On a jewelry box given to me for my college graduation there is a picture that says, "Begin every day with a grateful heart." Each morning I read that and tell God what I am grateful for that morning. It not only takes the edge off of the mere fact of being the morning, but is a reminder of the blessings I've received to simply start the day. (And I'll be honest, almost always coffee, my comfy bed and my earring collection make the cut.)
- Family. We all know this: our families shape who we are and who we will become. If it weren't for my mom and dad battling all the struggles of being the parents of this hell-raiser, I would not be where I am today. I am thankful for their love and support, and for the maturing adult relationship growing between us. This was especially apparent to me over Christmas break when Lee and I were able to go out to dinner with mom and dad. I realized afterwards that it was different than mom and dad taking out daughter Kelsey and her friend. While it's hard to break through that mold entirely, we were able to raise our glasses (of a delicious wine that mom chose), enjoy the conversation, and spend time as adults in public, sharing life with one another. I'd be kidding if I didn't say that I love you too, Kevin. You're a great brother and I am thankful for our mutual love of Jim Gaffigan's bacon humor and our fights over who Rusty loves more (I still know it's me, by the way).
- Incredible friends. Yesterday a friend of mine wrote a great post about how special her college roommates were and still are in her life. While reading this I realized how blessed I am with amazing friends that continue to push me to be a better woman day after day. I wouldn't be half the woman I am today without the friends that have helped me get here, particularly those who have been there through thick and thin and listen to me blab on week after week (ahem, Molly) and continually encourage me, regardless of how trivial my "problems" are. To those dear friends in my life, who continue to stick it out day after day, week after week, month after month: I love you. Thank you for being so patient with me.
- The life God gave me. Jane and I just finished watching the movie Argo and in my tendency to be over-empathetic (that's what I've termed my condition...although I think it just comes with the territory of womanhood), I could not help but imagine I was there, being held hostage, afraid that at any moment my life could be snatched away from me. And that got me wondering about a whole other slew of things (death, what would I do if I were captured, how much do I love my country, yadda yadda yadda). Also, I heard news this morning of three young men traveling to a tennis tournament in MN that were killed in a car accident on the way there. This is such a tragedy, and my prayers are with the families of these young men. Each of them were only 20 years old and I cannot imagine the pain their families, friends, teammates, classmates and coworkers are experiencing. Another reminder of how precious God's gift of life is.
- Beautiful music. Of course my idea of what makes music beautiful is subjective, but this is my blog after all. For those of you who know me, you know I'm always promoting bands with comments such as, "Check this band out!" or "Just listen to this song! You'll fall in love I swear." I think the reason for this is because there is an emotional element to music that, as a woman, I can relate with. There is deeper meaning to much of the music I listen to regularly (minus the occasional guilty pleasure reggaeton or hip-hop song), and the bands I particularly crave are: Mike Mangione and the Union, Mumford and Sons, The Lumineers, L'Angelus, Needtobreathe, Phillip Phillips and Josh Groban, to name a few. There is something about a beautiful song or piece of art that can lift you out of your current emptiness and inspire you simply with it's beauty. I'll stop there, but I just think it's important to know how thankful I am for music.
- Psych. That's right, nothing more than an eight-season, USA TV series. As of late Jane and I have been bonding while watching and re-watching episodes, which she conveniently owns on DVD. I had never heard of this show until she introduced me and now I'm hooked. I must say: it's pretty stinkin' funny, plain and simple. I'm just a tad more jolly by the simple introduction of some regular humor into my weekly schedule and it's nice to be able to watch it on my time--rather than if it were on cable and I had to see it at 8 pm on Wednesday nights each week. Let's be honest, you know that won't be happening in this girls' schedule anytime soon. However, I'm thankful for the bonding time this gives to Jane and I; I'm thankful for the silly sense of humor between Shawn and Gus; and I'm especially thankful that I can share this joy with others. Laughter is the best medicine, right?
A dear friend once taught me about the "Rosary of Thankfulness." This is said using a regular rosary, and rather than praying the usual prayers and meditations of the rosary--while hopefully still saving those for a different time throughout the day--on each bead you list someone/thing you are thankful for. For the first two decades it can be a cinch. After that you need to start getting pretty creative, but it's incredible to see how many things there are in your life to be thankful for--including the air you breathe and the mailman who delivers your letters.
In today's world where the tendency to complain is high and seems to be the only way we communicate with one another ("Wow this line is really long." "It's so cold!" "It's too hot." "What's taking them so long?" "Flights canceled again?"), I think it's important to center ourselves, be reminded of how lucky we really are and share that with our brothers and sisters who think their world is crashing down because the grocery store lines are all long.
"Let your heart overflow in effusions of love and gratitude as you consider how the grace of God saves you each day from the snares the enemy sets in your path."
- St. Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, #434