1) Fresh Bread
Just before I left the states, I read a handful of Wendell Berry’s agrarian essays. Berry talks a lot about the problems we’ve created in America by distancing food from its production. Here, the gulf between farm and table is much, much smaller. Things like fruit, vegetables, and bread are typically fresh and local. And let me tell you—there’s nothing like fresh bread from the bakery early in the morning.
2) Mid-afternoon sunshine
My studio apartment is never warm. In fact, on most days the cold is bone-chilling. Even when I’m all bundled up in my boots, socks and sweaters, my feet feel the cold seeping up through the tile flooring. So I spend my afternoons on the porch in the sunlight enjoying the perfect weather outside.
3) Sandy beaches
At home, my family loves to drive to Lake Michigan in the evenings just to watch the sunset. Sitting on the beach here, listening to the waves lap at the shore—it makes me feel connected to the people I love across the world.
4) Hercule Poirot
Mysteries are my security blanket. They’re reassuringly liturgical in the midst of chaos. Always the question: who did it? Always the response: So-and-so did. Choices, consequences, logic, deduction. Somehow, it’s deeply comforting.
5) Blue keyhole-shaped doors
6) Dinners and movie nights with this girl and her family
They’ve introduced me to everything I know about navigating life and culture here—I’ve introduced them to Studio C.
7) Warm blankets and hair dryers
It’s coldest at night, so I warm up my pajamas with the blow dryer before I hop under my blankets. It took me a whole month to break down and buy that blow dryer, but boy am I glad I did.
8) Hiking with new friends
While teaching is a big challenge, I’m so grateful to be working with these lovely ladies! Last weekend, we went hiking together up north. It’s so much fun to explore the country with them.
9) The scent of blooming jasmine
10) All the texts, emails, and calls from the squad back home
I’m so grateful to everyone who has reached out since I moved. Your prayers and encouragement help me to be brave every morning. Also, a special shoutout to all my teacher friends who’ve helped me out with ideas for classroom management—you guys are life savers.
To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.Thomas Merton