Saturday, November 7, 2015

Thanks - It's Not Just For Thanksgiving

When I was a little girl, I was blessed to have a mother whose creativity extended way beyond handing me a video game counsel to play with (thank you, daddy).  My mother constantly designed projects for my brother and me to work on.  We made dream catchers, an octopus out of yarn, our own version of an American girl doll, Play-doh sculptures, and countless other crafts. 

My mother was and still is the epitome of crafty, especially when it comes to paper.  Since my mother always wanted to be a teacher (she would have made one of the most inspirational out there), she lived out her fantasy classroom through her children.  She would decide upon a theme and we would travel to the local library where we checked out stacks of related books and VHS tapes.  Not only would we read and watch videos about the subjects, but we would also work on worksheets and listen to little lessons that she put together.  From gardens to space, my mother always found ways to make the topics interesting.  Eventually, to culminate our "unit", we would turn a corner of our tiled kitchen wall into a mural illustrating our current theme.  A large colored sheet would set the background, and then using construction paper and paper cutouts that she handmade, we would craft our own interpretation of our lessons.  These projects truly were some of my most memorable childhood activities. 

I remember two separate years, both at the start of November, my mother used our kitchen wall classroom to teach us to be thankful.  One year, we (my talented mother) constructed a branching tree out of brown paper that we displayed on the wall.  
Every day until Thanksgiving, my whole family wrote our blessings on colorful leaves and pasted them all over the branches.  The other year, my mother made a cornucopia that we filled with cutout fruits and vegetables scribbled with our daily thanks, once again until Thanksgiving.   By these two Thanksgivings, we had filled the tree and the cornucopia with a bounty of blessings, proving to us how truly lucky we were and how grateful we should be.  My mother used her creative skills to teach us that our gratitude and our blessings are too great to be left for one day out of the year.  We should wake up each morning, appreciative of what we have and what we are able to do. 
No matter how difficult our lives may seem at the moment, there is always at least one thing that makes our lives more comfortable, easier, and fuller than others.  For this, we must be grateful.  Even on our worst days, we still have the ability to take a breath and experience emotion and feelings, both of which are opportunities that others have lost or are losing. 

If you have children or a classroom or even want a bit of childhood fun, I encourage you to make a thank-filled tree or cornucopia of your own.  Otherwise, writing a list of all your blessings will be enough to remind you to be thankful not only on Thanksgiving.  On those sad days or bad days, you can turn to your list.  Counting all of your blessings will give you more than one reason to be happy. 

So I start my own thankful list with a "thank you" to my mother for fostering creativity and appreciation.  Without you, my mind would never rejoice in its own whimsical world. 

20 Things I'm Thankful For 
From My Never-ending List of Blessings
  1. My momma, daddy, brother, my puppy, and my grandparents
  2. The God that I believe in and all those who watch over my family and me
  3. Taking a breath and living every day that my family and I wake up to
  4. Owning a forest and cabin that my family and I can escape to and that teaches us that living simply results in the fullest memories
  5. The refreshing, invigorating scenery of a surrounding wood that opens my vision to truly seeing, filling my soul with life and inspiring me to create
  6. Being strong enough to stay true to my quirky self and not giving in to the common perception of what "needs to be" in order to be "popular" 
  7. Having the opportunity to take many family vacations (including the infamous "scenic routes" that always took us somewhere unknown in twice the amount of time the regular path would take) and experiencing a variety of shows and performances when I was younger
  8. Problems and obstacles always seeming to work out in the end and opportunities happening when they are supposed to
  9. Beautiful, serene nature and the strong, breathtaking trees that tower over us all, reminding us that there is something more entrancing and entertaining than material goods
  10. The mesmerizing hum of rain,  beating on rooftops and windowsills, lulling the earth
  11. When a cool breeze rustles the resting leaves, breaking the warm silence of the night
  12. All those who have taught me something - the list is too long to recall
  13. My neighbors next to our cabin - without them, we would have probably never tasted the delicious grilled flavor of food cooked on a fire pit nor would we have running water
  14. Growing up with fresh vegetables planted by my talented family of green-thumbed gardeners
  15. Sweet potatoes, oatmeal, plain Greek yogurt, and tomato soup...they taste really good
  16. Looking up at the starry, vast night sky in the countryside and realizing how we are all small parts of a mysterious and magical world
  17. My college professor who had the class write children's books for an assignment and later told me that I should get mine published.  No success in publishing yet, but now I have more than a handful to add to that waiting list. 
  18. J.R.R. Tolkien and his genius - without you, I may never have been granted 1,032 minutes of fantastical movie bliss
  19. Never losing my childlike imagination and ability to fantasize stories
  20. Falling into the opportunity to teach a class last year that inspired me to go after my own passions and dreams.  If any of you ever see this, please don't give up on yours

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