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By Alicia Bayer

Last week I was on vacation at a friend’s mountain home in California. Not only do I adore her and her family, but I also fell in love with her home, situated on 15 acres in the Sierra Nevada mountains. During one trip down the mountain into town, I found myself thinking of my little box house in the middle of town, and coveting her beautiful surroundings. I’m usually very appreciative of the distinct beauty of my own Minnesota landscape, but my friend’s view was so breathtaking that for a few minutes my place in the heartland seemed a little paltry.

When I realized what I was doing, I mentally shook myself back to my senses and did a little internal thanks-giving for the incredible life we have. While I don’t have a view down a mountain, I have a home I never dreamed of, with some pretty breathtaking views of its own. There is nothing like waking up after an unexpected ice storm in the fall to find every late rose, marigold and blade of grass encased in its own tiny ice sculpture. When the sun hits it all, it’s as if the world is made of spun glass. Or the way ice-covered snow in the fields reflects the color of the sunset…or the deep-blue skies over the rich green and blue of our thousands of lakes in the spring and summer. Daryl and I often point out the beauty as we drive, and we’ve wondered how many people don’t even notice in their rush to get home.I know so many people who covet. It’s so inane, and such a waste of your own happiness. Someone is always going to have a nicer house, more money or a more romantic Valentine’s Day gift. Even the Queen of England doesn’t have the best figure, and probably doesn’t have as good friends as I do. Love what you have, and if what you have is truly wretched then find a way out. In my experience, if you surround yourself with good people, the rest is easy.

I read last week that every year, half of us will lose a close friend or family member to death. I lost my mother last Easter, and many of my friends have been rocked by deaths in their own families. Truly, there is nothing like a loss of that magnitude to make you cherish what you have. I have heard so many people in mourning say they wish they had appreciated what they had when their loved ones were around. It sounds morbid, but I occasionally think of losing my husband to snap me out of caring whether he’s wearing the same shirt for the third day in a row and wanting to bean him with canned goods over it. I think about how many parents are watching their children struggle with terminal illnesses, and it makes me ache for them and grab my children and hug them tight. If that were ever my child, I know I’d be down on my knees saying, “I don’t care about anything, just make my child well again and we’ll be so happy.” So why not appreciate it now, without the wake-up call?

So here’s your assignment: Make a list of 100 things you’re thankful for. Count your blessings. And don’t even think of saying you don’t have a hundred! Be thankful you’re not allergic to chocolate, that your mother taught you how to cook, that you have cool toes, for friends and family and all the little things that make you happy. And if anybody special is one of your blessings, make sure you tell them!

And if you care about my list, I’ve shared some of it with you. đŸ™‚

About the Author

Alicia BayerAlicia Bayer lives in rural Minnesota with her husband and four children, ages 2 to 11, whom she homeschools. Alicia has maintained the nonprofit website A Magical Childhood for the past eight years, offering parents support, humor, crafts and a little bit of whimsy to help make childhood (and parenthood) more magical. Read more here: