There are a lot of viral Internet challenges out there, and I've participated in a handful of them. A recent one really hit home for me, however, because it ties in nicely with our own daily family ritual.
Every evening, at dinnertime, we go around the table and say one thing that we are thankful or grateful for that day. We then raise our glasses for a toast to celebrate that no matter how bad a day might have been up to that point, we can always find one good thing that we are grateful for on that day. If nothing else, we can be grateful for the food in front of us and the loved ones around us.
Last week, my beloved Pinay Sagittarius Sista Mary invited me to take the 7-Day Gratitude Challenge on Facebook: Post three gratitude-worthy things every day for seven days. I'm posting the full list here so I can remind myself that I often have more than one good thing I am grateful for every day. I might just challenge myself to repeat this exercise every once in a while, especially when things get hectic, because there should always be time to be grateful for a beautiful Life.
DAY 1: I am grateful for:
1. Tala because she gives me at least one huge belly laugh every day.
2. Diana because she asks me hard questions about Life and the Universe.
3. Dusty because he still refuses to put up with my bullshit after 15 years.
DAY 2: I am grateful for:
1. My sister, Cecilia, because you are the heart of our family.
2. My sisterfriends, because you are the family of my heart.
3. My friends, because you make my heart feel super happy.
DAY 3: I am grateful:
1. That my kids attend an excellent school within walking distance.
2. That my job includes making yummy (and often ridiculously cute) lunches that make my kids happy.
3. That my mornings are once again my own. FREEEEEEEDOM!!! (Day 3 was the first day of school.)
DAY 4: I am grateful for:
1. My brother, Cesar, my dancefunkatronik neo-hippie Soul mate.
2. My lunkhed bros, especially when there’s beer to drink and shit to shoot.
3. My geek brethren, of all genders, because sometimes I just really need to talk about LotR, GoT, Star Wars, pirates, space cowboys, and superheroes… in haiku form.
DAY 5: I am grateful for:
1. Viral internet challenges that can be easily integrated with each other. (My friend Vadim had challenged me to quickly name 10 books/series that have stayed with me, for better or worse. My answers are below in #2.)
2. These books/series that have stayed with me: The Red Tent; Pippi Longstocking; To Kill a Mockingbird; Lord of the Rings trilogy; The Golden Compass; Ender’s Game; Dogeaters; Einstein’s Dreams; I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings; The Time Traveler’s Wife.
3. These poets who have burst open my Soul and expanded my mind: Maya Angelou, Merle Collins, Audre Lorde, Alice Walker, Jessica Hagedorn, Pablo Neruda, Kahlil Gibran, Rumi.
DAY 6: I am grateful for:
1. Millennium Cruise 1999 – This was the first big vacation Dusty and I went on together, a 7-day trip around the Caribbean. Up until we left for this trip, we were more like “friends with benefits”. By the end of the trip, we had mutually agreed that this was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. With benefits.
2. Europe Trip 2003 – This was our pre-honeymoon, when Dusty and I quit our jobs, sold our house, put our stuff in storage, and backpacked through Europe together for three months. If you ever need to know for sure whether or not you and your potential spouse would make a good team to build a life, go backpacking through Europe together for three months before you wed. Team Everman Forever!
3. Family Cruise 2013 – This was a 4-day trip through the Caribbean that we went on with our nieces Becky, Bonnie, Shawna, Baylee, and their families. It was a rare and wonderful opportunity for the girls to get to know their cousins and for me and Dusty to spend quality time with his side of the family.
DAY 7: I am grateful for:
1. Music, because it makes me move, think, feel. It gets my toes tapping, my heart racing, my Soul longing. And when it is music sung in another language, it reminds me that we all sing about the same things, even if we use different words.
2. Art, because it inspires, infuriates, enlightens, sometimes all at once. I’m especially grateful for art that looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before, and it makes me look again, and keep looking, so that I may understand its message or meaning.
3. Dance, because it is the closest I have ever come to flying. It makes my body, heart, and breath stronger. It connects me to the land of my birth, the islands that feel like home, or the places I have yet to visit.