Gratitude in Hard Times

Doesn’t feel like I have a lot of time to blog these days, but I’ve had to put “pen to paper” as I’m feeling tremendous waves of gratitude.

These are hard times in the US for most of us, at least according to polls such as this one. We have witnessed the most horrific and unbelievable Supreme Court confirmation hearings in our history.  I’ve been feeling restless and sad, scared for what is ahead, particularly for women in our world. Perhaps there is a formal diagnosis that could be attributed to having this “man” as President. I won’t name him as he surely is #notmyPresident, after all.

Yet, I do feel grateful, despite it all.  When times are rough, it is especially important to lean into gratitude…so here is a short list of what I’m feeling waves of gratitude about:

Community. The best example of this a true story that also unfolded this past week. My sister-in- law accidentally lost her handbag while donating multiple bags of clothes to those in need. It contained some very meaningful items related to her late son who died, accidentally, nearly four years ago. These are items that could not be replaced. Long story short, she put on her mama warrior boots (literally – she went dumpster diving to look for the bag!), found a security video of the woman who took it, shared it on social media which then made it to the news … and the bag was quietly dropped off to a local police mailbox within a day. She got her items from her beloved son back! Don’t ever underestimate the power of your community. Ever.

Friends.  I have lost two dear friends to breast cancer in the past few years. They were in their mid 30’s and mid 40’s. One was a mother to a five year old.  I miss them so much at times I cannot breathe. I cry at random times each week thinking about their absences.  I imagine our conversations as if they were here. I look at my precious son and ache for K’s little boy. They were strong women who influenced and touched my heart so very deeply. They lived life as fully and thoughtfully as they could, despite their diagnoses. They gave and learned to receive warm and heartfelt hugs, often. I am so grateful to have had them in my life and for their daily reminders of how precious every single millisecond is.

Stories.  I had the pleasure of hanging with author and epic storyteller, Michael W Twitty, this past month. Michael has taught me to revisit what my own story is. He has reminded me – like a sledgehammer over the head – of the power of sharing stories. His wisdom encourages me to revisit the most difficult of stories through the pain and tears. He has taught me so much about how history, food, identity, place, and stories intertwine. I am grateful for the chance to sit with him to practice the art of listening to historical lessons and personal stories.

I had the joy of listening to stories over an epic meal with Michael (on the right), author of the award winning book “The Cooking Gene” and John Fleer, Chef/Owner of Rhubarb in Asheville, North Carolina. Michael and John both grew up in the US South – many tales of food, family, and culinary heritage were passed around our table.

Swimming.  If you don’t find me at my computer or with my family, you’ll often find me at the YMCA swimming laps.  It is my meditation. Feeling the water flow over my body, hearing the sounds and patterns of people’s strokes,  kicking along while pondering the power of the human body.  It keeps me present. Swimming, yes, I’m so grateful for you.

The Blue Ridge Mountains.  I live in Asheville and every so often I drive down a road and catch the most breathtaking view of these mountains. The kind of views that make you want to pull over and gasp audibly. Sometimes they’re blue. Sometimes they’re brown. Or green. When the sunset catches them dressed in pinks, yellows, purples, and blues, you’ll find me tearing up because it is so ridicously stunning. I’m so grateful for these mountains.

The aptly named Blue Ridge Mountains. (Photo courtesy of

Our son.  He is my sunshine, my sunset, my reason for being. He makes me laugh, at times cry in frustration and joy, keeps me happily exhausted, forces creativity out of me like I never knew existed, and his little hands are growing too fast for my mama heart.  Every night at dinner I ask him what he is grateful for. Sometimes his answer is the trees. Or firetrucks. Or basketball. But when it is “mama” you will see me melt into a sloppy puddle on the floor.  Yup, he’s always the answer to any great day or any bad day. Grateful, so grateful for our son.

This kiddo of mine. Not enough words of gratitude for his soul and spirit.

What (or who) are you grateful for today?