~thankful thursday~ bedraggled we begin


~30 days of gratitude~ day 1

Squinting into the mid-afternoon sun while I stood six feet apart from a local friend and goddess in the parking lot of the Toledo post office not long ago, I received both a goddess blessing and some good advice. In getting through this year of hardship, she said she has tried to do her best to “put some light on it” each time the heartache, worry, and trauma pile up on her doorstep. I had just shared that my son has been living and isolating with his dad since March, and dumped a little more on her doorstep, and, true to her word, she put some light on me.

She didn’t tell me it would all be okay, or try to talk me out of feeling how I feel. She looked at me and said, “that must be hard.” It is hard. I’m not doing great, and I didn’t have to pretend I was. I could just stand there like a bedraggled flower and absorb some light, nothing required of me.

It is with some trepidation that I embark on my fifth annual November gratitude challenge, as not-great as I feel; the inner critic, she may need to be shoved in a closet for the season. Luckily, I’m now accustomed to feeling iffy and self-critical as November approaches, then wondering why I was ever uncertain by the end of the month. Each November, I relive the mystery of how a very small sparkly thought of mine can come back to me magnified a hundredfold, a many-mirrored lighthouse beam orienting my small craft to shore in the storm. The unprecedented storm we’re experiencing in 2020 may test the limits of this self-care practice, but it is also why I believe sharing light this year might be more vital than ever.

Today I am grateful for the people in my life who hold this kind of space, who experience the full range of human emotion, expect and accept it of others, help normalize it in the world. Thank you for shining your light.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 2

On Halloween, Rich handed me the newspaper so I could read Bobbie’s beat, in which she had shared the day brightener where adults asked little kids to define love, and Rebecca, age 8, says, “When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis, too. That’s love.”

There were seventeen other ones, but I was overcome with cat hair and had trouble reading the rest because my eyes were watering.

After I regained composure, I told him I would probably begin painting my toenails at exactly the age I was no longer able to do so, and we both laughed.

Then we went outside (me, bundled up) to stand near the wedding trees at the head of the trail and observe the full Halloween moon come up over the tree-lined ridge across the slough, and then walked down our trail a little ways, dunking the moon back down into the treeline, and watching it unskewer itself from the trees one more time. As I leaned on him, he had his arms wrapped around me and we heard an owl calling.

Today and every day I am grateful for my husband. This year I have especially felt grateful for the little patch of nature we get to steward; the solace it has provided to be able to just walk outside our door and visit the trees, the birds, the growing things, the sun, moon, and stars, has never felt so profound as it has this year.

After we got back from our moon date, Rich told me he would paint my toenails for me, when the time comes. And that is love.



~30 days of gratitude~ day 3

I’ve been tagged in gratitude posts by no fewer than five of my friends, who are also participating in the gratitude challenge. I am grateful for this safety in numbers, giving me courage.

Once upon a time I changed someone’s mind about something. It’s really so rare, isn’t it? I remember the times my own mind changed about things, and it wasn’t because of a carefully crafted argument or because someone bludgeoned me enough times with their opinion. It was because someone who happened to have a different opinion had built a rapport with me around areas of common ground, and I had time to think about why their opinion differed and weigh it against my own values.

Joel is a customer at the farm stand every Saturday. I don’t think he has missed a single pandemic market, he is there with his face shield, his list, his basket, and he has strived to be among the first customers in line each week. If I had to oversimplify I would say Joel is conservative, Mormon, loves Thomas Jefferson, and preferentially chooses my checkout line. I have the date ready to tell him so he can write it on his check (still writes checks), and we chat while he balances his checkbook right there on the spot. He asks about my son, who he can tell is “very smart” from the stories I’ve told him, and Joel likes that in a kid. I tell him to say hi to his wife Claire for me. I get the feeling Joel does the COVID shopping so she can stay safely at home, and I think that’s sweet.

Joel’s list usually includes the same items: chard, broccoli, carrots (two bunches), green beans, a green bell pepper; melons when they’re in season, delicata squash when it’s their turn. Nothing too crazy, no watermelon radishes or radicchio. He doesn’t branch out, if we don’t have it, he doesn’t substitute. If green beans are out of season, he skips them. Someone on the crew who hasn’t known Joel as long was delivering the bad news that we didn’t have green bell peppers that day, but offered that we did have yellow bell peppers. I knew this was normally a no-go but I wondered if he might hear the suggestion if it was coming from me, and I figured, what the heck. “Joel, try a yellow bell pepper! I bet you’ll like it!”

Joel took a yellow bell pepper home that day. I am grateful for this. He may not have liked the yellow bell pepper, but I hope he did. When you think about it, opting for a yellow bell pepper is maybe not the most radical change of heart. Yellow bell peppers all start out as green bell peppers after all. But maybe we humans also have more things in common than we have that divide us.


~30 days of gratitude~ day 4

I am grateful my husband is looking forward to me posting, which is helping me go ahead and do it.

It’s still raining today and when I saw rain in the forecast the other day I cut myself what flowers I could find. Recently I read about using raspberry foliage in arrangements so I cut the not-yet-ripe ones that would just mold in this weather and it’s a (sing it with me and Prince) raspberry bouquet.

I don’t know much right now. But I know I want every vote counted. And I was grateful to have some ripening raspberries to stare at today when I didn’t know what else to do.

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