Thank You and Gratitude

Canadian Thanksgiving just happened.

It’s a day of thanks coupled with eating too much and hanging out with family and friends—and, for me, saying goodbye to summer—for now. She’ll be back eventually. But for now I’m preparing for the cooler temperatures.

What a year!

We still have a few months left.

The general populace doesn’t have a lot of good to say about 2020. And, well, I get it. It’s been a damn weird and difficult year. Even if nothing major happened to us, some of us lived with a lot of fear around the what ifs of 2020. The baseline of this year seems like a bad made for TV disaster series: fires in Australia; USA and Iran tensions escalate; Black Lives Matter crisis; Kobe Bryant passes; a star went missing—yeah! What the hell!; murder hornets; oh, and let’s not forget Covid-19 and the shutting down of The. Entire. Planet.

Toxic Positivity

To say this year has been a challenge is not an understatement. And as I continue this post I hope I don’t fall into the faux pas of toxic positivity. Can being too positive be toxic? I think maybe a little. I picture those “Stepford Wives” who just don’t face reality–where everything is fine. It’s fine. It will be fine. Deny. Deny. And then all of a not-so-sudden there’s another f-word. Fuck. Things aren’t so fine. Denying realities is not helpful. However, I truly believe that in all of this mess there are opportunities to say “oh fuck” instead of “it’s fine” and still find the positive—without being toxic.

Opportunity for learning

With the chaos of this crazy year I have a lot to give thanks for.

I did my best as an online teacher from March until June. I’m not tech savvy but I was forced into it with the school closures. Guess what? I figured it out. I have a whole area of skills I didn’t have before. Without the chaos of this year I don’t know if I would have gone down that path.

I always wondered if I would be a good retired person or if I would waste my days. Turns out I am incredibly productive when left to my own time and schedule. I am excellent at routines and creating time structures that foster creativity. Yay me!

I learned that I can explore as thoroughly here as I do when I am abroad.

I learned that my relationship is solid. When every form of entertainment was taken away we started coming up with creative alternatives for spending time together and it was pretty awesome. We were forced to focus on each other. No distractions. No others. Not even restaurants. We had some of our best dates in this new set up.

I learned that all those days behind me that I felt so lonely over the years were practice for the days of social distancing. Loneliness was imposed. Yet, I have been training for this isolation marathon.

Gratitude

I practice gratitude a lot. It’s one of the strategies in my “staying happy” tool box. For a while when I didn’t have the capacity to write in my journal I would simply list five things I was grateful for at the end of my day. This went on for a long time. Now it’s pretty automatic.

What am I grateful for?

I’m grateful for an opportunity to practice retirement; uninterrupted time in my new house; an unrestricted exploration of this place; a long hot summer; followed by a beautiful warm fall; time with family and friends; time alone; reading; writing; starting this blog; summer time and beaches; the prairies—my general appreciation of the last nine months.

At supper on Sunday we went around the table a mix of young and old. There were folks who grew up together and people who were married for decades as well as individuals who were completely new to the Thanksgiving supper tradition in this home. One at a time everyone shared their gratitude for employment, health, happiness, being included, good people, the food.

So on this day and all the days I say thank you for every opportunity and every hill (literal and metaphorical) I have climbed to get to where I am in a kitchen on the bald prairies, in a simple farm house, with a kind and generous group of people, laughing, talking, eating and sharing our gratitude.

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