My dental hygienist.
This is not a product placement disguised as gratitude. This is my genuine, heartfelt gratitude for a woman I see every six months who I have complete trust in, and who makes an otherwise unpleasant experience as humane and awesome as possible. Yes, yes, my dentist is also great. Absolutely. But making a teeth cleaning a pleasant experience is a gift not many hygienists possess. It's a combo of demeanor, the exact right amount of cheerful small talk which needs to cease as soon as you need to stick your hand in my mouth, gentleness combined with precision, and the offer of headphones if I want them. I usually want them, enjoying the out of body experience in lieu of paying attention to which tooth we are on with the scraper, but this last visit I went without because I felt so zen in the chair, which was entirely my hygienist's doing.
The 31BX bus.
My morning commute is as delightful as public transportation in San Francisco gets. I like to walk to the beginning of the line so I get my first choice in seats (window, forward-facing). The walk also wakes me up just a bit. Once on the bus I enjoy the luxury of going wherever my brain wants to while I'm shuttled to downtown: book, podcast, meditate, stare out the window? There is an unwritten rule on the morning express bus that no one will take a call. Sometimes it is broken. When it is, the rest of the bus gives that person dirty looks and can't avoid eavesdropping because the conversation so thoroughly interrupts what would otherwise be silence. In my 4 years of riding it I have yet to incur a dirty look.
Warm cats on a cold day.
My two tuxedo fuzzballs make me all manner of grateful all year round. Triply so when the weather turns extra cold and I can snuggle under a fleece-cat-combo. My fuzzy furnaces are way more effective than central heating in turning a frigid day into a grand excuse to hang out on the couch.
Podcasts that have genuinely added value to my life.
Auditory inspiration has become even more welcome in these last couple years. It's a relief to not use my eyes after a day in front of a computer, book, pen and paper. My peepers love the break and I ingest the information in a different way than words on a screen or page. I did some trail running training over the summer which entailed a fair bit of time for podcast listening. I like podcasts that make me learn and/or inspire me. The podcasts that have enriched my life this year are: On Being with Krista Tippet, Trail Talk by Rock Creek Runner, Write Now with Sarah Werner and Death, Sex & Money. Other notables are Midlife Mixtape, Girl in Space, AnthroPod, and Make Me Smart.
Reading fantastic books has been one of my main coping mechanisms this year. The fact that a book takes years to write and that the relevance and resonance can last decades to come gives me a very deep sort of reassurance that counteracts the tweet-by-tweet hysteria I would otherwise feel. And I've read some delicious ones this year: The Heart, by Maylis de Kerangal (follows a young man's heart from it's last moments as his through all the lives it touches through donation...without ever being sappy).
my grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry, by Frederik Backman (imagination galore). Anything is Possible by Elizabeth Strout. Seawomen of Iceland by Margaret Willson (a freaking fascinating read...there have always been seawomen in Iceland even if Iceland hasn't always recognized them. Also, I'm totally not tough enough to be a seawoman).
The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond (what a fun read this is!!!! A newly married couple accidentally joins a creepy marriage cult).
You Can't Make This Stuff Up, by Lee Gutkind (I'm trying to little by little extend my non-fiction skills).
We Were Witches, by Ariel Gore (fictionalized memoir...that category would normally make me gag, but this was so spectacularly creative and a great example of making art of your life).
And even some parts of the The Sixth Extinction by Elizabeth Kolbert managed to inspire while also terrify with FACTS. Also Atul Gawande's Being Mortal (cried every other page; not the best read for the bus).
I am grateful for a myriad of other things: big things (family, including this year's introduction of a niece!), necessary things (friends: holy cow, what would I do without you?), everyday things (coffee, you've stood by me for decades), tiny things (the way even only a few minutes of meditation resets my entire day), and more. I'm grateful for the exercise of gratitude to remind me to remember all the many wonderful realities in my life.