The Professor’s Monthly Homework Assignment: Giving Thanks


I have had to deal with the fact that I am not a terribly grateful person for a long time.  No, that is not trolling for compliments or “but yes, you are!”s, it is a fact.  I am inner directed to the point of blindness at times, a natural born pessimist, and a depressive.  My natural state is “Everything is terrible and it will only get worse.”  Once I got out of the blizzard of booze and drugs that marked my college career, I did start slowly realizing that this particular personal failing is one that I could no longer take as a “That is just who I am.” and actually try to grow and change it.

In the spirit of the assignment and helping other people who may be like me, I would like to share both what I am grateful for in this new year (I observe Samhain as the turn of my year, rather than January 1st) and the steps I take to come away from being a horrible person.

What am I grateful for?

This year has been a rough one!  I got divorced and moved into a house that was in the worst stages of renovation from a house that I had thought would be my “for a long time” home that was perfectly done.  I fell into a depression so deep and tangible that I bear the remembrance of it on my legs and shoulders and in my blood stained blankets.  However, it has most certainly been not all bad!

I am grateful for the tribe of people I have collected in Kansas City.  They range from great acquaintances to straight up family.  Although we are all individuals striking out in the world, we are incredibly quick to band together and defend/hold each other up/just be there.  I freaking love this.  Having grown up the way I did, the best family I have had has been the family I have made for myself.

The Beast!  I am grateful for him in so many ways.  We have been official for longer than a year and it feels like freaking yesterday.  He has been so supportive and instrumental in my ability to make positive changes in my life–I could not have done so much without him.  I am a person who is brought to a stand still by the possibility of great change (what if it is worse? What if nothing gets better??  What if we end up having to eat the dogs???) and he is a person to just jump.  He has been able to bring me through that state of paralysis and into a state of being okay making change.  The biggest thing I owe to him is my job change.  While I got the job, have the skills to impress and do the job I still would never have even considered leaving my other toxic area without him.  He helps me believe in myself, which is a damn fine thing to believe in, all things considered.

I am grateful for Pala the Schipperke.  He is a brilliant and loving animal who has, once again, given me a reason for being about.  When Specka died, I was pretty sure that I would not survive that occurrence.  She traveled the country with me, she had licked so many of my tears, napped with me when it was needed, and ::snerfed:: me awake when it had been long enough, thank you.  She was my therapy animal and I realized far too late what a true treasure she was when it came to panic attacks and hopelessness.  Is Pala as good a therapy dog?  No, he is not half as well trained as she, but he is a BRILLIANT companion and I look forward to being around him and taking care of him.  My little boy is a treasure.

Some ideas on how to start being grateful.

  • Be mindful.  It is so easy to cruise through this world without paying much attention.  I started journaling.  Haphazardly, it is true, but keeping track of things that make me feel such and such a way really brought me to paying attention to the outside world.
  • Take care of yourself.  One of the reasons I have been so inner directed is that I have not seen myself as a person worthy of care.  Balls to that.  We are all worthy of taking care of ourselves.  Make that doctor appointment.  Do that face mask.  Go for that walk.  Take an extra five minutes and floss.  Journal, sing, colour, or write.
  • Accept help.  If you only give, you will feel taken advantage of and not worthwhile.  Accept help and give help.  This balance will open you.

This world is so full of colour and wonder.  To walk amongst it is a privilege if you make it one.  I choose to be here and be grateful.

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