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Thankful Thursday | the benefits of gratitude

red and orange marigolds

Marigolds that I grew from seed. So cheap! And so easy, even I can do it.

In an Instagram post earlier this week, I mentioned a Forbes article about the scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

Among other things, gratitude improves your mental and physical health, enhances empathy, reduces aggression, and improves your sleep.

All this for the low, low price of $0!

Pink geraniums

Gratitude is such a bargain. And maybe because it’s free, we tend to ignore it, and we look to other things to improve our health and help us sleep better.

(If someone could bottle gratitude and sell it as a supplement, they could make so much money!)

Like I often say, gratitude is not the default for most of us, so to get its benefits, we have to practice gratefulness.

baby lemons on a lemon tree

Mr. FG got me a lemon tree at Christmastime. I have not killed it yet.

Luckily, the more we practice gratitude, the easier it becomes. The practice of gratefulness actually changes your brain by strengthening the neural pathways that help you see the things that are going well in your life.

(See this University of Pennsylvania article on the neuroscience of gratitude.)

And all of that is just a long introduction to the weekly gratitude exercise we’ve been doing here. 🙂

I’ll make a list here and you can join me by making a list in the comments.

two big bunches of radishes

I am thankful:

that COVID metrics are holding steady in my area.

Mostly, things have been on an encouraging trend here, which I know is not true in most of America right now.

It’s hard not to feel nervous that we will soon join the states whose numbers are increasing, but at least for the moment, things are not a dumpster fire here. 

that Zoe’s teeth are feeling better.

She’s getting used to her braces, and she’s been able to eat more regular foods now. Whew!

that driving with Sonia is going well.

We’ve got 7 hours done already, and she can now drive to some actual places, not just in neighborhoods.

So, we’ve been running some errands in conjunction with her driving practice (like dropping books at the library).

for Lisey’s job.

She’s getting plenty of hours now, which is very good for her college savings plans.

She works at a drive-thru oil change place, which is a good situation for social distancing.

I often think it’s such a mercy that she switched from bar-backing to auto maintenance before the pandemic. It would be super difficult to get hours bar-backing right now, and exposure risk would be much worse too. 

for air conditioning.

Central air conditioning is one of my favorite things. I am so, so grateful I wasn’t born in an era that required sleeping in hot, sticky air.

wooden air conditioning vent

for cool showers.

So, so good after a summer workout.

for iced coffee. And smoothies.

iced coffee in Mason jar

Also very good after summer exercise.

for watermelon. And for my silicone watermelon cover.

silicone watermelon cover

I seriously, seriously love this silicone lid (I have the 10 inch one.)

My family would tell you that I say that pretty much every time I use it. It is so convenient for covering half a watermelon for storage in the fridge.

that we get to do Sonia’s allergy shots every 3 weeks now.

We just finished our year of every-two-weeks shots, so now we move on to once every three weeks for a year, and then once every four weeks for a year.

This is a huge improvement over the twice a week shots we started with 2.5 years ago.

that Sonia can eat butter and heavy cream.

soft stick of butter

Not gonna lie; it’s frustrating to not be able to feed her sour cream, cheese, yogurt, and milk, but boy, it sure is nice that she can handle butter and cream.

I am especially grateful about her being able eat butter because a lot of butter substitutes are not that delicious.

that Sonia is not allergic to coconut.

She is allergic to almost every nuts and seed, which means a lot of dairy alternatives are off the table. But mercifully, coconut products do not bother her.

And the coconut milk that comes in a carton works pretty well as a milk substitute in a lot of recipes.

organic coconut milk

that I have the money to pay my tax bills.

I am in a discouraging place of playing catch up because my estimated tax payments last year did not come close to covering my tax liability for my blog income. So, I had a big tax bill in April, and I now have pretty big (to me!) estimated tax payments to make.

And those, sadly, start to come due at tax filing time. A perfect storm.

I know it won’t be this way forever, though. Things will start to improve after July, and hopefully next April, this will pay off and I will not owe a bunch of money to the IRS.

For now, I can just be grateful that there is money to make these estimated tax payments.

that in-network health services are free for the rest of 2020.

We met our in-network out of pocket maximum, so anything in-network costs $0 for the next six months.

Which means the PT I am starting next week for my neck issues will be free!

What are you thankful for today?

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A Hendricks

Sunday 5th of July 2020

I’m forever thankful that being grateful is my default. Reading your blogs as well as watching YouTube videos from other wonderful creators is a constant source of help and joy. A million thank yous Kristen.

Diane C

Sunday 5th of July 2020

This ties two of your recent posts together. We have rental properties in a Desert community, about eight hours from home. There were repairs that couldn't be put off. We didn't want to outsource, because if not done/inspected correctly, they could have led to bigger, more expensive problems. Off we went, with tools, trepidation, masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. (We have our own little guest house, so we have a safe place to stay.)

The HOA is brutally strict there. I noticed that there was a lot of sand covering the rock mound "island" under the big shade tree in the front yard. Yes, that's a "violation", grrr. The usual solution is to buy more rocks and pile them on top, or pay the gardener to do it, but I didn't like either choice. I was dreading what either option was going to cost. I decided that moving the rocks, letting the sand settle, then putting the rocks back was the way to go, but I didn't want to do it [insert whiny tone here].

The roots of the same tree had lifted, and finally broken the irrigation pipes. It happened while we were there, so it was a "bonus" repair for DH. He was able to make all the necessary repairs for just the cost of materials. This saved wasted water, and doing the repair immediately meant no plants were lost.

As he was doing the repair, I reluctantly decided to test my rock theory. Once I figured out that it worked, I really got into it. The rocks look like multi-colored potatoes, so I started joking that I was making a "rock salad". I worked around the tree section by section, so grateful that at least I was in the shade. When I finished, it looked so much better, which made my heart surprisingly happy.

Best of all, it only took an hour and cost zero dollars, my favorite price. For the rest of our stay, it gave me a little thrill to see the results of my handiwork. Gratitude and not procrastinating for the win!


Monday 6th of July 2020

Oh, I know exactly what you mean about not wanting to start on a task. But then once you get started, it's really not so bad.

Good job with your rock project!


Friday 3rd of July 2020

* my health and the family health * Both hubby and I having good paying and steady jobs, with nice colleagues * Books!!!! And public library * A nice house in a quiet neighborhood, with AC * My kids having friends * plenty of food, everywhere around me * Reliable car * a good doctor, a good therapist * My king size bed! * Seeing the family again for the first time since Covid * A good bicycle to bring me to work * Etc!!!!!


Friday 3rd of July 2020

Thank you for sharing such positivity every week. Don’t know that we’ve ever needed it more.

I know you sometimes like reader questions for your posts so I’m wondering if you could share more about your allergy experience with Sonia. I get the impression this wasn’t preceded by an emergency but that the issue became evident over time. If you aren’t comfortable sharing, I understand the need for discretion and privacy.

On a more related topic, I am grateful for my back porch solitude (when needed), podcasts for my walks, friends who just fill me with joy and nice breezes on stiflingly hot days (a particular treat in the south this time of year).


Thursday 2nd of July 2020

Thank you for this post! 1. I'm grateful that I have a job that has allowed me to work from home most days since March 2. That if layoffs happen, we will be fine financially due to our frugality and saving 3. That I have found the deliciousness of fresh peppermint tea 4. My house is clean prior to the long weekend!

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