Grateful Friday, 2017 edition.
To turn this around, I am grateful for rain. There, that's a good way to start. Without rain we couldn't have the oceans, lakes, and rivers that are so beautiful and healing for the soul. Without rain, none of us, including the animals and plants, wouldn't be here. So, I am most grateful. I especially like to be in our cozy little house by the ocean when it is stormy. Yes, I like that quite a lot.
I am grateful for our little town of Ocean Shores. I love not having to leave. I really enjoy living in a resort town, and that we are so close to a number of beaches and natural areas - most especially the one right out my office window. The wildlife is amazing to watch, and I am grateful for the seasonal migratory ducks, the songbirds, the river otters, the fish, and herons. I love to watch the seagulls and sandpipers, the pelicans diving at Damon Point, and the Canada Geese making the golf course their gathering place. And even though we have way too many, I am always interested to watch the deer, especially when the little ones are born. I am so thankful for the local flavor- the shop owners and neighbors - it is a friendly place to live, for the most part. Yes, there are a few down-sides, but I don't want to talk about politics.
I am grateful for teachers, young and old, good and not-so. I am grateful for those who have taken the time to share what they know, and for those who teach lessons without even knowing. I am grateful for all that I have learned from teachers, male and female, happy and less-than. I am grateful for teachers that have never seen my face or know my name, and for those that never want to hear my name again. I have learned so much for which I am grateful.
I am grateful for technology that allows me to study online, both free (edX) and not (Lesley University). I am grateful for wiki and google, and for apps, like Insight Timer and Recipe Gallery, that make my life easier and more diverse. I am thankful that I can still afford a mini-computer (aka my phone) that I can put into my pocket, and for all the information I can access at the sound of my voice.
I am grateful for the retreat 'sleeping bag' Chuck created for me from a cheap Walmart comforter. Now I feel like Linus.
I am thankful for products that actually deliver what they promise. I especially am thankful for Function of Beauty for the best shampoo on the planet, Lush's Olive Branch body soap (the only one I have found that doesn't cause me skin problems), and for our coffee percolator that recalls a more innocent time.
I am grateful for good books that keep my mind alive and active. We are reading Yuval Harari, Reza Aslan, Peter Frankopan, Joseph Campbell, Judson Brewer, Gregory Kramer, Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Deng Ming-Dao. Also, thankful for Lama Surya Das (my favorite teacher), Daniel Siegel, and Jan Chozen Bays for taking the time to write what they know. It is invaluable. I will never be the same.
I am grateful for my beautiful children who, as adults, are responsible, kind, and ethical. I am so proud of them and so thankful that they are all well, happy, loved, and safe.
I am grateful for Ryder Carroll and his bullet journal idea that has been an absolute lifesaver. I wish I had it when I was at PLU. How in the world did I do it? Oh yes...lots and lots of stickie notes!
Every Wednesday I get to have a heart-felt phone call with my dear friend, Kevin. I am so very grateful for these special times when she doesn't feel quite so far away.
I am grateful for Lisa, my ever-loyal and best girlfriend. We are still at it, trying to make a difference. I don't regret a minute.
But I wouldn't be breathing today if it weren't for Chuck. He absolutely rescued me, and for that I will never be able to express my thanks enough. He holds my hand, engages my mind, and is the lover of my soul. He is my best play-mate and pal. I never tire of his company - I am so very fortunate. I never take him for granted.
I am thankful for people who seek the truth, and for those who are not afraid to speak it.
I am grateful for music. For, without it, I would most surely die.
I am thankful that the new Star Wars movie was more than good.
I am thankful for friendly cashiers and a purring cat that curls up against my legs in the bed.
On top of all that, so many good things happened this year for which I am very grateful:
Alex and Mady got married!
I graduated summa cum laude!
Taylor graduated from HS and got a job!
I made it through my first semester of a Master's program!
Lisa got a much better class than last year!
We got to see the Terracotta Warriors!
But then comes the question: how is it that I have so much to be grateful for when there are so many that are desperately unhappy, anxious, lonely, depressed, and oppressed?
It doesn't seem fair.
But, here is what I know.
I didn't do much to get where I am right now...I just floated here.
Just like everyone else floating down the river of survival.
We get the tools and training we get.
Some get more than others.
We make a decision, and then the next,
all based on the information, resources, and desires we have at the time.
And we cannot possibly know where any of it will lead.
Sometimes it leads to freedom, sometimes it leads to chaos.
Sometimes it leads to fleeting pleasure that becomes a nightmare.
Ultimately, we get where we are because we were surviving.
We cannot disparage ourselves for our choices, because we did the best we could.
We can only be aware and learn the lessons those choices provide.
None of it is fair, but true happiness doesn't rest on fairness.
It rests on our perspective.
We can be grateful or resentful. Our choice.
We can be negative or hopeful. Again, up to us.
We can be open to new ideas and thoughts. Or not.
The world can be large and inviting, or a place full of people to fear.
We can label and divide, or see similarity and share in humanity.
We can hate and call it something else, but it is still hate.
We can believe that holy motives can justify cruelty.
We can choose to be complicit to the suffering of others,
and pretend it is their fault, or that they deserve it.
Or we can listen deeply and seek to understand and facilitate healing.
It is all about our perspective - about what we believe.
That perspective fuels our choices - either helpful or harmful.
And those choices determine where we find ourselves.
By changing our perspective, we can change where we are headed.
I am grateful for where I am today, even though many things have happened this past year that were divisive, scary, and challenging. It is a bit intimidating to look forward to 2018 and all that could come, but for now, I choose to be grateful.
Whatever comes ... let it come.
Whatever stays ... let it stay.
Whatever goes ... let it go.