This time of year as the long nights of winter yield much-too-gradually to the turn of our hemisphere toward light and warmth, I spend time deliberately tallying my blessings.
Not in a superficial, oh-isn’t-life-wonderful way.
This particular ritual is part survival, part talisman and part intention. When times seem darkest, I can usually haul myself back to the light by conjuring what I have to be thankful for.
Counting my blessings helped me weather some hard blows these past few years, especially losing both my mother and the love of my life in 2011–Mom in February and Richard in November.
It’s taken me all this time to (mostly) work through the financial and emotional aftermath, and just as I was seeing my way clear this fall came another smack to the heart that’s too close yet to write about.
Whenever I begin to curl inward and feel sorry for myself or harden in righteous anger, what works best to pull myself out is remembering what I have, not dwelling on what I have not.
So in the spirit of my intention to live with my heart outstretched as if it were my hand, here is a by-no-means-complete tally of blessings in no particular order:
Blanketflower and Rocky Mountain penstemon bloom over native bunchgrasses in a native meadow “lawn.”
Life itself, every sweet, joyous, frantic or painful day that comes my way for as long as they do
- Wildflowers scattered like fallen stars in my yard in the midst of town–and the myriad of bees, butterflies and other lives they summon to their company.
- My sweet new nest, Creek House, and Treehouse, its companion garage and studio
- Clouds drifting across the face of the rising moon
- Blue skies, vivid sunrises and sunsets
- My family, the extended Tweit clan, including you spouses and that wild and wonderful pack of kids, and Molly and her partner, Mark
- The pungent smell of sagebrush after a warm rain
The hum of my Subaru tires on pavement; the fact that I have a car and can take to the road now and again.
- Looking out my front door in the lung-freezing cold just now to see Orion, my favorite constellation, sparkling bright.
- This town and my dear friends–you know who you are–who help out when I need it, who remind me of why this place holds my heart, who greet me warmly and care how I am, who teach me daily what love means.
- Hummingbirds trilling past in summer’s heat.
- Hearing the chuckle of the creek out my door, even under layers of ice.
- You all, this far-flung digital community weaving a network of care and empathy, humor and wisdom as we reach for each other across the miles.
- The delicate tracery of frost riming window panes; a feathery fall of snow.
The joy of restoring this formerly junky industrial parcel to a vibrant community of the land, thrumming with lives of all kinds.
- The heft of shovel and rake, the chatter of drill and saw, the glow of work well and carefully done.
- A brisk walk in the shelter of high peaks.
- The cross-country skis and kayak in my garage waiting for me to play.
- Writing: the gift and practice of creativity, and the time and sweat it takes to get words and narrative right
- Books, stories, words; movies and music; art of all kinds
Learning the feel of wood, steel and stone
- The warm sweetness of a tomato fresh from the garden, the crisp crunch of just-harvested greens
- That single coyote howl I heard at sunset
- The beautiful stone basin that serves as my bathroom sink, the last I have of Richard’s work, an ambassador of the earth and of his love for it….
Happiness is a form of courage –George Holbrook Jackson
Indeed. It takes work to find the joy in life when life isn’t pretty. But as the list above demonstrates, it’s worth the effort.
Thank you for walking with me. I am truly blessed.