If you've seen my Instagram/Twitter/Facebook feed, you've probably noticed that I'm participating in this fun thing called Elf 4 Health. Each day there is a different challenge regarding being healthy – nutrition, fitness, self-worth, etc. Today's challenge is to list 20 things you are grateful for, so that's what this post is about (and it works well since I never did a post on Thanksgiving). Without further ado, here are 20 things I'm grateful for. . . (in no particular order after number 7)
1 – My awesome husband Ryan. He supports me in all my crazy endeavors and is an awesome daddy to our two boys. I know I don't thank him enough for all he does, but without him, I wouldn't be where I am today. I love you, Sweetie!!
2 – My older son Robert. He's your typical super-active 9 year old and although sometimes he does things without thinking and making us upset at him, he's an awesome kid and I'm glad he gave me the title of Mommy.
3 – My younger son Thomas. This is my first time experiencing a little one during these months of being 2 (I was deployed when Robert was this age) and it's so wonderful watching him blossom! His vocabulary seems to grow every day and he never ceases to amaze me with how smart he is. Yes, he cries every time he wakes up in his crib and that's a little frustrating, but the smile he gives me when he first sees me more than makes up for it!
4 – My parents. Without the way they brought me up I would not be the person I am today. I'm thankful they raised me the way they did. I can't wait until I retire in a little less than 6 years and will be able to see them more than twice a year.
5 – My brother. Yes, we had our sibling squabbles while growing up, but now I'd consider us not only siblings, but friends. My brother is a wonderful example of giving – not only is he outstanding in his field of work, but he gives of his time and effort to his church and community. He's an awesome and fun Uncle and Godfather to both my boys.
6 – My kitty cat Callie. My pretty, fluffy, calico kitty was my first baby. I've had her since the day she was born in March 1999, before I even started my Army journey. I love how her purrs and "kisses" can soothe away any stress. And despite being 14 1/2 years old, until this past week, she randomly tears through the house like a little kitten. (She's going to the vet tomorrow to confirm/deny my suspicions of a urinary tract infection) It took her a while to warm up to Robert and now she's finally warming up to Thomas as well.
7 – My Army family. When you're in the Army, you are away from your family and don't get to go home-home very often. Those you serve with and their families become your family and you help each other out when help is needed, celebrate with each other during joyous occasion and mourn during the sad times. My Army family here at Fort Rucker is one of the best I've had in my 14 years.
8 – Music. Music has been a part of my life ever since I can remember. I grew up with my mom and aunts playing the piano, and I learned piano when I was 5 and grew up singing in the elementary school chorus and church choir when I hit middle school. I started playing the trombone in the band in 7th grade and haven't looked back. Music is soothing despite it being my job. I couldn't imagine a life without music.
9 – Running. Running is my me-time. It's my time when I don't have to be Mommy/Honey/Sergeant (not that I mind being any of those things). I can be alone with my thoughts or lack thereof. It's my time maintain my sanity, and my family can tell if I've gone too many days without running (or more recently, just working out). I love getting out on the roads in the early morning hours before the rest of my family is awake. I love training for events and the awesome feeling when I've completed my most recent race, no matter the distance! I also love the camaraderie at the races where no one is a stranger after more than a few minutes.
10 – Being sidelined with a stress fracture. Yes, it may seem strange that I'm grateful for being injured, but I am. It finally got through to me that I need to do cross training and weight training in addition to my running. While injured, I discovered that I really don't mind the elliptical or the upright bike. I rediscovered my love for the rowing machine and I tried the Jacob's Ladder for the first time! And of course, I was able to swim without thinking to myself that I really should be running instead. Cross training will definitely be a permanent part of my training from now on (I still need to work on the weight training).
11 – Baking. I love baking. For the most part, it's calming to hear the whir of the mixer and it's definitely calming smelling the yumminess from the oven. I love the look on Robert's face when he gets the first taste of whatever just came out of the oven and all the Mmmmms while everyone is eating my most recent baked good.
12 – Lindsay and Elle. They're the ones who started #elf4health so without them, I wouldn't be doing this super fun challenge and wracking my brain to make a list of 20 things I'm grateful for.
13 – My Church Family. We attend Triumphant Cross Lutheran Church and absolutely love it!! Everyone is super friendly and welcoming, and they love kids. If Thomas starts fussing during the service, no one says a thing. If Thomas goes up and walks around the altar after church, no one says a thing. If I'm playing trombone for special music and Thomas decides he needs to walk up and get a hug from Mommy, no one says a thing. Our church family welcomes everyone – it doesn't matter your color, nationality, age, or sexual orientation, all are welcome with open arms. And that's the way a church should be!
14 – My health. For the most part, I'm a pretty healthy person. Yes, I suffer from allergies and they sometimes get out of control and I end up with a sinus infection, but other than that, I'm rarely sick.
15 – Football and NASCAR. Those are the 2 main sports my family watches and gives us something to watch just about every weekend throughout the year!
16 – Twitter/Facebook/Instagram/DailyMile (aka Social Media). Without these outlets, I wouldn't be able to share my life with my family back home in Michigan (and a ton of other people around the world) as easily. I wouldn't have met so many awesome runners/athletes/moms and learned so much from them. I probably wouldn't be the runner I am today if it were not for Twitter and DailyMile and all the encouragement I get from my friends on both. So maybe I overshare sometimes, but if even 1 person enjoys reading about all my activities and looking at all my pictures (Hi Mom!), then it's worth it.
17 – Chocolate. It's chocolate. I don't think I need to say anything further.
18 – Good water. I think we might take our water for granted here in the US, myself included. But when you've been to countries where the water isn't safe to drink, having safe drinking water is definitely something to be grateful for.
19 – My cell phone. (Ok, so I'm really stretching here. .. ) I love that I can call people, text people, share pictures, look up information, and play games all on one small device.
20 – The end. I'm grateful that this is the end. It was hard for me to think of even 19 things I am grateful for – and this post took me all day to write. I started it at 7:30 this morning when I got up and it's now 9:20 when I'm posting it. Whew.