10 March 2014

28 Bits of Gratitude

Snapshot on the fly from the Pont de l'Alma, which I cross every week on board game night

Today, I'm turning 28. Even though I'm technically only one day older than yesterday, birthdays are always quite reflective moments. After seeing this TED talk on the defining decade, plus celebrating friends' 30th birthday or wedding or first child, I'm feeling at quite a turn of my life. This turn when you shed the last skin of "youth" and march head on into adulthood, as real as it can get. To celebrate this new milestone, I have selected 28 bits of my life, big and small, I am grateful for.


1. Being alive - that sounds awfully cliché, but I'm here, for the 28th year, alive and kicking, and that's enough of a miracle for me.

2. Living in this modern society - I might often come out as "spitting in the soup" as we say in French, enjoying the life of a middle class city westerner, all the while ranting about the system. But truth is, I am grateful for living in this era, in this country. When I see how women are treated in some parts of the world, in some periods of history, when I see all the facilities I have access to - culture, transportation, work, travel - I feel really lucky to be where and when I am.

3. Paris - I wondered, back in 2012, how long it would take me to get used to the awesomeness of this city, and become another of these grey triste sires frowning in the metro. I have to report that i'm still as amazed by Paris. My fiancé teases me for being the only Parisienne who takes her camera everywhere and takes about as many pictures as some Japanese touring all of Europe in one week. But, when you come out of the metro for your weekly board game evening and stumble upon the above scenery, how can you ever, ever be tired of the Ville Lumière?

4. My Job - Another cliché maybe, but I never promised originality. When I see the state of the economy these days, how my assistants (interns) struggle to find a job after graduating, I'm feeling quite grateful for having a job that not only pays rent & food, but also fulfills me on a professional level.

5. The Sunday Market - The marché de Buzenval in the 20th district is such a blessing. Situated in a nice, cozy little plaza, it offers the best each season has to offer, cheese from my beloved Auvergne home region, the cheapest seafood I have ever seen in Paris, and an atmosphere no amount of supermarket can even dream of.

6. Friends & Family - As my INTJ profile may suggest, I am not big on human interactions as a whole, but I've crafted strong friendships and maintained close links to my family. I'm grateful for having all these people in my life, grateful that they put up with my nonsense over and over, grateful for all we share together, good and bad alike.

7. Tea - Whoever invented this beverage has my eternal gratitude.

8. Paris Public Libraries - Ever since I discovered how easy it was to borrow books from any of the city's public libraries, and how rich the catalog was, I have doubled by reading rate, all without spending a cent or cluttering any shelf space. I am infinitely grateful that we have access to such a service in today's society.

9. Clouds - And all the other wonders of nature. Especially the understated ones, like clouds. Any dystopic read involving pollution, planet destruction and other catastrophes reminds me how lucky we are to walk this Earth.

10. Spring - I love my birthday, because it is, most years, the time of the year when temperatures go up and the sun comes back from vacation. After months of dark nights and cold mornings, the first terrasses of the year are precious.

11. Music - I am not a very religious person, but if one thing makes be believe that we humans have a soul, it is music. The kind of emotions, connection to something inside us, music can awaken is incredible, and I am grateful for all the composers, alive and gone, who left us wonderful pieces of art.

12. My Parents - I know I already mentioned friends and family above, but I think my parents deserve their own spot in these 28 bits of gratitude. They have always been there for me, tried to educate me the best they could, listened to me, put up with my crap, and let me choose my own path. I wouldn't be the person I am today without them.

13. Mass Effect - And all the other games that marked my gamer history: Final Fantasy VII and IX, Chrono Trigger, Dragon Age Origins, the Elders Scrolls series, Diablo II and III, Heroes of Might and Magic, Bioshock, Unreal Tournament and all the others. I am grateful for all these teams of developers who put these games together and gave me countless hours of evasion and fun.

14. All the Positive People I Met - Some encounters are just inspiring. Whether it is a relative I saw as a role model in my childhood, classmates or friends, a client from one of my student jobs, or even fictional characters from books, films or games... Some people just radiate something special, their personality stirs something good in me. Whatever their actions, these persons communicated their positive energy and participated to who I am now.

15. All the Negative People I Met - We all met some of these people. Whatever their reasons, they have decided they didn't like me, and made a mission to make my life difficult. Although I'd like very much not to meet such a person again, I am grateful for these encounters. They pushed me past my comfort zone, they made me question myself, discover sides of human nature I wouldn't have imagined and can now protect myself from. They made me grow, the hard way, but they made me grow nonetheless.

16. My Violin Teacher - I was lucky enough to find an affordable violin teacher living right between home and work. Ever since I started my weekly lessons, I have played more violin than I even dreamt of in my adult life. He balances technical, boring stuff with nice pieces very well, and helped me reconnect with something, inside of me, without even knowing it. Well, he'd probably know what I'm talking about though, after all, he is a violinist.

17. My Boss - I hear so many stories about horrible bosses. I have had a few myself. My current boss is awesome. I'm grateful for this.

18. My Health - I've spent so many years of my young adult life complaining about my height, or my thighs, or my plump cheeks, that at some point I forgot how lucky I am to be strong and healthy. It took a few years to unweave, one by one, the twisted image I had of my body. But I'm grateful I did.

19. Cheese - Sometimes, I wonder who decided, one day, to gather and drink milk, which was meant for veals (or goatlings. Do we call them goatlings? I think not, but I like it). But then, I wonder who decided to put that milk in a cellar and let it sit for months, and then dared eating it, only to discover it had turned into cheese. Anyway, whoever started that trend has my everlasting gratitude.

20. Antoine de St Exupéry - for his masterpiece Le Petit Prince. But also Agatha Christie for coming up with Poirot, George R.R. Martin for a Song of Ice and Fire (don't you dare die before you finish writing these books), Asimov for his Robots, Orwell for 1984 and others, Verne for his wonderful travels, and so many more.

21. Being French - Not that it is the best nationality ever. But that's who I am, and I am grateful for it. Traveling abroad showed me the many visions the world has of French people, some more flattering than others. This is a part of my identity, and I am grateful to have grown up in France.

22. Everything I Have - Having grown and lived in a consumerist society all my life, I am grateful for everything I own, my comfort of life. I am also grateful to be able to be grateful for it, instead of lusting over a wishlist. If it makes any sense.

23. My Exchange Year in Japan - Thanks to my university, I managed to spend a full year studying in Japan, for free, with a subsidy to help with local expenses. That year in Tôkyô was one of the most enriching experiences of my life to date, and I am really grateful for all the people who helped me pull that off. If I had a say in these matters, I'd make at least a semester abroad mandatory to open the mind and world of students.

24. All These Little Ordinary Joys - Even if I do these things daily, I am grateful for them:  my morning coffee, all these great reads I discover every week, my beautiful neighborhood, my well-organized mini palace. I am grateful for the automated line 1 I take morning and evening, sometimes imagining myself inside a snake running below Paris, sometimes imagining myself as the driver of the thing, and always imagining myself as a Jedi using the Force when the automated doors open at the exit of the station.

25. And the Extraordinary Ones - The first time I set foot in Japan, witnessing a sunrise from above the clouds, the birth of my sister, meeting my fiancé (and the fact that he stayed with me all this time!), the first time I stood right below the Eiffel Tower, all these extraordinary places I visited, Dubai, Las Vegas, Singapore, Montreal, Stockholm...

26. Rainy Days - Because they remind us how awesome the feeling of sunlight on my skin is. Just like days without remind me how great the rest of the days are. I am grateful for these harder moments of my life which brighten the rest of it, and made me who I am now.

27. Being Who I Am - I think it is hard enough, in our world of scarcity which nurtures instatisfaction, to be able to be satisfied with our life, here, now. Not when I'll have this or that. Sure, I have some flaws, and my life could use some improvements, but I am grateful for who I am and where I'm at right now.

28. This Blog & Its Readers - The Nife is about to turn 3, and I never imagined this experience would bring me so many ideas, experiences, debates and food for thought. I am grateful for this blog and everything it brought me, but I am also grateful for you guys to stick around, and that some of you have found some value in what I write. Sometimes, it feels like we have grown together as human beings, learned things together.


This exercise was actually a very good one. You know, finding 28 positive things to talk about. I was in a good mood this morning, I am in an even better one now. Maybe this whole "Gratitude Journal" idea does make a difference after all. What about you? What are you grateful for?

28 comments:

  1. A very happy birthday to you! What a lovely post, and a lovely way to commemorate your birthday.

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    1. Thanks! This wasn't planned at all, I just felt like a birthday was a perfect day to express gratitude for all my experiences and where I am now. I'm glad you enjoyed reading it :)

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  2. Happy birthday Kali! May you have a wonderful year of success, prosperity, and happiness.

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    1. Thanks! I'm sure it will be a great year. I hope it will be for you too (even if it's not your birthday)

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  3. Happy birthday! I have been contemplating many of the same things since I am turning 30 later this year. Some of my friends seem a bit stressed out by the idea but I was struck by how much we all have. I think I am most grateful for the fact that I can I can appreciate this and find contentment in it.

    And yes, GRRM cannot die before he finishes those books. He probably thinks it's a great joke though.

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    1. Ah, I can imagine turning 30 makes one even more reflective, even if it's only symbolic. I agree with you - I too am grateful for being able to find contentment and satisfaction with my life as it is. When I was a child, I thought becoming adult automatically would make me wiser, more accomplished as a human being, but I realized this doesn't come automatically and contentment is something we adults need to work on. Although I could always do better, I'm grateful that I somewhat turned into an accomplished adult :)

      And yes, I do believe Martin considers this whole thing a big joke. On the plus side, I heard he revealed the ending of his series of books to the TV series producer, in case he does indeed happen to die before finishing to write them. So, worst case scenario, we'd still get some kind of closure on TV...

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  4. Happy birthday! I am loving this list -- sometimes it's nice to just sit back and think about all we are thankful for. As you say, it sure brightens up a day! I should do this for my next anniversary as well.

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    1. Thanks! It lifts the mood a lot to remind ourself of all we are grateful for. Routine tends to make us forget it, doesn't it? I might do this more often too :)

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  5. Thank you for this. I just turned 28 a few months ago and it's hard not to feel as though I'm lagging behind somehow -- that everyone else is doing all these amazing things with their lives and I'm not. But you've reminded me to keep everything in perspective. I think if the only thing I ever learn in life is to be content, that wouldn't be a bad thing. I'm still working on it though.

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    1. Ah, comparison is such a downer! I have to admit, this is the age when we tend to compare our life with that of friends, or old schoolmates... I really don't think that's a good idea. We all have our own life path and whatever other people accomplish doesn't diminish the value of our own experiences. I guess it's easier said than done though :)

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  6. Kali, happy happy birthday. I absolutely adored reading this list xx

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    1. Thanks Lucent, I appreciate it :) Glad to hear you liked the read!

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  7. Happy birthday! What a lovely post.

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  8. all excellent choices! Happy birthday to an intelligent insightful lady.
    One thing I'm grateful for is my very boring life.

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    1. Thank you very much :) I see what you mean with the boring life. Mine could definitely not be a new TV series scenario, and I'm also grateful for it haha

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  9. Happy birthday! I love this exercise, I'll definitely have to try it when my birthday rolls around!

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    1. Thanks! I'd love to read your own bits of gratitude :)

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  10. Happy birthday! I'm a new reader of your blog and I had my birthday few days ago, and also I made a same list recently, which included quite many similar things as yours. And it seems an interesting coincidence to me :)
    I like the topics you touch and the way you write(I learn from it, in terms of word choice and sentence composition), as I'm not a learning english speaker. I like to read about minimalism and simple living, the idea that I learned from reading your blog, actually. I'll continue to read... and good luck in everything in your life!

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    1. Thanks, and welcome! That's an interesting coincidence indeed, happy birthday to you too then :)
      I'm happy to hear that you like the blog's topics, I hope you'll find value in what you read. good luck to you too!

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    2. Happy birthday Kali, and happy birthday, Ugi!

      This is a such a refreshing post. You may laugh to know that I just realized that in the couple of mornings since I first read it, I've woken up and spent a few minutes going over what I'm grateful for, myself. The power of the subconscious, eh? It has been a great way to kick off the day.

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    3. Thanks Jess! I'm happy to hear these little bits of gratitudes inspired you to start off your days in a better mood. Couldn't be better! I read recently that happiness is not in what we have but in what we think. Seems to be true :)

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  11. Wonderful post. Happy birthday! Best wishes.

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  12. A very happy birthday to you! We totally have the same taste in games - my favourites are Mass Effect, FF9, Chrono Trigger and Bioshock :)

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    1. Thanks! We indeed have the same taste in games, it always blows my mind when I see there are gamers among the nife's readers, even more so when we share similar tastes :)

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  13. Happy belated birthday to you! I loved these bits of gratitude. I always try to remember to take a few minutes each day on the things that I'm grateful for. Best wishes for a successful, joyous year!

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    1. Thank you very much! I hope everything is going well for you, and that you enjoy the daily joys of life too :)

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