On December 27th last year, I started a gratitude journal. I used a prompt shared by a friend, a woman two years into her transition from assigned male at birth to female: share three pieces of gratitude for yourself and three pieces of gratitude for others or the world. My first entry spans large and small:
I am grateful that I’m 48,011 words into my new novel. I will finish this first draft.
I am grateful to feel my feelings. There has been some sadness and anger the past few days.
I’m grateful I ran the dishwasher last night.
I am grateful for cuddling with my dog on cold winter mornings.
I’m grateful for the sunrise, hidden today by snow flurries and thick clouds, but the dawning happened anyway.
I am grateful for Ellen, writing with me in the mornings.
I haven’t done this practice daily since last December, but I have stuck with it, sometimes once a week, sometimes a string of days in a row. There are themes: I continue to be grateful for my spouse and my dog. I continue to be grateful for my writing practice and those that support it. I continue to be grateful for my love of exercise and my physical abilities. I am always grateful for friends and family.
And then there was COVID-19. In my first entry after things shut down, I wrote: “I am grateful for a home to shelter in. I am grateful for sunshine and springtime alongside fear and uncertainty. I am grateful that I’m learning to call on help as I need it.”
Now here we are, Thanksgiving in a year of pandemic. I’ve always loved Thanksgiving: the food, time with family, games together. In recent years, I’ve held my love of the holiday alongside the pain it raises for Indigenous communities (see HERE and HERE and HERE). Today, I woke feeling a lot of sadness. I’ll see my family, but through Zoom. I’ll see my spouse, but only after he finishes his twelve-hour shift at the hospital. The majority of the day will be spent by myself with my dog.
The pandemic has been so hard.
And yet there is so much gratitude. I will write my six things this morning. I have shelter. I can feel my feelings, even when love and pain and sadness and anger intertwine. I can cuddle with my dog.
There will be family and games and green bean casserole.
This Sunday, May 3, was supposed to be the 2020 Lilac Bloomsday Run, an annual tradition that is perfectly Spokane. But we’re not running it this weekend. We’re holding each other close by staying separate.
Every year, Spokane hosts a wonderful celebration of readers and writers called Get Lit! It’s a fantastic event: authors reading from their published work, readers finding each other, and writers taking classes and learning more about opportunities for their writing.
I am one of Get Lit’s authors for this year, but alas, we’re not meeting together in person. Like so many events this spring, COVID-19 has made it so that gathering together must be done virtually. Instead of delivering the workshop I’d been planning, I recorded a video. In it, I honor last year’s Get Lit authors, last year’s attendees, and this year’s event by reading two poems and offering up a few novel recommendations.
A little over two years ago, I founded Must Read Fiction, a social media community of readers. Our community has now grown to over 5,000 members! I continue to be inspired, humbled, and delighted by this group of readers. Thank you.
To celebrate, I’m launching the 5K Giveaway! Join Must Read Fiction’s monthly email newsletter to enter. Each month, we’ll share book recommendations, book news and highlights, author interviews, and one lucky reader will win a free book!