Morning Glory and Lei have asked us to focus on gratitude this week, and to list 11 things we are grateful for, together with the reasons why. There is the added significance of the fact that today is September 11th, of course, and no matter where you are in the world, it is a day no-one can ever treat as ordinary.
So much to be grateful for. And I have to say that the older you are, the more there is to list, so just 11 is somewhat of a challenge.
- A happy childhood. This is something I know has shaped who I have become, and it has been the example I have tried to follow raising my own children. I am immensely grateful for the parents who made it happen, and for the family I grew up in surrounded by love. I am so grateful too, that as I grow older, I have so many wonderful memories of my childhood to take out in my mind, and revisit. Growing up in a family with a strong "church" tradition, has also been a great blessing, because, from my earliest memories, church and all the associated activities, have been a part of who I am.
- A good education. Part of that happy childhood included going to excellent schools where I was encouraged to learn and question, and search for answers. And the university I went to not only refined that learning process, but became a place where I had to use my own judgement on significant moral issues at that time. The combination of the happy secure home, the great teaching, and the moral guidelines from church all came together when justice was challenged, and gave me the confidence to make decisions which I have never regretted. And it also enabled me to support my family when I had to.
- The man I married - the father of my 3 children. My family has been the centre of my life for over 30 years now, and I cannot imagine life without them. Without him, I would not have these 3 children, or 32 years of memories just like the ones I have today. Life was not always easy. He was away for 9 months of every year, but he was a huge part of my life, and I will always be grateful that I met him. For so many reasons.
- My family. Not just my children, but also my parents and sister and brother-in-law. And the wider circle of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc. More memories of people long gone, and that childhood all inextricably mixed together. And more recently especially, the love and support from my Mum and sister. I know it has always been there, but the encouragement and faith they have shown me over the past year has been amazing. My 2 sons and my daughter are (and I am allowed to be biased) the best children in the world, and I have been blessed with a wonderful daughter-in-law too.
- My friends. Both near and far. Some I have known since I was a very young child, back in the dark ages, and some are more recent blessings. All are part of my life, and part of me. I cannot imagine what life would be like without them. You know, there is a saying I read once - you have friends for a reason, a season or a lifetime. I prefer the lifetime bit, I confess, but looking back, there have been the reason and season ones too, and it is only when you pause and look back that you realise just why. Things shared. Tears, laughter, pain and joy. Highs and lows. The constancy of those friends no matter what kind of hurricane blows through my life, is what keeps me anchored safely.
- My health. Ok, I do know that I am starting to creak a little now, and while my mind thinks I am 21 and a spring chicken, the bones and the waistline seem to have a plan of their own. But I am so grateful that I am fit and have no mega health issues. Believe me, I am not taking anything for granted here. I look in the mirror sometimes, and think...where did those lines come from? Exactly where should your waistline be? When we were on holiday, and saw signs on our walks saying that the route was not suitable for the elderly , my kids thought it was amusing to turn round and ask if the "old person" thought she could make it. Hah! Indignation fires the adrenaline.
- My faith. Stronger by the day, and the reason I can cope with life. I am an optimist by nature. And knowing that my sins have been forgiven, and that I am a beloved daughter of a God who cares for me on a very personal level is something I am eternally grateful for. Nothing surprises me any more. Nothing terrifies me. No matter what I may face, it will be for a reason, and ultimately for my own good. He has plans for me. I just have to find out what they are. You know, your whole life changes with faith. You find yourself wandering down paths you never thought you would venture onto, with eyes wide open, looking all around you in wonder. All it takes is faith. It colours every facet of my day.
- My community. Both here where I live, and the blogging neighbourhood I am a part of. Communities of people who are real, who care, who challenge and support me. Communities where interesting things happen. Where there is room for so many different interests. Book clubs, sports, sewing, history, craft, dancing, music, drama, writing, working with children etc. Communities which strive to make a difference, and where I belong.
- Having enough. Over the past year, I have learnt to be so grateful for small things. It does not take much to make me happy! Things are not important. Everything else is. People. Life. Experiences. Love. Laughter. Caring. Feeling. I have enough, and for that, I am grateful.
- Challenges. That way I get to grow. To see just what I am capable of. If anyone had told me I could teach a year ago, I would have laughed. Now I know I can. I love trying out new things. New things to make. To experience. To do. To become. I will always be a work in progress. Watch this space.
- Dreams. Hope. The ability to look forward to the future with anticipation not dread. Please remind me of this in the next few weeks if I start floundering. I am so grateful that I can live in the present, but still hold on to those dreams, and work towards making them reality.
An eclectic mix. So much more I could add, but I have gone with generalizations rather than specifics. I have a hot cup of coffee next to me, a computer to write on, in a warm clean home, with space to relax, with food in the cupboard, and beautiful plants in my garden. A phone to connect me to the outside world, and clothes to wear, and a car in the driveway, and a camera to record my life, and enough money in my purse. And I am loved. Gratitude...... my heart is full.