1. I’m grateful to be alive. I could so easily not be. I’m one of the few individuals that’s been given a second chance at life.

2. I’m grateful for my mind. Just as the surgeon was millimeters away from life-giving functions, it’s also miraculous that my words and memories were not affected. They fuel my writing. The physical damage was great, but I’d rather write than walk.

3. I’m grateful to be able to communicate. Sure, I sound like a drunk E.T., but it’s nice to smile and exchange even the most mundane pleasantries with neighbors on Frankie’s walks.

4. I’m grateful for all the family in my life, but particularlyΒ for my mom. She made a great sacrifice — twice. Once, when I was born and a second time, six years ago, when she gave up life as she knew it in Miami to come to Jacksonville.

5. I’m grateful to Brooks. The rehabilitation hospital, the Adaptive Sports and Recreation Program, the Clubhouse, the outpatient therapy and the Neuro Gym. For everything they do to improve the quality of life for those of us in the community living with a disability.

6. I’m grateful to have a purpose. Find one. Go within. I think it’s something internal, something that can give you hope on dark days, regardless of external forces.

7. I’m grateful to have friends. Old and new. You can’t have too many. They make life sweeter. They’re the electives in a heavy courseload. I’m especially thankful to have one friend/physical therapist (she knows who she is) who keeps me moving!

8. I’m grateful to have Frankie and Bella. And yes, even my mom’s insane cat, Carlito. Animals are wonderful. They have such emotional lives. And not just cats and dogs. Consider — just consider — not eating them. You don’t have to start breaking holiday traditions if you’re not ready. Start next year. Start with red meat. It’s not all or nothing. I’m still unable or unwilling, despite repeated attempts, to give up seafood. Do what you can. Just think about it.

9. I’m grateful for my social security. Fortunately, the government pays me Social Security Disability Income. With it, I can afford the basics of food, clothing, shelter and then some.

10. I’m grateful to live in Florida. I can see the sunrise over the ocean every morning if I want to. It’s sad that I know this (hey, I don’t have cable!) but on Family Feud when Steve Harvey (who’s funny, that’s another excuse) said, “Name a state with the best beaches,” Florida was a top answer.

Keeping a list of things you’re grateful for can help you cultivate a more positive outlook on life which can improve your emotional well-being and reduce stress!

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