It’s Thursday… and that means time for a thankfulness blog. I have to say… I was a little taken aback when I first realized my Memphis blog was going to fall on a Thursday. I don’t know that I have always been thankful for Memphis. I think many Memphians (and even more ex-Memphians) excel at listing what is wrong with this city. I’ve listed right along with them at times. This city has its faults (and not just the tectonic one). I’ve also seen some amazing things and learned some life-changing lessons here over the last 13 years. Here’s a list of some things I love about Memphis and ways my life has changed for the better… and a few other thankful “M”‘s at the end.
Moving to, then living and working in Memphis has helped me realize how privileged I am… even during those times I struggle to feel so. I grew up in the suburbs… went to a small college town… and finally landed in the “big city” of Memphis, with my first job doing social work. To say it was a culture shock is an understatement (though I must add that was not just because of the city but also because of the life changes that landed me here). I went from leaving my doors unlocked to driving around parts of town I would never want anyone to have to live in. I met people living in slumlord housing with plywood for doors… and no locks. I learned there was (over 10 years ago) a FIVE YEAR waiting list for Section 8 housing in Memphis. I met a homeless man who was overwhelmed with gratitude simply because I called him “mister”… because he had not heard that term of respect in so long. Later, I met teens who were pregnant or parenting… some with no clue how they got pregnant… and who were doing the best they could to be good moms. In Memphis, I’ve learned how blessed I am simply to have a home and a car (in my experience, the biggest obstacle to the poor getting employment here is lack of good public transportation). I learned that, despite what some think, the “less fortunate” are not all trying to scam the system, they are not lazy, they are often simply trying to get by on limited resources in a system that makes it tough to get ahead.
I love the opportunities for (inexpensive) family fun!
- Memphis Zoo: We have one of the top zoos in the nation. It’s amazing… and getting even better. Not so inexpensive for a one-time visit but a family season pass is less than $100 and pays for itself with a few visits (or, if you have a large family. one visit!) 🙂
- Midtown rocks! (sigh) I used to live near Midtown. I miss Midtown. Home to the zoo, the Children’s Museum, many festivals, and some of the best restaurants in Memphis (including my personal favorite Memphis barbeque at Central BBQ)
- Autozone Park is fun! Memphis recently (recently meaning sometime in the last 10 years) started trying to revitalize the downtown area. Autozone Park, our baseball park, was one of the first steps. $5 gets bluff seats… and there is a fun playground for when little ones get restless. I am a big believer that going to baseball games isn’t all about the score… it’s the whole experience!
- Parks, parks, parks — I love having access to so many parks! Within a 10-15 minute drive there are at least 5 amazing parks available to us (FREE community parks). That isn’t counting Lichterman Nature Center and the beautiful Botanic Gardens.
I love the ways people in this city help others… both locally and around the world.
- St. Jude Hospital and Research Center: Do I really need to expound on why St. Jude is so amazing?
- Church Health Center: providing healthcare for the working uninsured and so many other needed community behavioral and physical healthcare services.
- Fedex: Okay, I’m a bit partial to Fedex anyway because they helped keep my family afloat through a few years of my husband working at “The Hub”. But, seriously, Fedex does amazing things for Memphis and, of course, helps keep the rest of the world going too.
- And, I am just grateful for all of the people I know who keep doing whatever they can to help others. I’d think that living in any city it is easy to get overwhelmed by what needs to be done… sometimes it is easy to get discouraged here. I’m grateful for everyone who, whether individually or part of a ministry, does their part to make life better for everyone. I discovered this website to honor Memphians making a difference (by MIFA, which is another city gem).
Besides Memphis… I am thankful today for music (which is a huge part of Memphis!). I could go into more detail there… but maybe another day. I love almost all kinds of music and I can’t imagine life without it!
And, today, I am thankful for money. Specifically tax refund money… or at least for getting the taxes DONE. It was quite a process… one reason this blog post is getting put up so late! (I’m grateful for the refund money too though, we need to get that emergency fund back in place!)