The Gate Is Always Open For You!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Relections of Thankfulness in 2011

The final curtain is about to drop on 2011. No other year has made me grow up faster than this one. I have changed spiritually and mentally. I've come so far from where I've been, and what I've been accustomed to. 2011 practically flew by and I've become a Californian...but I'll always be an Arkansan in my heart. It was a year of adventure and awakening for me, a year of first experiences, new faces, astounding new places. It was a character building time of humility, love, kindness, countless prayers and surprising blessings, courage, perseverance, frightening storms of doubt and depression, unemployment checks, and fantasstic manic fugues of joy unspeakable that prompted unforeseen miraculous dreams fulfilled! Most of all, it was a year of faith. I feel as if I've exploded from my cocoon and completed a tedious metamorphosis into a beautiful butterfly! I'm no longer locked in a cage. The key has been thrown into a proverbial well. 2011 was a year of high intensity, and it's gonna end with a standing ovation. Bravo.

Here's a list of 24 things in 2011 I'm thankful for, and in no particular order:

1. I'm thankful that my parents raised me "right" and taught me to be responsible, loving, giving, and instilled in me the sense that I can accomplish anything and go anywhere in the world that I want to if I put my mind to it. I had a good sense of the unlimited.

2. I am thankful for my Salvation and my Savior Jesus Christ. Through it all, my Faith has sustained me. I believe in angles and miraculous unseen forces that take care of us all. I'm also thankful for Manor Baptist Church in San Leandro, CA. I've been attending there regularly since Easter Sunday of 2011.

3. I am thankful for Anil and Manju Bhatnagar for making me a part of their family and loving me. The Bhatnagar family is made up of some of the kindest people on earth. I'm also thankful they have shared their beautiful, rich, and delicious Indian culture with me. I love you all; you are my family away from home.

4. I am thankful for Justin Greenwood, Anjalee Bhatnagar, Alan Dyches, Jason Co, Dana Martinez, and James Blackburn for not only being my friends, but also being my support system in miraculous California. Through the thick and thin we're always a team.

5. I am thankful for Carol Dunnigan. We became friends through a very special 40th birthday surprise party. She demonstrated the saying that goes: "God will give you what you need, when you need it." when she purchased me Microsoft Word for my laptop right after I was laid off work without any warning. We had scheduled to meet up for lunch in Santa Clara, CA one afternoon in May. She said she was going to let me install Word on my laptop. She ended up purchasing the program for me out of sheer kindness. She stated, "My husband and I love to give back, and when I met you, I knew you had a good heart." She will NEVER know how much that random act of kindness meant to me.

6. I am thankful for Starbucks and Rasputin's Music in San Leandro, CA on Hesperian Blvd. It was there that I met Erik, Zachary, and Gary. These three people walked into my life at the perfect time and became my set of "new friends" outside of my regular network in California. They are wonderful friends who have introduced me to all sorts of fun things in the Bay: new music, great films, and phenomenal books. Each of them has exhibited a new part of San Francisco and Berkeley that I’ve never seen before. They are always willing to listen to me when I’m terrified. I'm grateful each of you let me in.

7. I am thankful for finally being able to love Batesville, Arkansas for what it truly is: Home. For the LONGEST time I’ve had a profound, unhealthy, bipolar relationship with my home town. I referred to it as “God’s Blind Spot” or a “visceral Black Hole” to many people in the past. It’s a town of just over 15,000 people.  Moving to the San Francisco Bay Area has made me appreciate my beautiful Mayberry/Peyton Place stomping grounds. I am thankful for all the kind hearted people there who had the chance to shape and mold me. Each of them instilled in me life-long values and lessons. I learned Southern Hospitality there. I am proud to say I was born and raised within the White River Valley of Batesville, Arkansas. A close friend of mine told me before I moved that I would truly appreciate Batesville in every sense of the word once I got far away from it. She was right. There’s no place like home. Who knows, in the future, I might move back. But I’m in the right place now.

8. I am thankful for good health. Plain and simple. Never, ever take it for granted. Never.

9. I am thankful that I’m successful even though I’m barely making it. I haven’t asked for a dime from anyone since moving away from Arkansas. I’m being independent. Back home, I never asked anyone to help me pay my own bills either.

10. I am thankful for my big brother Thomas. It’s always been nice learning from his mistakes and getting wisdom from him. It’s also wonderful to have him to call when I need to ask a question, get an opinion, or clarification. We’re 10 years apart and completely different.

11. I am thankful for Heidi Townsley . In middle November of 2010, she told me inside Burger King on a cold, rainy night, “Kevin, remember: when it comes down to it, the only person you have to rely on and trust is yourself. The only person you can depend on is you.” I’ve never forgotten that. I’m also thankful for Zelda Everidge who replied, “You just do it. You just get out there and start making your way. It’s scary and hard at times, believe me. But you always make it if you believe you will. When you get out on your own you learn a lot about yourself and what you’re made of.” When I asked her what it was like when she finally struck out on her own.

12. I am thankful for Scott Shelby who sold me all 8 seasons of the Golden Girls on DVD for $40. He bought the new DVD set which comes packaged in Sofia’s purse! It never gets old watching The Golden Girls. I’m also thankful for Jessica Williams who was my Book Manager at Hasting’s Entertainment. We developed an awesome friendship along the way. She’s the one that introduced me to the John Lennon quote “Life is what happens when you busy making other plans.” I feel as if I’ve lived that quote this year. She and her husband purchased me my first set of dishes for Christmas last year. They are red!

13. I am thankful for Paula Rosencrans. God knows, I’ve called her on many occasions regarding unemployment questions for the state of Arkansas and on the verge of tears this year! She’s not only a movie guru...she’s a Diet Coke drinking, Marlboro smokin’, Peep eatin’ dear friend who’s a real Steel Magnolia.

14. I am thankful for Jessica Campbell who was my boss for three years at the Batesville, Arkansas Pizza Hut. She saw my potential and let me blossom in the kitchen. We have shared countless laughs together, seen each other laugh into hysterics, and hugged one another when we’ve cried. We have cursed violent neon blue streaks, and screamed insanely in the walk-in cooler together. She worked around my schedule, gave me my first ever raise, and always had faith in me. I’m lucky to have had the chance to work alongside her making pizza.   

15. I am thankful for Allison De Buellfe Mack. We met through our dear friend Dana Martinez. When it happened it was like worlds collided together. It was a match made in perfect insanity. We just clicked together. She’s one of the most unforgettable people I’ve ever met. I experienced my first live screening of “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” with her. (That’s a completely different story on its own.) She’s an inspiration to me and taught me a powerful lesson: You don’t know how strong you are, until being strong is the only option you have. We both cross bridges and silently whisper “Lowenstein, Lowenstein.”

16. I am thankful for San Francisco, CA. I love everything about the city by the bay. The people, the landmarks, the androgyny, the Victorians, the food, the water, the breeze, the cable cars, and the hills! It’s been a dream of mine to work in a big city since I was a kid. Now I’m doing it in the most beautiful city in the country!

17. I am thankful for Jessie Greenwood. We grew up together and went through a very special time with some close friends that led us all to California. Through it all, we became close friends. When she later moved back to Arkansas from Los Angeles we started going to college together at UACCB. We would go out for dinner together and take turns picking up the tab, we would drive and listen to Beyonce, Fleetwood Mac, Adele, Lady GaGa, Katy Perry, and Matt & Kim. We saw “Hairspray” and “South Pacific” on Broadway together. We would take trips to Jonesboro, Arkansas or Memphis, Tennessee to get away from the country and enjoy the city! We even had our notorious “Fat Chats” down by the dark White River at night eating our feelings off the Sonic Drive-In. We became best friends. God puts special people in our lives when we need them the most. Jessie was one of those people. One lesson she taught me: Get out and go for it!

18. I am thankful for best-selling author Anne Rice. She’s the first author I ever connected with. I felt as if she truly understood and knew me. She’s a personal hero of mine. I consider her a friend.

19. I am thankful for 90s music. I love that decade of song, those tunes never get old.

20. I am thankful for the simple things. The little things, nothing else matters.

21. I am thankful for my curiosity. This cat has nine lives left! I love researching and discovering things for myself. I’m not afraid to look into anything. The Prison of Intellectualism is a real nightmare. The worst thing certain authority figures in the past have done is make “normal” things seem evil or “of the devil”. I simply couldn’t be forced to have their convictions. There is immaculate beauty in the majority of things.

22. I am thankful that I choose to be myself on Facebook. Marilyn Monroe said, “If you can’t take me at my worst, than you sure as hell don’t deserve me at my best.” That’s classy.

23. I am thankful that I am an American. I love my country, and what it has to offer everyone.

24. I am thankful for EVERYONE who prayed I would find a job. I love you.

Happy New Year!