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Friday, August 27, 2010

Blessings

I was sitting on the patio one recent late summer evening, watching the sun set over the Sandia Mountains. The day had been beautiful, considerably cooler than usual. The air was still, with just a hint of autumn. A few pink-tinged clouds streaked across the sky. I could hear neighborhood dogs barking, an unknown bird squawked in the tree, and insects buzzed. The world seemed at peace. Suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I felt very blessed. Like most people, I don't give much thought to the many blessings in my life. Instead, I tend to put most of my energy into dealing with problems, challenges and difficult situations.

That evening, as I sat alone on the patio, I realized that I am blessed in so many areas of my life. Although it took a while and I didn't get the price I wanted, I nevertheless sold my house in California, despite the terrible housing market. The buyer paid cash and wanted a very quick close, which made the process easier than usual. And best of all, I sold the house before the anticipated dip in the economy.

I have no debt other than routine monthly bills. I have a pension (a blessing in itself) and investments that should provide income for a comfortable retirement. I live in a beautiful house with wonderful architectural features inside and out. From most rooms in the house, and the back yard, I have awesome views of the Sandias. I live on a 1/2-acre lot, which provides both privacy and quiet.

I live in a state that offers so many outdoor, photographic, historic and cultural opportunities it's hard to know where to start. It has the bluest sky I have ever seen. There are no significant weather or environmental risks here -- earthquakes are extremely rare, and there are no hurricanes or tornadoes, just the occasional flooding or snowstorm.

I am in excellent health; my hip and shoulder joints hurt frequently, but otherwise I am in great health. I have medical insurance, which so many do not. My daughter is happy and doing well after a couple of extremely challenging years. I also share my life with two happy, healthy rescue dogs. I was able to retire from my government job at a good point in my career and with a buyout to send me on my way, so now my time is my own. I can drive to Santa Fe or go for a bike ride and explore rural roads whenever I want to.

I have benefited from a good college education and I had two successful careers, one as the communications director for a large humane society, the second as a senior public affairs official/manager for NASA. Both contributed greatly to my success in life.

I am blessed with smaller things, too. I have walked all the streets in my small subdivision, and I have noticed that my house is one of only a couple that have fully landscaped yards. Many have yards that are nothing but dust, dirt, boulders and sagebrush. My front courtyard and back yard are beautifully landscaped. My house is situated on the lot so it provides perfect views of the mountains and maximum privacy. It has lots of windows and skylights to let in the gorgeous New Mexico light.

I love animals, and we are visited frequently by roadrunners, quail and rabbits, and I have seen coyotes on nearby roads. My daughter, who shares my love of dogs, volunteers at a local animal shelter. Although I have not yet met most of my neighbors (it has been too hot to spend time outside), people are generally friendly, and often wave when they see me walking.

There are a few things I miss about living in California (mostly my wonderful orange and peach trees and the moderate climate), but I am blessed to be living where I now live. My life is comfortable, and I believe I am where I am meant to be.

It's good to spend a bit of time thinking about one's blessings. The past two years were extremely stressful, both physically and emotionally, but again, I was blessed to have come through them a stronger, better person than I was.

I know a therapist who frequently talks of being 'mindful' of our emotions and attitudes. I am happy to be 'mindful' of the many blessings in my life.