Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: This Week, and Always Edition

The nationally-designated day of Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and people are preparing for the feast: making lists, grocery shopping, figuring out the logistics of hosting, or making travel plans, if traveling. While all those preparations are good and necessary, Thanksgiving also requires reflection on what it is we are celebrating. What are we thankful for, right now?

When I started my blog nearly seven years ago (Wow! Has it really been that long?), I didn't really have any idea what I was doing, or what I wanted the blog to be. I decided upon the name, Thankful Me, in an effort to develop a greater sense of gratitude within myself. It is altogether too easy to be overwhelmed with life's circumstances, and bad news often screams out, "Listen to me!" Regardless of the trials and distractions that swirl around, though, there is good to be found and gratitude to be expressed. I knew that if I made it a habit to be thankful, I would be a more pleasant person and better equipped to handle life's challenges. 

In 2013, I stumbled across the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop and was quickly welcomed and accepted as a co-host. Though the organization has changed over the years (founder Lizzi has passed the torch to Josie, and the hop no longer uses co-hosts, but rather now has its own designated blog), the purpose remains the same: to allow everyone to have a place to express thanks each week. Participants span the globe and have diverse views and backgrounds. Especially in an online setting, this could be a recipe for disaster. I'm sure we've all seen evidence on social media of hateful, vicious comments. What makes the Ten Things of Thankful blog hop so welcoming, supportive, and positive? I think it is that everyone who participates is focused on seeking the good. 

Despite the differences, friendships formed, and the door is always open for more friends. Knowing that I will be writing a list every week, keeps me focused on looking for those little (and big) things every day that bring me a sense of gratitude. Telling myself that I am "Thankful Me," has changed me. I am more likely to think before complaining, and try to re-frame the situation. In reading the Ten Things of Thankful posts that others write, I get the feeling that I am not the only one who has changed from the exercise of gratitude. 


Photo: A mother and daughter hug and look out on the ocean, which is seen between big rocks. The caption is a quote by Gordon T. Watts: "Joy and happiness are born of gratitude."
Though my Ten Things of Thankful posts are generally numbered, this week I will demonstrate that participation in this blog hop does not require enumeration: 

I'm thankful that thankfulness is a quality that can be practiced and developed, and that the end result is greater joy and happiness. I'm thankful for the big things in my life, like faith, family, and friends, and for the little things, like raspberries (the best fruit ever!) 

Please consider joining us in expressing thankfulness each week. The blog hop goes live each week just after midnight (Central time) Thursday night, and stays open until Tuesday night. You can link up here. It's a simple thing to do, but the rewards are great.

Happy Thanksgiving!


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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Running Late Edition

I'm nearly late for the link up, so will write a short post this week. I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to express my thanks!

1. I'm thankful for the first snowfall of the season in our backyard. Drexel seemed oblivious.



2. I'm thankful that when I drove up to our new house ("It can't be snowing yet! I'm not done raking leaves!"), I found a sweet welcome banner tied to our porch, and a plate of goodies by the front door.

Photo: Orange-with-white-polka-dots plastic triangles, tied with a string to white porch rails, form a bunting banner that spells out "Welcome!"

3. I'm thankful that John and I were able to go to our last Disneyland run. Not only was it the last Disneyland run we have signed up for, it was the last Disneyland run period, in the foreseeable future, at least.

4. I'm thankful that the details of the running costume finally came together.

Photo: Various pattern pieces lay on top of a gold-colored piece of fabric
The race we ran was the Thor 10K. John dressed as Odin, and I dressed as Frigga, Odin's wife. We like to run in coordinating costumes, and we felt we fit the Odin/Frigga demographic better than the younger characters. One downside is that Frigga isn't as easily recognizable. When we got our photos taken with Thor during the race, I said, "We're so proud of you, son!" Thor told me, "Oh, at first I thought you were my brother, Loki!" 

Photo: Me (as Frigga), Thor, and John (as Odin) pose at a photo spot during the 10K
5. I'm thankful that after the run, as we were walking back to our hotel, we were stopped by another runner, who asked if he could take a photo with us. He was dressed as Thor, and recognized us as Odin and Frigga. Hurray! At least someone knew who both of us were supposed to be. 

6. I'm thankful that we were able to see friends while at Disneyland. One meeting was planned, and one was serendipitous. Both were delightful!

7. I'm thankful for the comfortable blend of familiar and unexpected that I find at Disneyland. I love the fact that I know my way around, and I love the fact that there is always something new to discover. On this trip, I noticed the unusual feet of this waterfowl. (I tried an image search to determine what type of bird it was. One search returned, "beak", and the other returned, "plant.")

Photo: A small black waterfowl, with white feathers on its head between its red eyes, has feet with black and white, scalloped-shaped toes

Photo: A close-up of the bird's feet. Each toe has 2-4 of the scalloped segments. The feet are not webbed in the true sense of having the webbing connected from one toe to the next, but each of the scalloped segments is wide and provides the same advantage that webbing has.
8. I'm thankful that youngest daughter took care of things at home while we were gone. Drexel was cared for, and when we arrived home, the house was cleaner than it was when we left!

9. I'm thankful for uneventful drives. We hit neither traffic nor construction nor bad weather nor anything else! 

10. I'm thankful for John. Being able to take a short vacation together was fun. We kept the same pace, both on the run and on the endurance of our theme-park days, which made it nice. Though our Disneyland runs are over, now we will get to find other races to run. Life is an adventure with John!

Photo: John and I stand in front of the huge Christmas tree on Main Street in Disneyland
Well, I'm not sure I succeeded with a short post, but I'm thankful I got it written! What are you thankful for this week? There is still time to link up a post if you'd like! 








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Saturday, November 4, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Bullies, Snowblowers, and a Birthday Edition

Hello, November! The sky is cloudy, and precipitation of some kind or another (depending on the forecaster) is in the future. 

I've been scouring the local online ads for a snowblower. After extensive research, I located just the one for us. I texted the seller, and agreed on a time for John and I to meet him. Later in the day, I texted again to verify, and was told another interested party would be seeing the snowblower at the same time. At that point, I informed the seller I would pass, as I didn't want to get caught up in a bidding war, and I didn't want to drive the distance to see the snowblower if we weren't going to be able to purchase it. I also didn't think it was fair to the other party to be stuck in the same position.

Later that night, I received another text from the seller, informing me that I didn't show up (I already had told him I wouldn't), and that the other party didn't either. The wording of his text was grandiose and designed to make me feel small. It didn't work. I took a few minutes and told John all the clever responses I could come up with (but didn't type any reply), laughed a bit, then enjoyed the rest of our evening.

1. I'm thankful we didn't buy the snowblower from the bully.

Last night, John's parents called. They did not know that we were looking for a snowblower. They didn't know that we had been in communication with that guy. John's dad asked John if he would like a snowblower. John's dad recently purchased a new one, and was looking to get rid of his old, but perfectly functional, snowblower. John laughed, readily accepted the generous offer, and then explained what had happened just the day before.

2. I'm thankful that John's dad offered to give us his old snowblower.

3. I'm thankful that life works like that. Call it karma, or "What goes around, comes around," or "With what measure you mete, it shall be measured to you again," but I'm glad that life returns what you give. I refrained from actually replying back with the zingers that I was composing and sharing with John, and our need was met. 

(While I believe in the above principle, I also know that sometimes things happen over which we have no control and that are in no way our fault. Life isn't always fair, in the immediate sense of the word, but I do believe that in the end, all will be made right.)

I spent some time at our new-to-us house this past week. The previous week, we had a range delivered. The day after it was delivered, it was beeping and flashing an error message. When I called the customer service line, I was told the error message indicated something was wrong with the electronic board, and that I had a choice between getting a repairman or having a new range delivered. Of course, I opted for the new range.

4. I'm thankful for an easy exchange. I'm hoping the first stove was just a lemon, and that the replacement will not have the same issue. So far, so good.

Another morning, I met the roofer for a few easy repairs of little problems that had surfaced during our pre-purchase inspection.

5. I'm thankful for skilled workers who can easily and affordably fix things.

While the roofer was working, I touched up some areas on outside door frames where the paint had faded or chipped away.

6. I'm thankful to be getting projects done prior to moving in. 

The evening of the snow blower incident, John and I headed up to the new neighborhood to attend a get-together with our neighbors. It's going to take me some time to remember all the names, but everyone seemed very nice and we had a nice time meeting our neighbors. 

7. I'm thankful for friendly welcomes.

This past week wrapped up another year for John, and he celebrated a birthday yesterday. We (John, youngest daughter, and I) ate dinner at Four Seasons Hot Pot and Dumpling, which was a fun experience. A hot pot of broth sat on a hotplate on the table, and we could choose what to put in it. It cooked at the table, and we were encouraged to keep adding more and more to the broth. We left stuffed!

8. I'm thankful for apps and social media sites that make researching restaurants easy.

After dinner, we took part in Art Walk, which is held the first Friday of each month in Provo. We didn't actually know ahead of time where the shops were that were participating, so we didn't see many signs and only ended up wandering into one art gallery, but it was interesting anyway. We couldn't pass up going inside a local pet store, even though it wasn't officially part of the art walk. They had an extensive aquarium section, and quite a few reptiles as well. I just had to take a picture of the baby bearded dragons.

Photo: Eight baby bearded dragons pile on top of each other, facing all directions.
After our walk, we drove to a dessert place (The Chocolate, which had other flavors available) where we each enjoyed a slice of cake with some ice cream. 

9. I'm thankful for fun family evenings.

10. I'm thankful for John. We are not as old as the birthdays would indicate, but I welcome those markers that prove we have had more time together. Years ago, we would have thought people of our age were old. We know better now, but I do look forward to growing old together. Of course, our idea of what that looks like is different than we would have imagined in our younger days. We will be running more races, and hopefully longer distances. We will be hiking the mountains behind our home. Whatever else we decide to do, we will do with a sense of adventure and enjoyment, because that is how we choose to live. Happy birthday, John! I love you!

How was your week? Did you deal with bullies or celebrate birthdays? I'd love to hear what you are thankful for this week! Comment below, and as always, please consider writing your own post and linking it up at the Ten Things of Thankful blog!





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Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ten Things of Thankful: Sports, Chili, and Neighbors Edition

I love fall. There's a bit of a nip in the air, yet the daytime temperatures don't require a heavy coat. The beautiful colored leaves contrast against the blue of the sky--until they fall to the ground and provide a delightfully crunchy walking surface. Fall elicits cozy feelings, but doesn't trap us inside our houses. Fall brings sports games, chili cook-offs, and association with neighbors. 

1. I'm thankful for nice people, even (and perhaps especially) when there are accidents. I got rear-ended this week, but there was no real damage to cars nor people, and the overriding feeling I took away from the experience (besides unbelief at being hit) was how nice the young man was who hit me. He was remorseful, gracious, and pleasant. If I Have to Have a Fender-Bender, Let it Be in Provo.

2. I'm thankful for Hruska's Kolaches. Yes, this is a repeat from last week, but can I just say YUM! As I'm typing this, I am realizing that we ate kolaches last Saturday, again on Monday, and then again yesterday. I might have a kolaches problem. In my defense, I had to go yesterday, because Hruska's had a special Harry Potter day, with specially-flavored kolaches, butterbeer, street magicians, an owl, and very elaborate decorations. 

Photo: A painted cutout of a castle, reminiscent of Hogwart's castle, disguises a fence at Hruska's Kolaches.

3. I'm thankful for what feels like a local team in the World Series. No, I'm not talking about the Los Angeles Dodgers; I mean the Houston Astros. Many of the Astros players are former Lancaster (CA) Jethawks. John and I had the chance to cheer on George Springer, Carlos Correa, Dallas Keuchel, and others when we would attend the Jethawks games. It's nice to see that their hard work has paid off and they are living their dreams.

4. I'm thankful that winning isn't everything. The BYU football team isn't having a particularly good season. (Yes, that is most definitely an understatement.) 

5. I'm thankful for the chance I've had to live in various places. It is so strange for me to now be living in a town where I belong to the religious majority, and Mormon culture doesn't require explanation. Hopefully my experience of being in the minority most of my life will keep me aware of those who are in the minority here. 

6. I'm thankful for chili cook-offs. When I was in the grocery store Thursday night buying ingredients to make chili for a ward (congregation) chili cook-off, I realized that several other people were visiting the same aisles I was, and were looking for the same types of ingredients I was. Though they might be in my ward (I'm still getting to know everyone), I didn't recognize them. I think perhaps another ward (or two or more) was also having a chili cook-off this past weekend. Chili cook-offs have nothing to do with Mormon doctrine, but are a pretty common ward activity. I was just struck once again how immersed I am in Mormon culture here in Utah, and it made me chuckle. (For more of my observations about the influence of Mormon culture here, you might want to read Seven Signs You Might Be Shopping in a Utah Costco.)

7. I'm thankful I could help with the activity Friday night. As I asked participants to sign-in with their pots of chili, I got to put more names with faces, and had a chance to chat with people a bit. Learning names helps turn strangers to acquaintances and friends. 

8. I'm thankful that our new house is also in a very welcoming location. We were invited to a neighborhood get-together that will be held next week. Already, five families in what will be our new neighborhood have come over to introduce themselves to us as they've noticed us at the house raking leaves, etc. We are excited to get to know them better, as well as to get to know the other families on our street. 

9. I'm thankful that we live close to John's parents. We were able to take them out to dinner this week to celebrate John's dad's birthday. It's just such a treat that we can get together so easily with them. 

10. I'm thankful for John. We are approaching the empty-nest phase of life, and as much as we are looking forward to that, John and I also recognize that it is going to be a major change for us (and it will particularly impact my daily life, as I can hang up my taxi-cab hat, for example.) I'm thankful to have such a supportive husband by my side as we go through the various stages of our life together.

How has your week gone? Have you been in an accident, eaten good food, watched a game, or spent time with friends or family? Whatever you've done, there is something for which to be thankful. Let me know in a comment, or write a post and link up to the Ten Things of Thankful blog. I'm thankful to be part of such an encouraging online community!



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Thursday, October 26, 2017

Six Sentence Story: Menu

It's time for another Six Sentence Story! Each week, Ivy of Uncharted gives a cue, and, more often than not, I can record a family memory based on the clue. (Sometimes I do write fictional pieces based on the cue, but not this week.)



Her first-born was turning two, and Mom, trying to plan the birthday dinner, decided to ask the little guy what he wanted to eat. 

"He'll probably request ba-sketti, or perhaps hot dogs, but letting the birthday child pick the meal should be a tradition in this family," she thought to herself.

"Hey, Jake, what should Mommy cook for dinner? What would you like to eat?"

Though she clearly heard his response, it still caught her off guard, and she wondered about the economic feasibility of adopting the "birthday child chooses the menu" tradition.

Still, a promise is a promise, and that night (after a quick trip to the grocery store) the little family feasted on salmon. 







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