Gratitude. It’s something heralded by many as a great way to change your perspective and therefore change your life.
And, I tend to agree.
After I read Oprah’s book What I Know For Sure, I started a gratitude journal.
Sure, it looked more like a journal about what I ate that day but I found it a nice way to end the day.
So I thought it would be an excellent way to end my trip.
Here it goes:
I am grateful that I am a citizen of a country that gives me the freedom to travel to a lot of places without being hounded or spending a fortune on visas.
I am grateful that I quit my job and decided to do this, travel, now.
And for all the family and friends and random acquaintances that said, ‘You go girl!’
For the same family and friends that said ‘I’m going to miss you’ and that I have missed along the way.
And those people that wrote me messages to say ‘Keep going’ or were encouraging by way of saying they liked reading this here blog.
I am grateful for the family that sent me messages to tell me if I had a spelling mistake on the blog.
And for the fact that each of them added in a part to let me know they weren’t being critical or trying to drag me down – I must have a reputation for being sensitive or something.
I am grateful for whoever or whatever created the gorgeous landscapes I got to see.
Nature, you are a beautiful beast and I need to appreciate you more.
I am grateful for the recommendations on what to see and do that I received from all manner of people along the way.
I am grateful for all the people I met and especially for the ones that said, ‘You’re going the wrong way. Here let me show you where it is.’
I am grateful for the man that woke me up when I fell asleep on a bench at Settle train station (Settle, it does what it says it will do).
I am grateful for trains. They are such a nice way to get to places and I only wish there were more passenger trains in Australia.
I am so grateful for Peter and Anne at Oxenfoord Organics – their kind souls and purchase of Scottish cream made my first three weeks in Scotland wonderful.
For meeting Davie, and for all that he did entertaining me with his stories, showing me around the place I’ll get married and always making sure I didn’t have to walk home from bingo.
For bingo and Anne and Joe, who always bought me a cider, and Eck and everyone else there – you were excellent competition.
For Celia and Ben, who understand the pitfalls of HelpX and fellow helpers’ hygiene and who made me laugh so hard! And, I’m so grateful we got to meet up again in Spain, laugh more and share a whole day of thanks together.
I am grateful for Clodagh for visiting me in Edinburgh and being a vehicle for a good night out.
I am grateful for Hansel for simply being a vehicle (and one that only broke down once, okay twice if you include the ditch incident).
For the men that helped me get Hansel out of a ditch.
The bar staff that never shooed me away when I was chewing through their Free Wifi without chewing on much of anything else they had to offer.
For Scotland, her wild and sexy ways, and her incredibly open policy on wild camping.
For all the sheep that made me go ‘Naawwww’ and the roads that made me go, ‘Ugggghhh’.
For Dylan, the kid who told me all about life on Balmoral Estate, you are the Ashton to my Demi, at least one day, maybe.
I am grateful for the nun who gave me jumper leads to restart Hansel and the man that actually got him going again.
For the person that sat next to me on the overnight bus for the fact her presence wasn’t annoying as it could have been.
I am grateful for Sean and his acts of kindness that all started with sitting across me in McDonalds.
I am grateful for Toby and Hannah and Karen (Bob) and Godfrey and Jack for giving me an unforgettable Kentish experience.
And for Bob washing my clothes for me.
I am grateful for Clay and Hannah and their incredible care of me in Warsaw. For serendipity in general and specifically for a reunion with my tour guide Martina in Warsaw.
For the old woman that I squished on the train by accident with poor balance and an abrupt stop.
For my cousin Lachy and our chats about the profane and the profound in Krakow.
For the Irish couple that made me laugh so hard on the way to and from Auschwitz.
And for Mitch vomiting when we arrived at Auschwitz and making sure we were all in the mood for the tour.
For people who tell history and preserve it and share it – your impact is eternity.
I am so so grateful for the Spanish family that chose me and for the fact that I chose them too.
For Marisa and her mothering of me and for living kindness and teaching her kids that saying sorry is hard and it’s okay to cry.
For Javier and his incredible cooking, for always making sure I felt safe, and for breaking out of the friend zone and marrying Marisa.
For Sara and her love of English, her love of dancing to Meghan Trainor, her sassiness and the voices she puts on when telling a story. I have no idea what she’s saying, but heck it’s entertaining.
For Sergio and his love of nature and science, his desire to explore and his determination to not give up on trying to figure out how something works, and most of all, for eating his ice cream as fast as I do. Kindred spirits we are.
For this blog, and the space to write down my thoughts.
For my own determination and dedication to keep writing even after I tasted how easy it is to miss a day.
For words, when I write them, I feel more understanding, and when I read them, I feel more understood.
For a family that I have so much to thank for – I am grateful I am so indebted to you all for the love you give. And I’m so grateful that I get to pay that debt back in love.
For friends that feel like family. Friends that love words as much as me, friends that ask as many questions as me about the world, friends that understand travel and work as much as me, friends that get emotions as much as me, friends that are also travel agents and have yo’ back and the friends that have grown in every way with me.
And friends that, no matter what or where, continue to check in and catch up.
For dogs that miss you so terribly they act out by running away – mama’s coming home Spence!
For you guys that read these articles that are more like essays.
For how easy it is for me to be thankful because of how rich my life is with people and stories.
For storytelling – you are as dear as a friend and as frustrating as family. Don’t ever change.
And there you have it: a short list of my gratitude. Very short. And yet, while it was long, I want to finish with one more thought.
Everyone is always saying they want to write a book. Why is that? I think it is because ‘a book is one man’s soul is another man’s hands’ (not my words). That is, we all want to tell our story and know someone else has read it. We want reassurance that our experience mattered and that someone else felt the same way as us. That’s why I think people write books. (That and the fact they get to write acknowledgments and make their own grateful list.) I’m so grateful for the people who have held a bit of my soul in their hands, or on their screens.
Now to Australia, a place I am grateful to call home.
But first, an ending to this article, something I’m sure you’re grateful for.