Birthdays are one of my favorite things. They are a day that marks rebirth, renewal and staring over. It’s a time to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the next year of this great life. I think it’s more important than New Years or any other momentous holiday, for it is a celebration of the unique day, time, and place of your birth.
For my birthday this year, I decided to reflect on 36 things that I am grateful for. At first, I thought, “I don’t know if I can find 36 unique things. That just seems like a lot!”…and then I had to stop writing as I had more than 36 things that I have found gratitude for in my life. So here it is.
I am grateful for…(in no particular order)
1. That I have walked this planet for 36 years in great health.
2. My growing relationship with my sister, Jackie, who teaches me more than I think she realizes; who lives life to its fullest, and who inspires me to dream.
3. Reconnecting with my father whom I’ve had an estranged relationship with throughout the years. He reminds me that people can change and we are capable to forgive.
4. My grandfather who taught me the most important lesson, giving and receiving love are our greatest gifts in life and we should always be doing just this.
5. Every heartache, for it has taught me that even through heartache and heartbreak, I am willing to open my heart up again to love and be loved. I have a fearless and bountiful heart.
6. My mother, who while has her own troubles, gave me all that she could and did her very best to love me and provide for me. I can’t imagine that being a single mother is an easy job and she did it as best as she could. She always exposed me to new adventures, new food, and new experiences.
7. My yoga group– Erica, Patrick, Mario and our mentor Brima. We had a very special bond through a transformational time in all of our lives. We grew with each other, learned from each other, and supported each other to blossom into the great beings we are today.
8. My yoga mentor, Brima, who helped me see my own beautiful light and encouraged me to shine.
9. My very dear friend Darren who dares greatly despite all of life’s challenges. Who shows me what it means to live courageously in this sometimes cruel world.
10. Flowers—they bring brightness to the day and are a reminder that we can blossom after the darkness of winter.
11. My soul sister, Stefanie, who when I graduated college gave me a small reminder that still sits on my desk to this day, a 3 inch by 3 inch plaque that says “I believe in you” to remind me on those tough days and that there are people out there rooting for me.
12. My aunt Leah, who had a direct conversation with me at the age of 15 that education was my way of getting out, of living. I was on the verge of giving up and dropping out. That moment changed my life forever.
13. My grandmother who taught me that sometimes you just need to have a chocolate dipped cone on a hot day, or any day rather.
14. Reconnecting with family who I’ve lost touch with. This has been a reminder of how important family is to me, regardless of how nontraditional of a family I have.
15. My cat Ollie. He shows me unconditional love and despite being a pain in the ass and slightly overweight, he gives me cuddles and kisses when I need it most.
16. LeaderShape, for it has given me the space to connect with my values, live in my truth, and live in possibility.
17. My dear friends who have supported me, particularly over the last 8 months, through one of the most difficult times in my life where I have lost love and family. I am evermore grateful for them as they have truly reminded me of my own resilience.
18. Growing up in an alcoholic and addict family with domestic violence and abuse. While difficult, trying, and sometimes miserable, it has given me strength and forced me to overcome the greatest challenges.
19. Alanon, a fellowship that has helped me grow as an individual, connected me to people who have experienced the family disease of alcoholism, and allowed me the opportunity to find gratitude in the disease.
20. My yoga practice has invited me to become my true self. To shine my light bright. To share my full self with the world without being afraid. To be with my self. To connect with my inner sense. To be my authentic self.
21. My life in San Francisco for I have lived the intention I set—to live life to its fullest. To fully realize and live the life I always imagined. I am doing just that. Each city has been a new chapter in my life and San Francisco has certainly been a great chapter!
22. My one hour commute by train to work for I am able to take the time to read, meditate, and center myself. I see parts of the Bay Area I wouldn’t if I had a car and drove.
23. Pearl Jam. Eddie Vedder’s lyrics and that band got me through those difficult teenage years. I felt like the music was written for me and felt a deep connection to many of their messages. I could release the pent up anger, the pent up sadness, the pent up unworthiness, the pent up despair. I felt like I wasn’t alone in a time when I felt very alone.
24. My gift and love of writing. I’m able to express the truest sense of myself and tap into a creative world where I can explore my innermost thoughts, desires, and troubles.
25. Late nights at the ocean. Whenever I go to my home town of Pompano Beach, I love to go to the beach at night and listen to the waves crash and see the moon shine bright against the water. My heart feels at peace and my mind quiets. I feel like I am truly at home.
26. My grandma Luellen. She is one of the strongest, bravest women I know. I recently got to experience and know this admirable characteristic she holds. 27. A hot cuppa tea. Not only does it provide warmth on a cold evening or day, it soothes my soul, inspires me to write, and allows me to slow down to reflect.
28. My desire to learn and my general sense of curiosity, for without it I wouldn’t have the urge to travel, to have thoughtful conversation, or to learn new things and hobbies.
29. Knitting. It has taught me about imperfection, slowing down and the gift of moving meditation.
30. Sunrises and sunsets. They happen every where and are a reminder that each day begins with brightness and ends with brightness.
31. Sharing a delicious meal with good friends. I don’t have to say much more than that.
32. My name, which my parents gave me. It’s uniquness has challenged me to speak up, to challenge assumptions, and to live out the little fiery one I am meant to be.
33. My Pilot House family. Living in the Pilot House in Gainesville, FL during college helped me to find community and be connected to an amazing network of women who empowered me to be the woman I am today.
34. My job. For it allows me to connect with my passion for justice and empowering young adults to live to their full potential.
35. My love of cooking. Cooking for me is meditative and an opportunity for me to express love to others. Cooking a good meal for someone else is one of my greatest joys.
36. This life I have lived so far. While it has presented some of the greatest challenges, I am grateful for every trying, tribulation one. It has taught me of my own strength and the ability to overcome and be resilient.