I spent the day at work yesterday for Thanksgiving. As you probably know, my "days" at work consist of a 6:30 am to about 11:00 pm shift. It was interesting to me to read students' "reflections" last night before I returned home. So many of these students--many of whom have been in this program for over a year, and many others who have not seen their families for several months--write something to the effect of..."I was thinking today was really going to suck. I woke up, realized it was Thanksgiving, and thought of how crappy it was I was in a program. But I was surprised that I ended up having a really good day." I found myself last night thinking similar thoughts. To maintain my own family's tradition, I had each student say something they were grateful for at dinner. Surprisingly, they took it seriously, and each student shared several things they were grateful for. For most of them it went something like this..."I'm grateful for my family, for being sober, and for having a second chance"...or some version thereof. As I tried to get through sharing my own thoughts of gratitude with them I couldn't help but choke up as I thought of my many blessings and found myself with similar thoughts to them once again. I figured since I wasn't able to be around loved ones yesterday, I would at least share some of my thoughts with you through here. So, here is my gratitude list for this year (both serious and a few a little less-serious):
1- My children. I love Aryn and Quinn so much! It's very hard to be away from them and when I think of them a tear (or more) usually wells up in my eye, but I'm so grateful they are healthy and well, and I get a chance to see them as often as possible. They truly are my little angels...in every sense of that word.
2- My family. Like many others, I feel like I am the most lucky person in the world to be born into a family that is so awesome! I know they can't all be the best, but I'm certain that mine is....so it must be a tie at least. This year I've learned even more just how wonderful it is to be unconditionally loved and supported and I've leaned on that love and support a lot. Thanks Dad, Mom, Chris, Ellie, Brooklyn, Dave, Kellie, KC, Dane, Emily, Grandma, Sam, Sophie, Maggie, Cambria, Maya, Isaac, Eliza, Eden, Zia, and the two little ones to come. I also have some wonderful aunts, uncles, cousins, and ex-in-laws who expand my family network even further. It's such a comfort to know I have such a strong support structure and big safety net underneath me of caring, thoughtful, talented, and loving family members.
3- My friends. Similar to my feelings about family, I have some wonderful friends. When you go through some tough times you realize who your true friends are and the people you can really trust and rely on. I have some amazing ones who I know are always there for me, even if I don't communicate with them often, and see many of them even less. I often feel quite lonely and isolated out here, but I appreciate the connection I have with many good friends who help remind me that bonds of friendship transcend proximity.
4- My health. I'm very grateful that my health is reasonably good. I'm certainly on the decline as far as my athleticism, speed, "hops", recovery time, etc, but it's good to still be able to run and hike and play with relative ease. Nothing reminds me of how grateful I am for good health more than getting injured or sick, and since both happened to me in recent weeks, I'm especially thankful for my health.
5- My job. I have some ambivalence at times about my work...as I think most people do. It's hard to be away from family and friends as well, but I am very grateful for my job. Considering my circumstances, I think it's very important that I be doing something from which I find meaning and gain fulfillment. Working with the boys here has been rewarding and I feel like I'm developing some good relationships with them and assisting them as they embark on this pathway of change. Of course there are always lessons I'm trying to teach that are relevant to me also, so it's therapeutic in more ways than one.
6- Technology. I was reading a friend's blog and poached this idea from her, but it rang true to me when she said how thankful she was for technology...in particular, everything DIGITAL. I'm old enough to remember having to do research at the library on microfiche, look in yellow pages for buisness addresses, and actually send hand-written mail in the pre-internet days; having to use typewriters and write drafts of things by hand first; having to be selective about taking pictures because of the cost of film and developing it and never knowing whether or not your pictures were going to even turn out or whose eyes would be closed when you finally saw the final product; replacing your cassette collection with a CD collection and then having to tote around your big CD collection everywhere, where now you can just stash your little IPod in your pocket and it's got your entire music AND photo collection conveniently organized on it; having to use pay phones, or better yet, manipulating the collect call system to get a quick message to mom without losing your quarter, and then having to have a different, expensive long-distance plan for your phone or call after 9 or 10 at night so it wouldn't cost so much. Oh, so many things that have progressed and improved with technology!
Anyway, my list could and probably should go on and on, but that will have to do it for now.
Hope you all had a very HAPPY THANKSGIVING. I love you all.
One more note...I was thinking of the many times I've had to be away from my family for Thanksgiving, and realized it has been way too often. If I remember correctly, here's a list of places that I've spent Thanksgiving away from home:
- MTC in Provo, UT
- Fresno, California
- Hanoi, Vietnam ("Where is the damn cranberry sauce?" inside joke for Brooke)
- Boston, MA
- Philadelphia, PA (twice?)
- Park City, UT (I think actually we were on a road trip with the kids in the school to either Bend, OR or the Grand Canyon and Moab)
- Seattle, WA (twice?)
- Hualien, Taiwan
- and now Keokuk, IA