Due to a new job, beginning graduate school, and preparations for and celebration of the high holidays, blogging has taken a back seat the past couple of months. What a pity. Writing is something I enjoy doing and I’ve missed spending time with these pages. Even now, time is at a premium but I wanted to post something…anything! The holidays are now over, but classes start back up in a week. Originally I intended to blog everyday during the break….didn’t happen. But I’m here now! So, for this post I decided to list ten things for which I am thankful. Jewishly speaking, we are beginning a new year and this seems like a good way to start anew:
- Top on my gratitude list is my family. Fortunately, I am married to a man I love and who loves me. I will say no more because words will only dilute the immense gratitude I feel for him. My children are my joy, and have been since the day each was born. They have grown into such caring, responsible and respectful adults. I wasn’t always sure that would happen but now I look back and laugh at my fears. Last, and most importantly, I am thankful to still have my parents with me. They gave me my life. Now in their eighties, Mom and Dad are really cool examples of how to grow old and stay vibrant! My extended family makes this list, too. We are many, we are far-flung, and we love each other. What a blessing.
- Next, I am thankful for the gift of health. As I age, I am feeling more aches and creaky joints, but for the most part I am healthy.
- I am also thankful for “attitude.” That may surprise many of you, but attitude is one of those things we “choose” for ourselves. I have the option of developing a positive attitude, or of being negative. How I deal with life is often helped or hindered by my attitude. I am thankful for that choice. A note of clarification, however: attitude and depression are not the same thing. Having the “blues” or being down in the dumps happens to the best of us, and deep or chronic depression is a painful affliction I wouldn’t wish on anyone. Attitude, on the other hand, is about how I choose to face life, its vicissitudes and its joys.
- Another thing on my “thankful” list is books! My husband and I are avid readers. Our library covers numerous subjects: religion, science, art, music, history, poetry, biography, politics, social justice, novels, etc. In recent years I’ve returned to reading classic literature. Reading cultivates creativity and nurtures a questioning mind. I read to learn, to be entertained, to relax, to question the status quo, to be spiritually strengthened, for curiosity… and much more.
- Pets. For those of you who have pets, you know what a joy they can be. We are “cat” people around here, but we love many dogs, too. Pets are wonderful companions even if a bit obnoxious at times….but then, so are we humans!
- Music. What would this world be without music to fill the air. Personally I favor classical, folk, jazz, bluegrass (the secret is out!)… not to fond of rap or hard rock, but I’m finding that some of the more contemporary artists are growing on me (such as Mattisyahu…not sure I spelled his name correctly, but music officiandos will know who I mean.)
- The world of nature. When I am out-of-doors, I am acutely aware of the awesomeness of creation. I marvel at how the world is so wonderfully and intricately made, how life is woven together on a myriad of levels, and it is beautiful. When I take walks in the woods, or camp in a park, I am keenly aware of G-d’s handiwork
- I am thankful to have a job. I was unemployed for quite a while, and though this job is not my life’s calling, it is helping to sustain me (and us) on several levels as I work toward my profession. I am also thankful that my husband has a job that supports us. Fortunately, he likes his work and those he works with. Having been unemployed for lengths of time—both of us—the fact that we now have “parnassah/livelihood” is a real blessing. Neither of us has forgotten what it is like to be without.
- This one really belongs with the “family” list, however, there are two people who deserve their own space: Jacob and Genevieve! They are our grandchildren. Jacob, seven years old, is our daughter Mica’s son. Vieve, one year old on July 4, is our son Tim’s and his wife Maria’s daughter. Nothing in this world brings a smile to our faces and joy to our hearts like the mere mention of our grandchildren. Being a Bubbe (and a Zaide) is fun!
- There are a multitude of things to be thankful for, but I choose to end this particular list with something that is most important in household: our Jewish faith, heritage, and beliefs. This is what grounds us, what connects us to G-d, what sustains us in life on a daily basis. From the time we sit up in bed in the morning giving thanks for awaking from sleep, until we say the last Shema of the day, everything we do is guided by Torah, Tefillah (prayers,) and Tzedakah (charity.) Every activity of the day is interlaced with brachos (blessings) and prayers. It is a good way to live.
Obviously there are many more things for which we can give thanks. This list is a start for me. I am sure your list will look different. Don’t limit yourselves to just ten items…I did due to space limitations. It is good to pause from time to time for no other reason than to count our blessings and to say “thank you” to the Giver of all. Maybe you would like to make your own list, or share some of your blessings in the comments. For those of you starting a new year, may this year bring hope and healing, prosperity and contentment, and may you walk the Derek/pathway with G-d as your guide.