TMG Philosophy: Inspiration

Sometimes we all need a little inspiration, whether from images, gestures, or words. Sometimes we need quite a bit! Recently, I’ve been looking at readings and favorite quotes for some much needed comfort and inspiration. Part of the reason I journal is for just such a reason as this.  I thought I’d share some of those I’ve collected, and those that jumped out at me today. It occurred to me that some of these personify our TMG Philosophy perfectly!    


Hard work spotlights the character of people: some turn up their sleeves, some turn up their noses, and some don’t turn up at all. – Sam Ewing
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.” ― Mary Anne Radmacher

“I think that to find meanings, you have to look at things from different directions.” – Bev Doolittle

“The reward of a thing well done is to have done it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ― Theodore Roosevelt

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things, because we’re curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” ― Walt Disney Company

“What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.” – Jane Goodall

“Although I make mistakes, I am not a mistake.” – Anonymous

“We become brave by doing brave acts.” – Aristotle

“People don’t care how much we know until they know how much we care.” – Anonymous

“A picture is a poem without words.” – Horace

“Be sure you put your feet in the right place, then stand firm.” – Abraham Lincoln

“Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities. Dreaming, after all is a form of planning.” ― Gloria Steinem

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TMG Philosophy: Support

A thoughtful card, a concerned voice message, a hand written letter, a quick post-it note on the counter, an encouraging text message, a “liked” Facebook post, email or tweet, a silent hug, hand on your shoulder, or knowing look.

Support. There are so many ways to show it. Support. It goes a long way. Support. It can turn feelings of hopelessness into hopefulness. Support. It strengthens us, sustains us, and encourages us. Sometimes just sitting at a support group, in a room with others on a similar journey, is enough to get us through. They don’t even need to say anything profound. Just knowing that these other people know what you’re going through is enough. Sadly, we often realize how much support and encouragement can affect us when we don’t get it. Those moments when we count on support and don’t get it…those are some of the most damaging moments.

Today happened to be a scary day for me. One of our babies is having medical challenges; it is nothing big enough to be an emergency, but certainly big enough to keep us worrying, waiting for results, wondering about the future and anxious between doctor visits. Today, in the words of our 2-year-old son, we visited a big doctor with big machines hoping for big answers. I woke up apprehensive and vulnerable. Yet when I grabbed my phone, I had a supportive text message. A little peace settled in. The busyness of the morning and the kids kept my mind from wandering back to the dark place of fear. A few hugs from my parents gave me courage, and we were on our way. My nerves, though, got the better of me again as I held my baby in the waiting room. She seemed so small, and all of this so big. That courage I had mustered cracked, and the lump in my throat almost choked my strength.

*Ding*…the notification of a text message. Once again, the support and love I read fortified me, calmed me. My husband’s arm around my shoulders and the love in his smile opened up that door for peace once again.
The day was long and emotional, and we certainly don’t have any more answers than we did when it started. Yet without the support and encouragement from those friends and family, the day would have been unbearably scary. I would have cracked. I would have emotionally run from the fear.

There are so many moments in my life that, if not for cheerleaders, shoulders to cry on, and listening ears, I would have run the other way. Support. We all need it. Those nudges we get to call a friend, send a letter to a relative, lend a hand on a project, or give encouraging words…those nudges should NEVER be ignored. I often let myself be “too busy” to follow through. Shame on me. If nothing else, today reminded me just how much support means. So next time I have one of the nudges…I’m going to follow through.

TMG Philosophy: Stronger In Waiting- The Wait is Over

This was the day.  This windy, blustery, autumn day in November was the day.  After a distracted morning at work where I waited for the clock to tell me I could leave, it was time.  I picked up Chad nearby and we headed to the meeting.  This was like no other meeting we had ever attended.  This was the biggest meeting of our lives.  Today we would meet Nathaniel, an 8-week old baby boy.  We had been chosen as a match in the fost-adopt process, and today would be the first day in the transition period of moving him from the Emergency Foster Home to our own home.  Today we would determine out how long that transition would be, how often we would see him, and if/when he would come home with us. 

The ride there was quiet.  Nerves and anticipation coupled with impatience and fear filled the car.  Questions swirled but were never uttered.  Was our wait over?  Was this right?  Were WE the right people for this baby boy?  The social workers involved could still stop this…could still tell us they had made a mistake and the match wouldn’t work.  So I waited to see signs of that disappointment as we approached the house. 

The emergency foster mother, Jane, caring for Nathaniel had fostered 96 babies, a number that both impressed and intimidated me.  I waited to see her face, meet this person who played such a heart-filled role in this baby boy’s life.  Would I like her?  Would she like me?  Did it matter? 

As she opened the door, I looked away from her almost instantly, done with those questions now, and ready to meet this baby boy.  The smile on my face became forced as my eyes darted around the room.  My shoulders sunk a little when Jane told us he was in his crib still.  I barely heard her ask us to sit down.  What? Sit down?  Why?  What were we waiting for?  Years of pain and grief, years of wondering, years of yearning, years of waiting…and she wanted us to sit down?  Was she going to offer us tea next and share holiday stories? 

There is no manual for emotionally charged, awkward moments like this…moments that bring people together through extraordinary circumstances that include both loss and hope.  This baby was here because of tragedy and trauma.  This baby’s mother suffered loss when he came home from the hospital with this woman we met today instead of with her.  This baby had lost the connection to a woman he grew inside for almost 9 months, the way she moved, the sound of her voice.  And now Jane had loved and nurtured him for two months, and she was getting ready to say goodbye to him.  Yet here we sat ready for our beginning, for our waiting to be over. We knew the story, recognized the loss, felt the bittersweet mixing of sadness and joy.  It was huge.

While I continued the awkward, pasted smile and watched the clock above Jane’s head, I felt myself ready to lose it.   We answered her questions and listened while she talked about Nathaniel’s routine and his traits.  Just. Bring. Him. Out. Already!  And then I heard her ask, “I wonder why they chose you?”  One question.  That one question was almost my undoing.  What did THAT mean?  Was this not going well?  Was my smile too big?  Was I mumbling?  Were my clothes not motherly enough?  Did she have a say in all this? 

Just before I threw up in my mouth, Chad’s hand on my knee steadied me.  While I recovered from the shock, Jane went to get Nathaniel. I watched her walk out…and I waited. 

As she walked back into that living room carrying that blue-eyed, brown haired tiny baby boy, I felt stronger.  I looked at him, and I knew.  This baby.  This boy.  Nathaniel.  We had found him.  He was why we had to wait so long. We were supposed to wait for him because all that time had made us stronger, made us ready for how much our hearts would stretch and grow.   He was why we had cried so hard. He was why nothing else had worked.  He was why.   He was ours.  

Time brought our hearts together: our first day.

Time brought our hearts together: our first day.



Stronger In Waiting- Part 3

Stronger In Waiting- Part 2

Stronger In Waiting- Part 1

TMG Philosophy: Stronger In Waiting- Part 3

It was September 11, 2011.  Chad and I had just finished a 24-hour local Relay for Life event.    Drained and raw with emotion, we arrived home only to be bombarded with all the special programs to remember and honor those lives lost and forever changed 10 years earlier on September 11th.   By evening we were saturated with emotions: from Relay, from evocative 9/11 shows, and from the fost-adopt process we had set in motion.  I always considered it strange that I could remember everything about the day with absolute clarity, and yet can’t usually remember what I was about to say.  A few more months of waiting, and I would know why.  

While we were waiting for that emotionally charged day to end, a baby boy we didn’t yet know was fighting to be born, struggling to feel loved, waiting to meet us.  Waiting to heal us.

The next two months were a whirlwind of home study meetings, social worker visits, anxious dreams, more paperwork…and more waiting.  They were all at once the fastest months of my life, and the slowest months.  The quiet times that came found me questioning if this was right.   Not whether this was right for us, but if we were right for this.   Could we actually welcome a child into our home and give love from our scared and aching hearts without the assurance of being able to adopt? We were ready to be a forever family, and not strong enough to be a helping family.  We were ready to grow and to give.   The very real possibility that we would take a step in that direction only to have it taken from us often left me frozen and crying with fear.  “Wait and see”, was the phrase we so often heard. 

While we worked through the process, waited to hear of any potential match, that baby boy grew stronger and stronger waiting for us. 

In early November, on a rainy, Friday morning full of the most hope I had felt in years, we arrived at the agency offices. Here, we would preview all the available children for fostering and fost-adopt in the county and state.  After hours of reading about these children, babies and teens alike, we once again felt that heavy saturation of emotions.  The stories crushed our hearts, chipped away at our resolve.  Did we really have the strength to help these children?  Did we have enough love to heal this pain?

We left with a heaviness that was made lighter only by the possible matches we held in our hands.  Chad drove, and I stared at the pictures and words on the pages in my hands.  Which one? How do we know? Do we wait some more?  The phone rang. 

One phone call.  One phone call started answering what ten years of pain, ten years of waiting were for.  As I listened to the words from our social worker, the tears came.   I waited until she was done talking…and cried some more.  With very little information about a 7-week old baby boy, we agreed to a disclosure meeting, and waited three of the longest days of our lives. 

Because so much of the fost-adopt process is about matching and chemistry, we knew that the two social workers we met at the meeting were scoping us out for compatibility.  We knew each question was carefully asked to “test” us, with the baby’s best interest in mind.   We waited to hear we were not a good match.  We waited to be asked to leave.  We waited while they told us about the baby’s sad beginnings.  We waited while they warned us of the risks associated with the case.  We read court reports and waited for the next question.  As we held hands under the table, we answered the questions and waited for more of the story.  We waited to hear his name: Nathaniel.  We waited to see his picture, although by the end of the meeting when they showed it to us, we already knew our answer was yes. 

Yes.  And so we waited two more days to meet him, two more days for time to bring us together.  


Stronger In Waiting- Part 1

Stronger In Waiting- Part 2

TMG Philosophy: Stronger In Waiting- Part 2

Sand_0013It was the summer of 2011 and I was done waiting.  I was done hoping.  My husband and I had experienced a year of loss that threatened to drown us both.  Waiting for anything other than a lifeline seemed impossible. I was done explaining the story to those who asked, and done fielding the sympathetic looks when people discovered we did, in fact, want to start a family, but had experienced so many years, so many cycles of grief in waiting.  “There, there, kind eyes said.  “It will happen; keep trying,” warm hugs said.  “Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be,” concerned smiles said.  

Maybe it wasn’t, I finally told myself.  A resounding NO was the answer I kept hearing, in my head and in my unanswered prayers.  That NO had already crept into my heart, filling it with a hardness that seemed to make each smile forced.  I would stop waiting because there wasn’t anything to wait for.

I didn’t know it, but a trip back to Minnesota for a family reunion began to chip away at the hardness.  My husband and I had always planned to adopt.  It wasn’t a matter of “if”, it was a matter of “when”, or “when we can afford it”.  We hadn’t ever given anything but independent adoption the time and consideration.  We certainly weren’t going to do anything crazy like open our homes to foster kids, hoping to adopt them if that was an option.  That would require too many risks, too much waiting, too much wondering.  So, after I read an article on fost-adopt that my aunt showed us, I thought, “Well, that’s nice, but not for us. Not this way.   An offer by a cousin to be a surrogate for us floored and humbled me, leaving me to wonder, Was this the way? Was this what we had been waiting for?   

The trip home was full of wonderings, full of questions…full of this odd feeling that resembled hope.  Was that article and that offer the kick we needed to do something instead of feeling like victims?  What were we supposed to do?  What were we waiting for?  I hate waiting…

When my sister walked into my office on a warm afternoon and handed me a business card for a local agency that specialized in fost-adopt, I thought, here we go again.  “Call,” she told me.  “No,” I told her. “I’ll just wait and think about it.  I don’t think this is the way.”  “It’s time,” she answered me.  “Time to stop waiting.  I’ll call for you.”  Fine.  Whatever, I thought as she left.    

Two weeks later as I talked on the phone with the director of the fost-adopt program, I felt that hope begin to grow.   An interview, some phone calls, much paperwork, emotionally-packed training classes and a few more weeks later found us ready to begin the next step in the process and meet our social worker. This was it; we were in it.

Had I known how many meetings we would have with her, how much a part of the family she would become, I would have hugged her immediately and welcomed her like an old friend.  Of course, had I known how many meetings we would have with her, how much waiting we would go through with her, we may not have continued.  

As she begins to take notes, I wait.  I wait to hear her say this isn’t going to work.  I wait to see if I can make out what she is writing.  No matter how much I strain my neck, I can’t figure it out.  So I wait some more.  I wait in between meetings and phone calls with her.  And when our home study is almost done and our profile is ready, I wait for the phone to ring. I wait for the disappointment.  I wait. 

TMG Philosophy: Stronger in Waiting- Part 1

I am impatient. Though I resolve each year of my life to become more patient, I feel like the virtue slips further out of my reach.  With a toddler son now, and an infant daughter, I find myself surprised when my friends and family tell me I am calm and patient with the kids.  Most times, I feel frantic and flustered.  Most times, I feel like screaming while I roll my eyes dramatically when my son decides we need to stack the books AGAIN just as we are leaving the house; or he chooses to throw a level 12 tantrum with five minutes to spare before getting to an important appointment (level 12 requires at least 37 minutes to get through).  Most times, I feel like giving myself a time out in the corner and rocking back and forth.  Truth is, I am impatient, no matter how I SEEM to others.   I loathe waiting, whether it is in a line for food or for my kids, or for photos to upload.  I start twitching.  

It is exciting to think about where The Transmogrifier will go, how many people we can inspire to create and connect with through our photos and blog.  Trouble is, I, along with the other team members, have to wait. Probably longer than ANY of us want to.  I loathe waiting.  Whenever I hear myself drift toward this negative but very real part of me, I remind myself…



Ten years ago, if someone had told me I’d be stronger because of waiting, I’d have shown them the door.  I didn’t have time to listen to psychobabble about being refined through trials and patience.  I had a plan.  My husband and I wanted to start a family, and we were pretty sure it would happen pretty fast, without glitches.  We were so wrong.   One year, then three, then eight years went by.  People tried to support us.  People tried to love us.  I didn’t have time for that though.  I didn’t want to wait around and be comforted. 

My fervent pleading and prayers seemed unanswered.  Or maybe I didn’t wait for an answer.  I began to slow down.  My hope disappeared.   My courage vanished.  My strength dwindled.   I cried harder, pleaded longer, listened more intently, and waited for a “yes”.   But all my waiting got me was another year, another “no”.   I was done waiting.  I gave up. 

And then, one summer, some key people and a series of events changed me forever.    

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TMG Philosophy: It Actually is a Small World (after all…)

Those of us that work here at the Transmogrifier tend to travel quite a bit.  It is vitally important of course for our ongoing goal of collecting photographs from all over the world.

If you have been a loyal reader of our blogs (thank you!) then you know that it is easy for us to get caught up in the work of looking for shots.  On an average trip to a location, we tend to take an average of 200 to 300 shots an hour!  At that rate, it is easy to get focused on the work and forget to stop and enjoy where we are.

Recently I was in the United Arab Emirates, in an area known as Liwa, at a camel beauty pageant (yes – you read that right!)  We were the only Westerners as far as we could see and in the midst of looking for good shots, I remarked to my wife that it would be nice to talk to someone who could explain what they look for in a camel beauty pageant.  Just about three minutes later, an Arabic man walked up, introduced himself as Jaber, and with very good English, began talking with us and answering our questions about the very large (and I have to admit – beautiful ) black camel in front of us.

After about 15 minutes he invited us to come to his tent and sit with them for some coffee and dates.  We agreed and we soon found ourselves being driven by 4×4 across the sand to a large tent on the top of a dune.  There were about 50 to 60 men there from several countries throughout the Middle East.  We were given a place to sit on low cushions and quickly served coffee and dates.  We spent an hour and a half or so talking with several of the men there some of whom spoke English and others who spoke through a translator.

At one point I had gotten up to take photos, at the friendly insistence of Ali, a young man who acted as our translator when necessary, when we stopped as a couple of older men made room for me on the cushions and asked me to sit and talk with them.  I sat for ten to fifteen minutes talking with them about all sorts of things, and asked about the thin canes that the men carry. Ali got up, walked across the tent, exchanged a few words with a man, and then came back to me, extended his hand and with a smile said “a gift for you.”   I felt a bit embarrassed to accept it, but knew there was no way to refuse.  I thanked him and the man you gave it up (which it turns out was Ali’s brother) and continued my talk (with the help of Ali’s translation) with the two men beside me, touched by their warmth and hospitality.

Me sitting in the tent with my two new friends.

Me sitting in the tent with my two new friends.

We were then invited to have lunch with them.  Jaber asked us if we would be more comfortable eating alone and we asked if there was a problem for us to eat with them, to which he smiled and replied “It’s no problem.”   We were taken into another tent where there were two large plastic runners laid out with trays of food and drinks spaced neatly around the perimeter.  Jaber took us to a place and asked us to sit.  The large tray in front of us contained rice, vegetables, and a meat that we were told was camel.  Flat bread, yogurt, soft-drinks and water completed the meal.

The lunch "table"

The lunch “table”

The food and company was excellent and as I sat there, cross-legged and eating with my hand, I took a moment to look around the room at the faces (many of whom smiled back at me when we made eye contact) that looked different from mine – but were enjoying a meal with me just the same.

When you travel and meet other people and make the effort to get to know them, you will find that a vast majority of the time – they are very much like you and that makes the world instantly smaller.

Since this will most likely be my last post for this year (I leave for a week in Jordan tomorrow) I will say Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from the Middle East!

A very patient camel in the vast desert dunes known as the Empty Quarter wishes you all Merry Christmas!

A very patient camel in the vast desert dunes known as the Empty Quarter wishes you all Merry Christmas!



TMG Philosophy: In The Moment

Be present.  Be here.  Variations of this have come out in past blog entries, but I have been ever mindful of this goal recently.   Watching my toddler son and infant daughter teaches me to live in the moment.  Truthfully, some of those moments (i.e. numerous nighttime awakenings and temper tantrums) I’d rather zoom through.  Even then, in the midst of those struggles, I close my eyes, and try to remember it is temporary; it is only a moment.

When I am present, I watch, I play, I enjoy, and I learn.  I watch my 2-year old skip from one minute to the next full of wonder and awe.  I watch him crying face down on the floor one minute, and belly laughing the next.  While I know he is still learning to control these emotions, it reminds me that he is purely in each moment.  He isn’t worrying about how much time he has before a nap.  He isn’t holding a grudge against me for taking away his books so he will eat.  He isn’t thinking about when he will have clean clothes or how much of a mess he has to clean in each room.   As I crawl around on the floor with him and his baby sister, pretending to be puppies, I feel his joy, his contentment.  It grounds me.  It calms me.  My moments with my babies, the crying ones, the laughing ones, the sleeping ones, the screaming ones, all teach me to be present and value what I have.  Those moments don’t come back.

We have all felt or experienced sudden loss, some more than others.  Whether it is a home, a job, a beloved family member or a treasured dog, those moments of loss can level us.  Those moments can imprison us.  But in processing that grief, in acknowledging that loss, I have learned about being present.  I have learned about being grateful for each moment I am in because I don’t know how many more I will have, and some of the sweetest moments of my life have passed.  I have learned to love all that is in front of me, right now, right here.

Being present means I delight in the details surrounding me right now, right here.  Actively photographing the world around me has disciplined me even more than I thought possible.  If I go out on a field adventure and I’m not present, I miss the hidden beauties around me.  I miss the opportunities to see what is in front of me.  I forget to consider different possibilities, different angles, different perspectives.   I have gotten to the point now, when I get back home and upload my photos, where I can tell if I was shooting the pictures in the moment, or just using the camera.  I’ve even gone back to the same place twice because I have been so disappointed in my work, in the details I missed.  I read myself this quote often before I head out for a field adventure-  Normally, we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” — Alan Watts.

There will always be a time when we are worried about the future or thinking about the past, and forget to be in the moment.   Yet those times that we do find ourselves “lost in the moment”, carefree and surprised at how much time has passed…those moments should be celebrated.   I know I strive to be present as often as I can, even if it comes less frequently than I want.   I can hear my son calling me now to play with him.  My answer:  I’m here.  I’m present.  I’m not going to miss this moment.

TMG Philosophy: Success

I ran the Golden Gate!!!

I ran the Golden Gate!!!

It has been a few weeks now since I ran my half marathon in San Francisco. Remember it was a half that I ran with a group of friends and family to honor and raise money for the fallen 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshot Crew from Prescott, AZ and all others that have given the ultimate sacrifice while on duty.    Remember I was worried about my run.  I was worried about my performance.  I was worried about my finish time.  Despite my best efforts to think otherwise, I had convinced myself that in order to succeed at this run (or any run for that matter), I had to not only finish, but set a new personal best in time.

So did I succeed?  Well, it was a new time record for me:  the slowest half marathon I have ever run.  Yep, the slowest.  As I crossed the finish line, I wondered.  I wondered if the time I was looking at meant I had failed.  I wondered if the fact that I felt more pain than I had ever felt at the end of a run meant I had failed.  I wondered if all this pride and self-centered thinking meant I had failed.  After all, this run wasn’t about me; this run was about bringing honor to the memory of the 19 firefighters who had died in that fire.  So I wondered some more.

Had I succeeded?  I had trained for the race.  I showed up for the race.  I ran.  I finished.  In those aspects I had succeeded.  I had my husband and two babies at the finish line to hug me.  That made it feel a little more like success.   Now, what about the more important point of bringing honor to the memory of those firefighters?  I guess I could say that by training, showing up, raising money, running, and finishing, I had achieved success.   After so much wondering, I was starting to feel quite hungry.   It wasn’t until after grabbing some food, packing the car and heading home that I finally started to relax and consider my morning a success instead of something less, or even that ugly “f” word.

Success isn’t always about the fastest, the shiniest, the newest, the biggest or any “-est”. It certainly isn’t always about winning.  That day, success meant I had committed, run in the face of my fears, self-doubt and pain.  That day, success meant I had finished.  On the car ride home, as I watched the passing hills, my husband grabbed my hand and told me he was proud of me. Success.  Then he asked a question that got me wondering all over again.  He asked, “I wonder why all of you didn’t run the whole race together?  Why didn’t your whole Granite Mountain team plan to stick together, running all 13.1 miles as one group, as a team, with the fastest runner encouraging the slowest runner?”   Well, s***.    That would have been a perfect way to honor those 19 firefighters who fought as a team and died as a team.

So I wondered…

TMG Philosophy: Grateful

IMG_0162November is often a month of thankfulness for many people I know.  I know that I usually focus the whole month on things and people in life I appreciate.  For example, we gave thanks today, on Veterans Day, for the faithful service and sacrifice that men and women have made, past and present, young and old, as they serve our country.   Since 1919, it has become a tradition to honor and appreciate those in uniform, whether or not you agree with the political decisions that deploy the soldiers.   On Thanksgiving Day, we will express thankfulness for the staples of life: home, food, and family.   However, what about the other 11 months of the year?   Shouldn’t I aim to live all months in gratefulness?  Well, of course I WANT to…but, like many, it is so hard for me to focus on the blessings in my life during the hard times.

Certainly, just because I don’t reserve every day of every year for thankfulness, it doesn’t mean I lack gratitude does it?   But shouldn’t I attempt to live each day in gratefulness?   This all comes back to discipline and choices.   I’ve worked hard in the last few years to come out of each day with a list of things I’m thankful for.   I’ve forgotten.  I’ve ignored.  I’ve overlooked.   But that doesn’t mean I stop.   If and when I stop striving to live a grateful life, then I might as well give in to the waves that threaten to drag me under during the storms.

It took a couple big storms for me to not only realize the good in the storm, but also to look for it.  Sure, it’s easy to be thankful for food and warmth, security, mobility and loved ones.   But each day isn’t all rainbows and unicorns.  What about loss and sadness?  Disappointment?  Mistakes?  Fear?  How can I be thankful for these?   How, in the midst of distress, do I stop and say, “Hey, thanks for this heart wrenching disappointment and sadness! Lovin’ it! Can I have some more please?!”  Okay, okay. Maybe sarcasm isn’t a cousin of gratefulness.  Seriously though, that’s tough.

As my just-turned-two son would say, “Let me see…”.   I’ll start with disappointment.  Disappointment has a way of revealing the things that matter to me the most.   Sometimes I am surprised by my disappointment, and it is a good time to quickly note what disappointed me and what part I played in that.   Were my expectations too high or not clearly communicated?   What about mistakes?  How and why should I be thankful for my mistakes?  Well, mistakes have a way of humbling me (always good), and showing me ways to improve.  Mistakes keep me striving to do better, to not settle.

It’s hard to believe, but I am thankful for fear.  My fears keep me in check and aware.  Some fears keep me safe.   When common sense evades me, at least fear keeps me from jumping into a pool of sharks, or hanging out at a puppet and clown convention.   No, seriously.  My fears allow me to test my strength, to push through, to grow.  If I had given into fear, neither of our babies would be ours.

Besides the more obvious things in life I am thankful for, it is daily exercise for me to be grateful for the more obscure:  the wood that burns in our fire that keeps us warm (even if it is a lot of work to split and haul and stack);  the music of our babies’ laughter AND the music of our babies’ crying (for it means we can hear); not knowing the answer to something (for it give me opportunity to learn); my senses- each of them;   kind strangers (they can turn your day around when you least expect it).   Looking for blessings and recognizing them tends to keep me moving in a positive direction.

Even the hardest parts of the day or week or year will make me grateful.  It’s a choice.  Even in the midst of the challenges, I must choose to appreciate.  If I don’t, I’ll sink.  If I do, I will have the strength to continue, to push through the pain, and the opportunity to grow.  For that I am grateful.

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