This is such an important list. It’s one that I’ve made a few times before, which I hope to make more of in the future. It’s so easy to forget how much we have in life to be grateful for and how to truly appreciate those things. Writing this list is one way to correct that!
47/52: ‘LIST THE THINGS YOU ARE GRATEFUL FOR’
Having a place to come back to, to feel safe to be myself and to absolutely zonk out in is a definite privilege. I’m grateful that for the last 4 years I’ve been in some very homey environments. One home was with my best friend, Rachel, where we stumbled chaotically through an amazing year of room-mate-hood. We battled with landlords over mould, danced past each other in our galley kitchen, unblocked the gutters with a mop from my bedroom window and broke up the squabbles of Rachel’s cat and my two kittens.
My next home was in Japan, in Asagiri town. This is where I learnt to live completely alone and how much I loved it. I filled that house with parts of me and all of the things I love. I had photos of loved ones, triffid-like tomato plants by the window, second-hand shop paintings of a cat smoking a pipe and an abundance of flowers.
My final, and my first, home is back with my mum in St. Helens. We’ve been here since I was about 2, when we moved from the street around the corner. This home is full to the brim with memories.
The kitchen ceiling reminds me of my dad’s overly-flipped pancake on Pancake Day, the radiator in my room (which was once my sisters room, which was once my mum and dad’s room) which flooded the whole house after an excited game of hide-and-seek and the downstairs blinds which were stained with chocolate face masks when me, my sister and my mum were spying on someone walking past.
My whole existence is owed to this woman and there’s no way I can articulate my gratitude in a small section of a blog post. She’s amazing. For having the patience to get me to try new foods, dealing with my teenage, and present-day, moods of stressed isolation and overworking and instilling me with a positivity that gets me through a whole host of difficulties, I’m grateful. She’s been hit with some hard times recently and I hope that I can be there to help her through.
My dad is another person who I can’t begin to express my gratitude for. He welcomed my existence with open arms and worked his bum off everyday to make sure that my life was plentiful, comfortable and morally-set. He was one of the few people in the world who not only accepted all of my quirks, but encouraged them.
Being called crackers or bonkers by my dad was a compliment and it’s one that I got often. Along with a host of other things, I’m grateful to my dad for his generosity (not only to me, but to everyone he met), his irrepressible approach to life and his welcoming of all things loopy.
Beck is my only and older sister by 6 years. This difference in years meant that we’ve always been at very different stages in our lives at any given time and this has been both good and bad, depending. When we were younger and all I wanted to do was be near her and all she wanted to do was chill with her mates, the dynamic wasn’t the best.
But as we grew older and as the harshness of the world around us became more and more clear we got a lot closer. I’m grateful to Beck for shielding me in ways that I didn’t even know about at the time, for fighting my corner and for dealing with all the troubles that come with having a younger sister that adores you (she literally didn’t get a minute). I guess having your sister as your number one fan also has its perks?
This is something that I am most grateful for in the early morning, when I watch the sunrise paint the skies in a slowly shifting palette of candyfloss and pastel.
I’ve made my love of food clear I’m pretty sure, so it’ll come as no surprise to you that I’m grateful for my sense of taste. That in-mouth pop of flavour when you chow down on some fresh, home-cooked food is hard to top.
I’m even grateful for the bad tastes I’ve had, like cold, salty, thick udon noodles when I arrived in Kumamoto. The food was horrible, but it was a funny start to my life in Japan, as I sat in front of my new supervisor trying not to gag.
Perfume, flowers, scented candles, bath soaks; tonkabean, oud, jasmine and lavender. Freshly cut grass (but not the soon-to-follow allergic reaction), Lynx Black, petrol, wild garlic, the hand soap in the toilets of my dad’s office.
I definitely had those texture books you get as a kid. You know the ones, with pages of fish with foil scales, wooly sheep and a bear with fur that you can stroke. I’m all about different textures. I love feeling the softness of rugs in TK Maxx, the smoothness of pebbles by a riverbed, the wetness of Charlie’s nose, the warmth a long-needed hug- it’s like a texture book for adults!
Voices of loved ones, acoustic guitar, birds are just some sounds that I’m glad to be able to hear. I’m even thankful for the screeching cicadas as they bring me back to my life in Japan. Being able to register all of these sounds means that I also appreciate the repose of silence.
Another sound I’m glad of hearing is music, quite the variety of music too, as it adds a whole other dimension to how I live my life. Jazz, synthwave, metal, pop punk, blue grass, death metal, classical, lo-fi, folk and so many more genres have a place in my heart. What music have you been listening to recently?
11. My Comfortable Bed
Getting home after a long day or a difficult day is made a whole lot better by being able to sleep, or lounge, in a comfy bed.
Worlds and ideas held in beautiful, bricks of language and page. Being able to relate to, learn from, imagine in and cry over the lives and stories that exist in books is amazing.
“Books are a uniquely portable magic”
13. A Slow Childhood
My childhood consisted of feeding squirrels with Rach or fishing for frogs in her backyard pond, fighting with Beck, watching my dad play football, creating virtual families with my crushes in The Sims, doodling, baking packet mixes of cookies and mithering the pets.
I took my time growing up and that meant that I could savour that time a lot more. I learned about the world at my own pace and I’m so so happy that I did.
Neo, short for Neologism of the Heath, was my first dog. I still remember when we picked him up and he was on my knee as we drove him back home. He grew to be my absolute best friend. He’d be waiting at the door after a hard day at school and would sit with me by the fireplace on cold winter mornings; he even attended my birthday parties, once dressed up as Scooby Doo.
15. The Kindness of People
16. あさぎり町 (Asagiri Town)
18. A Working Printer
I’ve never had my own printer, it’s something that I always think isn’t worth the investment but then find myself needing all the time. My mum’s house does have a printer and it makes life so much easier. Before this I’d be running to the library with things to print or asking my dad to print stuff from the office. Now I can print whenever I want I’m able to be more organised which is something that I do NOT take for granted.
19. Parks and Places to Walk
Rachel has been my best mate since nursery. We’ve survived high school together, stayed close despite going to different colleges, uni and even across the miles when I was in Japan. There’s a lot that we’ve been through. A lot of good, a lot of bad and a LOT of funny.
I’m grateful to Rach for being a consistent part of my life. We’ve grown together and supported each other no matter what. Rach, I’m grateful for everything you do, your sturdiness, your quirkiness and your absolute refusal to be anything but yourself.
21. Youtube Dance Workouts
Home workouts have become a critical resource for all of us lockdown lingerers. Keeping our blood pumping and muscles burning is so important and these amazing videos help us do it from our own homes!
23. The Support of Family and Friends
From check-ups to job opportunities to unexpected cards in the post, I’m so grateful for all of the support from loved ones. I hope that I get the chance to return that help and support!
24. Stephen Yeldrem
My life has been made better by having Ste in it. We’ve been close since high school and Ste has been there for me in my darkest moments, with no ulterior motive than to get me back on my feet.
I’m grateful to Ste for making me believe in the goodness of people on those days where people don’t seem that great. I’m grateful to Ste for being open with me, because without that, we wouldn’t have built the amazing, honest and mutually understanding relationship that we have today.
There’s a lot to thank animals for. They teach us a lot and the proof of their importance is in all of the animalistic metaphors that poets and writers have been using for centuries.
Animals are so beautiful and amazing and every single one of them has a role and purpose. A world without animals would be bleak. By continuing a move towards a more ethical way of living- by switching from vegetarian to vegan options and educating myself as best as I can- I hope to play my part in making sure as many animals as possible get to stick around.
26. Fresh, Ethical Food
27. Natural Beauty
I realised after I wrote this that there are different kinds of natural beauty. The one that I was thinking of was the beauty of nature. I love a good landscape, seaside or forest! There’s so much clarity of thought that comes with being outdoors.
28. Bad Boyfriends
I surprised myself with this one, but I have a rule that if it comes to mind, it’s got to go on the page! I guess I’m going a bit Ariana Grande on you here with the whole ‘thank you, next’ vibe, but the girl had a point. There’s always something to take away from a situation, even if it’s a bad one.
That doesn’t condone the bad situation, nor does it mean that those in bad situations should, in any way, be happy about it. But I do find comfort in knowing that after some pretty bad relationships and one particularly dreadful one, all is not lost. I’m grateful to the bad relationship for allowing me a better relationship with myself.
29. Temporary Friends
We can come across temporary friends for a multitude of reasons. It can be one of those mini-allegiances you make on your commute to work, or in a supermarket- when you just click with someone, even if it’s just for a second.
You can have temporary friends you keep in touch with, that you might just not see as often due to changing circumstances. Or you can have friendships that you never expected would be temporary, but turned out to be.
There can be a lot of pain involved when these kinds of friendships end, especially when you’re not the one at fault. Despite the pain, I’m thankful. I’m grateful for the good times that we did have and for occupying a space, even a temporary one, in their thoughts. Most of all, I’m thankful for the difficult but necessary lesson that people’s priorities aren’t always the same as my own.
This is something that I’m becoming more and more aware of in my study of illness through the Gothic mode in uni. This gratitude comes not from the negatives of differently-abled bodies, but from the resistance of society to consider and include those bodies. I’m, selfishly, thankful for the uncountable opportunities that my body offers me.
Because noone likes wet feet.
32. Kind Teachers
34. Random Opportunities
36. Sleeping for 7 Hours
While this is the recommended minimum hours of sleep we need to function, it doesn’t mean that it’s always possible. My long-term readers will know of my on-going nightmare situation. Broken sleep and trying to squeeze everything into one day can mean those precious hours of REM get stunted. So I’m grateful every time I get 7 hours of sleep. I’m grateful to all the things that contribute to it; from my bed, to meditation, my own determination to my nighttime facial routine.
38. My Students
I miss my Japanese nurseries, my primary school students, Koushirou, Hiroki and my eikaiwa students so so much. I wish I could just teleport back to Japan to teach them every now and then, to check in and see how they’re all doing. I owe them a lot.
I now have new students, quite different from my last teaching job. My students are all over 19, training up to get themselves into university. They’re a lovely bunch. Despite COVID restrictions and digital dilemmas, their passion for learning still shines through and it’s so inspiring!
39. Working Devices
Lag is not appreciated.
40. Upbeat Films
Step Brothers, The Cat Returns, Without a Paddle, Amélie, Harry Potter (the early ones), Love Actually, The Lorax… what’s your favourite upbeat film?
43. A Big Oven
Endless baking potential.
44. My Own Bedroom
45. Good University
Lancaster University is an absolute godsend. The people who work there, teach there and study there are amazing. I’ve made some amazing friends and learnt some brilliant stuff. I’m so glad I get to study here for my masters.
47. The Stars
48. My Own Existence
49. Powerful Women
52. The Impermanence of Everything
I struggle to be thankful for this one a lot of the time, but it deserves a LOT of gratitude. The fact that nothing is certain and that nothing stays the same is a fact of life we spend most of our lives fighting or pretending doesn’t exist. It’s also the reason that life is so precious and unique.
The impermanence of everything allows there to be beauty and purpose in everything.
This list was sort of endless, as I wrote one thing, three more ideas would come to mind and I feel like I could have kept writing this list for a long time. It’s a list that I definitely need to be writing more frequently.
Did this get you thinking of your own gratitude list? What would be on it?