10. Living Near DC

Smithsonian at Sunset

Yesterday, on a whim, I took the metro in to Washington, DC, and browsed the National Gallery of Art for a couple hours.

It was a symbolic thing to do for me.  Partly, it came from having read Madame Martine – a book where a lady lives in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower, but never visits it because that’s for tourists.  Then a little dog she adopts runs away onto the elevator of the Eiffel Tower — and she discovers what she’s missing.

I only go into DC when I have visitors from out of town.  But why is that?

Also, when I lived in Germany, I did lots of Castling — visiting castles.  However, I only did it at the times when my husband was home to do it with me.  He traveled often with his job in the Air Force Band, so I figured if he was away, that gave me a break from Castling.  That worked out well — but it got me in the habit of not going to do cool things when I’m by myself.

Now I’m divorced; my kids are adults; I’m on my own and so far unsuccessful at finding a man to share my life with.

However, I got to thinking that I don’t want to wait to do things I think would be fun until I have a man in my life.  And, just maybe, that man wouldn’t think that browsing the National Gallery of Art was a super cool thing to do anyway!  This is my chance!

What’s more, the Smithsonian is free — It’s a national treasure, and it’s not that far away.

I want to be the kind of person who does cool things.

So I am happy with myself that yesterday I went to the National Gallery of Art!

9. Time with a Friend

Today my friend-since-third-grade Darlene had me over for dinner, since her husband and kids are out of town.  (Okay, that was just a good excuse.)

Darlene’s part of the reason I moved to Virginia.  And I am blessed to have a friend so near who knows me so well and is such a great person.

A couple hours with Darlene, and I’m in a great mood.  There’s something about life-long friends.  🙂

8. My Gaming Group

I’m part of a group of 8 people who play Eurogames every Friday night.

Okay, everybody isn’t there every week, and tonight it was just two of us.  But most of us are there most weeks.  And I love doing it!

I never needed to find a gaming group — until my youngest son headed off to college.  Before that, I could always play at home — first with my brothers and sisters, then with my kids.

While we lived in Germany for ten years, I got super excited about Eurogames.  You can just buy fantastic games in Wal-Mart-type-stores in Germany!  One of my favorite activities before I realized I could find the translations on the Internet was practicing my German by translating game rules.

But first my husband left.  Then one by one, my sons moved out.  I didn’t have anyone to play games with.  Yes, I could have gone online.  But I already have solitaire puzzle games I play online.  The fun of board games and card games is playing with actual people.

So my co-worker invited me to a group that plays on Saturdays, and I finally got around to going.  Eventually an opening came up in the Friday night group.  I love it!  I really enjoy games and really enjoy playing them.  And it’s fun exercising my brain among smart people.  (They are mostly better than me at games, but I win just often enough to feel like I’m not deadweight.)  And, yes, it’s fun to be around men again.  (Only one of the other gamers is a woman.)  It reminds me of playing games with my brothers or my math brothers (fellow math majors in college).  Now that I work as a librarian, a field dominated by women, I don’t get that as much.

But, funny thing.  This summer, I got to play games with some of my brothers — and it reminded me of playing games with my gaming group!  So I feel like it’s an important part of my life now.

Bottom line, I’m so glad I have a regular outlet when I get to go play games with other people who enjoy it as much as I do.

7. My Family

I have more relatives than anyone I know — except people related to me.

Of course, it starts with 12 brothers and sisters, and goes from there.  My Dad was 9th of 12 siblings and my Mom was first of 6.  Her Dad was first of 10.  So I have I-don’t-know-how-many first cousins and second cousins and cousins-some-number-of-times-removed.  But there are many!  Lots of aunts and uncles, too.  And I remember two of my great-grandmothers.

Of course, the down side of being part of an enormous family is that you can feel pretty insignificant — just one of many like you.  This may be why I live on the other side of the country from most of my relatives, where people only know me.

But I have a pretty cool family!  I like them a lot.  They’re quirky and wonderful in ways that are definitely related to me.

I recently took vacation on the West Coast and got to see many, many relatives and was reminded that in this way, I am truly blessed.  In fact, my cup overflows.

6. My Job

I’m a Librarian, a Youth Services Manager — and I honestly think it’s the best job in the world!  Well, at least for me.

My job is full of meaning, and it’s fun.  What more can you ask for?

I touch lives.  I get to help kids get excited about reading.  I get to tell people about great books.  I get to help parents learn how to build early literacy skills and math skills in their kids.  I get to bring some great programs to our community.  I get to help people learn who *want* to learn.  I even help the homeless and the poor and new immigrants.  And I hear about fantastic books almost as soon as they are published.  And I get to hang out with other people who love books.  And I get to read books to small children.  And even talk about prime factorization now and then.

5. My Home

Who’d have ever thought I’d own my own home?

We never did when I was married, since we were always moving with my husband in the Air Force.

After my son graduated from high school, so I didn’t have to worry about school district, the time was right, and my Dad gave me a down payment, and I bought a lovely condo.

Earlier, I had put an offer on a condo not nearly as nice, much farther from work and church — but that I thought was the best I’d be able to come up with it.  That fell through — at exactly the time this one came open.

When I walked into this home and saw the lake view all across one wall, I was overwhelmed.  It was more than I imagined for myself — a gift from God.

The lake outside my windows motivated me to start walking, and that first year, I got my fitness back to a decent level, which my stroke had taken from me.

I regularly see a great blue heron, and there are ever-changing wildflowers by the lake.

I’ve got a balcony with flowers.  And a garage.  The condo association takes care of the yard work.

I’m surrounded by my books, games and yarn.  The things that make me happy.  And I’m close enough to church to host a small group in my home.

I can play my music and sing along.

My home is such a blessing.

4. My Friends

It seems inadequate to list my friends as a group — each individual who has touched my life is a huge blessing to me.

Having lived many different places, I have an abundance of friends in my life, collected from all over the world.

And that is a huge blessing.

I can’t adequately cover how much my friendships mean to me, so I’ll simply say that you are a blessing to me.

3. My Church

I’m restarting my list of blessings after Yahoo ate my whole blog.  But that’s okay — because I’m trying to make it things I’m thankful for in the present.

And today, I have to count my church, Gateway Community Church.

I moved to Virginia to go to this church!

Well, sort of.  My two friends-since-third-grade who lived in Herndon both attended Gateway.  I visited them at least three times over the years when I lived in Germany and attended their church and thought how much I wished there were a church like that near me.

My ex-husband and I had trouble finding a church home after we left Los Angeles.  Gateway is neither so big that you never see the same people two weeks in a row nor so small that the same people end up having to take care of the kids every week, or if one family’s gone, the whole Sunday School is thrown off.  I like that Gateway’s focused around small groups — that way you really get to know and care about people behind the Sunday morning façade.

So when my husband left me and I had to leave Germany, I got to pick where in the States I wanted to go.  I picked Virginia because my two dear friends lived there — and because I wanted to attend Gateway.  It also met at the time in a brand-new middle school, and my son was starting 7th grade, and attended that middle school.

But Gateway people themselves won me over and took me in.  They helped me move three times — starting with that first time when my household goods came from Germany (mostly taken apart and broken) — when the people in my group didn’t actually know me yet.  They won my heart by their kindness in taking care of me.

And over the years, Gateway folks got me through the actual divorce.  They stood by my side while I was trying to stand for my marriage but also helped me see clearly when it was time to actually get divorced.  They love me and care about me and make Virginia feel like home.

Oh, and I also love that Gateway doesn’t make me sign a statement of faith to join.  Today we signed up some new people, and they ask if you’ve accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior (which I have), but from there you decide if you want to join this community.

Folks at Gateway do “spur one another on to love and good deeds” and point each other to Christ.

I’m so blessed to be a part of this church community.

2. My Kids

Any list of blessings has to start with my kids.  They’ve added so much joy and love and simple delight to my life.

And I’m so proud of the people they’ve grown to be.

I’ll admit we were *scared* when we found out I was pregnant so soon after we got married.  We were awfully young to be parents.  But I’m glad Jade and Tim shared our adventures.

The world is a better place because you two exist.

And I admit things worked out well — I’d rather be single and alone than a single mom of young kids.  But even though my kids have grown up and are on their own — just knowing they are out there is a huge blessing.

1. A New Sonderblessings Blog

So, my Sonderblessings Blog started having a consistent error message suddenly, without warning.  Yahoo customer service was *not* helpful and said all I could do was take it down and start over.  So all my list of blessings was lost.

However, it could have been worse?  It could have been my main website or blog of book reviews.  Sonderblessings is a personal blog simply to remind myself to be grateful and count my blessings.

So the first blessing on my new list is that it wasn’t worse.

And it looks like I was able to keep my theme.  Though I do need to adjust the links on the side.

But gratitude is about the present, anyway, right?

So I’ll start with a thought from Cristel Nani:  A good way to live in the present is to be grateful.

When you’re grateful, you’re not worrying about the future or regretting or missing the past.  Gratitude is firmly rooted in the present.

So I’m thankful this moment that I can simply start being grateful again.