It's been a busy couple of days. Friday, I spent three hours under the tattoo needle, getting some work done on my still unfinished memorial tattoo. Three hours. It was excruciating. Kai, the tattoo artist, finally decided I had had enough when I started moaning and dropping f-bombs like a burly trucker. Saturday, I turned thirty-eight and we celebrated by attending a fund-raiser for Children's Hospital in Calvin's honor hosted by Shane's good friend Shannon. It was good. Shannon surprised me with a birthday cake with only twenty candles...(man, I wish), and we had a great time just kibitzing and making money. Sunday, of course was Mother's Day. I was spoiled rotten by Shane and my girls. In fact, I ate chocolates for breakfast....sometimes I love being an adult and getting to do what I want...LOL. Anyhow, I thought I would mark the occasion by listing thirty-eight reasons why I am grateful, bear with me.
1. I am married to the most wonderful man. He treats me well, is considerate and kind, and he is committed to our family and to making our marriage work. I love him more than anything.
2. My girls. Thank you for making me a mother and for loving me despite my faults, flaws and imperfections. You're both so beautiful and I'm proud to be your mother.
3. The support of family. Although at times I think our family could be doing more for us, really, Shane and I have gotten some incredible support over the years, not just during the difficult times either. Thanks for being there for us, whether it's with a hug, a sympathetic ear, or the gift of toilet paper when we've run out...LOL. We love you.
4. Friends. I can't tell you all how much you mean to me. Truly. Whether we have known each other for twenty years or whether we've never met in "actual" life, I am grateful to all the friends who have made me laugh, cheered me up, cheered me on, cried with me or have just "been". Thanks for being in my life. I love you.
5. Universal healthcare. Something so many of us take for granted. I am so thankful that we had universal healthcare when the twins were born. I can't imagine going hundeds of thousands of dollars into debt because Calvin was sick and needed surgery. I'm so grateful to our healthcare system for giving everyone access to good medical care regardless of ability to pay.
6. Being Canadian. We're laid back to the point of apathy sometimes. We say "eh". We drink alot of beer and watch alot of hockey. We are a very tolerant country and have lent a hand to many in need. I'm proud to be a Canadian. So take off, ya hosers....LOL.
7. A nation of affluence. We are by many standards, an affluent nation. We have a high standard of living. We live in houses with electricity and running water. We eat everyday and drive our cars to work or school. We have social programs to lend a hand when we are not doing well. We are a rich country and have so much to be grateful for although in this "must have" generation, we tend to take much of it for granted.
8. Freedom of speech and religion. Need I say more?
9. Access to information. I can't even imagine life without my computer, without the internet at my fingertips. It is so much easier these days than even twenty years ago to find information, to research a topic, to stay in touch. Hurray for the information highway.
10. Modern conveniences. Can you imagine having to wash your clothes by hand? Or to cook a whole meal without your microwave or oven? I'm so thankful for "modern conveniences" such as disposable diapers, tampax, toilet paper, washing machines and dishwashers...I can't imagine life without them.
11. Want. Not having it all leaves you wanting. Wanting isn't such a bad thing when you think about it. I can't imagine having everything I've ever wanted. Life would be so boring and without purpose.
12. Literacy. I'm so grateful I can read. It's hard to believe there are millions of adults and children in the world who can't. Being able to follow a recipe, read a warning label, share a book with my children are such valuable things. I'm so lucky I have the gift of literacy.
13. Clean air. I'm so glad I can go outside without a particle mask on, that I can breathe the clean air and not worry about the effects of pollution on my lungs. Having had asthma for years, I am so grateful to live somewhere where the air is clean, where every breath isn't a struggle.
14. Nature. I live in God's country, in the beautiful Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. We have deer, pheasants and eagles in our backyard everyday. The scenery is soothing, I'm so glad to live where it's green and not in the concrete jungle.
15. Doctors. I am so grateful for people who choose to heal others. Having had an extremely complicated pregnancy and a very sick baby, having people to help us made all the difference. Thank you to all the medical professionals who sacrifice for others everyday. You humble me.
16. Good health. Yes, I am overweight and I do have some medical issues. Overall, my health is good, my lifestyle is uncompromised by poor health. I am mobile, independent and able. For that I am truly grateful.
17. The optimists. You know, the people in life who see the good instead of the bad. The glass half full people. Everyone needs an "optimist" in their life who can point out the positive when you are swimming in the "negatives". Being a "glass half empty" girl, I have relied on many "optimists" who have kept me from sinking into a deep pit of despair when things didn't exactly go "my way".
18. Music. Music soothes the savage beast, calms the spirit, ignites passion. I love music of all types and genres. I love to sing and dance and tap my toes to the beat. Music is such a vital part of me, of my life...
19. Imagination. I couldn't "imagine" life without it...How boring would life be if you couldn't close your eyes and conjure up another scenario, another life, a happier ending to a sad one? Many times I have imagined myself in different places, with different people, doing different things. It has saved me from dying a slow death from boredom. It has also saved me from my sadness a thousand times....what a wonderful gift.
20. Cleanliness. Even the slobbiest of us (which I confess is me more than just occasionally), are basically clean. We drink clean water, we bathe, we wash our clothes and generally don't have to share our dwellings with farm animals. Our medical instruments are sterile, we've learned how to control infection by hand washing. We are a clean living society for the most part. Thankfully none of our children will have to grow up in a shack on a garbage dump somewhere which is a painful reality for many.
21. Choice. We have the power to choose, to control our own destinies to some degree. What a huge gift. Can you imagine life without being able to make your own choices, to walk your own path?
22. Laughter, the best medicine. I'm so grateful for the people and things that make me laugh. There is nothing better than a good gut-shaking laugh. It improves circulation, releases endorphins, lowers blood pressure. It feels good. We should all spend at least ten minutes everyday laughing.
23. Hugs and Kisses. I love hugs and kisses, both giving and receiving. There is nothing better than a hug when you're down, a kiss when you're lonely. We need affection, we need to give it, we need to get it. What better way to show affection than to give a hug or a kiss?
24. Solitude. I crave space at times. I need quiet time of my own to sort my thoughts, make plans, relax and de-stress or just to daydream. We all need personal space. I've learned that solitude after having kids is not an easy thing. Sometimes it's only when everyone has gone to sleep that I get the time I need to just "be". Although I wouldn't want to be alone all the time, I do enjoy the few moments I get all by myself.
25. A good massage. I've learned to appreciate the benefits of a good massage over the years. It's relaxing, it helps with chronic pain, and being touched by someone else is beneficial, even if it's someone you're paying to touch you. Everyone needs to have a really good massage to appreciate the benefits. It's a luxury I treat myself to at least once a month now, for the relaxation and the time to just lay there quietly listening to music while my masseuse works away the tension.
26. A good cup of coffee. Need I say more?
27. A voice. Close your eyes and imagine what life would be like if you couldn't speak. Think about the everyday situations in your life, the times when you are holding your children, soothing them with your voice and telling them you love them. Think about the times you are frustrated and it feels like the person you are speaking with isn't listening to you. Imagine not being able to put a voice to your frustration or feelings. How sad. I'm so grateful that I can say thank you, I love you...
28. Pain. Pain makes you appreciate not being in pain, both physically and emotionally. I have lived through excruciating pain emotionally. I am grateful for those moments that have shaped me into someone who can empathize, who can cry, and someone who now looks at life through different eyes. Pain has made me appreciate all the good things in my life.
29. Sleep. I don't get enough between late nights with the kids and insomnia. I truly appreciate the times I am able to sleep a deep, solid sleep, enough to recharge my batteries and leave me feeling rested. I also am grateful for the days when Shane allows me to sleep in and gets up with the kids to give me that extra bit of time. Sleep has always been something I love to do and never seem to get enough of.
30. Selflessness. There are so many selfless people in the world, people who give of themselves and of their time to help others. We needed help when we were faced with our son's illness. So many people put in time hunting down resources for us, dropping us a line to let us know they were thinking of us. I am so grateful to all of you who went the extra mile for us when we truly needed it. Thank you. I'm hoping with what we're doing with Calvin's Memorial Fund that we can give back some of that which was given to us.
31. Warmth. We have the ability to stay warm 365 days a year, even in sub zero temperatures. Thank goodness.
32. Expression. As humans, we find creative ways to express ourselves be it through art, dance, the written word, or song. Thank goodness we have the ability to not only voice our feelings but the ability to express who we are through other outlets. Think of your hobbies, of the things you love to do. I love to write, although I am far from perfect, I feel I am able to put a voice to my feelings through the written word and it has been such a gift of release for me.
33. Emotion. What of all the things in life that stir our emotions? Have you ever been moved by a piece of art, or a play, or by watching a baby interact with it's parents? Think of all the things that make you laugh and cry and go Awww, isn't that cute? What a gift we were given with emotion. The ability to feel love, to feel anger, to feel sadness, to feel joy. Life would be meaningless without it.
34. Spirituality. Most of us have a belief in some sort of higher being. Whether it be God, or Buddha, or Mohammed, or Allah. Spirituality has been a reoccurring gift in my life. I have received peace and serenity and a sense of acceptance through my relationship with God. He has lifted me when I am down, and I have been grateful to Him through the times He has carried me when I could not do it alone. I am in a constant state of spiritual growth, somedays I believe more than others, but it is an everchanging constant in my life that has been with me as long as I remember.
35. Exposure to culture. I love being exposed to other cultures. I love the fact that Canada is a melting pot of different people with different ways of life. Think about how your life would change if we weren't exposed to other cultures. Say good-bye to Chinese food or pizza. Forget about driving those uber-efficient import cars or watching a foreign film. We as a society often forget the gifts we are given from other cultures. Too many get caught up in stereotypical beliefs about races, forgetting that everyone has something to contribute. The next time you think something negative about another race, think about what that country has given you instead.
36. The sun. I love the sun. It's warmth makes me feel good, feel energized. Sunshine lifts my spirits, makes things grow. I am so grateful we are heading into sunnier days, warmer times. I am absolutely without regret that we are about to kiss winter good-bye for a few months and enjoy short sleeves, longer days and natural heat. Yay for the sun!!!
37. The ocean/lakes/rivers. I love the smell of the ocean, of clean water. I love feeling the mist of spray on my face as the wind passes over the water. Think of what a huge source of life the ocean is. I had never seen a whale before I moved to British Columbia, never seen a starfish. The ocean moisturizes our air, gives us rain and is home to some of our food. I love it. I never get tired of being at the ocean or around water. It makes me feel alive.
38. Calvin. His little life, despite it's shortness has changed me. Loving him and losing him has made me more compassionate, more open and willing to share myself. I will never regret his life, despite the fact that it came with the price of pain for us. Every minute he had was precious. Every moment I held him was magical. I miss him so much and I wish with all my being that he was here with us, but I will never regret letting him go when we did. It was time and it was what was right for him. I know God held my hand as I signed the papers releasing Calvin from his pain and that He was waiting there with us to take Calvin to live in heaven. I am so grateful for my son, for teaching us about the beauty of life and death, for making me appreciate the things I have. I will love him and he will be part of our family forever.
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