Hey Again Steemitizens,
This is a post I need to write today.
I didn't know I needed to write it when I woke up, but @malos10 sent me his to show me he included me in his list and challenged me to join him in this exercise. Upon reflecting on his request, I realized it was time for another heart dump, so let's carry on here together, as my heart takes a dump on this page.
Yeah, I know how that last sentence sounded. Maybe I meant it that way... Not all shit posts are created equally.
Let's just get right to it. Here are is the countdown of ten things I am grateful for:
10. - Human Angels.
I'm not the only human to ever suffer a hardship. I know, that's hard to believe. But I've had a pretty solid load.
I've been dumped and divorced by an adulterer, my homes have been robbed empty, and even burned to the ground. I've had my child taken away for years of sparse visitation thanks to lying exes and corrupt judge later sued and derobed for gender discrimination, I've been in car accidents, farm accidents and weather catastrophes, I've been stranded in street clothes in a white out insta-blizzard in spring in the Rocky Mountains in the middle of nowhere on a lonely highway for 18 hours till rescue arrived. I've literally fallen off a cliff from a hiking trail landslide and landed in front of an oncoming train, I've been homeless, I've been sued.
I have lost my most important family members to cancer, MS, and alcoholism/diabetes, I've buried way too many of my best friends through the years, gone too soon in each case...
I could go on, and the stories only get more frequent, and incredulous. Suffice it to say, nearly everything I do ends in some kind of hardship, loss, or heartbreak.
And when those things happened?
Friends, strangers, and passersby have rescued me, kept me alive and saved my life. Sparing the details of how and who, because it's been countless times and dozens of loving people, HUMAN ANGELS have been there, providing what I needed when I couldn't provide it myself.
This may be the most important and could be number one, but since it was also the very first thought I had, we'll leave it here.
Thank you, Angels. For everything.
9. - Animal Angels
Human angels mean everything, but not to be forgotten are my two precious pet dogs. I rescued them five years ago from the humane society just three days before they were to be put down. They had been raised together, and no one would adopt them as a pair, mostly because one of them is a black lab and it's a rescue fact that black dogs just don't get adopted as often as any other kind, because people seem to associate them with being scary or something. Also the pair were both 7 years old with 12 year life expectancies. Old dogs don't do well in rescues either.
We had something in common. We were left on our own, with nothing but death ahead of us. So it seemed like a match and I brought them both home.
Last year, both contracted a rare form of soil borne parasite and one also developed heartworms and a skin condition during that. During treatment one managed to further wound himself not once, but twice, as he healed, got more energetic about going on walks and managed to bounce his head off the corner of a wall near my front door causing head wounds called aural hematomas to both his ears on two separate instances.
We lived on an off-grid farm and conditions were rough for all three of us for the four years preceding this past one, and this is how they got exposed to the bad situations. They both nearly died and it took to-date, around eleven THOUSAND dollars spent on emergency vets and follow up care so far. Guess what? Human angels helped again, in so many ways, with that as well.
I have lived alone for the past 14 years. For the last five, somewhat in isolated conditions, and these dogs have been my companions, confidantes, friends, and warmth on frozen 15F winter nights off grid in the hills of North Carolina.
I have also owned cats, horses, a mule, goats and chickens, all did their part in occupying my time and mind and kept me from going crazy alone. Most of the cats got killed by predators on the farm over time, or ran away, and the mule broke the hotwire fence and escaped one night in a storm and was killed by a vehicle in the dark. It was loss after loss with the animals for a while, no matter what I tried to keep them contained, safe and away from danger.
Mentally, emotionally and physically, my dogs though, have helped keep me alive the most. I can only continue to return the favor.
8. - Emotions
Y'all already know I have these in spades. But why would such a vague thing make the list? Because after all I've been through, all I've won and lost at in this crazy little thing called life, I feel things harder than ever. The other option was to become completely numb to everything and to stop caring at all. Those are your addicts, your suicides. I've been dangerously close to these edges. More times than I care to admit. But I am able to keep on keeping on, because of the love of people so graciously given to me by those people in number ten up there.
I cry a lot, for a grown man. But I also laugh a lot. I feel strong, and I hurt. Just like you. And I'm super grateful to the powers that be, for allowing me to live, and feel. When I feel my most useless or inhuman, this is how you remind me.
7. - All the people supporting the YouAreHOPE Foundation here on Steem
Last October 16th, on World Food Day, @Malos10 and I launched what would become the first steem exclusive, blockchain transparent worldwide humanitarian aid foundation.
In the year since then, your generous steem community member donations and boots on the ground support have enabled us to collectively serve the basic needs of thousands of people in economically and catastrophically distraught regions around the world, in nearly a dozen countries!
We couldn't do this without all who participate, because it's all of you who contribute in ANY fashion, who are really the ones doing it anyway.
An immeasurable amount of gratitude fills that cup and it's running over.
6. - @CrimsonClad
Bit of a risk putting this here, because she's probably not going to be fond of me singling her out when there are 1000 other people close to me I could also name as important.
But if you know why she made the list, and if you know me, then you know, so it's an obvious inclusion. If you don't quite understand what I'm not writing out fully here, suffice it to say I have no mistaken perceptions about how lucky I am to still be able to carefully call her my best friend. She knows more about me than anyone on the planet, and I've given her a million, no ten million reasons never to speak to me again. Losing her friendship would leave the largest rip in my universe I can imagine these days.
This one is all gratitude, mixed with a very large dose of shame.
5. - Second chances, third chances...
At this point, thanks to stress and heartache and anger related outbursts and poor EQ scores, (see #8) nearly all of you who know me, have had to give me at least one more try.
And I'll keep trying.
That's the best I got.
4. - Marijuana
Time to lighten the mood a little, and what better way, than with some of mother nature's finest. Over the past 35 years of smoking pot, it has helped me not kill a dude that borked my wife, stay sane when faced with seemingly insurmountable issues, and kept me eating and sleeping when I'm not very good at staying on top of either one.
This may seem like a really odd or even disconcerting thing to include, but here's another angle, nearly everyone on my mother's side of the house is a genetic alcoholic. Most of them suffer debilitating illnesses caused by it, and it took my closest cousin's life last year. That would have been me too, but my oldest sister (also now deceased) "turned me on" when I was only about 13 and caught her. If she hadn't, Id have probably turned to booze instead, and the way things go with MY luck and misfortune, I'd most assuredly be very, very dead by now, if that had been the case. A car accident, or one of those myopic moments of despair, with a handgun always within reach.
Most of my life long friends out there, are part of my life in part because that common habit got us together at some point, and despite a run in or two with the law over it in the last few decades, it's mostly been nothing but absolutely helpful in being the exact OPPOSITE of a "gateway drug" for me. It's what KEPT me from drinking and coking myself to death, ever since I fell in love with it.
3. - Being able to communicate on the internet
Without this, we wouldn't be here, but further, without this, because of the circumstances and conditions and history of my life leading me where it has, I'd be so lost, alone and lonely that it's yet another thing on this list, that has literally kept me alive. Educated me, introduced me to new places, people, things and experiences, led to my career and was a catalyst in things that lead to me having the amazingly GOOD fortune to travel all around the world, and already have friends in half a dozen countries scattered across the globe when I got there.
2. - My 25 year old daughter
She won't see this, and you don't know her, so I'm not going to get very elaborate here. Every parent is grateful for their children. For me, since she was wrongfully taken from my life for nearly a decade, until when 18, she fled her mother's home and resumed contact with me, it's even more underscored. Because I did lose her. For a long time. And it was and remains, one of the most mortal wounds in my soul, not to have seen her become an adult.
But I love the adult she is, and my time with her from birth to the age of 12, when the unjust and later rightfully corrected family courts blocked her away from me. I was able to see her once or twice a year for a few hours usually during all that time, and it was always just like two strangers trying to figure each other out. We still are, and now, adult lives and geographical distance are our hurdle, along with trying to figure out where we fit together now. But she is the only person I have in life who says "I love you" to me anymore at all ever really. It's been a couple years since I heard that from anyone else I believed, -- and further, means it in a way more than the way we say to each other around here on social media so often.
This one moves me to tears all the time in gratitude that we didn't stay lost and disconnected forever.
1. - You
If you read ALL of this, you either came here to support me - see item 10, or to find another way to add pain to my life, and you know what? In the immortal words of Coco Chanel, "love me or hate me, at least you are thinking about me"
And isn't that the crux of the whole thing for us frail humans? To be thought of? Remembered? Cared for? Cared about?
People love to say "I don't care what people think about me!"
People also lie to themselves and others a lot.
I'm grateful for this opportunity to be honest with you... WITH you.
Bonus round: Everyone I didn't mention by name, my witness team, and those in heaven who aren't around to be tagged. If you touched my life, I am grateful, and I probably told you so, but if I didn't well, give me a minute, there are a WHOLE BUNCH OF YOU!
Thank you all,
PS: If you want to know more about gratitude, thank someone you are grateful to, and wait for the results.
 THANKS @Liberty-Minded :) :)