As this month draws to an end, I want to take a moment to reflect on all the things I am grateful for this month. When life gets busy and we have deadlines to meet, it can be easy to take some things for granted. An important aspect of reaching goals and leading a happier life is reflection and gratitude. So here it is, in no particular order: my thankful list for March.
1. An Understanding Boyfriend - With the clean freak that he is, it's amazing how he puts up with my crafty mess all over the place. When I'm busy crafting or blogging, he gives me space and picks up the slack if I get behind on things like laundry. On top of that, he's extremely supportive of my creative endeavor. He "likes" every post I make on Facebook for my business and tells other people about the work I do. Not a day goes by without him encouraging and complimenting me. I've found myself a cheerleader. (OMI's "Cheerleader" came on my iTunes, so I couldn't resist posting that lyric.) I won't post of a picture of him because he hates having attention drawn to himself, but I can assure you he's a cutie patootie!
2. A Flexible Day-Job - I'm sure there are a ton of people out there who would love to start a business or pursue a different career. Many things hold people back, but trying to make ends meet is one of the biggest challenges. I'm incredibly lucky to have a job that not only pays well, but also allows me to have my nights and weekends free. My boss is also very supportive of my creative pursuits and gives me time off when I have auditions. I love teaching gymnastics and preschool.
3. Internet Access - The internet opens us up to endless amounts of learning. It offers the ability to reach new clients and network with other creative business owners. I remember not having internet at different times in my life and I will tell you, my couch is much more comfortable than a chair at Starbucks.
4. Chai Tea Lattes - I remember the first time I was introduced to this liquid miracle. It's truly a privilege to be able to go through the coffee stand to occasionally treat myself to one. I'm especially grateful for the one barista in town who makes the best chai tea latte and I appreciate that she doesn't think I'm a stalker for knowing her work schedule.
5. The Freedom to Pursue a Creative Career - This is a privilege denied to many. It goes along with having a flexible day-job. I can afford to have a fair amount of free time to pursue acting and owning a business. While these things will eventually make me more money, when starting out in both arenas, I have to do a lot of work for free. It hasn't always been easy and I'm far from "rolling in the dough," but I manage. And it gets easier all the time.
6. A Best Friend - My best friend and I live about 3 1/2 hours away from each other, which isn't crazy far, but it does make it hard for us to get together as often as we'd like. This month, I got to spend a weekend in Vegas with her and I'll be visiting her again next week. No matter where I am in life, she's always there and has been for a decade now. With how busy I am and also how introverted, it can be hard for me to make friends. I'm so grateful to always have this one person in my life that I can turn to. I recall her thinking she looked silly in this photo, but I think she looks great. Definitely a lot of personality when we get together!
7. My Health - It might sound cliché, but it's so true. I teach gymnastics, so my health and physical ability are truly my lifeblood. It pays my bills. Making scrapbooks is not a very physical job, so I'm grateful to have other outlets in my life where I can stay active and healthy.
8. A Car - Even though my car has several issues that I can't afford to fix right now, it still runs. That's all I can really ask for. I spent almost four years without a car before I bought one last summer and I've definitely grown accustomed. I remember walking a half hour to work in the pouring down rain, which was frequent here in western Washington. Eventually, I acquired a bicycle, but that didn't keep me any drier when the weather decided to be uncooperative. Our town has a great public transit system, which I appreciated, but I definitely do not miss being harrassed, whistled at, and sometimes followed by strangers while travelling around town. I feel safer and I have the ability now to take long trips on weekends without having to take a Greyhound.
9. An Education - While reflecting on a lot of the opportunities I've had, I realize how much my education, both early-childhood and college, has played a role. I didn't attend preschool, but my mom taught me how to read before kindergarten. By the time I was in 4th grade, I had a high school reading level. While some of this might be natural ability, a lot of it has to do with those pivotal pre-school years. I notice this so much more now that I am a preschool teacher. Even when it comes to learning disabilities, such as autism or even speech impediments, the appropriate early-childhood education can make it so you would never have known a child struggled with learning. I've seen it numerous times. There are also a lot of parents who don't think their child really needs to learn much before kindergarten. By age 5, though, a child's brain has already developed so much and formed habits that might need to be unlearned.
I was given a firm foundation which allowed me to excel and acquire a lot of financial assistance for college and university. I chose to pursue a degree in my passion - theatre. I learned a lot about acting and playwriting that natural talent can't provide on its own. That education helped me land my agent and start acting more professionally. The fact that I am able to write this, with [hopefully] minimal spelling and grammatical errors, is a result of my education. I hope our country starts to put more emphasis on education and start recognizing the educators who are shaping the future.
10. The Ability to Have Debt - What? How is having debt a blessing? It's true, I would be more grateful if I had no debt, but the fact that I can spend money that I don't actually have is a blessing. Many Americans live above their means. I'm guilty of it. I lived on credit cards to get through college and still struggle to pay them back. It's a flawed system, but it's given me the ability to get by when my paychecks weren't enough. But imagine if I weren't able to even acquire a credit card. What if this were the 1960s and as a woman, I wasn't legally able to apply for credit? Even though it is easy to abuse, the ability to use credit is one I am grateful for.
I'm sure I could go on and on about the wonderful freedoms and privileges I am blessed with, but these are the big ones. What are you grateful for this month?