It ain’t always easy, this gratitude thing.

Every holiday season, we are rightly reminded to be grateful for the many blessings we live with every day as Americans, which are many.

It’s been a challenge lately though, especially given the outrageous political scene (I’ll spare you what I really want to say), to focus on blessings, when we’ve been tearing each other apart over our differences.

We’re also aggravated with Russia, the Middle East is still a huge mess, and here at home, although the recession is technically over, on Easy Street, most of us are not.

So I’ve decided to focus instead on the small things. Conscious gratitude, especially when we feel so much of life is out of our control, can help us appreciate what we have, clarify what we need or want, and remind us that even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good, which helps keep negativity, that ever-lurking productivity crusher, at bay.

To that end, my gratitude list….

First off, heat.

I detest being cold. And even though the weather has been unseasonably and pleasantly warm, at the first sign of a chill, I’m pumping up the thermostat. As in, walking over to the little dial on the wall and deciding just how toasty I’d like to be. Of course, I’m keeping in mind the heating bills—no seventy-two degrees in this house—but still, if I’m cold, I just turn up the heat. I’m not living in a shack or a tent, or on a steam grate somewhere at the mercy of the elements. I have heat.

Next up, my refrigerator.

Whenever I open the door, there’s invariably something in there to eat. There is also usually at least one box of leftovers from a restaurant, an obvious indication that we’re still enjoying a meal out occasionally. Yogurt, fruit, milk, even peanut butter and jelly. I have food and all I have to do is walk into my kitchen to get some.

My mattress.

My mattress is lumpy and not too comfortable and I should get a new one. But my mattress is in my bedroom—MY bedroom—which I share only with my husband, not an entire family. And my mattress has clean sheets and warm blankets under which I can snuggle just before drifting off to sleep. In my own bed, on my lumpy mattress.

Finally, my desk.

It’s messy, I’m always searching for something that I can’t find but which is usually right under my nose, it’s loaded with piles of stuff that I will sort out—someday, there are toys on it that my granddaughter will put in her mouth if given half a chance, so I put them on my desk, and it’s right next to a child’s basketball hoop on one side and a dollhouse on the other, with more junk in between. But it’s where I find joy in writing, and even though it’s small and rather dysfunctional, like me, it’s mine, and I’m grateful for it.

In our times of turmoil, it’s sometimes challenging to count blessings. But they’re there, in a few extra degrees, a P.B & J., a lumpy bed and a messy desk. It’s been better, but it could be a lot worse.

And for that, I’m thankful.

MARY FRAN BONTEMPO is a speaker, author, and humorist who teaches audiences to control their most powerful influence: Self-Talk. Author of The Woman’s Book of Dirty Words, and Not Ready for Granny Panties—The 11 Commandments for Avoiding Granny Panties, Mary Fran proves small changes in self-talk yield big life changes, allowing individuals to be positive, productive and vital in a rapidly changing world. Find her at, and her books on Amazon and Barnes &

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