Thursday, November 23, 2017

Thanksgiving for the bad stuff

Thanksgiving is a little different this year: because our daughters have other plans, we're spending it alone; just the two of us, no cooking, no shopping, just... gratitude.

So I thought I'd take some time to talk about the blessings that have been brought into my life as a result of bad stuff that's happened. I know -- it's an odd approach to take, but it's where my brain went this morning.

We are so much more than the stories we tell ourselves, the losses we regret and the mistakes we have made, the pride we take in our accomplishments and the many ways we set ourselves apart. This being human is both a challenge and an opportunity to learn, and so today I want to remember how grateful I am for everything -- both good and bad -- that brought me to this moment.

So here's the bad stuff I'm thankful for:

1. Being raised by a narcissistic mom, which taught me both humility and empathy: fastest way I know of to develop those vital mirror neurons!

2. Early heart problems, which have made me both less fearful of death and more able to reassure my daughter as she deals with similar challenges.

3. A painful first marriage and divorce, which taught me to look beyond surface beauty to the heart that lies beneath, introduced me to meditation and Buddhism, and helped me to discover my own resilience; that I could go to the roots of my pain and still survive.

4. The challenges of raising a child on the spectrum, which helped me to uncover my own capacity to love.

5. The hard work and subsequent betrayal of working for the Church, which helped me to discover a deeper faith that goes beyond what I found in the pews.

6. The death, abandonment and betrayal of my father, which freed me to reinvent myself apart from what I imagined to be his expectations.

7. The financial ups and downs of life, which have taught me to be frugal, to be grateful, to be willing to let go, to be generous with what I do have, and to trust that what I have will be enough.

But what about the good stuff, you ask? Oh, my -- too numerous to mention: my husband, my health, my daughters, my home, my friends, my community, all the opportunities to serve and to create that come my way, and all the blessings of this amazing life -- including you, dear readers. Thank you for your continued presence, your willingness to listen and return for more, and for the grace you carry out into your own lives. Happy Thanksgiving!

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