Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I’ve noticed a trend in the last few days of people using the entire month of November to give thanks and count their blessings. Rather than just saying what they’re thankful for on Thanksgiving Day, they list one thing every day of the month for which they are grateful. It’s a nice change of pace, and something I think I should get on board with. Now, I know myself well enough to realize that I would probably forget to do this every day. Then I would get behind. Then I would try to play catch up and squeeze four days’ worth of thanks into one, and worry more about the quantity than the quality. Who needs that kind of stress? So I’m going to make it easier on myself and count my blessings all at once in this handy dandy blog. Maybe not exactly 30 things, but as much as I can think of. I have a lot to be grateful for, and for that I am grateful. Some things on my list might seem a little trivial. Some might seem a little obscure. Some might seem a little too obvious. But everything is something for which I’m incredibly thankful. So, here it goes!

I am thankful for:

1.) My pets. My dog, Sam, and my cat, Libby, are most definitely a part of my family. They both have their own distinct personalities and I don’t think I could possibly love them any more than I already do. Sam is the most stubborn, independent little dog I’ve ever known, but he’s also sweet and undeniably adorable. Libby is a mass of fur and love, the most patient cat in the world who humors me when I make her wear Halloween costumes or scoop her up in yet another hug. All she asks for in return is a warm lap to sit in and food. Lots of food. They’re both getting older, and I realize the day will come when they aren’t with me anymore. Hopefully it will be later rather than sooner, but in the meantime, I will be grateful for every day I have them in my life.

2.) My job. I love what I do. Being a paralegal is a great fit for me, mostly because a day seldom goes by when I don’t learn something new. Ask me about utility poles, subdural hematomas, breeze conveyors in a steel mill, colon cancer, tension pneumothoraxes, or mine subsidence – all stuff I’ve learned about through my work. It might sound boring, but most of it is pretty fascinating to me. Another big reason I’m grateful for my job is the people I work with. Many of them are like family to me and I’m glad and thankful that I get to see them five days a week.

3.) My “Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown” DVD. Yes, the name is ridiculous, but it’s also appropriate. By the end, I’m sweating so much I look like I’m melting. And possibly on the brink of death. But, it’s the first yoga workout I’ve found that doesn’t leave me annoyed at all the breathy talk about finding my center, imagining that my legs are growing out of my armpits, and positioning my sitting bones. It’s just straight-forward, agonizing aerobic yoga and I feel like I’ve actually accomplished something when I’m done. Don’t get me wrong, I still hate everything about it. But, it’s something that I can at least stick with because I’m seeing results and I’m getting better at it, slowly but surely. I still fall all over myself when I try to do the rolling side planks and I still wobble like a Weeble when I attempt holding the Warrior 3 pose, but it’s much less than the first time I took a stab at the workout, and any progress is good progress.

4.) Living in a country where I can vote for those who will lead it and then later on complain about what a terrible job they’re doing. There are places in this world where expressing your views about the government will get you thrown in jail or worse. I’m grateful to have the right to snarkily proclaim my disgust with every politician in the United States.

5.) My health. I don’t want to jinx anything, so I’ll just leave it at that.

6.) Amazon.com. Seriously, it’s the most amazing website/retailer ever created. Need some shoelaces and don’t want to make a trip to the store? Go on Amazon.com and you’ll find any and every type of shoelace known to man in every length and color imaginable. Need groceries? Books? CDs? Furniture? Jewelry? A new fishing pole? A couple spoons? Tires? A washing machine? “Muppet Family Christmas” on VHS? A ceiling fan? Toothpaste? Shoes? Overalls? Toys? Musical instruments? Froot Loops? Toilet paper? Really, Amazon has all of this stuff and will deliver it right to your door, usually for free. It’s the second most magical place on earth, after Disney World, of course. Speaking of which…

7.) Disney World. It’s my favorite place on the planet. Many people think I’m nuts and look at me like I’ve sprouted a third eye when I tell them I’m going back. Again. But, most of those people have never been and have no idea how wonderful it is. I’m not sure I can even explain why I love it so much, I just do. It’s the only place on earth that I don’t really worry about anything, where I can forget about all the crap and stress of the real world, at least for a few days. I feel like a kid again when I’m there, and no matter how many times I visit, the joy and giddiness I feel at Disney World never goes away. And those are two feelings I’ll never get enough of.

8.) My membership in the Disney Vacation Club. It’s the enabler to my addiction, the supplier of my fix. Without it, I wouldn’t be able to go to Disney World as often as I do – at least once, but usually twice a year. And if I do ever get the hankering to go somewhere else on vacation, the Disney Vacation Club offers access to accommodations all over the world, to cruises, and to guided tours in places like Egypt, China, and all over Europe. Becoming a member was one of the best decisions I’ve made and I only wish I had done it sooner.

9.) My car. Like I said in a previous blog, I love my little car. I’d be lost without it. Quite often I am lost with it, but that’s another story. I’m grateful for the independence it gives me to get wherever I need to go whenever I need to get there. I live in an area where mass transit isn’t widely available, and if I had to rely on the scary local buses with questionable sanitary conditions and frighteningly oblivious drivers, I’d be downright miserable.

10.) Hand sanitizer. Whoever came up with hand sanitizer AND put it in convenient little pocket packs should be nominated for sainthood. I carry it with me everywhere I go and use it obsessively, especially after pushing shopping carts, filling up my car with gas, or touching door handles and handrails. I suffer from a slight case of germaphobia and I absolutely hate being sick. Anytime I hear someone sneeze or cough within a 10-foot radius of where I’m standing, I whip out the hand sanitizer, squeeze a little in my palm, and rub my hands together like Mr. Burns of “The Simpsons,” thinking to myself “Eeeeexcellent. Dead germs.” If I could squirt hand sanitizer up my nose and in my eyes, or coat the inside of my mouth with it, I would if it meant it would zap any germ or bacteria that came near the orifices in my face. I'm aware there are recent reports that overusing hand sanitizer is not good for you and really doesn’t do much to keep you healthy, but I choose to live in my rubbing alcohol-coated bubble of protection, even if it is just a placebo.

11.) My new iPhone. Yes, I have officially taken the giant leap into the year 2007 and joined the rest of humanity in the technological wonder world that is the iPhone. I received one this year as an early birthday present, and it only took about 10 minutes before I was addicted. It’s absolutely amazing all the things this little electronic rectangle can do. I now gladly take my lumps with a side of humble pie when I hear “told you so” from all the people who advised me I should become an iPhone user despite my stubborn, indignant stance that I didn’t need it. Oh, how wrong I was.

12.) On a similar note, my iPod. I still have my first generation video iPod that I received as a gift long, long ago. It has served me well for many years and while it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles of my iPhone, it does contain something very important to me – my music. It provides pleasant background noise that I need so very much in my office at work every day. It makes raking leaves and rotting black walnuts in my back yard not so much of a chore. It makes painting my living room much more enjoyable as I sing along to the songs it shuffles through. My iPod contains the soundtrack to my life, holding songs that I loved as a kid through songs that I just discovered I love yesterday. Music makes everything better, and nothing can affect my mood like an upbeat song or a sad, sappy tune.

13.) On another similar note, my favorite bands “Jack’s Mannequin” and “Something Corporate.” They share the same lead singer, musical genius Andrew McMahon, and unfortunately are both now defunct. But their songs live on, thankfully. Their music is magical – piano punk rock – and I’ve never found lyrics that I relate to more than those written by Andrew McMahon. His music has made me happy, made me sad, made me hopeful, inspired me, comforted me, energized me, and healed me. It doesn’t get much better than that.

14.) My KitchenAid stand mixer. I love to bake and this thing makes it so much easier. My cookies and those who eat them thank you for your marvelous invention, KitchenAid.

15.) Being able to read and write. This really is something that I take for granted every day, but the fact is that illiteracy is real and affects many people. I don’t know what I would do if I couldn’t read or especially if I couldn’t write. Between my sister and me, I got the bulk of the language brain power and she got ALL of the numerical brain power. Numbers and I do not get along. Numbers are bullies who try to push me around and make me feel stupid, especially the number 9. “Try to subtract me from something, I dare you!” 9 taunts me. “Whoa there, Nelly! Don’t you have to carry something? Where you gonna carry it to? Didn’t you forget to cross something out? What’s the answer? Wrong! Ha ha, Dummy!” Words, on the other hand, nurture me, comfort me, and take me into their warm embrace saying, “Come with us, we love you! And you don’t need a calculator to figure us out.”     

16.) Having access to fresh, nutritious food and clean water. Seriously, how many of us think about how lucky we are when we go to the grocery store? I know I don’t, but I should. Far too many people are starving, suffering from diseases that are a direct result of drinking contaminated water, and don’t have many options when it comes to feeding themselves. I live in a world where I have so many options that I often have a hard time choosing what I want to eat. Or I complain about the produce selection not being fresh enough. What a wonderful problem to have! I know that every day I take for granted the fact that I not only have running water in several places in my home, but it’s clean, safe water I can drink without worrying about getting dysentery (even if it does come from the Mississippi River). Being grateful for this is something I really need to work on.

17.) Facebook. This is yet another technological marvel I refused to participate in for years. I always said, “Anyone who I want to find me already knows where I am.” Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t entirely true. I finally broke down and joined Facebook this year, and it’s pretty awesome! Because of Facebook, I’ve reconnected with friends that I hadn’t talked to in years. It’s brought more great people into my life, which I needed after isolating myself for far too long. I feel inclined to hang my head in shame as I mark this down as another X in the “I was wrong” column on my “I should have listened” life chart. 

18.) “Jeopardy.” This one might seem dumb, but I absolutely LOVE this show. Where else can you learn about Shakespeare, world capitals, bodies of water, marsupials, and the American Revolution all in the span of 30 minutes? I love trivia. I have a storage bank in my brain that’s full of nothing but useless information that might only come in handy once in a lifetime. But I still like filling that bank. Most of it is short-term deposits – it’s in and out in a matter of seconds. But every once in a while something sticks and usually finds its way to my vocal cords during random conversation. “I went to the zoo the other day and saw the orangutans,” someone might say.  *cue up Jeopardy useless information database* “Oh, really? Did they make any noise? An adult male orangutan can make a call that can be heard a mile away and last for up to 5 minutes,” I might spew out. “Weirdo,” the other person mutters.   

19.) Skinnytaste.com. This website is fantastic. It’s actually a blog written by a woman in New York (I think) who posts different recipes several times a week. They’re all low fat and surprisingly healthy, but still taste delicious. I’ve tried about 10 recipes from Skinnytaste so far and have loved everything I’ve made, which is surprising because I always thought I was allergic to healthy food. The chicken enchiladas, grilled pesto shrimp, and chocolate strawberry-stuffed crepes – let me say that again: chocolate strawberry-stuffed crepes – are my favorites so far. And I don’t feel guilty eating any of it! Bonus!

20.) Health insurance. Yes, it’s a screwed up shambles in this country, but it’s a necessary evil and I’m very thankful I have it. I’ve seen first-hand what happens when you need health insurance and don’t have it, and it’s not pretty. I haven’t needed mine too often over the years (excuse me while I go find some wood to knock on…), but if and when I do, it’s comforting to know that it’s available to me, even if it does cost an arm and a leg.

21.) Autumn. It’s my favorite season and has been for as long as I can remember. I love the cooler weather, the changing leaves, the anticipation of the holidays to come, the warm comfort food, the sweaters, the blankets, and the overall coziness of this time of year. I’m grateful to live somewhere that experiences the change in seasons and that autumn is among them.

22.) Makeup. I admit this one is kind of silly. But the way I see it, wearing make-up is one of the perks of being a girl – a trade-off for some of the unpleasantness we’re saddled with in life. I don’t wear much makeup, actually, but I like being able to have the option to if I so choose. Let’s face it: it’s weird for men to wear makeup (except for Robert Smith of The Cure and Johnny Depp who can rock eyeliner like nobody’s business). That’s probably not fair, but it’s true. It would be weird for a man to show up at work one day covered in foundation, blush, mascara, and lipstick. In fact, that might make him a drag queen. But women can wear as much make up as they want and it’s not considered weird. Garish and tacky, yes, but not really weird. Trust me, on the days I wake up with a zit right in the middle of my chin that looks like a scale replica of Mount Kilauea, I’m grateful to be able to spackle a blob of concealer over that bad boy.  

23.) Walgreens. I love Walgreens. If Walgreens sold bananas, I probably wouldn’t shop anywhere else. (Well, except Amazon.) They have everything and they’re everywhere. In my area, you can’t throw a rock without hitting at least two Walgreens stores. What’s even better for me is that I have a Walgreens about five minutes from my house that’s not only close by, but right smack dab in the middle of my route between home and work. When I’m in need of Mickey Mouse bandaids, it just takes a five-minute stop at Walgreens on my way home and I’m good to go. Dog treats? Walgreens. Lip balm? Walgreens. Aspirin? Walgreens. Some bizarre “As Seen on TV” gadget I just have to have? Walgreens. It’s heaven on earth, I tell you.

24.) Friends. They just make life better, whether they’re someone I see every day at work or someone who lives too far away in Chicago or Oklahoma; someone who makes me laugh ‘til I cry, or lets me cry ‘til I laugh. I’m grateful for them all, no matter how small or big a part they have in my everyday life.

25.) Family. I saved the best, and most important, for last. I wouldn’t be able to make it through this life with my sanity intact without my family. They are my life force, my supporters, my cheerleaders, my teachers, my everything. I don’t have a picture-perfect family, but the one I do have is perfect for me. I’m forever thankful to have a group of people who I know without a shadow of a doubt I can count on at any time for anything. Of all the blessings in my life, this is the biggest and the one I am most grateful for.

I know I have even more things to be grateful for, and this list doesn’t cover every day in November, but I better stop here or else this blog entry will quickly turn into a pamphlet. "Giving Thanks and You: How to Stretch Your Turkey Day Bliss Over an Entire Month." Looking over this list, it’s easy to see I’m a pretty lucky gal and I have a lot to be thankful for, not just this month, but all the time. 


  1. After 4 father-daughter trips to Disney World and 1 to Disneyland, I had had enough of the Magic Kingdom, etc. but I am thankful that I was part of introducing you to something that you enjoy so much.
    Good blog. Very entertaining.

    1. You started it all! And I'm so thankful you did and that we had those trips together.