Now this is the way to start the day. Just thinking about what to include on this list has made me smile! I could just give you a straightforward list, but I feel like I must explain a couple. In no particular order:
- My Puppies: If you have read this blog for more than a minute, you would expect them to be at the top of the list. What can I say that I have not said? They are both sweet, loving, and funny little creatures. They give me the greatest gift of pure joy when I walk in the door from my work day; heck, when I walk in from the grocery store or a long walk, and Auggie launches himself into a "hug" and Harley's tail wags furiously as she scampers over to bring me a toy or treat. We adopted them both from a wonderful no-kill shelter where the screening process is a bit arduous because they truly want to match the animal with the RIGHT family. Jim and I still remark on a regular basis to one another and to the pups themselves that we were so very fortunate to have been chosen to be able to bring these little bundles of unconditional love into our lives.
- Summertime: I am a heat lover. Summertime gives me all of the heat I crave all winter long. Plus- I am one of "those" girls. Any day I can wear flip-flops or go barefoot, put on a breezy shirt and a pair of capris is a good day. Plus- have you SEEN some of the adorable sandals they have out? I love nothing better than a strappy sandals, a cute wedge, intricately woven flats- you name it. The shoes just get cute in summer! Summer also gives me a little catch- up time at work. Classes for first summer session began yesterday and after this week, we will slow down enough that we can catch up on neglected tasks and take time to get organized for fall. It's what keeps me sane.
- Music: Again, I have mentioned this before but I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE music. It can set my mood, it can pull me out of one. It can reflect where I am at the moment, it can speak to my soul. I work better with music and some songs just make me want to dance- and who is not happier when they can dance?
- Weekends: As someone who spent many, many years working weekends, I cannot tell you how jealously I guard my free weekends. That is not to say that I do nothing, but what I love about weekends is that I am free to do anything I want. That's the key- doing what I want. If I want to work, I can. If I want to sleep in, well- probably not- but I can try. If I want to take a nap, I can. If I want to stay in my pajamas and veg out, I can. It's my WEEKEND! Mine, mine, mine. This weekend coming up, I am going to Mom and Dad's to celebrate my mother. She's a terrific lady and I can't think of a better way to spend it than doing whatever she wants in honor of Mother's Day.
- Good Friends: I don't make friends easily, but when I do- I value them immensely. The best part about friends? You never know when or where you will find them. I have met some of my very best friends right here in this box. I love my friends. I only hope that they know what they mean to me.
- A Good Book Is there anything better than a good book? You know the kind you can sink into and be transported to another world altogether. I have a small library with titles from every genre but my favorites I read and re-read over and over again. Right now, I am re-reading Nora Roberts "Bride Quartet" series. It's sweet, it's sappy, and even though I have read the series 3 times, I am on Book 3, I cried again during books one and two.
- Real Simple and O- The Oprah Magazine: They may not be up your alley, but they are my favorites. Unlike most other magazines, I don't tear anything out of them. I don't dog ear them. I read them and then keep them. I currently have two full shelves dedicated to current and back issues of these two. They have terrific tips, wonderful articles and make me think. O-mag makes me think, it makes me look inside myself the way no other book and magazine can on a regular basis. The inspirational stories make me want to be a better person. Best of all- both of them promote something I need more of in my life: Gratitude and Positivity. If you haven't checked them out before- give them a spin. You may like them too.
- My "real" family I can never create a list of my favorite things without including my husband, Mom and Dad and sisters. I am reminded every single day who lucky I am to have the family that I have. It's true blessing to not only love, and not out of obligation, but genuinely love, my family. My parents are wise, generous and loving people. They are as much in love now as they were 46 years ago when they got married. Through ups and downs, they stick together like two halves of a whole. Both of my sisters are smart, kind and beautiful. They are raising (collectively) four great kids. My husband- well what can I say? I am lucky enough to not just love him, but like him as well. We were friends before we got married (26 years ago!) and have grown up together. We have defied the odds in more ways than one and I know that should (God Forbid) anything happen, I would never feel the need to marry again. His family is mine too. I have been lucky enough to have gained a Mother-In-Law (may she rest in peace) and a Father-In-Law who have always treated me like one of their own and Sisters and a Brother-In-Law that well- none of them need the "In-Law" after it. They are just my family.
- My son- It goes without saying that I am a little crazy about my "baby". He will be 25 (!) this month and despite the facts that I don't always agree with his decisions, like the rest of our family I genuinely like him as well as loving him. I am also proud of him. There is a saying that goes something like "Any boy can make children but a real man will raise someone else's as his own." His girlfriend has two adorable children. Josh raises them as if they were his own. He loves them as if they were his own. He takes responsibility for them as if they were his own. They are just "the kids", not "her kids". I can't help but be proud of him for that. He is also chasing his dream. It's a hard road to make some of the decisions that he has made, but he works hard toward it and is willing to sacrifice to get them.
- My "adopted" family- You know those friends who feel more like a part of you rather than just a friend? Those friends that you can not see or not talk to live for months on end and you just pick up with via a phone call or visit and it's as if you were just together yesterday? I am blessed enough to be able to count half a dozen or so people like that among my "adopted family".
- The ability and opportunity to dream: It is my hope that everyone has a dream that they are reaching for. Dreams, be they about your career, your future, your hopes for your kids, whatever, can make us work to be better person. The thing is- no matter how big, how wild, how "out there" our dreams- if we really work at it; we can make them come true.
- Social Media- This one is easy- it gave me YOU!
- Fresh Fruit and Veggies- It's summertime which means we have an abundance of beautiful, delicious, colorful fresh produce. Though I am weird; I like my produce just slightly under-ripe (you know, the texture and crunch of an apple when I am eating what should be softer fruits like peaches or mangos), there is nothing like the smell of a farmer's market as the produce comes into season. I also know that we are so very, very fortunate to live in a country where this is available at any time to us. For that I give thanks every time I cut my fruit or veggies to take in my lunch each morning.
- Road Trips- I love a good road trip. Packing up a lunch, filling the tank, hopping in the car and just driving. Another blessing in my life is that my honey (and the pups) and I travel really well together. In fact, sometimes we just hop in the car with no particular destination and drive around to see new parts of my adopted home town or up into the farm areas so we can see horses and cows, goats, pigs and bison. We try not to be "those" rubber-neckers but we really enjoy seeing new things, and out here each season brings us more and more to see.
- Good TV/Movies- I know, it's silly to be on this list but it's a true form a escape. Some of these shows today, like the Big Bang Theory, are just so smart and funny that they can change my mood. Some are raunchy, sarcastic and funny (2 Broke Girls) that I nearly fall out of my chair laughing. Some of the dramas (the CSIs, Criminal Minds, Bones) *almost* make me want to go back to school and do something different with my life. Some (my ABC family shows) make me glad I have the life I have. Some of the reality shows (Survivor, any of the cooking competitions and my new series Amish Out of Order) make me wonder if I could do what they are doing. No matter what frame of mind they put me in- they are snippets of time that I can forget everything and just sink into what's going on on the screen.
That's my list for today. It's admittedly fluid. If you ask me in the morning it could be half a dozen other things but at the core, these are all things that I am thankful for on a regular basis. How about you? What are a few of your favorite things?