Wednesday Wisdom: Thanksgiving As A Verb

You know the old saying about moms that says a Mom can turn anything into a verb? Like if you nag your mom all afternoon and then, while she's cooking dinner, you tell her you're hungry and ask her for a cookie, she might (if she's anything like me my mom) turn around shaking a finger at you and irritably declare, "I'll cookie you!"

Honestly, even if you stand there without a single pretense of a damn clue as to what she means by that, you're probably still smart enough to know it's not something good. So you leave her alone to cook, thank her for dinner, and then hopefully you'll still get that cookie for dessert.

Or something.

It works with Thanksgiving too. Thanksgiving is a beloved holiday celebrated in many different countries, in many different ways - but it's also a word, a feeling, an attitude. It's the glass half-full, it's the light at the end of the tunnel, it's a remembrance to stop and count the blessings in our lives. Thanksgiving, not as a pretty concept or a food filled holiday, but as an action word that moves us toward the inherent hope of a new year with gratitude and inspiration.

Recently, I read a great blog series about Thanksgiving-inspired-Thankfulness, and as the blogger took time out of normal life to outline 70 different things he was thankful for, I found myself both inspired and surprised - he had things like death, pain, and silence, mixed in with more expected things like his daughter, his parents, and his senses, and ... well, his list (combined with the general thankfulness that tends to spread like wildfire in November) got me thinking about the things I'm most thankful for, so I thought now would be a perfect time to share just a few of those things with you, my readers for whom I am always incredibly thankful.

01. My Daughters
Mom life isn't always easy and single mom life can sometimes be downright miserable. My oldest has finally developed strong coping mechanisms for her ADHD/ODD/Anxiety, but we still struggle with teen issues - and my youngest is nowhere near developing adequate coping skills for her ADHD/OCD/Panic Disorder. To top it all off, my sneaking suspicion that she might be on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum is beginning to sneak with a lot less subtlety. It breaks my heart to watch my girls struggle with feeling abandoned by their dad, and the burden of coaching them through their emotions isn't always easy to bear.

But despite all those things ... my children are the very light of my life. They bring me unimaginable joy; there are times when I'm quietly sitting in the background just watching them be who they are, and my heart fills up so suddenly with so much love I'll actually cry a little. They're smart and beautiful, kind, considerate, and generally amazing young women, and I'm incredibly blessed to be able to know them. It honors me to be the one who gets to see so much of the process as they become, day by day, the women they will someday be.

02. My Parents & Family
I've talked a lot here about the way I was raised, and the things my parents endured in their divorce and subsequent second marriages - but I don't feel that their stories are truly mine to share, so I have (almost) always shared those stories from my own perspective, as a child who was there and was impacted by the various things happening around me. Still, my parents have taught me amazing lessons over the years, both in what I wanted to be and what I didn't - as well as what I want from love and what I don't. My parents, for better or worse, have always been examples to me, and as I pick through those examples to file away the bits and pieces I want to hold onto, I'm thankful for how valuable those lessons are.

The same could be said for the rest of my family, which is a mashup of amazingly wonderful people and amazingly horrible people. From the strength and resilience of my grandmothers to the intelligence and entrepreneurial spirit of my mother's younger brother to the cold, calculating cruelty of certain other members of the family, I can say with definite certainty that I come from strong people who tend to know exactly what they want and are eternally determined to get it. From this group of people, I have learned not only who I am but how to love myself for who I am. I've learned to accept so much about myself and the world around me, and I've also learned that I have the power to change what I cannot accept, one halting but persistent step at a time.

03. My Friends
In my life, I've known the joy of deep and genuine friendship my times, but my gratitude could not be nearly so encompassing without the fact that I have known the pain of insincerity. I have had people I trusted turn their back on me, and I've had friends walk out of my life without ever looking back. I've  even been ghosted by someone who consistently accused me of not wanting to talk to them but would frequently ignore messages and texts.

But I've also been chosen and held onto. I have known the sweetness of being in a dark moment just when the right person calls - I've put on a happy face and a false sense of cheer while answering the phone, only to be asked, "What's wrong? Why are you crying?" I've been known by people who could see through the smile and hear the truth behind, "No I'm fine, just tired." Because the truest friends don't just open up to you and trust you with their secrets - they also come into the quiet places in your heart and make themselves at home, learning your secrets and accepting them for what they are. Without the blessing of my friends, I would be a very lonely woman indeed.

04. My Dog
My dog Chance is probably my best friend in all the world. He is my dearest, most dutiful companion, steadfastly devoted to being the keeper of all my secrets. He has stood calmly beside me for five years, soaking up tears with his fur, calming the fires of anger with puppy kisses, and sending away the shadows of loneliness simply by being there. He helps with my anxiety, he serves as friend and companion to my children, and his loyalty to Team Kennedy is unmatched. And it is his presence in my therapist's office that gives me the strength and courage to be there. I'm so thankful for his steadiness and his genuine desire to love and serve my little family, and I'm even more thankful when I think of how we almost missed having the blessing of each other's company.

05. My Emotions
When I am not emotionally numb due to my struggles with PTSD and PMDD, I am a woman of great emotional depth, and on the days when my emotions are working, it isn't uncommon for me to run the gamut emotions all in the space of one short 24 hour day. On these emotionally flooded days, not only do I tend to feel a wide range of emotions, but I feel each one incredibly strongly. These are days when I laugh or cry at the drop of a hat. Days when I love more deeply, smile more widely, and celebrate with abandon, not necessarily because all the emotions I'm feeling are good ones, but because I can feel them.

There is a place in life for sadness, for pain, for fear - the negative emotions are unpleasant, yes, but how can one truly appreciate something sweet without first having endured the shivering grimace of bitterness?

06. My Faith
My life has definitely had its share of ups and downs, but the one thing that always helps me through the toughest times is my faith in Christ. Prayer gives me peace and hope, my Bible gives me courage and guidance, and the teachings of my faith help me make sense of the world around me, even when it's ugly. My faith inspires me to seek beauty even where there is none, and to find compassion for even the most challenging people, because no matter how difficult the individual, I am (almost) always mindful of the belief that each and every person was created on purpose, for a purpose, by a God whose wisdom is infinitely greater than mine.

07. Language
Without the blessing of words and the ability to use them to express my thoughts and feelings, I would be a complete and total disaster. Writing has been my favorite and most effective coping mechanism since long before I was even old enough to consciously recognize it for what it was, and I am and will always be eternally thankful for the gift of eloquent expression. It is through communication with one another that we foster love and closeness, share our sorrows and struggles, and form the intimate bonds that take us beyond the limitations of the spoken word - and I give heartfelt thanks each and every time I sit down at a keyboard, not only because I feel so blessed to be able to use words to create art, because I am humbled and honored to have readers to appreciate it.

08. Sleep
This week has been a busy one for me, which is compounded by a lack of sleep. My nightmares have been worse, my nocturnal panic attacks have been more frequent, and I've had a general sense of discomfort that has plagued me for the last several nights. I'm exhausted - and that's why this list ends here instead of being as long as I had wanted it to be. Because sleep, when I can find the peace to rest in it, is one of the biggest, most restorative blessings of my life. And frankly, I'm in desperate need of some.

If you liked this post because you've also been practicing thanksgiving as a verb, please share the link with the people you're thankful for! Make sure you take the time to subscribe to this blog by filling out the "subscribe by email" form in the sidebar, too - it's a great way to make sure you'll never miss a post. I want you to know that another thing I'm always thankful for is your comments here - I love it when my readers make this blog interactive, so definitely leave a comment and tell me all about what you're most thankful for down below!

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  1. Always thankful! What a blessing!

    1. Thanks! I definitely try to stay thankful - keeping a grateful attitude as much as possible really helps me maintain the positive perspective I want to have.

  2. This rocks!!! Thanks for sharing it with us@!

    1. No problem! This blog is a passion for me, and I love being able to share my story and my perspective with people who will relate and appreciate my content.


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