Finding My Grateful Heart

“The holidays will be hard,” many have told me, recalling their experiences of the first of everything after losing their spouse through death or divorce. These folks have gone on to share suggestions to help me through this season.

I’ve thought about their counsel and now, with Thanksgiving in sight, I’m making my plans. Like all the days of the past months, there’s no other way but through, just keep on stepping forward.

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Card- connections from Hallmark

Since my husband and I separated in June, I’ve found that the most important thing I can do is stay grounded in the present moment. To put my attention on the past or to ruminate about the future only leaves me angry and anxious. A recent devotional reading pointed out that to focus on anything other than the present is to live in fantasy. Before reading that, I’d seen my tendency to be absorbed in fantasy as a product of my daydreaming-ADHD-self.  Now, I have an A Ha! about how much more of my life has been spent in fantasy than I’d realized.

Perhaps one of the good things that has come out of this change in our marriage and in our family life, is a greater ability to be honest. Now I stop and ask myself, “What do I want?” instead of automatically thinking of what I need to do for others. Even as a mother, I don’t have to be the planner, the organizer trying to provide the ‘perfect family holiday’ for everyone. I talked with my two sons, letting them know that each of us should consider what feels most comfortable in how to celebrate each holiday. We need to do what’s best for ourselves as we navigate this new normal.

I’ve had invitations from family and friends to share their Thanksgiving meal. Part of me wants a quiet, cookless holiday; just showing up at my friend’s house and not having to prepare anything will be perfect. To have turkey, cornbread dressing, sweet potatoes and a slim slice of pie will suite me. Afterwards, a solo hike through the woods, enjoying the remaining colored leaves, perhaps the smell of wood smoke, and the refreshing rhythm of a nearby stream, seems like what will feed my soul; it’s what I want.

This time of year is filled with so many memories and expectations. As I think about what Thanksgiving is really about, how it became a national observance in our country, I look beyond fall, food, and football to slowing down and finding a grateful heart.

In this tough year when I could quickly list what I’m not thankful for, it’s more important than ever to stop and list what I am grateful for. Last night, after keeping my grandson Baker all day, I wrote while eating my dinner in a nearby restaurant. I’d purchased Thanksgiving cards and set aside one for myself. Inscribed inside the card was the following:

“Thinking of you with gratitude and sending wishes for a very happy Thanksgiving.”

I filled all the white space of the card, writing down every gift that has been placed in my life. Some of the most impactful included family, friends, and readers who’ve supported me through this time of change;

the joy of taking care of Baker, hearing his squeals of delight as he makes new discoveries;

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fun-filled evenings of dancing that have reduced my stress and increased my circle of friends.

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I think I’ll keep my Thanksgiving card close in the next week and pull it out to help me navigate this first holiday. In each moment, I’ll focus on the present and remember all that I have to be thankful for, with each gift represented like fruits and vegetables spilling forth from the cornucopia of life.

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How About You?

How are you planning to spend your holidays this year?

Do you have a situation that requires you to change your usual way of celebrating?

How can you do what nurtures you? What would that be?

23 thoughts on “Finding My Grateful Heart

  1. I love that you sent a card to yourself. I found that keeping a gratitude journal helps me appreciate all that I have and not what is missing. Start simple, just a few blessings for each day you will find your list grows. Hope you have a peaceful Thanksgiving.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hey Darleen,
      Thanks for reading and sharing about your gratitude journal. That sounds like a great idea! Starting small is always a good idea since you’re building a new habit.
      I’ve always loved cards and sometimes I’ll buy one that I would choose to send to me. It’s cheap art and can be a placeholder for what was going on in my life at the time. Maybe you’ll pick out a pretty card for yourself!
      I hope you have an enjoyable and peaceful Thanksgiving as well, Darleen.

      Best to you,
      Connie

      Like

  2. This is hard stuff. Divorce is like a death and needs to be grieved appropriately. You are doing a lot of heavy lifting emotionally and I’m so glad you are making decisions about what is best for you and your own mental health. I find that whenever I’m starting to worry, to ruminate, to look forward or backwards with trepidation, spending time with children is the best medicine. My kids keep me grounded in the moment and volunteering at their school and spending time to really connect with their classmates forces me out of any funk. As we become adults, we really do often lose focus from what is the most important. So glad you have friends who are so supportive. Love and light to you. 😘❤️

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Abigail,
      Thanks for reminding me that I’m doing “heavy lifting emotionally.” Sometimes I get so used to my situation that I don’t fully recognize what I’m dealing with– until I’m in a therapy session! Ha!
      I agree that children are wonderful at keeping us grounded. I’m glad you’ve had your boys and their classmates to pull you out of yourself. You’ve had a lot to deal with, too and I’m glad you’ve had the love and joy of your sons. My grandson is my sunshine and singing with Raffi, laughing at Elmo, and watching one more episode of Thomas and Friends keeps me from being too serious about myself.
      Best to you, Abby and wishing you and your family a lovely holiday season!
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Thank you for sharing this. As I type this I am holding you in my prayers and thoughts, that this Thanksgiving you feel surrounded by love.

    I nurture myself by allowing myself simply to be.

    X

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    • Hey Julia,
      Thanks so much! I feel those warm thoughts and able prayers. I like how you nurture yourself, and I’ll carry those words and remind myself that it’s enough to just Be.
      Best to you in this, as in every, season of life.
      Connie

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  4. Your topic this week has very much info and does provoke. One thing we seem to not allow in our thinking is that our situations are not due to us, but the problem others have. Having given your life to the success of others seems to make you re-assess yourself. The hard part is to remember that you had not changed as much as having others take ownership of their changs. When I became aware and experienced this change in my life, I vowed to not blame anyone and offer to them the Love that they seemed to have lost with regard to me. You are dealing with your life as you believe and you need not be hard on yourself. Keep coping with your situation, put on the armor of Love, and go out and Conquer.
    Blessings and Love,
    John

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Marie,
      Thanks so much for your kind words. Because of encouraging friends and readers, like you, I feel safe in sharing honestly. We all have hurts within and it helps when we can use them to help others– making things better for all of us.
      I hope for grace and blessings in your holiday season, Marie. You are one of the people I’m grateful for because you do so much good for so many.
      Connie

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  6. so much to think about in this post –

    1) Lil Baker is such a cutie, how wonderful to have him close by to love on and enjoy !
    2) I remember going through my divorce, with a very young son (4) and finding my way through the holidays.. I wrote about an unusual Thanksgiving here https://emjayandthem.com/2017/11/22/the-gift-of-an-unconventional-holiday/?wref=tp

    I would offer this -trust your instincts, i.e. you are very smart to protect yourself by not committing to too much. Your words above about about doing what you need to do (cookless Thanksgiving, a walk in the woods afterwards) those really ring true to me — listening to and honoring what your soul wants, what your soul can do … very important.

    This year we’re staying flexible b/c oldest boy & wife have a baby due next week – and youngest boy & wife are going to her family gathering — so me – the cook who has always done it all – is a guest this year. Odd, slightly off-putting, but I’m leaning in and making the side dishes I will prepare FABULOUS 🙂 And when it comes time to load up and head home I will come back to a clean kitchen and tidy house and still have the energy to decorate for Christmas this weekend. Whee!!

    Wishing you a peaceful Thanksgiving, Connie.

    Bests, MJ

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    • Hey MJ,
      Thanks so much for reading and for your encouraging words. I just read your blog post and enjoyed hearing about all those folks around that Thanksgiving table. What an interesting group that must have been. I like how you said you forgot to be sad. So important at times to get out beyond yourself. I do think you like to cook a lot more than me! I haven’t cooked much since my husband moved out, but I can’t say I miss it that much!
      Best to you and your family and enjoy just making side dishes and your clean kitchen (and the new baby on the way! exciting!),
      Connie

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, this will be my first Christmas living on a narrow boat! But won’t be hosting and most likely will be staying at the mother in laws for a few days. Also my first Christmas having really accepted that my chronic illness is here to stay, and thinking carefully about how the festive season can be enjoyed as well as paced

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    • Hey Naomi,
      I guess you’ll have to adapt your Christmas decorating on a small boat! I’m sure it will be an adjustment but maybe you’ll also have more time since you won’t have a big space to be concerned with.
      I haven’t had a chronic illness that made me look at pacing, but when I went through breast cancer treatment, I had to make changes. There were times when my cell counts were low and I had to stay out of crowds. Some of that was good, because I could rest and have the quiet I needed. I got to draw in and read and do crafts and found ways to enjoy that slower time.
      I hope you’ll find the pace that is right for you, Naomi. I believe you will find joy in each day, looking at what you have instead what you don’t.
      Best to you during the days ahead,
      Connie

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      • I’m not sure we’ll do any to be honest! I’m not sure where my decs got to after moving on earlier this year…plus my ex was obsessed and I found post break-up I asked your q of ‘what do *i* want? ‘. I’ve got very used to a slower way but Christmas demands more, but what I have is family who want to see me and i will always be grateful of that

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      • Yes, while family can be overwhelming– they’re ours! And no matter what, that’s the most important thing. I’m glad you were able to use that question! I’m never quite sure if they’re helpful. Enjoy your holidays!

        Like

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