With the year quickly coming to a close, this marks the last Gratitude Friday of 2013. This is the second year I’ve kept an online weekly gratitude journal, and I honestly enjoyed sitting down each week to reflect on the good things that had happened during the previous week.
But while the exercise has helped me accomplish my personal goal of living a more grateful life, sadly I fell quite short in my professional goal of creating an engaged community of like-minded people sharing what they’re grateful for. (“Hello? Is this thing on?”) Although I obviously need to adjust my tactic for engaging people more effectively, I am resolute in not abandoning my mission and vision of inspiring people to focus on the blessings and gifts they have in their lives. I truly believe living with gratitude is not only a life changer but a world changer, and I’m open to any and all ideas from readers about how to build a more vocal and sharing gratitude community.
But…onward! My sister happens to be brilliantly analytical, and she suggested I take a look back at what’s been on my weekly gratitude lists throughout the past year and put them into categories to recognize patterns. I can’t tell you how fun and fulfilling it was to go back through 51 weeks of gratitude lists and relive the joys and blessings of 2013. Here are the 10 highlights that popped up again and again.
I was grateful for individual time with my four boys. Whether we were doing errands, having special dinners together, doing what each of them loves, skyping or exchanging hugs and smooches, every moment with them was precious.
I also loved having time together with my family. Life was delicious when we were all together having family dinners, or relaxing, or being silly, or doing fun traditions, or traveling, or celebrating something special, or watching baseball, or receiving random thinking-of-you texts from my boys. And there was nothing so joyful as having all of them home under the same roof.
I couldn’t be more grateful for my boys’ opportunities, accomplishments, happiness and safety. The oldest graduated high school, the three oldest got into college all within six months, and one got settled happily as a freshman. I am a very proud and grateful mama.
My siblings are the best. No matter if I was doing the hustle with my sister, going to a car show with my brother, laughing with them, group texting our own brand of zaniness, or having sleepovers with them both, I always felt blessed to be with them. And let it be known I have quite the awesome sister.
Of course my dad is also one of my favorite people on the planet and this year I was blessed to share hilarious cocktail phone chats, to have appreciated his hospitality while hosting us in Florida, and I’m especially grateful for the little things like the quick roadside hug we snuck in.
And the ultimate icing on the cake is being with my dad and siblings together!
I can’t leave out my two precious Havanese doggies who are the perpetually sweetest and cuddliest members of the family. They make every day brighter.
Finally, there’s my incredible, loving husband. After 20 years, he’s still my best friend, an awesome father and my partner in reaching for the twinkling stars and slaying the mean dragons. We had some fabulous date nights this year, he has never forgotten our date-iversary and he takes great care of our family, as well as puts up with me even when I’m a brat. I’m grateful to him for many more ways that I can possibly express, but I was able to get 29 of them on paper for our 20th anniversary.
I adored being with them, hearing from them, getting back in touch, catching up face to face, celebrating good times and receiving kind and encouraging words from them. I’m so proud of their accomplishments, their growth and their dedicated and diverse community service efforts. I savored girlfriend time, tea-time and the honor of listening to and supporting a few wonderful friends during tough times. I truly appreciated so many friends thinking of me out of the blue, checking in on me when I wasn’t feeling well, when I needed love and support and when I was downright cranky. It made me smile to have so many friends remember me on my birthday. It’s pretty clear that one of the most important things in my life is honoring friendship.
One of my favorite things is to experience live music and entertainment. This year—which I’m affectionately calling the Year of Old Men Singing Old Songs—was outstanding in that regard. I am grateful to have seen, among other shows, the Eagles, Barry Manilow, Steely Dan, Paul Reiser, The Doo-Wop Project, and Hall & Oates. Each and every performance is something I treasure in my mind.
As Dorothy says, “There’s no place like home.” I love the nests we’ve created, and I’m grateful for the opportunity this year to purge, organize, and move furniture around my houses. Every day, I appreciate everything from my shower, my fireplace and central air conditioning to the basics like a new toothbrush and fresh sheets. I’m beyond blessed to have homes filled with warmth, comfort, love and laughter, where we’ve been blessed to make many merry memories together as a family and with friends.
Whether we’re cooking at home, discovering new restaurants, or visiting old favorites, good food and drink is the way we love to come together and connect with family and friends. I have so much gratitude for edible treasures like the simplicity of fresh local sweet corn, the comfort of a cheesy crock of onion soup just out of the oven and the decadence of a sinfully scrumptious Minetta burger. Some of the best memories of the year are firmly rooted in shared culinary experiences.
Something I never, ever take for granted is my health and the health of my friends and family. There were so many times I felt grateful this year for healing and good health news, and I am grateful for the impetus and fortitude to have begun an exercise plan. I need to get back on track and bring back the boost in energy and focus I get from working out.
7. Simple Things
I was so fortunate to find boxes of treasured old photos and nostalgic memorabilia that I’m grateful my parents and grandparents took and saved over the years. It warms my heart to sort through mementos of life from an earlier time and see the long line of love and gratitude that preceded me.
I reveled in celebrating things big and small, including my firstborn going off to college, birthdays, Fathers Day, high school graduation, friends’ kids’ bar mitzvahs, good news, friends’ accomplishments, our 20th anniversary and the Red Sox World Championship.
And laughter. With a bunch of friends. Or on the phone. Or in a group text. Anywhere will do. It’s not a good week if you haven’t had a few really good laughs, and I’m grateful that every week there was occasion to laugh out loud.
There were beautiful sunrises and sunsets. I appreciated the majesty of each new season: autumn’s glory, the hopeful blossoms of spring, December snow and summer beach memories. And the magnificent beach itself: the sand, the water, the sky and the restorative benefits of being there. Nature takes my breath away.
9. Special Educators
We’ve been blessed with special teachers and educators, most notably the principal at our high school, who wrote this beautiful piece to parents of graduating seniors.
I also have deep gratitude for the wonderful hearing professionals who have helped us tirelessly with the education of our hearing impaired sons and for a few special teachers who have gone above and beyond to make a huge difference in my boys’ lives.
I was grateful for bursts of productivity and creativity throughout the year to keep my writing projects goings, and I also appreciated having the opportunity to write as a cathartic outlet for relieving stress.
In addition, I really appreciated recognition for my work. I was published on the Huffington Post several times this year, including the widely shared “101 Simple Pleasures to Boost Happiness.” I also was grateful to have a number of posts, recipes and popular quotes shared on Facebook and Pinterest,
Lastly but so precious in my heart, I have tremendous gratitude for my readers, followers and fans. Your interest in and support for what I write, create and share is truly humbling. I hope you will let me know how I can help you find your path to a happier, more grateful life. Thank you for being part of my life in 2013, and I wish you joy and good health in the year ahead.