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Counting Your Blessings

Positively Speaking

“Pieces of April” and “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles” are must haves in my Thanksgiving traditions.  At some point, in the coming days, I will watch both of them. They will both make me feel hopeful for humanity and grateful for all I have. They are stories of people with little, who find out they have much.

By America’s standards, I don’t have much for which to be thankful. I don’t own a home. I don’t even have my own place, my own apartment or house. I slept in my car for a year when my income had dwindled so I could just work, work, work, to get my writing out there where people could read it.

Nothing I’ve ever invested a lot of time in has ever come to much. I was a full time wife and mother for years and years and the husband left when the money ran out and I started getting a back bone.  

I spent years getting an education I couldn’t use ultimately because I broke a gender barrier and a lot of guys were threatened. As an alternative, I worked in people’s homes loving on them, but the jobs ended and people’s lives move on.

Let me give you a great example. Recently I was given a gift of, what to me, was a great sum of money to get ahead so the struggle would be less. Within twenty four hours, the headgaskets blew.

I walk with a cane because of one drunk’s lousy decision when he left a bar and the bartender’s decision to not take his keys.

And I have this incredible compulsion to be honest which means I can never take a shortcut. I’ve had two people tell me, “The hard way is the easy way for you.” I had another person tell me, “You’re standards are too high”. I constantly threaten people who are taking shortcuts. It makes me a target.

So why do I celebrate Thanksgiving? What have I got to be grateful for?

Because I have so much. My sorrows, my burdens, are only half the truth. I have, in fact, always received one miracle after another. I have more friends than I can count. Real friends. True friends.

That meandering I have had to do because of real estate issues has been tough, that is true. But I have lived in fabulous places, mostly with water views. And each time I have had to move suddenly, I have had devoted friends and neighbors help me pack up and move on to an extraordinary measure of self sacrificing help that has reminded me that there are more good people than hurting people.

Those years I was a full time wife and mother were filled with the best of me. I loved being a wife. I love being a mother. Creating a family was the most satisfying experience ever, and all of them took it with them when they left. True, it was exhausting and no one was supporting me in my efforts, but when they left, they all sought what I had created. Every single one of them is living in a situation that mimics part of the good that I planted. Even the husband who left, found another ‘me’.

The same with the families I served. I see the seeds of goodness and Love I wanted to leave behind, in so many ways. And the kids? We light up when we see each other remembering our good times.

My education may not have lead to a high paying career, but I use it every single day. Thoughts that added to my life spoken by professors and other students, recreate new possibilities in my life everyday. Learning the process of critical thinking changes my life. I endure difficulties with creativity as a result. The words I write, the songs I sing, all start from a place in which I was educated or trained.

Poverty has taught me what’s important. Most of it has nothing to do with money. Having to wait to see a movie at the four dollar theatre or go to the matinee, has developed character in the way that delayed gratification builds. Doing more with less, living on little credit, making do, reusing or recycling, makes me a better world citizen. I take nothing for granted.  The newest is not always the best.

Turn around the situation with my car and it reads like this: In a year when my car was vitally important to me, twenty four hours before my head gaskets blew, I was given enough money to cover the repairs. I know my present is not my future. Things keep getting better for me. I like working hard.

 I lived through that accident. I was not killed like my playmate sitting next to me.  I’ve been able to witness to the importance of not driving drunk. If all goes as planned, surgery will repair the damage and I may possibly walk without a cane in a year. I’m horribly overweight right now, my numbers are good and’s not my knees. Everyone can tell you knee pain is the worst. The tests show no functioning nerve below my right knee and yet... I walk. Not one bone in my right foot is in the right place and yet...I walk. I took a two thousand pound automobile doing ninety and a rear mounted engine in my back and had my legs pinned and yet, for over fifty years... I walk. I stopped needing to wear a spring brace. And I walk. To boot. I am not in pain. Discomfort and awkwardness are not pain.

My hardships have imbued me with courage. That means I can stand up to evil and effect change in the world. Don’t you want to change the world with good? That takes courage! Bad likes to win. Courage!

When one door closes, another always opens up for me. I know the truth , the whole truth and nothing but the truth about my story, my own narrative. I’ve lived in Europe and camped along the Rhine and Mosel. I have been encouraged by remarkable leaders. I am a musician and vocalist. That is a gift.

I have a heart full of hope with no desire for revenge.   I have a terrific daughter by my side at this very moment who is the joy and light of my life. That...after I heard a lawyer, when I was twelve tell a courtroom I would never be able to get pregnant and if I did, never carry a child to term.  

I escaped from an abusive marriage where I was horribly exploited and still like men and believe in marriage! I love myself, too. And sleeping in the car, allowed me to get my first book out. The best!

I have faith and hope and love. Now tell me. Why on earth should I NOT be grateful? Check your list, I bet you have more than you think you have. Oh...and watch those two movies. They’ll help you count your blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving.
Love, Deborah