I am grateful for my father, David, because he taught me to love who I am, to be free in my own mind, and to know that the world's (or even one other person's) idea of success means nothing, success is about doing that which makes your soul fulfilled and being the person you are at your core.
I am so thankful for my mother, Pat, who is always there for me...who has shown me love and loyalty even when she thought my choices were wrong, and who has included me in her life, her dreams, her goals, and her passion....and has accepted me and my dreams, hopes, and passions even when we don't always understand each other.
I am grateful for my step-father, Jim, who has shown time and time again that he is a generous and giving person, always willing to help and care--whether it is helping to rewire the house, dealing with the ongoing issues with our cars, helping to thaw the ice dams off the roof, or being willing to have the kids spend the night at their house so we could have a kid-less night, even when the kids are difficult.
I am grateful for my beloved fiance, Julie, because she has reminded me what it is like to love and be loved....that loving has multiple parts, not just a feeling that is fleeting, but a commitment, an unconditional sharing of my heart, and that loving another requires that both are respected, feel loved, and have boundaries. I am grateful for her also because she reminds me that no matter how far you fall or how long you lay on the rock bottom of your life, there is always hope, there is always a way back to the top, and that taking a hand up is very different from taking a hand out--and giving a hand up is different than giving a hand out--helping each other does not mean self-sacrifice, rather it is self-affirming, and affirming of the one you are helping. Thank you.
I am so thankful for my son, Gonzo, because he is unique and quirky, and he is learning, growing, and becoming more himself everyday. He makes me laugh and makes me proud when he overcomes obstacles that used to stop him in his tracks.
I am grateful for my son, Josiah, because he is amazing....he has gone through so much, and continues to go through so much, and yet he still laughs, loves, and tries to make the world a better place in his own way.
I am grateful for my soon to be step son, Joe, because he reminds me of what it is like to be just entering adulthood, and the struggles and joys of that time of life, and as I am slowly getting to know him, I see a joyous, self-assured young man, who is on a good path to learn how life works and how to see beyond himself and set his own boundaries--life is a learning from your mistakes (and your successes) process, and learning from the mistakes (and successes) of others too, and I think he is beginning to understand that...which reminds me too.
I am grateful for my soon to be step-daughter, Emily, because she is a person who has overcome much turmoil in her young life, and is still a self assured, kind, smart, and fun teenager. Her smile and her laugh bless those around her, even when she is dealing with the challenges that life throws at her.
I am grateful for the people in my life going through health challenges, because their strong spirits, ability to laugh through the pain, and hope for the future is inspiring.
I am grateful for the people in my life that challenge me, whose actions and behaviors I do not understand, because they remind me that the world is a diverse place and that there is always more than a few perspectives on the same issues. They remind me to not be too attached to my current idea of what it and what is not, my current understanding of right and wrong, and my current interpretation of what life means, because it is limited, and as I grow and change those ideas, understandings, and perspectives can and will change...and that it is okay....just like it is okay to not always agree or understand each other...love is stronger than our differences, connection deeper than our ability to agree.