Rekindling the Inner Fire
A Week of Gratitude: Tuesday

A Week of Gratitude: Monday

It's Thanksgiving week here in the US . . . a week traditionally spent cooking, gathering with friends and family, and reflecting on our many blessings. I've decided to take a little break from my usual blog "structure" (such as it is) to focus on gratitude this week.


Now I've long subscribed to the notion that noticing and acknowledging the things we're grateful for . . . makes us more happy in our lives. Like many of you, I keep a gratitude journal, and in it I list a number of things I'm grateful for each day. It's a lovely ritual, and really does make me pay attention to and think about the things that I am particularly grateful for.

Some days, though . . . it's hard.

When life feels dark and tedious and harrowing (y'know . . . like now), it's easy to get caught up in all the things that are wrong or fraught or not-quite-what-we-had-in-mind. Like, well . . . who is grateful for this dumpster fire of a year, right? There have been many mornings over the past months when I open my gratitude journal and just stare at it for a while. Cranky and not feeling particularly grateful at all.

"Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin."
                -- Mother Teresa

I moped around last week, thinking about how long it's been since I've seen my daughter in person, how my son is less than an hour up the road -- but still out of reach, how much I miss my mom at Thanksgiving. I got caught up in the pointlessness of cooking a Thanksgiving meal this year. And then I thought of Mother Teresa. I mean . . .she was a great one for shining her light on blessings when things appeared amazingly dark and utterly hopeless, wasn't she? Maybe her words - and her example - could inspire me to find the the blessings in my life.

I realized it was time for me to shine a light on my life.
To flip the switch.
To change my perspective.
To begin.

Instead of focusing on not seeing my daughter . . . 
I started thinking about how proud I am of her for working so hard to land - and succeed at - her dream job; how delighted I am that she is happy and independent in her life; how grateful I am for the many ways we have stayed connected at great distance - and even during a pandemic; how pleased I am that she is making many of our family dishes this year for her own Thanksgiving with Keith. Yes. I miss her. But she is a blessing wherever she is!

Instead of focusing on not seeing my son . . . 
I started thinking about how lucky I am that he is only just up the road now; how lovely it is to see him in person once in a while - even behind a mask and at a distance; what a blessing to me that he is settled and happy - even during a pandemic; how pleased I am that we can share a Thanksgiving meal this year even if it's just dropped off at his door with a wave. Yes. I miss him. But he's close enough to wave at through a window, and that is a blessing!

Instead of focusing on how much I miss my mom . . . 
I started remembering all the happy Thanksgiving times we were able to share over the years; all the pies she baked and her love of dark meat and how much we laughed. Yes. She isn't here around my table this year. But her memories live deep inside me, and her spirit is with me every day -- and especially at Thanksgiving. What a blessing to have such wonderful memories woven into my week!

Instead of focusing on the "pointlessness" of cooking a meal on this weird Thanksgiving . . . 
I started thinking about how I CAN cook a meal on this weird Thanksgiving; that I have access to the ingredients and cooking utensils I need; that I am blessed with recipes and know-how and experience; that I can share my meal - and my love - with Tom and Brian and Lauren and my dad. Yes. We won't be gathering together. But that doesn't change our enjoyment of a shared meal. And this meal - even though shared in a completely different way - will tether us to each other and ground us in our traditions anyway.

Really. I have an embarrassment of riches. So many blessings. So much to be grateful for!

It does work . . . changing your perspective. Flipping the switch. Shining a light on your life.
Even when it seems dark!



(And now . . . a poem. Because why not.)


Mary Oliver

My work is loving the world.
Here the sunflowers, there the hummingbird ---
  equal seekers of sweetness.
Here the quickening yeast; there the blue plums.
Here the clam deep in the speckled sand.

Are my boots old? Is my coat torn?
Am I no longer young, and still not half-perfect? Let me
  keep my mind on what matters,
which is my work,

which is mostly standing still and learning to be
The phoebe, the delphinium.
The sheep in the pasture, and the pasture.
Which is mostly rejoicing, since all the ingredients are here,

which is gratitude, to be given a mind and a heart
  and these body-clothes,
a mouth with which to give shouts of joy
  to the moth and the wren, to the sleepy dug-up clam,
telling them all, over and over, how it is
  that we live forever.


Today's poem was published in Thirst by Mary Oliver, 2006, Beacon Press, Boston.



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I need to remember this shift in thinking, this week especially - thanks


I'm trying hard to shift my thinking (but a kidney stone is making it especially difficult right now). My gratitude will know no bounds when the pain stops!


Mother Teresa is going on my fridge today! We're in a waffling time with Troy's job (what a way to start the week. Just when you think...). The 'shift your thinking' tone here is all we can do--thank you! (Well, I guess we CAN be anxious and miserable...but not gonna choose that).


When I think of how certain family members are still frustratingly out of reach, I think of all those people in this world who have no family members at all - and remind myself how very much I have to be grateful for. Go Mother Theresa! You rock!


I'm doing a little "Safe At Home" gift knitting for my daughters this year... one is Down Under, another will most likely be moving across the pond in a few months, and the third is "close." Last night I was thinking about them all (who knows when we'll be all together again) (and thank god for last year!) and the message I want to send with this gift, and it's basically that they can be safe at home, wherever that may physically be, but always safe in my home-heart. How's that for sappy Monday morning gratitude?? Heh.


Good for you for turning this around - you always do, you know. It's definitely less than ideal this year but we're here and we're managing and that's something to be grateful for.


As long as I have a roof over my head and food for the table, I have nothing to complain about. Yes, we will miss seeing family and think about the two that we lost this year, but we will still enjoy what we have.


That poem is wonderful. Cheers to flipping the switch! Enjoy the week and the holiday.


Nicely done post! I'm so thankful for being healthy enough to cook a lovely meal with my lovely husband.


We are having a small Thanksgiving with my four person family bubble and we will spend time with other family members via zoom. It will be very different, but I am grateful that we are all healthy!


I love this Kym - what a lovely way to think about changing our lens. and the closing poem is perfect. as Mary Oliver always is. looking forward to following along this week ... and maybe I'll even join in. Thank you!

Julia in K w

Absolutely! Shift the point of view! So needed whenever it feels hard! Find the positive! (I can usually do that but some days it is hard!)


Thank you for your beautiful post and reminder to think in grateful language. I'm grateful Smith has Thursday off and we'll enjoy cooking our simple meal together. I love Mary's little book "Thirst". She was a grateful person and how lucky are we that she shared her thoughts.


I have been trying to get my daughter to do this kind of flip in her thinking, because she's been very down for a while. I've been reminding her that we are so lucky that we have plenty to eat, that we have a comfortable home, that we're able to talk to all our family virtually even as we stay away from them physically. I think there were so many things that we took for granted in the Before Times that we really need to focus on now.


I was dark yesterday - cold, rain, inside the house...again. But you are so right! I went to the store and bought gift cards for Dan - how lucky I am that I can. I walked around the beautiful lake - how lucky I am that I can. A shift in thought process is a wonderful thing. Now a real are you transporting the food? I'll be a delivery service as well and am wondering how to keep the potatoes warm and fluffy!

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