I am so grateful that I don’t have much of a filter between my thoughts and my words, either spoken or written. I am grateful that I am who I write I am. A friend called it coming to voice and it is a gift or a skill not to be taken for granted. I had never thought of it that way. I had taken it for granted. I had believed it was a given. I write therefore I am is how I had always considered myself. I have learned to speak as I think. I have dropped the falsetto tone adopted  in my teens. I speak slower, lower and deeper so that the voice in my mind matches the sound that comes out of my mouth.

I need to talk just as much as I need to write. I need to say out loud the thoughts swarming about my head. Because thoughts can hurt, thoughts can be mean, thoughts can be crazy, and thoughts can be untrue. This is what I’m thinking. How does it sound when I say it out loud? Would I say to a friend that which I am saying to me? And if that is true, how does my friend react? Does he or she recoil? Does what I am saying cause pain?

I am grateful to be honest. I am grateful to be clear. I am grateful to mean what I say, because then I am held to another standard of integrity…my actions. Do I do what I say I am going to do? Do my words carry the weight of conviction? Do I think, speak, and act in alignment? Do I expect more from others than of myself, or vice versa?

Because I am able to express my beliefs, dreams and aspirations, just as clearly as my obstacles, challenges and frustrations I make myself available for assistance, maybe in the form of compassion, maybe in the form of criticism, either way I am held accountable.  I am grateful to be able to form alliances. I never take for granted the confidences given, or the love that is offered through action. I am grateful that I am able to earn the allegiance of friends and strangers. I am grateful for the bonds of family, both biological and chosen.

To be family means to sacrifice for each other. It’s an old school ideal, I know, but it rings true for me. Whatever our valuables are, when we offer them to each other without the expectation of payment, we are family. Time, affection, cash, understanding, patience, honesty… all of those are the commodities that family exchange in. Family challenges us, family supports us, family are the people that when I close my eyes to visualize everything I could ever want for myself, they are right there with me.

I am not much for material reward. Not really my dream to own as much of anything or everything available. I am grateful to have the basics covered. I am really grateful for my health and that of my children and parents. And that is my truth. My thoughts, words and actions all support that belief. It is amazing to me that I live such a healthy lifestyle. Amazing. It was not predestined, it was not a given.

I feel the need to qualify my statement, to say how imperfect I am in that endeavor, that yes, if you wanted, you could pick the way I live to pieces and come up with all kinds of ways that I am full of shit, but then again, I don’t give a damn. It’s not about comparison. I am amazed at the level of care I give myself and how sustainable it feels to me. I am so grateful to not feel deprived. I am grateful for the perception of choice that I carry within me.

I am grateful to be loyal to those I call my own. I am grateful that being a friend of mine means something.  Grateful for those who look into my eyes and find what they need.  Grateful for the solace I can provide in troubled times, grateful to bring the celebration to their successes. It feels so good to be real. I feel so good at not being fake. I am grateful to add my voice to the chorus.