Live in the moment and appreciate the little things.

If there’s one thing I learned during my birthmonth, that would be it. It is something I still try to be conscious of and am reminded of every time I go to compile my list of the 28 moments I’m thankful for. I started the list here, and my 5k race was moment #6.

Here are three more to add to the list:

7. THE YEARBOOK

As a teenager in middle school I hadn’t quite clued in to the fact that I was a geek. I was super friendly to any new kid, and then felt genuinely surprised when they didn’t want to be seen with me. Melody was one of those kids.

She came into our class in the middle of the year. I could tell she was nervous, so I showed her around the school and hung out with her a lot. I would talk and talk and tried to get her oriented. She seemed appreciative at first, but after a few days she seemed nervous to be seen with me. Soon after she made new friends and ignored me completely for the next three years.

I didn’t really think much of this. By then I was used to it. I was just content to know that she hadn’t been alone on those first few days and that was that.

Three years later we were all graduating. We all had yearbooks and I was getting mine signed from some teachers and friends that I had. Melody approached me out of nowhere after years of not talking at all, and she asked to sign my yearbook. Puzzled, I gave it to her. She wrote something down and walked back to her friends. I looked down and read:

Dear Vanessa,

Thank you for being my friend.

– Melody

8. SHRIVELED HANDS BUT HAPPY HEARTS

Praying before meals was always the norm in my family. Over the years it helped instill in me an attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for my food – where it comes from, how it grows, and all the labour that goes into making that meal possible, from the earth to my table.

But when praying becomes a regular event, it can sometimes get boring and lose its purpose. We’ll become distracted and resort to other activities. For me, this activity was torturing my little sister.

Growing up, whenever we held hands to pray, I would grab Emma’s hand and squeeze it really hard, for fun. She would be forced to sit there and endure the pain because if she interrupted the prayer, she would get in trouble.

The first few times she tried to tell on me after the praying was over, but I would just shrug and look innocent. Because I was so good and churchy, nobody believed her. That’s when she started to squeeze back.

Over time she got stronger and stronger, until a few months ago I didn’t want to play anymore. Now she won’t let me off the hook. I suppose the time has come for my payback. Whenever we’re praying over dinner and we have to hold hands, the second everyone closes their eyes, we go to war.

Years later, I’m now the one trying to tell on HER. She has the fiercest little biceps that crush my fingers into a pulp. On top of that she has bony little knuckles that feel like knives piercing into my joints. She loves this. In fact, she even tries to grab my hand when we’re NOT praying.

I’m hurting on the outside, but on the inside I’m pleased that she has become such a worthy competitor. Small but strong, just like me.

9. MY BLANKET

I have a favourite blanket. I’ve had it less than a year and it’s not even really a blanket, it’s a throw cover for my couch. It’s slightly too small for me, but if I wear socks or slippers I can bury my head under it and it’s like being in another world. Immediate comfort.

This is the softest blanket you’ll ever touch, and the warmest. It’s white. Sometimes I drag it around the entire house with me, wrapped around my torso like a towel. I love how after I wash it it smells sooo good – first like detergent, and then like my body wash or moisturizer from being so close to me.

I don’t like to share it but once I lay it on top of my partner and put my head on his chest. It felt like I was lying on a living, breathing polar bear. That was a good moment.

FUTURE RACES, FUTURE MOMENTS

I set myself up for another memorable moment today by registering for the Pride and Remembrance Run 5k on July 3rd. This race is part of gay pride week in Toronto. I run it because there’s no other race like it in the city.

You do not know the real meaning of the 5k distance until you have run it with a mob of trannies. All in full costume. In high heels. Screaming the entire way. The hardest thing about this run is that you can’t decide whether to laugh or to breathe. I’m really looking forward to it.

Sometimes people ask me why I do this run in light of my religious background. It’s quite simple really. I used to live right off Church Street (gay epicenter) and went to school there, so a lot of these people were my neighbours and friends and classmates. They were nice to me when the church turned me out, as if they knew exactly what that felt like. I’ll run with them anytime.

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