It’s fitting that my last Gratitude post of the year should fall on New Year’s Eve. It’s a good time to look back on the things throughout the entirety of 2015 that I have to be grateful for. Though it’s been a crazy, intense, and very sad and stressful year, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t a lot to be thankful for, too.
So here I am, thinking back, and finding a point of gratitude for each month this year.
January: Painted Skies
I love sunrises.
In January of this year, I took an awful lot of pictures of them, to remind me of how beautiful the world is, even when your little part of it feels like it’s falling apart. During that point in the year I was driving both boys to school, and there was always a battle to get Neil in the car, and then complaints for Austin as he had to wait in the car with me for his later start time (at the same school. Neither could take the bus any longer because of behaviour issues, and Austin couldn’t handle himself in the hallways when there were other kids there). But with the late-rising sun, something I used to hate in the winter, I had that symbol of hope to carry me through.
February: Needle and Thread
Cross-stitching was one of those things, and though I felt rusty and strange getting started again, by the end I was so proud of myself. “Begun is half done,” to quote Mary Poppins! I’m so glad I started stitching again, so thankful to have that kind of an escape, so happy that I am able to find patterns that express my thoughts and feelings, and so lucky to have the talent to complete lovely pieces for my home.
March: My Little Co-Pilot
My pretty girl Ivy loves going for rides in the car. And I adore having her along. She would go with me every day to take the boys to and from school. I would sometimes have panic attacks when it was coming-home time, and she was there to kiss me all over my face and distract me, getting me enough out of my own head that I felt like I could breathe again. She has continued this “therapy” with me (I swear, she should be a certified therapy dog) through all the months since when I’ve needed her. I hate it when it’s too cold to take her along, because her grounding presence makes me able to do more things with less reactivity and anxiety.
April: My Pillars of Strength
That right there is my Mom and Dad. Dad’s dozing off a bit, sure, but who can blame him? He was forced to sit with two women making crafts and playing on Instagram in a hotel suite. In fact, I took this picture to show Mom how to post pics on Instagram! There she is on her tablet, working along!
By April, it was clear that we had to make some kind of a decision regarding the boys. Richard had been wanting to disrupt since the November before, but I had been hoping against hope that things would somehow change or improve. Oh, things changed – they got steadily worse. And while we travelled on this particular trip to Minnesota, the boys were staying in residential care, which they desperately needed. And I was trying to use the time to figure out what to do.
My Mom and Dad supported us both unconditionally through this whole process. They sat tirelessly on Facetime with the boys so I could load the dishwasher or go to the bathroom or cook dinner while someone had eyes on them, even from afar. They listened to my ranting and raving and sometimes my sobbing when I just didn’t know what to do. And they told us both, over and over again, that no matter what we decided, they would love and support us. And they have. When others turned their backs on us, talked about us, treated us cruelly, they never did. Not for a minute. They were so unselfish and so unfailing in their support, and I don’t think I would have gotten through the whole mess without them. I thank the powers that be in the Universe often for that support. Both Richard and I have talked, often, about how meaningful it was and how much it meant to both of us.
May: Friends are the Family you get to Choose
One thing where I count myself as one of the luckiest people on earth is by the worth and value of friendship.
I have amazing friends. When people began to find out what had gone wrong in our life, they rallied around us and filled our days with love and support. They called, texted, sent flowers, made sure I got out for coffee and came by to spend evenings making me smile. Oh, I am eternally grateful for my friends. They are, to a one, extraordinary and wonderful and a gift that I am so, so lucky to have in my life. My heart aches with the love I have for my friends. Of all the blessings in my life, they are among the brightest.
June: Write Alongside Me
But writing, ah… writing gave me a voice. It’s also about then that we started this blog, moving all of our previous blogs together into one place.
And, lucky woman that I am, I don’t have to just be grateful for writing, but for the support and inspiration that I get from the fellow members of the Strathmore Writer’s Group. They don’t just listen patiently, but they push and prod me along and keep me going. They give me a reason to write, an audience, a critic, and a pat on the back. Writing simply wouldn’t be the same without them.
July: Cuteness and Fluffiness Beyond Compare
Do these little darlings even need a description? When I’m having a bad day, or am feeling all the feelings, one or more will show up and be anxious to show their love. If I’m doing the laundry, they’re interested. If I’m sitting around on the sofa, they’re interested. Their involvement in everything I do shows me just how much I mean to them. And I can’t even describe how grateful I am for the gift of having them in my life.
We lost our sweet Nala in 2015, but I remain incredibly grateful for having her in my life. Pets are so precious because of their short time with us, as well as their unconditional love. Their brief, loyal lives can bring so much to our own.
I would not trade the pain of losing her for not having her; the little purring ball that snuggled on my chest in bed at night, the croakiness of her as she mewed talkatively at me throughout my day, the little cold bump of her nose as she gave “kisses” against my lips, the round, white striped belly she would flip up when laying next to me to ask for belly rubs, the little white paws that would then wrap around my arm and pull me close to her face so she could rub her cheeks against my hand. I am grateful for every moment I had with my Nala, and for every moment I have with each of my other little fuzzy loves.
August: Blue Skies and Open Roads (And Sunflower Fields Forever!)
We spent most of August travelling, which is one of my favourite things in the world. I’m grateful for every trip we took in 2015 – Edmonton, Minneapolis and Chicago, though the last was the longest and most wonderful trip as I got to see family members and friends that I hadn’t in ages. I am so grateful for the chance to see new things and have new experiences, for every moment that I step out of my normal routine and get to discover a little bit more of myself along the way.
September: Colour Me Spectacular
October: Financial Freedom
In October, my coffee pot went kaput. I’d put in my water and grounds and filter the night before, woke up to see the green light that said I’d set the program, but there was no coffee. Turned off the program, tried to turn it on manually… nothing. Time for a new pot.
Now, there was a time – and not very long ago, mind you – when this would have been a huge disaster. After our fire and moving to Strathmore, money was very tight for a time. But now we are back in a place of financial freedom. I still experienced a moment of panic in the store and texted a picture of this – the pot I wanted – to Richard to make sure we had enough money in the bank. I needn’t have worried like that, but old habits die hard. I’m grateful that things like this are now no big deal, and that I can just gallivant into a store and get exactly what i want when I want! And, I’m super grateful for my awesome new coffee pot!! I had a Brewstation before the fire and have missed it since.
November: 14 is a Lucky Number
On 21 November, 2015, this handsome fella and I celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary. No matter what life brought to us, we’ve faced it together. I’m so lucky to have a partner in joy who is also a partner in pain, a partner for adventures who is also my partner in disasters. Everything is easier when you have someone amazing to face it with, and every day becomes more worthwhile when you spend it showing someone how much you love them.
This man, this sweet, kind, supportive, handsome, funny man, I am endlessly grateful for him. I love him with all my heart.
December: A Holiday Haven
My husband works for a wonderful … well, it’s not a company. It’s a government agency – The Marigold Library System, our regional system. At any rate, you know how people always talk about wanting a government job for the great benefits? It’s so, sooooooo true. And not just the dental and prescription care and stuff. The time off is fantabulous. He got nearly two paid weeks off this Christmas, and took another from the flex time he gets instead of overtime, which meant we had a ton of time to just hang out, relax, and hide in our house together this year.
I think we needed that. I’m grateful that he has such a great place to work, that gave us this time. I’m grateful for everything the people at Marigold have done for us this year, and previously throughout his time there. It’s such a blessing.