319/365

I see a lot of people posting around on the internet things they are grateful for every day for the month of November. I applaud them and think that anytime you can be grateful is a good time to be grateful.

But I do kind of wonder why we have to wait until November to get that going.

Although I am as guilty as anyone of falling behind on keeping a gratitude journal, I don’t like to limit it to just this month or time of year.

So here is mine:

Gratitude Day 319:
today I am grateful for the strength in my body,
that in spite of whatever I have done or not done to my body it is healthy.
for the many opportunities I am afforded in this life
that I really want for very little and certainly nothing in the way of necessities.
for love and kindness. It really does make the world go round.

An Attitude of Gratitude

To speak gratitude is courteous and pleasant,

to enact gratitude is generous and noble,

but to live gratitude is to touch Heaven

~ Johannes A. Gaertner

I really do try to always be grateful for the many wonderful things and people I (we) are lucky enough to have in this life. I have been to, and seen on TV, places where those things that we so take for granted are just not that easy to come by. I know that even when things seem really hard, the truth is that we are FAR above subsistence living  and it does a world of good to remember it. So here is a list of some “things” I’m grateful for. I’m going to leave family and friends off because I think it (almost) goes without saying that I’m grateful for/to them.

1. Water

In a class last year I watched a video about a woman in Africa who walks to a river at least once every day to get a jug or bucket of water. That river is about 5 miles from her home. The film was about efforts to install a well in the village nearby. They asked her what she would do if she didn’t have to walk all that way to get water every day. She just said she would be able to do more for her family. Because when she isn’t fetching water, she is helping her husband with the farming and she would have more time for that. Easy access to relatively clean water is the norm here. Many places it is the exception. Two years ago we had a terrible cold snap that froze the water in our area for several days. Having to find a way to fetch water for 3 people, a dog, and 5 horses was challenging, to say the least. Even in town all of the outside spigots were frozen or shut down for the winter. It was seriously too cold to fetch water from the reservoir or river safely, health risks aside. That was a great reminder of how lucky we are in our day to day lives. Also, when you rely on, and take for granted, these conveniences, you often neglect to have a system in place for when they fail.

2.Shelter

In these tough times, where people are losing their jobs and homes, homelessness is definitely on the rise. Having even basic protection from the elements is something that I think we really take for granted unless we don’t have it. Having spent some time in between addresses in my life, I try to keep perspective on how very lucky we are. Not only do we own our home, but we own a little bit of land around it. Some people don’t even have a van or truck with camper to live in like I did in my more nomadic youth. My computer tells me that it’s 28 degrees outside as I write this. I am so grateful for this shelter.

3.Food

I believe in and support gardening and farming, but I am soooo grateful that I don’t have to do it myself in order to eat. Easy, convenient access to food is truly something to be very grateful for. Even if you don’t have a lot of money, food stamps and food banks here make it relatively easy to keep yourself from starving. There are many places that it is not. My husband is a hunter and I’m happy to know that our lives do not depend on whether or not he succeeds at his hunt. The time, effort, and money spent each year for him to hunt once or twice is quite significant. (Though I’ll admit it could be done for less money 🙂 the time and effort would no doubt be the same or similar.)

4.Electricity and Heat

These are in the same category together because for us right now, they are the same thing. We are planning to put in a wood stove soon, but for now we are reliant on electricity for heat. It gets pretty cold if the power goes out in the winter. Also on our electric system: lights, stove, refrigeration, hot water and much entertainment. I have to say that I turn into an idiot when the power goes out. Much like with the water, not having a backup plan in place when the usual system fails can be very difficult. (We actually have a lot of camping gear and such so we can make do pretty well in the event of a catastrophic power failure.) When we do get our wood stove in, the gathering and procurement of wood becomes another issue. But, at least you have a source of heat and a place to boil water/cook inside.

5.Indoor Plumbing

‘Nuff said.

Bits and Baubles

I can’t quite seem to gather my thoughts to make a post. So I’ll do this instead:

‎”Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.

I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh

“To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe.”

~ Anatole France

“The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to oneself.”

-Michel de Montaigne

Don’t give up. I believe in you all.

A person’s a person no matter how small.

~ Dr. Seuss

“Just because you don’t name the direction, doesn’t mean that you aren’t going in one.”

– Say Yes Institute

“It’s not easy being grateful all the time.

But it’s when you feel least thankful that you are most in need of what gratitude can give you.”

– Oprah

today I am grateful for

clean water

abundant food

electricity

hummus

dear friends and readers

What are you grateful for today?

Neglect

I have been neglecting to list my gratitudes.

On one day in November after mom had died and Al had been rescued from the woods and was safe in the hospital, I came home to find a package on my porch. It was erroneously delivered to us instead of our neighbor. When I took it over to her the next day, I explained how crazy everything had been (to justify why it had taken me two days to get it delivered to her).

She said, “Not much to be grateful for right now, huh?”

I replied, “No, I have everything to be grateful for.”

I think sometimes when you have these big things going on it takes all of your energy and focus to wade through them. When you are so grateful just that your husband is alive, then really, these little things don’t get any attention.

Thankfully things have calmed down for a bit now. *fingers crossed*

So I am able to put my head up and look around a bit more. I can get back to my daily gratitude.

Today I am grateful for:

Indoor Plumbing

Books

Words

Dr. King

Maya Angelou

On Thanksgiving

I’m going to save my list of things I’m grateful for until tomorrow for six word friday since that is our topic. What I will say is just a little thing I “borrowed” from Stark.Raving.Mad.Mommy.

2. I am thankful for my friends in real life and on the Interwebz who get me, make me laugh, and forgive me when I inevitably jam my foot in my mouth.

1. I am thankful for my whacktacular extended and nuclear family, warts and all.  They are brilliant, inspiring, and make me laugh out loud on even the worst of days.

Go read her list of 10 things she’s thankful for.

http://www.starkravingmadmommy.com/2010/11/top-10-things-im-thankful-for.html

 

One thing that I love about Thanksgiving is that, for the most part, it hasn’t been hijacked by the media and big business for their gain. It still remains a family holiday focused on appreciating the good things we have. Most of which are intangibles which can’t be sold or bought.

The obscene glut of sales, deals, commercials, mobs in stores and fighting each other over more Merryness for me and mine doesn’t kick off until tomorrow. They call it Black Friday. Quite rightly.

It’s hard to have a Happy Holiday season if you are agonizing over the perfect gift for 356 of your closest friends.

When I was a kid we would often make coupon books to give each other in my family.

This coupon is good for:

a backrub

a carwashing

doing a chore for you (I don’t remember specifics)

Not things. Actions or services that you know they would appreciate. Personal and specific to them.

These are the types of things that we need to focus on in this day and age of consumerism and marketing. When we slow down and look at what really matters to us about these holidays, what is it that makes it special? If you look back on your life is it the toys you remember? Or is it the time spent with family and friends.

The food? Or the time spent together preparing and eating the food. (I’m not knocking the food. I love the food.) If it was just the food we would all go out to eat. After all, a turkey is a turkey is a turkey. No, it’s good food made special because Grandma made it that way and let you stir. Or Uncle Joe cracked jokes while setting the table backwards. Or whatever your memory holds dear.

Hold on to that feeling as we head into the whirlwind that is December.

For many people tomorrow is Buy Nothing Day to try to combat the rampant consumerism.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4QojXyegfs&NR=1

Whatever you do and however you do or don’t celebrate; make room for gratitude and love at your table.

To a Child

Perhaps I overheard this in a dream:

Mommy?

Yes, my love?

Why is everyone sad today?

They are sad because one day, this day, a while ago, some very yucky people had a very bad idea that hurt a lot of people.

Did the people die?

Yes they did.

Oh. I’m sad, too.

Yes, we are sad with them.

Did it happen a long time ago?

Not so very long ago. But it was before you were born.

Do they still miss them?

Oh yes. They always will. That’s mostly why we’re sad.

Were they angry, Mama?

Yes. And we still are.

Mama?

Yes, my love?

Do we hate them?

Why do you ask that?

Because they hurt our friends and family. I think we should hate them.

No, we don’t hate them.

But why not? We’re so sad and angry!

The people who did this want us to hate them. They want us so mad and hateful that we can’t see straight. They want us unable to think because we are so, so hurt and scared and angry. They want us to do their work for them.

What do you mean, do their work for them?

The kind of people who do bad things like this don’t believe in love like we do. They don’t believe in peace and kindness like we do. So, if they can make us so angry that we forget what we believe in, then they have made us like them. That way we will do their job for them. And they would win.

If we can’t hate them, what do we do? We are so angry!

We build.

We build? Build what.

We build good things.

What kind of things?

We build friendships. We build bridges. We relationships. We build up our knowledge. We build up our support systems. We build up the love and hope in the world. Mostly we build up each other. Because if we do that together we are strong. And we will win.

Mommy, can we do that?

Do what?

Try to win.

We must try to win.

Good. Let’s do that. It sounds so much better than being hateful like them.

Yes, it does.

***

I write these words in loving memory of those lives lost on September 11th. That their legacy will be one of love.

Today I am grateful for the words given to me.

Today I am grateful for the men and women serving our country. Let us aim them with strength, efficiency and where they will do the most good.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to show love and kindness to the world for another day.

Today I am grateful for my freedoms so hard-fought and won by those before me.

Today I am grateful for the opportunity to choose to turn toward the light.

Magicalness

A couple of weeks ago I had a magical thing happen.

To start with, I noticed that the daisies in my back yard had bloomed.

I love daisies. They are always so clean and bright looking. The other reason I love them is because my Grandma  had them in her yard and they remind me of her and my childhood.

So I was having a nice flowers and memory day.

Then my son picked me a flower.

A really big flower.

If he hadn’t picked it we might not have seen it, since we haven’t been in the greenhouse much this year.

My Grandma had a patch of Oriental Poppies in her yard as well.

Here’s where the magic happened:

We didn’t plant poppies.

We think maybe my mom did a few years ago when she was staying with us and for whatever reason they didn’t come up until this year.

On their own.

Thanks Grandma! I miss you,too.

So I had this flower in water in my kitchen and the petals started to fall off.

I was emotionally unable to let go of it.

So I didn’t.

I kept the petals, thinking I might press them.

But I didn’t get around to pressing them. Instead, they just dried a little more each day.

The colors changing and intensifying over the course of about a week.

I became attached to them not only from an emotional standpoint. But from a science and art one as well.

Watching these petals dry and progress through these color changes was a gift unto itself.

Thank You Grandma for this gift. Not only of the memory of you, but also of this exploration of color and texture and science.

I did not need reminding, but I love the reminder.

I love you, too.

Don’t forget to appreciate the little things -like flower petals.

and

Remember to appreciate the time you have with your loved ones as it is fleeting.

Today I am grateful for so many precious things… flower petals, memories, family, friends, and you!

Thanks for visiting with me today!

memorial day

I married a Marine.

I had no idea what I had gotten myself into. The only experience I had had with military men prior to my husband were my grandfathers. My dad’s dad was in the Army as a young man, but was not a lifer. My mom’s dad was a career Navyman. When he retired after twenty years, he continued to work with them in the civilian sector. Neither one of them would have ever been described as soft. Though they had their moments, of course. But they were not Marines.

Marines are a different make and model. As they will tell you, not everyone is cut out to be one. My husband was a lifer. Had he not been injured, I’m sure he would have stayed in until they kicked him out and then, as my Grandpa did, would have found a way to work with or for them until he couldn’t anymore. He’s stubborn that way.

I was raised by card carrying members of the hippie tribe. They are anti war and free love and tree huggers–though they are not so much war protest as peace rally. This upbringing of mine in no way prepared me for a life with a military man. Nor, at times, does my husband know what to do with me. Had I known what being married to a Marine meant before I did it, I might not have done it. It would have seemed overwhelming.

But I am glad I did not know. Because not only have we been in loving friendship for ten years with a beautiful son as well. Not only have I had the privilege of learning about life from this other perspective. But had I not married this man, this warrior, I would not have known of one of my purposes on this earth. Part of my job here is to show my Marine that the way is not always hard. That love and kindness are valid and necessary emotions. Soldiers, I think, have trouble with these emotions because they are not helpful emotions to have in wartime. The military does its very best to create soldiers who have the best chance possible of surviving and coming home. That means fast, strong, smart, brave, aggressive traits are cultivated. Anything else is not.

I long for the day when we have no need for a military. When we as a planet are able to use our words to problem solve and not our fists. But until that time has come…

Somewhere on a wall, there is a Marine

Standing up for my freedom to protest against him.

Somewhere on a gravestone, there is a name

A memory of someone’s loved one who did not come home.

Someone who stood up to protect the ideals that we forget we have because we don’t know what it’s like not to have them.

Someone who fell on a battlefield, fighting to survive and come home safe.

Someone who deserves recognition for having done the best job he could at one of the worst jobs we could ask him to do.

I do not believe in war.

I have never met a soldier who had truly been to war who didn’t long for peace.

Who knew full well the cost of war and was willing to pay it, but shouldn’t have to.

I support our troops.

I support our troops by trying to ensure that their lives are not wasted on petty politics. I support our troops by trying to ensure that if we are going to ask of them the ultimate sacrifice, that they, and their families, are paid a decent wage. It is the very least that we can do. I support our troops by trying to ensure that when they come home as veterans they are given the respect they deserve and the care they need.

As my husband likes to say, “Ours is not to reason why. Ours is but to do and die.”

And he is correct. It is not the job of a member of the military to reason why. Don’t join the military if you want to reason why. Because that is our job. As civilians, as citizens of this nation, it is our duty and responsibility to reason why. To exercise the freedoms that have been so dearly bought. To hold our politicians and admirals accountable for their actions.

Honor Our Fallen Heroes

Thank Our Military for Their Service

Honor Our Veterans

Support Our Troops: Bring Them Home

Today I am grateful for….. Freedom…..ServiceMen and Women…..Veterans……Those Who Have Gone Before……and…. My Marine

Words to Live By…

Here is a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert in O magazine this month:

“Can we draft a resolution

to drop the crazy-making

expectation that we must

all be perfect friends

and perfect workers

and perfect lovers with

perfect bodies?”

 

Oh, thank goodness. Can we say that aloud a few more times?

Ok, good.

Now all we have to do is follow through with it. And endeavor to support one another in our daily lives instead of comparing ourselves to each other.

 

 

 

Today I am grateful for

You

A Healthy Body that Does a Fine Job of Carrying me Around

Chocolate

Sunshine

and

Books.

Gratitude

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a big fan of Oprah Winfrey. She doesn’t talk about it as much anymore, but a few years ago she was pretty vocal about keeping a gratitude journal. You know, every day you write down five things that you are grateful for. So that you can keep your perspective aligned right. I try to do that, too. I have trouble keeping a regular journal in real life. But, now that I am firmly entrenched in the internet with my social networking and blogging addictions, I do my posting online.

Sometimes I think it helps to remember how very lucky we are to have the necessities  that we consider very basic; like running water and shelter. This winter we had a very cold spell where I live. The temperatures were below freezing for months. Well, it felt like months. It was actually 2 or 3 weeks. Everything was harder to do. We have animals. Horses and dogs who need food and water outside everyday. It was ridiculously hard to provide them with water especially. And then the water for the entire neighborhood went. A mainline broke and they couldn’t get it fixed for several days. It sucked. And it made me SO grateful that in the normal way of things, I don’t have to worry where my water comes from. Really, I was just happy the power didn’t go, too.

Other things, like technology, we forget are not standard issue for a lot of the world. Washing machines and microwaves, oh my! My husband’s mom is one of 12 kids. When her mom was asked which invention had the most impact in her life, she replied, ” The washing machine.” Because not having to hand wash the clothes of 14 people would have a considerable impact on your life.

So, try to keep some of these things in mind in your day to day travels. When you start to feel like you wish you could have a bigger house or car. When you need to have the latest shoes or newest phone. Sometimes we can get to feeling like we don’t have enough. Like we need more.

STOP

Take a Breath

and try to shift your focus away from what you don’t have. And remember what  riches we enjoy -without even noticing.

Today I am grateful for:

the internet

plenty of food and clean water

electricity

my car

and don’t forget

my washing machine and microwave

 

But, don’t think that everyday has to be full of grand sweeping gratitude for our standard of living. Some days I’m grateful for my morning coffee. OK, everyday I’m grateful for my morning coffee. Or I’m grateful to get the really good parking spot at school. Whatever. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is. It only matters that you notice and acknowledge it.

So, today I am also grateful for:

my leftover potato soup

chinese food for dinner last night

creamer for my coffee

peanut butter M&M’s

and

fortune cookies.

(I’m very grateful for foodstuffs today. Must be time for breakfast!)

So what is it you are grateful for today?