Sometimes it's easy to focus on the negative things in our lives. That's why we wanted to take a day each month to remember a few things that we are grateful for. Here are some things we are grateful for this January!
—The rain. I am grateful we've had so much rain this month. Yes, I'm not always grateful in the moment—like when I'm getting soaked or my floors are covered in muddy paw prints. But I am thankful that we've gotten some relief from the terrible drought we've been suffering through. (I live in Southern California.)
—An extra car. We purchased a car for our daughter last month. She's turning 16 in a couple weeks and we decided to get her a car early for two reasons: 1) we had time to shop during the holidays; and 2) with the rebates on electric vehicles, it made sense to get the car before year end. We debated about whether it was worth it to pay an extra month of insurance, but in the end we decided it was. Well, last week I was sitting at a traffic light when a truck turned left and ripped the bumper off my car. Nobody was injured because it was going slow (I wasn't moving at all), but it has taken my car out of commission for a while. So I am extremely grateful that there is a car on hand that I can use while my car is getting fixed.
—Health Insurance. Ok, I know this is a repeat from last month's list, but with the pending repeal of the ACA, I feel it's important for me to remember how grateful I am that my family does not have to worry about whether or not our insurance will go away. A couple of weeks ago, my daughter thought she had pink eye. She's never had it before so we weren't sure, but because we have insurance it was not a problem for us to go to urgent care and get her medicine. We didn't have to wait to see if it got worse. We didn't have to decide if it was really important. We could just go and get her taken care of. It kept her eyes from become more infected. It made it less likely that anyone around her would get infected. We were able to catch it early enough that she didn't even have to miss school. So I am once again so grateful for health insurance. And I am taking this moment to say that I believe it is the right of all people to have access to medical care.
Here are three things I'm grateful for this first month of 2017:
—Hail. Like Mara, I'm grateful that the rain has ended the drought for us for now (I live in Northern California). Last week we were treated to a rare occurrence in our part of California: hail that didn't melt right away when it hit the ground. When it started, we opened the back door and watched (and listened) as it turned the backyard white. My husband took a picture of this unexpected treat:
—Alex, dog walker and trainer. With all the rain, it's been hard to exercise our dog, Scout, and this is a dog whose energy is limitless. Alex takes Scout out three times a week no matter what the weather is like. At times this month, it was pouring rain all day, but Alex always showed up on time. I'm grateful for his reliability and for his willingness to watch Scout whenever she needs to be left alone for longer than I'm comfortable with, such as when I have to go to Sacramento to see the doctor. (Speaking of doctors, I agree with Mara about everyone having the right to medical care. Dozens of countries, many that are much poorer than ours, provide universal health coverage for their citizens. It's tragic that we may lose the gains we've made in this direction under the ACA.)
—My husband's work at Folsom Prison. He's a volunteer chaplain at Folsom. He goes twice a week, sometimes three, and teaches mindfulness meditation to some of the most hardened prisoners to help them with impulse control, pain management, and the depression that can set in when you've been in prison for decades.
He is changing their lives. Every week he comes home with stories about one of his "guys" having shared how he's benefitting from what he's learned. One week, an inmate shared how he was about to start a fight with someone (which would land him in solitary) but stopped himself with some mindful breathing, which gave him time to realize that what he was about to do would only make things worse for him. Some of the men have even started feeling compassion for each other. The work my husband does there is remarkable and I'm grateful to him for it.
I wonder what February has in store for me.