A Turkey Of A Year

As Thanksgiving approaches, it might be a little hard to get our thankful on this year.  With a worldwide pandemic dogging us since the end of 2019, civil unrest, economic crisis, a hurricane season that appears to be never-ending, fires and other natural disasters scorching the earth, and all the accompanying tragedies, it might seem tempting to cut our losses and just forget about the holiday this year.  Giving thanks might take a little more grace than usual this Thanksgiving.

Undoubtedly, the holiday will be different for many people this year.  Many people will not be gathering with family face-to-face, as they usually do.  Many traditional venues for holiday celebrating may be closed or operating much differently.  Many families who have suffered financial hardships this year may be struggling to provide peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, much less turkey dinners with all the trimmings.  Many people have lost beloved family members and friends to the coronavirus.  Others have lost good health.  We have all lost a certain measure of stability and security about what our world looks like and how we should live in it. 

While it may seem more natural to question the dismal state of the world than to give thanks, it may be that living through a period of crisis actually increases our need to give thanks.  I do not suggest that the coronavirus or any of the deeply troubling events of the past year are good or necessary.  I do not believe that there is an intrinsic goodness in hardship.  I do not subscribe to a “Pollyanna” school of thought, believing that people who are suffering should just “try to see the bright side.” I believe that hardships, gut-wrenching grief, and brokenness are real.  It is disingenuous to suggest a person can just “positive” them away.  These difficulties occur for a variety of reasons in the natural world.  Sometimes, these painful events are the consequences of the actions of people.  Sometimes, they are normal experiences that are natural processes happening in the circle of life.  I do not think we will ever understand the reasons for all the hard times we must face.  I do believe, however, that God takes the hardships of our lives and brings some good from them.  Without these momentary flutters of divine grace in the midst of our pain, we might not be able to bear the most fractured moments of this life. 

I have seen some divine grace moments over the past months.  They are like fleeting twinkles of stars in a dark, gloomy sky.  This year has sometimes felt like we were each all alone in the dark.  Having even a momentary twinkle is enough to keep me hoping for morning. 

Here are some of my twinkles this Thanksgiving:

  • I am thankful for the creativity, innovation, and hard work many people exhibit to help us live more comfortably and communally in a world that closed up shop.
  • I am thankful that people have used the time of separation to touch base with others.  It may be that some of the people we have been nurturing during the quarantine may be people who are often lonely and sad, even before the virus threat.  It is counterintuitive, but it is possible that the coronavirus connected us more than it separated us.
  • I am thankful for the generosity of people to those who have suffered financially during this past year.
  • I am thankful that the need to stay home gave me the time to publish a new book.
  • I am thankful for the quiet and comfort of my home. 
  • I am thankful that I was able to clean out all my closets and drawers.
  • I am thankful that the treatment protocols for COVID-19 have improved and that vaccine progress is hopeful.
  • I am thankful for my brothers and sisters in faith who hold me close to their hearts and inspire me with their journeys.
  • I am thankful for the internet, Zoom, email, texting, Facebook, and other virtual communication methods.
  • I am thankful that I will have a Thanksgiving dinner, even if it is not exactly like previous years.
  • I am thankful that God gave me blessings to share with others.  I am so much more aware of how much fun it is and how happy it makes me to sow God’s grace. 
  • Most of all, I am thankful that I am a beloved child of God. I can rely on his all-consuming love to comfort me in the heartbreaks of this life and to lead me to eternal joy in His presence when I am finished with the work He has for me to do. 

It certainly may be that giving thanks will take a little more grace this year.  The good news is that God always has more grace to provide.  Anyone want a second helping?

I don’t know if you caught that I was thankful that I had the opportunity to publish a book this year. If television commercials are to be believed, it seems the entire month of November is “black Friday” this year. In that spirit, I respectfully suggest you go to Amazon.com and buy many copies of Random (A)Musings by Dorry Curran to give as holiday gifts!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Thanks Again

Believe it or not, I’ve been publishing this weekly blog for nearly four years.  In all that time, I don’t think I’ve ever repeated a post.  As tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, I wanted to do something special to acknowledge my multitude of blessings.  Several years ago, I posted about my Thankful Thursday project.  That piece is still one of my absolute favorite blog posts.  I recently presented a devotional based on that piece at a church women’s meeting.  Because that devotional seemed to strike such a melodious chord with my sisters in faith and because that piece is still one of my favorites of all my posts, I decided the post merited an encore performance this Thanksgiving week. 

Thankful Thursday

When I was working, I used to sponsor a weekly “Thankful Thursday” event in my office.  Each Thursday, I would send an email to my entire staff, listing five things for which I was especially thankful that week and inviting everyone to come to my office for a cookie or donut or some kind of treat I brought to work.  The price of admission was simply to share one thing for which the worker was thankful.  I tried to be strategic in my five weekly “thankfuls,” using the opportunity to recognize employees’ exceptional efforts or to reinforce some key message to the staff.  I also included some thankfuls that were “just for fun.”  One day, one of my subordinate managers came to see me before “thankful time” and said, “You must be having a bad week.”  When I asked him why he said that, he explained, “When you said you were thankful for the color pink, I figured you must be scraping the bottom of the barrel.”

The color pink notwithstanding, Thankful Thursday was a positive experience.  Usually, about a third of the staff would show up. I think it was an opportunity to leverage positive energy and acknowledge what was truly important in life.  Even if I am fooling myself believing it was helpful to my employees, it was rejuvenating and uplifting to me to have a dedicated time to revisit my blessings each week.

Now that I am retired, I think it is important to continue the tradition.  I have gone too long without remembering the bounty of things for which I am thankful.  Here goes….

  • I am thankful for my retirement and the luxury of not having to do everything in the most efficient way humanly possible.  When I was working, I craved sleep like crack addicts crave cocaine.  Now, I rest and putter through my existence at a pace slow enough to live mindfully and fast enough to avoid stagnation.  I am also thankful for my career.  The years of labor that led to my retirement were filled with meaningful, interesting work.  Although responsibility and leadership are stressful and exhausting, it is also incredibly rewarding.  I had the opportunity to nurture strength, kindness, and integrity in myself and others.
  • I am thankful for the financial stability and economic benefits I enjoy.  I am thankful that I can meet my basic needs with abundant food and safe shelter.  I am thankful that I have the resources to give to others.  I am thankful for the plenty that allows for little extras for leisure and pleasure, like books and movie tickets, modest shopping sprees, vacations, and day trips to explore the interesting adventures of my new state.
  • I am thankful for my country and the freedoms it provides.  I am thankful for the men and women throughout our history whose courage, honor, imagination, intelligence, and decency created the rich, intricate fabric that we now know as the United States of America.
  • I am thankful for the people I love and I am thankful that love has no boundaries. I am thankful for the people who live close by, filling my daily life with grace and love.  I am thankful for those who live far from me but whose spirits are never far from my heart.  I am thankful for those who have passed from this life.  They live in my heart and continue to enrich my life each day. I am thankful for my readers, who fuel me to explore my mind and to create.
  • Most of all, I am thankful for my good Lord from whom all these “thankfuls” generate.  I am thankful that I am a child of God, who has saved me and blesses me constantly in strange and mysterious ways.  I am thankful that He has chosen me to be His light unto the world.  And I am thankful that, when I let that light fade, He patiently forgives me my weakness and rekindles my flame… again and again and again.
  • Despite the challenges and stressors that exist even in retirement, there are blessings everywhere.  An attitude of gratitude does wonders.

P.S. For the record, I’m still thankful for the color pink, too!

Thank all of you so much for reading and sharing. You have no idea how grateful I am for your interest and support.

Now it is your turn!  Double extra bonus points for adding your thankfuls!  Please share by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Terri/Dorry 😊

Giving Thanks

By now, most of you probably know about my “Thankful Thursday” project. When I was working, I used to send an email to my staff every Thursday, listing five things for which I was especially thankful that week.  Then, I invited anyone who wished to participate in this “feel good” moment to visit my office at an appointed time for cookies or donuts or something of that ilk.  The price of admission was simply one “thankful.”  If the employee wanted to ingest any of the empty calories I was providing, he or she had to tell the assembled group at least one thing that gave him or her the gratefuls.  It was a fairly successful way to spread a little sunshine and goodwill towards all. For more information, you can check out http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/06/thankful-thursday/#more-81

I began the practice again when I started my Facebook page.  Each Thursday, I publish a Thankful Thursday post, listing five thankfuls and inviting others to chime in with their own good vibrations.  Of course, it is a bit harder to share junk food on the internet, but I do offer “virtual donuts” and “virtual cookies” to those who wish to share a thankful with me.  I kind of love it.  It is so interesting to hear what kinds of things inspire gratitude in others and I love the “warm and fuzzies” I get from purveying positivity.

With Thanksgiving coming up tomorrow, it seems even more appropriate than usual to take a “Thankful Thursday” moment.  Here are the five things for which I am especially thankful this week:

  1. I am thankful for my merciful God who gives me life, love, and light every day in every way.
  2. I am thankful for… oh wait… I don’t have to be thankful for anything else. It would just be redundant….

Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.

James 1:17

I’m wishing you all a blessed and joyful Thanksgiving. I don’t have a specific question this week.  I am thankful for any comment you would like to make.  Please leave a comment to share your perspective or email me at terriretirement. 

Yours, with a heart full of grateful,

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: The holiday gift-giving season is almost here.  You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

 

Thanks To You

This Thanksgiving, I wanted to post a special shout-out to all of you readers and cyberfriends.  Friendship in any form should be cherished and I cherish you all.  You have helped me realize a lifelong dream.  I always wanted to write, but was always too scared of failing to translate the dream into reality.  Thanks in large part to your energy and validation, I have found the courage.  I have been writing this blog for nearly two years now.  

When I was teaching leadership classes, I used to tell my students, “Leaders have followers.  If you turn around and no one is following you, you aren’t leading.  You are just taking a walk.”  I think it might be kind of similar for writing.  I can write, but I’m kind of missing a key component of the process if no one is reading. I’m not communicating; I’m just recording my mutterings to myself.  I’m just memorializing the voices inside my head for my own posterity.   

I thank you for listening to my mutterings. I thank you for the confidence you gave me when I saw that people truly seemed to be reading.  I thank you for not thinking I was ridiculous for believing anything I have to say could possibly be meaningful to anyone else.   I thank you for helping me grow my little circle of blog besties by sharing my writing with others.  I thank you for your thoughtful comments. I thank you for your suggestions.  I thank you for the kind words of encouragement.  I thank you for turning my one-sided blogging into a rich, interesting conversation.  I thank you for the support and sympathy you showered on me while I was my mother’s traveling companion on her journey towards the end of life.  I thank you for your understanding and empathy when the blog became grief-heavy as I watched my mother struggle and die.   

All too often in life, we get caught up in our day-to-day existence and forget the miracles that bring joy to our lives. We are inclined to bemoan our struggles because they demand our attention.   It is hard to ignore the difficulties.  They always seem to be in our faces, commanding us to do something to halt the pain they cause us.  Even when we try to push them into the darkest corner of our minds and hope they stay there, the effort is time and energy consuming.  And, by the way, “hope” is not a strategy.  Those difficulties rarely stay put when we push them into the darkest corner of our minds, so we have to spend even more time and energy on them.   

On Thanksgiving, at least, we get the chance to stop and smell the miracles.  We take one beautiful day to be honestly, truly, deeply grateful for our blessings.   

As you enjoy your Thanksgiving celebrations, please know I am thinking of you and thanking you for the joy you have brought me.  Happy Thanksgiving!  You are a blessing in my life. 

What is your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can send me an email at terriretirment@gmail.com.  

Have a blessed day!

Terri 🙂

An Attitude of Gratitude

As Thanksgiving approaches, it seemed a good day to revisit my “Thankful Thursday” theme and share a few things for which I am especially thankful.

For the record, I’m still thankful for the color pink!  

I am thankful that the election is over and, with it, the barrage of political commercials and robocalls.  I am thankful I live in a country that depends on independence and free elections to shape our future.  I am thankful we have free elections, even if I don’t always agree with the results.  I know that many people are protesting because they do not like the outcome of the election.  I am thankful we live in a country where people are allowed to make their voices heard.  I pray that the protests continue to be about raising voices and not raising fists.  Rioting against the result of a free election seems scary similar to violence against democracy.

I am thankful for the beauty in the world.  I am thankful for the Sandhill cranes and for the gorgeous greenness that blesses central Florida.  I am thankful for flowers and oceans and lakes and clear skies.  I am thankful for puppies and kittens and giraffes.  I am thankful for laughter.  I am thankful for the beautiful moments that are born of fun…. Like at Disney World. 

I am always thankful for the love of my family and friends.  I am even more thankful for their caring and support during the past few months as I’ve tried to cope with my mother’s illness.  I know that it can be hard to know what to say or what to do to help someone in a difficult situation.  We hate to think that we might make things worse by saying or doing the wrong thing.  I’ve learned that there is no “wrong thing” when whatever is said or done is offered in love.  Also, I’ve often found that a friend has said or done something that turns out to be EXACTLY the right thing, once my poor wee little brain has completely processed it. 

I am thankful for the people who care for my mother… the doctors, nurses, aides, therapists, cooks, housekeepers…. Just everyone.  They are really doing an awesome job with my mother.  As they have gotten to know my mom and me, they have also shown incredible compassion and empathy for me, as well.  My heart is so full of gratitude for them all, it spills over on a regular basis.  I wish there was a way for them to mind meld with me for just an instant to really know how much I appreciate them.  I try to tell them and thank them, but I can’t really communicate the abundance of my gratitude with words. 

And, as difficult as these past few months have been, I am thankful that my mother is still with me.  People say that every day is a gift.  To be completely honest, I’m not sure I can go quite that far.  Some days are not so good.  On the balance, though, most days with her still do feel like gifts when we can still love each other and laugh with each other.  I am thankful enough to take the bad with the good. 

I am thankful that I have a good God who is in control of the world instead of me.  I sometimes fool myself into believing I have some control and behave as if I do. I know, deep down, that I really do not.  I think we can all be thankful for that.  Let’s see… hmmm… God in control or Terri in control?  Uh… no contest.

I am also joyously thankful for all my readers.  All my life, I wanted to be a writer.  For a very long time, life got in the way.  Now, the people who read my posts validate that I am a writer at long last.  It excites and humbles me to think that I am writing anything that anyone, including people who don’t even know me, actually want to read.  One kind soul actually suggested that I don’t realize how effectively I inspire and entertain people.  While I think that may be a stretch, it is very gratifying to see that real people visit my website and read what I’ve written.  This whole experience shows me that dreams do come true.  They don’t necessarily come true like when you blow out the candles on a birthday cake.  Dreams are like blueprints.  You have to use them to build what you have envisioned.  Here’s what I’ve learned- building is better than blowing. I absolutely love writing the blog posts, thinking about how they might impact on others, watching the statistics to see readership increase, and reading the interesting perspective the readers provide.  I think, for me, the creation is part of the dream.

So, as you sit down to your Thanksgiving dinner and count our blessings, know that I am counting you amongst mine.  Thank you from the top of my head to the tip of my toes!

For what are you giving thanks this year?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com. 

Have a blessed day!  Again, thank you, thank you, and thank you!

Terri 🙂