Friday, June 19, 2009

Count Your Blessings

With the way events of the world are going right now… it’s sure easy to complain, isn’t it? Among other things, we’ve got North Korea on our asses, we’re losing lives and money in Iraq, not to mention this business with Iran.
There’s a lot to bitch about here, too. Everyone is broke. The economy sucks. Our nation is more divided than ever. Stimulus funds are being misspent, you aren’t an equal citizen in this country if you’re gay, and there are people who are losing their homes and killing their entire families out of desperation. As if all that wasn’t enough, that insensitive President Obama dared to swat a fly! Clearly, that’s the biggest thing we need to worry about right now (fuck you, PETA).
It’s really easy to watch the news for awhile and sink into a deep state of depression. It’s easy to bitch. Sometimes it seems as if we’re always taking one step forward and two steps back and nothing ever gets better. And then, just when you’re feeling all sorry for yourself, something happens and you’re instantly snapped back to reality. And you realize you don’t have it so badly after all. In fact, you realize you’re pretty damn blessed.

The night before the burial of her husband's body,
Katherine Cathey refused to leave the casket, asking
to sleep next to his body for the last time The
Marines made a bed for her, tucking in the sheets
below the flag... Before she fell asleep, she opened
her laptop computer and played songs that reminded her
of 'Cat,' and one of the Marines asked if she wanted
them to continue standing watch as she slept. 'I think
it would be kind of nice if you kept doing it,' she
said. 'I think that's what he would have wanted'

Oh yeah… and she was pregnant.
My husband and I were having a lighthearted conversation when he opened his email and showed me this picture, among others. After that, the conversation stopped and we silently thought about this woman and so many others who are suffering. That night, without a word, we held each other and felt grateful for having each other.
Yes, there’s a lot to complain about right now. But I’ve realized that this is when we should be counting our blessings most. No, we don’t live in a perfect world and there are many improvements we need to make. At the same time, each one of us is incredibly blessed and I think it’s about time we realize it.
Blessings aren’t always big. In fact, some are so small, it can be difficult to notice them. Being blessed doesn’t mean winning millions in the Mega Lotto Extravaganza or whatever or having a perfect life with a cellulite-free body, diamond earrings and a private jet (although I admit those things would be just rad). Sometimes you have to look past what you don’t have and notice all the amazing things you do have- things that you often take for granted- things that so many others lack. The simple blessings are so obvious that sometimes we look past them when we have days where nothing goes right. Now is an especially challenging time to count your blessings, which is why it’s the best time. I’ll start with just a few of mine.
I’ve got a pretty nice roof over my head and I wake up under it every morning next to a man I love dearly and who seems to love me just as much. I live in an area where crime is low and people are friendly. I can go to the grocery store and have access to fresh, healthy food and drink purified water that won’t make me sick. I’ve got a car that runs, clothes in my closet and a laptop with access to unlimited information.
Both of my parents are alive and well and while our relationship hasn’t always been perfect, I can always call them when I need them. While I have lost two of my grandparents, they were all alive when I was young and I got to know them all as well as most of my extended family. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting some truly amazing people that I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to call my friends. I’ve seen more of the country and the world in 27 years than most people will see in their lives. I had the benefit of a college education- yes, it was a Liberal Arts degree, but trust me, it was still challenging and I learned a lot in spite of myself.

I live in a country where I have rights that apply to me even though I’m a woman. I practice the religion of my choice and I can wear what I want and the worst thing I have to worry about is catty comments from other women. I have the right to speak my mind about my country’s problems and legally even have the right to talk shit about the leader of our country (a right I’ve exercised many times over the last 8 ½ years). That in itself is pretty amazing.
Best of all, as an American, I have the right to pursue happiness. No one is guaranteeing me that anything will come of me pursuing writing. I may be a success story and I may very well fail miserably. No one can guarantee that I won’t fall flat on my face, but legally, no one can stop me from trying. The world owes me nothing but a chance, and it’s up to me to take that chance.
That’s just the beginning. I write down five things I’m grateful for every single day and if I wrote them all here, you’d be reading for hours. I have had an amazing life and with any luck it’s just beginning. I have known great sadness and I have known tragedy. I have stories that will break your heart but I choose to dwell on the stories that will make you smile.
I want to encourage everyone to take this weekend to count your blessings. If you spend Sunday with your father, hug him- even if you’re a dude- and be glad you have one. If your father is no longer with you, remember the good times and try to do something to make him proud. Always remember that, even with all of the ugly, this is still a beautiful world.


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