Recently I was thumbing through an issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine and ran across an article where various authors, celebrities, and readers expressed their reasons for gratitude. Some were interesting, some thought provoking, some of the oh, please variety, but one stood out from the rest. It was written by Maya Angelou, and I quote it here in its entirety:

There was a time when I was in a state of utter despair, immersed in guilt over promises made on which I had not delivered. I went to my vocal coach, Fred Wilkerson, weeping copiously. He asked what was the matter. I responded, “I’m going crazy. I am almost at the brink of suicide.” He offered me a legal-size, lined yellow pad and a pen. He said, “Write down your blessings!” Furious that he didn’t understand my condition, I shouted, “Don’t talk nonsense, I’m telling you I am going crazy.” He said, “Write down that you could hear me say ‘write down’ and think of the millions who cannot hear the cries of their babies, or the sweet words of their beloveds, or the alarm that could help them seek safety. Write down that you can see this yellow pad and think of the millions on this planet who cannot see the smiles of their growing children or the delight in the faces of their beloveds, or the colors of the sunrise and the softness of the twilight. Write down that you know how to write. Write down that you know how to read.” Wilkie, as he was known, gave me that lesson in 1955. Fifty-five years later, I have written 31 books, essays, plays, and lyrics for songs — all on yellow pads. I remain in an attitude of gratitude.

Maya Angelou performer, poet, and author of Great Food, All Day Long  

Even though I consider myself to be very grateful for my life overall, there are times when I get caught up in busyness, frustrations, and the daily grind, and forgot how to express my gratitude.

I found Ms. Angelou’s quote particularly inspiring because it reminds me that even people as talented as she is have dark days, can admit to them, and sometimes require help to get out of them. It’s a lesson to us all that there is always something to be grateful for even when we feel we – or life – is at its worst. 

Some of the many things I am grateful for today:

My husband, my daughter, and my wonderfully large, extended family

Old friends and new acquaintances

A pleasant conversation when and where you least expect it

Resiliency

Freedom

A curious mind

Warm clothing on a cold day

Access to books, movies, music, magazines, the Internet

Cookies, brownies, chocolate

An abundance of good, healthy food to eat

The ability to cook

The ability to read and write

Glasses and contacts that correct my vision deficit

Modern medicine that saves my life on a daily basis

The sun when it shines bright and warm

Nature’s endless variety

The chance of snow

Tomatoes straight from the vine

Love, smiles, and kisses

Laughter

Clean drinking water

A tiny candy cane

Help from someone just when I needed it most

A message from a loved one that says: “I love you,”  “I miss you,” or  “thank you”

Memories

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I am convinced that magazines have a secret life, and that when we’re not looking they multiple like bunnies. Maybe it’s their way of getting back at us for going digital.

My husband reads a ton of magazines, and with the exception of his beloved High Performance Pontiac and Auto Restorer, they all eventually make their way (with help from me) to the recycling bin.

My Mother-in-Law used to save all her old magazines for me to read because she knew that I would enjoy looking through them, and I did – up until the point I became a Mom and the magazines started piling up unread. Between the magazines she was sending my way and the ones to which I subscribed, (not to mention my husband’s collection) my house was becoming a glossy paper nightmare.

Finally I asked my Mother-in-Law to pass her magazines on to someone else, and I cancelled my subscriptions. Now I’m left with the carnage of my past sins – a stack of Parents partially read, a stack of Taste of Home (and a few other cooking magazines) barely flipped thru, and worst of all, a stack of Bead Style that I haven’t even given the time of day.

In a weaker moment I considered throwing them all in the recycle bin to be done with it, but that’s taking the easy way out and is wasteful on so many levels. Instead, I’ve decided to tackle the magazine monster like any other project – one step at a time (or in this case, one magazine at a time). I’ll work my way thru each one of them, scanning any recipes or articles that I want to save for later.

My BFF and I are already whispering about the possibility of a yard sale in the Spring, so as I go thru the stacks of magazines I’ll add them to the yard sale pile. Anything related to cooking and crafting tends to sell well. (In the event they don’t sell, there is always Craigslist or Freecycle.) In the meantime, I’ve got about nine months and a lot of reading to do before the yard sale – I better get busy.