So here's what my week of (slightly unconventional) thankfulness looked like. It was harder than I expected - not because I couldn't find things to be thankful for (quite the contrary) but because I wanted to write down the same things (namely friends and photographs) over and over again.
But I tried to be original...as well as genuine. You can be the judge of how that went. I don't know if it helped in terms of slowing down time, but as I'm sitting here surrounded by suitcases and more stuff than I knew I owned, I'm fairly awestruck by how blessed I've been. I have more possessions than I could ever need and I have a family that just might miss me and friends that accept me unconditionally for who I am. I've already been on some incredible adventures and now, standing on the cusp of the biggest adventure yet, I know that I'm ready for this. And I'm so grateful for everything that's led to this moment - all the good times and the laughter and the encouragement, but also the hard times and the tears and the struggles.
Anyway. Enough soliloquizing. Without further ado...my slightly eclectic, occasionally odd, and surprisingly personal list of things that, by God's grace, I recognized as undeserved gifts this past week.
1. Lazy mornings. I woke up feeling a little bit under the weather, so I stayed in bed until I felt better in the early afternoon. It was glorious. Rest is a more important blessing than I realize most of the time.
2. The sunlight patterns on the floor. I really can't explain this one...I just really like the way the sun comes in through my blinds, in tiny patches of light.
3. Cheesecake. It's proof that God really does love mankind, I think. So delicious.
4. Smiles - and photographs to preserve them. Seeing happy people makes me happy.
5. Laughter - and video cameras to capture whole moments forever. There aren't words for the joy I feel when I'm laughing so hard that my eyes tear up with the people I love most in the whole world.
6. Thoughtful notes. I've saved most of my birthday cards over the years, because my friends always write such nice things in them.
7. The feeling of appreciation. Hence the saving of birthday cards. It's nice to be able to go back and remember that I am loved.
1. A good night's sleep. Life is so much easier when I'm well-rested.
2. The smell of scones baking. It's such a morning kind of smell that makes me excited to get up.
3. Telling stories around the breakfast table. Good food + good friends + good conversation = the best way to start a birthday.
4. Piles of blankets and pillows. Another one of those things I can't explain. The aftermath of sleepovers is my favorite kind of mess.
5. Head-clearing drives. No music, no phone calls, just uninterrupted time to think and pray and perceive more clearly.
6. Aimless wanderings. I don't like doing nothing, but I like having nothing to do. Especially with a best friend. In Barnes and Noble.
7. Companionable silence. Sometimes silence speaks more than words ever could, and those moments are some of the most beautiful experiences I've ever had.
1. Rain. There isn't anything I don't like about rain - it's cool and refreshing and it makes colors more visible. The ground smells good after rain, and the air feels cleaner. It's such a blessing - and I'm just thankful for it for superficial reasons.
2. Those moments when I come up over a hill and have a clear view of the sky. The clouds were amazing after the rain, and I was amazed by God's handiwork when I got to see them.
3. Sitting and listening to people talking, laughing, and enjoying life during the "shortest party of the week."
4. Powerful songs that speak to me right where I'm at.
5. Peaceful moments of observation and reflection. Especially when I happen to have my camera on hand.
6. Finally getting to sit down and breathe a sigh of relief after a stressful experience.
7. The simplicity of a child's reasoning.
1. Checkmarks that indicate completion. I appreciate them on humorous birthday cards too.
2. Quick reconciliation. Staying mad at someone is just not worth it.
3. Reassurance. It comes in many forms, but it's always a blessing - whether I realize it or not.
4. Flavor, and food that's full of it.
5. Movies that are so funny, it feels like an obligation to quote them repeatedly.
6. Spending time with people who quote said movies repeatedly.
7. Making faces at stoplights with said people.
8. Joy so overwhelming that there's no room for sadness.
1. sweat that means I accomplished something before noon
2. childhood memories, shared and relived
3. baking - the way individual ingredients combine to make a finished product that is more than the sum of its parts
4. family dinner, and time spent together in the kitchen
5. unexpected compliments
6. sudden inspirations
7. caminando con mi papi y hablando en espanol
8. team efforts - better together than alone
9. train whistles at night
1. Undeniable evidences of blessing
2. Dreams that make me think
3. My car engine starting, which is something I should be much more thankful for than I am
4. Having enough gas in my car to take the long way home
5. Promises of return - not goodbyes, just see you laters
6. Text messages that make me smile
7. Contented fullness after a delicious meal
And finally, for the last day I spent in California...
2. amazing friends who have always been there for me
8. and most of all, life.
(I posted this from the Logan Airport in Boston, by the way.)