So Many Reasons to be Grateful

Happy Thanksgiving! In the midst of autumn, families gather to enjoy a meal together and recount their blessings.

A couple of days ago alumni outreach from my alma mater, The University of Texas at Austin, called me. The senior I chatted with asked me if there was any advice I’d offer someone about to graduate.

Now, I don’t think of myself of an age to offer life advice, but, as we spoke, a pattern from my life emerged.

Give Thanks

CC0: https://pixabay.com/en/thanksgiving-fall-pumpkin-flowers-2903166/

This year I’m reminded of something else to be grateful for: the chances I’ve been given to do something special, something different or unexpected, and how those chances have paid handsome dividends in my life.

Even from simply deciding to go to Austin for my degree, for pursuing engineering instead of something else, the choices I made and the chances I took created unique consequences. If I’d chosen differently, I’d have ended up somewhere else. With a different degree, I’d have worked at some other company for my first job, likely in a different city, and I would have gained entirely different skill sets.

Instead of moving to Houston and accepting a transfer from that first job to Baton Rouge, there’s no telling where I would have ended up or who I would have met along the way. And while moving to a new city can be daunting, moving to a new place after that where you know no one is even scarier. It’s certainly true that it’s harder to make friends after college.

But because of those moves, I made friends and got to expand my world view. As a big city girl, moving to Baton Rouge was extreme culture shock. Then to experience the impact of Hurricane Katrina and the storms that came after… Let’s just say that I now follow hurricane season every year with a greater understanding and concern than if I’d stayed away from the Gulf Coast.

Even the way I write is affected by choices I’ve made. Because I’m an engineer, I like to think about the way things work. If you haven’t checked out my series on Why Engineers Shouldn’t Watch TV, you’ll find that logic and fact are important to telling good stories. So as I build worlds and explore the inexplicable, finding a plausible (if fictitious) reason for why things work the way they do is a way that I make things feel more real even within the realm of fantasy.

Perhaps if I hadn’t studied science and fed my fascination for understanding how to build or fix things, I wouldn’t consider that a lack of magic in Worvanz would lead to infrastructure breakdowns, as in Dark Empire, or the need for mermaids to have highly transmutable cells and the impact of their biology on their lifestyle, as in the Sea Deception series (coming soon!).

The choices I’ve made impact me in much more personal ways, too. I look around the table at my family, at the man I married and the children we share, at the home we live in, the food we eat, the things we choose to discuss and the books we decide to read, and I realize that all of these small choices add up to build who we are as people. Anytime we go a different path, the effect of that choice may be profound.

And today, as I think about the season of Thanksgiving, I am especially grateful that I have no regrets about the way life is turning out for me. I’m blessed with a family to love, with friends, with a home and a career, and a passion for storytelling that fuels my soul.

Wishing you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Previous years: 2017 2016  2015  2013

A Time to Give Thanks

It’s that time of year again…

The groceries are purchased, the meal plan is set. And this time tomorrow, all the work will be done, as will the elaborate meal.

 

 

Thanksgiving remains my favorite holiday. Even though this year may feel like everything has gone awry, we can take this opportunity to put things into perspective and count our many blessings.

Needs

I am grateful that my family, wherever they are, has been afforded all basic needs: food, water, shelter, clothes, air, etc.

Even for those of my family and friends impacted by the hurricanes this year, they are still not wanting for the basics.

And though my contribution to helping others less fortunate is small relative to the challenges they face, if we all do our part, we can make a difference. It’s this time of year that I especially remember that there are those who want for what I take for granted.

Wants

Anyone with small children who watch TV this time of year knows that there’s a new “it” toy every commercial break.

Whether for children or for adults, we don’t need any new toys in our house. We’ve been systematically trying to clear some of the clutter of things we’ve outgrown.

Even in my own shopping, whether it’s clothes shopping or beauty buys or gadgets, I find it amazing that I can get that elusive item that fits my expectations and my budget.

At the start of the holiday season, it always breaks my heart to see parents struggling to make a good holiday for their kids due to financial constraints.

And, yes, I know and agree that a memorable holiday doesn’t have anything to do with the monetary value of the gifts under the tree.

Luxuries

There are so many things we pay money for that we don’t need, services we take for granted that someone will do for us, or items that we get that are nicer just because. Do I take for granted carrying a designer logo on shoulder or wrist, fancy gadgets or vanity spending? I need to do better about recognizing how very blessed I am.

This year we’ve been blessed to take some awesome trips, and the memories we made will last a lifetime. That’s the best luxury of them all, and I’m so grateful that we’ve been able to do that as a family.

So this Thanksgiving I’m going to consciously improve my gratitude practice and appreciate just how good I really have it.

I wish you and yours a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Previous years: 2016  2015  2013