It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka my gratitudes.
At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful.
Without any further ado, here we go:
#1: I am grateful for employment. I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.
#2: I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.
#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.
#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!
#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.
#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.
#7: I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.
#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for. It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:
This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!
Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.
It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.
Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now. That said, here is a by no means comprehensive list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.
First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!
Moment: I was the girl in college who, thank-the-good-lord, chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.
Second lesson learned: It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later.
Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.
Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:
Third lesson learned: God is among us.
Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.
Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:
As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm, I miraculously survived this epic mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high. Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.
Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness.
Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that). My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.
Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always. And cancer sucks the big one.
I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail. She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.
How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?
Hubs and I will be leaving this week for a road trip to visit family and friends in our beloved states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I may or may not have opportunities to do any blog posts while we are away, but I will get right back into it upon our return to our still new Colorado home.
I have quite a mixed bag of emotions heading into this adventure: excitement, anxiety, and guilt are at the top of the list. I’m excited about the opportunities so see all those people I love and miss so much. I’m excited about presenting my mother in law, sister in law, and a dear friend their birthday gifts (all are in the month of July). I’m excited to give my dad a box of his favorite treats when we visit him in his new home. I’m excited to spend time visiting our friends at our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and backyards. I’m beyond excited to see our eldest daughter and our grandson.
I’m anxious knowing that this will be the first time at my parent’s home with mom living there alone. It’s going to be so strange. I’m anxious about how my dad will react to our presence, as I’ve been made aware that he is farther into dementia than he was when I last saw him in April. I like to think he will know who Hubs and I are, but what if he doesn’t? I don’t know how to prepare emotionally for this possibility. I don’t want to cry in front of him because I think that will be confusing and upsetting for him. I must for his sake keep it together. Dementia is such a bastard.
The guilt will inevitably sneak it’s way into my brain too, I expect. Here I am, living the dream in wonderful, beautiful Colorado while my family is experiencing the hardship of my parents aging and the stress that comes with caregiving. I’m an unemployed (by choice for now anyway) housewife (domestic goddess?) with the time to pursue my love of creative writing via this blog and enjoy a decent social life. Currently my life is virtually stress-free, which is a new state of being for me. I worry that my family might think “Who does she think she is?”.
But go forth we will. Much time and energy has been spent by Hubs and I in the planning of this vacation. That fact ought to optimize the chance that things will go smoothly.
I will savor the good times, which I have faith will be plentiful. Like having chats with Hubs in the car about the past, the present, and what hopes we have for our future. Listening to Al Franken’s audio book “Giant of the Senate”. Listening to the plethora of channels on our Sirius XM. Sitting in motel hot tubs with a cold beer at the end of a long day in the car. Trying new restaurants. Sitting out on my parent’s front porch reminiscing about the good old times with mom and Hubs. Morning walks along the shores of Lake Superior. Taking the dumpling (our 3 year old grandson) out for ice cream and to the zoo. Splashing in the hotel pool with him and reading him the Sesame Street book I recently bought. Having a nice long, heart to heart chat with my beloved eldest daughter. Sitting out on my in laws deck, chatting the afternoon away sipping wine and smelling the barbeque my father in law is cooking on the grill. Having girl time with my sweet sister in law, laughing and shopping our way through Stillwater, Mn. Catching up with dear friends while sampling craft beers. Spending time at one of my very favorite places on earth: my sister’s home on the Baptism River. These simple things in life are what makes it worth living.
I am so fortunate to have all these people that I love so much and who love me back. I hope all of you, dear readers, are as blessed as I. Happy summer everyone!