I’m almost 50.  Yep, on July 8th, I will have lived for ½ a century.  18,250 days.  Elementary school, intermediate school, jr. high school, high school, several colleges, a few boyfriends, one marriage, one child, one divorce, 3 teaching jobs, over 2800 students, the loss of my parents and the biggest tragedy a mother could face.  I’ve been on many adventures and they’ve all helped me to become who I am now.  Some I wish had never happened, but there are others that I will cherish for a lifetime.  A lot has changed in these 50 years and I’m trying to see that I do have much to be thankful for.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about gratitude.  The topic has seemed to pop up in recent conversations and has otherwise found its way into my brain.  And, to be honest, it’s a concept I have really struggled with since I lost Peyton.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m so very grateful for the people I have in my life and for all the positives that have happened with Kindness Matters, but at the same time, I often feel like it’s not enough.  But, as this milestone of age comes barreling towards me, I feel the need to take stock.

So, in honor of my looming 50th birthday (dang, I’m old!), here are 50 things I’m grateful for – in no particular order:

  1. getting to be Peyton’s mom for 13 years, 3 months, 27 days
  2. my amazing sisters, Janet and Jennifer, and their families.
  3. my dearest friend and 3rd sister, Beth
  4. my parents who taught me more than I can ever remember
  5. my amazing friends, both near and far (naming them all would be a much longer list)
  6. Kindness Matters
  7. my 2 dogs who have kept me sane
  8. air conditioning (I live in Texas – it’s hot!)
  9. Diet Coke
  10. my job as a teacher and the joy of all my students
  11. Facebook
  12. a good book that keeps me intrigued
  13. a roof over my head and food on my table
  14. living in a town that holds on to its “small town” charm
  15. living close to everything I need, but still seeing cows on my way to work
  16. a sunroof
  17. being off in the summer
  18. chocolate cupcakes
  19. memories of happy times
  20. music that lets me lose myself in it
  21. my wanderlust
  22. my education that continues every day
  23. letting go of the little things
  24. my love of history and archeology
  25. flowers
  26. my ex-husband and the things he taught me
  27. my KM family and the tremendous amount of love they’ve shown me
  28. Google
  29. the bird feeders in my backyard
  30. the squirrels that come to those bird feeders and drive the dogs crazy
  31. the feeling of community I get when my neighbors wave at me
  32. guilty T.V. pleasures
  33. compassion – both having it and receiving it from others
  34. the wisdom that comes with age (I’m hoping this kicks in soon)
  35. growing up in a humble and simple household
  36. hugs
  37. traveling and seeing the world
  38. taking a good nap
  39. people who try to understand my grief process
  40. quiet times that let my mind rest
  41. living within my means and without credit cards
  42. Malibu rum and Diet Coke
  43. being from Texas
  44. friends who text instead of call (they know me so well!)
  45. putting my thoughts onto paper (or a keyboard)
  46. thunderstorms
  47. a belly laugh that makes you cry
  48. a long soak in a hot bath
  49. people with good manners
  50. love

I’m not gonna lie, this was harder than I thought it would be and I’m sure there are many things I’ve left off the list.  But, this little exercise has shown me that I do have good things in my life.  I’ve never been bothered by birthdays or numbers, but 50 scares the Hell out of me.  So, I’m going to try and make the best of it.  Who knows, maybe this will be the start of something a lot bigger and more amazing…I’ll let you know how the next 50 turn out.