Halloween or Thanksgiving?

So yesterday was a typical, fall day in the Old Dominion…bit gray, drizzly off and on… No wait, that would be an average day in the countryside of England. But the air was crisp, bit damp, overcast: my kind of relaxing-with-no-agenda weather. “Bruce” and I were just taking it slow; farmers’ market, coffee and breakfast, visit with the sis and her family, more coffee, wandering aimlessly around a really cool (not so little as it turns out), shop in Chester that showcases various artisans’ wares and second-hand goods. Check out The Lazy Daisy if you’re ever in town. Bring your coffee and take time to peer into every nook and side room; there’s no telling what you will find: from the hair bows in school colors for the cheerleaders in your life to a chicken crate repurposed into a coffee table. It’s all there. For us arsty/crafty folks, places like this are heaven sent! The Tattooed Boy Wonder was home from college, and having fun just hanging with his brother, so of course, Buffalo Chicken pizza was on the menu for dinner, preceded by very manly sandwiches….BLT with cheese. Bacon makes everything better, but I digress.


It was on the way to the old ‘hood to pick up this heart-attack inducing pizza that I decided to detour past the old house. Bruce had never seen it, so in the interest of sharing my past, I swung by. Big mistake.


I had no idea just how many bad memories were attached to that place, until I drove past it. It was so swift, and so unexpected, that it took every ounce of self-control to not floor it Dukes of Hazard style and get out of that cul-de-sac. Don’t get me wrong; we had some laughs there too. But the majority of experiences there were just depressing. Dark. Stressful. Scary. Like a perpetual monster under your bed in the night. Not just the life events, but the house itself. It wasn’t until after we had closed on the house that we learned a teen had died while living there (not in the house, but in a car accident). Even the high school my boys attended seemed cursed with a high accidental death rate among the student body. The frights of October 31st had nothing on the “cloud of doom” that seemed to hang over that place.


I flashed back and remembered that while living there, I experienced the darkest days of my life. My marriage disintegrated, and I sunk into a depression that I didn’t think I’d ever dig my way out of again. Granted, I started to pull myself together there too, but the damage was already done. The house just had “bad juju” as a friend likes to say. In those brief moments as I rolled past the yard and the house that now just seemed quite ugly and cloned (planned community you know…you’re not permitted to show any individuality unless approved by a committee in advance), I lost sight of where I was now, only seeing the darkness that hung over that place.


The whole drive back home, my mind flipped through the Rolodex of events as if trying to tally every negative moment that occurred there. I finally crawled in the shower, as if I could wash those painful memories off like dust and mud. As I stood under the steaming water, near to tears, I just sent up a simple prayer of thanks for a reminder of where I was now. I didn’t need to forget those memories, but I needed to lose my grip on their place in my past. I believe I was led past that house again in order to fully appreciate what I do have, just how great are the gifts that I have now. I still struggle with deciding about the path my journey will take, but I am truly blessed to know that I am loved; that by turning my life over to God’s will instead of mine, I can find my way through any challenge. It may be a bumpy path at times to traverse, but I will make progress. My vision for my life’s work is becoming a bit more clear day by day, as I embrace that I am meant to serve and love others through my vocation, my service to my new home church and community, and my relationships with those around me. It has also become critical to me that I grow my writing as well as my side business as these celebrate who I am as an artist: a description of me I have taken a curiously long time to fully embrace. I also know that just as I have rediscovered this side of me that lay buried for too long, I am meant to encourage that gift and passion in others who either lost touch with that part of themselves or who are only just coming to understand that it burns within them as well.


This morning as I reread a letter I wrote to “Bruce” recently, I was again reminded of all for which I have to be thankful. My life going forward with him is a story of gratitude and faith, just as gratitude and faith brought him to me. We never know how long we will have someone in our lives, so give thanks for every moment you do have. When the first words you hear in the morning are “Have I told you yet today how much I love you?”, there can be no other choice but to smile and give thanks for all that you have, letting go of what you don’t have or wish you had…because there is nothing else to compare to the gift of love.


Yin/Yang Series: Content vs Wanting

A conversation started the other morning on the way to work.  I asked “Bruce” if he was content.  Most people might ask their partner if they were happy, or if they wanted a second cup of coffee, but poor Bruce has the luck to have chosen to be in a relationship with a writer…so…there you go.

He paused for a moment, then said he wasn’t sure he liked that term, that it implied not wanting anything more.  I had to chew on that a moment…he had a point.  The more I thought about it though, I think the term for that might better be “complacent”.  So let’s take a peek into what goes through my mind when I say I feel content vs feeling as if something is wanting in my life.

“Wanting”: this means to me that there is something missing in my life that I may need.  To me, wanting implies a lack of, an insufficiency, a quality of “less” that somehow must be corrected in order for me to be happy.  With the exception of perhaps a little more money, I can’t think of anything, if I’m brutally honest, that is truly “wanting” in my life.  I have family and friends who love me, a fulfilling career, a roof over my head, an amazing man who loves me, and, with some juggling, enough money to typically meet my needs.  Perhaps my current health challenge could be interpreted as leaving me “wanting” for something else, but even that is just a part of life that I need to just work my way through.

So how do I interpret “content”?  To me, content is the state of wanting what you have, appreciating the gifts you’ve been given.  Content is looking at stretching a single piece of chicken into a meal for four, and being proud of your resourcefulness and creativity in the kitchen.  Content is a date night at the $1.99 movies and walking around town holding hands.  Content is climbing over the front seat of the car to grab something out of the back as the back doors to the car seem to be stuck, and laughing at the “show” the neighbors must be getting of your rear end sticking up over the seat. Content is a cat nap in the middle of the afternoon, snuggled up on the sofa while your partner channel surfs.  Content is scoring a beautiful sundress (or several!) in the local thrift shop for $5.00.  Content is cooking together at home rather than eating out.  Content is fixing a broken something yourself, even if it’s not quite right, rather than relying on calling someone else to clean up the mess….okay, so content can also mean having the professional fix something, without making you feel like an idiot, after you’ve tried to fix it yourself.

So am I content?

You betcha!