Counting Blessings on Thanksgiving

Well, it’s that time again. Thanksgiving continues to be my very favorite American holiday, a time when we can put aside our differences and count our blessings.

Thanksgiving is a time to recount our blessings

Happy Thanksgiving from my family to yours!

Over this past year, my husband and I have frequently discussed how 2016 has been full of life experience. You know when one says that, much of that experience was simply not wanted or welcomed, but it forced us to deal with it anyway. So we feel like we’ve grown up a lot this year.

And despite having had a challenging year, God is great and I have so very much to be thankful for. Here is but a small sampling, in no particular order:

  1. My family: we’ve had a rough year and more of health drama, but right now, even though we are not all sharing the holidays together, everyone is with loved ones. We are all in stable health, and I am very grateful for that. Also, for my awesome husband, who makes every event in our lives, whether adventure or tragedy, easier to bear because we do it together. For my amazing, precocious daughter, whose imaginative mouse stories inspire my own creativity and who reminds me so much of myself and how blessed I am to experience childhood through her eyes. For my precious little man, whose wet kisses and baby fangs (seriously, just got his second tooth two weekends ago, in the same position as his first tooth) and comedic wordlessness let me enjoy the baby phase a little bit longer since it’s for the last time.
  2. My friends: I may not reach out as often as I think of you, but I would not have made it through the year without your support. You bring joy and fresh perspective to my life, and I’m a better human being for it.
  3. My job: sometimes it’s easy to let the small frustrations of work trouble us. But this job, and my husband’s, present us with so many options and more than adequately satisfy our family’s needs and wants. The people I work with are truly compassionate and caring, which makes going to work every day pleasant, and the mentally satisfying work I do so worthwhile. So far from not fearing where our next meal is coming from or how to pay for upcoming bills, our continued employment also gives us peace of mind and makes dealing with other grownup challenges (see #1) so much easier.
  4. My creative outlets: beyond writing, though that of course tops the list. I’ve learned to draw well enough that you’ll not hear me say “I can’t draw” again. I get to craft (a post about Munchkin’s latest fairy wings and costume is coming soon) and learn Spanish (DuoLingo for the win) to keep those synapses firing. I’ve learned more about blogging and developed a monthly newsletter. I’ve reached out to beta readers for one contest entry and for the first in a trilogy of novellas (Sea Deception). I anticipate doing a fair bit of publishing in 2017 because of the progress made in 2016.
  5. Time together: This Thanksgiving, I’m so looking forward to carrying on the traditions of my own childhood, watching the parade with my children, cooking up a non-traditional Thanksgiving meal (which is a family tradition of itself), and decorating for the holidays. We might even brave the crowds over the weekend.
  6. Health: Not to continue to harp on this one, but it’s a biggie. Both physically and emotionally, I’m in a much better place this year than last year. Time heals, but so does a combination of Zumba, Pilates, and yoga. Let’s not forget that I’m also thankful, if a little irreverent, that my winter clothes, which didn’t fit properly last year at 4 months postpartum, finally do fit now. I’ve still got room to go on my health goals, but I’m grateful for the progress I’ve made and for the strong, flexible, beautiful temple God gave me to house my soul.

Thanksgiving falls about a week before my birthday, and it’s no small thing to live another full year and celebrate the many blessings of a life well-lived.

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful readers! I’m very grateful for your support.

Previous Thanksgiving Posts:

2013, 2014, 2015

A Little Honesty for Mother’s Day

As I’ve said before, having the opportunity to be a mother is the greatest of gifts. My two wonderful munchkins bring me great joy and laughter. Even though they test my patience and steal my sleep, they offer kisses and cuddles and constantly amaze me with the ways they interact with the world. T says the most insightful and creative things, explores the world and reveals her findings so honestly, and D is fascinated by everything and reminds me how fleeting the baby time is. I soak up the joy of this time as best I can.

But I have a confession, and it’s a very shallow one. I was changing into my pajamas one night and finally admitted aloud the truth of my feelings toward my post-baby belly. It doesn’t make me happy.

I know that this body of mine is strong and beautiful. It has served me well so far—through dance classes and martial arts, through writing and learning and worldwide travels—and through two healthy pregnancies that have gifted me two children I would not trade for anything, least of all my vanity.

But I look in the mirror and see a belly that is flabby and wrinkly, and, in the right (wrong) clothes, I look several months pregnant. I’ve learned to dress to hide my insecurities about my belly, and I’ve been taking steps to eat better and work out more, but I know the illusion for what it is.

The workout regimen will improve my fitness and silhouette if I can just stick to it. As we all know, life gets in the way. I’ve started the program for the third time. It’s discouraging to see that in print. Three times, without reaching the end. The first time I realized I got on the wrong schedule after a couple weeks, when the regimen became too difficult too quickly. The second time was interrupted by a family emergency for which I dropped EVERYTHING. I have no regrets about doing so, and I would drop everything once again if I had a do-over.

But once things settled down I climbed back on the wagon to try again. I’m trying the even easier schedule this time, so that I have an extra opportunity to stay on track. I don’t know if the plan will be interrupted again, and, if it is, I’ll start again and keep moving forward.

One of the black belts I’ve earned has a saying in Korean that roughly translates to “I will fall a thousand times and get up a thousand times.” That indomitable spirit, that perseverance to keep going in spite of setbacks, will see me through.

I do not give upIt permeates my very being. I do not give up. I may have to work harder, and things may not work out as planned. Plans and priorities change, but some things remain constant. And giving up is not an option. So I look in the mirror and accept that the droopy tummy is temporary, that this fleeting stage of motherhood to small children will pass all too soon, and that I’m doing the right things to change both my body and my perspective, and I recognize that we sacrifice certain things to get worthwhile outcomes.

Is a flabby belly and long road of exercise to recover my fitness worth the experience of raising T and D? You bet it is.

Happy Mother’s Day to my sisters in motherhood. May you be blessed with your children’s love and laughter, and may you be blessed to love yourself as you are now.

roses

Here’s a sample from my drawing exercises, per my resolutions.

Previous Mother’s Day posts: First Mother’s Day