All the other posts I’ve written so far with regards to this challenge have involved me having to express thanks to a particular person or for a certain thing. So at first, I wasn’t completely sure as to what I was expected to do here for week nine but I figured that I was being asked exactly what it says on the tin, and explain how I’ve done with this challenge so far and how I feel so far – so I will!
When I first heard of this challenge, I thought it was a great idea and I wanted to take part in it. I’ve always been a big believer in the power of gratitude and expressing thanks, and it shocks me just how ungrateful some people can be. It’s a sad fact that we live in a world where there is an ever increasing sense of self-entitlement. There are always feelings of wanting more no matter how much we have. And ‘thanks’ is a word that seems to be missing from a lot of people’s vocabularies these days. Just hold open a door for people or give up your seat on the bus for someone and you’ll see what I mean. So doing this challenge was a way to reinforce my existing sense of gratitude and also to see if I could learn more about myself.
As for how I did, well I think it’s fair to say that so far I haven’t done very well! After all this challenge should have been completed in 2017 but it’s now 2018 and I’m now only on week nine! I could very well have thrown in the towel and put this challenge into the bin consigned for challenges that didn’t work and very conveniently forgotten about it – but I would have hated that. Another thing I firmly believe in other than gratitude, is the philosophy of better late than never, so I’m more determined than ever to keep going and complete this challenge.
And in any case, I’m pretty sure there’s a parallel universe somewhere where it’s still 2017!
As usual I was stuck when it came to deciding which three people I wanted to express gratitude to – as once again there are so many, I really didn’t know who to choose! But I finally decided on three and you’ll notice that there’s a theme with this post – other than gratitude – as all three people who I would like to express gratitude to have all played a major role in my career as a teacher for which I can never thank them enough.
1. MY AUNT
I’m really grateful to my aunt because after spotting an ad in the paper for a teaching position in London that she knew I would love, she informed me immediately. Mr. D and I were living in Devon at the time, working in student accommodation, and we HATED every second of it (not necessarily picturesque Devon but the job and the people we had to deal with.) We wanted to either come back to London or return to Bournemouth where we had previously been living but work was very thin on the ground so for the time being at least, we weren’t going anywhere.
Then I received a call from my aunt who, knowing that I wanted to go into teaching English, said that she’d seen an ad in the paper for teachers at a language school in Central London and that I should apply. So I did – and found out that I had two days to get down to London for an interview to see if I’d be accepted for the training program. Ever the optimist, I didn’t think I would pass the training, so I booked a coach ticket and headed over to London with just a week’s worth of clothes not knowing that I’d never be going back to Devon again…
2. P.B. – THE TRAINER
I had three trainers in total plus a lovely principal and I am grateful to all of them, for the opportunities, support and help that they had given me. But why I feel that I have to thank P.B. first and foremost is because he was the trainer who interviewed me and gave me the chance to train there. He seemed very no-nonsense and the kind of person who wouldn’t put up with any of my shenanigans, and he even warned me that the training program was very tough and intense and that even if I was accepted for the training, there was a chance that I might voluntarily drop out due to the pressure. Filling me with confidence, he wasn’t!
For reasons I’m not sure either of us understand, I was put through to the training program – something I’m sure he’s regretted ever since! Ever the optimist, I was sure I wouldn’t pass training, but not only did I do so but I continued to work there right up until the school very sadly shut down (that’s a whole other story) Had it not been for P.B. I would never have had the chance to do something I loved, and realise for the first time that I’m actually good at something. I met tons of really cool people, both staff and students, who I’m still in touch with to this day – including P.B. of course!
3. STAFF AND STUDENTS AT SCHOOL NO.2
OK, I’m cheating here a little because instead of expressing gratitude to one other person, I’ve chosen to be thankful to a bunch of people – but it’s impossible to to select just one person. Who should I choose? The receptionist who handed over my CV that had turned to paper maché when I walked in from the rain looking like a drowned rat? The former colleague from my previous school who unbeknownst to me was at that school, and put in a good word for me when he discovered that I had applied? Or the principal who hired me based on the strength of my CV and what my colleague had told her and felt that a formal interview wasn’t necessary? The staff that took care of me when I got sick? The staff that propped me back up when I suffered a devastating blow while at work? And I could never forget the amazing students there who were an absolute joy to teach.
When my visa came through to move to the States, I handed in my notice and did so with a very heavy heart for while I was happy to be reunited with Mr. D. and start the next stage of our lives together, I was also very sad to be leaving a place where I was ecstatic to go to every day – and how many people can claim to be ecstatic about going to work? When my last school shut down, I never thought that I’d ever find another place to work where I could fit in so effortlessly and be so damn happy – but I did. And I have all these fantastic people to thank for that – people who are no longer staff, colleagues or students but friends.
I’m really embarrassed to still be continuing with the 52 weeks of Gratitude Challenge because this was supposed to have been completed by the end of last year! But last year was a roller-coaster of a year and I didn’t blog as much as I’d hoped to, and as I hate leaving things unfinished, I have decided to pick up where I left off and this time I’m determined to get to the finish line. So week seven it is!
This week’s topic is ‘a’ friend that I am thankful for. Talk about a super hard topic! I am incredibly blessed to have so many amazing people in my life who I am very happy to call friends – some of them are more like family – so naturally I’m finding it hard to talk about just one person. So I’m going to cheat a little bit – or a lot – and talk about a group of people.
So I would like to give a massive shout-out to the strong, supportive, thoroughly big-hearted people who came to my rescue when I was going through what was definitely one of the worst periods of my life; when I didn’t feel as though I was emotionally or physically strong enough to overcome my problems. These incredible people listened to me, gave me advice and support and were always there for me whatever time of day or night it was. Even though many of these fantastic people were busy with their own lives or had their own problems to deal with, they always made time for me and never got fed up or made me feel as though I was being a nuisance (which I probably was!) They even shared some of their own painful stories with me in order for me to draw strength and inspiration and to see that things always do get better. Some of these people weren’t even especially close friends at the time, and that makes me feel even more incredibly humbled that people who didn’t have to be there for me, chose to do so which speaks volumes about the kind of people they are.
I don’t think I can ever totally put into words how grateful I am to this exceptional bunch of people who got me through a tough time and got me back on my feet again. Everyone says that you never really know who your true friends are until you go through a crisis and they’re not wrong. We sadly live in a world where its every person for themselves – or at least that’s how it seems most of the time. But now I know that there are some truly amazing people out there and I’m so thankful that I get to be their friend. Everyone should have wonderful people like that in their lives.
A bit of an odd one seeing as I no longer live in the city! But as much as I’m enjoying life in the country, I am grateful for:
A. BEING A CITY GIRL
I love city life. Pretty much any city: Dublin, Vienna, Barcelona, Seattle, Mumbai… I love them all! Country life is pretty good but while Mr. D has rural living in his blood, I am a city girl through and through. I love doing what Mr. D calls ‘city things’: museums, galleries, coffee shoos, bars, taking in a show, riding the night bus…
I know there’ll come a time when I probably won’t want to be anywhere other than the country, but right now I need the energy and vibrance of the city. I loved growing up in a place where everything was on your doorstep and it was very easy to get around, even without a car. I love that there’s always so much to see and do. You can never get bored in a city.
True, people may be more abrupt and always in a hurry but contrary to popular belief, I’ve never felt lost or lonely in a big city. I know people who live in rural towns who can’t settle in big cities due to them finding it ‘too busy.’ I can understand why they would find the transition hard which makes me even more thankful to be city born and bred, and having done the reverse has not been too difficult for me. can never get bored in a big city. I remember when I used to fly into Portland, Oregon on one of my visits to see Mr. D before we got hitched, looking out of the aeroplane window and seeing the city all lit up like jewelled specks on black cloak, highlighting the beauty and mystery of the night. Yes – bright city lights always make me happy.
B. BEING A LONDONER
As if being a city girl wasn’t enough, I’m so, so grateful that I grew up in the most amazing, exciting, diverse and vibrant cities in the world – London! Even though I know people are always complaining about all the negatives connected with London living – exorbitant costs, crowds, filthy streets, crime etc – I can’t quite put into words why I’m so proud and thankful to come from one of the world’s most famous cities. I love the nightlife, the arts, the mix of cultures; hearing all those different languages and accents, seeing people in traditional dress – something I miss very much now. I love that I’m able to get virtually any kind of cuisine without having to travel too far. You can complain all you want about public transport but at least it exists and there’s pretty much a twenty four hour service. There’s some absolutely stunning architecture and I love that some of the world’s most iconic sights are right there in London. And if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of London living, there are some districts and neighbourhoods that have a distinctly village feel.
London really is the city that has it all, and I’m so thankful and so glad its my city!
C. LIVING NEAR BOSTON
Seeing as the topic of this post is being grateful for the city you live in, I’m going to have to talk about Boston which is the city closest to where I live. I’ve mentioned before that it has always been my dream since I was an eleven year old New Kids On The Block fan to live in – at the very least visit – Boston. Never did I think that my dream would one day come true but it has!
Admittedly, as we live so far out of Boston, I haven’t visited as often as I’d like to but the few times I’ve visited I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it. I’ve seen the Bruins play, seen some of the sights, been to a few gigs, eaten at the world famous Wahlburgers (haha! Although I didn’t see Donnie or Mark but Paul did say hi!) I’ve discovered the awesome Mike’s Pastries, and I know a bar where the fish ‘n chips are pretty decent!
I’m so glad to be living near a city as cool as Boston and look forward to visiting more of the historical sites. But more than that I’m grateful and thrilled to have realised one of my ambitions.
Trying to think about what I would choose as my something I’ve been given for this week’s challenge was hard as I’ve been given so many meaningful things by some very special people.
So I decided to go with the keys that Mr. D. presented me with that opened the door to our first home – and that’s the first home that we own and not one where we’re paying off someone else’s mortgage.
As a big rock fan, I love that its not your standard run of the mill looking key and represents our love of concerts and the way we met.
But it means so much more than that.
When we lived in London, owning our own home seemed like the impossible dream – and anyone who lives in London and isn’t a millionaire will know what I mean. Getting on the property ladder was hard. We couldnt even get on the property footstool and I was really kicking myself for not having got a move on much earlier.
I just wanted a home we could call our own, where we could be us and do our own thing, and be surrounded by things that were ‘us’. Where I could entertain and have people over to stay. Mr. D. was more concerned with having woodland, animals and a lake to fulfil his desire for nature. I also wanted enough land to build smaller homes for our parents in their retirement.
Talk about a pipe dream!
Admittedly when we first went to view the house, I wasn’t really taken with it. A chance encounter with a neighbour really had me hoping we’d buy somewhere else! But the house came with land for me, woodland for Mr. D and a lake behind the nearby conservation land. Plus the house was in our price range so it looked like it might just happen…
Fast forward eighteen months and we are very settled in our home. We still haven’t done much with it and we’re still getting used to being homeowners. This house was definitely worth the wait and almost worth leaving London for… If only I could have taken my family and friends with me 😢
We’ve been saddled with a thirty year debt but believe it or not we are so thankful for that. If it means we’ll never have to deal with another greedy landlord, see another dodgy tenancy agreement or share with another hideous housemate then great! Although I hastened to add that I actually miss most of our housemates but there are some I’m hoping never to bump into again.
But yes, these keys are among some of the most cherished things I’ve been given and I am so very thankful for them.
For this week’s week of gratitude, I couldn’t think which member of my family I’m most grateful to – and for! But as much as I love every member of my family and I’m thankful to them all for one thing or another, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay tribute to my amazing late grandfather.
Goodness, where do I start with my grandfatheIt’ssell I think I can begin by saying that he was a real character. He was one of those people who would make you laugh with the things he said and did – problem was he was not trying to be humorous! There was many a time that a sneaky snigger was turned into a cough when he caught sight of us.
As strange as this may sound, I always knew that my grandfather was my grandfather before I knew he was my mum’s dad! I just thought it was some really bizarre coincidence that he happened to be her father as well as my grandfather. I was probably pushing three, and at that age I really didn’t know how these things worked!
I always describe him as a fearless, no-nonsense old army man. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and wouldn’t put up with any rubbish from anyone. This was a man who wasn’t afraid to put a stroppy teen in their place or tell a snooty, up -themselves person exactly where to go! And should you have the misfortune to ask for advice, he would tell it to you like how it was – and he didn’t mince his words either! Well you asked!
Quirks aside, Grandad really was the nicest, kindest, most generous human being ever. When he gave, he gave from the heart, whether it was time, money or his efforts to help others. And it was helping others that Grandad was known for. Most people would get fed-up with the phone ringing endlessly or constant knocks on the door with people needing help, advice, favours etc. But Grandad was always ready and happy to help – especially as it meant that he could dole out his own brand of tough love. And still the people kept coming!
Helping people wasn’t just because of his good heart. I believe it also helped fill the void after my nanna passed away when the focus of his life became his family and close friends, the church, and helping others. Well that and his social life! At an age where most people would be slowing down, grandad was always out and about – sometimes even coming home at two in the morning! My friends would laugh at my octogenarian grandfather who was a bigger raver than I am!
It’s been eight years since we lost him and there really isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t feel that loss and miss his presence. It’s impossible to sum up everything about grandad in one post. My grandfather may not have been perfect and faultless. I can’t pretend that he never got things wrong. But I’m so thankful that God made him my grandfather. I’m also thankful to my grandfather for making me the person I am today. The things I do, the way I behave, the way I treat others… Its all because of him. From the time I was a mini-human, he played his part in making sure that I grew up to be a decent person. Whether I am or not probably isn’t for me to say, but I know I’m a better person because of him. Admittedly my ditziness has nothing to do with him, and even though I’m just a fraction of a fraction of the person that he was, I hope as I get older I will become more like him.
I write this post with a slight bit of embarrassment as we are now in March but I’m only on week three! I think I misunderstood and thought this challenge was called Twelve Months of Gratitude! Never mind – I’ve promised myself that come the end of the year, I’ll have completed all fifty two weeks. In fact I’m grateful to be on week three at all!
OK, this week’s topic is family which is interesting considering that I didn’t get off to a good start with mine this morning. My sister woke me up by WhatsApping me with the latest family drama – and before I’ve had a coffee that’s dangerous!
I consider myself to be a very family minded person. That’s the way I was raised. I never understood people who claimed that they were not close to their aunts and uncles or used phrases like “Oh, he’s only my cousin.” In my family we were raised to believe that there was no such distinction between immediate and extended family and distant relatives. If we shared DNA, we were family – end of!
Sadly now that I’ve reached adulthood, my circle of family has gotten smaller. This is due to people wanting to go their own way for whatever reason. I also understand that I have relatives who don’t know the meaning of ‘family loyalty’ and the ties of family are such that I cannot cut them off no matter how much I want to, so for the sake of my emotional well-being, I have been left with no choice but to keep certain relatives at two arms length – and I don’t feel guilty about it.
So the bottom line is that I have family, and I have people I just happen to be related to.
So far you’re probably thinking that where my family are concerned, I don’t have a lot to be grateful for. Not at all! As far as I’m concerned my family consists of Mr. D. our immediate families, and a handful of extended relatives.
I’d like to make out like we’re the perfect family – like my mum has convinced herself that we are – but we’re not. I don’t mind admitting that my family are totally bonkers! There are a multitude of characters and personalities, and we all have our eccentricities and oddities, and are more than just a little on the dysfunctional side! There’s always some drama or stressful situation that we’re trying to resolve – but at least no one could ever accuse us of being dull and the in-flight entertainment is always worth watching (although we’d rather you didn’t!)
When I was growing up I always wished that we could be like the families you saw on TV. I also thought that my friends and classmates had better, more ‘together,’ families than I did. Now that I’m an adult, I realise that there’s no such thing as the perfect family. We all have our own struggles and own problems that we’re trying to overcome. And past experience has taught me that its often the families who claim to be the most perfect who often have the most issues.
Coming from a seemingly ordinary, perfect family is no guarantee, as I’ve learned, that you’ll turn out ‘right’. Growing up was hard and I used to blame many of my problems on the fact that I didn’t come from a ‘normal’ family. But I now feel that coming from such a family has given me a resilience that I may not have had. I feel like I can handle anything and I’ve learned to embrace my weird family and my own weirdness. As my dad once said ” Who wants to be normal?”
In recent years my immediate family and I have had a lot of issues which meant that we weren’t as close as we should have been. It was a very sad period of our lives but I’m glad that even though certain issues are not fully resolved, we are all back in each others lives and our bond has grown stronger and there’s definitely more than enough unconditional love here. We don’t take anything for granted any more and we all know that when push comes to shove, we are always there for each other.
And there’s other things I’m thankful for when it comes to family. I’m thrilled there there are many different nationalities here and different languages spoken. We’re like a mini UN! Some people think it’s a little ‘confusing’ but it’s not. We have learned so much from each other and we really wouldn’t have it any other way. Not to mention there’s always something for everyone when it’s potluck at family gatherings!
I also love the big pool of talent that exists in our family as we all have different interests, skills and areas of expertise. There are creatives, techies, sports enthusiasts, business brains, problem solvers, culinary geniuses, fashionistas… We all bring something different to the table.
My family have made me who I am, so for all their craziness and zaniness, I have to be grateful that God put me in with this nutty bunch. There’s tons more fabulous stuff I could say about why I’m so grateful for my family but I’ll just end by saying that the greatest blessing to be bestowed on our family is definitely the next generation – our gorgeous nieces and nephews. Not only are they a constant joy to be around – even when they’ve tired you out – but they’ve played a major part in healing our family and bringing people together. We may never be a TV family – unless you’re thinking of The Adams Family – but it’s thanks to those amazing kids that we can try to do ‘normal’…Sometimes!
I’m running behind on this challenge but I have to say, this is the week I’ve been looking forward to most – where I get to talk about my amazing Mr. D. And as it’s exactly seven years today since Mr. D popped the question after planning the most beautiful proposal, I’d say that this post has come at the right time.
When I met Mr. D almost ten years ago, I really did think that that was going to be the first and last time I ever saw him, despite my intention to stay in contact. We lived on different continents and our lives moved in completely different directions so it seemed unlikely that we would ever meet up again. I have never been so thankful to have been proved wrong!
Being a die-hard romantic I wanted the old-fashioned eyes-meeting-across-a-crowded-room deal. I wanted popping champagne corks, symphonies, and fireworks. What I actually got was better than that: a sh**load of vodka, a hard rock band from Oklahoma, and nachos! People who hear about how met and got together think it’s like something out of a rom-com movie and I’m so glad that we have such a unique story to tell.
Admittedly since we got married, Mr. D now feels that he doesn’t have to try so hard, so things like opening car doors, pulling out my chair in restaurants and flowers are now a thing of the past! Hmmm… And don’t think I haven’t complained about it!
But one thing that hasn’t changed about Mr. D is his good heart. He has got the kindest heart out of everyone I know. He’s extremely compassionate, forgiving, non-judgemental and he treats everyone with the respect they deserve. He’s the last person you’ll ever find bitching about anyone (though I have heard him complaining about me more than a few times!) Whereas my exes were so caught up in appearances and being the life and soul Mr. Popularity, down-to-earth Mr. D. really couldn’t care less about any of that and is just intent on being his humble self. It’s an attitude I find refreshing and is one of the reasons why it’s not just me, but why my family and friends love him him as well.
I always feel that you know when you’re with the right person because they bring out the best in you and Mr. D certainly does that for me despite us being total opposites. He’s been a very calming influence on me and the fact that we are so different means that it never gets boring and we learn tons from each other.
A few of our closest friends know that last year was a very tough year for us. It was one of the most stressful and traumatic periods we’ve ever encountered in our married life and I hope we never have to go through anything like that again. But marriage isn’t always wine and roses and as someone once said, sometimes you only know the strength of a relationship when it’s been pushed to the limit and you’re being tested. I’d like to think we’ve passed the test.
Mr. D. is absolutely my best friend, the love of my life and my most favourite person. I could spend all day, every day with him and never get bored. I’m so thankful I get to call him my husband.
And I will forever be grateful to that rock band from Oklahoma!
So this is the first week (for me!) to start this challenge and I’m very thankful to be doing it at all after very nearly missing out!
As I said in the previous post, I’ve never really participated in such challenges before. But this was one that I felt I should do…
I was brought up to believe that gratitude was everything. I knew from a young age the importance of saying thank you. I was taught to be thankful for everything that you have. As I grew older I learned to count my blessings, and realise I actually had plenty of them.
And as most of us know, gratitude is a quality which is very much in short supply these days. How many people express genuine gratitude when something nice has happened to them? How many people even bother to say those two little monosyllabic words ‘thank you’? Judging by the number of people I see sailing through a door being held open of them by someone kind enough to do so, I’d say not many!
It might be strange to say that we need to practice gratitude when it should be second nature but I guess we all don’t reflect enough on the good things that we have in our lives. And that’s what’s so good about this challenge.
2016 was not one of my better years and that’s something of an understatement. I’m so glad to have left it behind and all the awful things that came along with it. But as I sit here writing this post, I think how easy it could have been for things to have been far worse than it was. So would you believe it – I’m even thankful for the problems that I have!
So as grateful as I am for everything, I hope that by the end of the year when this challenge is over, I’ll have experienced an even deeper level of gratitude.
Best of luck to everyone who’s taking part in this challenge. May it make us ever more thankful, kinder and wiser with it.
So those who have opted to do this challenge are well under way with the 52 Weeks Of Gratitude Challenge but I’ve come into it a little bit late…
2016 was a very overwhelming year for me from start to finish. True, there was never a dull moment but that said, life was sometimes a little more overdramatic than I wanted it to be. As a result, many of the plans I had, including my blogging endeavours, got put on hold towards the end of last year.
So I log on this week, ready to kick some serious blog ass in 2017… and then I stumble across this very interesting and exciting challenge. With the exception of a couple of challenges I’ve set myself in the past, I don’t really get involved in any of the challenges that I see my fellow bloggers partaking in. But this one struck a chord with me…
So late as I am, I think I will give this one a go. Better late than never and all that. And I can’t wait to get stuck in!