- My parents; their support, love, belief in me; everything they do is out of love and the desire to see me happy & healthy. I could not ask for more.
- My sisters; they ‘get’ me, support me, accept my foibles, appreciate & remind me of my strengths. They make me so proud.
- My girlfriend/partner; she is, in my mother’s words, “the best thing that’s happened to [me].” It’s true. She sees me as I am, all of me, the good, the bad, the ugly, and she accepts -- embraces, even -- all of it. She knows how to ground me and how to reach me when I get lost in the labyrinth of my thoughts. She’s been through hell and back with me. She is my family.
- Musical theatre! And the opportunities to experience it! Last night I saw Avenue Q with my sister and cousin. I laughed so hard! I love the way theatre makes me feel, the energy I feel as an audience member, the anticipation I feel for the day I can return to the stage.
- My extended family; they accept me as I am, Lyme Disease & all the bullshit that comes with it. They offer their support. They validate my personhood -- I am still a worthy human being, despite the limitations caused by illness, and they never let me forget it.
- My little cousins; there is a uniquely special place in my heart for my little cousins (who aren’t so little anymore!). Before I knew anything about Lyme Disease, when I thought I was just dealing with severe, intractable depression and anxiety, they were the best medicine. My mother would bring me to their house and, for a little while, I felt the weight of my pain & sadness lift. They were brilliant twinkling stars in an otherwise dark period of my life. My life is much sunnier now, but they remain sources of light and joy.
- My cousin, Cathy; before I knew I was sick with Lyme Disease (& all those fun co-infections & opportunistic infections & sensitivities!), I watched her fall ill with a rare autoimmune disease, called Behçet’s Disease. Despite her pain and debilitation, she became very active in raising awareness and money for research of this “orphan” disease. She kept going. She served as a huge inspiration for me when I was fighting depression; I recall thinking, If Cathy can get up everyday and face life, despite everything being thrown at her, then I have no excuse not to do the same! From that moment, I resolved to push myself harder, to overcome what life had thrown at me. Cathy still inspires me with her strength, determination, & fortitude.
- My friend, Heather; Heather is one of the strongest women I know. She’s also the reason I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease (she recognized my symptoms from her own experience with late-stage Lyme), after years of doctor-hopping and misdiagnosis. She has the hugest heart of anyone I’ve ever met. I feel blessed to call her one of my closest friends.
- My friend, Jeanne; We’ve only met in person recently. I spent 5 days at Jeanne’s house, surrounded by her beautiful family who opened their arms to me, made me feel at home, made me feel loved and understood. Jeanne has Lyme Disease but, somehow, she still manages to give of herself to others in need. She is always giving, always looking for new ways to give, to help others who struggle with illness, with lack of support, with anything & everything you can think of. Jeanne also has the uncanny ability to calm me down with humor & love when I’m catastrophizing and ready to pull out my hair.
- The ability to write; I read this quote from Lord Byron recently: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” That is, essentially, why I write; I must write. I write to purge demons. I write to figure out how I feel and what I think and what I believe. I write to understand myself. I write for catharsis. I consider writing a runner-up to breathing, for Things I Must Do To Stay Alive.
- Energy drinks; My doctor wouldn’t be thrilled to read this, but energy drinks help keep me sane (along with writing, theatre, loved ones, medication, gratitude lists . . . ). I do my best to drink organic energy drinks sweetened with Stevia, but, really, Red Bull will do in a pinch.
- Books; Ask anyone who knows me: I read. A LOT. So far, this year, I’ve read 50 books. I’m currently on numbers 51 & 52 (Swallow the Ocean by Laura M. Flynn & Run by Blake Crouch, respectively). Next on my list is The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud.
My list goes on and on, but I have tickets to see Billy Elliot tonight (!!!) so I’d better get dressed!
I would be honored if you’d share some of the things for which you’re grateful, in the comments.