30 Days of Gratitude: Day 10

Write down three things in your daily life that you are grateful for.

My cat is the best. She’s a constant companion who just wants the simple things: to be around us, to eat good food (mostly anything that we’re eating), to nap in the sunlight as it comes through various places in the house, and the occasional outside time to explore and “check on things”. She doesn’t scratch up furniture, make messes, and is friendly to any of our visitors.

Our house, not only am I grateful that we can afford it but, I’m grateful that we are slowly making it a more permanent home. Throughout our marriage we have moved around the 2-3 year mark and and we’re both tired of doing this. I appreciate more and more each day, being able to establish and enjoy roots.

Blogs, newsletters, and social media posts from friends, which though no substitute for in-person, face to face time, still allows me to keep up with events and thoughts that they have (at least the ones that they post publicly).

This prompt will repeat several times throughout this challenge.

The “30 Days of Gratitude challenge” prompts are from Screen/Life Balance and author Catherine Price.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 9

Three good things

Write down three things that went well in your day and (this is important!) why they went well. 
  1. The flat white, from Starbucks, was excellent. I sipped it during the early morning drive to Calaveras Big Trees State Park, where we would spend the better part of the day hiking. The coffee was a great start to the day.
  2. The 7 1/2 hike was not only scenic and relaxing but, helped me get in some much needed exercise. It felt good to be active while soaking in some nature. The sequoia trees were awe-inspiring.
  3. Better night vision while driving home. My new glasses, complete with prescription and better coatings, made a difference. I noticed that things were much clearer that that lights (from cars, signs, etc.) weren’t glaring and blurry.

This prompt will repeat several times throughout this challenge.

The “30 Days of Gratitude challenge” prompts are from Screen/Life Balance and author Catherine Price.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 8

Set aside several quiet minutes for yourself.

Today, set aside time to do something that you find nourishing, such as meditating, taking a walk, or having a cup of tea. Whatever it is, please leave your phone behind—we want this experience to be distraction-free.

The Screen / Life Balance team

I looked forward to this challenge, thinking it would be much like yesterday’s “music bath”. I chose to sit out on my patio and read a little, while letting my cat out to soak up some sun. And though I do this pretty regularly (the cat always wants some outside time), this was the first that I left my phone inside.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 7

Take a “music bath”

It’s less weird than it sounds. Find a comfortable spot, pick out a favorite song or piece of music, turn off the lights, close your eyes, and listen.

Screen / Life Balance team

This was nice. I fully enjoyed this exercise.

At first, I considered listening to an album, via CD and CD player, in my office (where my only CD player is located) but, then realized that it would be difficult for me to ward off distractions. My office is a place where I’m used to multi-tasking and it’s a “tempting” environment for me, where I would easily get distracted.

So, I dug out the iPod Classic. After charging and syncing it (so it had my latest music), I took it out to my front porch.

No phone (or other device) to distract me, I listened to Sharon Van Etten‘s album, “Remind Me Tomorrow”. While it played, I people watched, appreciated being outside and breathing the fresh air, and was grateful for my time to just sit still.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 6

Today, start the process of writing a gratitude letter.

For this prompt, the Screen / Life Balance team asks that you create a list of “one to three people who have made a major positive difference in your life and whom you’ve never fully thanked”. Then include a few lines on why you are grateful and would like to thank them.

I’m not (yet) comfortable with posting specific names, or why I’m grateful to them, but here are some of the reasons why I am thankful to the ones I have in mind:

  • Giving me a chance when I didn’t need, ask for, nor deserve it.
  • Providing honest feedback and support.
  • Helping me understand that life is not supposed to follow a linear path.
  • Showing me that I’m happier simply liking the things that I like, without worrying about others’ opinions.
  • Saving my life.
  • Buying me my first legal alcoholic drink while we were both at an event that we didn’t want to be at.
  • Being “the extrovert” when I go into full introvert mode.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 5

Today, pay attention to something you don’t normally put any thought into.

This morning, I focused on a group of activities: my morning routine. It’s a little embarrassing to type it out, admitting that I don’t put much thought into it. I don’t, more so over the past year working remotely.

I go into autopilot, doing the bare minimum knowing that I won’t be interacting with people (in person) unless I leave my house. Conference and video calls are easy to work around. So I dress and groom to a point where I made an effort but, I know I’ll be hanging around the house.

I have wanted to break this cycle many times. There are a lot of tips out there on how dressing for how you want to feel (and present yourself to others), and they’re true. I feel and work better when I do put in more effort.

Moving forward, I will make more time in the mornings to set a better tone for the day. This includes adding some exercise, taking time to prepare and eat breakfast, properly groom, and dress at a better level.

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 4

Today, write down a list of activities that make you happy.

Activities that make me happy, that I do on a regular basis:

  • Make and eat a good breakfast (my favorite meal of the day).
  • Reading and viewing photojournalism blogs
  • Listening to music
  • Helping others

Three activities that make me happy, that I plan to do this week:

  • Photowalks
  • Playing video games
  • Reading (fiction)

Other activities that make me happy, that I will try to incorporate more in my life:

  • Photography
  • Road trips
  • Hiking
  • Spending time with friends
  • Writing/blogging
  • Cooking

Note: This exercise showed me that I need to do some “discovery” work to find (and do) more activities that make me happy. It was difficult for me to come up with what I did.

These we the instructions for the exercise, from Screen/Life Balance:

Once you’ve finished your list, put a checkmark next to the activities that you do on a regular basis. How could you incorporate some of the others more frequently into your daily life? What are three activities from the list that you could make a plan to do this week? (Once you choose them, put them on your calendar!)

30 Days of Gratitude: Day 3


Write down three things that went well in your day and (this is important!) why they went well. 
  1. This morning’s breakfast scramble came out very well, scrambling a few eggs with red bell pepper, green onion, Canadian bacon, and spinach. Topped with some sriracha and I was very happy. I didn’t feel rushed, and wasn’t trying to do multiple things at the same time. I followed my routine for this, chopping the veggies, sautéing them and the Canadian bacon, adding the spinach, and then adding the eggs. Just focused on completing the one task.
  2. I made substantial progress in The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Rather that sit and try to play through as much as I could in one sitting, I tried to play in increments. I gave myself goals to reach and actions to take when I succeeded, like “after I beat this boss, I’m going to clean up the kitchen”. This built in some natural breaks where I could take my mind off of the game, releasing some of the intensity, and still accomplishing some “chores” throughout the morning.
  3. I ate one of the best Honeycrisp apples that I have ever had, today. It was so good; juicy and tart, with just a touch of being sweet. It makes a big difference when I can go to the store (Sprouts) and choose my own produce, rather than order grocery delivery and depend on someone else’s judgement.

The “30 Days of Gratitude challenge” prompts are from Screen/Life Balance and author Catherine Price.

30 Days of Gratitude Day 2

What are three things in your daily life that you’re grateful for today?

Listed in no particular order:

Music does more for me than I usually give it credit for. I appreciate the craft, the songwriting of both notes and lyrics. I appreciate the layering of different instrument tracks to create one whole track, and how that layering can be intentional and itself evoke feeling and relay messages in the song. I appreciate that music can be felt on multiple layers depending on the mood and environment of the listener. I’m in awe of how music can affect us mentally and physically. I love that music can evoke memories and help form new ones.

My wife saved my life. I’m who I am today in large part because of her, the support and balance that she provides, and the unconditional love that she shares. We met when I was nearing my lowest. Our wedding day marked the start of the rest of my life, one with purpose.

Health, my health, has become my top priority in 2019. I never really took it seriously, even with some of the issues over the past 5-7 years, because I still naively thought of myself as invincible. But, this year, two different diagnosis shook me out of the stupor and prompted me to rearrange my life’s priorities. I appreciate where and how I am now, able bodied and with a majority of control over the direction my health will go over the next 10-20 years. I appreciate that I’m able to make choices and changes that will positively affect my health. I’m increasingly grateful for how my body works, and that gratitude will lead me to take better care of it.

The “30 Days of Gratitude challenge” prompts are from Screen/Life Balance and author Catherine Price.

30 Days of Gratitude Day 1

I signed myself up for Catherine Price‘s “30 days of gratitude” challenge. A big part of my (mental) health efforts focus on slowing down, taking things in as they happen. Some people call this “living intentionally”. Some might call it “living in the moment”. Regardless of the label, I want to do it. I want to get better at it. I want to get to a point where I’m doing this instinctively.

Every day for the month of November, I’ll be writing and posting to the challenge’s daily prompts.

Why did you sign up for this challenge?

Often, I feel like I lose track of time. That time is moving “too fast” and that I don’t always retain a solid memory of things, events, and when they happened and who they happened with. My theory is that I’m taking way too much input in and not taking the time to process anything.

So, using the “my brain as a computer” analogy, I’m downloading a ton of information and just throwing it into random files on the hard drive to be reviewed later, thinking that is “processing” when it’s really just moving things out of sight, out of mind.

I don’t want to do this anymore. I want to be meaningful, intentional, and to enjoy things again.

What does the word gratitude mean to you?

It’s appreciation for things that you are thankful for. It’s another, deeper, level of being thankful, where you take the time to understand why you’re thankful for something, be it a person, an object, an idea, etc.