Let’s be honest, the last couple of years have been full of things not to be grateful for. Life has been limited and has changed in many ways. But one thing I found very useful when the UK was heading into it’s second period of lockdown last year, was committing to a daily gratitude practice. As it was hard, I gathered together a number of prompts and shared them online so others could join me. No lockdown this year meant I didn’t feel the need to do another one, until I saw Marty at Snakes in the Grass doing a fabulous A-Z of Gratitude (he did one last year too), and I decided it was a challenge I wanted to accept (even if he didn’t set one).
A is for the ability to Analyse. In the current time of fake news, UK Government sleaze allegations, a toothless media, disappearing dissidents (and Chinese tennis players), I am especially grateful for the ability to independently research and analyse what I find, in order to make up my own mind. There is a lot of rubbish out there in the ether, so identifying quality sources and trustworthy commentators has become even more important than ever.
B is for Bernie (short for Bernadette), my crazy Irish neighbour. She in her eighties, is tiny, blonde and sprightly. Fiercely independent, she cooks a proper meal for herself (from scratch) every day, bakes beautiful cakes and pies (which she generously shares with us). But most of all, it’s her undemanding company, and the laughter we share which has given me so much enjoyment since we moved here. I also love how she adores Himself 🙂
C is for Cashmere. As the temperatures have been getting cooler, I’ve been cocooning myself in cashmere – in particular, one large royal blue scarf/wrap, and soft grey mittens. Both were gifts from a good friend, and are wonderfully warm and fell fabulous against the skin.
D is for Strictly Come Dancing (called Dancing with the Stars in the US). It’s my one bit of entirely light & fluffy TV viewing, and it’s one I enjoy. Saturday early evenings in Autumn are spent with a long cold drink and a salty snack in front of the TV, pretending that I’m some sort of connoisseur of the art form simply because I had a few weeks of ballroom dancing lessons at Arthur Murray many a decade ago! 🙂 I used to get all aerated about the voting making it a popularity contest rather than a dance contest, but now I just relax and enjoy it for what it is – mindless entertainment.
E is for Education – and the continuing joy I get from each & every course I undertake. It’s important in my coaching career to continue learning and developing but, in all honesty, I enjoy the learning process so much, I’d probably study just about anything, even if I ran out of relevant and professionally useful topics.
F is for Frost, the season for which is just starting where I live. The mild autumnal weather has meant a less than glorious array of leaves changing colour this year, so I’m pinning my hopes on lots of beautiful frosty scenes to photograph. After all, frost can make even the most unattractive vista look magical.
G is for my God-dog Jess. No, I’ve never been a godparent to a dog before, but Jess really is special and I was touched to be dubbed thus by my good friend. Jess is a very pretty miniature poodle, ginger (actually apricot is the official term for her colouring), who’s also extremely clever – so the perfect match for my friend. She was a lockdown baby who’s recently celebrated her 1st birthday, and we three are to take afternoon tea together soon. Call me crazy – I can take it! 😀
H is for Hugging, especially family and friends, as well as being able to see them and spend time in person with them again. A friend who lives alone told me that she’s missed touch more than anything since the start of the pandemic, so I should add how grateful I am I don’t live alone.
I is for Injections, not something I ever thought I’d express gratitude for, having been absolutely phobic of needles since childhood. But, following knee surgery, I had to self-inject daily for 2 weeks, and that (together with all the NLP mindset tools I used to cope) seems to have got me past my phobia. I suppose it’s more that I’m grateful they no longer hold any fear for me.
J is for Jack, my grandson, who was born earlier this year. He’s my second grandchild, and his parents are very firmly saying “no more!” As they’ve been terribly clever and managed to have one of each, both of whom are utterly gorgeous and lovely characters (I’m biased, but they truly are), I tend to believe them 🙂
K is for my knee, specifically my left knee, which has had the decency to hold out rather well since my last surgery, despite my being told it would need replacing. This is not the time to be electing to have surgery, especially when 5 days of hospitalisation would be needed. I’m not the most nimble I’ve ever been, but there is no pain, and I’m very grateful for that.
L is for laughter. I know how fortunate I am in having a man in my life who’s not just loyal and loving, but who makes me laugh so very much – at myself, at life, and with him.
M is for Mulled Apple Juice. It won’t be long now before I can impose on Himself to start brewing me a pot of mulled apple juice (in lieu of mulled wine). It tastes wonderful, but it’s also the amazing seasonal smell I look forward to and which fills the apartment, lingering in the best of ways throughout December.
N is for nails, specifically my fingernails. I’ve always had rubbish fingernails – weak, inclined to split & tear – doubtless because I bit my nails for the first 2-3 decades of my life. I don’t take particular care of them, even now, but they’ve finally both gained strength and grow like crazy. I rather like the idea that – for a special occasion – I can have a manicure and get nail polish applied, making me feel properly ladylike. The polish doesn’t last long as I wash up daily, but still….
O is for Oximeter, a device for measuring oxygen in the blood. The earliest tool for pandemic screening was the thermometer, but a good friend (with a heart condition) recommended we purchase an Oximeter some time back, so we happened to already possess one when they became the second hard to purchase pandemic screening tool.
P is for Photography (and for Pentax, the camera system I use). I first got interested in taking “proper” pictures when my daughter was born after my sister gave me her old Russian SLR. Unfortunately, when I lost a key component which I couldn’t replace, I returned to compact point-and-shoots. Fast-forward to now when Himself re-ignited my interest in photography, and now I cannot imagine my life without a camera in my hand.
Q is for Quins, my rugby team. Early this year, they had a massive turn-round in form, going on to win the UK championship this summer. What I particularly loved was they’d decided to play “the Quins way” which is fast, free-flowing, high risk and highly entertaining rugby. They’re still doing so this season, and while it isn’t always successful and can cause high levels of stress, it is wonderful to watch.
R is for Marcus Rashford, a young high profile professional black footballer (soccer player) who has campaigned successfully (on a number of occasions) to shame the UK government into providing additional financial support to ensure school children who need it are fed during school holidays, and not just term time. Far from the preening peacocks of previous times, he’s one of a number of self-aware and grounded young black men in UK football who’ve been setting the bar high with their standards of behaviour. True role models.
S is for Sunrises (especially by the Sea), the joy of which I’ve really lent into in the last couple of years. I am so not a morning person, but fortunately Himself is disciplined at getting out of bed early, so we’ve had the pleasure of a number of real beauties of late.
T is for Turkey, of which there is a shortage forecast in the UK. Now, I’m not a big fan of turkey, finding a chicken more tasty and preferring the ham part of traditional festive fare, so I’m very grateful to be able to leave the few turkeys to be found to those who’ll properly appreciate them – although I’ll still be enjoying the traditional festive trimmings with my ham 🙂
U is for Unbox – I’m enormously grateful that the craze for unboxing videos on YouTube appears to have died. Seriously, it is not in any way entertaining to watch another person open a parcel and extract the contents, tediously naming every single item. Fortunately, it seems that the huge audience expansion resulting from the pandemic has finally gotten that particular message across.
V is for Vaccines, and not just those for COVID. I’ve travelled all over the third world since being born in India, so my arms have been pin-cushions for much of my life. I’ve had vaccinations and inoculations against all manner of things, and very grateful for each and every one of them am I. Currently in the fortunate position of having had my COVID booster and my flu inoculation, I’m as ready as I’ll ever be for the winter season.
W is for Working from Home. I do realise that this doesn’t suit everyone but, as I’ve been doing it for 10+ years, I’ve learned how to make it work not only for me, but for my employer, my colleagues, my clients and Himself. It takes both professionalism and consideration, and people doing it wrong must take responsibility for it getting a bad name. I know it doesn’t suit everybody, but as it is hugely beneficial to a significant proportion of people, closing it down as an option for others simply because you’re one of those it doesn’t suit, seems selfish and short-sighted. I do hope we’ll find our way to some form of hybrid working, in the same way as hybrid powered cars seem to be a good compromise for those suffering range anxiety around the use of electric cars.
X is for Xray or, if I’m being precise, a Mammogram (c’mon, who doesn’t cheat with X 😉 ). I had my first non-hospital one early this year, 11 years after I was treated for breast cancer. It was during pandemic restrictions, and the professionalism of staff meant that I (and many others like me) were able to receive the screening we needed. Even those for whom the news was not good, could take comfort from knowing that the sooner you get on the treatment train, the better it is. Much (much) gratitude is owned by me and others to the wonderful radiographers doing their jobs in difficult circumstances, along with their colleagues in the UK’s wonderful (and still free, for now) health service.
Y is for “You are not too old and it’s not too late” – an inspirational quotation I’ve recently adopted. As someone who had the first inklings of their passion only in my fifties, it’s been a really important & useful reminder for those moments of self-doubt.
Z is for Zoom – one of the many options currently available for video calls and meetings. So ubiquitous has it become, that I bet things like Skype, Microsoft Team (and Messenger) must be pretty hacked off at it becoming the generic name for video calls – somewhat like Hoover achieved with vacuum cleaners. I like Zoom – I use it both personally and professionally. I’m not saying there aren’t glitches, but I’d not want to be without it going forward. Busy clients find Zoom appointments practical to shoehorn into their hectic diary, whereas face-to-face appointments would prove a serious hurdle to getting support.
If you’re inspired to do a full list of your own, please do tag me (and Marty), otherwise please add any items for which you feel grateful (and which you’d be happy to share) in the comments.
Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow to those of you in the US!
© Debra Carey, 2021