The email showed up in my inbox and, as always, I immediately clicked on the document to contribute. It was the monthly (monthly? bi-weekly? stupid ADHD time) prompt from Mary Churchill, co-founder of the University of Venus blog, where I gained prominence almost a decade (A DECADE!) ago as a blogger, for a collaborative blog posts from a variety of UVenus writers. This month's is about gratitude, and I immediately started writing about all the things I was grateful for before noticing Mary (in the document) highlighting the part of the prompt that I had missed, about how I use expressing gratitude to relieve stress.
Of course I hadn't read the directions.
I quickly lifted the two paragraphs I had just written and came up with something that (sort of) related to the prompt. But, the initial impetus to word dump all the things I am grateful for this year, right now, was strong enough that I didn't want to just delete what I had written, but instead bring it here to my own blog to express the overflow of gratitude I'm feeling this year.
I have so much to be grateful for. I am grateful for my family and friends. As many of us move towards the decade (DECADE!) mark of being on social media, it has prompted us to reflect on our decade (DECADE!) long friendships that we have forge online. We have watched our careers grow and shift and change over these past ten (TEN!) years, watched our kids grow, and supported each other through it all. My kids (oh am I ever grateful for those two wonderful lovely loving brilliant beautiful souls) are old enough now to understand and appreciate long-distance friendships nurtured through electronic means, having many of there own. I live in a world where I can carry my friends in my pocket. How can I not be gateful for that?
I am grateful for my job. I am so fortunate that I get to indulge in my passions, like coaching swimming and writing, and thus I am grateful for my swimmers and my editors and my readers. My daughter asked me the other day if I could be doing anything as a job, what would it be; what was my ultimate dream job? I told her honestly that what I’m doing right now - this mix of working with faculty, writing, teaching, coaching, podcasting - is pretty much a dream job for me. I am grateful for that feeling of contentment, because it is all too rare for me in my career and in my life. I want to enjoy it for a while.
I am grateful for my ADHD diagnosis and that modern medicine (however complex and fraught access is, and I am grateful for generous health benefits through my employer) exists as well. I am grateful for those same friends who are also sharing their mental health journeys so that we may find strength and knowledge and resources in and through each other. That I am well for the first time in my life is a gift, that my body is able to enjoy and appreicate all of these things that I am grateful for.
This year I also became an American citizen and was able to vote in my first election after living here for almost 15 years, and I am grateful that I am now fully able to participate in the political process. I know the power and privilege of being able to vote, and we have been waiting for this moment, for this opportunity, for too long. I got emotional in the voter booth, with the simple act of voting for our state representative moving me to almost tears.
I am grateful that so many of my friends are finding happiness and contentment and fulfillment. It's strange but as we enter and firmly find ourselves in our 40s, I'm noticing that many of us have come back around to doing those same things that brought us joy when we were younger versions of ourselves. I love social media, still, for that simple purpose of sharing our joys, the pure, simple pleasure we find in doing those things that make us the most happy.
I have a wonderful husband, two fantastic kids, a loving dog, a roof over our heads in a place that feels like home, friends from all over the world, a job I enjoy, hobbies I love, enough money, enough food, and an surplus of love. I have so, so much, and there is still so much more I am grateful for that are gifts other people have brought into the world: authors and artists whose work nourish and inpire me. I can read and watch and listen and look and learn and feel, without ever having met them. Voices and perspectives I never would have experienced otherwise.
I could just keep going on and on and on. It's either I stop here or wrote another 2k words. And as I approach the 10-year anniversary of my debut on Twitter and the launch of my blog, I am even more and more reflective on all that has happened to me. There was a prompt on Twitter asking us to share what we accomplished over the past decade (DECADE!) and I started to list it and...I've done a lot. A LOT.
And I'm grateful, so grateful, for all of it.