Beyond Thankful

When I left my mother-in-law’s house early this morning to go workout, all was peaceful.

Early morning chess #thanksgiving

Apparently, that only lasted about 30 minutes. I was on the elliptical when I got a text from IT Guy: “Major meltdown here.”

It seems that the game of choice after chess was scream “I hate you” at your sibling and slam doors until all the adults in the house consider fleeing.

We’ve had a lot of fighting lately – fighting and yelling and attitude. Having a preteen and teenager occupy the same space not a recipe for tranquility.

I decided my kids needed to think about gratitude for a bit. When I got back to the house, I gave them Thanksgiving homework. They had to make a gratitude list to be presented at Thanksgiving dinner, and if they weren’t done thoughtfully, I was confiscating all electronics. I didn’t have a lot of hope that this would lead to a lasting peace, but, at least, it would force them to be grateful for 5 minutes or so.

Pushing gratitude on my kids got me thinking about what I have to be grateful for this year.  The list is immense.

Last Thanksgiving, I was still an adjunct professor. I had failed to land the full-time faculty position I interviewed for in the spring. I was trying to figure out what to do next because I needed to make a living wage, and we needed decent health benefits. Christmas was the usual massive source of financial stress. I was heavier than I had ever been despite my Muay Thai training and achieving my first degree Black Belt. It wasn’t that my life was awful because it wasn’t. But I was still struggling with the same issues that had been unresolved for years – our finances, my lack of career, health benefits, my weight.

And now? A year later?

Everything is different.

In January 2013, I was offered a full-time faculty position. I’m a full-time Assistant Professor of English now. I have a good salary, great benefits, and my own office. I have a career doing something I love to do. This job is a life changer for me and for my family. If you look back to some of the earliest posts on this blog in 2006, they are about my need to find my path. I’ve been searching all this time. This year I found it. It’s not possible for me to express the depth of my gratitude for this job.

Interestingly, also in January, along with job, I finally found a way to lose weight. This is also something I’ve struggled with forever. The first Fitness Challenge at the martial arts studio started in January. There isn’t anything obviously magic about the Challenge. Log your food. Watch your calorie intake. Exercise. I’ve tried all of this before, but this time, for some reason, everything clicked. The weight loss has been slow, but from January to now, I have lost 33 pounds. I feel like myself again.

It’s been an amazing year.  I am eternally grateful for all of my good fortune.

Thanksgiving 2013

And for these turkeys, too. Even when all they do is fight, I am always grateful for them.