It's very early in the morning on Thanksgiving Monday. It's still dark out, the house is very still and I've been sitting in the glow of the computer screen reading emails and checking favourite sites. I love the early mornings and I love the early bedtimes that come with them. As I've aged a new rhythm of living has emerged, I now go to bed earlier than my parents sent me as a child, I rise earlier than almost anyone I know. I'm a few hours out of sync with the world, and that's OK.
In a few hours we will be cooking up our Thanksgiving meal, we always celebrate on the Monday, and provisions are in, the menu decided on weeks ago. It's a flurry of activity in the kitchen. Joe always puts on a disc and we divide up the tasks. I sit in my kitchen wheelchair, which is a comfortable beauty, and peel, chop, dice and slice. I'm like a giant appliance. Joe does all the movement in the kitchen, getting things from place to place, from counter to pot and he operates the heavy equipment like the stove and the blender.
So, I decided last night to make this a traditional blog. I'm going to be giving thanks. As I can go on and on, I've limited myself to 10 things that I am grateful for and I present them in no particular order ...
Almost 39 years in, I'm thankful for the traditions that Joe and I have created together. We have very particular ways to celebrate the various holidays, but we also have everyday traditions about where we sit, how we share time, and little sayings that no one get's but us, like 'that would be two layers'.
I grateful that I've discovered the sensuousness of all the senses. The taste of raspberries is almost obscene. The sight of a naked tree in winter is arresting. The sound of a hot summer wind - the softness inside my mittens makes raspberries seem tame. The pleasures multiply with age, not diminish. Who knew?
Nakedness. I like nakedness. For years because I was fat, I would never even think of being naked in my own home. But now I'll walk from room to room entirely in the buff. Its freeing in an odd way - to be finally comfortable in my own skin. To catch a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror and not 'tut tut' but give myself a wink. I'm glad I lived long enough to be able to inhabit all of me.
Becoming ordinary in places that I like. Starbucks at Chapters is a place that I frequent. I like the green tea there, I love the atmosphere of the bookshop. When I first started going, the wheelchair got a lot of attention and people seemed wildly uncomfortable as I manoeuvered my way amongst the tables to the counter. Now, no one notices, I'm just another regular. Cool to be able to personally bring diversity to where it wasn't welcomed before.
On Friday I lectured in Mass and next week, I'll be in Maryland and New York, at the end of the year I'll be in the UK. I'm incredibly thankful that I've been given the honour of a podium to share my views, my ideology and my skills. I've been lecturing for years now and have been in every state but two and every province but one. Life on the road has its own hazards, the wheelchair has made it more work, but the opportunity to effect change is thrilling.
Being a blogger has brought its own pleasures. I'm grateful that someone is reading this. I write either before going to bed or first thing it the morning. In either case, the habit of sitting down to write each day has given me new focus. I'd planned to write the blog for only a year, and tomorrow the year is up, so I have decisions to make. Even so, it's been an interesting year and I've met some amazing readers, like the guy last week who commented that I must have bought a dictionary because my spelling on the blog has gotten better. And he was right, I bought a dictionary for my office about a week before.
Last night we had an incredible vegetable stew with parsley dumplings. We've been vegetarian now for a lot of years and I am grateful to have stumbled upon this way of living. The story of becoming vegetarian is long and quite personal, and Joe was a tad stunned when I came home from a trip from Vancouver and announced that I was no longer going to eat meat. "But we've just bought a bar-b-que," was his response. He joined me as a vegetarian about 6 months later and now we both read labels in the grocery store.
Sitting down. What a different view of the world comes from sitting in a wheelchair. Looking up at people who look down at you is fascinating. It is now possible to see artiface clearly, to see the falseness of sentiment in the eyes of another. How could I have been so blind before. But sitting down has also introduced me to a kind of genuineness that I didn't know that I believed existed - but it does, thankfully, it does.
Stories. I love stories. I'm never without a book and I'm always up for a story. A woman asked me recently, at the end of a day's lecture, if she could tell me a story. Then she did. She shared a story about being the mom of an adopted child with a disability. About the first time her child touched her face, reached out for her, kissed her. I was grateful in that moment for the opportunity to hear her story, to have her share it with me. I see stories in everything. I love telling stories. When I aske a question and someone says, "Well, let me tell you a story" I'm thrilled.
Gravy. That one doesn't need explanation.