NOTE: I am a fan of 30-day challenges, and November is traditionally a time of two: National Novel Writing Month, and 30 Days of Thanks. As I am not a fiction writer, this year I have chosen to publish a daily blog for the entire month, expressing my gratitude. This may not be entirely food-focused, but expect recipes aplenty. Feel free to join me in the comments below. What are you thankful for today?
I have worked a job since I was 15.
On my 15th birthday, I went out and got a job at Wonder Book and Video in Frederick, Maryland. This was back when you had the option of renting Betamax and VHS tapes, but the bookstore itself was deeply embedded in my childhood. My father, brother, and I would wander the aisles many Sundays, reading comics and used books, possibly to give my mother a break.
Since that job, I have had exactly two months of time when I have not somehow been gainfully employed or otherwise productively occupied with a full-time volunteer gig (with Americorps/VISTA in Seattle) or full-time school (one semester of graduate school, after which I got a job and the honeymoon ended).
Even as I moved from place to place, the first thing I would do in every town is register with a temp agency and be at work within a couple days.
I have a strong work ethic.
All of this to say that I am thankful for what life has to offer me right in this moment.
Today, I am grateful for the creative life that allows me time to rest.
Today I woke up, talked to my sweet girl in France for a bit, then settled in to work on designing yoga classes for the week.
I wrote a little, paid a bill, then set off to teach yoga to some seriously stressed out folks at Johns Hopkins’ School of Medicine.
When I came home, Khristian was here. We went for a walk, getting free coffee at MOMs in Hampden and buying a cone of shame for Gatsby who is suffering from seasonal allergies that are manifesting themselves in the form of him chewing all of the hair (and most of the skin) off the base of his tail.’
Around three, Khristian went off to teach Lego kids, and I went off to teach yoga to very, very young children.
I came home, poured a beer, and got some soup started. Now I am on the couch with an unhappy Cone of Shame’d dog and a man who is creating art in the next room.
This is a typical day – a little bit of rewarding work, a little bit of companionship, and a little bit of solitude to create and think and wonder.
I don’t really have targets to reach – unless I set them.
I don’t have to be anywhere in particular – unless I schedule it.
I have time and flexibility – mostly – and my schedule is my own.
It has been a long time coming. I was a public school teacher for 13 years, and then I opened my own school. Seventy plus hour weeks were more common than not, and the rest of the waking time was spent shuttling the kid to travel softball games and practices. Weekends were filled with errands and chores and home repair.
Like most of the country, I was firmly entrenched in the culture of busy.
I knew that it wasn’t what I wanted.
But I knew that from my last year of undergraduate when I had three jobs and finished two years of school in one year. Sure, sometimes you have to grind to get it done (see previous mention of opening my own school, a joyous but time-consuming task), but honey: that ain’t living.
These days I sweat the bills a little, but it’s a trade-off. The work I do nourishes people, in their soul through yoga and in their bellies through the food I make each week.
I get to see the sun come up and really pay attention to it as it moves across the pillow.
I can monitor the allergic dog and the cat who just got vaccinations.
I can wake up and make scones if I damn well feel like it.
I can see that this time to reflect has its own season; when my kid comes home things will change, as there is another human to track and shuttle around and make room for.
I am always looking to add to my earnings and am actively continuing to do mercenary writing as well as working on my own stuff.
But today, as I walked around my neighborhood in the middle of a sunny but chilly day, I realized how lucky I am to be able to craft a life that allows me to step off the wheel.
Maybe something compelling will cause me to step back on the wheel; maybe I will have periods when I have to be more busy for a variety of reasons.
Today, I have everything I need, and for that I am grateful.
What are you grateful for today?