Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014: Mentioning A Few of the Many Things for Which I Am Thankful

   For the past few Thanksgivings, I've been alone with my dog in my Chicagoland condo making a turkey breast and enjoying a day of sloth, followed by heading off to "The Ho" for a drink with other inhabitants of the Island of Misfit Toys. It was always a relaxing day. The truth is that it has been 15 years or so since I have spent a Thanksgiving with any of my family of origin, so it's an odd year. But it's been an odd year anyway having moved back to New Jersey in mid October, being jobless since Sept 1st and not knowing anything about what the future may hold. Being unsure of the direction of my life does not negate the overarching theme of gratitude with which I live daily, sometimes hourly or on a minute-by-minute basis. No.  There is so much to be grateful for from the grand to the minuscule that I wish all inhabitants of the earth felt it daily rather than perhaps thinking about it one day per year like here in the good old USA. 
   So here are some things for which I am grateful:

  • I get to spend the day with my mom, my brother and his family.
  • I was able to move from Chicagoland back to NJ last month in order to care for my mother.  The longer I am here, the more I realize that we probably left her alone too long.
  • That I still have my mother in my life to love and learn from.  She's 86!
  • There are people out there who I am unfathomably grateful to call my friends.  Without them, I would not have survived. Neither would I be the person I have become. Nor would I feel such love and devotion for them or their love for me (this give and take is perhaps my dearest treasure). I am tempted to name names here, but I will refrain.
  • Hugs.  They make life grand! I love them and appreciate every single one; big, small, wimpy or strong. Give them and take them often. They'll keep you alive.
  • With this huge transition back to NJ, that I have friends from my youth who remain so amazingly dear to me, who I have the great honor to get to know now as their evolved selves all the while cherishing who they were when we were so young so very long ago. It's amazing really.
  • My little dog Ozzy who has also saved me in so many ways. He was always next to me when I had sunk into the abyss and he is here with me now on the brighter side.
  • To have had work experiences that have allowed me to develop an eclectic set of skills and gain a certain amount of confidence.  My hope is that I will meet an employer who will find them useful and hire me.  Not working is not healthy for me, but hey, I'm alive!
  • To be young at heart when so many choose to be weighed down by life.  I'm only weighed down by fat! ;)  I insist that I stopped aging at 27. My body sometimes forgets that, but my mind and my love of life are right there.
  • Even though these qualities can get me in trouble, I am thankful for being a rational thinker, someone who seeks out the facts, separates irrational emotion from evidence and gives weight to that evidence when forming an opinion or making a decision.
  • I am grateful to have been born ... and to be alive...  in America... and from parents who encouraged me to think for myself and taught that that I should never believe that anyone is better than me. Even though I never really took that last one in, it did give me a basic sense of value.  Life is the great adventure, is short, and the only one we get.  There is nothing afterward, just like there was nothing before. All we have is what happens between our first breath and our last.  Make it count to someone! 
  • Then there's love. I've had three major love relationships in my life. The first one when I was young and chose to love someone who loved me because I believed beyond any doubt that it was my only chance.  This was a poor choice, but I am grateful I made it because it provided me with opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I learned a lot about myself  throughout the 16 year relationship and the ending of it.  The second one was a flurry of passion and love which was made up of all of the things lacking in the first. Unfortunately there were some major compatibility issues and it did not last. Again, I learned so much from having been in that relationship and having gleaned a wonderful friendship from it. How could I not be grateful? The third time was the real deal with passion, compatibility, love, respect, trust and the unfortunate yet sure knowledge that it was going to be temporary. Those two years were the most amazing time in life emotionally;  when I finally understood that I can be lovable to someone just the way I am.  What a gift!  It was unexpected and we knew it was going to be short, but it was absolutely everything while it existed. That was over five years ago. It's been rather quiet since then.  Maybe three is the maximum because although I would very much welcome it in my life, I don't have much hope that love will be in my cards for a fourth time. On that, I would be very grateful to be wrong! 
  • I am so thankful that I and an atheist and choose to live my life without superstition. Reality is more than enough for me. The awe of the expansiveness of the universe is very real. The childlike curiosity I have about almost everything which keeps my thirst for learning ever present. I am so fortunate to have this quality that is so compelling that it may even be written in my DNA. I would love to find out if it is!
  • Being in NJ now I am closer to my family and I hope for the opportunity to spend more time with them, get to know them better, to watch the young ones grow and maybe provide some unique and enriching experiences for them.
  • That I am thankful for the sake of being thankful, to not take anything for granted.  I do not need an imaginary sky god of any sort to live a life of gratitude.  My gratitude does not need a direction or a destination. It just needs to be... and it is!
That list is just the tip of my gratitude iceberg and I'm sure you get the drift of my love of the "Attitude of Gratitude"! So, what are you thankful for?

To all of my family, friends and random internet sojourner who may happen upon this post, I send you my love and thanks, and wish you a life of gratitude, appreciation and a very