50 things I am grateful for…

I nearly changed this challenge in case it seemed a little ‘fluffy’. However, as I was preparing for this, it forced me think carefully and put many things into perspective. Having reached the age of 50 and having seen how incredibly hard so many people’s lives are in terms of poor health or simply their life circumstances I do feel immensely lucky to have an abundance of things to be grateful for. I also realise that life can change in an instant so I try to make the most of it and try never to take anything for granted.

Psychology studies have shown that people who feel and express gratitude are consistently happier, are more able to deal with adversity and are less likely to suffer from depression.

And FaceBook CEO Mark Zuckerburg had a resolution in 2014 to write a thank you note every day in a bid to counteract his critical nature and express more gratitude.

So, (being very diplomatic here) in no particular order…

  1. My husband: Chris, the person who shares my life. I am grateful that he chose me as his wife and we continue to build on our companionship, experiences and joy as we travel through our combined life journeys together.
  2. My children: I am incredibly lucky to have a son and a daughter, both now in their twenties. Nothing can beat the feelings of love, awe and protection I have felt since they were both born…
  3. My parents: who, lets face it, if it were not for them, I wouldn’t be here! My parents who brought me up, taught me right from wrong, gave me a warm and happy home and guided me from the very beginning of my life. They are all (including my two step parents) very different and I have learned a lot from each of them in different ways.
  4. My brother and wider family: including all of my relations such as my lovely step daughters, parents-in-law, nephew and niece and all of the others, all of whom I enjoy spending time with and who enhance my life in one way or another.
  5. My physical health: I’ve got to the age of 50 and thankfully have good physical health which enables me to lead an active lifestyle. I am now determined to do what I can to maintain my health in order to maximise my chances of a healthy old age. Until recently I put an average effort into keeping fit and healthy but as the weight crept on and I found my cholesterol levels had increased I gave myself a sharp nudge to focus on my health as a priority.
  6. Freedom: thankful I live in a country that allows a fairly decent amount of freedom. In the UK we generally have the freedom to make choices about our lifestyles irrespective of our age, gender or background. We can wear what we want, eat what we want, work and travel when we want and don’t have too many restrictions.
  7. Holidays: In relative terms holidays have gradually become cheaper throughout the last 30 or 40 years which means many people in the Western world can enjoy several holidays and trips away each year. I am therefore grateful that I live in a time to be able to do this. Even 30 years ago, most people only had one holiday a year. And even less in previous generations.
  8. Budget airlines: the likes of EasyJet and RyanAir have enabled me to see a fair amount of Europe, something which would have been more difficult and expensive in the past.
  9. My best friend: we’ve been friends for over 35 years and she is the one person who has always been there as someone to confide in and share my highs and lows.
  10. My friends: nothing beats having warm and lovely people to share experiences and good times with. I am particularly grateful that some of our friends have navigation and outdoor skills which enables me to join them for amazing trekking adventures.
  11. My work colleagues: these guys make my work life so much happier!
  12. My job: which provides a decent income which allows me to lead a comfortable life. I’m lucky that it is so flexible which means I can work at home sometimes, vary my start and finish times and build up hours to take additional ‘flexi’ days.
  13. My annual leave allowance: I am thankful I have 32 days of annual leave each year which enables me to take several annual trips away.
  14. My home: working in London, I constantly see homeless people sleeping rough on the streets. This always makes me feel grateful that I have a home to go to. We live in an apartment so it isn’t huge but its warm, comfortable and we have a roof over our heads.
  15. Hot water: and a lovely hot shower each morning.
  16. Clean water: to have taps with clean running water is a luxury compared with many countries around the world.
  17. Central heating: as a teenager living in a 400 year old cottage, I remember waking up with ice inside my windows in the winter! I don’t have this in my warm cozy flat. Again, central heating is a relatively modern luxury which wasn’t available for past generations.
  18. Dishwasher: I always appreciate not having to wash up the dishes… a) because I find washing dishes is a boring chore and b) because I have ezcema and the washing liquid makes my hands sore and itchy…
  19. Washing machine: I also appreciate not having to hand wash clothes!
  20. My comfortable bed: having slept in a range of uncomfortable beds while travelling the world in 2016, I am always grateful I have a warm and comfortable bed to sleep in. We brought a new bed last year and paid a bit extra for Egyptian cotton covers and a soft comfy mattress cover.
  21. An abundance of fresh food: always at our fingertips.
  22. My laptop: one relatively small device which can do so much: store photos, produce documents, send and receive emails, use of Google to research and plan trips and for the vast amount of knowledge available at your fingertips and countless other tasks. Sad, but I love my laptop!
  23. Fast Internet access: essential in this day and age. Surprisingly one of the worst places for Internet access during our 2016 travels was Australia!
  24. Books: as well as something to relax with at the end of the day, books provide a massive source of inspiration and knowledge.
  25. Music: can be incredibly uplifting although this depends on the type of music you listen to! This is why I prefer upbeat music.
  26. Nature: beautiful sunsets, sunrises, flowers, forests, animals, trees, beaches, hills, oceans…
  27. Red wine: one of life’s little pleasures!
  28. Dark chocolate: another little pleasure… nice dark chocolate straight from the fridge
  29. Coffee: necessary throughout the day and particularly first thing in the morning… I’m grateful for that little quiet time when there’s just me, coffee and my laptop… personal laptop that is… not the ‘w’ one…
  30. My car: I’m using it much less for local journeys particularly now that I have a 1050 mile walking challenge to meet this year, but having a car gives me the freedom to more or less go where I want, when I want.
  31. Lack of stress: something I have learned much better to deal with as I’ve got older.  Its important to rise above minor stresses and irritants and to stop wasting time and energy getting stressed over them.
  32. Lack of debt: only a recent thing… I’ve relied on credit cards far too much throughout most of my adult life… now the feeling is good that the only debt I have is my mortgage.
  33. Meals with family and friends: priceless! I love spending meal times with these special people 🙂
  34. My drive and determination: this helped me to push through and achieve my academic and career aspirations. It also helped to ensure we achieved our year long 2016 career break.
  35. My sense of adventure: just makes life more interesting…
  36. My positive attitude: life is to be enjoyed and not endured and having a positive attitude helps me to swiftly get through tough times.
  37. My mental health: thankfully I think my positive attitude helps to maintain good mental health. I’ve never suffered from depression or anxiety or any other mental health condition. I hope this continues!
  38. My open mind: while I have listed many modern day conveniences I am flexible and desire a simple life. I would be as happy with the adventure you experience while camping as with the luxury of staying in a 5 star hotel. My open mind enables me to try new things, new foods and new experiences with enthusiasm.
  39. My sense of humour: OK, so I’m not the wittiest person around but I believe its important not to take life too seriously and to see the funny side of things where possible.
  40. Knowing when to let go: essential… nobody’s perfect and you need to drop things that start to impact on your own wellbeing and happiness. I try to let go of the following: perfection (its too stressful and being perfect mostly doesn’t matter anyway); baggage (sometimes difficult but if you don’t let go, it drags you down); worrying (doesn’t change the outcome); other peoples opinions (OK to listen but always best to do your own thing).
  41. My minimalist values: maybe having an open mind has helped me to value experiences over things. Rather than spending money on material things including cars, houses, designer clothes and suchlike, I value living my life to the full with weekends spent walking in the countryside, weekends visiting a new place in Europe and holidays at every opportunity.
  42. Beaches and the sea: I don’t enjoy laying by the beach on a sun bed but I do love beaches and the sea. That is  snorkelling, swimming, walking along the beach, watching the waves crashing and soaking up the beach atmosphere.
  43. Mountains: I am grateful that I’ve been able to climb a few hills and mountains and experience the sense of achievement and also the solitude this brings. Not everyone is able to do this and I’m keen to continue climbing hills and mountains while I am can. The feeling of standing at the top of a mountain and being awarded with incredible views is exhilarating.
  44. Trekking: again, trekking around the countryside and particularly in scenic places such as hills and mountains in national parks or along the coast and the feeling of freedom you experience.
  45. Restaurant choices: we are lucky to have a vast number of restaurant choices which enable us to sample fantastic food from every corner of the globe. This wasn’t something as common 50 years ago.
  46. Laser eye treatment: brilliant! I had laser eye treatment when I was 40 years old so have spent the last 10 years being free from glasses or contact lenses.
  47. Laser hair treatment: oh yes… permanently getting rid of pesky unwanted body hair about 4 or 5 years ago was awesome. It was great that during our 2016 travels I had the freedom of not having to shave my legs or carry a lady shave around.
  48. Improved ezcema: I’ve suffered with ezcema since I was a baby and have had times when it has been so bad it has affected my entire body. Sore, inflammed and incredibly itchy skin… thankfully it seems to have improved as I’ve got older and got better at managing it. It hasn’t gone and it’s left its mark with scars and damaged skin but it’s under control at last!
  49. My safety: in the UK we enjoy relative safety. Sadly there has been a number of terrorist incidents within the last few years but in reality, the chances of one getting involved is quite minimal. Compared with many countries and within reason and with normal precautions you are safe to go about your daily life without fear of being mugged or murdered.
  50. My life: and hopefully many more years to come! You never know what life has in store for you and I am firmly committed to making the most of the journey through my life…