Stop Taking The Small Things for Granted

My mom continues to recover from the aneurysm, surgery, and subsequent stroke that has kept her hospitalized for the last 65 days. Last week we transferred her to an in-patient rehabilitation center that specializes in working with patients with brain and spinal cord injuries.

It didn’t take long to hear stories from fellow patient’s families who were there watching their loved ones fight to regain their physical and mental abilities. Many patients are young (the center’s average patient age is 34), and it is sad to see so many people with their entire lives ahead of them cut down by an injury or illness. It is also inspiring to watch the human spirit overcome amazing difficulties to restore health to those often not given much of a chance.

The entire experience of nearly losing my mom at 53 years young, watching her fight to regain things we take for granted (sitting up, swallowing, talking, etc.), and now meeting dozens of other people going through similar challenges, has had a profound effect on me. It is rare that a day goes by that I don’t stop to reflect on the things I have to be thankful for.

I know it is a couple weeks early to give thanks for all the blessing in my life, but I felt like sharing them with you now. Some are related to finances, some are not. All are things I wish we would all do a better job of appreciating, while putting aside our own petty differences and problems.

Be thankful for the roof over your head. I don’t care if that roof is rented, mortgaged, or paid for, if it keeps you dry and warm at night you ought to be thankful to have it.  It might not be the roof you want, or you might want a bigger roof, but at least it provides some shelter against the elements. If you are not grateful for the roof over your head, drive around the downtown area of any major city in the country and look at the lines filling up for shelters, or those making “homes” from boxes and beds of newspapers.

I’m grateful for my health. Sure, I could stand to lose a few pounds. My shoulder still gives me trouble two years after rotator cuff surgery, and my back aches occasionally from an old football injury. But I am able to walk, talk, work, care for myself, and care for those I love. Our health is definitely something we take for granted until we lose it.

I am blessed to have an income. I have to wonder if the people I’m encountering at the rehabilitation center will ever return to their careers. In fact, my mom’s own ability to return to her previous job remains in question. Without an emergency fund in place, and/or a short-term disability policy, those who are unable to return to their jobs are basically without an income for months until a long-term disability plan kicks in.  Even then, they only earn a fraction of what they did prior to their injury or illness. This can be financially devastating to a family, and is a good reminder to shop a short-term disability plan and beef up your emergency fund, just in case.

I am lucky to have a window in my office. I worked six years in a cube farm before taking my current job, and spent the first two years at my current employer working in a storage area with no view to speak of. At least I could get up and walk to the front door,and I could see the outside world during my commute.  My mom spent 45 days in neurological ICU, and 17 days in a “step-down” unit before being transported by ambulance to the rehabilitation hospital. Her exit from the back of the ambulance was the first time she saw sunshine in 62 days. Take a minute and look out the window nearest you. Have an appreciation for the things you see–birds, squirrels, grass, blue sky, rain, sunshine, flowers, trees, etc.

I am most thankful for my wife and children. While my mom was in neuro-ICU she was unable to see her grandkids for over six weeks. My kids talked to or saw their “Grandma” every single day of their lives, and keeping them apart for six weeks was heartbreaking. Fortunately, Mom doesn’t remember much of that time, but I do, and I remember my kids crying each night as I returned home from the hospital and told them they still couldn’t go see Grandma. It is a reminder that we should never again take for granted time spent with our loved ones.

Finally, I am grateful for all of you. If you would have told me a year ago that I would start a blog, and have the opportunity to share my daily thoughts with 4,000 subscribers (and thousands of visitors), I would have never believed it. It has been a blast (virtually) meeting so many wonderful people who share a similar philosophy (and a few that don’t), and I’m grateful for the opportunity to interact with you on a daily basis. I hope you get half the enjoyment from reading this blog as I get writing it. My only regret is that I didn’t start it earlier.

We spend a lot of time here at Frugal Dad discussing sacrifices, proudly sharing the things we’ve given up to lead more frugal lives.  But every now and then we should all stop and reflect on the things that we do have. I’d encourage you to take a moment today to list a few things you are most thankful for, and feel free to share them with us in the comments below.


  1. My dad explains this all the time to me.

    And i’m also thankful because getting to where I am now is very unlikely.

  2. Our family also understands what you are talking about. My husband’s only brother had a traumatic brain injury and nearly died a couple years ago. So true–life has never been the same. We are so grateful he is alive yet do wish he could have gone back to his job–that looks like a never will be. He is doing ok though– way better and has a good life. We are thankful for many things too and yes more so after that, and also more so after losing as much as we did when our income nosedived several years back. Big problems tend to get your attention and cause you to sit up and pay attention. Smaller things become more important. I loved your comment on having a window–yes–that’s worth being thankful for!

  3. It is so important to remember all the good things because sometimes we get so focused on the bad. Whenever I feel down, I just think about all the good things in my life and it certainly helps!

  4. You’re so right. Taking the time each day to appreciate the beauty of the world we live in, be thankful for what we have and to enjoy ourselves are all things we can and should be grateful for.

    Not a day goes by that I don’t think myself lucky and say to myself that today has been a good day.

  5. Great thoughts FD. Here’s a lovely Indian prayer for you today!
    We return thanks to our mother, the earth, which sustains us.
    We return thanks to the rivers and streams which supply us with water
    We return thanks to all herbs, which furnish medicines for the cure of our diseases.
    We return thanks to the moon and stars, which have given to us their light when the sun was gone.
    We return thanks to the sun, that has looked upon the earth with a beneficent eye
    Lastly, we return thanks to the Great Spirit, in Whom is embodied all goodness, and who directs all things for the good of her children.- Iroquois Prayer

  6. In my opinion, this is the best blog you’ve ever written 🙂 Straight from the heart. Thank you!

  7. I am thankful for God and a Pastor who can explain His teachings to me.
    My prayers are sent to you, your family and Mother.

  8. …if they are lucky enough to have disability insurance at all.

    today I am grateful that I am not bedridden. had insurance, thankfully. but no savings and no disability. been there.

    we need to be grateful and prepare best we can.

  9. Greetings FD:
    Thank you for sharing your thouhgts concerning your family’s struggles concerning your mom’s recuperation. The timing couldn’t be any better.

    My mother is also recuperating (finally at home) from illness altho she is in her late 80’s. My thoughts of comfort are with you and your family.

    I will be using your post as a reminder to keep trudging along in my fight to get debt free. Thank you for sharing!!

  10. My best wishes to your mother and the rest of your family in this trying time.

    My Mom is the same age, I couldn’t imagine having something like this happen to her. Stay strong for her and good things will happen.

  11. Thanks for the reminder! We sometimes get so caught up in ourselves and the things in life that we forget what’s really important. Let’s face it, we Americans are spoiled rotten and most all of us could get by (and be much happier) with much less. Food, shelter, a loving family, and a God that loves us are really all that matter!

  12. What a wonderful reminder and I am so sorry about what your mom and your family has been going through. Last year we went through weeks of my mom being in the ICU and we are so thankful that this year everyone can be together for the holidays. I will continue to pray for your mom and I think it is great that you are putting this gentle reminder out here- we have so much to be thankful for.

  13. @Matt: I’m so sorry to hear that. We are very fortunate that hers was found before rupturing, but the size and location have led to further complications.

  14. I agree, I am not in the point of my life that you are but the practice still remains the same regardless of age or situation. You have to appreciate the small things and can’t take things too seriously, or else you won’t enjoy life.


  15. My father passed away when I was 24 and he was 64, after 8 years of illness. It’s been 5 years now, and my mother, who is now 64, has overcome many illnesses in her life–an aneurysm when she was young, open heart surgery when I was young–all many reasons to be thankful. I am most thankful that this year, she beat breast cancer. Every time she reminds me to make a gratitude list when I’m angry or sad, I take her words to heart.

  16. Excellent post of reminders. My family had this reminder a month and a half ago, when we lost my 51-year-old aunt to an aneurysm.

    I’m very glad your mother is still with you, and recovering.

  17. Thank you for this post from your heart. May we never forget what is truly important and take if for granted.

  18. Oh, Jason, I am so sorry for your loss…my prayers are with you and your family. I hope the kids got to see her even if she wasn’t 100%, it helps them to know why she went away.

    You might appreciate a site for grieving with people that are not friends or family…

    All my best~n

  19. My what we take for granted, just in the last three years so many things have come and gone for my family and I. My mother passed at 36 years old massive brain anurism.Three months later, my aunt found out she had cancer 42 killed her in less than 7 months. my father 47 years old , put a gun to his head. Killed himself. Also on a lighter note, I got an excelent job, got married, had a daughter adopted a son. And now that great job three years later just announced that its closing its doors in 2012, eliminating 15% of the company workforce (about 700 peaple ) any wAY I just got home from work and thought mabey someone has perfected the ability to reach this zen level of not taking things for granted and thus here I am…And i,m 23.

    • @jon scott: That’s a lot to go through at 23. God bless you. My mom died last year from an aneurysm (actually, she had a stroke during surgery from an aneurysm and died 14 months later). So hard to see loved ones taken from us prematurely.

      It is nice to hear about your career success and your new family. Hope things work out well with your job. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.