Gratitude

1. Morning walks. The weather delayed a few of these this week, one day too windy and another too cold. It makes me happy that when that happens, Ringo doesn’t seem too bothered about waiting or even skipping if we have to. It’s one of the joys of an older dog. He’s that perfect age where he can go on a five mile run or go back to sleep after breakfast, and is happy either way. Don’t get me wrong, too many days of no walk and he’d be bouncing off the walls. 

2. Books. Writing them, reading them, talking about them, sharing them. The December Reflections prompt for today was “best book of 2022,” and my response was: I cannot pick just one, even if I expand it to just one from each genre (see bookcases for reference and know there are probably double that number throughout my house and on my Kindle — I have the most wonderful problem). Here are a few of my very favorites from this past year of reading.

Best Novels: The Plot by Jean Hanff Korelitz (this would be a great vacation book, a “beach read”), Temple of My Familiar by Alice Walker (HOW had I never read this before?), The Overstory by Richard Powers (this touched my love of trees AND weird stories), Memory Police by Yōko Ogawa (another wonderfully weird tale), and Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi (an epic story that I still think about).

Best Short Story Collections (IMHO, in the top five best of all time): The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw and Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker. If you love short stories, another two in the top five best of all time according to me are Difficult Women by Roxane Gay and All The Names They Used for God by Anjali Sachdeva.

Best Nonfiction: The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller (this book is an essential read for all humans); Pause, Rest, Be: Stillness Practices for Courage in Times of Change by Octavia F Raheem; American Detox: The Myth of Wellness and How We Can Truly Heal by Kerri Kelly (this placed the discussion of wellness culture in the context of social justice and it’s a book I’d been waiting for someone to write); Body Work: The Radical Power of Personal Narrative by Melissa Febos; and The Lightmaker’s Manifesto: How to Work for Change Without Losing Your Joy by Karen Walrond.

Best Memoir (my favorite genre): Mean Baby: A Memoir of Growing Up by Selma Blair.

3. Hanging out with Hendrix. This kiddo was dreamed of, wished for, and loved before we ever met him. Getting to be a part of his life makes me so grateful.

4. Me, awake and alive. I’m still here, still trying, haven’t given up. I don’t have to tell you, kind and gentle reader, life can be so hard, and yet I wouldn’t trade mine for anything, (except maybe for world peace or a cure for cancer or something else big).

5. Good food. The picture on the right is my unattended bowl of the last of the some yummy leftovers and Ringo being such a good boy, doing a good “leave it.”

6. My tiny family, tiny home, tiny life. Only one more week and it will be winter break, one of my favorite seasons to be home and hunkered down with my boys.

Bonus joy: A warm shower, clean laundry, clean sheets, payday, finding the perfect present for someone, texting with Mom and Chris, Wild Writing, training with Shelby and the gang, the hydromassage chair, the pool, the sauna, listening to podcasts, naps, gingerbread muffins, grilled cheese, gummies, my practice room, my office, houseplants, watching TV, solving crimes with Eric, down blankets and pillows, drinking green tea with my weighted blanket over my lap, yoga, having friends who understand when I have to cancel plans because “I can’t people today,” music, poetry, art, snow tires, snail mail, flowers in the house, laughing with Eric, hugs, good health, birds in the feeder, and reading in bed at night while Eric and Ringo sleep.

Something Good

Image by Eric, a view of Fort Collins from the foothills

1. December Reflections hosted by Susannah Conway, “A gentle and creative way to reflect back on 2022.”

2. An antidote from Seth Godin.

3. Decolonizing Thanksgiving“In 2016, Bioneers made a commitment to decolonize Thanksgiving, by recognizing and sharing the truth of what this holiday means for Native Americans and all Americans. On this page, you can find resources to learn more about what it means to decolonize Thanksgiving, from articles to videos, and curriculum.” In related news, Native foods educator Valerie Segrest on marking Thanksgiving with respect, and Immerse Yourself in the Work of Indigenous Writers With This Anti-Colonial Reading List, and IllumiNative (“Our mission is to build power for Native peoples by amplifying contemporary Native voices, stories, and issues to advance justice, equity, and self-determination”), and Thanksgiving is a Tradition. It’s Also a Lie, and Truthsgiving: The True History of Thanksgiving.

4. Somatics + Embodiment (wtf are they and why do we even care?)(video) From Jes Baker.

5. David Bowie on Creativity and His Advice to Artists“It’s terribly dangerous for an artist to fulfill other people’s expectations.”

6. Craft Talk: The Paint Job from Jami Attenberg. I love how Jami’s posts about writing are almost always also applicable to life in general.

7. Creative Living with Jamie Episode 290: Sam Tucker(video)

8. Storytelling and the Art of Tenderness: Olga Tokarczuk’s Magnificent Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech“Tenderness is the most modest form of love. It is the kind of love that does not appear in the scriptures or the gospels, no one swears by it, no one cites it… It appears wherever we take a close and careful look at another being, at something that is not our ‘self.’”

9. Wisdom from Octavia Butler, (by way of Jena Schwartz’s Dispatches from Daily Life): “First forget inspiration. Habit is more dependable. Habit will sustain you whether you’re inspired or not. Habit will help you finish and polish your stories. Inspiration won’t. Habit is persistence in practice.”

10. This Week, Billionaires Made a Strong Case for Abolishing Themselves on The New York Times. “[B]illionaires are not our saviors. They are our mistake.”

11. New Guidelines for Weight Loss Surgery? from Ragen Chastain.

12. Gratitude from Robert Jones, Jr.. “In the midst of despair, I seek out, with intention, the reasons to be grateful.”

13. Supporting Young Farmers of Color Can Help the U.S. Meet Its Climate Goals.

14. The Walking Ghost Phase Of Twitter, And Where The Hell Do We Go From Here from Chuck Wendig on Terrible Minds.

15. Holiday Anxiety? 5 Ways To Stress Less And Enjoy The Holidays.

16. We Got Gay Married!! Here Are The Photos!! from Mary Lambert.

17. Some of the Books, Podcasts, and TV Shows I loved in 2022I always find something new in these sorts of lists, something worthy I would have never known about otherwise. In related news, Announcing The 100 Best Non-Fiction Books of 2022, and NPR Books We Love 2022, and 100 Notable Books of 2022 on The New York Times. 

18. I Followed a 1920s Cleaning Routine for a Week — And It Was Nearly ImpossibleIn related news: I despise dusting. I know it needs to be done, but it’s just so…dumb.

19. 15 Ways To Deal With A Toxic Family During The HolidaysI’d add, “or any time at all.”

20. How to Comfort a Friend Or Co-worker Going Through a Hard Time.

21. What Are The 7 Types Of Rest? (Plus, The Best One For You).

22. The Simple Little Secret That Will Help You Live a Healthy Life from Courtney Carver on Be More With Less.

23. Machine Embroidered Landscapes by Rachel Wright textile artist / EnglandStunning!

24. Army Veteran Went Into ‘Combat Mode’ to Disarm the Club Q Gunman on The New York Times. “Richard M. Fierro, who served for 15 years in the military, was at the nightclub in Colorado Springs with his family when the gunman opened fire. ‘I just knew I had to take him down,’ he said.” In related news, Those we lost in the Club Q shooting and How to help Colorado’s queer community right now.

25. Synonyms for Belonging from Jena Schwartz.

26. Recipes I want to try: Sheet Pan Thanksgiving, and sour cream and chive fantails, and Wonton Soup, and drop cornbread biscuits, and Lemon Oatmeal Sugar Cookies.

27. In the strawberry fields of Spain, migrants from Africa work in hope of a better life.

28. Why Brussels Sprouts Taste Better Than They Did When You Were A Kid“Your tastebuds don’t deceive you: Brussels sprouts actually taste better than they used to.”

29. 12 Tiny Stories of Gratitude on The New York Times.

30. How to handle an overload of grief“When losses stack up, how are you supposed to manage?”

31. Kindness 101: A lesson in gratitude(video) “As part of our ongoing series, Kindness 101, CBS News correspondent Steve Hartman and his kids are sharing stories built around themes of kindness, character and the people who’ve mastered both. His latest lesson is gratitude.”

32. How did I not know about Wolfenoot?! “A celebration of canines and kindness” and “It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else. You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.”

33. Zoo camera captures incredible moment mama chimp is reunited with her two-day-old baby“When Kucheza raised his little hand and Mahale realized he was there, everyone felt her joy.”

34. Isobelle Ouzman, Altered Book SculpturesSo gorgeous.