10 Unconventional Things I'm Grateful For

10 Unconventional Things I'm Grateful For

Sometimes it's important to think outside of the box when appreciating the things we're grateful for.

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When asked "What are you most grateful for?" so many things immediately come to mind: my family, friends, dogs, health, my amazing education. While these things are extremely important to me, they are also very typical answers to this question. To challenge myself, I took an extra 30 minutes to think: what are 10 unconventional things that I'm grateful for? (Or in other words, things that I don't think about typically, but am nevertheless grateful for.)

Here is what I came up with:

1. Being born as a human.

We don't really think about this every day, as it's one of the things we truly take the most for granted. It's also the one thing that everyone has in common, among all of the differences we harbor. I'm not sure how "life" works, but imagine just through an unlucky roll of the dice, I was born as a mosquito. What a sad existence that would be.

2. The power of sight.

I (realistically) can't imagine what it would be like to be blind. All I know is how grateful I am to be able to see the beautiful world I live in; I wouldn't trade it for anything.

3. Trees.

Without trees, we'd all be dead. Trees supply so much for our species: oxygen, wood, paper, shade, and beauty. Sometimes we need to sit back and realize this before we litter or waste natural resources.

4. Long hugs.

Hugs are so nice. But when they're long and meaningful, that just hits home.

5. Being born in an MDC (more developed country).

We don't choose where we're born or who we're born as. I just happened to be born in the United States as a half Japanese, half Taiwanese girl. While the US may be a bit of a clown-fest at the moment, I'm so grateful to have been born in a country where the majority of people have access to clean water, transportation, and job opportunities. It's important to recognize this privilege that many of us were just given by chance when we were born.

6. Being adopted into my amazing family.

I often ask myself, what if I hadn't been adopted? If I wasn't adopted, I would've been raised by two 19-year-old college students (who weren't even together anymore). I know for sure that I would not have had all of the life experiences I'm fortunate to have been given by my adoptive parents. There is never a moment that I'm not grateful for this.

7. Laughter.

Imagine the world without laughter. I personally can't. You ever hear that phrase, that laughter is contagious? Laughter spreads happiness from one to another, and without happiness constantly circulating around and revitalizing itself, the world would be a miserable place.

8. Being cis-gender.

For those who don't know what this is, being cisgender means that you identify with the sex of which you were given at birth. I'm grateful that I'm comfortable with the body I was born in, since I know that's not the case for all people. This is also something I believe many cisgender people take for granted, as it is not something we have to face and struggle with every day as others may.

9. Gravity

Without gravity, who knows where we'd all be. Quite literally.

10. Language

Being able to communicate at the level we do is amazing. We can convey our emotions, wants, needs, and so much more through words. On top of this, we can do it in 100 different ways through different languages, dialects, and more.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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My First College Gal Pal Road Trip Was Amazing

Every girl should have one good girls trip.

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In some way or another, everybody has a list of things they want to do in their lives before it's all over. After all, we're human. There's adventure to be had in every life. One thing I have always wanted to do before I grew too old and grey was go on a road trip with my gal pals to the beach. A couple weeks ago, I achieved this memorable milestone, and it allowed me to open up to new surroundings and experiences.

On this trip, I went with two of my friends from college, Kait and Lindsey, to visit my roommate Elizabeth in Virginia Beach. This was pretty big for Lindsey and I because neither of us had been to Virginia Beach before. Thankfully Elizabeth and Kait knew their way around the city, so we never got lost on our way to and fro.

Like most vacations, my favorite parts probably took place at the beach. I'm always at utter peace stomping through mushy sand or leaning down to splash the salty water that tries to knock my short self over. We took pictures and did something us college girls rarely have time to do especially in school: Relax.

The four of us did not live up to the crazed stereotype of girl trips in movies. Although I finally got a chance to sing along to Taylor Swift in a car ride with my friends, so that's always a plus. We played "Top Golf" one day, and by some miracle, I actually won the second game by a fair amount after much humiliation in the first one. We visited some of Elizabeth's family, and I finally got to meet her giant dog Apollo (I call him 'Wolf Dog'). Everyday was another chance to ask with enthusiasm: "So what are we doing today?"

Our trip wasn't like the movies where we all cried or confessed our deepest darkest secrets. Everything the four of us shared was laughter and this calm feeling of being at home, in the chaotic peace of each other's company. We understand each other a little better due to finally seeing what we're like outside of Longwood University. After this, all I can say is that we're most definitely planning the next one!

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