Tuesday, November 24, 2009

On Gratitude

The Body

Today I am grateful that I don’t have a sprained ankle, a migraine or a weird, darting pain in my back. I am grateful for limbs that work as my brain signals for them to do, for joints that move painlessly and even for that scar on my wrist because it reminds me of roller-skating down a hill in the summer and because it’s a good story. I am not grateful for the pimple between my eyes, but I am grateful that there are no others and that it is on its downward descent. I’m grateful that my eyes can blink on their own, I can swallow without help from a medical device, that my days are uninterrupted by pain or a million little aches or beeping machines hooked up to my arms. I am grateful for this strong, able body, and that I can brace myself and slice through the Chicago winds without being tossed around like a dirty plastic bag, getting myself caught in bare tree branches. I am grateful that I can slip on ice and not fear of breaking my hip; I can do a head-to-toe analysis as I look up at the puffy clouds overhead from the sidewalk and know with a relative certainty that nothing is broken. I am grateful for these two strong hands that stir batter until it all comes together and looks just right and for fingers that hit letter after letter on the keyboard, but that can also be gentle, for wiping my son’s tears, for touching a cheek, for entwining my fingers in another’s. I’m grateful for all this and more.

The Things

Today I am grateful that I can turn a handle and water pours forth, that it is predictably there and without strange little minnows swimming in circles in it as was the case in my childhood anxieties. I am grateful for this computer that gets cursed at a lot but has been the vehicle for keeping me in touch with people near oceans and in deserts, for reconnecting me with childhood friends I thought I’d lost forever, for meeting people I may never see face-to-face but who inspire me daily, for being instrumental to hatching plans and firming thoughts and giving birth to ideas. I am grateful for my orange-yellow, glittery bike, and my two strong legs that propel me forward, for being the vehicle as I push through space with my own body as the motor, passing the cars as they idle at the stoplight. I am grateful for glass windows that keep out the cold and for oscillating fans when the winter seems as distant as a shadowy dream and for tea, year-round. I am grateful for doors I can lock and that there’s no one in my life whom I’d like to lock out again. I am grateful for our pink and orange rooms, for the dining room wall full of pictures, for all those books with dog-eared pages and the old-fashioned radiators we fill with water when it finally gets so dry that we remember. I am grateful for our bathroom, though it’s nothing fancy, and for the smooth wooden floor under our feet. I’m grateful for all this and more. (Let’s not forget dark chocolate and Satsuma mandarin oranges and hot peppers.)

The Feelings

Today I am grateful for the many glass jars of spices that make me feel like a magician when I cook, a pinch of this, a teaspoon of that, my feet dancing back and forth with self-assurance, and for feeling when I do this that I’m reconnecting with a piece of my grandmother’s sweet spirit. I am grateful for making people laugh, for those who see me at my worst but don’t turn away, for the way my heart does a little dance when my son tells me he loves me, so pure and unguarded. I am grateful for more good days than bad, for moods that seem more level, for being more certain that I’m here for a reason, and for each day when I can feel this buzzing inside like a million bumblebees. I’m grateful for purposefulness and for silliness, and for any time I can calibrate the perfect balance of both. I am grateful for the love I feel, for the flame of hope that can’t be extinguished despite all common sense sometimes, for the way I feel when I do more or better or more generously than I expected. I am grateful for making strangers smile – or even laugh, an uncommon treat – for the way I feel when the birds start singing in the spring (full of hope and anticipation and deep inhalations, that’s all I can say) and for the way I felt when my grandfather looked at me, his eyes full of love. I am grateful that he taught me how one can convey more in a simple glance than a thousand words, even though that hasn’t stopped me from trying. I am grateful for that little girl who never believed for a second that she was inferior to a boy and who grew up to be me. I am grateful that I live in a time and a place when I can live according to my values and desires rather than something imposed on me. I’m grateful for all this and more.

The Others

Today I am grateful for the many people who make me laugh and smile and actively savor living in the moment. I am grateful for the four-legged companions I’ve been blessed to share a home with, for what they’ve taught me about enjoying life with all they’ve got. I am grateful for Lenny, my dearly departed dog and hound-shaped soul mate, who looked at me with those soft eyes of pure, uncomplicated love (exactly the way my grandfather looked at me) on the last day of his life, wagging his tail just to see me even when we both knew death was so close. I am grateful for our cat and her little black button nose, perfect little thing, and for the way I feel when I see her looking out the front window as I’m coming home. I am grateful for all the wise and hilarious and deeply human friends of mine who try so hard not to accept the ordinary and challenge me to be my best, too. I am grateful for my son, who lets me know when I’m being mean or impatient, who teaches me so much about loving who one is as is, who thinks I should have my own bakery I’m that good. I am grateful that he teaches me to love without condition because I can be such a jerk sometimes. I am grateful for my mother and her big, kind heart, who gets teary when she sees a total stranger cry, who is so profoundly unmaterialistic she cannot receive a compliment without offering the object to the admirer. I am grateful for my aunt, who loves her sister fiercely and for loving me when I was a child as if I were her own. I am grateful for my brother, who has never let our different natures put a wedge between us. I am grateful for all the animals I have met at shelters and sanctuaries, who have taught me to keep shining my light no matter what, who are deeply resilient and full of innate dignity. I am grateful for John, for too much to say here, for too many things but here’s a start: for the big smile, for trying to make me laugh when I’m in a snit, for his compassion and grace, for always wanting the best for me (how many can honestly say this?), for his mind that never stops, for his boundless curiosity, for his inability to conceal it when he thinks something is really fantastic, for thinking that I'm fantastic, for teaching me that I am worthy of love by such a good-hearted person. I’m grateful for all this and more.

Thanks to all who have made mine such a lovely life. I am truly grateful for it.


  1. Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this with us.

  2. very well said. Amen seems appropriate, but maybe not from me.

  3. Thank you both, and have a great Thanksgiving...


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.