gratitude: Thanksgiving, a prelude

Half a step past Halloween and we’re solidly into NovemberDecember.  I’m calling it this from now on because there’s no point in kidding ourselves – November isn’t some sweet spot in fall when leaves slowly change as we sip hot apple cider.  December isn’t a leisurely waltz into winter either.  These two months combine into the holy grail of activity as families revolve around each other.

Yep.  Welcome to NovemberDecember.

On the way home from school last week Bear asked me which holiday was my favorite and, like a typical mama, I turned it around on her.  And she told me – wait for it – that most of her friends say Christmas is their favorite because of gifts (duh), but that her favorite is Thanksgiving.  Because Thanksgiving makes her think about being together with everyone she loves.  Thanksgiving is about family and good food.

It may or may not be because we’ve started watching This Is Us, but that answer?  That one made me just a teeny bit weepy.  It’s all the feels.


gratitude: the yin and yang of light

I’d planned to write about the beauty found in both light and darkness.  These two opposites mix into a thousand shades of gray, yet each stands just as strong on their own.  But the more I try to settle my head, the more I find myself leaning into the concept of how we handle light and its absence.  There’s a post in there, I’m sure, but I’m trying to rein myself back in here.

As a child (and, frankly, a young adult as well), it seemed the perfect world would be made of light.  Joy.  Peace.  Love.  Cooperation and generosity blending to make space for everyone.  Just…Goodness.  It seemed like Goodness was what we should strive for.

I understand now without darkness there can be no light.  They dance around each other in ways far too mysterious for me to understand, and that we are all the luckier for it.

gratitude: put that stress in timeout

Recently the topic of stress relief came up in conversation – how different people handle stress, how to do it in a healthy way, that sort of thing.  To say it was a bit on the nose for me is putting it mildly.

At any rate, one point in particular stuck with me: that it’s so important to find something you’re passionate about, because those were the things mentioned over and over as stress relief.  When life seems overwhelming or scary or uncertain, submersing yourself in your passion eases the mind.  Muscles relax and endorphins swim around your brain.  It’s like giving your freak-out permission to take a timeout.

Your passion can be anything, and a lot of us are blessed to have more than one.  Music, writing, photography, reading, art…these are all things I’m passionate about, things I reach for when I need to detox from the world.  Here’s hoping you’ve found your own endorphin boosters.

gratitude: heath toffee, strawberry, mint chocolate chip, and M&M

I’ve waxed poetic on the ice cream sundae before – perfect scoops of rich, creamy ice cream covered in warm fudge, and topped with whipped cream and a cherry.  Ahhhh… 

You can do a lot of miraculous things with truly outstanding ice cream.

Like milkshakes.  Milkshakes inspire poets the world ’round.  Also teachers, writers, entrepreneurs, and parents.  Hell, milkshakes could probably power peace talks if folks would just give them a chance.

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gratitude: personal thermal features

We were hopping around Yellowstone this summer witnessing an extraordinarily varied display of nature when I noticed that one phenomenon in particular resonated with me.  What the park experts called “thermal features.”  (You can check out the experts here.)

Geysers:  Hot springs that erupt periodically.  Some are predictable enough that the park can give a rough estimate of how often they’ll erupt: every 35-55 min. (Baby Daisy), 6 hours 35 min. (Riverside), and 94 or 68 minutes (Old Faithful).  Others are “irregular” (or, as I prefer to call them, erratic).  But whatever…these features shoot super hot water into the air.

Hot springs:  Similar to geysers, but their ridiculously hot water releases energy by evaporation or runoff instead of eruptions.

Steam vents:  These are, well, exactly what they sound like.  Pressurized steam below ground escapes through cracks in the surface, often accompanied by an ominous hissing sound.

You might be asking by now what, pray tell, does any of this geography have to do with my post today…well, as we were bopping from geyser to geyser (T-man was fascinated), I couldn’t help but think, “Hey!  THIS looks awfully familiar.”  It seemed an awful lot like me.  (ahem)

Not so much the erupt-on-a-predictable-schedule kind, which is probably unfortunate for those who live in my sphere.  Definitely the ridiculously hot temperatures, and hissing isn’t out of the question under certain conditions.

However.  I’ve found the venting aspect to be critical to my mental health.  Sometimes you just need to spill, you know?  So I’m grateful for the folks who so graciously allow me to vent on occasion.

gratitude: a medley

A cool breeze drifting through my window in the car rider line.

The first halfway decent night’s sleep after a week of sinus trouble.

An app called ColorFree…hours and hours of portable digital coloring.

The look on Phoebe’s face as she sticks her head out the car window.

Cooler mornings, afternoons in the 70s, and the thought that fall might [knock on wood] finally be here.

BrightSide’s mediation skills.

Glasses.  Because holy crap, it’s like I went half blind overnight and I can’t see Jack without them.

The joy of taking photos.

I said it before and I’ll say it again: Amazon, Amazon, Amazon.

gratitude: when the marathon becomes a sprint (aka: the Nike Hallelujah)

My shopping experiences with Bear have born a greater resemblance to marathons than sprints.  The girl’s never met a store she didn’t want to browse, and the concept of window shopping eludes her.  Every aisle, sometimes twice, running commentary the whole time. 

What can I say?  The girl loves to shop.

Except a single glorious experience when it came to back to school shoe shopping.

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gratitude: little brothers all grown up

When I look at T-man and Bear I dream of a day when they’ll enjoy a relationship like I have with my brother.

He’s a constant.  A steadfast force in my world.

He always lends an ear when I need another perspective and unwaveringly supports my decisions.

He loves my kids for the looney tune individuals they are and encourages me in my writing.

He inspires me every day – to be strong, brave, and make the world a better place.

I am truly blessed.