This has been a hard year; I can’t spin it any other way. I’ve been nursing a sudden, frustrating injury since February. After working up to daily workouts and feeling fitter than I ever have, the plunge into bed rest, limited activity, ongoing physical therapy, and now gradually building back up, has been daunting and deflating on so many levels. It sucks. That all nudged me into a depression that spun me sideways and left me feeling suicidal, depleted, and digging out of a blue hole.
While many people think we’ve been living in an empty nest (read this first post ever) for ages, this year was really the start of it–– having seen all the fledglings off, in the past year, and working through issues from the past, has left me feeling haunted and troubled, as I come to terms with reality and things I thought I knew… but didn’t. I could blame all of it on Trump and it might not be that far off the mark; God know I’m not alone. Working on change, aging, and trying to navigate relationship changes that have been painful, frustrating and challenging has added to a general state of blues that has lingered far longer than I might have imagined. Yeah, it’s been a hard year.
All of that has made it daunting for me to write–– when I probably most need to write. Every night I struggle with sleep, my brain spinning and words lining up to be written. I lie there and think: tomorrow I’ll write this down, or this the next day… But, I don’t. Writing has been my thing for as long as I can remember. For the past six years, writing this blog, it has been something I share with others as well; I was putting out 3 posts a week, and it was easy. Now, I struggle to write one every month or two. The words tug at me and point alphabet fingers, and I don’t sleep.
Here I am, it’s 1am and I’m writing. The words pushed me out of bed, as I thought about the things I’ve just mentioned, and… gratitude. Yes, despite a long list of challenges, there is so much to be thankful for. Never mind that a holiday forces us all to think about thanks every November. It would be easy to call it what it is: Hallmark blackmail: be grateful, be thankful, or you’re not American. There’s something wrong with you, if you can’t give thanks.
But really, there’s something so meaningful about stopping and being thankful, individually and collectively. We should all be thankful daily for so many things we often take for granted. There are countless articles about taking a moment each day to record words of gratitude. No doubt, when I was doing that, it was humbling. It’s hard to stay down, when you stop to think about all the up in your life, and there is in fact always something to be thankful for. Always. Life can certainly be hard. We all struggle, and while it may seem like others have it easier, or pain free, no one goes unscathed. We all bleed.
I have so much to be thankful for; I’ve written way too much lately about struggles, and not enough about all the good. Despite some pitfalls lately, my health is still something to truly be grateful for. I see friends grapple with true health issues, and I know I must give thanks. I spent hours and hours hiking the trails in the Pacific NW this fall. I learned that I love to hike solo, something that for a long time intimidated me. This fall I hiked mountain trails, my two dogs racing along with me, and I felt like a million dollars. I spent hours in solitude and scenery that takes my breath away, every time, and I felt strong and capable. Thank you health. Thank trails.
My family is so important to me, and I’m grateful I get to see my children and loved ones more than some people do. Granted, having my daughter, son-in- law, and precious grandson––three people I adore–– living 7,000 miles away remains a challenge. Traveling there is long and hard; they come once a year. I’m so thankful we can afford to go when we want to, and have them come here each summer. I’m thankful my oldest son and his love live an hour away, and we’ve been able to see them, go to a concert, and share good times. I’m happy he’s found such a wonderful woman to love, and that we love her as well. I’m thankful my youngest son is doing well at college, is graduating in the spring, and likes us to visit. I’ve fallen in love with Denver, and it’s been fun getting to know his world. We were lucky to have two family bar mitzvahs this year, which allowed us to visit extended family and see so many people I love. I’m thankful that my father in law is in good health, and can see his grandkids and great-grandson living happy, successful lives. I am so grateful I have such amazing nieces and nephews; it brings me so much joy watching them become adults and cool people. Being an aunt is one of my favorite things! I am so lucky to have two aunts nearby who remind me where I come from, with patience and love, and who teach me how to be an aunt. There are cousins near and far who dance with me, do shots with me, laugh with me, and keep me linked and tied in, to so many special memories––new and old. I’m so happy to see my sister happy and smiling her brilliant smile. I’m grateful every day for 30+years of marriage. Thank you family.
I have amazing friends. In a world where many people feel alone, I’m so grateful for friends who have sushi and laugh with me each week; friends who join me in Portland or wherever our adventures lead, and always answer the phone with a smile; friends who share dinner parties and Cards Against Humanity with me; friends who write with me; friends nearby and friends too far; friends who listen, hug trees, celebrate, play, and love, and hug and laugh. Thank you friends.
I’m so fortunate to have traveled so much, to so many incredible places. I’ve met wonderful people, and seen magical things. The Grand Canyon calls to me; the salty beauty of beaches has filled me up. Mountains have moved me, and deserts have given me peace. Seeing new places always challenges me to think about how I interact with others, and what I take away. Thank you for the privilege of destinations and wild places.
I’m grateful for my work at hospice. What a strange twist of fate, that I found my way to work that fills me up so completely. I love every shift, every time. I love the patients who are thankful for my presence, and the staff and other volunteers who share time with me. Thank you awe, compassion and purpose.
I’m grateful that I’m free to write and say what I want, always with the intention to do no harm. I’m so thankful to an honest, generous, skilled writing community who never sugar coats or leaves anything out; their support and editing means the world to me. I’m grateful for each and every Word Press reader who takes the time to read my words, and so happy when those words make a connection. It’s a bonus when you leave a comment and share your thoughts; don’t sugar coat them. I’m still awed and amazed that I got to stand with millions of inspiring people, this past January for the Women’s March on Washington, DC (check out that post for lots of cool photos!) and speak out against a president who I cannot respect or support. It was humbling to hear so much wisdom, vulnerability, and power, crushed amongst so many others who were equally moved and humbled. It was empowering on so many levels, as I work on becoming the woman I’ve always wanted to be. I’m am deeply moved and grateful that so many women and men are (finally) feeling free to stand up and share their stories of sexual assault and abuse, and so many caring people are saying: I hear you; I believe you; you are not alone. It’s an incredible thing, at fifty-four years old, to say #metoo and not flinch. Thank you Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Thank you Freedom of Speech.
I’m thankful for my puppies, who have cuddled me, hiked with me, loved me when I’m down or up, and constantly whispered: It’s ok, we see you, we love you. I’m grateful for great food, good times, gray days to be quiet, and blue days to explore. I’m grateful for fabulous art; dancing with people I love; dancing, dancing, dancing each day in my kitchen, and not caring if I embarrass the pups. Thank you Gracie and Luna, and Luke who still hikes beside me. Thank you creativity and art.
I’m grateful for personal growth and the hope that I will one day be a wise old woman, who feels good in my skin. I’m so very grateful for my grandson, who’s in my thoughts every day. I’m grateful for his sloppy kisses, his inquisitive mind, and perceptive heart. I’m grateful for hours spent watching the big machines at the junkyard and recycling center, and exploring tide pools on a gorgeous beach. He lights up my world. I’m grateful for hot showers and a cool pillow each night. I’m grateful for hummingbirds at my window, and owls that make the night come alive. I’m grateful to my great great-grandfather Ferguson, who planted a Christmas Cactus and never imagined its blooms would make his great great-granddaughter feel connected and happy, more than 100 years later! Thank you moon and stars and sun, rain, wind, and snow. Thank you flowers and natural beauty that fills me up. Thank you Life; it is good and wondrous.
What are you thankful for? What brings you joy or contentment? Leave a comment and share some gratitude. And a very happy Thanksgiving to you all.
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KAPOW! I didn’t meet the 2016 goal for Likes on the Tales From the Motherland Facebook page; missed it by 14! So this year, I’m not setting a goal. I’m grateful for each Like I get. Have you stopped by to spread some fairy dust? Follow me on Twitter, LeBron James does (yes, for real)! Most importantly, if you like a post I’ve written, hit Like and leave a comment. Honest, constructive feedback is always appreciated. Click Follow; you’ll get each new post delivered by email, no spam.
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