Hi All,

We all know everyday’s a day to be thankful for something, because only in the practice of gratitude can we be appreciative of our lives. It’s amazing how days grow richer/fuller/better when we take a minute to give thanks for the smallest things. You certainly don’t need me to tell you what you already know, so I’ll move on. Here’s my list this year… all small and not so small things that have created an ocean of good feeling.

1) New Friends and “Almost” Friends. When in a foreign country, if you’re not careful, it can be really easy to isolate oneself. As you guys know, it’s in my nature to periodically withdraw; however, I’ve fought the urge to stay home now that it’s cold (quiet never gets boring for me), and accept all invitations that come my way. Good decision. Some quality time has been spent with good people. Speaking of good people–hold on to your hats– when I told LD that I was running out of money this month, he bought me breakfast. In related crazy news, Bubby’s, in Yaesu, now only serves one pancake for breakfast. Yes, one. If IHOP tried that, there’d be riots all across America.

2) Luck/ Blessings. Sometimes I wonder aloud, usually to my mother, how I’ve managed to be so lucky. She tells me that I’m not lucky that I’m blessed. Having Skype, and being able to talk to my mother regularly is something to be thankful for. (I still don’t understand why she likes me so much. Every time I call her, you’d think we hadn’t recently spoken.)

Last week, I told T that I was coming down with a cold, and today she gave me a box of Vicks Medicated Drops. The thoughtfulness behind that gift is enormous.

When I complained to SL (who took me to Shizuoka months ago) that the one thing that drives me crazy about Japan is the crappy, non-fluoride toothpaste, the next day, he brought me a tube of Crest (that he’d brought back from a visit home to Canada). He placed it in my locker, and you’d have thought that I found gold. Thoughtfulness.

My student S went to Ibaraki prefecture for a few days, and returned with a box of pear-shaped treats. Thoughtfulness.

3) Diana Ross. If you guys are tired of me writing or posting about Diana Ross, I’ll tell you now, it’ll never stop. (The absolute embodiment of glamour, style, and beauty). By chance, I came upon her song catalog and found a tune I’d never heard before. Can you believe it?!  The song, Something on My Mind, penned by Ashford and Simpson, must’ve been an instant classic.

It has already been downloaded from iTunes, played at least 50,000 times while I’m in the shower/walking to work/doing just about anything… and I’m convinced my neighbors must love it too. (Joking.) It’s on repeat right now.

4) Soup. I’m not kidding, when I say that I’ve been cooking soup on a regular. All vegetables have become my best friends, even those with names and origins unknown. My latest pot contained okra, mushrooms, sprouts, chicken (of course– can soup exist without chicken?), carrots, onions, some white stuff, and kale. Ri-dic-u-lous. My new thing is to add tofu when it’s done. Please know that when you come over for dinner, you’ll be getting soup.

5) Old Friends. When I wonder to Tan and Val on Skype about how I feel lucky in all areas (great job, wonderful students, cool people around, lovely, underpriced apt, etc.), all areas except romantic love, and I feel that I must be cursed there, they listen (patiently) and give me all types of pep talks that end with “Chill,” and “Everything happens in the right time.” In all honesty, I’ve realized that I’ve focused too much energy on that aspect of my life, and it’s necessary to move out of that zone, which easily leads to “Woe is me,” and “Why me?”

Back to Ms. Ross— On YouTube, I, recently, watched several of her interviews, from the early eighties, where she openly stated that she was looking for a good man to be a part of her already complete life. Her honesty really impressed me, and I vowed that I’d be just as truthful as to my wishes and hopes. How can we get what we want if we don’t put it out there?

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBCHdrvsqEY]

6) Blog Readers. Thank you followers, new and old. I don’t know who you are, but I really appreciate that you’re reading. Please drop me a line sometime (especially you in Zaventem, Belgium).

Have a great day of gratitude!

Val