30 Days of Gratitude (The Finale)

We have reached the conclusion of our project. If you’d like to see everything you may have missed please go here, here, here, here, & here. I have truly enjoyed the mental & emotional exercise. It’s really easy to give lip service to gratitude, but actually having to give some thought to what you are thankful for is a whole different ballgame. I don’t know if I will ever do this again (atleast for awhile unless my life significantly changes) but I’m glad I decided to do things this way instead of simply giving superficial answers in a Facebook post. As we transition into the Christmas season let me encourage everyone to continue practicing, expressing, & being mindful of gratitude.

26 What form of expression are you most grateful for??

Writing, no question. I am not particularly artistic and can’t really sing. I respect all forms of expression, but have always felt much more comfortable communicating thru the written word than verbal communication. Of the many regrets I have, near the top of the list has to be the fact that I never knew how to pursue a writing career. 

27 What small thing that you use daily are you grateful for??

Let’s be honest…most of us are pretty darn spoiled. We have access to things to make our lives easier that our parents & grandparents could have never fathomed decades ago. I have gadgets that hadn’t even been invented when I was a kid. Narrowing it down is nearly impossible, but I’ll play along & single out a few apps on my phone. I’ve mentioned ad nauseum my love for music, and the evolution of how we enjoy it is fascinating. 8 tracks & vinyl gave way to cassettes, which were replaced by compact discs. Big ol’ record players that you couldn’t move without help were replaced by component stereos & boom boxes, which then gave way to handheld Walkman CD players & eventually iPods. Now, most everyone has a music app on their phone allowing us to listen to whatever we want whenever we choose, and that technology has been a godsend for me as I’ve spent many lonely nights in places I didn’t want to be in the last few years. Allow me to also give a shout out to weather, photo editing, & personal banking apps. 

28 What small thing that happened today are you thankful for??

Peace & quiet. I’m not going to go into details, but suffice to say that I had more tranquility in my world today than usual. The older I get the more I enjoy being alone & not bothered by anyone’s foolishness. Unfortunately one cannot avoid it altogether. Sometimes it is necessary to sacrifice serenity to get things done. I always enjoyed the sitcom Frasier and fancied myself a bit like Frasier & Niles Crane, only cooler. I crave conversations about literature, history, philosophy, music, and various other subjects. Instead I’ve found myself as a character in a Roseanne-seque dramedy in which most of the “conversations” (trust me…I use that term very loosely) I’m forced to endure are cringeworthy at best, and occasionally have me fantasizing about hurling myself out of my fifth floor living room window. I am grateful for an occasional respite. 

29 What friend/family member are you grateful for today??

I love my family, but I’ll seize an opportunity to heap praise on my father. I’ve always felt an underlying current of guilt, knowing that my Dad was a young man of 26 with a wife & daughter and pretty decent life until I came along. Decades of dealing with my problems have followed, from dozens of surgeries & hospital visits to more comprehensive personal care than most kids require. I’ve always felt like a burden to family & friends, which is why a) independence has been a focus of my life, and b) I mostly keep to myself to this very day. I know my situation isn’t my fault…but it’s not anyone else’s either, so I do anything & everything in my power not to bother anyone else if I can possibly avoid it, which gets pretty lonely sometimes. At any rate, Dad would give all the credit to my mother for the care she gave me growing up because that’s just how he rolls. He’s not wrong…Mom deserves a ton of admiration for everything she did for me, which is probably why I’ve never been the same since her death. However, she’s been gone for over two decades, and Dad has really went above & beyond for my sister and myself since both of us have had our fair share of issues. That sense of guilt has evolved & intensified because at this point I feel like I should be taking care of Dad, but he continues to be there for me. I’m actually a bit verklempt as I write this, pondering just how crucial he has been to my life way after most adult children have moved beyond needing their parents so much. 

30 What talent or skill do you have that you are grateful for??

I don’t feel like I’m all that talented or skilled at much of anything. However, I am thankful for a trait that has developed over the course of time. This may not make much sense to anyone else, but I’m grateful for the ability to roll with the punches. I know life hurls curveballs at everyone. Very few people lead an effortless existence. I try not to wallow in the challenges that I face, but I am honest about things & don’t avoid them. To that extent, I think my disposition has mellowed thru the years, to the point that I don’t get too bent out of shape about things. Once upon a time I resided in a “skilled” rehab facility for about six months, followed by about a year of being homebound. During that time an acquaintance asked me how I handled it because they’d be beating their head against a wall. I don’t know how or why I handle certain circumstances. Perhaps it is because I have no other choice. Maybe I inherited my low-key demeanor from my parents. I definitely believe my faith plays a part. Whatever the reason, I am grateful that I take whatever is thrown at me and swat it away like an annoying pest. I’m not a home run hitter, and really don’t get on base all that much. But I’ve spent a lifetime hitting foul balls and keeping my at-bat going. 


If you’d like to peruse the previous entries go here and you’ll find what you seek.

I had the best of intentions…really. Things didn’t work out though, but in the best possible way. Instead of authoring a wordy post about Thanksgiving I was actually living in the moment & celebrating the holiday with my family. After I got home the decision was made to vegg thru my carb overload stupor & watch football, and I’m not sorry. It’s all good though. It has always struck me how we tend to anticipate & plan for certain occasions, and then five seconds after it’s over we just move on to the next thing. Understandable I guess. As that sage high school slacker Ferris Bueller once said, “life moves pretty fast”, but he also said “if you don’t stop & look around once in a while you could miss it”. Perhaps we should consider still being thankful even when Thanksgiving is over. 

21 What song are you most grateful for??

My taste in music is eclectic to say the least. I like hard rock, soft rock, jazz, blues, & a little bit of country. Occasionally the mood to chill with some classical hits me. I love parody songs. I enjoy anything with a lot of harmony…like a barbershop quartet. Some contemporary Christian stuff is okay, but I tend to prefer old hymns. I really dig old crooners like Frank Sinatra & Dean Martin. Big band music is cool. Music is a mood thing for me, although no matter what kind of mood I’m in at the start, once I start listening to some tunes it calms & centers me. I’m so thankful for music in general that it’s really difficult to choose just one or even a few songs, but I’ll throw out a few from different genres. Amazing GraceThe 1812 Overture. Almost anything by Billy Joel (I celebrate the guy’s entire catalog). Simple Man (Lynyrd Skynyrd). Gimme Some Lovin’ (IYKYK). Ain’t That a Kick in the Head (Dean Martin). I really could go on & on. 

22 What story are you grateful for??

What an odd question 🤔. Books?? Short stories?? A story that someone told me?? I’m not sure I understand the intent. Given that, I will give a shout out to my man Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who wrote 56 short stories (and four novellas) about the amazing Sherlock Holmes

23 What tradition are you thankful for??

I wrote in detail about it a couple of years ago, but I am thankful that for over four decades I was privileged to enjoy a somewhat traditional Italian Christmas Eve with my extended family. Sadly those days are gone now, and I miss it. I miss my mother and all my grandparents, and I miss gathering for what seemed like a magical night of fellowship & food. I don’t even like fish all that much, but for one night every year oysters, calimari, & baccala were the stars of the menu, and nothing else tasted quite as delicious. 

24 What challenge are you grateful for??

The Bible says there is privilege in suffering (Philippians 1:29), but I have to be blatantly honest…I’ve had enough challenges to last a lifetime. Occasionally I’ll run across a person who seemingly leads a charmed life. Everything apparently comes up roses for them, and it’d be deceitful for me not to admit that I am envious of folks like that. I am self aware enough to know that much of what has gone awry in my life is my own fault, but sometimes the losses pile up and it’s exhausting. Having said all of that, I do understand that things could be much worse, and I recognize God’s guidance in my life. Those who know me personally are aware that I have used a wheelchair my whole life due to being born with spina bifida. I have faced more challenges than anyone will ever realize, and though I can’t truthfully say I am grateful for the cards I was dealt, I have pondered what kind of a person a healthy, able-bodied Me would’ve been like. Cooler?? Healthier?? Better looking?? Maybe. But would I have also had a totally different personality & outlook…and would that be a good thing?? Might healthy Me have been a total assclown?? If attracting women would have been easier what kind of trouble might I have gotten into??  If more options to distract me had been available how would that have affected my schoolwork?? What would my relationship with my family have been like if I didn’t need so much help as a kid?? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I know that I like the person I am, though that is far far from perfect. I have always believed that things happen for a reason, so I suppose it’s not a stretch to opine that we should be grateful for all of the challenges that ultimately influence who we become.

25 What moment this week are you most grateful for??

That’s easy. I was able to enjoy Thanksgiving with my father, sister, & two nephews. My Mom passed in 2000, and almost every year since then we’ve gone out to eat, with the exception of a few occasions in which my health prevented me from participating. That was fine. However, earlier this year my youngest nephew bought his father’s old house, and he wanted to host Thanksgiving. Like myself he is a bachelor (although he’s a lot younger so that’ll change eventually), but he did most of the cooking himself, and everything was quite tasty. Food. Family. Football. It doesn’t get much better than that. 

Okay, let’s pause one last time. Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion…coming soon!!


Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some. – Charles Dickens

I will skip a wordy preamble and just encourage you to check out Parts 1 & 2 if you have not already done so. 

11 What holiday are you grateful for??

I really love holidays. Sure, some are more meaningful than others, but each & every occasion we celebrate annually is marked on the calendar for a reason. A few go back centuries, while others are only several decades old. A handful are uniquely American observances, while others are recognized across the globe. I have a healthy respect for all of these days, but there are four that I am especially pleased to acknowledge. Obviously the entire reason any of us are participating in these gratitude exercises is due to Thanksgiving. Someday I’ll take the time to do a deep dive into the holiday, but for now I’ll just say that I believe it is fantastic to set aside a day to really appreciate our blessings, mark the very beginnings of our great country, and of course munch on stuffing & pumpkin pie. I also love New Year’s Day, partly because it’s a fun reason to go out & enjoy some (safe & responsible) revelry the night before, but mostly because there’s something very cool about fresh starts & new beginnings. As a Christian (though admittedly not a very good one) I love Easter as an opportunity to reflect on the gift of eternal life provided to us thru the sacrifice of our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ. And of course I adore Christmas, both because it marks the birth of Christ and also for the beautiful things…lights, music, movies, etc….that have become lovely accessories to the Reason for the Season. 

12 What texture are you grateful for??

I’m going to be honest with y’all…I’ve really struggled with the question. It’s just not something one thinks about. Of course I suppose that’s the point…to provoke thought. At any rate, I have a few ideas. First, is a particular texture really what you’re grateful for…or is it what that texture represents?? 🤔 Secondly…are warmth & cool considered texture?? I ponder that query because the first things that popped into my mind were the warmth one feels when you snuggle underneath a cozy comforter on a cold winter night, and conversely, the coolness of a cool summer breeze or the rush of cold as you walk into an air conditioned room on a hot summer day. As far as tactile texture, I immediately thought of my boy Rocco’s soft fur. I really miss that.

13 What abilities are you grateful for??

I suppose we all have abilities, although I don’t feel like I’m all that talented at anything. Perhaps I’m too hard on myself. Anyway, as a person with a disability it is interesting to consider the idea simply because oftentimes the focus…understandably…is on what I can’t do. So, thinking more positively, I am grateful for the senses that I do have…sight, hearing, taste, touch. On a more personal level, I am obviously grateful for whatever level of writing ability I seem to possess, even though I haven’t been smart enough to turn it into a profitable vocation. Also…and this is going to sound strange, but you’ll understand my point…I am grateful for the relatively tranquil demeanor & ability to roll with the punches that I inherited from my father. Trust me…I’ve needed every ounce of that throughout my life.

14 What sight are you grateful for today??

Sight in & of itself is something for which I am deeply grateful. As a wheelchair user I have often said that I’d much rather deal with the disability that I have rather than blindness (or being deaf). There are so many cool things to see. Right now I am looking out my living room window, and even though it’s cold & a lil snowy outside the sun is shining and it’s a beautiful day. Later on tonight I will curl up with a good book, so that’s a sight I’ll enjoy. Soon enough the landscape will be littered with lights & decorations celebrating Christmas, and that’s a sight I look forward to every year. 

15 What season are you grateful for??

My typical smartass answer to this question is football season. It’s true though!! I haven’t been able to attend a lot of games in person thru the years, but on weekends in the fall, unless I am engaged in other activities, there’s nothing better than vegging out & watching hours upon hours of gridiron action!! A more conventional response to the probable spirit of the question would be summer. I hate cold, snowy, icy, dark, depressing weather. Give me hot summer days & nights with plenty of sunshine. 

Okay, let’s pause once again. Stay tuned for more though!!

30 Days of Gratitude (Part Deux)

And we’re back!! If you haven’t perused Part 1 please take a moment to do so. You won’t regret it.

I’ve been using the words grateful/gratitude & thankful/thankfulness interchangeably and will continue to do so. However, it occurred to me that there might be a slight difference officially, and this is what I found. Thankfulness is feeling pleased & relieved, while gratefulness is showing appreciation for something done or received. Being thankful is more about expressing a feelingwhereas gratitude is action in response to something or someone that you appreciate. Thankfulness involves how we feel in the moment. It is a temporary emotional response to a temporary circumstance. Conversely, gratitude is an attitude under any circumstance, appreciating daily life even when nothing exciting happens. I get it. I don’t disagree with any of that. However, I will continue to utilize both terms as synonyms, and I’m pretty sure The Manoverse is sharp enough to keep up.

6 What in nature are you grateful for??

I think I’ve mentioned that I’m not at all outdoorsy (for legit reasons), and neither am I really into “saving the environment” (whatever that means). Having said that, I do have a healthy respect for God’s amazing creation. Many years ago I self-diagnosed myself with Seasonal Affective Disorder. I do not like grey, cloudy, rainy, depressing days, and I’m not a fan of snowy, cold, icy conditions. Television & movies romanticize snow, but I find it rather inconvenient. I guess what I’m saying is that I really appreciate sunshine. I simply feel more energetic & focused…more alive…on beautiful, sunny days. I always say that any day that I can wear my sunglasses is a good day, 

7 What memory are you grateful for??

That’s really difficult to narrow down. I hope that most of us have a plethora of great memories. However, I’ll give the spotlight to two. First, I’ve talked a few times about the lovely Thanksgivings & Christmases of my youth. Sadly, with my mother & all the grandparents gone those occasions are forever in the mist of bygone days, and since I don’t have any kids it’s impossible to create new memories that measure up. At the other end of the heartwarming nostalgia spectrum are my days as a drunken frat boy. That is probably the favorite era of my life, although I have no desire to relive those crazy times. I am so grateful for my childhood, my family, and my college friends & good times. It’s all been downhill from there. 

8 What book are you most grateful for??

I’ve ranked everything from movies to TV characters to cartoons in this space, but I’ve never done any such thing with books. Why?? Well, I don’t believe it’s feasible to compare & contrast books, and I definitely can’t choose just one as my favorite. That being said, in the spirit of the task at hand, I’ll give a shout out to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and his Sherlock Holmes stories. I cannot remember exactly when & how I stumbled upon Holmes, although I think it may have been junior high. Thru the years I have reread those tales many times, and it is always like the literary version of comfort food. I don’t know how many youngsters are discovering Holmes these days, but I encourage anyone who has never had the pleasure to give him a whirl. It’s a decision you won’t regret. 

9 What place are you most grateful for??

This one is easy: The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center. When I was a little boy the Robinson Grand was the local movie theater. I don’t have any specific memories of seeing anything there, although I know I did. Then malls became a thing, and when our local mall opened (complete with a shiny new cineplex) downtown died & the theater faded into oblivion. Flash ahead to 2018, and The Grand was renovated & reopened as a performing arts center. I happen to live about a mile away, so it is really convenient to drive down the street for a show. I live in a small, economically challenged town, and the theater holds about a thousand people, so the latest greatest rock band or that hot new country star isn’t walking thru the door, which is fine. I’ve seen several tribute bands, a handful of acts whose heyday was quite awhile ago, a couple of very well done local theater productions, and alot of other things at RGPAC. It’s always a nice way to spend the evening, and the staff has been first class from Day 1. I’m reminded of The Eagles 1979 song The Sad Cafe that says “oh it seemed like a holy place protected by amazing grace, and we would sing right out loud the things we could not say”, although I don’t want to give anyone the idea that there is anything sad about The Grand. To the contrary…it is my happy place.

10 What taste are you grateful for today??

Forgive me if I take these questions far too seriously. I suppose a simple, trite answer would suffice, but that’s not how I roll. In November 2015 I had a medical issue. I’ll spare you the details, but there are about three days of my life that I don’t remember at all. When I woke up in the hospital the plan was to perform surgery within 24 hours, so I wasn’t permitted to eat or drink, and I was so thirsty. I was given a tiny wet sponge, just enough to moisten my lips & tongue. If you’ve read your Bible you may recall in the book of John, as Jesus is hanging on the cross, He says “I thirst”. It goes on to say that “there was set a vessel full of vinegar…they filled a sponge with vinegar, put it upon hyssop, and put it to his mouth”. Don’t misunderstand…I am not comparing myself to Jesus, and I wasn’t given vinegar, but in that moment I thought of that scripture & truly understood thirst for probably the first time in my life. I don’t drink enough water even now, but that’s not the point. There are a ton of delicious food & beverage choices out there, but when you’ve experienced real thirst you deeply appreciate anything that will quench it.

Okay, let’s pause once again. Don’t worry…we’ll continue soon. 

30 Days of Gratitude (Part I)

People have been doing this on social media for several years, but I’ve always avoided it. Don’t misunderstand…I am quite thankful for many things. It’s not even the idea of posting something new on a daily basis. I’ve been doing a Song of the Day for the past two years, which has been fun, and anyone that follows me on Instagram knows I’m the Master of Memes. I suppose it’s more that I find this particular task both fascinating & challenging and believe it deserves a more thoughtful approach than flippant Facebook posts. Citizens of The Manoverse are familiar with my occasional verbosity, and I don’t want to blow up anyone’s timeline in such a manner. Why have a blog if it isn’t going to be used for stuff like this, right?? At any rate, I’ve decided to break things down in increments for the sake of readability, so non-sports fans of this space can rejoice…you’ll be getting something else other than football picks over the next couple of weeks. 

1 What smell are you grateful for today??

Unlike most guys I’m really into nice smells. I have multiple wax warmers in my apartment & enjoy keeping the ol’ Bachelor Palace fresh & cozy. I tend to prefer seasonal scents. Eucalyptus & lemon in the sunnier months. Pumpkin-ish aromas in the fall. Anything food related, so my humble abode smells like I just baked cookies or muffins or pie. Vanilla is a go to year round. I enjoy buying soap & body wash that smells nice, and I’ll usually throw on just enough cologne (there is such a thing as too much). I’m not an expert, but am protective of my smoldering machismo, so I try not to smell like flowers or anything too girly. I know that’s a pretty broad & verbose answer to the question, but now you know why I didn’t do this on Facebook.

2 What technology are you grateful for??

I’m not old enough to be one of those geezers that whines & complains about how much simpler life was before machines took over, but I have witnessed the rise of a plethora of amazing technological advances in my lifetime. I am not a tech guru, but neither am I intimidated by it. My mother has been gone for over two decades, and occasionally I ponder what she would think about some of the things we’ve become accustomed to in that time. Social media. Smart phones. Streaming television. I appreciate much of what has come down the pike thru the years, but a couple of things come to mind. First, I really love having a decent camera built into my phone. I’ve been around long enough to remember flash bulbs & film. You’d drop your film off at the drug store, be forced to wait a few days to see the finished product, and ultimately the photos weren’t that great. Digital cameras were cool, but the cell phone cameras we have nowadays are incredible. Secondly, I have seen a lot of music tech come & go. I vaguely recall 8-tracks. I owned vinyl when I was a boy. Then cassettes came along. CDs were awesome. But now?? I love having an app on my phone where I can find almost any song that pops into my mind and listen to it immediately. Music has become very important to me. I find it therapeutic, and occasionally will spend hours just chillin’ with my favorite tunes. Doing that very thing has helped me navigate some rather choppy waters in recent years, which would’ve been alot more challenging with a boom box or the sweet rack system stereo I saved my birthday & Christmas money to buy when I was 14 years old.

3 What color are you grateful for??

I’ve never pondered the idea of being grateful for a color. Perhaps I’m not approaching the query from the correct angle. Anyway, I’ll just say that my two favorite colors are blue & purple. I don’t know why. There is no particular reason or meaningful story to tell. I just really like blue & purple. Perhaps a therapist could discover some profound reason for that.

4 What food are you most grateful for??

Wow. Okay. This is a difficult choice. First, let me say that I am thankful for food in general. I am well aware that, despite the whining & complaining all of us do sometimes, most of us here in America (especially if you’re reading this, which means you have internet access) are extremely fortunate and have so much more than many do in impoverished areas of the world. Of course even here there are some that may struggle for their next meal. I’ve been rather blessed in my life & have rarely lacked food & drink. Having said that, I have dealt with medical issues & stayed in some unpleasant places where the food was…substandard (I’m being kind). Therefore, I am very thankful to be in my own place eating food that I choose & enjoy. As far as something that I specifically appreciate, I have to say chocolate. I know it’s bad for me, but I do have some level of self-control & enjoy my favorite candy, pastries, & assorted treats in moderation. 

5 What sound are you most grateful for today??

In 1964 Simon & Garfunkel released one of their biggest hits, a song called The Sound of Silence. I am somewhat of an introvert, which means that I’ll happily attend a party, ball game, concert, or any kind of public gathering. I can be a fun dude!! However, there always comes that point in the festivities when I’m done. I’m over it…I need to go home & be by myself. I don’t mind dealing with inane “conversation” or incoherent babbling for a short time, but inevitably the moment arrives when I simply want the person annoying me to shut up & go away. I require a certain amount of peace & quiet. Poet May Sarton opined that “loneliness is the poverty of self, while solitude is the richness of self”. I experience both on a regular basis, and solitude is preferable. I wish I was more outdoorsy, because I could really get into the whole communing with nature thing. Since I’m more of a inside cat, sometimes I really just enjoy turning off the TV, closing my eyes, & basking in the glow of noiseless tranquility. 

I think that’s enough for today. Stay tuned!!