Most blogs have their own “This Month’s Favorites” or “10 things I’m loving this week” series, and they always feature some physical products. Nothing wrong with it (except, IMHO, when 100% of these things are sponsored), but at the same time I feel like I could get stuck in this perpetual cycle of having to get excited about a new material thing every week, and be forced to look out for new stuff and focus on the materialism so much that it becomes the main thing in my life… Does that make sense? As a reader of these blogs, I do enjoy these posts, but if I read them regularly – week after week or month after month – I find myself excited and wanting to try so many new things (after all, they’re SO PHENOMENAL!) that I just get lost and confused. And “try” = “buy”, and living just for the sole purpose of buying new exciting things is not how I want to live my life.
Sometimes I realize I’m really “craving” a make-up product that I don’t use at all, and would probably only use once or twice before it becomes a safety hazard, just because a blogger endorsed it so hard it sounds like an absolute must-have for any human being with a face. Sometimes I start to doubt a blogger’s credibility, because one month they insist that this, let’s say, blush is the best to have ever existed, while the next month they find one that’s a new must-have, forget all they said before, this one is the best… I get it, they’re people too, and they keep trying new releases and if they like them, they’ll say so on the blog, but when every blush they try is the best, then… You know?
Hence, I decided to also have a series like that, but focus on things that aren’t material at all. Kind of like a practice in gratitude. Or slightly material, but not product recommendations. I’ll try to do that weekly, but if I don’t find enough inspiration, I’ll do it monthly.
3 immaterial things I’m loving this Sunday
1. The eternal Texas summer.
A few months before I moved from Poland to the US in 2016, I was crying for and daydreaming about the Texas heat, even though I knew exactly how deadly it was, because I had spent a summer here before – yep, the three hottest months in the year.
While talking about the weather may be the British national sport, complaining about the weather is definitely a Polish specialty. Poland lies in the temperate climate zone, where winters are cold and snowy, spring is nice and moderate with gentle rain that makes pretty flowers pop from underneath the ground and on the trees, fall is marked by low temperatures and heavy, ugly rain that penetrates your bones and make you freeze on the inside, whereas summer… Well, Lady Summer is just a big troll. It used to be the most pleasant time of the year, and I remember that from my early childhood. The hottest temperature used to be about 28 degrees Celsius (82 degrees Fahrenheit), and I recall getting a heatstroke during a school trip on a “scorching” day like that. These days, with all the climate change, we have a week or two of 33 C/90 F – which is a problem for a country where no one, up until several years ago, even needed to think about installing air conditioning. Then, whenever you go on a vacation anywhere in Poland, it rains all the time and the temperature can drop to 20 C/68 F. There aren’t too many dreamy, pleasant days like the ones I remember from my childhood. That’s a big problem for me, for, despite coming from the land of ice and snow, I am a warmth-loving creature. Here in Texas, there’s definitely no shortage of that, but I mind only a little bit. Very hot and humid weather makes me feel like I’m on a vacation in one of the top holiday destinations, like Italy, Spain, or Tunisia. I try to remind myself of that every time I need to bike somewhere in 35 C/90 F heat and arrive profusely drenched in sweat.
Another reason I’m grateful for living in a hot place is that I have a lot of sinus problems. I don’t know why, but I constantly suffer from post-nasal drip, and cold temperatures and cold wind blowing in my face give me headaches. In the last year of my stay in Poland these issues intensified to the extent that made me leave work early a few times (thank God I worked in a lax environment and had a very laid-back manager, otherwise I would have died), and made it very hard for me to have a life after work. I signed up for a yoga class and only went once, because every week after that I either had a headache, was very, VERY gassy or left work too late. I had a free gym pass and only went a few times (gym was something I could go to regardless of when I left work or how gassy I was). Here, in this very warm environment, I don’t get these headaches nearly as often, maybe once or twice a month. I can finally live.
2. The joy of interacting with a child.
I recently discovered that if I let go of my expectations and the need for gratification, I can find joy and an opportunity for spiritual growth in playing with my friends’ little 2-year-old. It helps that she’s really smart and funny, I admit. How does that help me become a better person? I explain it in a separate post.
3. Being able to enjoy all foods.
I’m grateful that I don’t have any life-threatening allergies. Sure, I’m lactose-intolerant, gluten makes my stomach bloat and I get super gassy from any FODMAP-containing food, but I can have them. My throat won’t seize up when I have peanuts, even though they make me mucusy, for some reason. I can try anything and I don’t have to eat foods wondering if the “trace amounts” of my allergen will make me gasp for air.
I saw that in the evening news one day. Evening news is something every major TV station in Poland has, anywhere between 6 and 8 p.m., when anchors summarize the most important events from the country, the world, and often they’ll do segments about some everyday life stuff, like this kid is dying and needs money for experimental therapy, or that level-headed smart girl died of trace amounts of peanuts in a chocolate at a friend’s house. Yes, this happened. She knew she had acute peanut allergy and she did a fantastic job examining every package for allergy information, she carried an EpiPen with her, and she died because the “trace amounts” of peanuts in that one single chocolate weren’t trace at all. Because turns out that there’s no standard definition for “trace amounts”. She ate things that claimed to have trace amounts of peanuts in them all the time and she was fine. Except for that one stupid day at a friend’s house when she didn’t have her EpiPen with her. She ate the chocolate, her throat seized up, she fell to the floor, whispering, “daddy, I’m dying” – and then she died before anyone could help her. I never cry for any of these poor kids suffering from a rare disease in need of a drug or families who lost everything in a fire. But after watching this, tears streamed down my face. “Daddy, I’m dying”, she called faintly to her father, who was at home, unaware his daughter was giving up her last breath because of a gap in food safety regulations. I have to hold back my tears as I write this right now.
I’m grateful that, despite mildly annoying consequences, I can enjoy all the flavors of life. Food is a wonderful thing, especially when you get to share it with someone awesome. I love trying new foods and having the ones that I already know I love. For me, trying local specialties is a vital part of visiting a foreign country. I’m grateful that I can do that.
And how about you, dear readers, if you exist? What are you grateful for?