A friend (and one of my most reliable photographers for the Bridger Vet Facebook page) tagged me in a gratitude challenge, and I’ve been putting my response off. It’s not that I don’t think I have much to be grateful for–believe me I do–but I wanted to put some thinking into it. So here goes.

  • My husband–Joel and I have been together for nineteen years at this point, fourteen of which have been wedded bliss, or at least we haven’t had a cage match that ended it all. True, he watches a lot of “Top Gear,” various grand prixes, “American Pickers,” and that blasted UK car show where the guy signs off with a jaunty “Ta ta!,” but Joel is a good man. He’s smart, he listens, and best of all, he’s incredibly funny. If that were not enough, he plans really great trips (I’m officially passing that duty on to him), does the Costco run and picks up roses to boot, and does not complain that two giant bed hogs named Eleanor and Beatrice sleep with/on/between us.
  • Mum and Dad–How do you express gratitude for the people that have given you everything? Thank you just doesn’t seem to cover it. They’re fun, love seeing new places, and open their home to every person and animal that I’ve ever brought north. And if you ever wonder where I got my stubborn qualities, they are exhibits A and B–and that is a good thing.
  • Staff at Bridger Vet–I have come to appreciate all of these people far more than anyone will ever know. They’re smart, compassionate, and go so far above and beyond the call of duty that to this day I don’t quite get how they get it all done. As an added bonus, they’re funny, willing to try my experimental cooking, and they’re just nice people.
  • Perseverance and Optimism–Whenever I think I’m having a bad day, I remind myself that I am not my great aunt Lucille’s mother. She was a widow by the age of 30, with five small children depending on her. She used to plow fields in Oregon, with the youngest aboard the plow horse. Is my day that hard? When you put it in perspective, nope, I’ve got it pretty good. In fact, I should probably stop whinging about whatever was bothering me and go and see if someone else needs some help.
  • Self-confidence–This may sound like a funny thing, but I am honestly, truly grateful that I believe in myself. Sometimes I see people get bogged down by their inability to make a decision, If I’m presented with options, I make a decision. If it works, fantastic, and if not, then I have a different set of circumstances to work with. Generally speaking, there is no wrong decision, just different potential outcomes. I’m just glad that I have the confidence to jump. Somehow, the net always appears even if I have to weave it myself.
  • Freedom of speech–I’m grateful for the United States Constitution as a whole, but the First Amendment in particular. I’m also grateful to Mrs. Ausen for teaching me the mechanics and nuances of the English language so that I can construct a decent sentence and express my First Amendment rights whenever I should so choose.
  • A flexible work schedule–I enjoy that corporate invention called “work from wherever you like just as long as it gets done,” which pretty much makes my life possible. I go up to Montana when needed because I can So much of my life the past two years has been dependent on the generosity of coworkers, of I doubt that I’ve ever said this, but thank you IBM.
  • Tech–I am grateful for Google, Amazon, Wikipedia, and my iPhone. Google tells me everything, Amazon sends me everything, Wikipedia lets me look up obscure topics, and my iPhone lets me do all that while sitting in a chair with Beatrice. So yes, I’m grateful for those great technological leaps forward, but let’s all remember to put the phones down when spending time with people.
  • Eleanor and Beatrice–I love that my dogs are over-the-moon happy every time I walk in the door, even if I just slipped out the door to get the mail. The seas of despair are never more than a mud puddle when the girls and I are out hiking. Going off on an afternoon adventure with them always makes me happy.
  • My second X chromosome–I’m grateful to live in a country and a society that doesn’t treat me as a second-class citizen because of my gender, that we’re catching up in terms of wage discrimination, that I can wear–or not wear–what I wish. Need an example? This movie, “The Stoning of Soraya M.” I watched that movie one night a few years ago and cried so hard that I gave myself a bloody nose. If the movie alone wasn’t awful enough, it was based on a true story.
  • 42–With age comes experience, and believe you me, I am grateful for all of the experience I have. Every last bit of it. It’s hard-earned but appreciated.
  • The written word–I only write so much simply because I’ve read so much, so this means that I’m also grateful for books. And when I have time again, I am so joining a book club. (Yes, we might have wine, but we read discussed the books, too.)
  • Friends–Old friends, new friends, friends-I-haven’t-yet-met friends, distant friends, close friends, every one of them. I love our shenanigans, our letters, our conversations, our dinners, our hikes, and I only wish that I was able to see more of all of you.

A random list of other things that rock: Elfa closet systems, beautiful days out on Lake Austin while paddleboarding with Diane and Mike, American washing machines, macarons, cheese, brunch, breakfast tacos, road trips, naps, rainy days

I think the purpose of this particular exercise, or at least when it was executed as intended, was to help people realize that every single day, regardless of how painful or awful or wonderful, contained glimmers of hope. Sometimes it is all too easy to get bogged down in the moment instead of seeing the big, glorious picture.

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