I really enjoy Thanksgiving and not just for the fabulous food. I love the idea of enjoying the fruits of the harvest right as winter draws near. I love sharing the day and the meal with loved-ones. I also particularly enjoy reflecting upon those things I am truly grateful for.
This year I decided to participate in a little letter writing project. The challenge was to make a list of 10 things you are grateful for in your life and to write a little about each thing. I decided to include a photograph for each item on the letters I'll be printing and mailing out this week. I enjoyed producing this list a lot and it seemed like a really good thing to add to my blog.
1. My Health
I am currently 41 years old and thus far have managed to beat the odds stacked against me. Unlike all of the other women in my family I do not take any medication for high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or anything else related to heart-health. Nearly all of the women in my family were taking daily medication at my age. I also am only a little bit overweight, no longer morbidly obese. Although I do have chronic pain in my back from degenerative disc disease, it doesn’t prevent me from taking long walks, going on strenuous hikes, riding my bicycle, swimming, or practicing yoga. Moreover I have access to, and the ability to pay for vitamins, supplements and medication whenever I need it.
2. My Wife
It has been a long journey to find my way to sharing my life with an amazing spouse. She is my best friend, my biggest ally, and an absolute inspiration. It is still hard. We live in a country that doesn’t recognize our marriage and the state we reside in passed a constitutional amendment a few years ago that defines “marriage” as something only a man and a woman may do. Despite all these limitations and refusals to recognize what is true, we held our wedding this past September regardless (that’s us just after the ceremony which took place in a park near our home). We may not be able to say we are “legally” wed, yet, so we announced that we are “lovingly” wed until the time when the laws catch up to our civil rights.
3. Our Home
In a world where many people do not have a safe place to rest, we enjoy the amazing luxury of owning our own home (well, we have the ability to make mortgage payments). The two of us share our 3 bedrooms, living/dining room, bathroom, kitchen, and partially finished basement (where we have a TV if we want to watch a movie) with our 4 animal companions. Compared to much of the world we have a ridiculous amount of space in which we can accumulate countless books, enjoy my Grandmother’s china set, and decorate with any number of pieces of artwork we have collected. We also have a very large lot and are able to plant a large vegetable garden. Really, it is an amazing blessing even when there are all the tedious details and work of being home owners.
4. Access to clean water
I live in a city that is dotted with beautiful fountains. The downtown area features several public drinking fountains donated by a city founder in 1912. Water, safe water is everywhere. While we have easy access I am aware of places where children are sent miles on foot with 5 gallon buckets to get water for the day. They make these trips more than once in a day in some cases. Lack of access to clean water leads to all kinds of suffering and is such a simple, obvious blessing. (These are some of the “Benson Bubblers” near City Hall in Portland.)
5. Access to a multitude of wholesome foods
Much of the world has inadequate food and people manage to eek out desperate lives on less than one USD $1 a day. Conversely, in many places people have access to calories, but not wholesome food. There are many areas that are veritable food deserts. Places where only a “convenience” store or a fast food establishment are the only options to get food. I am profoundly grateful for access to all kinds of wholesome, fresh foods. Not only do I have my choice of farmers markets during many months of the year, but I also have the ability to travel outside of my city to farm stands to buy produce. We receive a delivery of organic produce nearly every week. We also have a large vegetable garden in our yard. (pictured is the display at the farmers market)
I consider myself very fortunate to be able to make many choices in my life. I can send our my resumes to companies that both interest me and fit my skills. I have sufficient skills to find employment that allows me to choose where I life, choose the food I eat, pay easily for clothing, heat, water, electricity, and have access to all kinds of entertainment. Moreover I am able to participate in elections and I have a say as to what happens to my body. I am allowed an enormous number of choices in my life.
7. Our Animal Companions
I feel tremendously grateful to be able to have animal companions to share my life with. I am also grateful to be able to spend money to make sure they are healthy and have access to wholesome food best suited to them. One of our kitties has a minor health problem and requires special food; it is such a relief that we’re able to afford to do this for him. In return they provide us with hours of affection, entertainment, and connection. We currently have four cats and hope to eventually have a dog.
Pictured, from the top down (my wife trying to have a nap with Zonker, Puck, Oberon, and Phoebe to keep her warm)
8. My Friends/Community
I am really blessed to be surrounded by compassionate, loving, intelligent, funny, giving, amazing people. At times they have been more of my “family” than those people related to me by genetic ties. They provide me with support, good ideas, wisdom, and at times they have the courage to tell me when I’m wrong!
When we put together the guest list for our wedding we were both touched at realizing just how many close, wonderful friends we have in our community. Pictured are some of the friends and family at our wedding.
9. My City
I live in Portland, Oregon. There have been very few places that I’ve ever considered moving to. I have lived in a handful of other places, but while doing so I longed to return to Portland. It is an amazing place filled with creative people, great food, bookstores, parks, trees, and lots of beauty. In general people are friendly and giving with their resources. I love my city.
Picture of Portland taken in a small park downtown, Director Park, recently.
I learned to read at a rather precocious age. The ability to pick up an object and have it tell me a story was magical. Books were my first and best friends as a child. They were both a refuge during unstable times and a constant source of knowledge. Books told me things about the world no family member would. As much as I love the Internet and the promise of instant information it fulfills, books will always be an important part of my life and my home will always be filled with them.
The photo shows a long view of the incomparable Powell's Books in Portland - I've been going there since I was old enough to be allowed on public transportation by myself!