Is it possible I pulled a muscle on Thanksgiving? Boy do my stomach muscles hurt! I either overdid it on the gluttony or I really laughed far more than I realized. I think copious amounts of laughter will be my new exercise routine. There can’t possibly be a better way to strengthen those abs.

Typically this time of year I find myself overcome by the inundation of marketing, rushing, preparing, forgetting, running again, you get the drill.  And the dread. Let’s not forget the dread. The doom and gloom of hours in the car braving idiot drivers, often crappy driving conditions, back seat whiners, and rest stop mob scenes. Then there is managing the children with the insanity that ensues with the schedule change, unfamiliar sleeping quarters, their anxiety of unfamiliar faces and forgotten names of those not often seen along with the sitting and waiting and other holiday rituals that come with the day.  It is relatively easy to forget this is about being thankful…..what’s that something we are supposed to be thankful for again?

Not this year.

I made a conscious choice this year. I chose to not travel, not shop, not succumb to the running and doing like the proverbial turkey with it’s head cut off.  Initially I thought with dread of not having my kids this holiday and how I would feel their absence at every turn. I realized I would feel that loss and anxiety if I attempted to do things as if they were with me like usual.  I envisioned the Turkey Day feast in Pennsylvania surrounded by my family of aunts, uncles, cousins, parents and my sisters family. All with their spouses and their children. Except me. Talk about dread and sadness.

The thing is I accept the post familial life of divorce where there are times without each other.  It isn’t always easy, especially for the kids, but for me it has come with a new realm of possibility and choice. Sure there are times of mournful longing, guilt and wishful thinking, but they become less with each passing year as I focus on what is true and honest right now for us.  I don’t have to do my life the old way just because. I don’t want to feel compelled to go here or do that just because I am ‘supposed to’ when I didn’t put that supposed to there. Those ideas aren’t mine and they just don’t fit dammit.

And so I chose quiet and to be here.  I chose to not travel and instead to celebrate locally with those close to my heart and my home. With that decision, though at times fraught with insecurity and the unknown, came unexpected gifts. More than I could have imagined actually.  Not tangible things, but gifts of closeness, abundant laughter and joy. Blessings of friendship, neighbors and new connections that feed my soul.  I was not lonely even when I was alone. I was not sad but serene with thoughts of all the incredible people I have in my life. There were no superficial conversations, only heartfelt ones. And so many smiles.

If you’ve been reading along with me the last few weeks you know that I have been mired in doubt, questioning everything, wondering where I fit and where best I can give. I have struggled to wait, to listen, and allow whatever ‘it’ is to come to the surface.  Well the last week has me feeling hope, an opening to possibility, a smidge of confidence, an inkling of inspiration and lightness in my being.

Today my heart swells with great thanks for all that was given, shared, received and embraced. I couldn’t be more grateful.