Reverb 10: Appreciate

Prompt: Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it?

If you’re a follower of my blog, you know I’m no stranger to gratitude, thankfulness, and appreciation. I think it’s incredibly important for everyone to reflect on all the reasons they have to be thankful and grateful in life. From the tiniest to the most impactful, we have so much to appreciate. Yet when I first read today’s Reverb 10 prompt, I locked up — one thing? Just one? I had to stop and meditate on the prompt, which is the point of this series after all. So, I picked up a good old fashioned pen and a notepad to jot down thoughts as they came to me. I don’t believe enough people value brainstorming nearly as much as they should. Oh! That’s a good one… and I’d scribble notes hurriedly. Then finally, I had an “aha!” moment. The one thing I’ve come to appreciate the most in this past year: T.I.M.E. Really, it ties together just about every single thing — big to small — that I’m grateful for.

I’ve tracked how I spend my time with a goal of managing myself better within the confines of a 24 hour day. I watched as time seemed to fly by me at an exponential rate. I’ve also stopped to realize that my youth has begun to wane. A few gray hairs have sprouted on my head. Fine lines show that I smile with my whole face, that I think quite a bit. My oldest no longer retains any “baby” qualities — in fact, he looks entirely like a little boy. My daughter, who still felt like my baby at the start of the year, has grown quite a vocabulary and become rather adept. And that sweet baby boy who I fought so hard to give the very best start? He’s only a baby by the technicality of the term. Otherwise? He should more appropriately be considered a toddler. He strings together two to three words. He’s completely mobile — in fact, I’ll bet he’d climb down the stairs if we gave him the opportunity. Then in a week from today, Brian and I will have known each other for ten years. Ten years! An entire decade! Where is time going? Why is it going by so fast? And why do I feel like I should be doing so much more with what little time I have, relatively speaking?

I think this year has been about time and meditating on what I’d really like to be doing with mine. I’d rather do things that bring me joy. In fact, in the past few months I’ve been given the opportunity to reflect on what I’d prefer to do. I’ve had the opportunity to choose what I’d like to do and when. While of course there are constraints to just about everything, I’ve had the leisure to start my day when I’m ready. To sip tea while reading my usual morning reads. To make breakfast for my family and snuggle with the kids. I’ve had the opportunity to contemplate my career path and where I’d like to go next. I’ve been given a gift this year — the gift of more time for me to spend as I choose.

I’ve spent time doing trivial matters, such as watching TV. Earlier this year the Cooking Channel went live, followed by the premiere of the Next Food Network Star, season six. The time spent watching select programming led to some creativity in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking and baking, and I’ve enjoyed learning new ideas to incorporate into my repertoire. Additionally, I’ve had the blessing to interact with Aarti Sequera and Herb Mesa. Did you know Aarti is more than great Indian food? I recommend checking out her blog. And oh, Nadia G — serious inspiration for someone who wants to make something out of herself through this intangible thing called the World Wide Web. I don’t necessarily want to get my own TV show or become super famous, but I do want to achieve success. And I certainly don’t want to “pretend to look for work on Craigslist.” (Best. Line. EVER!)

Oh, but it doesn’t stop at foodie inspiration. No, sir. Something old was made new again, ala Dragon Ball Z Kai. Yes, that’s right. I’m one of those people. You couldn’t possibly have been oblivious to my anime-loving ways, though — As in Sailor Scorpio? As in I once wrote trite Sailor Moon fanfiction? I maintained a minimal boundary from the dreaded “mary sue,” but my goodness… I’m slightly embarrassed of myself. ๐Ÿ˜‰ However, my husband and I bonded over our love of anime — hence why I feel compelled to mention its impact on my time this year. I’ve come to realize that I don’t enjoy nearly enough anime, and that was mostly due in part to my time spent working for someone else. Of course, it’s also because I’ve found most anime is now socially irrelevant to me. High schoolers? I’m keeping my ear to the ground for a ten year high school reunion! That’s how irrelevant most anime is to me. Anyhow, I have enjoyed watching DBZ Kai, even if it’s dubbed. Even if it’s been censored. Actually, I don’t believe I’d have been okay with my eight-year-old watching it had it not been censored. The uncut version does feature rather gratuitous violence, after all.

I don’t believe enough people spend time doing things they enjoy. I certainly don’t think our society allows for us to do so, either. Most employers only give you a measly two weeks to recharge before expecting you to grind yourself into dust for another 50 years. And some employers aren’t even willing to give that much anymore. Why should they? We’re all so desperate in this job market, aren’t we? And this is why I choose to walk away from my search. They value my time only in the terms of which I spend it doing their bidding. Off the clock? They could care less if I’m being fulfilled. However, I care quite a bit about fulfilling myself. Over the past three years, I’ve found myself wishing I had more time to devote to the things that mattered, rather than the things that put a roof over our heads. Too many days had passed as though I operated on auto-pilot. I didn’t have to think — I just did. It wasn’t until I made the conscious effort to be more mindful that I realized I’d been walking past a beautiful cherry blossom tree without ever really giving it a second thought. I began to appreciate the littler things so much more. The bigger picture hasn’t always looked so bright and cheery, but I began to realize it’s what you do about it — what you see — that matters most. It’s how you spend your days. It’s with whom you spend time. We only have a finite time on this planet. Why waste that precious gift being miserable when we can aspire to so much more?

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