I was invited to participate in a Gratitude Challenge by my ex-sister-in-law, Nancy Donner. The challenge was to post 3 things you’re grateful for 5 days in a row. [Okay, I made the assumption those are three DIFFERENT things each day. Otherwise it just seemed repetitive, redundant, and repetitious.]
Day 1 of the Gratitude Challenge
1. I’m grateful, this day and continuously, for my wonderful Deb. My friend, my companion, my lover, my partner, my future, my wife; for as long as she wants me, as long as she needs me, or so long as we both shall live.
2. I’m grateful for my wits (those I have left), singular and plural.
3. I’m grateful for living in the 21st Century, in a country with a standard of living that lets me take advantage of the magic* evolving as we look around us.
Day 2 of the Gratitude Challenge
1. I’m grateful I share a house with a friend and partner who likes doing similar things as I do, but doesn’t feel we have to do everything together. (Although if she wanted to sit together and read through the phone book, I’d probably be good with that. At least through the Ks or Ls. As long as we were sitting somewhere comfortable and I got to put my free arm around her.)
2. I’m grateful for a job where I’m not checking my email all weekend in case something went wrong. Again.
3. I’m grateful for the Internet. (CRAP, is that the time? Where’d the day go?)
Day 3 of the Gratitude Challenge
1. I am grateful for a roommate who likes my cooking and is gracious about a meal made from freezer items that should have been labeled better. Or at all. (Round things covered in frost are not always meatballs. Who knew?) Or a meal whose recipe could be described as, “Things that have been in the fridge and the pantry long enough and are not totally incompatible.” And who says things like, “This was good! Can we have this again?… Well, do we know most of the ingredients?… How about the green bits? Do we know what the green bits are?… Well, I still think it was very good, honey, thank you!”
2. I am grateful for a back yard with privacy and quiet, populated by local creatures who couldn’t be more interesting if their lives were scripted by Disney. We have Skippy the Wonder Squirrel (my bird feeder nemesis, who sneers at my feeble attempts to protect our seed and suet); the Cardinal family: Mr. C., Mrs. C., and the two “babies,” both of whom are larger than their parents and yet insist on being fed by giving pathetic chirps and opening their beaks like nestlings; Henrietta the robin, who lands in trees with the grace of an albatross and builds nests like a drunken blind man; numerous bunnies who believe in the power of positive thinking (“I am a rock, uninteresting and invisible. I am a rock, still and quiet, lying in the middle of a freshly-clipped lawn. I am a rock… with twitchy ears…”) despite occasional evidence left by raptors that they aren’t fooling anybody.
3. I am grateful for having a mortgage paid off and extra money available for putting into our retirement funds. Although so far we seem to be investing in things like a new roof, a water-proofed basement, a replacement vehicle for a 17-year-old Saturn, and a trip to London with our youngest niece, I have every confidence that these will pay off handsomely some time in the future.
Day 4 of the Gratitude Challenge
1. I’m grateful for my bedmate, who doesn’t mind my snoring (“You don’t snore that much, honey. Mostly.”) as opposed to a nameless person who used to whack me in the head with her elbow when my snores drove her crazy. And for a bedmate who likes to — (“You can’t post that, Jackster.”) How about when we — (“No.”) Lots of people do it. (“Lots of people do lots of things. They don’t post them on Facebook.”) Actually, if you look — (“WE don’t post them on Facebook!”)
1a. I’m grateful for my bedmate. I have my reasons.
2. I’m grateful for my diabetes, oddly enough. I don’t know what sort of shape I’d be in if I hadn’t been diagnosed 15 years ago and been given the choice of getting healthy or dying a lingering death with poor eyesight, but I certainly wouldn’t be getting up at zero-dark-thirty every morning (okay, later on weekends, but that’s because I like to snuggle with my bedmate on Saturday mornings) to work out for 30–40 minutes. I wouldn’t have been contributing size 38 trousers to the charity box and feeling like I have to cinch in my 34s sometimes. (Still too big for 32s, though.) I wouldn’t be exercising portion control on most meals, and skipping or sharing desserts when we go out. I wouldn’t have become focused on low-carb/complex-carb meals. Because (a) I want to be around to enjoy Saturday morning snuggles as long as possible, and (b) they still don’t have an oral insulin product, and needles scare the crap out of me.
3. I’m grateful for computers. They’ve been my passion and my avocation and my creative outlet and my enabler and my source of income and my way of coping with life when I’m not up to dealing with people. And they are still totally cool.
Day 5 of the Gratitude Challenge
1. I’m grateful for my ex-wife. She changed my self-image with her friendship and love. She got me to get serious about saving for the future (the investment account she talked me into in 1986 has paid for a mortgage refinance, a mortgage early pay-off, and family emergencies; and it’s still going strong because I never stopped making contributions to it month after month). Even though we lived together longer divorced than we did married (true story!), she kept my family’s name and has done it proud as a Naval officer, academic administrator, and PhD. I’m a better husband now for being married to her. (And she gave me the ex-sister-in-law responsible for me taking the Gratitude Challenge.)
2. I’m grateful for my time in the Navy. Four years of college at the Naval Academy, which taught me academic skills, leadership skills (by observation and practice), and people skills (I never needed to get along with people in high school, I just needed to avoid them or ignore them). Ten years of active duty in submarines, computers, and temporary duty assignments. I lived in MD, VA, FL, CT, South Korea, and RI (with some repeats). I met my first wife and more friends than I want to count (because I’ll leave out somebody). I learned that planning for the future is very good and worthwhile, but sometimes you wake up (after, say, a plane crash you were in) and find that the future isn’t there any more and you need to adapt. I got to live through a number of interesting stories, many of which I retell with surprisingly little need for modification. I found how to live with a lifestyle that worked within my income while being content (although I look back on what I made as an ensign and wonder how that was ever possible).
3. I’m grateful for my life partner. We’ve gotten to the point that we’re Jack&Deb (or Deb&Jack) when we’re dealing with church projects, or family, or the outside world. I’m grateful for her patience and wisdom. I’m proud of how she has advanced in her career after leaving a job that was completely in her comfort zone. I’m grateful for how she keeps me sane. I’m amazed how she supports her side of the family and mine, even with a job with ever-growing hours and ever-dwindling budgets. I’m still caught off guard by how she can make me laugh with her off-beat sense of humor. I’m so very, very glad to be her husband, married to a woman who is totally AWESOME!
Originally posted on Facebook.