Thanksgiving

When you’re having trouble beginning, begin with gratitude. Its American Thanksgiving today and its one of my favorite holidays. As per my usual habit, I distance myself from the awkward history and traditions of the piece and focus on what I find lovable and valuable about the day. (Except Columbus Day, that’s just bullshit.) American Thanksgiving comes without religious issues, but it does have its own helping of colonialism and racism if you focus on the pilgrims and Native American relations. So I try not to, and instead take the time to really be thoughtful about what I am grateful for.

I did a whole study on gratitude when I was in college. The things I found during that time were about how powerful being grateful is. Some of it is a change in perspective, a change in how you handle the world, looking for what is wise and wonderful in every moment gives you a strength that is difficult to evangelize. It gave me an appreciation for the beauty in others and gave me a thousand small stories about how appreciation could bring about a change in how others viewed the world as well as myself. The second step I took was to find the courage to thank people who were enriching my world. Over the years, I’ve left behind the focus on moment to moment gratitude I worked on in that time in my life, but maintained a habit of complimenting people when they bring me joy and light that still gives dividends today. (Pro Tip: Admire things about people that are their choices, not random chance. Compliment clothing selections and hairstyles rather than genetics.)

So its Thanksgiving and I have a lot to be thankful for. My daughter, Hatchling, is an amazing little human. She’s 8 months old going on 18. She’s strong and adventurous and resilient and happy and delights in herself and the world around her. She’s expressive and exploratory and busy, busy, busy. Angel and I shared a room with her for a few days for the family holiday and waking up to her happy little face watching us, eager for the new day, has been just wonderful. Angel continues to be a solid, loving presence in my life. Always surprising me with his tender care and sparkling humor. I’ve had the privilege of getting to live with Cups for the last year and seeing how hard she works and how deep she thinks and lives. (Which isn’t to say I don’t want her out of my guest room, but when she leaves it will be bittersweet. There is always something a little more home about having my sisters close, and a little more empty when they are off being astonishing for the benefit of other people.) My job, intense and bonkers as it is, continues to be a surprising source of constant learning and fulfillment. Its gone from “…and they pay me too!” to “its worth the money” this year, but some of that is learning my own value, which has been eye opening. (It turns out that I do hard things. And I’m good at them. Possibly uniquely suited for some specific hard things.) My pain levels are the best they have been in years, potentially in my life. (Its not magic, its 40-120 minutes of exercise in the pool 3-5 times a week. But I like being able to stand! and walk! and lay on my sides!)

I’m thankful for the robust community of internet friends I’ve lucked into – I need reminders that women are deeply real. Working in tech starts to queer your mind a bit into thinking that the world is only about 15% female and being a woman makes you weird and unusual and lonely. Knitting pulls me back from the edge and paints women back into my life in all their dimensions. As a craft, knitting keeps me balanced and creating, soothing the stormy places in my mind and calming the prickly times, reminding me that I make a difference. As a community, knitting reminds me of the wholeness of the world, giving back to me what I miss in my professional life. It keeps me connected to the fullness of humanity.

So that’s Thanksgiving this year.

It glosses over a lot, but maybe that is it’s purpose. My job is hard. My team is a collection of amazing individuals that need to be balanced off each other and the challenges they face like an egg carton of nitroglycerin eggs. We’re also currently the most stable team in the department, by some measures, and its a position I’m unused to and find terribly concerning. I know that I grow furiously when given appropriate management attention and, selfishly, they may not have it for me while everyone else is struggling so.

To say I haven’t yet found work-life balance is to be terribly understated. My daily schedule holds only what is most desperately important, and I fall over in exhaustion unable to sleep basically every night. Its not super healthy, and I’m taking some steps to try to address that, but fitting self care in is so hard. Okay, fitting more in. Self care is expensive in time, and I hold time so dear now, with Hatchling growing up so quickly. (I already can barely fathom what she was ever the tiny floppy human larvae she started as. She’s pulling herself to standing and cruising along furniture. She picks up a new trick every day and by the next morning its old hat and she’s blasé about our celebrations of it. “Oh that old thing? So yesterday, dahling.”) The next time my mom or in-laws see her she’ll be walking, probably running. The last time she was here we were applauding when she got her hand on what she was reaching for. Time away from her is costly in ways that cannot be replaced.

She brings into great relief for me what I believe to be the central question of this generation – where were you for the civil rights movement? Because this is where we are today. Black Lives Matter. Trans acceptance. Gay rights. Syrian refugees. These are the days where sides are being drawn in the question of how civilized people should treat each other, how our culture treats the oppressed, and where you are in it is where you are in history. I never thought I’d be settled with a baby when that time came. I’m struggling with how I can reach in and help my world move in the direction of the right. I’m amazed that there has been as much patience (apathy?) with the current system as there is. I don’t know that I can say I would be as patient and as non violent if I was concerned for Hatchling’s ability to avoid being shot by racist police without recourse. I admire the people who are actively working to shed sunshine on the current horrors, and am horrified by the swell of people who believe things are as they should be.

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