I read an article once about Thomas Hardy called “The Uneasy Victorian.” I remember that the writer compared Hardy to other Victorian authors, saying that out of all of them, he felt the most anxiety about the world they inhabited. And there is less hope, more sense of impending doom in Tess of the D’Urbervilles and Jude the Obscure than, say, Oliver Twist. There was a picture of Hardy with the article and he did look a little crazy. A little Darth-Vaderish, if you can imagine Darth Vader with a long mustache and bushy eyebrows wearing a tweed jacket and tie. Victorian Vader.
I’ve been a little Darth Vaderish lately. Okay, well, maybe forever. I can relate to Thomas Hardy’s sense of uneasiness when I look out at the world. I sent a text to one of my friends the other day asking how he was doing and he answered, “Conflicted and confused, as usual.” I had to laugh. No wonder we’re friends. Syrian babies wash up dead on beaches, people argue about the proper response to this, ISIS kills people in Paris, kids get shot in Chicago, people die in Beirut and Mali, America seriously engages things like Donald Trump and Starbucks cups.
As all of this swirls around in my newsfeed and brain, I have my own worries. After all, it gets dark early now. And I hate the dark. I also hate the cold. Both of these things make me want to stay in my pajamas all day and cuddle on the couch with Patch, but I must face my life. I have four human beings who depend on me to be sane and kind and responsible and wise. I feel my inadequacy in this area every moment of every day. I see my time with them slipping through my fingers and I get scared it won’t be good enough, I won’t teach them enough, or give them all they need to navigate life. Like my kids, my parents are getting older, which I hate. I don’t see or talk to my friends enough and I miss them. My skin is awful. I’ve gained weight. Then there are my students, my job, my writing. And I won’t even go into finances, always a fun topic this time of year.
On my way to work yesterday I was thinking about this blog and how I needed to write something but didn’t feel like writing anything about Thanksgiving. Even though I love this holiday my mood was too tense for thankful thoughts just yet. Still, I started composing a mental list of things I am truly thankful for, actually holding space in my heart for each one and pondering on it. Forcing myself to focus on the good. Not in denial of the bad, but, on the contrary, in the face of it. Click To TweetSuch a weird thing started to happen! Peace broke through my clouded mind like a little stream of sunlight. I kind of knew this should occur, in principle, but I’m sorry to say it’s been awhile since I practiced it. Anyway, I’m doing it again today as a form of Thanksgiving Therapy. If you’re running a little low on joy—or even if you’re not—I hope you’ll try it too.
Here’s my random list of things I’m thankful for:
I’m thankful for my kids. I’m thankful they are healthy, capable, and loving. I’m so thankful I get the chance to be their mother.
I’m thankful for my marriage. I’m thankful that Stone and I have stayed committed to each other and our family through some very hard times. I’m thankful we are growing stronger and healthier together.
I’m thankful for my parents. I’m thankful for the people of integrity that they are, how they raised me, and the love they continually show me and mine.
I’m thankful for my brother and Heathcliff. How lucky am I that I get to live next door to my best friends and share everything with them?
I’m thankful for Madeline, Sophia, and Hunter who are constant sources of joy in my life.
I’m thankful for my church. I’m thankful it is a safe place to grow spiritually with a community of people who love Jesus and each other.
I’m thankful for my job. It’s pretty amazing that I have a job that suits me so well right here in my home town. I’m thankful for the academic freedom I have to choose what and how I want to teach.
I’m thankful for good friends. I have beautiful people in my life who are making a difference in the world. I can count on them to tell me the truth and be there when I need them. I am so blessed.
I’m thankful for my country. I’m thankful for what America is and what it aspires to be. I’ve been lots of places. There’s no place like home.
I’m thankful for my hometown. I was lucky to be raised here, and I’m lucky to live here now. It’s full of natural beauty and beautiful people. Like my mom said one time when she returned from a trip, “It’s so good to be back in Ozark, to go into town and see all of the familiar faces. I like it here. I like even the people I don’t like.”
I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful I’m free from addiction to food (most of the time).
I’m thankful for good running shoes.
I’m thankful for Zoloft.
I’m thankful for my espresso machine.
I’m thankful for my house in the country.
I’m thankful for Patch.
I’m thankful for my big Christmas tree with its Charlie Brown lights.
I’m thankful for my van.
I’m thankful for my piano.
I’m thankful for Misti who makes my hair look good.
I’m thankful for Donna who cleans my house twice a month.
I’m thankful for KLife.
I’m thankful for toasty Cheezits.
I’m thankful for my goats and chickens and cats.
I’m thankful for the Triple F Ranch.
I’m thankful for my education.
I’m thankful for Kilwins hot chocolate.
I’m thankful for my fireplace.
I’m thankful for my memories.
I’m thankful for my phone.
I’m thankful for my fuzzy LL Bean slippers.
I’m thankful for my website.
I’m thankful for my agent Chip MacGregor.
I’m thankful I get to write books.
See how this works? I’m out of time for writing and you’re surely out of time for reading. But the list could go on and on.
What are you thankful for? I’d love to hear your thankful thoughts. Happy Thanksgiving everyone! And may the force be with you.