Happy New Year

It’s gratitude time once again. Actually, every day should be gratitude time but I have to say, lately, I have not been very good at taking time each day to count my blessings. The results of this lack of discipline are not good. Studies have shown that gratitude is a mood booster—and I need all the mood boosting available to me, especially in a cold, dark winter.

So thank you God, thank you friends and thank you family. Thank you readers. Thank you all the people out there just trying to get along and do some good at the same time.

I have much to be grateful for as I look back over 2014.

As I begin my gratitude meditation, here’s what comes to mind first. Thank you to “my” dog, Ruby, my most faithful companion, who snoozes on her armchair a few feet away from me as I tap the keys of my laptop.

I am also thankful for

  • My laptop, which has taken to updating itself a lot lately—maybe a sign of aging—but which still gets it done for me every day.
  • My husband, John, who married me 11 years ago and has been my steadfast best friend for two decades.
  • My three children and their assorted partners, including a new son-in-law, who are always “there” for me, no matter where life takes them.
  • The lady who taught me to knit about a year ago. She followed a long line of unsuccessful teachers who, over 35 years or longer, couldn’t break through my visualization of the yarn as a bowl of spaghetti—which, I found, got in the way of learning to knit. I hope the 15 or so somewhat random individuals (some people just looked “cold” when I happened to have a recently-completed scarf on hand), who are owners of scarves I have knitted to date, are grateful too.
  • My car—I am fortunate to have one. Sometimes I have little problems with it (for example, I have to open the window to unlock it from the inside by holding the outside door handles down flat while pulling the inside button up, etc.).

Maybe one day I will get another car. I pray that when that happens, I do not forget the lessons this car has taught me. If you can travel 150,000 miles in 12 years in a car with no motorized side-view mirrors and no motorized windows, I certainly can live without heated seats. (I tend to forget this on cold days when a friend with heated seats gives me a lift.)

  • My community. Which one? Communities are groups of people, many of them friends, in my life. I have a neighborhood, a town, and a county community. I have a high school community in Atlanta. I have friends from elementary and junior high in Massachusetts, a recovery community, a professional/being-a-reporter community, a political community, a college connection, a yoga community, friends I relate to because they have dogs, friends I relate to because they write, a church community, some people I relate to because they are grandparents, the members of my book club … it goes on.
  • My friends. These are people who actually like me and/or love me. I am so lucky to have them in my life.
  • My granddaughter, Lina—teacher, student, friend and flowing source of judgment-free love. I have learned so much that I thought I already knew in the three years since Lina came.
  • Books. Thank you Montgomery County Public Library and all those people who support it.
  • Public television and radio. I watch so much British television, my husband has accused me of being British, which wouldn’t be a bad thing, but I don’t think it’s in the DNA. Still, I appreciate the humor—and the language.
  • The Town Courier, our marvelous readers, and my wonderful colleagues there. I am so grateful to the people who have supported “O’Keefe’s Journal” for the last 12 years—or even for one day.
  • My health. It’s pretty good and while I have a lot to do to get into shape, writing this particular column has lit a fire in me to get back on track. Again.
  • My recovery. If it wasn’t for the resources to combat addiction that have been showered so freely on me for the last 23 years—12-step programs, friends and especially other recovering people, my psychiatrist, medications for depression, the growing understanding in my community that addiction is a disease, and the willingness to help of so many people—I simply would not be alive today.

I would be dead. People pat me on the back for being sober—no praise needed. Recovery for me is not a case of being an extra good person. Recovery was me choosing life over death. I am grateful and blessed.

  • Our home. We have a nice place to eat, sleep, work and live, and we get to come back to the same place every day. My husband is the guy behind this blessing. Thank you.
  • Humor. I was blessed to see my old friend Mr. Magoo the other night in my childhood favorite cartoon TV event, “A Christmas Carol.” Dickens’ reminder, “There is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor,” is sticking with me.

Let me pause here, for I will run out of space in the newspaper long before I finish this gratitude list. However, my mood is 1000 percent improved over where it was when I first began to write this missive.

Happiness is circulating through my veins now.

Thank you all.

Thank you for caring about yourselves and each other and the world we live in.

And as Tiny Tim said so well, first in 1843, “God bless us, every one!”

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