Today’s Gratitude List

October was a rough month, personally and professionally. I saw my recipes reprinted without my permission or attribution on other web sites… I wasn’t eating cumin or eggs or nightshades or many other delicious things… I had a head cold for about 10 days… a total stranger described me as “rather chubby” in the comments of my video on the Hilah Cooking YouTube channel… and for half the month, I couldn’t lift weights at the Craptastic Gym.

I was not happy, and I didn’t keep that unhappiness to myself.

But one of the lessons of the last year is that when I stop feeling sorry for myself and practice gratitude, I immediately feel better. And to my credit, I was grateful in October for the many, many good things in my life. But I’ll be damned if every time I thought of something good, I didn’t feel like the universe dropped a slippery banana peel in my path just to watch me fall down.

But November is here. The head cold is gone. Spices are back in my life. The Craptastic is open and crappy. And this morning, I was busting out all over with gratitude. Here’s a list of just some of the things that have made me feel happy, buoyant, and grateful in the last 36 hours. (My appreciation for Dave, Smudge, my family, and you, dear readers, is ever-present and can be assumed to top every gratitude list ever, from now until the end of time. This is just the rest of the silly stuff…)

1.  The steps at the end of the hike and bike trail.
Right by the parking lot of the trail, there’s a choice to be made: up the stairs to street level or along the path and up a gentle incline. I always choose the stairs. And I sprint up ’em, two-at-a-time. And I love it. So much. (I have a well-documented “Stairs Problem™” which has gotten us lost in Prague on many occasions. Stairs to anywhere: can’t resist them.)

2. This pencil skirt from Forever 21.
Superficial? Hell, yes! But this skirt is the bomb. It’s comfortable, it hits my leg in just the right place, and bonus! it was super cheap because Forever 21 is the drive-thru, fast-food joint of trendy clothing. I won’t eat junky food, so I allow myself the indulgence of potato chip clothing from F21.

3. The Zombies, Run! 5K Training Program.
This morning, I didn’t have time to drive to the trail around the lake before yoga, so I went for a walk/run in my neighborhood. Thanks to the Zombies, Run! 5K program, I wasn’t in my neighborhood at all! I was on a mission to retrieve a much-needed automatic weapon outside the protected compound… and on the way back to base, there was  a zomb on my tail!

4. My Dickies pants fit!
I don’t own a scale, and I don’t weigh myself any more. The number on the scale means nothing to me — I want to look great and feel great. The scale can suck it! So I judge my progress based on how my clothes fit. Two weeks ago, I took a deep breath of bravery and tried some pants I hadn’t worn in a while, including a pair of black Dickies that I customized by letting out the hem of the legs so the bottoms are a little frayed (like someone chewed them off). They’re the perfect length with Chuck Taylors, and back in the day, they sat on my hips just right. Well… two weeks ago, they were snug. Too snug to wear comfortably — or fashionably. It was a pretty disappointing moment. This morning, they fit great. Go, Armour Synthroid and clean eating! And who knows? It might just get cool enough in Austin this week to wear them, and I will stomp around in them, listening to Social Distortion.

5. The art in my neighborhood.
My preference is usually to walk and run by the lake because (a) there are lots of dog; (b) it feels like being in nature; (c) the light and foliage change every day so it’s always a different experience; and (d) I don’t need to worry about getting smushed by a car. I usually grumble when I run in the neighborhood and act like our local streets are a consolation prize.

But this morning, as I meandered around our ‘hood, I realized how lucky I am to live in an area decorated with so much art. Dave and I, unintentionally, picked a neighborhood filled with artists, and it’s been a source of inspiration in our work and personal lives. Here’s some of what I saw this morning…

Three houses down and around the corner, there lives a welder/artist. Last year, the front yard displayed a giraffe. Now we have this, which seemed to be saying “Good Morning” to me today.

Then directly across the street from my house is Stefanie Distefano’s Flamingo Ranch. I’ve told y’all about Stef before; she’s responsible for much of the gorgeous pottery in Well Fed. We call her the White Witch because she’s always changing our environment, seemingly with a snap of her fingers. This is one of the handful of gates that have appeared across her front yard. (And here’s a story I told you about another one.)

And she also recently finished a mosaic gate that’s just… stunning… and whimsical and inspirational and a gift. Here’s the side that faces our house:

And this is the side that faces Stef’s porch:

Aside from their beauty from afar, Stef’s mosaics are special because they include delicious details up close…

This breath. This heartbeat. No other.

My fondest memories of Mom are hangin’ out in restaurants, talkin’ books.

6. Thanksgiving and Christmas are coming!
Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday, and Dave loves Christmas, so we’re coming up on a big time of year. I’m always grateful that we keep it pretty stress free. We don’t worry too much about what the holidays are “supposed to be like,” and we don’t go overboard on presents. Instead, we plan what we want to eat, the movies we want to see, the boardgames we want to play, and the people we want to hug. This week, we firmed up plans that mean we’ll be spending time with some of our favorite people!

7. This cup of tea and use-it-as-a-weapon biography of the Brontës.

I’m on page 730 of 979 pages and my imagination is 100% on the Brontë’s moors. The family’s story is quite sad, but it’s also been pretty wonderful to read about their lives and the personal experiences they were having while writing The Professor (Charlotte), Wuthering Heights (Emily), Agnes Grey (Anne), The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne), Shirley (Charlotte), and of course, Jane Eyre (Charlotte). I’ve actually got a copy of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall going right now, along with this bio, and I just downloaded an audiobook version of Jane Eyre, you know, just in case I need 18 CDs-worth of audio for something. As soon as I finish this monster, I’m re-reading Jane. Talk about feeling grateful! The mid-1800s were not a nice time to be a person, let alone a woman. So few options, so many rules and unfair expectations. Plus, consumption. And corsets.

Anyway, I’m having a diabolically good time reading the tragic details of their lives — and deaths — while sipping a spicy rooibus tea, listening to some chill blues at Thrice Cafe. This is the first weekend I haven’t worked in recent memory, and I’m savoring every sip.

OK. That’s my list for the day. What’s making you grateful today?

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  • Alison says:

    Nice list. Today, I am also grateful for a pair of pants fitting like they should and making me feel much more confident than I did several months ago. And I am grateful for the crockpot full of your “favorite chili” waiting for me to work up a decent appetite. AND I am grateful for an awesome spooning session in the middle of the night with a growing kitten.

  • Kristy says:

    I’m grateful for my dog Bear who is in bed with me now having cuddles, the baby that’s steadily growing in my belly, a sunny Sunday morning in Aus with a whole free day ahead to do what I like and for blogs like this one that are honest and bare and inspire me so much. Thanks Melissa for sharing.

  • gogo says:

    I’m grateful I’m having a good jeans day…you all know what I mean! Also that it’s cold enough to wear a scarf and vest. Kind of selfish gratitute today 🙂

  • Rebecca says:

    I am grateful that you profess your love for Social Distortion! \m/
    Not enough people love them!

  • Barbara L says:

    I’m grateful for so many things, but I really wanted to tell you thanks for your blog and the great energy you share so generously. I discovered WellFed, and that led me to your blog. I’ve been changing how I eat and feeling better. I’m anxious to start my first Whole30, but waiting until the holidays with my family are behind me to concentrate on total commitment. Your having completed the AIP really inspires me, since I think I will ultimately need to do that too -argh! I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.

  • I’m grateful for new opportunities which scare the heck out of me. (I feel like if I say that enough, hopefully they’ll stop scaring the heck out of me…)

    Also, having a good partner in life.

  • Amy says:

    I am grateful finding your cookbook, Well Fed, which is hands down the best cookbook I’ve ever owned, and I have quite the collection. I am thankful for the warm, fragant bowl of Moroccan Meatballs that I am eating right now as I read your blog!

  • Tarable says:

    I totally dig the cool decor in your hood! How funky!

    Right now I’m grateful for some dry, sunny (albeit cold) weather, allowing me to get outside and connect with nature and my kids and take some cool pics. Those things feed my soul.

  • Kel says:

    In no particular order:

    1. My Ben
    2. Our Paco (the chihuahua)
    3. kale chips
    4. The Whole30
    5. Sunny warm days in November
    6. My food co-op
    7. JCrew sales
    8. Rooibos tea
    9. Whipped Coconut cream from Well Fed!
    10. A good night’s sleep

    On that note…

    (Thanks for making me take the time!)

  • Ehsa says:

    I’m grateful that you mentioned the Hilah post (fie upon the commenter, of course) — I was so entranced by the photos that I missed the video link — fab! I hope you will be doing more videos ( or perhaps your own paleo show on the Food Network?!) … You just shine!

    I’m also grateful that, after such a rough October, you can come up with a upbeat post like this. Who knows — you may have inspired at least one of your readers (ahem) to quit wallowing in the swamp of moaning & whining and come up with her own perspective-changing gratitude list!

    Can’t wait til Well Fed II appears! Best regards to you, Dave, and Smudge.

  • Mandy says:

    I am grateful for family game night, shows that get me hooked, a book I can’t put down, 60-degree days in November, 9 hours of blissful rest, lululemon, when things work out, and peace.

    Also, I see that some find it so easy to criticize others from behind the screen of a computer, but each morning I am impressed by your ability to be so vulnerable, post after post. I enjoy it immensely, and I hope that you attract more of those who do.

  • RBL says:

    It’s sad that people feel they can judge one another, that they feel their descriptors are correct enough that they tell the world. Someone once read me an article that essentially said that if someone called you a purple pig, you would laugh because you know you’re neither purple nor an animal. And yet other names hit closer to home. I too am impressed at your posts, and enjoy them immensely, and believe that there are more of us that feel positive than there are mean, judgemental people. Sorry too that someone stole your recipes. I enjoy Well Fed often, as well as recipes on your site, and I hope that you continue to keep us Well Fed!

    I’m grateful for so many things: health, family, good food, job, love in my life, good friends, and more!

  • Vee says:

    Among other things, I am grateful for my new found health improvements, which makes me grateful for your website and others, along with my Dr. who started me on this journey of Paleo wonderfulness! This has not just been about weight loss (bonus!) or even feeling better (double bonus) it has been measured in lower cholesterol, except of course HDL which is up, and triglycerides cut in half. I have been trying for years to get these numbers under control and in a few short months on Paleo, bingo! Diabetes is no longer creeping up on me; I am outrunning it with my new found energy! You have no idea how truly inspiring you are or how helpful it is to open up your blog and find new and creative ideas. So from the bottom of my healthy heart I thank you.

  • jen says:

    full circle: grateful for your expressions of gratitude!

  • 5 things for today:

    1. spin class burn
    2. eye contact with gym crush (yes)
    3. boots and skirt=feeling sexy
    4. espresso
    5. vibrant complexion thanks to whole 30!

  • Karen says:

    Dear Mel, I am grateful for your inspiration and for the good fortune that led me to your blog a few months back. Although there are more than 20 years difference in our ages, I recognize you as a kindred spirit. Since discovering you and your blog, I have found that I more conscious about my food choices. That said, I am not completely Paleo, but getting closer every day. I bought a caulifower this weekend and am looking forward to mashing it up for some good old-fashioned comfort food this evening. Thank you for sharing yourself so bravely and inspiring all of us. I will be working on my gratitude list today. Peace.

  • Mel says:

    Thank you SO MUCH, everyone, for sharing your gratitude list. It really is fun and heart-warming to read through all of them.

    And thank you, too, for the kind words about my blog and Well Fed. I’m grateful every day that I have all of you out there to sort through the day-to-day with me.

    Internet Hug to Everyone!

  • Anna says:

    I am grateful that I found a cookbook and a website that matches my love of cooking (and eating!) with my paleo leanings! Honestly, Mel – you have no idea how much better that made my month. Joyful eating and happy cookery are back on the menu at my house. For that, I am thankful.

  • Bobbi says:

    Oh how I love your blog!!! Love how you always keep it real!! Hope Nov. was a better month for you! 🙂