Ten.

I have ten drafts of blog posts waiting to be published. Ten. They range from posts about happiness, to immeasurable sadness, and essentially everywhere in between. I never published any of them (at least not yet), because I didn't feel they served a purpose. I'm not proud of a lot of them, some were a desperate attempt to get over an insane bout of writer's block, and to be perfectly honest, six months ago (heck, even sometimes still), I don't always feel like my writing is "worthy" of being posted -- as if there's some imaginary scale in which we gauge our writing abilities. (I've grown up a lot in six months, believe it or not... that's the topic of one of the posts very patiently waiting to be published)...

...Carrying on...

There's a lot of terrifying things that have recently happened in our world, in our country for that matter. It scares me. I'm terrified a lot. I'm heartbroken for those who have lost loved ones -- their parents, their siblings, their aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, what have you. I'm heartbroken for those who have had something taken from them -- their dignity, pride, homes, safety. I'm heartbroken for those who have been swallowed in the deepest pool of grief, pain, sadness, loss, anger, and hate. I'm heartbroken that each day when we turn on the news, another devastating event has occurred, another life lost, another senseless act of hate, another person who no longer gets to walk this Earth. I'm really, really heartbroken.

A couple of weeks ago, I was lying in my incredibly comfortable bed in my incredibly comfortable pajamas beneath my incredibly comfortable sheets, all of which were provided by my parents, thinking, "who wants to live in a world like this? A world filled with this much hate, this much sadness?" And then it occurred to me. I don't live in a world like that. My world, or my life, is brilliant. My life is filled with joy and happiness each and every day. I have the ability to breathe, walk, talk, wear whatever clothes I want, drive my car, drive at all, call my Mom on my phone, have a phone, have A MOM, see pictures of my family and friends happily living on their Facebook's, see my family and friends in person, have a home, have safety, have freedom, have food, have clothing, have shelter, have water, have clean air to breathe. The list goes on and on. There are not enough blog posts in the world to explain how privileged I am -- and I know that. I'm the luckiest damn girl under the sun. My family members and friends aren't being killed for the color of their skin, mutilated because of their gender, terrorized for their sexual orientation. My family members and friends have not been the subject of national news for losing their life in a horrific way. For that, yes, I am thankful. I don't know if that makes me lucky, ignorant for living a seemingly "bubble" existence, or what. But I'm thankful. Very, very thankful.

The other day, I was listening to Sheryl Sandberg's UC Berkeley Commencement Speech from this past May. (If you haven't listened to her speech, you can find it here -- I highly suggest it). She talks about the sudden and tragic loss of her husband Dave, and that in his death, she learned about gratitude. This resonated with me -- not because I have experienced the tragic loss of my husband ("you don't have a husband!" Bridesmaids fans, I see you), but because I understand being privileged. I understand privilege because I am a living, breathing picture of the word. You saw my list. I have a family who loves me and whom I love deeply, I have friends who care for me, I have people who support and believe in me, I have a boyfriend who is the love of my life. I, quite literally, have it all. It doesn't take a tragic loss in our own lives to be grateful. The deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile do not directly affect me. That sounds awful, I know, but I don't mean it how it sounds (more on this in a second). I just mean, I am not their daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins, aunts, uncles, or even friends. I did not know these men. But I cannot imagine the pain if a family member or friend of mine were treated the way they were. I cannot begin to fathom a loss like that. I cannot begin to fathom losing the love of my life, my mother, father, sisters, brothers, friends. It will all come in time, of this I am sure. Everyone dies, that's a no brainer. But not everyone dies the way these men did.

When I say their deaths do not directly affect me, I mean that I didn't know them. I was not close to them, nor did I have a relationship with them. I try not to use the word "should" very often, but I'll make a definite exception for this post. Their deaths should (SHOULD) affect us all. Their deaths should make us all want to do something. I know not all of us in this world will and not all of us will want to. Heck, tomorrow, most of us will just carry on with our business of living. If we continue to sit back after acts of hate are committed (and no, I'm not just talking about this one -- specifically see Brock Turner rape case, Orlando nightclub shooting, suicide bombings all across the globe, etc.) we are actively becoming part of the problem. If you're reading this, you probably have a voice in one way or another. Let's use them.

In Sandberg's speech, she emphasizes the importance of practicing gratitude. I try my best to be thankful for everything I have in my life, but hey, sometimes when you're running late to work and you don't have time to eat then your coffee gets spilled on your shirt that you have to wear for the next 6 hours and your hair is frizzy and then your flight's delayed and you sprint to the connecting flight with a 30 pound backpack to make it in time for your grandma's funeral the next day all to discover your luggage got lost so you have nothing to wear to said funeral, it can be tough to be thankful, amiright? (By the way, that was an actual scenario that happened a few weeks ago...) Anywho, Sandberg talks a great deal about how practicing gratitude changed her life. In the time of her husband's unexpected death, she found gratitude in loss. How ironic. In the times of the biggest losses, we often think, "why?" but truly searching for the good, digging deep to discover the gratitude inside of ourselves, that's where true peace lies. And I don't know about you, but the only thing I want from life is peace. Peace in our world, peace of mind, etc. etc.

My grandmother passed away a few weeks ago. She was 93-years-old. She was not murdered, nor did she suffer long. For the most part, my grandma was doing all right up until about a month before she passed. Her death was expected (see age 93), but I still asked myself "why?" I had a few other things going on a few weeks ago that were particularly stressful -- I was in the process of moving, my grandma was put into hospice care, I felt I had done poorly in my job, I had a pageant to prepare for, and I was briggity-broke (update: still broke). I was annoyed with life. I threw myself a big fat pity party which, obviously, if you've been a magical thrower of outrageous parties, made me feel much worse. Kind of like eating Taco Bell after a night out -- yeah, that bad. I listened to Sandberg's speech again, and I thought to myself, "my grandma could've had a horrible cancer for years and died a slow, painful death." Instead, she went peacefully and was surrounded by family. I could have been fired. Instead, my boss believed I could do better, and helped me out. I could have not had my boyfriend or friends to help me move. Instead, they all pitched in and got the job done just before I had to fly home. My luggage got lost and I almost missed my connecting flight. But I made my flight home for grandma's funeral and I had a black dress lying around at home I had no idea about. There is always a bright side. There are always, always ten things we can be thankful for. Every. Single. Day. Especially (especially) if you live a privileged existence, which, chances are if you're reading this in any capacity (you have internet, a smartphone, a computer, etc., etc.), it's likely you do -- and maybe you don't even know it yet.

Ten. The number of times to be grateful, starting today.
Twenty. The number of times to be grateful tomorrow.
Thirty. The number of times to be grateful the day after that.

Get the idea? Me too.





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