Yesterday I celebrated my (mumbles her age unintelligibly under her breath) birthday! My birthday and my sobriety anniversary are forever linked together in my mind as 16 years ago I knew in my heart of hearts that my drug and alcohol addiction neared the end, but I didn’t want to get sober because don’tcha know I needed to celebrate my birthday. Looking back, it still makes me laugh because it wasn’t even a big birthday, I turned 32 (now I know you just calculated my real age in your head). At the time, I couldn’t get my noggin around having a birthday sober so I partied like it was 1999 because…well, it was 1999!
Due to this birthday/sobriety connection, I become very contemplative of the passing years, my life and how far I’ve come. In the most recent years, I’ve become overwhelmed by an undying gratitude for the life I live today so I thought I’d share some of the things I’m grateful for on this birthday. Now mind you, my life is far from perfect but it’s the little things we find gratitude in that contribute to true happiness.
First and foremost I am grateful for my sobriety because without my sobriety I know in my heart of hearts there would not be anything else on this list. I was definitely a menace to society and my downward spiral of meth and alcohol addiction could only end in one of three ways – in jail, in a psychiatric institution or in a coffin.
Second on my list of gratitudes lies my husband John. I never imagined I would find someone who unconditionally loves me and accepts me for who I am – crazy parts and all. Many people have a hard time accepting the whole not drinking thing, but not John. In fact, he didn’t even notice I didn’t drink until I brought it to his attention him after our second date. And he didn’t run away, even after I disclosed all the “dirty little secrets” of the bad things I did in my addiction. Certainly a keeper for life!
My gratitude for my family comes in a super close third on the list. They used to be #2, but they don’t have to put up with me on a daily basis so John fairly and squarely earned the number two spot. All kidding aside, I put my family through hell during my addiction. For darn sure, we hurt the ones we love most. In fact, my family didn’t really know where I was for the last months of my addiction, they didn’t know if I was dead or alive, which weighs on me still. My family loved me no matter what.
I have some of the best friends in the whole wide world and am eternally grateful to each one of them! From childhood friends, to friends in 12-step meetings to my geeky nutrition friends – they all help me out in so many ways – mostly just by listening, hanging out and letting me be me.
I get teary eyed (and feel a bit silly) when I think about how grateful I am for my three cats. I know it sounds crazy but I have a backstory for you. In my addiction, I had three cats named Molly, Max and Samantha whom I loved dearly. However, I lost them all because of my addiction and never learned what happened to any of those adorable cats. I make my living amends every day to my three extremely spoiled cats, Shamu, Rocky and Marie, and they bring me such joy.
A few years ago, my career wasn’t even on my gratitude list and now it ranks near the top! I took a giant step out of fear and into faith to follow my dreams into a career I love. I challenge each and every one of you to figure out what you’d love to do and chase your dream. You are your only limiting factor!
When I say I’m grateful for my home, I don’t mean my actual house (which I do love as well,) I mean where I live. Every day I walk around appreciating the beauty that highlights my little corner of California – the beaches, the mountains and the weather, just to name a few things. Yes, it’s not perfect as housing is jaw dropping-ly expensive, the traffic can suck your soul dry, along with the drought of the century but I love it warts and all!
This list encompasses just a few of the aspects of my life that I am most grateful for every day. I have more and more to be grateful for and each day, I take a moment, look around and realize all the joy I have in my life. Sometimes, a small thing like a dishwasher makes the list when I have cooked all day, other days, it’s the comfy car that’s there for me on my long drives home. From my husband, family, friends and cats, I find that “things” make the list much more rarely than the people do – things come and go but loved ones are forever. When I stay grateful, I find myself much happier than I could have ever imagined!
What are you grateful for today? A pretty sunset, the smell of rain, your awesome spouse? Big or small, I wanna hear them all!