The Gratitude Gallery

Thanksgiving is a controversial holiday, and the irony of celebrating it at the same time that Native Americans are being attacked for protecting their land from the Dakota Access PipelineDakota Access PipelineDakota Access Pipeline is not lost on many.

What’s not controversial, though, is that giving thanks is cathartic and can adjust your focus to a more positive mindset (and we could all use a bit more positivity about now). So, here’s my list of the things that I am thankful for (I encourage you to make your own!) :

1. Cats. They exist, and people are kind enough to upload pictures and videos of them, and I have one at home that I can pet and cuddle, and there are shelters near and far that take care of these beautiful creatures and adopt them out to loving homes.

2. The above applies to other animals as well.

3. I am currently typing this on a smartphone and will edit this on my laptop. Technology is awesome.

4. As I am typing this, I am sitting on a comfortable bed in a room nicely decorated and stuffed with books, clothes, art supplies, pictures, sea shells, gaming consoles, games, music, movies, school supplies, and so many little “comfort” items.

5. This room sits in a house that has running water, electricity, WiFi, air and heat, a roof, a bathroom to clean myself in, ample room to wander, and a kitchen stuffed with various foods.

6. Food in general, though. A lot of it is very yummy, and it is made of substances that provide energy and health to a person. Also, I can elect not to eat poultry, beef, ham, or non-seafood meats, and I still have enough options available for me to meet my nutritional needs.

7. There are people that prepare, package, and distribute this food. You guys, gals, and gentlefolk rock!

8. Speaking of people, I have many that care about me and that I can turn to for support when I need it.

9. My family is so, so, so incredible. My father has been here from beginning to end, and he has given so much of his time and energy to ensure that I can have the best life possible. Even when he wasn’t aware of specific things regarding my neurology, he made every decision that he made with my ultimate best interest in mind, and I dare say that the overwhelming majority of those decisions have been ones that have immensely bettered my quality of life. My mother is also there for me; even if we converse primarily through Facebook nowadays, she never fails to make it known how loved I am and how proud she is of me. These parents have given me the best siblings that a person could ever hope to have, siblings that have taught me so much about life and love and that supported me and have fought for my well-being and that cherish me so deeply.

My stepmother and her family have taken me in as their own, so I have the fortune of being in yet another amazing and caring family. My stepmother is one of my absolute best friends; mere words are not enough to express the gratitude I feel for this woman and everything that she has done for me. My stepsiblings consider me their siblings, and I consider them mine, and they have always been so supportive of me and so willing to jump in at a moment’s notice.

The cousins, aunts, uncles, and other familial units of all of these families are also very loving and eager to cheer me on.

10. My family isn’t just one of blood and marriage. There is my McNeese family, my classmates, my dormmates, my fellow club members, my friends, my peers, my professors (who have been absolutely amazing instructors and who have always been so supportive of my work and of my goals), all who I am incredibly blessed to spend my time with as I learn and grow in this fine institution.

11. Holy heck, this university. There were people who doubted that I would be able to survive the stressors of college, myself included, but McNeese State Unversity is just the right combination of engaging and peaceful, of diverse and tiny, and the professors are so great, the programs so well constructed, and the resources so plenty that college became doable for me.

12. The educators that came before this university have also been instrumental in me knowing what I know and me pursuing the paths that I pursue. It was through them that I learned about writing as a hobby and career, and it was through them that the foundation was laid for me to succeed in college and beyond.

13. There are friends that I have outside of this university and outside of this family that have also been foundational to the person I am today. There are some friends with whom I seldom speak anymore, but they are and will always be in my heart and my thoughts, and the compassion and beauty that they have brought to my life will remain with me forever.

14. Shout-out to the Facebook groups. All of you. I am in way too many of them, but my mind and heart have been expanded by my involvement in each of them, and I have come to know and befriend some truly amazing people through them.

15.  And then there’s my boyfriend.

I’m almost scared to write a passage about him because there is no arrangement of words that could possibly do this man justice. I have pushed him away so many times in the midst of my emotional turmoil, I have blocked him out, gone cold towards him, fallen apart in front of him, blew up his phone with mountain after mountain of raging and bitter texts, tore myself apart, literally and figuratively, while he begs me to stop, and through all of this, through all of the madness and sadness and thorns and crashing waves, he has never once, in the five-or-so years that we’ve known each other, given up on me. He has always been an eager shoulder to lean on, a pair of warm arms around me to console me, an ear to listen to, not to mention a source of entertainment, a bundle of readily available laughs and smiles, a vehicle-karaoke partner, a Pokémon training buddy, a short-story proofreader, and all around just someone there for me in so many ways. He is endlessly patient with my moods and my general dislike of physical intimacy. He can walk into a room and make everyone in it feel like a friend to him. He is always looking for the bright side and the unlikely miracles. He is my sun in the storm, my rock in the sea, my closest companion, my strength, and though I’ll never understand why someone like him has dedicated himself so fully to a mess like me, I am so, so, so incredibly grateful that he has.

I love you.

16. His family is pretty awesome, too. They are always happy to see me and are eager to have me around, even after all of the pushing-away and whatnot.

How I get the fortune of being a part of so many great families, I may never know, but I hope that I give them all even some of the happiness and love that they have given me.

17. Said boyfriend also got me addicted to Animal Crossing: New Leaf, and this game has been so much fun!

18. Even with all of the obligations of school and family, I still have the time to play video games and browse reddit and scroll through Facebook. I worry sometimes that I am not using my time as wisely as I could, but then lesiure a d taking a break is extremely important to one’s mental health, and I know that I am truly blessed to have this “down-time” available to me.

19. Part of this time includes this blog. There is WordPress, which has so many features that I can use to edit and work on my blog–for free! This online space allows me to think and to create, to share what’s on my mind with the world and to learn more as I’m doing so.

There are even people that read this blog. I wish I knew more about what you all like and dislike about these posts, what you agree with, what you disagree with, what I don’t understand at all and what, if anything, I understand completely, but I’m ultimately just happy that there are people out there who are willing to be witness to what I have to offer here.

20. The Autistic Community. A very large portion of everything that I know and appreciate about autism comes from this group of Autistics/people with autism spectrum conditions who share their stories and their lives with us and who are diligently working to understand and to help others understand and to use that understanding to suplly supports and accomodations and an overall better quality of life for Autistic people. I have learned so much about not only these people and this body of scientific, historic, cultural, and legal knowledge but about myself; I have come to better understand my sensitivities, my stimming, my cognitive quirks, my limited social energy, and still all of my potential and possibility through my engagement with this community. If it wasn’t for the Autistic Community, my self-esteem would be a lot lower than it already is, perhaps to fatal extents.

You all are also a family to me.

21. But even it did drop to those fatal depths, there are people there, too, to provide support. There is the National Alliance on Mental Illness, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255), The Trevor Project, To Write Love on Her Arms, and, of course, so many local outreach programs and emergency officials there to help pull people from the edge of suicide and steer them towards the help they need to feel that life is worth living again. There are therapists who help–some of whom have helped me immensely with my own suicidality and mental stressors–and scientists working to better understand how to help and how to treat.

22. Speaking of Trevor, there is a growing movement to accept and protect the rights of LGBT+ individuals to exist as they are, as they always have been and always will be, and there are a growing number of communities and support groups available.

23. People are speaking out more and more about their dissatisfaction with the ill treatment of their fellow human, and while this may take the form of conflict and confrontation in many cases, this shows that people feel passionate enough to speak out about what they care about, and that people care about how they and their neighbors are treated is ultimately a good sign for all of us.

24. The arts facilitate with this expression. I can, at virtually any moment, open up my Youtube App on my phone and access probably millions of songs; I can go to Google and find artwork, writing, dancing, acting, sculpting, Pinterest crafts, and so, so, so many sources of inspiration and beauty.

25. Tube socks: they are warm and pretty and often pretty easy to obtain.

26. Online shopping makes a lot of things very easy to obtain.

27. People have made chairs that rock.

28. Christmas is just about a month away. Christmas music, Christmas decorations, Christmas movies, Christmas philanthropy, Christmas gift-giving, Christmas-themed foods…I love it all! ❤

29. I could make this list a lot longer, but there are people that I love and who love me coming over to this house that I am blessed to live in to eat food that is delicious and nourishing, and I have the honor to help set up this wonder feast that will allow us to commune and share in each other’s company.

30. You. Chances are that this has been covered by one or more of the above listings, but let me say it again: I am grateful for you. I am grateful that you exist and that your existence adds to the beauty and wonder of this world (it does: whoever you are, whatever you’ve done and whatever you continue to do, you have added to this world and the people in it). I am grateful that I can share this journey of existence with you.

 Thank you for existing. 

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