I am grateful for Grateful Pieter. Yes, this actual project, this blog, is what I am grateful for on this special day. Day 100. A hundred days of gratefulness. This project has showed me so much, taught me so much, made me feel so much. I’m only on day 100 and I already feel the difference. I am so much more grateful for life. I am so much more amazed by it. There are so many tiny wonderful things to be grateful for, things I often took for granted. I still have 265 days left and I am excited to see where this project will take me next. If I just scroll down and look back at all the posts I’ve written so far… It is so amazing to see what all came to me. I actually enjoy rereading my blog. It makes me happy over and over again. I honestly have to smile when I see all those pictures and read my abundant excitement put into words. It’s the best thing. I am so grateful for this. It almost sounds funny, but I am grateful for Grateful Pieter. So much. Let’s see what comes next…
I am grateful for my host sister Andrea. She is an amazing young girl and it actually feels strange to even write “host sister”, because it just feels as if she is my actual sister. The same goes for my entire family here. I’ve mentioned this before, but from the moment I walked into their house, now almost three years ago, it just felt so right. Now I’m here for the third time, this time for six weeks and it feels like home. They are my family. I got my official name yesterday: Pedro José Funes Minutti. I think it sounds swell! I’m just so proud to be part of their family. Andrea started her own Grateful Blog, called Beaming Andrea, about a week ago and when she wrote about her family, she included me. It was an incredible feeling. I love spending time with them, all together or just one on one. Andrea and I clicked from the very start. I have two lovely sisters in Belgium, Lara who’s eight now and Lynn who’s fourteen, and it’s so cool to be the big brother and take care of them. However, I never got to know the feeling of having a sister of my age. Andrea and I share so many interests and hobbies. I really enjoy spending time with her, whether we are watching a movie, going to a party, doing yoga or just talking. She’s a sister and a friend at the same time. She is intelligent, caring, beautiful, funny, hardworking, passionate, honest and has a great laugh. I appreciate her for all of that and so much more. I am truly grateful to have another sister, who brings so much joy in my life.
I am so grateful for A Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre. Here in Mexico breakfast consists of more than just one course. In Belgium I would just eat a sandwich or a bowl of cereal or oatmeal. Here we start our breakfast meal with A Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre: Every day we first eat some fruit, whatever it may be. This morning I savored this lovely plate of fresh banana, papaya, mango and figs. Delicious! And that’s only the beginning of our breakfast. I followed it today with some yummy sopes, tamales and hummus with raw mushrooms. It is always a party and such a great way to start your day. I know that I’ll always have my vitamins for the day and I just feel the difference. I love combining it with some nice juice, like this combo of orange and grapefruit. Or this afternoon I had a sweet combo of strawberry, mango, papaya, pineapple and coconut. Mouthwatering! Yay for fruit and yay for having it on a daily basis as a Healthy Breakfast Hors d’Oeuvre.
I am grateful for Quesadillas. They are so delicious, especially the ones mamá makes. This morning she exceeded her own cooking skills again – you must know that my host mom is an absolutely amazing chef – by providing me with this scrumptious breakfast. I mean, look at it! It’s breakfast. In Belgium that would mean a bowl of cereal or a sandwich with jam or nutella. Here in luscious Mexico, breakfast could look like this, just because it tastes good and because that’s just what Mexican culture happens to do. A warm breakfast is no exception, but rather the norm here. Anyway, mamá designed this festival of colors and vitamins in a mouthwatering Quesadilla. Asparagus, mushrooms, tomatoes, red peppers, soybean sprouts, salsa verde… wrapped in a beautiful tortilla, shaped like a half moon. Often Quesadillas contain cheese, since the name is of Spanish origin and “queso” means “cheese, but I am more than delighted with my succulent vegan variant. Again, I am so lucky to have such a wonderful host family to provide me not only with the food that is good for my body, but also for making it so darn delicious! First of all, thank you, Quesadillas, for the joy you bring. Then, there aren’t words enough to thank the wonder of the woman I am so lucky to be calling mamá. Gracias, gracias, mil gracias.
I am grateful for Sade. After writing about Ozark Henry, my favorite male artist, it is only fair to honor my favorite female artist as well. Sade Adu, the lead singer of the group Sade and obviously the person the band is named after, has everything I look for in an artist. She has always been part of the entire production process of her music, contributing to the writing, arranging and producing of their – in the meantime already – six studio albums. What makes their music so strong is not only the sweet jazzy-R&B-soul-soft rock style of the musical part, but also the amazing lyrics. Sade actually writes almost all of the band’s lyrics herself. Some of them are poems on music. And as if all of that wouldn’t be enough already, the icing on the cake is her heavenly voice bringing this wonderful work of art to life. Her voice is just sublime, with a richness in color and timbre that often grabs me by the throat and takes me on an emotional roller coaster only to keep me dangling somewhere between extreme bliss and the utmost anguish. Saying that I sometimes become emotional while listening to some of their music would clearly be an understatement. Thank you, Sade, for al you’ve given of yourself to this world. You really are a Soldier of Love and your music is the sweetest of weapons. When I listen to Sade’s music, I know that Leo Tolstoy stated it perfectly, when he observed that:
Music is the shorthand of emotion.
I am grateful for Difficult. It is Difficult that shows me what I’m worth. It’s Difficult that makes me fight. Difficult makes me work harder. Difficult shows me my determination. Difficult proves me time and again that I am not someone who gives up. Difficult shows me my limits and makes me get past them. Difficult makes me feel good. Difficult doesn’t mean that something is impossible, it means that I encounter something that doesn’t happen just like that, but that I have to make it happen. I know that there’s a way out. I just have to find it. And yes, it might take time, effort, tears,… but I will get there. No matter how difficult. I will. In fact, I don’t think I would like it to be easy. There’s no fun there, no challenge. If I know it can be done easily, I often have a harder time finding the motivation to actually get it done. But getting something thrown at you that you know you will have to do your all to get it done, to know that you have to give it your all and use everything you have to get there, now that’s what makes it worth. Difficult does something to you as a person or also a group of people. It brings people together. Put people in a difficult situation together and they will – possibly after much frustration, discussion or tears – bond over it. They will join forces and see their value as a human being to get the job done. That’s team building right there. And in the case of doing things by yourself, I think I would like to call it character building. Through Difficult you get to know who you are, what you’re worth, what your values are and how far you would go. Because how far is far? And how difficult is Difficult? I guess that’s a difficult question to answer…
“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” – Albert Einstein –
I am grateful for Lemurs. They are such wonderful creatures. Besides snakes they are my favorite animals. They are so cute, curious and animating. I am so grateful for the beautiful animals they are, but I am also so amazed for what they represent for me. From the moment I started this blog, I have been blessed with the most incredible opportunities. I have literally seen dreams come true. And today was just another example of that amazing power. Before I left for Mexico I was at home with my mom for a few days and she asked me what place I would still like to visit. My response, no kidding, was Madagascar, because I would’ve love to see the beauty of the country as well as the grace of lemurs in their natural habitat. I had obviously seen lemurs in a zoo, but that is nothing compared to animals in the wild. This counts for any animal. They should all be in the wild. Whoever came up with the idea of putting them in cages for our enjoyment should be put in a cage themselves. Anyway, I would love to just observe Lemurs being Lemurs. So today, out of nowhere, I was in a meeting in Mexico, when the person I was having a meeting with asked me: “Would you like to see the lemur that is with us today?” The school where I was at had an organization as visitors that taught people, mostly students, about endangered species and how we could help out. They had with them this beautiful Lemur and a way to take care of it and all its friend and families, is by letting people take pictures with it and have them pay for it. All this money goes to their project of making people aware of how they can help out as well as taking care of the animals they save from dangerous situations. I obviously couldn’t resist spending some time with this remarkable animal and I am so happy to have this picture as a beautiful memory of another dream come true.