"Happy Birthday, Duchess. You have not listed the 5,000 things you are grateful that you already have."
Thank you, Father Sez: I have, at least 5,000 reasons to be grateful, including my children. So here's the flip side of the birthday list.
1. Original: Good health and the continued good health of my loved ones
Grateful spin: I'm grateful for my good health and for the good health of those that I love. I can see, hear, jump, dance and write. I feel blessed.
2. A spa date at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne
I recently attended a business retreat at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne. After the formal workshop sessions, we were offered free chair massages, manicures or pedicures and a free makeover. I left the event feeling great and looking great.
3. Financial security
Due to new opportunities, including a full-time job with a non-profit organization, my personal finance outlook has improved. I've also started other initiatives that will help. I'm grateful for those opportunities.
4. Lower gas prices
The recent spike in gas prices has prompted us to talk more about public transportation, conservation and fuel-efficient cars. That's a side benefit.
5. More funding for public transportation and education
I am grateful that I have the right to vote and to lobby for community programs that benefit all. And as public transportation becomes more popular, more voters will support funding for mass transit.
6. Sailing lessons and a sailboat
I am grateful that I have friends with boats. I'm grateful that it's very affordable to rent a boat for the day through some of our public or private marine clubs and centers.
7. Peace & forgiveness from anyone I've upset, angered, annoyed, hurt...
Working on this and I'm grateful.
8. Daily yoga classes with my favorite trainers
There are several low-cost yoga classes offered in many neighborhoods. These resources include: community centers, public gardens, hospitals and area schools. There are also free exercise tapes available through the public library.
9. World peace
I can start by making peace in personal areas of conflict.
10. Hot, sweet Cuban coffee with cream every morning: A cortadito!
We make great coffee at home. Nearby markets sell Cuban coffee for 50 cents to $1.29 a serving and I'm grateful for delicious cheap coffee.
11. Time to see every game, play or after-school event featuring my children
I have been blessed to attend sooo many games. I'm grateful for every rebound, song and dramatic speech I've witnessed my children deliver. I'm grateful that I have children. I'm grateful that I have work-commitments that often take me away from my children because the money earned supports my family. I'm grateful that my new employer has very family-friendly policies.
12. Season tickets to Miami Heat games
There are super cheap tickets for $10-12 each. It's also great to listen to a basketball game on the radio or to watch a game at a sports bar with my sons. Additionally, I am grateful to friends who have "gifted" us with game seats from time to time.
13. Enough time and discipline to answer all comments on my blog --Time to write more posts and articles
I'm grateful to be blogging here and now. As my time-management skills improve, I will find more time to write.
14. Funds to pay back my parents for all of the support they have given to me and my children over the years.
I'm working on this. Meanwhile, I'm so grateful for their support and the support of my siblings.
15. More time to resume my (MFA) graduate-degree studies
It's never too late to earn a graduate degree. I'm so grateful for the semester that I spent reading and writing papers for a graduate program. And if I don't earn my degree until I'm 60 or 70, that's fine.
16. Makeup/cosmetics without preservatives and other harmful chemicals
Read the labels. Do your homework and don't spend money on products that could compromise your health. Thankfully there are websites and information about harmful cosmetics. More companies are also creating organic lines of personal care products.
17. An afternoon with Toni Morrison, Angela Davis and Oprah
I'm grateful for the Internet, which provides me with virtual mentoring sessions with those women and others.
18. Great sales for my book: The Frugal Duchess: How to Live Well & Save.
The book party at Books & Books in Miami Beach was a success. Over 150 people showed up and I signed books for two hours. I'm grateful for every sale and I'm glad that my family and friends have purchased so many copies of my book.
19. Enough money to fund parenting workshops for teenage mothers
There are so many community programs that offer this service. Why not write a check? Even a small donation will help.
20. A new battery for my laptop
Order a darn battery and stop complaining.
21. A complete collection of Sex and the City -- I just started watching that HBO series
Order, borrow or check out clips on YouTube.
22. A copy of every movie adapted from a Jane Austen novel
I'm grateful for the library and the video store. I also enjoy all of the fan literary sites that offer creative versions and updates of Jane Austen tales.
23. To be debt-free
There are so many resources online, in the bookstore and in the personal finance network. Make a plan and stick to it.
24. Defensive driving lessons and the courage to finally start driving
I'm grateful for public transportation. I'm grateful that I have so many friends who drive.
25. A trust fund to launch a national billboard campaign in support of public transportation
During recent television and radio interviews, I've mentioned public transportation. I'm grateful for the opportunities.
26. A financial planning session with Warren Buffett
Go online. Use the Internet. Virtual mentoring is wonderful.
27. My own Frugal Duchess show on YouTube.
Don't complain. Don't wish. Just shoot, point and talk.
28. Teflon skin
29. Enough money to adopt or support at least five more children.
Start saving and be grateful for the children you have.
30. A weekly facial date.
I'm grateful that I have inherited great skin from my parents. The Internet has great resources for do-it-yourself facials and home spas.
31. To become very skilled at giving myself a french manicure
Thankfully, there are wonderful kits on the market. Invest and practise.
32. To be a better speller and proof-reader
I'm grateful: My new job forces me to be more detail-oriented. I'm learning to pay better attention. And thank goodness for spellcheck functions!
33. To be more patient with myself and others
Okay. It's a process.
34. To allocate 10 minutes a day for meditation, no matter how busy
I'm grateful for the daily planning programs on my computer. I will add meditation to the action plan.
35. To become a third-degree black belt in karate
I'm grateful for my limited martial arts training and I'm grateful for my newfound self-honesty, which prompts me to ask: Do you really want to spar, break boards and kick someone in the jaw? Do you really want to be a target?
Try tai-chi. Just chill out and forget the competitive parts of martial arts.
36. T0 get seven hours of sleep each night
Thank Goodness for Shabbas! During the weekly Sabbath, I nap a lot on Saturday afternoons. Also: I'm grateful that work and other creative opportunities keep me up late at night during the rest of the week.
37. To keep my house neater
I'm working on this.
38. To take a cruise to Alaska
Thank goodness for the Caribbean cruise I took two years ago with my parents and extended family to celebrate my mom's 70th birthday.
39. To let go of anger, depression and fear
I'm working on this. Thankfully.
40. To invest in stress-reduction classes
41. To be better about sending out thank-you notes
Thankfully, I recognize that this is a problem and I have been better about saying: Thank You!
42. To be completely honest with myself
43. To be better and quicker at detecting the big and small lies I tell myself
44. To be kinder to others
Working on this!
45. To eat ice cream every day without worrying about my weight
I'm grateful that ice cream remains a special treat. I'm grateful that I am no longer super skinny. I am grateful for size inflation because although I have gained 25 pounds since my twenties, (jumping to 115 pounds from 90 pounds), I still wear the same clothing size.
46. To have more children in my life.
I'm grateful for all of the children who are already in my life. I'm blessed.
47. To be more appreciative.
Grateful that I recognize this as a fault. Grateful to all who have pointed out this fault.
48. To bake my own bread and eat only organic food.
Grateful to have the resources to buy organic food. (I shop the sales.) I'm grateful to friends who have offered to bake bread with me.
49. To learn a few ballroom dances
Grateful for all of the times that I have waltzed with my dad. Grateful for all of the times I have danced around the house with my children.
Do I really want Crush to whip my butt on the Pyramid? Do I really want Helga to tackle me?
I don't think so. I'm grateful for the Internet, which enables me to watch some of my favorite shows online.
And if you've read this far: I'm grateful to you for listening to me.