Here we are, the final day of thanks for the month of November. I think every day, in my normal life, I say a mental and emotional thank you for something… the way my honey laughs, the excited way the pups greet me every time I walk in a room, the smiles of my grandsons, the beauty of the sky or the day or the soul of a friend. I appreciate things. Even so, this has been a lovely exercise in purposed thankfulness. Being cognizant of what I have in my life. I have a lot.
30. I am thankful for love. Love of all kinds. Love from friends, family, my pups, the grandsons, the kids, my Mom, my siblings, and most of all my honey. I am blessed to have so much love in my life. More love and more joy from that love than I could ever dream possible. I feel it like a wave sometimes, immense and overwhelming in a totally good way, and other times it’s presence is like a vast and endless calm sea supporting the weight of this tiny ship. Most importantly, I feel it. Always. I’m lucky, fortunate, grateful, thankful, honored, blessed, graced, and humbled by the magnitude of it. I am loved, and I love. It’s beautiful.
29. I’m thankful for travel. I’m lucky enough to have been a few places. K and I love to experience a new place; the people, the smells, the tastes, the culture, a window into the way people live their lives. We love this. I’ve loved it since I was young and our family headed out on one road trip after another. I loved it when I went to Europe for the first time when I was 16. I love it when K and I go on a car trip that can last a day or a couple of weeks. I love it when we pack and bag and fly off to who knows where or jump on a cruise ship or take a train ride. Traveling brings a sense of how large the world is, and yet it also brings a feeling of sameness and smallness. People are people, everywhere. Loving, searching, laughing, angry, happy, striving, living — the same. Travel gives you a window to that. It also gives a sense of wonder about the world. There are amazing things to see and wonderful people to meet. This world of ours is a fantastic place. However we travel, being out on the road with a backpack, a camera, and my honey is about the best place to be.
28. I’m thankful for film. I love going to the theater, buying the tickets, finding seats, lights go down, previews play, some guy sitting somewhere coughs, the sounds of people munching popcorn, music comes up, and then… action. Movies open us to worlds we don’t know, lives we haven’t lived, places we’ve never been, feelings we’re to afraid to speak out loud, and beauty inside and out. They are magical and heart-wrenching and filled with wonder. They are scary and frustrating and amazing. They are our stories, and where some of our best story-telling happens. I’ve spent a lot of time in theaters and pressing play on the Blu-Ray player. I find movies wonderful and am so thankful for the joy they’ve brought to my life.
27. I’m thankful for sunsets. I was just working on my photos over at Flickr and came across several lovely sunset photos. Nothing creates a sense of awe and peace and wonder quite like a good sunset. Nature made, they are wonderful things to behold.
26. I am thankful for beautiful architecture. I’m fascinated by building. Not the building I have done, which is none, or might do, which is also probably none, but by the amazing structures all around me. Capturing form, light, and harnessing the marriage between use and beauty, I am constantly in awe of form, everywhere. From amazing mid-century modern homes to the Natural History Museum in London, Tower Bridge to La Sagrada Familia in Spain, I’ve been lucky to see some wonderfully gorgeous buildings and structures. The minds of humans are fantastic and astounding.
25. I am thankful for poetry. e.e. cummings, pablo neruda, w.h. auden, william carlos williams, sylvia plath, h.d., charles bukowski, poe, whitman, longfellow, yeats, thoreau, tennyson, shakespeare, frost, dickinson and on and on. I’ve spent hours enjoying beautiful words written by amazing minds and hours trying to write my own words. These words have enriched my life, helped me to better make sense of my world, and given me deeper understanding of life as I know it.
24. I am thankful for lined jeans. It’s cold cold cold outside. Temps well below freezing and wind chill bringing it even further down. Lined jeans, down coats, and warm hats make all the difference. I was walking the dogs tonight in the cold and the wind was blowing hard. It was cold out and I was toasty warm. Thanks to lined jeans.
23. I’m thankful for my grandparents. Bill and Martha were the best. They gave us all, and there are a lot of us, such a great sense of family and fun and strength and curiosity and acceptance and love. I’ve written about them here and here and here and so many other times on this blog before, but I can’t say enough about how thankful I am to have come from, and been able to spend time with, such amazing people. I see them everyday in my Mom, my aunts and uncles, my cousins, and myself. We are their legacy, and if you ask me, they did good. I feel them every day and I’m so thankful for that.
22. I’m thankful for YouTube. I’m not someone who watches loads of silly videos and in fact I haven’t done that hardly at all. Mostly I watch, and listen to, music videos, live performances, and such. Once in a while I use it for movie clips or trailers as well, but mostly it’s all about the music for me. And what a wonderful thing it is to be able to sit with headphones on and listen to recordings of live performances. I’m a tad obsessed with music, as I said in an earlier 30 days post, and YouTube is just another avenue for music listening. I adore it.
21. I am thankful for the birds in our backyard. I’ve never really been a bird person. I like looking at them, am amazed by them, but haven’t ever really been into them. Until now. My honey loves birds. She loves animals of all kinds actually, but she really digs on the birds in our backyard. So much so we’ve got this whole feeding system going on back there that’s pretty spectacular. It actually involved putting in posts (with cement to anchor), stove pipe (to stop the squirrels from climbing), and then hooks on top for the feeders. We stained them and put copper post tops on. They look pretty fantastic. We have two of these posts now which means there are eight feeders. This doesn’t count the outside clothes dryer pole that used to be a drying apparatus and was cut off to now be a post with a tray feeder on top (we didn’t need to dry clothes outside anyway… we have a stand alone rack for that if we want one) or the other colored rod iron poles we have around the yard or the two bird baths. Yes, we are a veritable bird sanctuary. All because my honey loves birds. We have bird books now and binoculars for looking out to see them up close. It’s sort of awesome. I was never into them before, but now… I just went and filled up a pitcher with hot water to take out and pour over the bird bath water (which this time of year pretty much freezes every night) so they have some water to drink. I’m in it. And I’m thankful for that.
20. I’m thankful for this beautiful place we live. We’ve traveled a lot and especially love road trips here in the states. We’ve seen a lot of the country and we’re always amazed by it. It seems no matter where we go it’s beautiful and unique and pretty fantastic. We’re lucky to live in the U.S. and we know it.
19. I’m thankful for the kids. I never had my own children. Never really wanted to, until I met K. By then we were old enough that we decided having them wouldn’t work. Lucky for me K already had children. They were grown, but she had them. It meant, and means, that I get to be a step-parent to some great kids. When I met K her daughter was in college. She visited in the summers and we went to visit at various times of the year. In the years since she graduated, met her husband, moved to England with him, started having babies, and moved back to the states. K’s son graduated from college and moved to Japan, lived there for several years, and is now back in the states. We live near K’s daughter, her husband (who I also feel is a kid to us), and the grand boys, and we get to see K’s son when we visit Portland or he visits here. I’m lucky. Before K there was just me, my family, and my friends. It was a good life, I enjoyed it. But now, wow. My life is so much richer, so much more full and lovely because I get to spend time with the kids and the grandsons. We enjoy them, have fun spending time with them, have had big adventures with them, and we love them tremendously.
18. I’m thankful for our basement. I admit it, I’m freaked out about tornadoes. The thought of one scares me. I’m from Oregon, land of earthquakes and volcanos, not tornadoes. I’m just not used to living in a place where tornadoes can and do happen. So when we moved to east central Illinois we agreed we would get a house with a basement. It’s a peace of mind thing. When a tornado warning happens we head down, with the dogs of course, to the media room to watch what’s happening on the television and to peruse the ongoing situation on our iPad and laptop. We both feel better knowing we have that place to go. Again, it’s a peace of mind thing and I’m so thankful for it.
17. I’m thankful for laughter. The way my honey laughs with her whole body, how my brother slaps his knee when it’s a real good one, the grandsons giddy sounds, my friends smiling eyes when they laugh, strangers passing by who are cracking up, my family’s sounds of laughter at a family function, and my laugh when I’m crying because something is just so wonderful. Laughter is the music of the soul. It’s joy out loud. I’m greedy for it, in myself and in others. Nothing beats a good laugh.
16. I’m thankful for our furnace and air conditioning. It’s cold in Illinois in the winter. Cold. It’s also hot in the summer. Humid and hot. We live in a place of extremes and I’m so very grateful for the warmth and coziness of the heat on those cold winter mornings (like today) and for the cool refreshing air conditioning on those hottest of hot summer days. They both make our lives so much nicer, so much easier. And it’s not lost on me that other people in other places don’t have either, which makes me appreciate both all the more. I’m so thankful for the heat every time the temps get down to 17 and the windchill brings that down even further. So grateful for the coolness of the air every time humidity is 88 percent and it’s already 100 outside. For these things I’m thankful, everyday.
Halfway through. I can’t believe this little exercise is going so fast, let alone how the month of November seems to be speeding by.
15. I’m thankful for photography. It is a vehicle for the passionate drive I have to create and allows me to see the world in ways I didn’t, before I picked up a camera, know were possible. It brings me joy and helps to fuel my awe for the wonder and magic all around us. Whether it’s snapping a picture with my iPhone or capturing an image with one of my Canons, I’m lucky to have found it and so very thankful I did.
14. I’m thankful for the water around me. Whether it’s clean drinking water, a warm shower, snow, a lake to kayak in, a pool to swim in, ice for my drink, a river to fish in, rain, or an ocean to be amazed at I am so grateful and thankful for all it’s lovely forms. I’m a water girl. I learned to swim at a young age and have spent many hours near or on the water creating memories with family and friends. It’s a gift and a blessing I appreciate whole heartedly and don’t take for granted. I’m lucky, and thankful, it’s so readily available to me. I know others don’t have it so lucky.
13. I’m thankful for the music in my life. I was fortunate to grow up around people who love, listen to, and play all types of music. It instilled in me a love for all types of amazing sound. Nothing fills the soul more than a fantastic piece of music. My tastes are eclectic and varied, which was also a gift from a myriad of people, and thankfully I have music in and around my life every day.
12. I’m thankful for my friends, near and far, who are the best people I could hope to know. Each of you has brought such depth and joy and fun and meaning to my life. I’m blessed, honored, lucky, and humbled beyond measure by the quality of my friendships. I have so much love for you and am so thankful for the love you’ve always given me.
11. I’m thankful for the sacrifices the men and women in the armed forces give us every day. My family has a long history of serving and I’m so proud of that history. Without our veterans we would not enjoy all the freedoms we do today. I’m thankful for what they’ve done, and for what they continue to do.
The photo is of my grandfather, grandmother, aunt, and my mom as a baby.
Here we are, a third of the way through, and I feel like I’m just getting started. This is good for the soul. This little affirmation every day of things to be thankful and grateful for. It’s sending positive energy out into the world. I feel that from others. I feel that for myself.
10. I’m thankful for coffee, in all it’s forms — lattes, au laits, drip, french press, espresso, iced, hot, and a lovely thing called a Bibero I once had in Spain. Not only does it help me to wake in the morning, I enjoy it. I love the warmth in the morning and sometimes the cold in the afternoon. I love the flavor of a flavored drink or the simplicity of a really good cup o’ joe. I enjoy trying new cafes and stands and diners. I’m a fan, and thankful I get to drink the stuff. It brings me joy.
9. I’m thankful for the visual world. I am made breathless every day by something I see. It seems everywhere I look there’s beauty and magnificence. It constantly amazes, enlightens, and nourishes my soul. Leaves blowing from trees, blue sky, rain drops falling just so, structures made by man, light in all it’s forms. Everything has history and a story to tell. All of it inspires awe and is magical.
8. I’m thankful for my second family. When K and I got together I didn’t realize at the time that I’d be gaining a whole new set of people to call my own. People who in turn would call me their own. People who made me a part of the family and have accepted and loved me ever since. They are amazing and I’m so fortunate to have them in my life.
Day seven and these feelings of being thankful are still going strong.
7. I’m thankful for my brother, Kevin. We’ve been through so much together. No two people have the same experiences he and I share. But more than that, he’s a fantastic brother, and a gentle soul. He’s also famously the best hugger in the family. In fact, when someone gives someone else a big hug they call it giving a Kevin. Funny, but true. He’s my partner in dorkiness and has one of the best belly laughs I’ve ever heard.