Confessions & Confusions: 5 Things I’m Grateful For In My Life

Wrapping Up The Year With Gratitude

By Melodie Cook
December 10, 2017

The year will be over in three weeks, and it's time to look back … and think of all the good things we have in our lives.

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is soon coming to an end. It’s gone by so quickly, but lately, I felt inspired to take this opportunity to count all my blessings as the New Year approaches. Here are five things I feel blessed to have in my life. 

1. A roof above us … and good health

I have a nice house to shelter in and can afford to feed and clothe my family. Although we still haven’t finished unpacking after moving in almost two years ago, we have more room to store the unpacked boxes than before. We also have a garden to grow food in and recently enjoyed the last of the Japanese pumpkins. Workwise, because I am not employed in a typical Japanese company, I can have a work-life balance and get enough rest to have the energy for each day. Our family physician is excellent, so we are all in good health. In the last three years, I have managed to deal with heart disease, high cholesterol, anxiety, depression, and more recently, pre-diabetes, yet my latest blood tests were the best in years.

2. Safety and security

I feel safe and secure, in part again, thanks to my job, which provides enough money to afford a house and employment until retirement. Other new avenues have been opening up lately as well, giving me a little extra, which I need since the kids are in their teens and eat everything in sight. I feel safe in the love of my family and am glad to be living in a country where save bicycles and umbrellas, you can leave most things out and not have them stolen. I won’t tempt you by telling you which Starbucks I frequent, but I like that I can leave my purse, phone, and computer out while I go to the washroom, safe in the knowledge that they will be there when I return.

3. Love and a sense of belonging

I feel loved and have a strong sense of belonging and because of that, I can return that love and let others feel that they belong, too. I have a wonderful, understanding husband, a good and deepening relationship with my children, and many, many friends. My children feel our love, too, I believe, and I am glad that they feel free and safe to express themselves in all ways, both good and not-so-good as they make their journey through this life. This morning, Shinji was a little less grumpy than usual, and Natsumi called me over especially to look at one of our cats who was walking around with head through the handle of a cloth bag and looking particularly funny. I am thankful that so far, both kids are staying in school, doing their homework (though sometimes they need reminders) and keeping their rooms tidy without being told. I know all of these things may change once they hit their mid-teens, but I’ll enjoy it while it lasts.

My two cats, Stripe and Shiro, doing the Yin/Yang thang.

I am also especially glad that no one has a cat allergy, because my two rescue cats, Stripe and Shiro, give me all the affection I could ever ask for since everyone else in my family is staunchly Japanese and doesn’t enjoy hugging as much as I do. Although the cats insist on sleeping with me and hogging much of the space on the bed, there is no nicer thing, in my view, than snuggling with a soft warm cat in the morning when they insist on getting under the covers with me. However, this does make it difficult to get out of bed and go to work.

4. Respect at work

I feel valued at work and respected by my colleagues and friends. I am grateful to my employers for treating me as an equal, valuing and recognizing what I bring to my work, and rewarding me for my efforts. I also feel valued by you, dear readers, who read what I write, and especially to those of you who have been inspired to take action to bring more children into loving families. This, I feel, is my greatest accomplishment. Recently, I had the good fortune to meet someone who had, after reading my column, applied to adopt a child — and I couldn’t be happier!

I am grateful to my employers for treating me as an equal, valuing and recognizing what I bring to my work, and rewarding me for my efforts.

5. Motivation to keep going

I still feel, at the ripe age of 54, that the world continues to be my oyster and that there is much more to do. Although I have been in the same career for over 20 years, I still enjoy and feel passionate and enthusiastic about working with students, learning from them and my colleagues, and honing my skills as a teacher. Writing these articles, too, helps me to share my life experiences in such a way as to inspire others to take a similar path, and also fulfills my creative urge to write. I recently joined a band as a percussionist and am glad that I can spend two hours a week making music with a group of skilled musicians (I mean, the rest of the band members, not me), and smile constantly as I do it. I have been offered an opportunity to join an academic publishing company as a series editor for books about life and education in Japan, which I hope will help other writers share their experiences of life here, just as I share mine.

Recently, I had the good fortune to meet someone who had, after reading my column, applied to adopt a child — and I couldn’t be happier!

In all, as you can see, this year culminates in much gratitude. You have probably realized by now that I have organized this article following the upward path of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, and am happy to be at the top of the pyramid waving a little flag and taking a selfie. A hearty thanks also to the good people of Savvy Tokyo for giving me this venue to share my story and to you, dear reader, for reading it. Happy New Year!

As one year passes by and we get ready to welcome a new one, what do you feel grateful for in your life? Share your thoughts in the comments!

Confessions & Confusions” is Melodie Cook’s regular column on adoption and fostering in Japan. Here, she answers questions from potential adoptive or foster parents, those who have already been through the system or any parents who just need to let off some steam. Got a question? Leave a comment or send us an email at

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