“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

That’s a good motto to try to live by because gratitude needs practice to become a habit and once it becomes habitual it changes your disposition. A virtuous feedback loop. *smile*

Some things I give thanks for:

My parents. Because we have a lifelong history with our parents it is often difficult to break out of habitual responses to them. No one can spark my anger faster than my mother. That’s all the more reason to take the time and realize how grateful I am that at the age of 51 I still have both my parents and have a closer relationship to them than most people my age. They have given me so much throughout my life, both materially and emotionally. I am exceedingly lucky to have such loving, caring and supportive parents as them.

My friends. I am again lucky to have so many dedicated and supportive friends. There are those who have abandoned me when I made bad choices but those who have stuck with me have shown true friendship. Most people in prison count themselves lucky if their family comes to visit them but I have a list of friends who come to see me too: Colin, Roz, Gary, KK, Jane, Jeri, Pat & Bill, Vithaya came from CA, Humberto came all the way from Switzerland, and Justin (though he’s technically family *chuckle*).

My boyfriend/fiance. I have finally found someone with whom I can actually envision spending the rest of my life. McK is sweet, smart, and sexy and he loves me too. As in any relationship, there are trials and tribulations but he’s shown his dedication to me by sticking with me after my sentencing and coming to visit even more frequently than my parents. I am lucky to have found someone like him who loves me and whom I love in return. No one has ever meant enough to me to want to start a family with them but he means that much to me. I want to make him happy.

My extended family. My cousin, Justin, even came to visit me while I was in D&E and since he moved to AZ we keep in touch via email. My aunt Pat and uncle Jim email me and we chat on the phone. To know that at least some of my family members are still willing to keep in touch shows that they love me.

My cellie and friends in here. I am very lucky to have a quiet and considerate cellie. We get along great and our routines work well together. I can only hope to get a cellie half as compatible when I move back to Lincoln to LCC. I also am lucky to have made friends in here. There are some that would probably even defend me if I were threatened with violence. But that is unlikely to ever happy as even those whom I wouldn’t call friends at least respect me. For instance, I always have a salt and pepper shakers at meals and people will come up and very politely ask if they can use them. No one in the whole gallery is ever rude or disrespectful to me. I’m grateful for that.

It is worth noting that the first things I am grateful for are all relationships. The most important things in our lives are the people around us. However, I am also grateful for non-people things like:

My health. I am 51, suffer from chronic lower back problems, mild gluten intolerance and tinnitus but those are all minor inconveniences. Overall I am in good shape for a 51 year old. When they took my blood pressure a couple of months ago it was healthy for a 30 year old. I realize that this is the only body I get for the rest of my life (until the singularity where we can be scanned and uploaded to android bodies. *wink*) so I try to take care of it with an hour of walking each day, 1.75 hrs of yoga every day and taiji a couple of times a week. One of the benefits of being incarcerated is you actually have time to do those exercises you always said you’d do. LOL!

My mind. I believe my focus and concentration has improved with age, or maybe with the 11 years of taiji practice and 2 years of meditative yoga. I can analyze even more effectively than I used to, though I don’t think I’m as quick as I used to be. I’ll take accuracy over speed any day. I am generally calm and level-headed, though there are still some situations where my emotions get the better of me. I’m working on that, but everyone is always a work in progress. *smile*

My attitude. As the saying goes, they can imprison your body but not your mind. Some say that being in prison is a living hell but I do not allow myself to make my circumstances feel like hell. Look for the positive, for what you do have and can do as opposed to focusing on what you don’t have and can’t do, and prison won’t feel like hell. Yes, it’s restrictive, controlling, and isolating, not to mention loud, routine and potentially violent, but even in the darkest night there is some light so focus on those shining starts and all of a sudden you see beautiful constellations.

There are also material things I am grateful for:

This keyboard, as my first one started to fail but I acquired a replacement almost immediately.
The tablet that allows me to email my friends and family.
The books and magazines that keep me intellectually stimulated and informed.
The TV that I purchased with the money they paid me for the 6 month stay in the county jail overflow program.
The TV again because it doubles as my radio because NET broadcasts NPR on 12.3 if you switch the language to Spanish. WOOT!
The clothes I was able to buy, like the sweats to keep warm, thanks to the money my parents put on my account.
The beads I’ve collected (thanks again to the money my parents put on my account) that allow me to be creative and make things of beauty to share with my loved ones.
The desk lamp and drawing board that I use as a desk to write emails and letters.
The pictures that friends and family send me, to remind me of them and the outside world.
The solar watch that I bought the night before my sentencing that allows me to time my taiji and yoga and tells me when NPR is coming on.
The cell here at TSCI that is bigger than at any other prison in NE.

Those are some of the things for which I’m grateful.