October was a rough month, personally and professionally. I saw my recipes reprinted without my permission or attribution on other web sites… I wasn’t eating cumin or eggs or nightshades or many other delicious things… I had a head cold for about 10 days… a total stranger described me as “rather chubby” in the comments of my video on the Hilah Cooking YouTube channel… and for half the month, I couldn’t lift weights at the Craptastic Gym.
I was not happy, and I didn’t keep that unhappiness to myself.
But one of the lessons of the last year is that when I stop feeling sorry for myself and practice gratitude, I immediately feel better. And to my credit, I was grateful in October for the many, many good things in my life. But I’ll be damned if every time I thought of something good, I didn’t feel like the universe dropped a slippery banana peel in my path just to watch me fall down.
But November is here. The head cold is gone. Spices are back in my life. The Craptastic is open and crappy. And this morning, I was busting out all over with gratitude. Here’s a list of just some of the things that have made me feel happy, buoyant, and grateful in the last 36 hours. (My appreciation for Dave, Smudge, my family, and you, dear readers, is ever-present and can be assumed to top every gratitude list ever, from now until the end of time. This is just the rest of the silly stuff…)
1. The steps at the end of the hike and bike trail.
Right by the parking lot of the trail, there’s a choice to be made: up the stairs to street level or along the path and up a gentle incline. I always choose the stairs. And I sprint up ‘em, two-at-a-time. And I love it. So much. (I have a well-documented “Stairs Problem™” which has gotten us lost in Prague on many occasions. Stairs to anywhere: can’t resist them.)
2. This pencil skirt from Forever 21.
Superficial? Hell, yes! But this skirt is the bomb. It’s comfortable, it hits my leg in just the right place, and bonus! it was super cheap because Forever 21 is the drive-thru, fast-food joint of trendy clothing. I won’t eat junky food, so I allow myself the indulgence of potato chip clothing from F21.
3. The Zombies, Run! 5K Training Program.
This morning, I didn’t have time to drive to the trail around the lake before yoga, so I went for a walk/run in my neighborhood. Thanks to the Zombies, Run! 5K program, I wasn’t in my neighborhood at all! I was on a mission to retrieve a much-needed automatic weapon outside the protected compound… and on the way back to base, there was a zomb on my tail!
4. My Dickies pants fit!
I don’t own a scale, and I don’t weigh myself any more. The number on the scale means nothing to me — I want to look great and feel great. The scale can suck it! So I judge my progress based on how my clothes fit. Two weeks ago, I took a deep breath of bravery and tried some pants I hadn’t worn in a while, including a pair of black Dickies that I customized by letting out the hem of the legs so the bottoms are a little frayed (like someone chewed them off). They’re the perfect length with Chuck Taylors, and back in the day, they sat on my hips just right. Well… two weeks ago, they were snug. Too snug to wear comfortably — or fashionably. It was a pretty disappointing moment. This morning, they fit great. Go, Armour Synthroid and clean eating! And who knows? It might just get cool enough in Austin this week to wear them, and I will stomp around in them, listening to Social Distortion.
5. The art in my neighborhood.
My preference is usually to walk and run by the lake because (a) there are lots of dog; (b) it feels like being in nature; (c) the light and foliage change every day so it’s always a different experience; and (d) I don’t need to worry about getting smushed by a car. I usually grumble when I run in the neighborhood and act like our local streets are a consolation prize.
But this morning, as I meandered around our ‘hood, I realized how lucky I am to live in an area decorated with so much art. Dave and I, unintentionally, picked a neighborhood filled with artists, and it’s been a source of inspiration in our work and personal lives. Here’s some of what I saw this morning…
Three houses down and around the corner, there lives a welder/artist. Last year, the front yard displayed a giraffe. Now we have this, which seemed to be saying “Good Morning” to me today.
Then directly across the street from my house is Stefanie Distefano’s Flamingo Ranch. I’ve told y’all about Stef before; she’s responsible for much of the gorgeous pottery in Well Fed. We call her the White Witch because she’s always changing our environment, seemingly with a snap of her fingers. This is one of the handful of gates that have appeared across her front yard. (And here’s a story I told you about another one.)
Aside from their beauty from afar, Stef’s mosaics are special because they include delicious details up close…
6. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and Dave loves Christmas, so we’re coming up on a big time of year. I’m always grateful that we keep it pretty stress free. We don’t worry too much about what the holidays are “supposed to be like,” and we don’t go overboard on presents. Instead, we plan what we want to eat, the movies we want to see, the boardgames we want to play, and the people we want to hug. This week, we firmed up plans that mean we’ll be spending time with some of our favorite people!
7. This cup of tea and use-it-as-a-weapon biography of the Brontës.
I’m on page 730 of 979 pages and my imagination is 100% on the Brontë’s moors. The family’s story is quite sad, but it’s also been pretty wonderful to read about their lives and the personal experiences they were having while writing The Professor (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), Agnes Grey (Anne), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne), Shirley (Charlotte), and of course, Jane Eyre (Charlotte). I’ve actually got a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall going right now, along with this bio, and I just downloaded an audiobook version of Jane Eyre, you know, just in case I need 18 CDs-worth of audio for something. As soon as I finish this monster, I’m re-reading Jane. Talk about feeling grateful! The mid-1800s were not a nice time to be a person, let alone a woman. So few options, so many rules and unfair expectations. Plus, consumption. And corsets.
Anyway, I’m having a diabolically good time reading the tragic details of their lives — and deaths — while sipping a spicy rooibus tea, listening to some chill blues at Thrice Cafe. This is the first weekend I haven’t worked in recent memory, and I’m savoring every sip.
OK. That’s my list for the day. What’s making you grateful today?
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