After being away from home for 10 days, this is an easy one. I am so thankful for my bed. Temperpedic, 1,500 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets that smell of lavendar, a memory foam pillow and my two pups snuggled up next to me. Rarely a day goes by when I don’t climb into bed and think about how much I am going to miss this pile of clouds and cotton candy.
A couple days a month I spend an hour or two at an elementary school in a low-income area, reading to a child.
I’ve been quite a few times now, which has been a very liberating experience for me. I know very little about kids, and feel somewhat awkward in dealing with them. I decided a long time ago I didn’t want any myself.
But, just as a child conquers the monsters in their closet, I shall conquer mine. The more time I spend with kids, the more I seem to like them, and the more I realize I don’t have to know all of the rules- they certainly don’t. And they aren’t corrupted enough quite yet to tell me my way is wrong.
So anyway, today I was reading to a little girl who wanted nothing to do with it. She said she hated reading and she wanted to go to class and didn’t want to be anywhere near me. Eventually, she told the teacher she was done reading and I watched her run as quickly as possible in the opposite direction from where I was standing. I was a cocktail of confused, annoyed and embarrassed. I should be able to hold a 7 year old’s attention for 20 minutes, after all. I loved reading at that age- I used to compete with my brother to see who could read the most over the course of the summer.
But, once the teacher came over and talked to me, explaining that most of these children come from a single parent family where they receive little, if any, one on one time, I saw things differently.
I grew up in a house with both parents, where school was the top priority, where being smart was more important than being pretty. I had chores, I was grounded nearly every other weekend, I did a lot of stupid things, but I always had the security of a stable family, surrounded by people who would quite literally do anything for me.
I’m not sure what the little girl’s circumstances are that I met today- she may come from a family just like my own and was just having an off day.
Even still, today was a very good reminder of how much work my parents put into raising me. I was a lot of work a lot of the time. I’m grateful beyond words for the time they invested in me.
This project to find something every day to be thankful for has made me realize how many little things happen in my life that I enjoy so much. Some of them are small, like a good nail polish color or getting a free drink at Starbucks, and some are a lot bigger, like being healthy, having a good family and having everything I need. Because of 140 days of Prague, I remind myself all day, multiple times a day, how many great little things are happening all around me. And the funny thing is, they always have been. Now, I just have my eyes open because I know, at the end of the day, I get to pick the thing that tickled me most and talk about it. Bad things don’t seem so bad, and the little pleasures become larger.
So, everyday, I find myself being thankful for 140 Days to Prague. I’m sure I drive anyone crazy who follows my blog with posting so much, but this is the best therapy I’ve ever had… and I’ve seen professionals.
Back to today. I woke up this morning and talked to my dear friend, Katie for a while. We’ve been trying for weeks to catch each other. With a 13 hour time difference and extremely busy lives, today was the first day we were able to take a full hour and catch up.
Today, I’m thankful to be friends with Katie.
I’m sure many more of these will come because I love so many of my friends so much, but Katie and I had a good chat this morning, so she’s up first. The usual catching up, plus a little bit of politics, a little bit of philosophy, a lot of life.
We haven’t known each other very long – we were no more than acquaintances during college. It wasn’t until after we both graduated and she commented on a facebook post of mine that we even started talking. Although she is on the other side of the world and we haven’t known each other very long, I love that we can sit on the phone and chat about life openly and without judgement. I don’t know many people who I can have meaningful conversation, disagree with on a topic, and still enjoy the discussion so much. If Katie and I would not have become friends, I’m not sure I ever would have taken the leap to Prague. I look up to her courage, her spontaneity, and the joy she gets from life. I know it’s going to be a while until I get to see her again, but I know we will be friends for a long time.
I’m thankful you’re in my life, Katie!
Today, I’m thankful for the perfect parking space. When you get in your car, look up, and notice the space in front of you is vacant. (Que singing angels). Put the car in drive and pull through, baby. No reverse for you today.
Today, I’m thankful that I got to spend the day with my family, doing absolutely nothing.
I’m not exactly a patriotic person, and I’m a pacifist at heart. Since it is the Fourth of July, I was feeling obligated to be thankful for something American-like, even though I have honestly grown tired of so much about this country. It’s hard to feel proud to be an American when I look at what that means in context. Greed, glutton, ignorance, deception… how could I when that’s how I see things? This tweet gave me the perspective I needed, though:
I don’t have to be hokey to be thankful that I am able to spend a holiday with the people I love. To sleep in a comfortable bed, and to not worry about much of anything. I don’t like war – I think it’s rotten, and I don’t necessarily think it has much to do with our freedom anymore. But I get that someone has to do it for us to make it in this difficult world. I’m thankful that they are doing it. That people are putting their lives on the line so that people like me don’t have to. I would be terrible at war. I would die. I mean literally, I would be killed. No time flat.
So, with all genuineness, I’m thankful that I get to enjoy being home, doing nothing today. I’m thankful for the people whom I don’t even know, yet depend so much upon, to make that my reality.
Today, I’m thankful for the little nice things that people do.
I walked into my office this morning to an Applebee’s gift card from someone who submitted a classified ad to my newsletter. Well, didn’t just submit it – he emailed and called quite a few times over the course of the last month, making sure it was published, making sure I got his voicemails, making sure I got his emails. I’ll admit I got annoyed with him a few times and wasn’t as completely nice as I could have been.
So the gift card was a good reminder that you should always take the extra second or 10 seconds, or minute, or 5 minutes to be kind. I was never rude; I simply could have taken a little breath, gained a little perspective, and been a little better than I was. I’m not saying money buys me love – the note he wrote without the gift card would have had the same effect on my heart.
I encountered someone yesterday who had the same effect on me. I was getting my car assessed from a recent rear-end accident. My bumper was barely scuffed. The agent said he would work in extra time to have my entire bumper sanded and painted, to repair another, much more noticeable scratch I got in a Kroger parking lot a few weeks after getting my car. And he was just so nice. An insurance agent, of all people.
So two little acts of kindness have restored a lot of faith in me today. Little reminders that it takes no more time to be kind than it does to be obnoxious – and it’s better for your blood pressure too, I think.
Today is a simple pleasure: my red jellies.
I may have belligerently broken dress code today by wearing them, but then again, who knows? Are the open toed, closed? Certainly not sandals… right?
I love my little red jelly shoes because they remind me of being a kid – a time when plastic shoes were not only acceptable, but cool.
At 24, little red jellies, you still have the same magic. So thank you for making a much needed comeback.