Sunday, November 15, 2015

Gratitude Challenge Day 8

I suppose I should clarify that for some of the things on my list, you can't see the actual "thing," but you can very clearly see the effects or results of that "thing." 

  • air
  • forgiveness
  • empathy
  • faith
  • hope
  • my thoughts
  • history
  • adrenaline
  • dreams (even long after I've been awake and I can't fully "see" them) 
  • Bebe
  • Dad
  • my future
  • luck 
  • cold
  • warmth
I'm thankful for adrenaline. It fires you up when you need that extra push, and it ignites that thing that sometimes turns off. Adrenaline protects you when you're in danger, and it pushes you through uncomfortable situations. 

I can't see adrenaline, but I sure can feel it, and I'm glad it's there to energize me when I need it. 

Gratitude Challenge Day 7

  • weather alerts on my iPhone
  • sirens
  • smoke alarms
  • fires, tornado, and lock down drills
  • medicine
  • doctors offices & visits
  • email
  • data 
  • the news
  • political officials
  • my conscience 
  • habits
  • bills (and having to pay them) 
  • gasoline
  • rain
  • iPhone battery
  • Apple TV/wifi at school
  • free speech 
Being sick is the worst. You can't think straight because your head is all fuzzy, and you're either hot or cold or achy or sleepy. Everything is harder to do when you're sick. Among those things, sitting in the doctor's waiting room when all you want to do is crawl into bed and fade back to wellness, is the worst. 

Last Spring, I got sick in the middle of a snow storm. My throat genuinely felt like it was coated in sandpaper, my head was pounding, and I didn't want to do anything but get some medicine and sleep it off. The catch, though, is that it had just snowed, and I couldn't drive anywhere.. including the doctor's office. 

For the first time, I realized that NOT sitting in the waiting room might be worse than sitting there. So, as annoying as those waiting rooms may be, with their germ-infested, uncomfortable chairs and sneezing kids, I'm thankful that I have access to and the ability to pay for healthcare, both when I'm sick and when I'm healthy. 

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gratitude Challenge Day 6

  • nasal spray
  • cough syrup
  • green juice (especially if it's too spinach-y)
  • salt water
  • ginger
  • burnt coffee (because at least I have some)
It isn't surprising that this list is much shorter than the rest; I don't often make a habit of tasting things which do not taste good. However, when a person toughens it out and withstands an unpleasant taste, it's typically for good reason. That's the case with the things on my list, five out of six of them being things that make me feel better when I'm feeling ill.

The thing that sticks out to me the most is nasal spray. In addition to its awful taste, it's just a downright disgusting thing. (Have you ever needed to use nasal spray whilst in the presence of someone else? It's awkward and gross and brings more attention than is necessary to the phlegm and germs which caused you to pull it out in the first place.) It's kind of a double-edged sword, so to speak. Most of the time, it clears your nostrils right up, reminding you that there is in fact a path to your sinuses. However, it drips back down your throat leaving this gross, bitter taste just clinging to the back of your taste buds. I usually try and cover up the taste with some sort of flavored drink (usually coffee of course), but sometimes there's just not escaping it.

However, when you have a sinus headache and your ears are popping because you're just that congested, you'll give anything - including a lingering, bitter taste - to find some relief. So, for that reason, I'm thankful for nasal spray.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Gratitude Challenge Day 5

Something tells me that this might be my longest list yet. 

  • green curry shrimp (on my list for the second time this month) 
  • Boom Chicka Pop popcorn
  • Oreos (also on my list for the second time this month)
  • iFratelli's veggie pizza
  • Pizza Hut thin crust pepperoni pizza
  • my Dad's spaghetti
  • sushi (especially Spider Rolls) 
  • tacos (any and all tacos) 
  • pad thai
  • pad see ew
  • vanilla coffee
  • Chuy's Creamy Jalepeno dressing 
  • Babe's chicken
  • anything from Anamia's (especially Kelly's Queso & Ricky Tacos) 
  • iced tea
  • vanilla ice cream, chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream, salted caramel ice cream
  • French fries
  • fried pickles
  • roasted artichokes
  • Snap Kitchen's Anti-Oxident Beet-Apple juice
  • shrimp cocktail
  • lobster with melted butter
  • ahi tuna salad
  • cheese (any and all of it)
I'm making an executive decision here: It's far too difficult to pick just one of these scrumptious treats to crown "That For Which I'm Most Grateful". So, I'm switching gears. 

Instead, I'll focus on the fact that I have so many kinds of foods to choose from on my list. I realize that it's quite remarkable that I've had the chance to taste and try so many different kinds of foods and that so many of my favorites are readily available for dinner on any given night. I'm beyond blessed. I'm well-fed and I'm able to provide for myself. I have a working kitchen where I can cook and prepare foods, and I have a working car with which I can drive myself to a variety of restaurants complete with To Go menus. I'm not only given the luxury of feeling full and satisfied each night, but I have choice in what I want to eat and the means with which to make healthy and educated decisions about the food I put into my body. I have much to be thankful for. 

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Gratitude Challenge - Day 4 (Two Days Late)

I'm posting my Day 4 Gratitude Post a day late. Fridays are busy!

The prompt for Day 4 piggybacks on Day 3 and goes for the opposite: What are you thankful for that is very big?

Perhaps my list will also be "very big":
  • my TV (I'm not bragging here. It's probably not big from most perspectives, but in the grand scheme of things, it's luxurious enough to be called big.) 
  • my car, Pearl
  • my apartment (I upgraded from 575 square feet to 835 square feet about a year ago. I'm in space heaven.) 
  • my living room window
  • the painting hanging in my living room that Dad and I painted together
  • emotions
  • The University of Texas
  • airplanes
  • the internet
  • grocery stores
  • Hulu Plus & Netflix (and their large database of endless entertainment)
  • the armed forces
  • movie theaters
  • my photo collection 
  • my collection of blogs on Feedly
It's getting increasingly harder to pick just one thing to write about, so I'm going to go with my first instinct here: the very intangible thing that's allowing me to share my thoughts with you, dear reader.

I'm abundantly grateful for the existence of the internet and the vastness of it. Unlike many of my students, I remember a time when the internet wasn't a part of my life. Yes, I had an AOL account in fifth grade, and instant messenger was my primary means of communication for most of my adolescence. But, the helpful facets of the internet weren't readily available at my finger tips until I was in college. 

I learned to drive with a Mapsco in my passenger seat, and I had to [gasp] read the map BEFORE I started going somewhere so that I wouldn't get lost. If I didn't know how to build, create, or fix something when I was a teenager, I had to ask an adult for help or [gasp] find a book that could help me. If I wanted to watch my favorite tv show, I had to actually be at home when it aired (or, if I was lucky I could claim rights to the VCR that night and make a VHS copy). 

Now, I hop in my car to  go somewhere, and not only can I find directions instantly, but they change throughout my drive based on traffic updates, and I can send my ETA to my friends in real time. If I don't know how to fix my vacuum or check the oil in my car, I can search a vast database of how-to videos, thus empowering myself to be more independent. When I'm feeling lonely or missing my friends, I can call them, text them, send them videos, or better yet, FaceTime with them. Sure beats the old days of paying long distance fees to call another state. I can do something to cheer myself up with the help of the ol' internet. 

Speaking of long distance, I can share my location with my close friends and family so that they always know where I am if they need me, or more importantly, if I need them. I have the ability to share my thoughts openly and publicly on a variety of platforms, such as this one, and I can read the thoughts and opinions of others, all from the comfort of my own home (or on my phone while in the grocery store line). 

All of those things are luxuries, though. They're advances in technology and innovative thinking that have made my life more enjoyable, meaningful (at times), and easier. 

However, the single most important thing about the internet, in my opinion, is that it puts information and knowledge at the fingertips of anyone with access to a wifi or cellular connection. Knowledge is power, and the internet provides that to educated and employed people such as myself, but also to other people who may not otherwise have access to the answers and solutions they desperately need to find. 

Are there downsides to that truth? Well of course. Knowledge is power, which as we all well know, can be used for both good and bad. I won't pretend as though that's not a threat that the internet provides. However, much like banned books and freedom of speech, I'd rather the opportunity for empowerment than to be fighting oppression from it. 

Of all the "very big" things on my list, I think the internet is the one thing that most affects and improves my life on a daily basis. That and the University of Texas of course. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Gratitude Challenge - Day 3

Very small things for which I am very grateful:
  • my Apple TV remote
  • eyeballs
  • my contacts
  • the key to my apartment
  • my car key
  • spare keys
  • my ring that used to be my grandmother's 
  • my wishbone charm 
  • my medicine 
  • erasers
  • raindrops 
  • ladybugs
  • my pearl earrings
  • punctuation 
  • my brand new baby niece, Emily

"Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your heart." 

This is one of those quotes that I've heard a hundred times, and I don't even know who said it. Maybe it's an anonymous quote. Either way, I think there's some truth to it. 

When I think about all of the teeny tiny things on my list, I can't pick one that I'm most thankful for. With some of these things, there's no way to rank one above the other. 

So instead, I'll tell you about my favorite ring. I always admired my grandmother's jewelry. Bebe had the prettiest rings, adorned with gemstones and pearls, and she always had a new pair of earrings for a new outfit. She was always dressed to the nines and was widely known as a classy, Southern lady. 

One of my favorite piece of her jewelry was a simple silver ring with a light aqua stone. Luckily for me, I got to keep that ring when she passed away. Every time I wear it, I think of Bebe and her classy style. It reminds me to hold my head high, to speak kindly and intelligently, and to smile. It's a beautiful ring from a beautiful woman that reminds me of many a beautiful memory. 

Gratitude Challenge - Day 2

I had a lot of fun making my list of things that I'm thankful for that are also black and white. I love this kind of brainstorming. 

old photos
cookies and cream ice cream
chocolate chip ice cream
stars at night
sheet music
piano keys
the tile in my old kitchen
paved roads
QR codes
salt and pepper
yoga pants
soccer balls
wicks (in candles)
coloring books
crossword puzzles
my Dad's letters
my journals
composition notebooks
my kids' writing 

Call me sappy, but I think the thing I'm most thankful for is writing. I'm thankful that I have the ability and the knowledge to be able to write. There are a lot of people in this world that were never taught how to write - how to get all of the thoughts whizzing through their heads organized and onto the paper or even how to form letters and build sentences. I'm thankful that someone taught me how to write and that I had access to a free and public education, writing teachers that inspired me to challenge myself, and my parents, both writers, that modeled for me and helped me when I continuously changed tenses mid-essay or misspelled spaghetti for the hundredth time. 

I'm also incredibly thankful for the writing of other people. Published books, essays, and poems have continuously brought me comfort and companionship over the years and have given me a lens through which to understand life. 

I'm thankful for letters that I've saved from the loved ones in my life: letters from my Mom and Dad, cards from my Grandma, and notes and letters from my cousin Dai when we were silly teenagers and I wanted to be just like her. 

Finally, I'm thankful for my students' writing. Without a doubt, those piece of writing are the works of geniuses. They are imaginative and poetic and full of wisdom. They are adorable and humorous, and they make me smile.