Thanksgiving – Giving Thanks. Just a Bit of Reflection

I believe with the arrival of Thanksgiving the holiday season is officially here. I’m not thinking of the holiday season in terms of shopping and cooking – more of a time to be with people who truly care about you and taking stock in what is important in your life. Of course you can do that when you are looking at your shopping list…”Really, it’s a little tight this year and I haven’t talked to Fred in years…” Just a touch of humor there folks!

Over the past month or so I have really been evaluating the bigger issues. There was a death October 22, although the illness had been hiding for many years, and it forced me to re-evaluate everything in my life. It is not a pleasant experience when it is forced upon you; but those are the lessons that teach us the most. The ones where we crash and burn. However unpleasant the situation, you say one statement but you have two ways of saying it:

“What do I do now” in tears and hopelessness – or –
“What do I do now” in resolve and courage

I will admit I chose the first option for a few weeks. Living like a ghost in my on life, going through the motions because I what I thought was real was not and what I thought would always be there was gone. Tragic. Really, tragic that I wallowed – I’m not a wallower folks so it really was pathetic. You know the commercials where it asks if you would have a drink with you? Well if I could do that I would knock the snot out of that girl, shake her and ask, “What the heck is wrong with you?!”

And today of all days is the best day to say thank you for the ones that helped me ask “what do I do now” with resolve.

First there is my best friend Jackie. Thank God for Jackie, she is my wonder twin, my cohort in crime, my shoulder to lean on, and my voice of reason. She gives me strength every day and could see the strength in me when I did not see it myself. She accepts my faults and instead of making excuses, she shows me my strengths. She also gives me a swift kick in the butt when I need it. SHe is kind, loving, a wonderful mother, a trusted friend, an amazing business woman, and a fierce protector. If it were not for her I do believe I would have questioned my sanity. I thank God every day for giving me the best friend anyone could ever ask for and ask that you give her the strength she gives others.

There is my son, Jake. My baby boy who will be 18 in less than two months. In about 9 months he will be on a whole new adventure starting his own life. God only blessed me with the ability to birth this one child and I am so thankful everyday that he is my son. You know how you hear people say that one of their children is their good kid: good grades, never any trouble, does everything asked when asked, responsible yadda yadda yadda and then they talk about their other child and say, “Now this one, on the other hand, is going to be the death of me”? Yeah, well, I just got the one and I think God knew I would not be having any more children so he loaded this one up! Never question God’s humor.

I have never doubted myself so much as I do as a mother, never worried so much for another human as I do my son, never felt complete helplessness as I do when I watch him struggle. And the past few years we have had our struggles, enough where there are days I would raise my hands and my head and yell out, “Really?!?! I can’t take any more!” But again, it is the hardest struggles that teach you the most. My son is an incredibly strong, intelligent, gentle, loving and amazing young man. He has made very bad choices and for him it seems that it was all coming back on him all at once. I told him it was karma – all those years he got away with everything and now it is coming back to bite him in the butt.

Over the last few months I have seen my son grow, mature and struggle to make sense of the world which as a teenager seems overwhelmingly not fair. I see him striving to be a man of courage, honestly and to make the right decisions. It is a daily struggle and I see daily victories. He still has a way to go, but he at least has the mindset to keep trying, no matter how many times he gets knocked down, he keeps battling. In six months he will graduate high school. After that he has a plan: he has two options which he is weighing and pursuing and I am proud. I am proud for the everyday moments in which he makes a small decision that may seem insignificant to others but means he is thinking of his actions and acting as an adult.

I am thankful to say I love you every night to my son and wake him every day. I am thankful for our lunches together, our car rides, our shared horrible sense of humor, the way he can make me laugh and even thankful for the tears I shed over him because there is no greater love than the love for a child. My son believes things should be guaranteed, again, teenage mentality. I told him there are three guarantees in his life: 1. he will have to pay taxes, 2. one day he will die and 3. I will always love and support him no matter how much of a butthead he chooses to be. So a mother’s love isn’t always politically correct.

My family. Mom, Jim, Colby – these are my core family. These are the ones who drive me crazy and I drive them mad. And these are the ones that would go through hell and back for me. I have a wonderful extended family full of aunts, uncles, cousins – all are amazing, beautiful, flawed and loving. I am so thankful that I can say proudly, “That is my cousin” or “That is my Uncle”. Mostly I thank my mom. I get my inner strength from my mom, who received that gift from my grandmother. Two amazing women who face and faced life head on, maybe not always the best way, but always with love in their heart and the right intentions.

My faith. I have found a renewed sense of faith and from that found my own strength and faith in myself. I am at peace with the death and have though faith and strength put myself together and been able to move forward even if with small steps, but steps of confidence and passion. I have seen the beauty in the world again, the music in the song, the passion in each day and found a renewed sense of peace and inner joy. I no longer look at myself and think, “what if” or “why not” but see myself for who I am. I am a passionate person, I help people because I believe in the kindness of mankind, I give love to those I trust unconditionally and never ask for anything in return because they give me so much by being in my life. I love what I do for a living and give all I can to each person that comes into my life. I have found my calling and realize it is up to me to build on my strengths in order that I may help as many people as are intended to be put on my path.

There were many things taken away from me by the death, a beautiful loving boy who will no longer be a part of my life because I did not give birth to him, even though I loved him as my own. Pieces of myself that died that day that can no longer be repaired or replaced. Trust, faith and innocence – these cannot be rebuilt however the lessons of this loss are teaching me well and it is up to me to remember there is a higher purpose.

On this day of thanks it is important to give thanks for those that you love but don’t forget one person – and that person is you. For all those around me that love me unconditionally I have had to learn to love myself the same way. Once I embraced that I was set free of the tears and sense of being overwhelmed. As hard as it was, I have reached a point of peace: a little wiser, a little bruised, but a lot stronger and more appreciative of the gifts I have in my life and those that are coming to me.

Love yourself in order that you can love those around you that much more. Once I found that renewal I realized it is okay not to accept good enough, you should settle for more. In doing so you must also know your priorities and values in life. Mine are now crystal clear and I can pursue them and fulfill them with purpose, meaning, and no regret. I chose to release the toxins from my life and can do so without looking back or having any regrets.

Wishing you peace, joy and love on this Thanksgiving 2010.

Lisa K. McDonald
Career Polish, Inc.

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