Counting My Blessings

It's been a challenging month on the national scene, and in my personal life too. I'll leave the analysis of the insanity that is our current political environment to those who are good at that, and likewise the rants. After being flat-out-sick for ten days and then straining my rib muscles working out at the gym, I don't have the energy for either. 

What is on my mind tonight is how to keep my spirits up in these difficult times. Not so I can be some kind of Pollyanna-everything-is-rosy person. Because if anything is clear in these times, it's that rosy is not the color of the day. No, I want to tend my own inner light in a way that it shines through the darkness of the world. So that as I walk through this life, I spread that light and its goodness.

Which is why even though I am still coughing from being sick, and wincing each time because coughing hurts those strained ribs, I am counting my blessings. I have blessings to count, something that's good to remember right now. 

In no particular order, the main blessings that come to mind are these:

MY HOUSE, which when I moved in during a blizzard this past January, was in such sad shape that I seriously questioned what I had gotten myself into. A good night's sleep in my cozy sleeping bag on the scarred floor of my bedroom mostly quelled that questioning, and I swear I felt the house sigh with relief the next morning as soon as I began hand-scraping the red-oak floors to restore them. Renovation has proceeded apace in the months since, from those floors to the mechanical systems to insulation to bathrooms (the joys of working fixtures cannot be overstated!) to carefully replacing the original windows with new efficient ones in the same mid-century modern style to… Well, we're still working.

The big bank of windows in the living room (that's 750 pounds of wood-framed, double-paned window unit there!) getting their exterior trim. 

But as I sit on my cozy couch in my beautifully painted living room tonight, with a fire in the gas fireplace in front of me, and the new windows solid and tight as a storm rushes past outside, I am simply grateful to have this house, this haven. Just to have a roof over my head (yeah, replacing the roof is on the list too). Better still, to live in beautifully crafted but long-neglected spaces that are coming bck to life day by day as we work to restore them. That's a blessing.

FRIENDS, those here in Cody who have called or texted with concern and offers of food and help while I was sick. Who laughed with me (carefully, because that hurts too) over my gym mishap. Who miss me when I don't make it to the eight o'clock service at church, who don't mind my off-key singing when I do, who gather Thursday evenings to just enjoy each other. Friends who welcomed me back warmly even though I have been gone for 35 years. I am blessed to belong to this warm community. 

And to the far-flung community of friends and colleagues in the larger world too, all of you who walk with me through this blog and in so many other ways. Thank you for your company, your thoughts, your ideas, your support. 

FAMILY, who I will be spending Thanksgiving with next week in Western Washington, including my 89-year-old dad, who is still "there" enoigh to spend half an hour on the phone with me this afternoon discoursing on what is wrong with the "tax reform" bills now in Congress. And the family who won't be there, including Molly in San Francisco, and my middle niece Sienna and her family in Germany. 

Part of my tribe visiting in August, on an excursion to the alpine country of the Beartooth Plateau. (Left to right: my youngest niece, Alice, holding Pepper; her mom, my sister-in-law Lucy, with Sarge; my brother, Bill; and Dad.) 

WRITING and RESTORATION, twin paths in pursuing my mission: To heal and restore this Earth, with love. To nurture and celebrate diversity, of Life and lives–that all may thrive. Without that work, the words and the heart-work of restoring the nature and beauty of this world, my inner light would surely flicker and go out. Neither pays well enough to earn what anyone sane would call a living, but both fuel my heart and soul. 

SAGEBRUSH COUNTRY, the wild landscapes that have been the home of my heart since I was a child. Walking home from the gym the other day, ribs sore,  muscles aching, I brushed past the branches of a big sagebrush leaning through the highway guardrail . And there was that fragrance, resiny, sweet, unforgettable. The instant I breathed in the familiar smell, I forgot that my ribs hurt, forgot the traffic rushing by, forgot the wind, icy on my cheeks. I smiled, breathed deeply, and walked on. HOME. I am home. 

Heart Mountain, my landmark, the heart of this part of sagebrush country. 

This isn't the path I imagined, this walking through the world as Woman Alone, without the love of my life by my side. But it's the path I have, and whenever the world feels hopeless or I feel sorry for myself, I remind myself that I have much to be thankful for. Oh, sure, I mope for a while first. That's part of the process. And then I count my blessings.

We all have them, no matter where we are, or what troubles dog our lives. Remembering our blessings reminds us that there is still good in the world. Even when the darkness feels absolute, there is always light somewhere. We have only to look, and let ourselves see.