Month of Gratitude – Day 10

Today I’m incredibly grateful for technology.

In particular, I’m feeling very grateful for the fact that I have Internet access and social media networks to let me stay in close contact with friends and family who are far away.

It’s such a blessing to hear the voices of my sister in California and my dear friend in Nigeria… and that was just today!

Thanks to decent internet and devices, I get to see my mother’s face from all the way in Arkansas. I can have a quick chat with my friends and relatives in Hawaii, Indiana, Washington State, DC, New York and New Orleans. Heck, I recently got to do a virtual reunion via video chat with my grad school classmates who are now scattered all around the world.

Not long ago, close friendships with such a widely scattered circle would have been impossible. More recently, they would have been prohibitively expensive.

On a day when work is busy, and the news is stressful, technology helped me connect with some of the folks I love and I’m so grateful for it.

Month of Gratitude – Day 9

Today I’m extra grateful for my rambunctious three-year-old.

First day of preschool (at home)

Though he is brilliant and beautiful, I don’t think the world revolves around my little guy. He does brighten MY world every day.

Babies and toddlers don’t really have a sense of time. To them, life is all about the present moment. No amount of meditation or mindfulness can compare to my son’s request of “let’s play together!” to get me to drop everything else and just enjoy a moment.

I try to model good stress management, and I think it must be rubbing off because he occasionally requests to “go out on the deck and see.” This is our version of a grounding exercise using the five senses, but rather than counting, we just sit very close together on a special spot on the deck and talk quietly about the things we can see, hear, smell and feel. At this point I can’t tell if he asks because he needs to feel grounded or if knows *I* need it, but either way I am grateful.

And joy! Man this kid enjoys life. It’s infectious how much he enjoys singing and food and jumping and rolling anything even vaguely round all over the house. Basically unless it is sleeping, this child enjoys it.

What a blessing to live with a little joy factory!

Month of Gratitude – Day 8

I’m up early and today I’m really grateful for the arrival of the fall.

This spring and summer were brutal. When day care closed in March, it was already hot. Usually we can cool off in the sea but between the vehicle going down, the lockdown and curfew, and wanting to avoid crowds, it was more difficult than usual this year.

Now though, the mornings and evenings are chilly. The days are still warm, but not oppressive. Spending the day at home is no longer such a sweaty proposition.

Another reason to be grateful for autumn is that soon the Atlantic Hurricane Season will be over and we’ll be able to breathe a little easier.

Getting close to the end of the year is also an opportunity to begin assessing what I’ve accomplished for the year.

Looking back on 2020 so far, there are a lot of things that had to be cancelled or adjusted for COVID-19, but I can see that I’ve built some good habits for myself and my family. We cook together. We walk together. We workout together. It’s just nice.

This time of year also reminds me of the potential of the year to come. A new year will bring new opportunities, plus, I feel optimistic that I can try again with some of the things that didn’t work out the way I’d hoped they would this year.

Welcome fall! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to reflect and reset.

Month of Gratitude-Day 7

Today I am grateful for my job, which lets me support my family and use my talents to educate and inform my community.

The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown a lot of the world into economic uncertainty, so employment itself is worth being thankful for. I am particularly blessed because I earn enough to support my little family in a comfortable, if humble, lifestyle.

What’s more, I am blessed to work with folks who — faced with significant challenges of their own — extend a great deal of understanding and grace in my direction. My peers help me celebrate wins, my supervisors save me from my own mistakes, and the folks I work with in the community are engaging and supportive.

Gearing up for a hurricane preparedness session

Since writing is a huge part of my identity, it’s delightful that so much of what I do is writing. Far more fulfilling is the work I get to do with people. I get to speak to youth and church groups, help other agencies get ready for emergency drills, visit businesses to talk about hazard preparedness, even assist schools with being safer and greener, and I love it.

Looking back, I have been very blessed indeed in my work life. At just 18, I learned how to work hard in a restaurant. Because it was a company that values progress and development, my college courses and later, my internship and even my first reporting job, could all be accommodated in my work schedule.

I was a drive thru queen

Some folks look down on “burger flippers,” but I learned a ton there, from cash handling to food safety and from dealing with complaints to managing inventory. I still get compliments on how friendly I sound over the phone. My voice was perfected over long hours working the drive thru speaker.

I’ve now made it one-quarter of the way through the month of gratitude. It’s been nice sharing here, and even nicer noticing how many things there are to be grateful for as I go about my days. I hope you are finding reasons to be grateful too!

Month of Gratitude – Day 6

Today is Halloween, also known as All Hallows’ Eve, so it seems like the right day to be grateful for my ancestors.

I was blessed to get to know my grandparents and even one great grandparent growing up. To hear even a little about their varied lives has gifted me with a sense of history and progress as I’ve set and achieved goals for my own life.

I was far from the only student of color who learned the whitewashed version of World War 2 in high school; but thanks to my grandmother’s efforts throughout my childhood to secure the veterans benefits that had been promised to her father and the other Filipinos who joined the US Military in that conflict, I also learned about systemic racism and one way that it played out for a generation of Asian and Pacific Islanders.

Great grandfather wasn’t the only one who had fled his birthplace to begin a new life. His daughter — my maternal grandmother — married a military man and eventually resettled in a new state, hundreds of miles from her family of origin.

My other grandmother had stories of waiting tables before she became a civil servant. She taught me to love cats and that you could survive trauma with grace.

The grandfathers are a colorful bunch. One became a hobby photographer, and I have many old photos as well as his name as a legacy. When, as a very old man, he developed Alzheimer’s, it was very healing to me to witness the way he managed to make peace with his adult children.

Another is a charming gent who dotes on his biological daughter with calls and letters. To me, his most precious gift was to relinquish his young wife to a romantic rival without a fuss, making room for my Papa to raise my mom and her siblings.

Papa was the best. He spoke better Spanish than any other white dude I’ve met. He took me to my toddler dance classes and later to all-ages concerts. He fed me my first donut and gave me my first driving lessons. He used to somehow not get wet when it was raining (he told me he ran between the raindrops! How?!) and of course, if anybody needed a Santa, Papa was always the guy.

I’m so grateful that I stand the shoulders of these and other courageous, resilient ancestors.

Month of Gratitude – Day 5

Today I’m grateful for music.

Some days I need to hear cathartic, sad songs. Other days I need some high energy soca tunes to motivate me to climb hills. Lately I’ve appreciated some of the music that I used to enjoy as a teen and young adult, when my eternally patient grandparents supported my hobby of visiting all-ages venues and damaging my hearing listening to live music.

Good music helped me bond with my dad, stay awake on incredibly long car rides in graduate school, and connect with friends in dance classes. When I got into songwriters and started really studying lyrics, I think music helped me become a better writer.

Whether it’s facilitating my emotional processing or helping me find joyful movement, music has uplifted me in ways that are easy to take for granted, but this year and especially today, I am so thankful to have it.

Month of Gratitude – Day 4

Today I’m grateful for two folks who have made it possible for me to get a bit of time to myself for the past three years: my delightful in-laws.

I’ve been blessed with a ton of support from relatives near and far, especially since 2017, but these two are special.

“Big Daddy,” as my son calls him, is the favorite of all the grandkids, including little man. From their early bonding over tickles, through to cooking goodies for him, to now letting my toddler do whatever he wants, this dude has absolutely stolen my son’s heart.

Three generations of Abel dudes

It’s beautiful and bittersweet to reflect on how I had a similar relationship with my grandfather of treasured memory. I love knowing that my kid has a man like this to look up to, and that he will grow up knowing that “Big Daddy” is always in his corner.

Mommy is another story. Naturally she loves and dotes on her grandson, but my mother in law always in MY corner. If we were in a fairy tale, she wouldn’t like me because I came from foreign to marry her favorite child. In real life, I met her first, and later, when my then-boyfriend first started telling his family about me, she already knew who I was.

A girls lunch

From the jump, Mommy went out of her way to make me feel welcome in the family. She’s a fabulous brunch date, fixes my favorite foods to eat, and always appreciates my baked goodies. Lately, she’s been encouraging me to bring by the little man for sleepovers because she knows a break is good for me. Y’all, she makes me feel loved! What a gift!!

Month of Gratitude – Day 3

Today my nerd heart is grateful for books.

Little man knows I’m a sucker for a book.

When I was a kid, books let me escape. I would get lost in stories where I could choose my own adventure, stories of rich twins, stories of teens who got paid to babysit. I vividly recall sitting at the kitchen table so absorbed in what I was reading that I would have missed an entire conversation happening around me.

By the time I got to middle school, if you owned a bookshelf you had to watch me at your house. I didn’t like to get in trouble in school but sometimes I couldn’t resist… I would pull out a library book and read at my desk with no style whatsoever.

I sometimes think books are what put me on a decent path in life. I didn’t KNOW people who had gone to college, but the people in books did, so I wanted to go. I became obsessed with words which led me to want to be a writer. Basically, books helped me set goals that I could work toward.

Fast forward to today: books are still how I escape. Besides a stress reliever, books help me learn new things about my work, help me be a better parent and wife, or imagine a brighter future.

I’m so grateful to be a reader, and to always have access to so many delightful books.

Month of Gratitude – Day 2

Today I’m grateful for my physical body and its abilities.

Having been without a working vehicle for months now, it’s easy to get cranky about having to walk so much. Walk to the store. Walk to the spot where I can catch a ride to work most mornings. Walk to the dumpster to take out the trash. Walk up the hill because so many regular cars can’t easily make it all the way up to where I live.

Boo freakin’ hoo!

But truly, what a gift that I can do it. According to my health app, an inactive day for me is one in which I walk about 3,000 steps, and I am always going up and down this hill.

Of course the truth is that my body lets me do so much more than just walk. I can dance and jump and swim. I can sit on the ground and play with my toddler. I can (for now!) lift and carry him up these same neighborhood hills.

Oh yeah, I *made* a whole other person! And when they sliced me open to get him out, I walked around the next day. I was hiking again just a couple of weeks later! It’s honestly a miracle what this sometimes neglected body is capable of.

I may not always love my body, but it’s strong and tough. It’s a marvel and I’m grateful for it.