Gratitude Challenge: Days 15-21

Day 15: What is a nonprofit charity that you believe in?

For close to a decade I volunteered with (what was then) the Montana Wilderness Association (and is now called Wild Montana), including serving on the board of our area chapter.  I think they're a pretty amazing organization.  The focus is totally local, quite specific, and especially dear to me.

Here's from their website:  "We work from the ground up bringing people and communities together around policies, proposals, and legislation that protect wild public lands and waters from degradation and irresponsible development. Our work safeguards wildlands, secures wildlife habitat and migration corridors, and keeps headwaters and streams running cold, clear, and connected."

Wild Montana has an amazing track record of bringing different people to the table--hikers, anglers, ranchers, politicians, tribal communities, etc.--and finding common ground, finding compromise, and collaboration.  The emphasis on policy and legislative action is so critical for long-term success and Wild Montana inspires me to be an engaged citizen.  I believe in them and the work they're doing to preserve the wild places I love for future generations of hikers, bird nerds, stargazers...    

Day 16: What is a passion or hobby that refreshes you?

Riding my bike is a passion that refreshes me.  Cycling is so simple and so satisfying.  It is transportation, recreation, and sport all mixed up together.  

Cycling gets my blood pumping in the morning.  It allows me to blow off steam at the end of the day.  My cycle commute keeps my body and mind fit.  It is so easy to stop and smell the lilacs or pause to marvel at the sunset or the clouds.  There is a sense of camaraderie with my fellow cyclists.  We share a nod or a wave as we pass.  

When the snow piles up--and I commute by bus instead--I truly feel the loss of this part of my daily routine.  Oh, how I miss it!  I miss how good it makes me feel.  I miss all the beauty and vitality it lends my days.  

Day 17: Think about a learning experience that you're grateful for.

I am grateful for the multiple sewing retreats I've been able to attend, especially when I was first starting to sew.  I learned so much from those women--my mom, Matt's mom, Grandma Nina, my aunts, and an assortment of their respective friends--during these marathon weekends of sewing.  They were so patient with their instructions and advice.  They stopped me when they saw me doing something silly...or the hard way.  They taught me about tools and tricks.  They delivered supportive mottos like "we can work with that."  They encouraged me when I was frustrated and celebrated with me upon completing a project.  

I wish that I had been smart enough to accept my mom's sewing lessons when I lived at home.  The sewing retreats are a wonderful second chance to absorb some of that knowledge.

Day 18:  What is a moment that you're grateful for?

A moment that I will be forever grateful for was when Ryan called me at work the day they took his breathing tube out as he recovered from his cardiac incident.  It was a tiny, raspy "Hi, Beth," and Bek had to make him repeat it because it was so quiet.  But I was floored.  Gobsmacked.  Elated.  Thinking about it gives me goosebumps.  At the time it made me cry and want to do cartwheels around the library.  I had just started going back to work (instead of hanging out in the ICU all day waiting, watching, and worrying) because Ryan was showing so much improvement.  Still.  I didn't expect that call.  I was immediately beside myself to get back to the hospital to see him.  Ryan could talk!  Ryan was breathing on his own!  I wanted to sing and dance.  I basically DID sing and dance into my boss' office to share the good news.  After the roller coaster seemed nothing short of miraculous to be talking to Ryan on the phone.  It was crazy.  I'll never forget it.

Day 19: What book are you grateful for reading?

What a question to ask a bookworm!!  Ha!  I am grateful for so many books that I didn't even have a single gut reaction.  It was more like a wave washing over my brain.  I swim in an ocean of amazing, life-changing, beautiful books.  They inspire, instruct, entertain, and so much more.

Slaughterhouse-Five.  Ishmael.  Searching for the Sound.  Born to Run.  We Should All Be Feminists.  The Postmortal.  A People's Future of the United States.  The Food of a Younger Land.   A Room of One's Own.  Animal Farm.  History of Montana in 101 Objects.  Tracks.  Creating Moments of Joy for the Person with Alzheimer's or Dementia.    A Man Without a Country.  O, Pioneers!  The Total Money Makeover.  Lamb.  The Bell Jar.  1984.  Caffeinated.  This I Believe.  Welcome to the Monkey House.  In Defense of Food.  Light in August.  Everyday Sexism.  Dancing in the Streets.  Harry Potter.  Neither Man Nor Beast.  Alex & Me.  The Year of the Flood.  The Best of Me.  Peace is Every Step.  The Worst Hard Time.  Natural Causes.  Watership Down.  Slapstick.  Fizz.

Day 20:  Who is a teacher you're most grateful for?

The teacher that I am most grateful for is my sister, Sarah.  She teaches English to middle schoolers.  I have nothing but respect for the dedication and hard work she puts in for those kids.  

Buuuuuuuuuuut, I suspect the question was supposed to be about teachers I had in my own school days.  In that case, the answer is Lisa Kemmerer, my philosophy professor in college.  Lisa had such an engaging teaching style and she really challenged me to think in a way no one else ever had before.  She pushed me to reflect on the hows and whys of life.  When I met Lisa I fell in love with philosophy--the search and the thought and the possibilities.  I almost switched majors, in fact.  Instead, I took every philosophy class she taught.  Her EcoFeminism course was, quite probably, the single most influential class of my college career.  Given that I had a tremendously fulfilling and transformative experience at university that is really saying something.       

Day 21:  What is a little gesture that made your day?

It really is the little things in life that can mean so much.  Matt turned up the hot water heater so I could have a nice hot soak to start my day today.  He knows how much I love my baths and that they're a regular feature of my Mondays (since I work late).  I went to turn it up this morning and found that he'd already cranked it up for me before he left for work.  

Making lefse with Sharon, Matt, and Ryan.  11/19/2023


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