26. To be honest, that number alarms me a little bit (and not just because of health insurance implications). It’s closer to 30 than 20. It sounds more put together, more sure than 25. But instead of certainty, I’m finding that I have more questions as each birthday passes.
The last few months have been a hard season, ridden with unexpected pushback, financial stress, and frustrated prayers. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve let the weight get to me. I’ve let the struggle win. And for a typically sunshine-y person, that sorrow has felt like foreign territory. But in the last week, as I approached my 26th birthday, I realized a huge part of the problem: a lack of gratitude.
I have often told you that gratitude is the best weapon for sadness and frustration, and it appears that it’s time to take my own advice. I’m looking at this first day of a new year as my refresh button (though there have been many in 2019). And I’m kicking off that refresh with this list: 26 things I am grateful for.
I could take the time to curate this list and order it perfectly and poetically, but instead, I’m going to write these down in the order I think of them, and then I’m going to enjoy a cookie from down the street and the sunny, 80 degree day in Nashville. Ready? Here we go.
My family, for their constant encouragement and support and for all the times they’ve answered the phone only to be asked about taxes, spice combinations, and credit card payments.
My friends, both near and far, who love me and challenge me to grow.
My boyfriend, the most unexpected surprise and brightest light in my life right now. Thank you for laughing with me and also letting me irrationally cry when a beautiful song comes on.
Sunshine on my usually rainy birthday (April showers do bring May flowers, folks).
Being done with my album recording (fingers crossed that we are *actually* done). I cannot wait to share this beautiful project with all of you.
Mercy and forgiveness, especially when I am unworthy of them.
Roommates who let me thrown birthday parties and leave the decorations up for, um, quite awhile.
Living in a city I love, a city that has given me the freedom to pursue my dreams.
The gift of music. The career is challenging, but the joy is life-giving.
Social media. Yes, it can be distracting, but I love that it allows me to keep up with what my friends are doing. And I don’t mind all the birthday love!
Video chat. Long distance relationships are made so much easier with FaceTime, and I love getting to see my friends’ faces even when they live far away.
GIFs. They just make me laugh! And I love to laugh.
Religious freedom. I take this for granted, but during this beautiful Holy Week, I am reminded of how beautiful it is that I can practice my faith freely.
Amazon Prime. Thank you for the re-runs of Downton Abbey and the deodorant I ran out of this week. You’re the best.
Jazzercise, for combining a dance party, a great workout, and an amazing community. I will be a Jazzerciser for life.
Literacy. I love to read, and I love writing in my journal. And so many people around the world aren’t able to do those things.
Snail mail. I LOVE getting letters in the mail! Words of affirmation are my love language, and it’s so nice to receive little notes in the mail.
Artist friends, who understand the weight of this vocation and who inspire me with their dedication to their craft.
My music teachers, for constantly encouraging, challenging, and guiding me. I hope to make you proud.
Flower bouquets, for the beauty they add to any room and the reminder of the person who gave them to me.
Bright colors, for always making me feel my best and adding positivity to the hardest days.
Running water, something I always take for granted but am privileged to have every day.
Generous people, who show me what true self-gift looks like.
Parmesan cheese, for helping me increase (and enjoy) vegetable consumption. You are the real MVP.
The stage, for feeling like home and being the place I feel most myself.
The gift of life. Lately, it’s been more frustrating than satisfying, but it’s still a precious gift that deserves gratitude. I stand here, 26 years of life behind me, ready to see what the next 26 have in store. AMDG.