Gratitude 2011

I’ve mentioned before that Thanksgiving is a rather meaningful holiday for me. I love the celebration of the harvest, particularly in preparing delicious vegan food for a big feast. I also really love looking back on the year, reflecting on the events that have past as the darkest days of the years tick down. Sharing this holiday with people I love means a lot to me.

This year CK and I nearly spent the holiday in Sacramento with her family. Her Father is trying to cause some problems and she hasn’t been down in a while. Ultimately we realized we were feeling very stressed in planning to go down. Bigger than her concern that she was falling back into the habitual behavior learned while growing up, CK realized that Thanksgiving with her family, complete with both turkey and ham being served, was another example of a communal meal that would leave us feeling distracted, sad, being made to feel othered by our being vegan, and complicit in the suffering of sentient beings.

So we stayed home and several friends came over to celebrate with us. Another friend came by to foist more dessert upon us and DW dropped by between our place, her Dad’s and her brother’s adopted family. We all enjoyed a big feast, with our friends bringing food and wine to celebrate with us. I’m so very grateful for this meal, this time with friends who share and support our desire to live our lives honoring peace and non-violence. I’m really honored by CK and her desire to make this holiday one that celebrates peace and non-violence — even when doing so means dealing with a lot of hurt feelings from her family.

*CK has posted a really good article about her decision to not partake in a non-vegan Thanksgiving on her blog.

The buidling reflected in the pond behind the heron is the one my office is in.

This year also brings me gratitude for my new job. Just last Thanksgiving I’d gone out on an icy cold, windy day for my interview. I’d talked about it with friends during dinner last year, but had been certain I wouldn’t get an offer. It has been nearly a year now, much of it filled with an intensely busy project schedule, but I’m so grateful for a team that respects me and I feel like I can grow my skills further at this company.

It doesn’t feel right not to reflect upon how grateful I am for my wife. This past week we worked hard together making our basement closer to habitable and mourning the discovery that several of our old, leather-bound books have suffered mold due to the increased humidity brought on from the house being insulated & weatherized. CK hung vivid red curtains in our living/dining room, making the space feel cozier and brighter. I was once again how struck I was at finally having a partner in my life who was there for me during the hard work and the fun. It makes all the difference and I am filled with gratitude for CK.

There are also our animal companions to be grateful for. They bring us so much joy and despite the regularity with which we find ourselves cleaning up messes, barf, and endless piles of fur, we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m so grateful that we’re able to open our home to our little herd.

Finally, some gratitude that extends beyond my home for the news this past Tuesday that our current governor announced a moratorium on executions for the remainder of his elected term. This news is so welcome and I am so profoundly grateful for it. Although I wish he’d go so far as to commute all death sentences to life in prison, making an even stronger statement against the death penalty, I at least feel like his announcement opens things up to serious discussion. I felt particularly touched by this quote from the statement that was released, “I refuse to be a part of this compromised and inequitable system any longer; and I will not allow further executions while I am Governor.”

 

Moving Right Along

That’s kind of what life does. When we’re little it feels like it moves intolerable slow, as we age we find ourselves looking up, blinking in astonishment at how quickly things speed by.

Case in point. Here it is November, nearly middle of. Gracious!

Work remains very busy. I’ve come to accept that the crazy busy feeling at first wasn’t the “ramp up” period of getting used to a new job, new team, etc. My team just seems to run on “damn busy” all the time and I’m trying to find peace with the fact that I end each week just worn out and feeling like I haven’t accomplished nearly enough.

This past week I received a very nice compliment from one of the project managers. I’d run a meeting to review and validate user acceptance testing. It was a busy 90 minutes of keeping client testers on task and keeping our developer from feeling overwhelmed and picked apart. Later that day the project manager made a point to tell me how impressed he is with the work I put into making this project run. He went further to say that he felt he could really learn from the way I run my meetings and projects.

I’m trying to just let that one sit and feel good about it. I feel like I’m behind on all the tasks for that given project, so it would be far to easy to pick apart that compliment until there’s nothing left but my task list. Instead I’m just reminding myself that I am actually very good at what I do and that people both see and respect it.

Mom… I haven’t seen her since this summer. I’ve spoken to her several times, but I can’t quite get enough energy together to see her in person. It is a combination of the fact that spending time with her literally eats away one of my precious weekend days, complete with a bunch more driving, and feeling the hurt of how she treated me.

We got into something of an argument on Monday night. I won’t go into the details, but it mostly all got hung up on how angrily she meets my setting boundaries. When I fail to respond how she wants me to, she lashes out at me and at herself. I’m still growing the skill of setting a boundary and not rising to the bait when she responds negatively. It is hard practice and somehow seeing her in person seems like just one stone too many right now.

Her health remains precarious. She has ulcers that are bleeding and she’s receiving transfusions about every 6 weeks. He husband’s health is failing rapidly and she feels alienated by his family, like they don’t trust her. It is hard and I feel so very sad for her suffering.

On my health front things are well. I’ve lost 10 pounds and my cholesterol isn’t the 219 it tested at at the employee health fair, but a far happier 178. I’ve been going to the aqua power class on Saturday mornings and trying to go to a Zumba class offered at the gym at work. Being in the water on Saturday really helps a lot. Zumba really feels out of my comfort zone, I generally just try to keep moving and not crash into anyone else, but the group of women who go are generally encouraging and supporting, which helps.