Every year, writers, pundits, and bloggers post something about the importance of Thanksgiving and gratitude. I'm not immune, especially since I wrote a guest post for last year's 30 Days of Gratitude. But this past year, a year which put the "dump" into "dumpster fire", was especially challenging for those (like me) to try to find gratitude.
After all, I've recently been working through difficult issues around caregiver burnout (although I'm finding recovery during National Family Caregiver Month). Although I've managed to find some freelance gigs and consulting work, they have not been consistent or steady. Finding a balance between freelance searching and caregiving is always a challenge...and embracing change in difficult times is easier said than done.
However, there are three things that I am especially grateful for on this day before Thanksgiving.
- I Have Been Connecting - And Reconnecting - With Friends and Contacts: This year began with finally seeing a musician friend perform live. I've reconnected with another over dinner and a shared love of cooking. I have also reconnected reconnecting with professional contacts, leading to work (in some cases) and potential opportunities (some of which have come to pass; others are still in process). Thanks to new contacts, I have been able to post more frequently on this blog and have seen a rise in unique visitors. Although I don't see my friends as frequently as I would like, I am grateful for the opportunity to connect outside of social media.
- I Have Seen My Writing Career Expand - I'm not just talking about my first public reading or seeing more of my fiction being published; I have also started a Patreon page for my writing and blogging. I was also fortunate enough to have an eight-page comic story published in the Always Punch Nazis story, and chuckled when it received coverage by Breitbart. (That coverage, ironically, drove the project's Kickstarter numbers upward, so thanks, Breitbart! And no, I won't link there - there's a reason Google exists, you know). And I'm especially proud of the C2E2 and Windy City Pulp & Paper panels I moderated earlier this year.
- I Have Made Healthier Decisions - Self-care when being a caregiver is always a challenge...but I've made some positive decisions. Taking up home cooking has not only allowed me to eat healthier (and continue my weight loss) but also provide content for my Instagram account. I left my volunteer duties as charity director for a convention because I needed the time, and quite honestly, the working atmosphere was becoming more hostile. Recently, I turned down a full-time job offer because...well, even though the job market is so tight that I was offered a position after two phone calls within the same week, there were plenty of red flags. I thought it better for my sanity - and my career - to consider a healthier, less stressful alternative.
I know what I've written sounds trite, and maybe I'm being a little too unrealistic, but there's one belief that's kept me going throughout the year. It's simple, and maybe cliche, but it's kept me from moving into a dark, cynical place...and why it's making
Right now, everyone is feeling under siege. For some, it's part of their experience that is only getting worse in the current political climate; for those like me, it's an unfamiliar experience. My choice in attitude can be one of corrosive despair or hostility...or it can focus on our common humanity. Although I don't believe there can ever be "common ground" with the opposition (they're just out to hurt "the other", and I don't think writing a story for Always Punch Nazis helps my case), I believe that setting boundaries, focusing on my own behavior and attitudes, and treating people with a modicum of respect helps make my own experience easier.
We're all tired. We're all frustrated. Despite the outcome of the recent election, there's a further fight ahead of all of us. That fight to recognize the common humanity in all of us - and to change some of the very systems that deny that humanity - still has a way to go.
But I'm grateful to still be here, to still keep moving forward...and that this Thanksgiving, I can acknowledge and appreciate that fact.
Is there anything that you are particularly grateful for this Thanksgiving? Please leave your comments below or join the conversation via our Facebook page.
And as always, thanks for reading...and Happy Thanksgiving!