It's 5 a.m. on a Friday morning, and I'm yanked from a sweet dream by the shrill ring of the old-fashioned windup alarm clock. The cats scatter as I fling off the covers; eight paws and two human feet hit the floor at about the same time.
It's about 12 degrees outside, and I see snow on the porch roof through the ice-coated panes of the wavy glass windows in our old farmhouse.
Trailed by the Fabulous Fur Folk, I shamble down the hall and into the bathroom to turn on the shower. The cats stretch out on the deep red area rug, awaiting chin scratching and morning praise.
I wait, too, for the water to start running hot. Minutes later, I'm still waiting. It finally begins to dawn in my sleep-fogged brain that something is amiss.
Sure enough, the water heater is not working. I'm exasperated with the appliance, and with myself for ignoring the warning sign of a sudden spike in the temperature of the hot water over the past day or two.
I take a quick shower under lukewarm water.
Later, sitting at the dining room table with a cup of hot coffee sweetened with caramel creamer, I confront the anger and worry I experienced earlier with the lack of hot water.
Prone to worry, I've learned to pull myself out of the anxiety vortex by literally counting my blessings.
I take a sheet of note paper and a pen, and begin.
1. Our family is healthy, happy and productive. Our loved ones are all right. My life is intertwined with my beloved's; we're here for each other, always.
2. For me, a lukewarm shower is a temporary inconvenience. For all too many people, a lukewarm shower, with plenty of clean water, fragrant shampoo and high quality soap, is an unimaginable luxury.
3. I'm sitting, safe and secure, in a roomy, comfortable home I am fortunate enough to have been able to pay for. We don't have a mortgage. We don't have to worry about coming up with next month's rent. We're not living in a motel room, or a homeless shelter.
4. Our home is warm. We have plenty of good food, I can have a second or third cup of coffee if I want, prepared just the way I like it.
5. Our beloved cats, aging now, have a wonderful, caring veterinarian, and we are able to provide for their medical care, special food and soft beds.
6. I live close to the place of work I love; my co-workers are like family to me.
7. We have the luxury of elbow room. Our home is in the country, surrounded by forests and fields. We don't have to jockey for parking spaces or listen to neighbors fight.
8. I watch young friends raise cherished babies who will grow up to change the world for the better.
9. I can learn something new every day.
10. At 62, I am relatively healthy, still able to do most things I want to do.
Have a few minutes? Put pen to paper, and count your blessings.