This post first appeared in Sixty and Me.
Did you know that writing gratitude lists boosts your mood and improves happiness? I sometimes forget this in my day-to-day grumblings about hangnails and hay fever, but as Thanksgiving approaches, I’ve dusted off my gratitude list.
I have my own teeth
I am grateful for my long-term dentist whose skills kept my teeth semi-securely fastened in my mouth through the years. I helped pay for his kids’ education from Montessori school through college and I’m not bitter that I wasn’t invited to their graduation parties. I wish him the best in his early retirement while I work full-time. So I can continue to carry dental insurance.
I have most of my original parts
When I was 5 years old, after repeated bouts of tonsillitis, my mother and her hired gun dangled a diet of popsicles and ice cream before me and I went under the knife with enthusiasm to have my tonsils removed. You can only imagine the betrayal I felt when I recovered from anesthesia and couldn’t swallow my saliva. This may have prompted my lifelong suspicion of surgeons but I’m happy to report I haven’t surrendered any other major body parts.
I don’t drool. Very much. Yet.
The only other time I allowed a surgeon to have his way with me was when I had a blood vessel-ly thing appear on my lower lip. My astute dentist (see above) sent me to an oral surgeon, who removed it, declaring it a benign hemangioma. When it recurred, I decided I’d live with it but my dentist was fearful it was malignant. He didn’t buy my argument that if it was cancer it would have killed me by now. This time the surgeon was more aggressive in his excision leaving a gap so my lips can’t make a seal. Not only have I tragically lost the ability to whistle, but occasionally I spring a leak. In other words, I drool. But not much.
I have a job
I was laid off at age 62 and turned down two job offers before accepting a third to occupy my current position. And I don’t say ‘Do you want fries with that?’
Welcoming new family members
At this stage of life, I’ve had significant losses. In a five-year period, I lost my mother, father, and my sister Linda. I didn’t think I’d ever stop crying. But over the same five years plus one, I gained a daughter-in-law and two grandsons. No one can replace those lost, but the gains are blessings beyond measure.
Successful cancer treatments
In 2008 my brother was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia. When there were rumblings about a stem cell transplant we three sisters lined up at the drawing station and had tubes of blood sent for analysis. I declared that since I was the youngest I hoped I would be a match to save my older sisters from enduring the arduous process of donating cells. My oldest sister Noreen quipped, “With my luck, it will be me!”
Eight years ago Noreen laid flat on her back for 12 hours with a steel tube in her arm generously releasing her blood to a machine that extracted stem cells to give our brother a second chance. And other than having the compulsion to sit when he pees my brother Marvin is living a normal life today.
Friends through the ages
I treasure childhood friends who shared an elementary school classroom and endured the annual Maine potato picking ritual with me. This summer I reunited with both a high school and college friend I had not seen in over 30 years and was delighted when my fears of ‘would it be awkward?’ were unfounded. I recently celebrated the 50th anniversary of my friendship with bestie, Liana, who loves me despite knowing everything about me. While I marvel at the rarity of friendships so long-lasting, I met a new friend this year and Lee and I are certain our late-in-life friendship is limited only by our longevity.
I love to sleep and often experience vivid dreams. I have reunions with lost loved ones, and travel to exotic places doing impossible things.
I have a recurrent dream that involves discovering a room in my home I never knew existed. The room is beautiful and welcoming, providing a feeling of joy that carries into my day after I awaken. I feel loved, excited about new possibilities and a strong sense that God led me to this ‘room’ showing me that the best surprises in life do not come from my own knowledge or effort.
I bet you thought when I wrote about dreams I was going to expound on goals and lofty ambitions, didn’t you? Did you forget I’m shallow?
What’s on your gratitude list? How do you recognize the people and things for which you are grateful? Please join in a conversation.
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