Tuesday, November 1, 2011

In Gratitude

A couple of weeks ago, I walked out of the YMCA just as the sun was cresting the horizon across the river. The misty morning was awash in golden light and I felt flooded with gratitude--for the YMCA, for my morning swim. At first I felt silly to feel so grateful for...well a pool full of chlorinated water and other people's bodily fluids, but then I understood. Last January when I began to make swimming a part of my (almost-) daily routine, I think I had vague ideas about improving my stroke and fitness and weight loss and finally erasing the signs that this body carried twins to full term. It didn't quite work out that way (I gained four pounds that first week because swimming makes me so darn hungry). But I gained so much more. I had no idea last January that 2011 would shape up to be the very worst year of my life (so far) in so many ways. I did not know that swimming laps at 6:30 a.m. would be the high point of many of my days (and some days would be the only good thing...the only thing worth getting out of bed for). That for one half hour I would be mindful of only the motion of my body. That for that half hour I would feel good in body and mind. And for that I am eternally grateful--for the water, the chemicals, the lifeguards, the lady at the front desk, for my husband who gets the kids out of bed and on the bus.

I've been hearing from every direction today, "Can you believe it's already November?" And no, I can't. October flew by, and it was a strange month, going from 83 degrees over Columbus Day weekend to 26 degrees Halloween morning. The leaves seemed to slip from the trees without donning their autumn colors, yet some are still eerily green. And my own life took some strange turns as well. But now it is November. Not my favorite month, I will admit, but hardly avoidable. And it is undeniably the month when we are most likely to slow down and give at least a bit of lip service to thankfulness. Gratitude is not my strong point (I have mentioned this here before, and as proof, I did a search and came up with only four posts that use the word it in the last four years), but today, in honor of the first day of November, I'd like to make a little gratitude tally.

  • I feel immensely grateful for the people who in the last couple of weeks have given me words of encouragement, thumbs-ups, nods, handshakes, high-fives, emails, cards, lunches, even prostrations, applause and chocolate. My faith in the human race has been renewed. I could go into the ring and face any dragon with such a supportive army behind me.
  • I am grateful for volunteer readers. I sent my two workshop pieces off last Thursday after they had been read by a handful of friends who were kind enough to tell me I use adverbs excessively and that normal people do not say "neurotoxin" in everyday conversation (who knew?).
  • Speaking of writing, I am grateful that my family and my knitting buddies gave me my Thursday nights free to get those two workshop pieces done (and I am amazed, looking back, how impossible-seeming was the prospect of writing two 10-18 page short stories in just over a month, and how possible it ended up being). And I'm grateful for the complete silence of the UMA library (though I do wish it stayed open later than 8:00).
  • I am grateful to clear-thinking friends who welcome me into their home at 8:00 at night and talk me down from near-hysterics over a wee bit of stress. And for friends who offer acupuncture, energy therapy, weekends away and wine. Stress? What stress?
  • I am grateful for professionals who are really good at what they do (the best, so I hear) and are clearheaded, smart and generous with their services.
  • I am grateful for my funny kids. Yes they do drive me crazy, and no my patience level has not been at its peak lately, but I do appreciate little moments (for example, the other day Z was trying to set E up to be his straight man in a joke. E was supposed to say, "Doctor, there's a crack in my butt!" and Z would reply, "All ordinary butts have cracks." But E kept getting it wrong and Z had to repeat the lines over and over. C, M and I were rolling with laughter).
  • And I am grateful to you, dear reader, for coming here daily (or whenever you get the chance) to listen to my ponderings and, occasionally, share your insights. Thank you!


  1. I'm grateful you share the ups and downs of your life. hugs. I don't think I ever left a comment before, but I do come here daily.

  2. This was nice to read. I'm currently having one of those moments when I feel like I cannot possibly balance all the balls, and I'm just letting them drop. I find it inspiring to read about other women who are managing, however it may be.

    Also, I'm still laughing about "doctor, there's a crack in my butt." I can be so immature. I'd probably get along great with your kids.

    And finally, I noticed you changed your "about" section, which now begins with "I'm a writer..." Good for you!

  3. Miri- Thank you! I'm so glad to know you're here!

    Jaimie- Dropping balls is my specialty. I find the only way to cope most of the time is to severely lower my standards. And, yeah, I feel way too immature to be a mom sometimes.

  4. Andrea, this is so, so lovely. I'm sorry to hear that your 2011 has been so hard. I hear you, and I'm with you about November.

    But your morning swims and the things you are grateful for nearly had me in tears. (And then echoing Jaimie, I couldn't stop laughing about the butt crack joke.)

    Thank you for your words and for your wonderful writing!

  5. I agree that 2011 has been one difficult year, but you've also overcome some obstacles that leave me breathless. Carry on, Andrea, because I'll keep reading!


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