Grateful for 44 Years


There are a lot of things that I've learned over 44 years. Early on, I acquired skills to walk and run and tie my shoes. I figured out at a young age how to create imaginative stories and then transitioned that into writing prose that helped craft those stories. These were all important things that I still make use of in my daily life (well, except the tying shoes, because my current footwear is slip-ons). 

One of the most important things that I've learned in my 44 years and what I've really started to recognize as one of the most crucial ingredients for a happy life over the past two years is to always aspire and focus on being grateful. Gratitude is one of the magical elixirs to a life being lived well.

I've made it clear that the last two years of living through a pandemic with its necessity to isolate and having to deal with all the various fallouts that has entailed has made life hard. As someone who has constantly wrestled with anxiety and depression and self-doubt for more than I'd really like to admit, the past two years has been like gasoline being poured on the emotional bonfire.

So, I've delved deeper into gratitude. Because there has been so much to be grateful and thankful for in the past two years, just like there has been so much to be grateful for in the last 44 years.

I'm grateful that I have a passionate, intelligent, beautiful and committed wife, Emily, that loves me and pushes me to be better.

I'm grateful that I have two amazing and creative and imaginative and thoughtful children, Everett and Danika, that want to spend time with me and inspire me every day.

I'm grateful for my pets that love me no matter what and make me feel like I am an incredible being.

I'm grateful for parents that have always allowed me to pursue my interests and accept me for the odd and crazy person that I am. I never once doubted that they loved me and would be there to support me. I am blessed and privileged for knowing this to be true.

I'm grateful that I have deep friendships that span decades, and even if we don't see each other as much as the years have gone by that we instantly connect when we're back together.

I'm grateful for siblings and in-laws and aunts and uncles and cousins that I continue to have opportunities to bond and get to know better as time goes on and continue to create more wonderful memories together.

I'm grateful for readers and listeners that actually enjoy what I create, and continue to support all my projects and endeavors and dreams.

I'm grateful for the community of other writers that I've found such as the NaNoWriMo community that supports and encourages each other.

I'm grateful for small pleasures like a cup of coffee or a really great movie.

I'm grateful.

What I've learned about the amazing power of gratitude is that it changes my day. It changes my mindset. When I realize there is so much to appreciate and enjoy that it makes me a happier person. When I appreciate that employee at the grocery store or that person that took a second to say 'hi' when I walk by that it also stops making life just about me. This life isn't just about me, and the life is richer and fuller when I take the time to appreciate everyone surrounding me and living this life with me.

Gratitude makes me a kinder person, because I'm not focused on just myself and my supposed rights and what I think I deserve. Instead, I enjoy what I have, and I try to show that appreciation to everyone that I come in contact with in my life. Then I get filled with the desire to pay it forward. I get moved to be kind and compassionate and empathetic and generous and loving.

Gratitude makes me better. This is something that took me a long time to realize, but after 44 years, I can say that it is something I learned.

We can all live a better life by being grateful, and hopefully, it spurs us on to then be kinder and stronger (44 years has taught me that strength is kindness, compassion, confidence, sincerity, humility, generosity and empathy). 

This doesn't mean I am great at it. And that is something 44 years has also taught me, which is I am a work-in-progress and I need to strive to be better every day. I need to work on my weaknesses and know that I don't master things instantly. So, I am striving every day to be more grateful and allow that to push me to be kinder and gentler and more thoughtful and more loving.

On my 44th birthday, I want to say thank you for reading and supporting me over the years. I have so much to be grateful and thankful. I look forward to another year where there will be so much more.