Gratitude Challenge: Days 8-14

Day 8:  Think of a co-worker who made a positive impact on you.

Casey and I met while working in the warehouse at FedEx Ground in the mid-2000s.  This is where I met Matt, too.  We all schlepped boxes together on the "Twilight" (i.e. early evening) shift.  Casey rapidly became one of my dearest friends.  She is fun and quirky and creative.  So clever and inclusive and supportive.  She's a really interesting person.  One of those people who marches to her own beat--which I love and admire.  She is prone to deep thinking and we have long, meandering conversations.  

Casey and Matt and I have gone on some really special road trips and music festival adventures together.  Those prolonged encounters--driving out to the Columbia River, say--really bond people.  We talked and talked and talked.  We danced and listened to music.  We shared meals, told stories, and learned so much about each other.  Those are some really wonderful memories for me.  

Through Casey, I made a fabulous circle of friends, too.  Her sister Kelly (my Taurus Twin), Lacee (my cherished dancing buddy), Jessica (with her graciousness), and...well, the whole "Brunch Bunch."  These are people who I treasure, who I know have my back, and who are woven into the fabric of my life.  And Casey brought them all into my sphere.  I am sure thankful for that.

Casey and Matt were my destiny.  I am convinced that I got a job at FedEx just so I could meet them.  They started as co-workers and now I can't imagine life without them.  I am beyond grateful for them both.  

Day 9: What gift are you grateful to have received?

I'm grateful for my guitar--a 1992 Washburn acoustic model.  It was a gift from my mom.  She had gotten it as a gift from my dad shortly before they divorced, back when I was still in grade school.  Since I am such a sentimental person...this lineage really hits me in the feels, you know?  I love it.  My mom played the Washburn while leading worship music at our church when I was growing up.  She taught me my first song--Four Strong Winds--on it in high school and I hit the ground strumming.  

  • Guitar Sidebar:  I would be remiss if I didn't mention the Mark II guitar that my dad bought me when I first expressed interest in playing and started fiddling around on my mom's.  It is affectionately referred to as "the Wal-Mart Guitar."  My folks weren't sure I was committed and so wanted to buy me an affordable starter instrument.  I still have it--as a display piece, it hasn't been played in decades.  My mom gifted me her guitar after realizing it wasn't a passing phase.  Both guitars were a critical part of my learning to play.

I am not a terribly good guitarist or anything.  I don't play lead or do a lot of fingerpicking or impressive rhythm work.  I do a mighty fine folk-rock sing-along around a campfire though.  That is largely why I learned to play guitar:  I like to sing.  I am, basically, my own karaoke machine.

When I was in college, shortly before I met Matt, my apartment door got kicked down and I was robbed.  My guitar was by my chair in the living room they ransacked...and yet they didn't grab it.  I always thought that was a miracle.  It was a soothing consolation to me during that traumatic incident. To think of this guitar ending up in a pawn shop or worse....ugh...just terrible.  It is steeped in my familial history.  Playing it connects me to my mom and dad.  I couldn't begin to count the hours of joy and entertainment it has brought me (and, I hope, other people).  I know it is only wood and metal...but it has been imbued with so much more.

I can remember the day I finally mastered an F chord and could play Ben Harper's "Another Lonely Day" for my friends on the lawn at Shay's house.   I remember Jeff teaching me "Long Gone" by Syd Barrett.  This is, to date, the only "lead" guitar riff that I can play.  This summer, at our family reunion, I strummed and sang around the campfire until my fingers were raw.  Playing my family guitar for/with my family makes it even more special.  Gosh, I love singing with people who can do harmony!  And family harmonies are the best!

My guitar is one of my most cherished material possessions.

Day 10: What about nature is most beautiful to you?

I think the most beautiful part about nature is probably the sounds.  The human-built environment can be so loud.  Some sounds make me happy (children playing, neighbors laughing, baseball games at the park next door), but most are just noise (sirens, car alarms, traffic, AC units).  

The natural world abounds with calming, pleasing sounds.  Birds calling and twittering.  Waves crashing on the beach.  Wind rustling leaves and rushing through prairie grasses.  Wings flapping. Waterfalls splashing.  Marmots and squirrels chattering.  Babbling mountain streams.  Rocks tumbling.  Sands sifting.  Insects buzzing.  Coyotes yipping to the moon.  Bison chewing.  Echoing canyons.  Owls hooting.  And on and on and on.

And then there is silence.  True silence is so rare these days.   I've been to a lot of places that are quiet, but few that are truly silent.  Sometimes that silence can almost be a little eerie, like a presence.  Almost a stronger presence than an actual sound would be.  

Day 11: What are you grateful for in your daily life?

I am grateful for electricity.  I am so grateful for the ease and comfort with which I live and I appreciate that electricity is a huge part of that.  It is the lynchpin for my having a fridge, flipping on a light, blasting tunes from the stereo, getting creative on my sewing machine, and so many other aspects of living that I enjoy.  I value voluntary simplicity, but I am superbly grateful to not scrub my clothes on a washboard, say.  Meanwhile, I am more than happy to hang my clothes to dry.  As usual, I think the key is balance and finding the middle way.  I wish all of my electricity was from wind turbines, solar, and other more sustainable energies (get with it NWE), but, as with recycling, the key really is to reduce first.  I try to be mindful of my energy consumption--and to be grateful for all the opportunities it affords me.

Day 12: What is your favorite time of day?

My favorite time of day is when I return to the house at the end of the workday.  Matt almost always beats me home and it makes me happy walking in the door and seeing him and the cats in our cozy house.  We talk about our day.  We work on projects together.  We cook and share a meal.  We relax--play games, enjoy music (live or recorded), take a walk, etc.  We make plans for the future.  It is the best part of my day.  I love spending time with Matt more than words can say.

Day 13: What season do you look forward to each year?

The season I look forward to the most is probably Spring.  Autumn is a close second.  I went back and forth.  In both cases, I appreciate all the dramatic changes and transitions of life--both on my household level and on the global level.  There is something magical about the leaves changing and the first frosts of the season as the rhythm of life settles down to bed for the winter.  Same for the first spring blooms and baby bunnies as the revival comes each spring.  Ugh.  So enchanting.  So grand.  Each and every year.

When spring rolls around I know that we'll soon ramp up the road-tripping, camping, and going to festivals and concerts.  Matt starts seeds in the basement and the garden officially kicks off.  The grape hyacinths, daffodils, and tulips ring in the new season with color that is so appreciated after the snow and cold.  I adore those first flowers SO much.  The spring rain smells like the promise of things to come.

When autumn rolls around I know we'll soon mellow into the quiet season.  We still camp and travel and go to concerts if the weather and roads permit, but mostly we stay home and play Scrabble and darts.  We paint with Bob Ross.  I sew.  Matt watches football.  The cats revel in our company.  The garden is done for a few months.  The snow and cold make staying cozy at home extra enticing.  We drink tea and coffee and eat like kings.

Hmmmmm....maybe autumn IS my favorite.  One or the other.  Or both.

Day 14: What do you love most about your hometown?

The thing I love most about my hometown is... oh, I hesitate to say it.... what I love most is that I don't live there anymore.  

Make no mistake:  I genuinely have a good time when I go back to visit.  I enjoy nostalgic, beloved locations.  The people are welcoming and familiar.  I had a wonderful childhood growing up there.  I felt safe and secure and happy and loved.  It is where I found some of my truest friends.  These are people I am still in contact with daily.  Plus, it has a certain small-town charm that can't be denied. 

 Buuuuuuuuuuuuut, I can't imagine living back there again.  First off, the winters are too long and too cold.  I'm overjoyed to live in the banana belt of Montana.  Also, I enjoy the degree of anonymity that comes with living in a town with more people.  I still feel a sense of community here, but I don't feel like even the cashiers at the grocery store know all about me.  

It also turns out that I'm officially too metropolitan to live in such a small town.  ...which is hilarious because I am so far from metropolitan!  Ha!  Still, I have gotten accustomed to a certain level of choice/variety when it comes to theatres, restaurants, bike shops, music venues, breweries, health food stores, and the like.  I am both grateful to have been raised there and grateful not to live there anymore.  How interesting!

That was my gut reaction to the question.  I considered skipping it since it seems negative.  My second thought was to say "the river" was the part I love most instead.  I passed a lot of time at the river.  Countless days of swimming and fishing with friends and family alike.  We had so many campouts and bonfires.  When I took Matt camping at Seven Sisters he saw his first and only firefly.  As a child of the prairie country, I adored all the trees that proliferated in the riparian zone.  This was "the woods" for me when I was growing up.  There was a rope swing that I have especially fond memories of...I wonder if it is still kids still fling themselves through the air to splashdown in the muddy brown water with a joyful shriek?  I hope so.

Johnny luxuriates in heat vent season.  11/15/2022 


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