This Year I Turn 50 — And So I’m Celebrating My Birth Month With 31 Days of Gratitude (Days 1-6)
Day One: Resilience
Today, I am most grateful for my resilience to thrive. It isn’t something I earned. It isn’t something I bought. It’s a gift that the universe gave me at birth.
Life has thrown so many twists and turns my way, which for those who know my story, it’s astounding that I have not only survived but thrived.
This birthday (the month) is going to be especially meaningful to me. I turn 50 at the end of this August and am so amazed that I’m still here and am relatively sane. You’d have to know my story to understand my absolute amazement. I am grateful. Today is day one of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About Resilience
- Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life
by Eric Greitens
- Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy
by Sheryl Sandberg
Day Two: Strength
Today, I am most grateful for the strength to remain vulnerable and authentic. I’m thankful that life has strengthened me at times when it could’ve hardened me.
I’m thankful that life has not taken away my desire to remain authentic and my ability to make myself vulnerable and take risks. Both vulnerability and authenticity require determined strength.
When life hardens us, we build permanent walls and false personas. But by doing so we aren’t able to sustain authentic connections, and we lose touch with the right parts of what makes us human.
So, I am grateful. Today is day two of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About Strength
- Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength
by Roy F. Baumeister
- Now, Discover Your Strengths
by Marcus Buckingham
Day Three: The 4 Non-Blondes
Today I am most grateful for the 4 Non-Blondes. For those of you who aren’t familiar, it’s a group who had a hit or two in the 90’s. The song that introduced me to them is “What”s Up?”
The song came out when I was 25 years old (to date, the roughest year of my life). I was struggling financially and otherwise. And even ended up homeless for a period of time… living out of my 15-year old Toyota Camry… and then at a shelter for 3 months. I had gotten out of the Air Force a couple of years before that and a series of events… well, the rest is to be told at a later date.
I am forever grateful for the 4 Non-Blondes because their song helped me express and survive my struggles. And I still know every darn word and every note. Yup! I am grateful. This is day three of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About How Music Impacts Our Lives
- Why You Love Music: From Mozart to Metallica–The Emotional Power of Beautiful Sounds
by John Powell
- Music, The Brain, And Ecstasy: How Music Captures Our Imagination
by Robert Jourdain
- The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature
by Daniel J. Levitin
Day Four: Kindness
Today I am most grateful for the kindness (altruism) of strangers. At the age of 12, I was sent to the US (the land of opportunity) to live with family members who I barely knew. At the end of my first flight experience, everything that was familiar to me had suddenly vanished. Since then, I’ve learned to appreciate the kindness of strangers.
Wherever I’ve traveled or lived, I have often ventured there as a lone wolf. But because of some of my early experiences, I have learned to love and appreciate meeting and getting to know new people.
It has repeatedly been my experience that people are generally kind to strangers. I’ve been welcomed into families more times than I can count. I’ve been taken care of and shown love in more ways than I can count.
No one owes me anything. Each act of kindness is a gift. For every person who upon meeting me chose to offer me the gift of kindness, I am grateful. This is day four of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About Kindness
- The Kindness Challenge: Thirty Days to Improve Any Relationship
by Shaunti Feldhahn
- The Kindness of Strangers: Penniless Across America
by Mike McIntyre
- Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness
by Sharon Salzberg
Day Five: A Place to Call Home
Today I am most grateful for having a bed to sleep in and a roof over my head. On day three I mentioned having been homeless at age 25. But even then there were options available to me. I just had to find them, and I was able to find them quickly once I knew they existed.
But I’ve lived in areas where some people did not have those options. And like most of you, I’ve seen documentaries about people who as a norm have very little to eat and no place to get cleaned up.
We’ve seen people who aren’t even able to find a hot meal on cold winter nights.
Most of us take for granted that our basic needs are being met. I made a commitment to not ever do that. So I’m grateful for my safe space to call home and for the pillows, I rest my head on at night. This is day five of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About Having A Place To Call Home
- Welcome Homeless: One Man’s Journey of Discovering the Meaning of Home
by Alan Graham
- Breaking Night: A Memoir of Forgiveness, Survival, and My Journey from Homeless to Harvard
by Liz Murray
- 52 Lessons From Being Homeless: Be tough or Get Trampled
by Cruze McFarlane
Day Six: My Place of Birth
Today I am most grateful for my place of birth (Jamaica). Today my small, young nation celebrates its 55th year of independence.
So much of who I am is a direct result of the formal education I received and the life lessons I learned while there. I was only 12 when I left, but the gifts it gave me were already in place.
And I was fortunate to have come along five years after independence. I came along at a time when there was incredible national optimism. My schools nurtured our belief in ourselves and our tiny nation.
“Wi likkle but wi tallawah.” A common saying in Jamaica meaning… “we’re a small nation but we’re strong-willed, we’re determined, and we refuse to be restrained by the boundaries of our little island.”
Happy Independence Day Jamaica! I am proud of you. I am proud to be from you. This is day six of my 31 days of gratitude.
Books About Immigrants
- A Nation of Immigrants
by John F. Kennedy
- 97 Orchard: An Edible History of Five Immigrant Families in One New York Tenement
by Jane Ziegelman
- Jerk from Jamaica: Barbecue Caribbean Style
by Helen Willinsky
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