A Zookeeper’s Gratitude

Please don’t ask me why I have put off this post for so long. I simply do not know. It’s not that I am a whiny ingrate. I have been practicing gratitude daily for a while now because it really works. But I’m tired. Somehow, the act of creating a post, and finding the right pictures, and editing, and feeling a little exposed has felt like more than I could do. I have been ill for a while, and illness has taken its toll. I’ve been doling out my energy by the tablespoonful just to keep functioning, and the hoops have felt too tiny to jump through. But I promised my sweet friend, Dawn. Gratitude is worth giving some energy to, even if I don’t count my blessings all the way up to fifty. I am not on the verge of death here, I promise. Even though this first paragraph is kinda heavy. I’m just tired, ya’ll. Physically spent. There are worse things.

So here I am. And what am I grateful for? Lots. So much. I have good things, and more good things on the horizon. Some of them are more obvious than others.

  • I am so thankful for Marie Kondo. Let me just tell you, the Netflix series really was life-changing for me. If you’re not familiar, Marie wrote a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.” Now she has a TV series. If you know me in real life, you know that I am a borderline hoarder. I have sentimental attachments to every, little thing. And I lack a linear thought process, so my house is perpetually a mess. I can appreciate a tidy space, but my brain doesn’t always know how to get there. But I watched the entire season in a couple of days, and now I get it. She doesn’t tell anyone to throw anything away, ever. Ever. She gets a bad rap on the internet because the internet is for people who like to complain about things. She says that if an item “sparks joy”, (or if you NEED it, like pots and pans) keep it. There is a way to store it. In the last three weeks, I have donated about 15  trash bags full of things that I was ready to let go of. It is an incredible feeling. For the first time ever, I feel like my living space is getting tidy. And I traded books to our used bookstore and got $90 in credit. Which I am saving for something cool.


  • FROGS – It has been a good frog-year for me at work. I got my first eggs from my Bumblebee Dart Frogs, which are easy to breed but had eluded me. I got 2 clutches, and I have four froglets. They are tiny enough to sit on my pinkie nail. I have learned from my mistakes as I went, and they have not suffered for it. I am pretty stoked.

See that little tadpole? It’s not so little anymore!


  • Big Al. Because always Big Al. He has so much personality, and he gives me hugs when I need them. Al, for the record, I always need them.

Big Al is pressing his face into my shoulder. It’s how he gives hugs. I love him.

  • I got to take a trip to San Diego this summer. For free. Getting there was a nightmare, but I learned that I do like to travel. And I can pack light. I can go cross-country for four days with only a backpack. As long as my e-reader is in it, I’m good.
  • This is my favorite picture of all.


  • My e-reader. I love my Kobo. Don’t @ me. I get a little tired of the “I don’t like e-readers because I like REAL books” crowd. I love physical books, too, but I am running out of room. Literal floor-to-ceiling bookshelves in our family room are filled to overflowing. I do buy some nice print editions – most books related to my job are either not available in e-format, or they are so beautiful that I buy physical copies. I get all the illustrated Harry Potters, too. But my e-reader can hold 10,000 books without gaining a single gram. And I can fit it in my pocket to take it anywhere. And it is backlit, so if I can’t sleep, I can read without disturbing my husband. And when my hands start cramping, I can prop it up on my lap and turn a page with a single tap. I don’t have to fight to hold open a huge volume.


  • My Tweeps. I love Twitter. I have found a band of fairly like-minded people there, and they are often my soft place to fall. I have also found some people that I don’t necessarily agree with on all things, but that educate me on the other side of lots of issues. Twitter has been a good learning place for me.


  • Books. I have read so many great books recently! I have been on a roll. Not one stinker, DNF in the entire bunch!


  • My tortoises groups are laying eggs in record numbers, and some of them are developing. I got six shoe boxes of eggs this year, which is impressive because they only lay one egg at a time, and I don’t start the incubation process for an individual box until there are at least 9 eggs in it. Not all of them will hatch. Most of them will not. But I am collecting some really valuable data, and I am trying some new things to see if I can hit the sweet spot and increase the hatch rate.

Common Spider Tortoise is awake and ready to hatch.

  • Power tools. I was able to build a new series of outdoor enclosures for the Northern Spider Tortoise adults, and as a result, they got to spend their summer outdoors. The natural sunlight does WONDERS. UV produces vitamin D, which in turn helps the females shell their eggs properly and utilize the calcium in their food, it gives them signals that can’t really be replicated indoors. Sometimes it takes a year to reap benefits, so it might be this upcoming breeding season before I see results, but I am hopeful. And proud. I did a thing with very little help, and I did it with power tools and an 8lb sledge-hammer.


  • Home Improvement Stores
  • My plants. Sorry, husband. They spark joy, so they stay…
  • My cell phone (it’s so much more fun and useful than I ever thought that it would be!)
  • The Padawan got his first job.
  • Family meals when Girl-Child tells stories from her days at private school
  • I’m getting better. One day at a time, one step at a time, if not feeling better, I am functioning better. I can at least make dinner some nights before getting into bed.
  • Little surprises. This banana plant was, to the casual observer, dead. Look what popped up yesterday while I was off!
  • My bed. My comfy, cozy, welcoming resting spot, covered in cats who want to be near me.
  • Puppies catching treats. You’re welcome.
  • Friends who prompt me to get the blogging done.

Alright. I have completed my post. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to write your own post. Visit Dawn to get complete rules and link up, and make sure you check out some of the other folks in the link-up. Come on in. The water’s fine!







21 thoughts on “A Zookeeper’s Gratitude

  1. Oh my…your froglets fascinated me. I once saved small tadpoles from a puddle that was quickly drying up. They hatched into tiny, sweet toads. Love your tortoise too, and the egg hatching. Great post.

  2. I love your twitter posts, as well as your blog! (Big Al has made a few of my more awful days a bit brighter). And I’m glad that Krampus made the final cut in the Marie Kondo experiment 🙂

  3. Wow, it was worth waiting for this post! You are doing wonderful things. Sorting your clutter is rather fabulous too. Hope you feel better soon but you sure are making hay while the fog hangs out.

  4. Thank you for the updates! And for getting to see Big Al *swoon!*. And the froglets. 🙂
    I’d love to hear what you think of San Diego — were you able to go to both the Zoo and the Safari Park?
    Glad you’re hanging in there.

  5. Thank you so much for using some of your precious energy to type vulnerable words. This was lovely. So timely for me – Marie Kondo is the cleaning fairy princess – full of beauty and kindness. I was in the marshland near the TX coast a couple days ago mourning because the frogs were gone. Made me feel almost panicked inside. You brought me a little peace this morning. Take care – hope you feel better in 2019.

    • The absence of frogs can be really jarring because they are such indicators of environment quality. I love to listen to them sing, and in only a couple of months, they will begin their early spring calls here. I can’t wait!

      I do love Marie Kondo. She is amazing and makes so much sense!

  6. OK, I admit it, I extended the deadline on this in the hopes that you might succumb to peer pressure and do it. If I could cross out peer pressure, and insert “loving nudges,” to make myself look better, I would… but I’m sitting at a café in a tiny town in Israel right now, and I’m lucky enough to have WiFi let alone worrying about how my words come out. Would I sound totally lame if I told you that reading your post just made me cry, at this cafe with all these strangers? So many things here that I relate to and love.

    I too have been sick for more than a year now— longer if I really admit it. The physical toll is tough, the emotional toll is exhausting! Explaining it to friends and family, let alone other bloggers and people online is entirely daunting. I just got back to blogging (Heavy one today) and I’m challenging myself to keep it up. I miss it; I miss the camaraderie and connection to people like you. I’ve missed expressing myself in words. I read Marie Kondo’s book about a year ago, and it lit a real fire. I tackled my closet and got rid of so much! I’m saving the tv series until I get home from this trip so that I can really tackle my whole house. I’m ready to take off and let go. I have always told people that I am a borderline “hoarder;“ it’s not an exaggeration; love that I’m in good company! There are lots of good psychological reasons that I cling to things, and someday I might write about that. However, the clutter does not serve me anymore and I crave order and an uncluttered environment. You would truly love and laugh at how many times I’ve dictated this comment and had to correct the word corrects. It’s hysterical! I would love to reconnect on messenger; I think we have a lot to share.

    For now, I’m so grateful for frogs, tidying, Big Al (🙌🏼) and all of ur words! Know that your post is amazing; I so appreciate the time and energy it took. It means more than you probably know! (Lordy! I can just copy and paste this comment and I have an entire post here! Forgive me for taking up so much space) 💙💜💙

    • I am grateful and so humbled that you want me to be a part of your little universe. I would love to reconnect because we do have so much to share. And I want to hear about Israel. How is tiny dude? Not so tiny anymore, I guess?

      2020 is going to be our year. We will just need 2019 to prepare for it.

  7. Pingback: The 2018 Annual Attitude of Gratitude: Bloggers Flood The Internet With Happiness & Positivity! | TALES FROM THE MOTHERLAND

  8. Always a delight to hear your voice! And I am so glad the Marie Kondo thing has been helpful for you — feeling joy and peace in the place where we live makes such a profound difference.

  9. Pingback: The Thing That Has Maybe Changed My Life | Becoming Cliche

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