Denene with Locs

I’m a complainer. A glass-half-empty kinda girl. I don’t know where I get that from; though I’m sure my parents had their worries, they kept the struggles out of day-to-day conversation, so worrying and wondering and wishing out loud for what we didn’t have wasn’t a learned experience in my childhood home. Still, I tend to lean into what I need and want, and oftentimes give precious little air to all the good that already is moving through my life. So when my friend Oman challenged me on Facebook to share on my personal page every day for seven days three things that I’m grateful for, I did so for reasons that extend far beyond something to gab about on social media. Quite simply: I have a lot to be grateful for. Full stop. Here is what I shared in my Week Of Gratitude:

Denene Millner and Nick Chiles

Gratitude, Day 1

1. Today is my 17th wedding anniversary. I’m married to a beautiful, intelligent, kind, loving, tolerant man who loves me and tells me every day that I’m beautiful. Surely, I’m a lucky woman.

2. I got a pedicure today. The pedicurist didn’t cut or hurt me, she gave a helluva massage and she was nice to me while she went to work on my feet. Plus, my tosies look hella cute in these six-inch heels. Yes indeed.

3. I bought a dress to wear to my anniversary date and the little girls who helped me pick out some options said they loved my shape, that I looked incredible in two form-fitting dresses that I would have never worn on my own, and were impressed that I had naturally what Nikki Minaj paid a pretty penny for. That’s right boos: that’s ALL me.

Cute Goldendoodles

Gratitude, Day 2

1. I’m grateful for my sister-in-law Angelou Ezeilo and my dear friend Laura Dickerman, who took care of my girlpies while the hubs and I celebrated our anniversary. There’s something to be said for entrusting the two humans you love with all your being to the capable hands of friends you know will take great care of them.

2. I’m grateful for GREAT storytelling. Today, I watched “Chef,” written and directed by Jon Favreau, and “Middle of Nowhere,” written and directed by Ava DuVernay, and fell in love with writing again. In “Middle of Nowhere,” the scene between Lorraine Touissant and Emayatzy Corinealdi at the dinner table, with mother chastising daughter about not doing her best? Whoa. The acting was stellar, but good God, the words needed to be there to make it happen. I am inspired.

3. I’m grateful for my sweet dog, Teddy, who brings me immeasurable joy. He’s sweet, protective, loving, loyal and adorable—all for the low cost of a few pets and a belly rub or two. I hit the lottery with him, truly.

Denene Millner and Cliff Boyce

Gratitude, Day 3:

1. I’m so very grateful for my trainer and friend, Cliff Boyce, who patiently and methodically has whipped my formerly lazy, out-of-shape, overweight self into a strong, energetic, shapely, more muscular being who actually likes exercising and lifting weights. Which, considering I’d never, ever did much more than lift a fork and wine glass before working out with him, pretty much makes Cliff, a.k.a., Hollywood, magical. Seriously. I adore him.

2. I’m grateful for my smart, beautiful, hysterical daughters. Especially the “smart” part of them. Because I have neither the patience nor wherewithal to successfully raise dummies. God knew what he was doing when he sent those two my way.

3. I’m grateful for the sunset. I mean, there’s a new piece of art dancing across the sky every night, leaving a trail of my favorite colors stretched all across the horizon. No one sunset is the same. Which means there’s a new beautiful surprise every evening. I make a point of watching it whenever I can because… sunset, yo. Plus, wine. It’s the perfect way to smooth out after a looooong day.

With This Ring_Lifetime

Gratitude, Day 4:

1. I’m super grateful for Nzingha Stewart, Sheila Ducksworth, Gabrielle Union and Tracey Edmonds for standing steadfast in their belief that “The Vow,” the book Angela Burt-Murray, Mitzi Miller and I wrote together is film worthy. Nine years after Gabrielle first floated the idea of producing, “The Vow,” all of our dreams are coming to fruition. #WithThisRing, starring Regina Hall, Jill Scott, Eve, Jason Winston George, Stephen Bishop and Brooklyn Sudano, is in its last days of filming this week. I still pinch myself just thinking about this.

2. I’m grateful for my friends Tarana Burke, Rebecca Carroll, Kirsten West Savali, Carolyn Edgar, Luvvie Ajayi, Stacey Patton, Stacey Muhammad, Kelly Wickham and Britni Danielle, who keep my timeline full of smart, thoughtful, righteous posts and stellar reading that MATTERS to me. Y’all are so dope. I adore you.

3. I’m grateful for my mother’s insistence that I learn how to cook an entire family meal at age 12 or 13. Thanks to her, I’ve had years of practice and I’m never really intimidated in the kitchen. I can burn, y’all. I ain’t shamed to say. Also, thank you AllClad, for being… well… AllClad. #BestPansEver

Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

Gratitude, Day 5:

1. I’ve been listening to a bunch of slamming playlists on Spotify and iPodcast, specifically, “He Loves Me,” a Spotify mix I created featuring beautiful love songs by male singers expressing all manner of love for and commitment to their women, and a bunch of “Summertime” podcast mixes by DJ Jazzy Jeff. Man I love music. For me, it’s air. My heartbeat. Life. Dwele, Mint Condition, Stevie, Marvin, Donny, Luther, MJ, DeBarge, Musiq, Raheem, D’Angelo—all of them love(d) us. It hurts that today’s more popular male artists don’t use their art to celebrate Black women, the ones who support them financially, emotionally, physically, mentally. But I’m glad there exists a canon of music by artists who made it their mission to say in song that they need, want and adore us back.

2. Ever had jerk fish tacos with peach, avocado and red onion salsa? No? Well I did today. With a side of black bean, cucumber and corn salsa. It was so delicious and flavorful. Made me grateful for my tastebuds. Yes indeed.

3. Thank God for health insurance. Like, seriously. We are freelance writers, which means we eat what we kill and the meat comes, sometimes, in drips and drabs, so some things always need to be cut. Health insurance was one of those things until Obamacare kicked in. We got that Obamacare, son! Now, I actually go to a real doctor outside of emergencies. The kids, too. Which means I could call the pediatrician and have him take another look at Lila’s foot without worry that we can’t afford the appointment. This is huge. And I’m grateful.

Flowers From My Husband

Gratitude, Day 6

1. I LOVE flowers—the colors, the smells. I especially love waking up to them. I’m grateful for this bouquet that the hubs bought me today, just because he knew I would love them.

2. I’m grateful for the kids in the journalism program at Grady High School. Today Nick and I regaled them with stories about newspaper beats, chasing stories, tough interviews and finding your voice, and they acted like they were actually interested in what we had to offer. It is in those moments, when a kid says, “I want to do what you do,” that being in this profession is worth it.

3. I’m grateful for Hotpeeznbutta Harris, who hooked up my hair about four months ago, giving me a head start on my loc journey. Every morning, I wake up to the most beautiful, easy hairstyles ever, thanks to her. She’s magical, and I adore her.

Black Father and Daughter

Grateful, Day 7:

1. My father, James Millner Jr., is everything. Just… everything. There are not enough words to describe just how grateful I am to that man for raising me, disciplining me, teaching me, being there for me and, above all else, loving me with abandon. #DaddysGirlALWAYS

2. I copped me a jumpsuit today from Inman Dry Goods Boutique. It looks adorbs and hugs all these curves exactly the right way. Shout out to stretch fabric. I luh you.

3. This skin, this hair, these curves. I am grateful to each of you. I hated you for so long—wore you so uncomfortably during the course of a lifetime. Then these babies came with the same everything, and I saw nothing but beauty. That made me appreciate all of what I have, too. Finally, I’m grateful to be… me.

What are you grateful for? Go ahead and say it witcho chest in the comments section. I promise you, it feels awesome!

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Denene Millner

Mom. NY Times bestselling author. Pop culture ninja. Unapologetic lover of shoes, bacon and babies. Nice with the verbs. Founder of the top black parenting website, MyBrownBaby.

One Comment

  1. Wow, thoroughly enjoyed reading this! I’m grateful for my mom who always makes sure to lift me up spiritually in such a passionate way. I’m grateful for the nearly free education I’ve enjoyed through the years, the ability to work despite my scoliosis and mental illness. Grateful for my faith, for God choosing me to believe in Him, grateful for my sisters who I get along with so well. Grateful for well meaning friends. Thank you Denene for reminding us to be grateful!

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