or shame about a birthday which happens to a multiple of ten.
In fact, I’m pretty darn psyched. I’m lucky to be here, decades after my Birth Day. The alternative is far less rosy.
Last spring, I made a list of “50 x 50” – a list of what I wanted to do/see/feel before hitting 50. I quickly realized that there were not enough resources to make that happen by January. So now it’s a “50 x 60” list, which I am far more determination to make these things happen because I am full of gratitude.
Rather than sharing a 50 x 50 list, here’s a list of 50 things I’m feeling grateful for, in no particular order. Read on if you so choose, or better yet, make your own list of what allows you to feel grateful. Do it today. Do it tomorrow. Do it on your birthday or any ole’ day.
- Patience. Time and space to think about what is important to me. Even five years ago, I convinced myself I was too busy to stop and consider.
- My family. They’re just the best. Specifics forthcoming.
- Yoga. Keeps me sane. Keeps me bendy. Keeps me disciplined. Keeps me learning. Keeps me out of therapy, mostly.
- A body. It’s far from perfect and it’s got some miles, but it’s pretty healthy overall.
- Teachers. Those who taught my kids, too many of them to count but each one of them revered and admired.
- Other parents. Bunches of them who helped me raise my kids because I desperately needed it. And because we all know other parents often just carry a bit more credibility.
- Teachers, again. Those who have always taught me – whether as a student, a colleague or parent and for always putting important work out there so that teachers and students can grow.
- Colleagues. The smart people at Center for Responsive Schools who pushed me to be a more effective and compassionate teacher and a better human and parent. Ditto for other colleagues who have an unyielding eye for seeing the good in kids and work to move them forward.
- Friends. Especially the really awesome ones stick by in thick and thin, who know when to bring you food or stop you from that next dessert or glass of wine, who know when to listen and also know when to set you straight, who know when to lend a hand and who aren’t willing to ask for help, too.
- Joints, as in bones. Mine still move as long as my mind keeps them mobile, which is tricky when your body tries to fight itself.
- Water. In almost all forms, it brings peace and balance. The bay, rain, a long hot shower, the ocean, some cold fizzy water to drink. I love it all, except maybe the kind that means the basement flooded.
- Books. To read. And re-read. And recommend. And even those I simply admire on the shelf and dream about.
- Gilmore. The most humble and loyal black lab.
- Tupac, Weezy and Dr. Dre. Not, those guys, but the snuggly, playful, and affectionate kitties.
- Roof. The one over my head and walls around us because once they burned down and I never thought life would be the same. And it is decidedly NOT the same and I’m decidedly fine with that.
- Fire. Yup. Because the aforementioned fire meant the hub came home from some pretty serious conflict zones and made us keenly aware of what’s most important (back to #2).
- Insurance. It’s worth the hassle of phone calls and premiums because once you have flood and fire, you deeply appreciate what “replacement value” means.
- Sunshine. Always lifts the spirits especially when combined with #11.
- Tiny and Small Humans. Kids who make me laugh and be present. I’ve known enough kids that I can always count on little humans for laughter and mindfulness.
- The hub. He’s smart and thoughtful who keeps things real, in perspective and generally, full of humor, love, and humility. Did I mention that guy is smart?
- Picture books. Early in my career, a wise mentor showed me how the good ones have enduring and beautiful lessons for adults. This might explain why I cannot part with scores of them.
- Schools. The many communities I’ve been able to learn from – those of my own kids and the dozens I’ve been able to work with. They face so many challenges with fierce determination and faith in the human race. We’re all better because of the people who make schools hum.
- Health coaches and professionals. I’ve gained much wisdom gained from many, who guided me in a long, slow road to better eating and hence, better disease management, wellness, and life.
- Frequent travel points and miles. I’ve been hoarding them but finally cashing-in. I love free stuff, don’t you?
- Social media. Despite its downsides, it does let one stay in touch with old friends and make some new, fruitful and mutually beneficial contacts.
- Ability to travel. Locally, domestically, internationally. It’s important to see how other people live and what lessons can be gleaned from history.
- Technology. It’s often a love-hate thing, but heck, it’s great to stay in touch with people. Plus, I need those little pings to remind me to do what my brain forgets to tell me to do and keep me on schedule.
- Amazon and Zappos. Other than some favorite local small businesses, I only shop on-line and rarely it the mall. My UPS driver and I are pals.
- Younger friends. Their energy, perspective, and hip-ness keep me current, keep me laughing and keep me thinking I am 35.
- Older friends. They keep me humble, show me glimmers of what’s to come and graciously share their wisdom. I am in awe of so many of them.
- Mark Nepo. Nearly every morning for years, I read something he’s written. I don’t always remember his lessons, so I re-read often. He’s brilliantly honest and insightful.
- Music. It was once part of my daily life and I let it wither in my 20s. Now I hear pieces that get my fingers moving to the Star Wars theme song, a Vivaldi piece, April in Paris and various Paul Simon choruses. Mostly, it’s a spirit-lifter even if I can’t sing in tune nor play anymore.
- Constructivist education. Making meaning from what we know and are interested in helps us gain skills as we build on what we know, expand our curiosity and integrate new learning.
- Theater. I don’t go enough, but I always love a good show. And I got a big one that will help me celebrate tonight. Yipee!
- Coffee. Just one, well-brewed, hot cup in the morning. Then I’m civil and almost ready to roll.
- Laughter. There can’t be enough, except for the times it got me tossed out of religious ed. As a person prone to taking myself too seriously, I am deeply indebted to those who make me laugh. You know who you are and how I rely on you.
- Good skin. Thanks, Mom! I’m far too lazy to have out of habit, but between the genes and Beautycounter, I’m in good shape.
- Young parents. Lord only knows how they did it as young parents, but they did! Now we’d have years of adult fun together.
- My kids. These two are yin/yang who amaze me at their differences but who share a strong moral compass and commitment to being good people. It’s not all genes and parenting. It’s the village that helped raise them. See #5, 6, and 33.
- College. Who knew that would be where life-long friends came from and where we’d start becoming adults?
- Snow. There is nothing so beautiful as a thick blanket of snow, especially when it comes with a bluebird sky and no need to drive right away.
- Our nation’s military. The active and veterans who give so much so that we can live the lives we have. I’ve met dozens of them, each one with stories of bravery, humility, strength and courage and none of them looking for much of anything in return except a smile and a thanks. And a Navy football win!
- Messengers of peace and tolerance. There are too many to name and often, are the people we see every single day.
- Lavender. The stuff in my yard like those vast swaths of them I saw in Australia. Well, not quite that nice, but satisfactory approximation.
- Vision and hearing. I had both temporarily compromised in past year, making me appreciate what it means to have all my senses, at least for now!
- Reggio Emilia Approach. This changed how I think about early childhood education. Let little ones explore a visually appealing environment with items the provoke them to engage meaningfully, and that’s where the magic happens.
- Extended family. Those folks you don’t’ see often, who may seem far different from you, but with whom you still share a deep bond and often, similar characteristics or crazy antics of your kids.
- Book club. These ladies are smart, funny, kind, and no matter what, ensure a gracious and welcoming evening will be had by all, which actually includes a spirited conversation about the book of the month.
- Handwritten notes. I love reading them. I love writing them.
- Helping others. In the words of Auntie Claus, “…it is far better to give than to receive.”
And I’m thankful for you, reader! Thankful you read it to the end of this list and for being a part of the Wonder of Children community. Be sure to sign up to stay in touch. I promise shorter posts (phew!) and one more way to show my gratitude. Stay tuned for news on that later this week!