By: Shannon Ralph

As I sat down to write today, I fully intended to go into rabid rant mode about the things in my life that annoy me. My list is long and elaborate, with definite hints of judgmental bitchiness thrown in for good measure. However, the more I wrote, the more I thought, Who wants to read all this negativity? I think we all encounter more than our fair share of negativity in the course of a day. One only has to turn on the television to be bombarded with ugliness and injustice and frivolous feuds galore. So rather than rave about the petty annoyances of life, I’ve decided to make a list of the things for which I am grateful today. I am in dire need of a perspective shift—a gratitude adjustment—and perhaps this will do the trick.

  • I am grateful that I have a partner who has stuck it out with me for thirteen and a half years, despite my refusal to change the cat litter and my all-around suckiness in the area of domesticity.
  • I am grateful that my twins, who were born seven weeks premature, have never had a single health issue.
  • I am grateful that my children love one other and, more important to domestic tranquility, like one another. Some days.
  • I am grateful for tulips and their vast array of color combinations.
  • I am grateful that I have a name that is not spelled weird. I could be Shanyn…or Shanin….or Sjannon. I always feel sorry for those poor kids with the “creatively” spelled names.
  • I am grateful that the firewall at work does not block Facebook. It’s the only thing that gets me through the day sometimes.
  • I am grateful for coffee. And Diet Pepsi. And coffee.
  • I am grateful for pens that do not leak. I have an oddly impassioned affection for pens.
  • I am grateful that my mother got pregnant as a teenager. She is now young enough to really know my children, be a significant part of their lives, and stick around long enough to watch them grow up. Though I don’t condone teen pregnancy, as a general rule, I am happy my mother is a spry fifty-something-year-old today.
  • I am grateful that Ruanita does most of our laundry. I do so hate laundry.
  • I am grateful for heat in the winter—especially since my children are of the nudist persuasion.
  • I am grateful for air conditioning in the summer—especially since I am of the hormonal, cranky, hate-to-sweat persuasion.
  • I am grateful for being born a Southerner. I can’t imagine a life without gravy and biscuits.
  • I am grateful for the opportunity to go to a great college and get a good education. I had the time of my life there and met some of my favorite people in the entire world.
  • I am grateful for Sugar Babies.
  • I am grateful for the memories of my dad, who died when I was eleven years old. My younger siblings didn’t have the joy of knowing him like I did. He was gone before they were old enough to create those precious memories.
  • I am grateful that I can still pull off saying “y’all”. Yes, I’ve been known to say “yah” and “you betcha” after living so long in Minnesota. But I refuse to let go of “y’all”.
  • I am grateful for my brother and my two sisters. We loathed each other as children. Many a childhood day was spent beating the hell out of one another. And I can’t even begin to count the times I lost my voice from screeching at them for hours on end.  Today, however, I wouldn’t trade them for anything in the world. They are my best friends.
  • I am grateful for coming from a large family. There is something special about having to rent out the local elementary school cafeteria for family get-togethers.
  • I am grateful for a roof over my head. It’s nothing fancy, but it is homey and comfortable. And it provides we with a reason to shop on—every house could use a couple of new decorative touches now and again.
  • I am grateful for my new puppy, Stella, who sleeps in my bed and gives me nothing but unconditional love.
  • I am grateful for dimples. Lucas has two and Nicholas has one.
  • I am grateful for snow and ice, only because it allows me to become so ardently excited about the first flower blooming in the spring. If I didn’t live through the utter hell of a Minnesota winter, I may not even notice that first bloom. I am eternally grateful for the ability to appreciate that flower.
  • I am grateful that my eight-year-old son, Lucas, loves science. I am getting in touch with my inner geek and I am loving it.
  • I am grateful for PBS cartoons—the only thing that stands between me and utter lunacy some days.
  • I am grateful for memory foam. I love my bed more than a person should really love an inanimate object, and I have memory foam to thank for thank for that.
  • I am grateful for Happy Meals. Though far from nutritious, they are a lifesaver in a pinch.
  • I am grateful for the internet. Shopping without ever leaving your home?! I would like to shake the hand of the genius who came up with that!
  • I am grateful for the smell of bacon. And cinnamon. And vanilla. And the lilacs in my back yard. And fresh-baked bread.
  • I am grateful for poker—despite my less than stellar bluffing skills.
  • I am grateful for comfy pajama bottoms and t-shirts—my couture of choice when lounging at home.
  • I am grateful for the swing in my back yard. My dad made the heavy steel swing frame when I was just a little girl. I sit in my back yard and watch my children climb on that swing frame the exact same way I did years and years ago. It is a connection to my dad and my childhood. It provides me a wondrous sense of continuity.
  • I am grateful for my laptop, quite possibly my favorite purchase. Ever.
  • I am grateful for outdoor cooking. Asparagus on the grill. And fire pits. And roasted marshmallows.
  • I am grateful for wine. And beer. And margaritas. There are times when a cold beer is the only thing keeping me out of a straightjacket.
  • I am grateful for playgrounds for, if nothing else, their ability to completely wear my children out.
  • I am grateful for a sense of humor. Without it, I would be in deep doo-doo.

Wow. Seeing all of the wonderful things I have to be grateful for—right in front of me in black and white—is humbling. I suppose I have more to be thankful for than I previously imagined.  I need to remember this when I feel like throttling a coworker. Or evicting my eight-year-old son. Or when my daughter follows me from room to room begging me to color in her princess coloring book for the four hundred and sixteenth time in one day.  I am blessed beyond belief. I tend to overlook this fact when I am knee-deep in funk and frustration.  However, despite petty annoyances, my life really is amazing. I definitely need to make room in my life for more gratitude.

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