I am grateful.

As we head into a Canadian Thanksgiving weekend I reflect on what it is I am truly grateful for.  This year has definitely been an outrageous year for our family.  We moved to France for starters and that list of things I am normally grateful for has grown in so many ways. I want to start by saying that the secret to having it all is knowing you already do.

1- I am grateful for my friends and family.  Not all parents are great and not all friends are true, but when you have family that supports you and encourages you and friends that believe in you then life is pretty good.  I am so grateful for my beautiful daughter who has taken this amazing journey and ran with it.  Making new friends, enjoying the changes in her daily life and being so open minded about her new world.  And to my husband who is living in a foreign land and can barely speak the language but keeps trying so hard and getting better everyday and I am so happy we can do this together!

2- I am grateful to have peace in my country.  In Europe when a plane goes by someone always stops and looks up.  In Canada we take it for granted that the plane is safe and won't be dropping barrel bombs, chlorine gas and unrelenting airstrikes on us.  It's so very sad to live in a world where kids understand the sound of planes and the eminent danger each type brings... I am proud to be Canadian and grateful to be safe.

3- I am grateful for my health.  Lately I watched that movie The Human Experiment and now i'm a complete BIO crazed fool trying to do my best to avoid chemicals in my food, in my toiletries and in my every day items just to save myself and my family from threats of cancer that is way too close for comfort.  I appreciate my body for what it has given me and for how strong it is even though I put it through some torturous Friday and sometimes subsequent Saturday nights.  I am thankful that I can stand strong, walk far and keep up with the best of them.

4- I am grateful for a full belly.  I have the luxury of feeding my family quite well.  If I choose to enjoy a $20 dry-aged steak or go out for a Saturday evening dinner, I can do that without worrying about where my next meal will come from.  Living in France has increased my sensitivity to fresh, chemical free foods and I am lucky to be able to afford healthy food to feed my family.  I am lucky to have access to that food also and I thank those farmers who get up very early in the morning to pick my produce.

5- I am grateful for the roof over my head.  I sometimes catch myself complaining about how loud it is in the mornings in our apartment since we live in the city center in France.  I often think about those who are sleeping on the streets and call me nuts but I do think of Holocaust victims a great deal - held in bunkers in concentration camps - how did they sleep... missing their family, sick, dirty and some without any hope of survival.  I think I've read too many World War II books but I am always grateful at the end of the day to snuggle into my comfy, warm and safe bed at night.

6- I am grateful for my courage, strength and heart.   Since we've been on this journey, I get so many comments from people praising us for the courage to have taken such a huge step to change our lives.  I am grateful that I have what it takes to stay positive through piles of complicated foreign visa paperwork and that I can still smile when someone says "your accent.. it's foreign yes?".  It takes courage and a strong backbone to take on what we have done and I am grateful that my husband and I have had the tenacity to pull it off for our daughter.  I cannot wait to hear her perspective on this adventure when she gets older.

7-  I am grateful for my sight.  Every year I thank god for what sight I have left.  Seems strange but for someone with very poor sight, the possibility of being blinder than I already am has never left me.  I've been wearing glasses since I was two years old so my eyes are precious to me.  To miss out on the beauty that surrounds us everyday would be horrible and I am grateful that my daughter gets her sight from her dad!

8- I am grateful for time.  I'm so happy to have adapted to this new schedule of working in the evenings and having practically an entire day to do what it is I please - with the exception of housework, grocery shopping, and preparing meals of course!  With this extra free time, I've been so fortunate to volunteer with my daughter's school to accompany her class and a younger grade to the local pool for swimming lessons twice a week.  I offered to spend one on one time with an autistic boy who was suffering painfully in the group he was in.  Every time I volunteer I gain such pleasure from helping him get to a new level, and to see him smile as he gets more confident.  I felt it was important to make use of this free time this year since who knows when i'll get that opportunity again.

9- I am grateful for the small pleasures in life.  Walking freely around France and admiring the amazing architecture and culture that surrounds us amazes me every single day. Dipping my toes in the lake on a warm October day.  Mountains that are so large you can't even imagine how long they've been there.  A sky littered with stars and a night dark enough to see them.  The sounds of my daughter's little French accent as she plays with her friends!  And shockingly I really do enjoy the sounds of traffic and a bustling city - of course now I don't have to drive in it so that's the difference.

10- I m grateful for the kindness of people I have never met before.  Now more than ever I am meeting strangers and I am constantly surprised at how kind people really are.  This week I experienced a bad encounter at my gym where grown men were sort of gossiping in a corner about me and another woman nearby and it threw me off and I admit I was struck by it as it brought me back to the schoolyard.  When I reflect on it now I realize that there are kind people and mean people everywhere no matter where you live but luckily I have had more kindness in the last 9 months than I have had in years and I cherish that more than those camel-toe spandex wearing nimrods I met this week.

Of course the list can go on and on but I chose my top 10.  Happy Thanksgiving and I hope I've inspired you to think of your own list!

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.” ― Epicurus