Since March of this terrible horrible year, I’ve been making a practice of doing a gratitude list first thing every morning – sometimes even before I open my eyes. It helps ground me, gives me perspective and helps me face the day.
I start very simply. I’m grateful for a warm bed. I’m grateful for Little and B — our two cats — who are inevitably sleeping either on top of me or against my side, their warm weight a gentle reminder that it’s almost winter.
I’m grateful for the fresh air coming through the windows that surround our bed. I’m grateful for the morning light, something that reminds me on a daily basis that I’m not in charge. No, Elizabeth, you didn’t make the sun rise.
I’m grateful for my husband who has usually tiptoed out to get coffee and didn’t wake me. I’m grateful for the folks I can hear down below on the street emptying our garbage cans and making my life cleaner, healthier and easier.
I’m grateful for running water and God in Heaven, I’m grateful for a toilet. Seriously, can you imagine carrying all that outside every day? Or dumping it on your neighbor’s head as used to be common practice? I guess that passed for humor back in the day. Not that there haven’t been neighbors who deserved it but thank god they moved.
I’m grateful for my yoga mat that a diligent clerk at Walmart found for me when mine fell to pieces. I’m grateful for a yoga practice that gets my body moving and helps me feel young.
I’m grateful for the top step of the beautiful, handmade staircase built for me by a dear friend. I sit on it every day to pray and meditate and its perfect construction and poetic details always lift my heart.
I’m grateful for patience when I don’t yell at the cats for winding around my feet AGAIN while I try to go down the beautiful staircase. By the way, don’t let them fool you — these cats are lying dogs. They have always already been fed.
I’m grateful for my lovely house that was built by hand by my friends. It’s filled with light and air. I’m grateful for my kitchen where I’m always happy to be. I’m grateful for all the food in my fridge, particularly the collection of fruits that will make up my breakfast.
I’m grateful for the fancy shmancy latte maker that my daughter left here when she left for Europe. She’s not getting it back.
I’m grateful that my office is just across the deck — close enough and yet apart. I love my office. The desk was built by the aforementioned friends and it curves around me and has plenty of space for all the shells and pictures and artwork that crowd around the technology I am also grateful for, and that remind me I am a person and not an appendage to a machine.
I am grateful for my piano that I insisted we bring here from New York and that I will get back to playing. Even thinking about that day makes me happy. Until then it holds a collection of various and sundry awards that remind me of past work lives and a collection of teddy bears from my daughter’s childhood that remind me of tucking her into her crib and watching her fall asleep.
I’m so grateful for my daughter. And the lovely man she’s brought into the family.
I’m grateful for each and every book that makes up the extensive library that covers all the walls of my office, keeping me warm in winter — books are actually excellent insulation — and reminding me of everything I’ve ever learned and when and where and with whom.
I am grateful for the view out my office window of the salt marsh, which always reminds me to walk through my garden, which I am also grateful for especially in winter because it reminds me that spring is coming and that it’s time to stop working and head for the beach.
I am eternally grateful for the beach. For the smell of the salt water — the taste of the salt water — the salt water itself which is home. For the sand. The shells. The birds. The light.
Coming home, my errands in front of me, I’m grateful for a car that runs and stores still full of food and helpful people.
I’m grateful for all the people wearing masks and nodding to each other because we can no longer smile and expect to be understood.
I’m grateful to live in an area full of educated people who generally respect one another and respect science. And I’m especially grateful these days and always for all the wonderful healthcare workers toiling day and night to provide the care that restores us and allows us to keep living this wonderful life.
Because despite everything — and believe me I know that I have been insulated from the worst of it, that my problems are the problems of someone whose pursuits have been frustrated, not the problems of those who’ve lost jobs, housing, health and loved ones — still, despite everything we’ve all suffered in 2020, I’m so grateful for the wonderful life I’ve been given.