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“…I count my blessings instead of sheep…”

A changed skyline from the Brooklyn Bridge.

White Christmas is by far one of my all time favorite films (not to mention one of my most beloved traditions – watching right after Thanksgiving). Bing Crosby (if you don’t know him, Google him! Geeze!) is as American to me as apple pie and baseball. I remember watching countless “old” films featuring him with my grandmothers (thank you soooo much for that gift!). However, this song in particular has always stuck with me – I can’t recall it without hearing him sing it to me in my head. I often find myself on stressful nights doing just this – counting my blessings.

In fact, several years ago I began a gratitude journal. On nights I can sleep or days when I have the “mean reds” (thanks Hepburn!), I write down my blessings from that day. In social work we study trauma, and often find resiliency among our patients whose darkest hour seems to rob them of all their blessings. I find the study of hope, happiness, and resilience fascinating! Why do some overcome, what allows them to cope, what defenses have they built that make them so profoundly able to find strength and good where there is little to be seen? Today, my mind shifts automatically to those loved ones lost on 9/11. Their families, children, coworkers, neighbors, friends, and communities who found themselves robbed of blessings 10 years ago today. But my mind also can’t help but think of my generation. What blessings have we lost in the 10 years since?

Trauma is a strange and odd occurrence. Not only traumatic actions, but the reactions resulting from them. It is very dependent upon the unique abilities and skills innate in each individual touched by the tragedy. So what have the events on 9/11 impressed upon my generation? I argue that our lives changed that day – there was a life before and a life after. I was a freshman in college sitting in an anthropology class (of all places!) when our professor was summoned to the door. She returned crying with a look of shock. We were told of the tragedy and to return to our dorms immediately.

Me at age 18 in 2001. How young!

My professor’s face is etched in my memory, yet the rest of that day is – blank. It’s a moment in time I have lost, and wonder what prompted me to forget the details of that day – names, locations, images – but to always remember the feeling? Many of my fellow students and friends chose career paths and lives somewhat based on the events of that day. I am in awe of those in my generation who stood up (some quietly), those who have fought for freedom, those who work abroad towards reconciliation, those who embraced their faith amidst the firestorm (and are Americans as well) and those who sacrificed all. I must admit that my studies in social work make me more reflective of my own life, emotions, and actions. And I hope that today, we can all take a moment to remember, honor, and resolve that tomorrow will be a more blessed day than the last.

So to honor those lost that day and those lost since, I thought I’d post my gratitude journal here. These are the blessings I count today:

  • For a cloudless, sunny Fall day (like one 10 years ago)
  • A good cup of coffee
  • My warm bed
  • Freedom to walk to church and be able to pray in peace
  • Joe’s morning text to say hello and I love you
  • Joe – for allowing me to know what a true blessing finding love means.
  • My parents – and their silliness on Skype (oh Dad!) – and loving their favorite daughter unconditionally
  • Being able to read and study an article about play therapy for class
  • The little boy and his grandfather who were so excited to head downtown today – together – on the T
  • Swarm soccer – because they look so cute running after the ball – with no real concept of the game at age 4.
  • My new haircut
  • My new outfit for my first day at Boston Medical Center tomorrow
  • Freezer meals – Jambalaya today!
  • Crickets
  • Hearing kids laugh down by the high school
  • Cookies – that are gluten-free and so good!
  • The opportunity to have today to count blessings
Best wishes,
Erin
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