A couple of years ago, I wrote a birthday post about the 33 things I wanted to accomplish before I turned 33. This year for my birthday (a little belated, albeit), I’d like to do the opposite. Rather than talk about 35 things I hope to have happen (they weren’t really goals as much as wishes), I want to share 35 things that are real and exist right now that have made my life pretty incredible, despite the fact that it doesn’t look exactly like I thought it would at this stage in the game. Plus, with all the gratitude that’s been going around FB, I must have caught some of the bug.

So on this, the last day of my birthday month, I’d like to share my list. And by “my list”, I don’t mean to imply that I carry this list around or started it a while ago or think about it constantly (at least not on the aggregate)…this is going to be the list of things I can think of while I’m sitting at my desk in my apartment in Tokyo on a Friday night after sending my dear friend off to the airport and could maybe use a little cheering up. So, here goes…
I am thankful for:
  1. My faith in God and Jesus Christ. This one thing probably gets me through most of the hard stuff I’ve had to get through in my life (and will continue to have to get through…because that’s life). My life is better because I have faith. Period. 
  2. My family. I’d like to believe that most people are thankful for their families, but I’m finding, in my old age, that I am pretty dang lucky. I adore my family. Seriously. Sure, we have our issues. And not everyone gets along all of the time. But I can honestly say I wouldn’t trade my family for any other family out there. I have awesome siblings and they’ve married pretty amazing people and those marriages have produce some incredible children. I think I could probably end my list right here and I’d feel like one of the luckiest girls in the world. 
  3. My mom. I’m not going to write about every one of my family members individually (although I could), because that would make this way too easy, and I know I’ve written A LOT about my mom over the years I’ve been blogging, but the fact is that I am who I am because of her influence, which has lasted years beyond how long she was here on this earth with me. And yes, my mom had some pretty serious issues, but besides just being a super-involved and incredibly inspiring person, she taught me hope and love. And if those had been the only things I had ever learned from her, that would be enough. They aren’t, but they would be. 
  4. My friends. For those of you that know me well, you know I’m not really a big group socializer. I max out at about eight people, unless I know all of the people really well, then more is fine. And while sometimes it makes me sad that I’m not that super-socializer who’s invited to everything and knows everyone and so on and so forth, the truth is, my lack of “superficial socializing” has led to more incredible friendships than one person probably deserves. Especially a person who has a family full of best friends. That said, I’ll take them all and keep them all. Recent events (the new friends I’ve made in Tokyo, my trip home, Kelly’s visit here) have brought to my attention, yet again, just how lucky I am. I have really good friends all over the world. Friends who get me and love me exactly the way I am, good, bad, and otherwise. Friends who inspire me to be better. Friends who are doing amazing things with their lives. Friends who can pick up right where we left off whether it’s been a week or a year or five. 
  5. My church. Different than my faith, I think of my church as the community of people and seriously, while I recognize that there are some crazies and zealots out there, overall, my church is pretty great and has made all the difference in this move to Japan.
  6. My “jack-of-all-trades” nature. It’s taken me a bit to come to terms with this one, but something about hitting my mid-thirties has made me just a little more aware of the best parts of my traits. Maybe because I’m looking for them. Once upon a time (okay, many upon a times), I wished that I had been more dedicated to (pick anything) soccer, swimming, baking, singing, dancing, psychoanalyzing, picture taking, cheerleading, cooking, sewing, scuba diving, running, cake decorating, reading, piano playing, language studying, traveling, writing, ice skating, flower arranging, and so on and so forth. But what I’ve come to realize (and be okay with now that I get it) is that, while I’ve never gotten really good at any of those things, I’m pretty good at a lot of them and I wouldn’t have wanted to sacrifice the time I spent doing any of them just to get really good at one or two. And while this may not have made me a superstar in anything, it has made me a really interesting person who has a lot to share and can find something in common with just about anyone and all of my time spent enjoying all of these hobbies has brought me some incredible friendships.
  7. Books.
  8. Inexpensive and accessible communications technology. For so very many reasons, but probably most of all for keeping me in touch and up-to-date with the people I love, wherever they (or I) may be. When I was 14 and living overseas for the first time, sans family, I spent a lot of time on the phone and it cost a lot of money (as my dad will tell you any time one brings up my exchange student days. Such is not the case today. I am able to keep in touch with family and friends any time and any place for the price of my smart phone service, a few apps, and a monthly-unlimited-calls-to-the-U.S. Skype subscription. It’s pretty amazing. 
  9. My brain combined with the opportunity I was given to receive great education throughout my life. Once upon a time I think I would have traded my smarts for a skinny body and a great metabolism. (Sure, some people have both, but we’re not talking about them right now…) Not anymore. My brain has afforded me some pretty great experiences. I was able to get into a good college, finish my bachelor’s degree, excel in my esthetics career, return to grad school with a scholarship, and now have this amazing job that landed me first in NYC and now Tokyo. Pretty amazing. 
  10. My health. 
  11. Modern conveniences. Indoor plumbing, electricity, refrigeration, heating, planes, trains, automobiles, digital cameras, computers, external hard-drives, cell phones, wireless internet, MS Excel (yes, totally gets its own shout-out these days), washers and dryers, and so on and so forth. Life in the developed world is ridiculously easy these days. If only we could all be a little more thankful for that.
  12. Music. 
  13. My birth in the U.S. of A. Seriously, I know there are a lot of people who aren’t super happy with the outcome of the recent election (myself included), but I’m still grateful to have been born and raised in a country that operates as a republic and where we have a say in who is elected and where abiding by the law is not just for those who don’t have enough money to buy their way around the it (well, assuming I’m ignoring Chicago…I jest kind of).
  14. Deodorant. (And all of the other modern toiletries that keep people clean and fresh.)
  15. Bras. Yeah, I totally just said that.
  16. My five senses, including perfect eyesight. I know it will go eventually, but it’s still here today.
  17. Bleach. Specifically of the hair highlighting variety. I am better as a blonde. 
  18. Modern medicine including, but not limited to, ibuprofen, bupropion, Tums, levothyroxine, Retin-A, and Botox. 
  19. Sleep.
  20. A cheerful disposition, even when I don’t get enough of #19. 
  21. An adventurous palate. Living in Japan would be pretty rough without it. 
  22. Salt. Sure, it’s on my mind right now because I just had one of the most amazing meals and sea salt was the main seasoning, but really…can you imagine a world without salt? 
  23. The accessibility I have always had to fresh food and water and that I’ve never wondered how I was going to get either of them. 
  24. My ability to provide for myself in a way which affords me a pretty amazing lifestyle. 
  25. Clean sheets.
  26. Sunshine…especially when it’s accompanied by a nice stretch of sand and a large body of water.
  27. My birth into a country and generation where, as a woman, I am able to do just about everything a man can do. (I still haven’t mastered peeing while standing up, although I filled a few years of childhood with attempts, but there’s still time.)
  28. My overactive tear ducts. I know that some people would be irritated if they cried as easily as I do, but I like it. Whether I’m really happy, really sad, or just really touched…the tear ducts start working. Thankfully, at work, they manage to control themselves relatively well.
  29. Shoes.
  30. Mascara. Well, makeup in general, but if I could only choose one item, it would be mascara. As a fair haired, fair skinned, fair eyed girl, mascara is the most important cosmetic tool I have. And not just any mascara, but specifically the waterproof kind. (see #28)
  31. Ice cream.
  32. Kisses. Whether it be a kiss on the cheek from one of my nieces or nephews, or the kind that happens at the end of a really good date (or a mediocre one when you just need to get a piece), kisses are pretty awesome in all their varieties. 
  33. Entertainment. For me this includes plays, musicals, movies, T.V., concerts, and 49er football.
  34. Laughter.
  35. Diet Coke.
  36. And an extra one for good measure. Lastly, I am grateful for a life that I have never put on hold  despite the fact that I haven’t gotten everything I wanted exactly when I wanted it (or at all, in some cases).

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