It’s been a long time since my last post, but I promise, I’m still here! It’s been a crazy few months and now that I’m remembering that I have a blog/site, the trees have gone bare, it’s completely dark out by 4:30 pm, and we have snow on the ground.
What else, Thanksgiving is here!
I could list a thousand things I am thankful for, things that, growing up or in times of deep self-doubt, I never thought I could have—from the basics (being consistently healthy, not having to choose which bills to pay this month) to privileges (enjoying meaningful friendships, loving my job, loving my house, having the freedom and the spine to explore new opportunities), to the incredible (being happily married to Prince Charming).
I remember counting coins at the supermarket and putting things back on the shelf. Doing the dishes as an excuse to warm up my hands in a house without heat. Trying to stay at school as late as I could. Being hypervigilant and living through what I’d later learn were symptoms of complex PTSD. Some find it uncomfortable to remember the hard times. But Celine Dion remembers what it was like to sing to forget she was hungry. Mariah Carey remembers what it was like to only own one pair of shoes. Jim Carrey remembers what it was like to be 15 and living out of a van. Or so I’ve read.
Remembering times of hardship is helpful if lessons can be drawn from them, and channeled toward something greater than the hardship itself. Rather than seeking pity or orbiting around gloomy memories, acknowledging the difficulties past first helps to validate and rise above the experience. Second, it means being less likely to take things for granted—to be thankful and live more fully. And best of all, it can be used to help make a difference in others’ lives.
I was having lunch with coworkers about two years ago, when this question came up: “What would you do if you could travel back in your lifetime?” I had an answer for this. I would find a way to tell my sixteen-year-old self that everything would be okay. So many times, all I needed to hear was someone say, “It’s going to be okay.” Pulling me back to the present, the oldest guy at the table gave me a significant look before speaking. “You can still do that, you know.” With only those words, he had prompted me to start volunteering again (I had stopped after college). Now working with some of the more vulnerable members of our community, I get the chance to hear their stories, validate their experiences, and tell them that everything is indeed going to be okay. Unlike Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, or Jim Carrey, I am not in a position to pour millions of dollars into charities, but I can give a little, whether it’s time, support, or food.
Thanksgiving is here, and maybe the best way to give thanks, is to give.