What Thanksgiving Can Be

I’ve never been a fan of the Thanksgiving holiday, for many reasons, but mainly because as a practice of gratitude it was too little, too late, too commercialized, and too superficial.

Thanksgiving, I used to think, was just a time of looking back on the year and picking the things that made you most happy and celebrating them. These past years have shown me what Thanksgiving can be. It’s a time to remember what drives you, to name it and place it foremost in your mind and heart and hold tight to it through the hard times to come. It’s a time to remember not just your blessing but what you live for.

The benefits of practicing gratitude are well-documented and understood and putting aside the horrible history and the fallacious teaching behind its meaning, Thanksgiving is a chance to renew the hope, the resilience, the purpose of your life. It’s a time to remember that there is still good left in the world and recommit to being part of that good, not just for others but for yourself first!

People have a hard time feeling grateful and we have an even harder time expressing it. The negatives, the setbacks, and the hindrances overshadow the progress and the privilege. My wish is that there could be more balance for each of us. That we could hold both the hurt and happiness in our hearts equally. I want you to know you can love life, all of it.

It’s easier said than done, I know. These last few years have been especially hard— for all of us. What I want to say to all of you is that there is always something left to hold on to and that something is what will give you the strength to continue on.

Humans are at our best when we have a reason to get up, to work, to try. Even if you don’t have a grand accomplishment or love to celebrate this year, I hope you can find a small dream, a small good, a small pleasure to claim as your reason. It’s there. Search inside. Search the faces of your loved ones. Search for what is missing around you and let yourself be what you need.

Life is beautiful, and you are no ordinary thing. Even if you are all you have, you can be grateful, at least, for that grand gift and choose to live for you.


This past year I have worked hard to practice gratitude and I can honestly say it has had a big impact on my feelings of accomplishment, self-esteem, and my overall happiness. Some days I feel I have so much to be grateful for that my heart hurts from trying to hold it all.

I’m grateful, as always, for my beautiful, smart, hilarious, thoughtful wife. I’m grateful that we have seen another year, that we have grown closer than ever, and that we have endured our hardships and come out stronger, wiser, and more loving than ever. I’m grateful that there are still so many years ahead for us to fall more in love.

I’m grateful for my family. I am grateful my mother recovered from her heart attack. I’m grateful that we are all so close, even if we aren’t near each other. I’m grateful that we can work through our annoyances and frustrations. That we have a place to be loved despite ourselves.

I am grateful for all I have accomplished and all I have learned this year. I feel like I made real progress. I feel like I have grown. I am not who I was at the start of the year, or perhaps I am only more myself than I have ever been. My life is becoming something real, something mine, something I only dreamed of.

I’m grateful for my friends. My family must love me, and my wife took a vow, but my friends are under no such obligations. It feels good to be liked. It feels good to know I can enrich other’s lives. It feels good to have people in your life who encourage you, help you, who understand where you are and what you want from life.

I’m grateful that I’m not where I once was, that I’m not who I once was. Sometimes I am even grateful for my problems because they mean that there is a chance to overcome, to prove something, to grow.

I’m grateful for all the small things too: my dog who has carried me through the loss of my cat earlier this year. I’m grateful for the plants that brighten all my drab spaces and remind me that there is life beyond what humans make. I am grateful for my notebooks that give me a place to say the things I can’t out loud. I am grateful for those pages where I can be myself no matter what promises I break or how I neglect them.

I’m grateful for the beautiful sunrises that uplift my morning commute and the moon that always finds me when I need something bigger than myself to look to. I’m grateful for the work I do. While it isn’t always my passion, it at least gives me a chance to have a positive impact on the lives of so many children.

Despite my complaints, I’m grateful for all I could do for others. I’m grateful to be for others what I so often needed and I’m grateful for knowing that if I weren’t here I would be sorely missed. There have been times in my life when I felt very much the opposite. I’m grateful for healing, for the past becoming more and more the past, and for forgiveness, which seems more and more possible all the time.

Last, I’m grateful for this space and for all of you, for reading, commenting, and sharing. It feels good to write something people like, that resonates, that connects. I know I’m not here much lately, but things are changing and priorities are rearranging. I hope one day to be someone you all are grateful for too.

Thank you for reading and I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.


If We Were Having Coffee // A Long Week Back

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

I was up early this morning—despite a terrible night’s sleep—getting some Sunday housework out of the way and trying to work out some writing snags I encountered over the week and somehow lost track of time. I nearly forgot completely about our coffee date and would have missed it entirely if I hadn’t felt the caffeine withdrawal headache coming on. 

I know it’s late but, come, fill up a cup and pull up a chair. I’ve got just enough time to catch up with you before dinner is done. Let’s talk about last week.


“Coffee is a lot more than just a drink; it’s something happening. Not as in hip, but like an event, a place to be, but not like a location, but like somewhere within yourself. It gives you time, but not actual hours or minutes, but a chance to be, like be yourself, and have a second cup.”

Gertrude Stein, Selected Writings

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that this last week back to work after the Thanksgiving holiday felt like it would never end! I really struggled to get back into my usual routine. I went to bed too late, woke up too late, ran late and arrived too late everywhere I went. No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t catch up and ended up falling far behind where I meant to be come Friday.

The roller coaster weather didn’t help much. We had dreary conditions nearly every day. Then, my girlfriend came down with a nasty cold. Her coughing kept me up late at night and I did my best to take care of her during the day. And on top of it all, I had headaches nearly every day. It was a hard week back all around.

The kids on my bus really struggled to get back on routine too. By midweek they were either snapping at each other or they were sleeping through the ride. I did my best to keep their spirits up, which required a lot of caffeine and a return to naps during the day on my part. 


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I was sad to see another month go by and to realize that we are now entering the last days of 2018. I’m just not ready for another year yet. I spent so much of this one just trying to feel good again and then once I did all I wanted to do was more of what felt good: being with friends and family, going out to new restaurants, movie theaters, events, house parties, and into the beautiful rocky mountains.

I love writing, but it doesn’t always feel very good. I know there was time, in between the friends, the food, and the hikes, but for the life of me, I can’t figure out what I spent that time doing. Bottom line, I don’t feel like I accomplished very much at all. 

I’m sure I have though. I wish I had done some kind of inventory at the end of 2017 and I could make some sort of comparison. Maybe that is something I should do this year? So that next year I won’t be wondering the same and feeling so down on myself. 


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I did not complete even half of my goals for the week. I set myself up for this failure by asking too much and not taking into account the fact that I was returning to work after a whole week away. I started to list each goal here and how or why I failed but it was pretty painful and embarrassing so I deleted it. Instead, I’ll just celebrate the few wins and try again with a shorter more manageable list in the coming week.

I’m thinking of implementing a system where I track and record exactly how I am spending my time every day so that I can visualize where I am wasting my time. Not that I have to be productive at all times, but I do want to at least be wasting time in ways that actually feel good, and Facebook and Twitter are increasingly not those places. So, this week, I turned notifications off for both and I have found that just checking in when I feel like it and not every time these apps try to trick me to has been very freeing.

I look forward to cutting back more and more not just to reclaim my time, but to limit the ways I am controlled by corporations making big bucks off of my time and attention and offering so little in return.


If we were having coffee, I would tell you that the delicious smells coming from the kitchen tell me that my girlfriend’s stir-fry is just about done cooking. I’m off to eat and mindlessly binge old episodes of The Walking Dead on Netflix before the work week starts all over again.

I hope you had a productive week or that you at least found a bit of peace between prepping for the Thanksgiving holiday and the stress of Christmas shopping. I November was good to you, that you hit the ground running in December, and that you learn from all your shortcomings and leave them behind.

Until next time.


Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli.

Photo by Najib Kalil on Unsplash

If We Were Having Coffee // A Perfect Week Off

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, and welcome to my new blog!

It’s not as put together as the other place, I know. I’m still moving things around and figuring out what to bring and what to leave behind. We probably should have spent one more Weekend Coffee Share there but I’m excited and ready to be here despite the mess. 

So, come, fill up a cup. The cold brew has been steeping since last night and is nice and strong. I’ve got the blinds open and a few windows cracked. After yesterday’s freezing rain and high wind warnings, it’s nice to see the sun and let the fresh air in. Pull up a chair and let’s talk about last week!

“Good morning and be at peace with your coffee. We’re under the same sun.”

— Juansen Dizon

***

If we were having coffee I would probably start by showing off my new tattoo. It’s becoming a tradition now that whenever my sister comes up to visit from Texas us siblings celebrate by going to our favorite shop and getting some new ink. This time it was only three of us, just the girls. My brother, quite understandably, wasn’t comfortable with the expense right before the holidays. Us girls just couldn’t resist though *shrug*.

I got a storm cloud with an eye in the middle of it, a bolt of lightning and a few blue raindrops too. It’s a common traditional style tattoo but the design spoke to me.The rain and lightning made me think of all my uncontrollable sadness and anxiety, the eye is the calm in the storm. It represents wisdom, mindfulness, and self-awareness, but the eye is also part of the storm too, not above or beyond it. The cloud represents the temporary nature of emotions and hard times, and the whole piece taken together is a reminder that everything that is bad, uncomfortable, or scary will pass, and the sun will always shine again.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that my week off from work was just about perfect. I spent every day with my family. We chose not to try to pack in too many activities and instead just ran errands, tried a few new restaurants, and watched movies. I think I liked it better this way. It was like my sister lived here again and there was no need to rush or to stress. It was like we had all the time in the world.

As always after one of her visits, I’m feeling a bit sad. For one, it’s hard to get back into a routine. For two, I worry the visit wasn’t a good one. I worry I didn’t do enough or say enough while they were here. I’m worried I was too tired, too negative, too boring. I’m worried they don’t know how much I looked forward to seeing them and they don’t know how hard it is for me when they leave again. 

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that Thanksgiving this year was a good one. We had plenty of food and the whole family was able to attend. For us, that means just immediate family. My mom and siblings, spouses and the kids. I don’t think I’ve ever had a Thanksgiving with aunts, uncles, cousins, or grandparents. I’ve never been close enough with any of my extended family. It’s just been us, and the rest of the world.

We all made Thanksgiving turkey hats and write notes to one another with what we were thankful for in each person. It was nice to hear how you have impacted everyone around you. It’s a nice reminder that you do have a place among the people you love and their lives are in fact better with you here.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m not looking forward to returning to work tomorrow. After a whole week off its hard to go back to getting up early, spending my days doing things I don’t always want to, and then coming home just before dark, too exhausted to do anything I want to.

Then again, I miss the kids and my coworkers, and as much as I complain, I do miss waking up early and getting to bed at a decent time. I’ve always worked best when I was forced to a schedule. I guess I just wish I didn’t have to work so many days in a row. I should get to ease back into the schedule.

And of course, as soon as I do get used to it again it’ll be time for Christmas break. 

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I’m spending the day with my girlfriends family, watching football, playing games, and eating more holiday food. The game is about to start and the smells coming from the kitchen tell me it will be time to eat very soon.

I want to thank you again for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up. I hope you had a wonderful holiday. I hope you had plenty to be thankful for and that you know how thankful others are for you.

Until next time.

///

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash