I like to think that I’m generally a grateful person. I mean I might not have always been, but dying (yeah, I’ve done that before) tends to change perspective. And coming from so little (parents crazy abusive, on my own as a young teen, putting myself through high school, college and grad school, everything I have I made for myself, including my family – none of which is biological) I know what nothing or even something toxic looks like, and I choose the other side of that.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not an optimist. I’m a realist, or in the case of this photo, an engineer:
But all joking aside, I am a realist and perhaps closet idealist and romantic, but while I do not believe things will always turn out okay or that everything happens for a reason, it just makes me that much quicker to appreciate the good things and people in my life.
This year I thought about writing the “30 Days Of Thankfulness” but I did that last year, in a post that accumulated the thirty things I was most thankful for. And you know what? They haven’t really changed. My life, health, husband, friends, family – they all top the list. And chocolate, Buffy, books, writing are all still important supporting characters on that list. But this year I was thinking, what about the things that may not be the most important, but you know what – I’m still super grateful for them. What new day to day things have I noticed since last year? Because that’s the thing that the past year has taught me more than others have – it’s not about the crisis, it’s about the every day.
2014 really kind of sucked for us. Every year before that, while not completely sucky always seemed to have a crisis or two but also amazing moments set them apart. As humans, we tend to freak out in a crisis, even if only internally. We worry and fret about it; we try to do as much damage control as possible while simultaneously tending to the root of the crisis. We lose and grieve, we get angry and feel helpless, and then we survive. We have no other choice if we want to keep on living.
These experiences affect us and how we see the world, but they also make us stronger (though after awhile, one wonders why the universe does not believe they’re strong enough). Still, the human spirit is incredibly resilient. Far less breakable than our fragile bodies are. But everyday life can build and build. It is the everyday that makes us tired. The everyday that wears us down. The everyday that can creep under our skin and leave something – some sort of mental or emotional infection that will begin to fester. And it is the everyday where small gifts happen. An exchange, a note, your pets doing something amazing, a joke, a sentiment, a small thing like a favorite drink or something uber convenient unexpectedly working out. These are the things I wanted to focus on this year. Because they help chip away at the daily grind that is less pleasant. So here, in no particular order, are some of the small things that have kept me smiling or simply made life a little easier.
We finally broke down and purchased a new oven. Our old oven either would fail while cooking something (complete power failure) or the temp would keep rising and burn whatever we were baking within minutes before potentially starting a fire. Using it became an extreme sport and a major aggravation. I love baking, especially cupcakes, and I have to say that everything tastes so much better when the heat is evenly distributed at the correct temperature, without any sudden stops. Makes me happy. 🙂
I am sure they were on the last list, but we have the best neighbors and on at least a weekly basis there are specific instances where they just wow me with their sheer awesomeness. Whether it is taking care of the snow in our driveway so I won’t have to shovel it, or bringing us an orchid or inviting us to a party, I love all of my neighbors. I have no idea how we got so lucky, and I am going to cry hysterically if any of them decide to move.
- Husband Treats
Whenever Roy (my husband) goes to the store, he usually brings me something. A favorite chocolate bar, or a small thing of baked goods (I love to bake, but I won’t bake for myself ever) to snack on while I work the next day. I love him even more for it. It’s thoughtful, but also practical as whatever he buys quickly disappears and is fuel for me to power through whatever I need to get done.
- Paternal Efforts
I am fairly estranged from both of my parents, or I was until this year. While my mother was extremely abusive and not having her in my life is healthy, my father was just neglectful and uninterested. While he hurt me, it was never with the intent to do harm, just not caring if he did. But early this year he reached out, and owned his part in an effort to move on and build something new. I am really grateful for this, as I told him years before that that was all he needed to do. I had already forgiven him, I did that for me, but if he wanted a relationship we needed to talk about things. He did, came out for a visit, had the talk and since has kept in touch much more and during visits has made effort that I recognize. I appreciate this greatly, because I feel like a former orphan which is a lot nicer than an actual orphan.
- Family Time
I think this year we’ve focused a lot more on family than we have in the past. I have been helping my sister with her college admissions, talking more with my brothers, paving a new relationship with my father and making a larger effort to spend time and communicate with my grandmother (she is severely hard of hearing and I’m deaf, she does not have a cell phone or internet and lives in a different state, so yeah this can get tricky). And with Roy’s family too.
Most of him family is also out of state, and I’m not a big texter, and with the distance it’s not like we are as close as we could be. And I really haven’t gone above and beyond in the effort department. I love his family; they’re all much nicer than the one I was born into, so I am trying to make a point of being better about this. Sending them emails to things I think they’d like or pictures of Roy or the animals or of us with their grandkids (who do live near us), inviting them to things, and baking stuff for them when they’re in town. It’s not hard work or something I dislike, it’s just about being more thoughtful.
The same goes for Roy’s family who live in state. I think in the past there have been a few misunderstandings that have caused distance and hurt feelings. Nothing intentional, a misunderstanding is just that. And while it affected me indirectly, it was between Roy and his family, so it wasn’t mine to clear up. But he has and I think it has really made a difference. We’re spending much more time with them, spending time on their farm or having them over to our house, going out for lunch somewhere in between or to the park with the kids. I love it. And I hope it can continue.
This year I pushed myself to put myself out there, and I have. The result: meeting some awesome people within the writing and disabled communities. Both communities are important to me and I love our interactions – the camaraderie, stories only we can relate to, support and encouragement and fury when appropriate.
- Writing Buddies
I got myself some writing buddies! I think every writer should have a few fellow writers they respect and admire (as both writers and people) to trade work with. You have to get feedback outside of yourself and who wants to hire an editor for each piece, especially since most writers are POOR! And the reading is a pleasure, not to mention beneficial. You pick up a lot of skills, both as a reader and a writer, when you read other people’s work and give them meaningful feedback. It’s a win/win!
I am such a bookaholic, and there are so many books I want to read, more than I will ever be able to in my lifetime. And since, as I have previously mentioned, I am poor, I am grateful for my library, which happens to be within walking distance. It’s like my second home, and I always have a ridiculous amount of books checked out from them. Whenever I return one, I have to check out three!
This is how I keep in touch with a lot of my friends and the people that matter to me, since geographical distance is a thing. Yes, it can be a major time sucker, but I love keeping in touch with the people I care about, that I otherwise couldn’t, or wouldn’t. And those dumb quizzes and articles can be fun ways to waste time too. 😛
- Chocolate and Baked Goods
Seriously, this is a need for me. Every day. It’s how I get things done!
- New Coffee Finds
I have a sweet coffee drink addiction. Like chocolate and baked goods, I NEED this to be productive. And in the last two months I have discovered some awesome new coffee places that have me hooked (the only sad part is they’re thirty minutes away, some forty-five). I love discovering new places to love and drinks to crave, and there hasn’t been any shortage in either department. Thank God!
I am always trying to be better, but this year while I have slacked in keeping track of the goals I started with, I have also noticed a great deal of evolution, as a writer and a person. I think the personal stuff is boring – I’m much more excited about my growth as a writer. I’ve put a lot of work into it this year. Workshops, advanced courses, networking, conferences, writing buddies, contest participation, submitting crap… The stuff I am writing now… I’m not sure if I could have a year ago. And it’s not because it’s new material to write about, it’s how I am writing about the material I already had. It’s exciting, and I hope I keep moving forward, or sideways, any movement really, in this wild and beautiful journey.
- The Perfect Base
I love making things from scratch, but for pasta sauce I use a very basic local sauce as a base rather than fresh tomatoes. But by local, I mean local to my hometown more than eight hours away from where I live. So… the last time I visited I stocked up. And by stocked up I mean my husband limited me to four large jars. So I am hording the sauce like it’s “my precious” but I have already killed one of the jars. I forgot what a difference it made to have the perfect base to make some awesome sauce. 🙂
I am an animal lover, and at first was going to say I was thankful for animals, but then I realized this would include spiders (NOPE!) and other creepy crawlies that freak me out, so I amended the statement. But seriously, I love animals, not just my own and not just domesticated. Whenever I am surrounded by animals I am happier. It’s possible I may even like them more than people! 😛
I love flowers, particularly orchids, and I seem to be collecting them more and more as time goes on. I probably get three or four a year, and they tend to stay alive so after a few years, I have a nice little indoor garden going on, that I even decorated with glow in the dark pebbles amazon I got online. 😉
- My Peeps
I’m trying to keep this list from being a repeat of last year, but I can’t not mention my wonderful friends and the people in my life, because most of my daily smiles are because of them. Friends who are more like family, whether it is a Facebook exchange, a visit, text, email, joke, picture – they keep me sane. And as a deaf person who works from home – this contact means the world to me. While I may go days without seeing someone besides my husband face-to-face, I never feel alone.
- Crisis Break
I feel nervous even mentioning this, tempting fate and all, but I am grateful for a crisis break. Sure we have had things come up, and things to deal with, but no life-and-death, fear-inducing, justified panic things or great losses to mourn, for about a year. And while the day-to-day can be just as AAGGHHH, I am incredibly grateful for the reprieve (and hope it keeps itself up).
- My Biggest Cheerleader
It is impossible for me to talk about daily joys and not mention my husband. He is my biggest cheerleader, always trying to bring me up, supportive of my goals and ambitions and for some odd reason, he thinks I am one hundred times better than I am. And he never lets me forget it. Most of my laughter and smiles are because of him. Pushing myself in my writing, because of him. Having a safe space to be human, not just my best which anyone could tolerate, but also my worst – there is only him. And so in terms of daily things I am thankful for, he has to be the greatest. (Save the best for last, you know.)
And that concludes my daily hits of joy. I could have thought of more, but honestly this post is already WAY too long. These aren’t necessarily the things I am the most thankful for, for that click on the link above and read last year’s post. Instead, these are the things that bring me little hits of joy every day. Of course, there was bound to be a little overlap, but that couldn’t be helped. 😛
I hope everyone holds onto and remembers not only the big things, but all the small stuff to appreciate. Because the small stuff matters just as much as all of that “big stuff”. #Perspective