Thanksgiving with the Family

I spent this Thanksgiving with my mother, my father, my brother, my dog and my cat in our house in the suburbs with its white picket fence. My brother flew in from Texas to spend the holiday with us. While my mom prepared Thanksgiving dinner, my brother and I watched The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade followed by The Purina Dog Show. As my brother snuggled the dog and cat I told him he should have been a veterinarian instead of a doctor.

My parents argued over how to serve the turkey and my mom was driven crazy by a mysterious beeping sound, the source of which took a while to find. We took those snafus in stride though, as they’re pretty par for the course. When my brother was a kid he was given a school assignment that involved describing his family’s Thanksgiving routine.  He wrote that before his mother prepared the meal she covered the fire alarms with tinfoil.

Once we discovered that the beeping noise was coming from the oven we gathered around the table to enjoy our meal. It was a meal that included turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, asparagus and a dish my brother and I dubbed ‘junky corn mush’ as children.  Dessert was pumpkin pie with whipped cream. We reminisced about the past, we pondered the future and we enjoyed the present.  My dad promised to sweep the leaves off the porch later and my mom reminded him that next week he needed to bring her to the train station.

After we finished the meal we squeezed together on the sofa, smiled and took a family selfie. Then we turned on the television and laughed over a sitcom together.

We’re like the perfect, stereotypical Norman Rockwell portrait of a loving, cookie cutter family.  Except for one small detail: My parents have been separated for twenty- five years and divorced for sixteen of those years.

The mom in this portrait recently left her second husband and now has a significant other in Chicago. The dad has a significant other in France who has two teenage children of her own and is around the same age as his daughter from his first marriage. The child of the mom’s second husband died of a drug overdose. The son in this portrait is a Trump supporter. Anyone who’s a regular reader of this blog knows that the daughter has some pretty severe mental health issues.

The dog is currently at the center of a custody battle between the mother and her second husband. The cat- well, I guess the cat has the cleanest record of us all but he did begin life as a stray and has a chunk missing from his ear to prove it.

For the past 15 years or so my brother and I have gone to Connecticut with our father to spend Thanksgiving at my sister’s house, while my mother spent the holiday with our stepfather’s family. This Thanksgiving was her first Thanksgiving after leaving my stepfather. She didn’t want to spend Thanksgiving alone so we decided the four of us would celebrate Thanksgiving 2017 as ‘the original gang’ in her new house (That she shares with me. Another mark against the daughter is that she’s failed to become an independent adult.)

My dad was already well acquainted with our new house. In fact he paid for half of it. Sure, he was a little frustrated the last time he bought my mother and me a house so we could escape my stepfather and we returned a month later (right after our last dog died tragically and unexpectedly) but he was willing to take the risk again. This time we would be living closer to him. To my father family is everything.

It means a lot to all four of us actually.  Life didn’t turn out as planned for any of us. We’ve never been the most conventional family and we’ve had our fair share of conflicts with each other but through all the hardships, hospitalizations, deaths and divorces life has thrown our way we’ve been there for each other.  That is something to be thankful for.

Besides, sometimes even when life throws you lemons and curveballs, even when it breaks your heart and fractures your family and becomes abnormal in a thousand different ways, in the end you still get to enjoy a lovely holiday with your first husband, your pigeon pair of children and your color coordinated pair of pets in your cozy little house with a white picket fence in the suburbs. Just ask my mother.

A Different Kind of High School Reunion

I enter the doors of my old high school. There’s a security guard sitting at a desk in the front hallway. I sign my name in a log book along with the time and date. It’s November 22nd, the day before Thanksgiving. Under “Reason for visiting” I write “Academy Alumni Event”.  After confirming that my name is on a list, the guard hands me a name tag, with a drawing of a knight, the school’s mascot, on it.  I put it on my chest, where I can feel my excitement building.

I’m not the kind of person you’d think would get excited about high school reunions. I wasn’t popular in high school and I’m not popular now. I tend to be reserved and socially awkward, to avoid social events whenever possible. I don’t have the kind of life that’s likely to impress anyone from my past and I often dread having to talk about my life with new or old acquaintances. This is a different kind of high school reunion though.

I ascend the staircase and look at the numbers beside the classroom doors. 211…216.. 219.. 222. I’m there. The location of the classroom that housed the class I knew so well and loved so much when I was in high school has changed but the atmosphere is the same. I rush in and envelop Ms. Madigan in a bear hug.

“Now that’s a good hug. This kid over here comes in and hugs me with one arm and I’m like ‘What kind of of a hug is that?’ She gestures towards one of the other alumni.  I don’t recognize him. I don’t know any of the alumni in the room. They were after my time.

I glance around at the decorations in the room.  There’s a bulletin board that says “Lettuce Taco Bout the Elements of a Story.”

“Is Mr. Giarelli responsible for that one?” I ask Ms. Madigan.

“No, I came up with it myself.”

“Where is Mr. Giarelli?”

“He’s teaching another class. He’ll be here soon.”

“And Delilah?’

“She’s coming at 11”

I call my mother and tell her not to pick me up until 11:30.

Two familiar faces enter the room.

“Hey, Phoenix!” I say to the adorable toddler in my friend’s arms.

“And hi, Zara” I say to my friend, remembering my manners.

Ms. Madigan takes Phoenix in to her arms. I snap a picture of them. Then I search through my Facebook albums on my phone and compare it to the picture I took of them at this time last year, when Phoenix was an infant.

An alumni enters the room with a puppy in her arms. Phoenix reaches for him.

Zara turns to me. “Phoenix loves him as much as she loved your cat. We’ll have to get together at your house again soon so they can play together.”

“Sorry I couldn’t join Zara and Delilah for lunch at your house that day” Ms. Madigan says.

“That’s okay. I knew you were busy at the school.”

“But you live near the school now so you could walk over and eat lunch with us sometime.”

“Yeah, I’d like that. Hey, did I tell you I ran in to James a few months ago?”

“Really?’

“Yeah, I was walking by my therapist’s house while I was waiting for my appointment and he said ‘Kira? It’s James, Ms. Madigan’s son.’ I said ‘Yeah, I thought it was you but I wasn’t sure and I was too afraid to say anything.  I’m glad you’re braver than I am.” We both laugh.

I walk over to the refreshments table to grab some pumpkin pie. In the center of the table is a ‘Gratitude tree’ with each paper leaf representing what each person is grateful for. I look at the words written on some of the leaves.  Among the gratitude expressed for things like health, friends and family, there is gratitude expressed for the Academy.

“How did the Thanksgiving feast go yesterday?” I ask Ms. Madigan.

“It went well. We had a lot of people come. Did we do Thanksgiving feasts when you were here?’

“Yes, I was around for the beginning of every Academy tradition. I started most of them.”

“This is true.”

I remember we were allowed to invite a guest within the school to our feast. At first my brother was reluctant to come eat with ‘the crazy class’ but in the end I convinced him. I remember when asked to name something I was grateful for I said The Academy.

A new staff member I don’t know walks into the room and introduces himself as Mr. Willis.  He announces that a video tape is being made in which alumni will be asked questions about The Academy.

“In answer to the question ‘What was the best part of the Academy?’ you all better say me” Ms. Madigan interjects.

“Should we have the oldest alumni go first?” Mr. Willis asks.

“No, because I’m the oldest alumni and I’m not ready” I reply.

As I buy myself some more time, I glance around the room some more. The journal question on the board is “How would you show other people that you are grateful for them?” The quote of the day is “Worrying does not empty tomorrow of its troubles. It empties today of its strength.”

I pace over to the classroom supply closet.  On one of its glass doors is another quote. It reads “There are no endings, only new beginnings.” Underneath it is the year I graduated.

In the closet is the stuffed rat my classmate Ariel gave to Ms. Madigan back in the day.  Many years later, another classmate, Vanessa gave her another stuffed rat. In May I completed the trifecta and gave her a third stuffed rat. As the other teachers show off the flowers and chocolates they get from their students, Ms. Madigan can show off the rats she got from hers.

I pace to the sliding wall that divides the classroom in two. On the wall is a blue paper silhouette of a person. Around the person’s head are black and white images of smaller people with their heads drooped in to their arms, dark clouds hovering above them. They are surrounded by quotes such as “Wasted Talent”, “I was doing better,why am I like this again?”, “Lonely is not being alone, it’s the feeling that no one cares”,” I’m not smart enough and I don’t know enough about what’s going on”, “Life” and “Family.”

Beside the blue person is a list of student goals. One of them says “To go to a good college and get a good job.” In the background I can hear the alumni telling the teachers about their colleges, their jobs, their significant others and their children. The familiar waves of shame, jealousy, regret and longing wash over me.

On the blue person’s chest it says “It’s okay not to be okay.”

Mr. Giarelli enters the room. His mustache is gone but otherwise he looks the same as he did when he was my teacher.  “Hey, Kira!” he says as he hugs me.

“Glad to be back in The Academy?’ I ask.

“Definitely!”

“It’s where you belong.”

He sits on the sofa. I take a seat across from him where a circle of of alumni has gathered.  “Do you know Randall?” Mr. Giarelli asks gesturing to a young man on my left.

“I didn’t go to school with him but I met him at last year’s alumni reunion.”

Randall tells Mr. Giarelli he’s heard that Delilah left the The Academy and the program isn’t what it used to be. They discuss what’s changed and what the future has in store. Then the discussion moves to the past. Mr. Giarelli talks about how he decided he wanted to work with emotionally disturbed adolescents, how he used to work at an alternative school with Ms. Madigan and how that led to them working at The Academy.

“Shakira?” Mr. Wilson calls out. I laugh at the name error and then take my seat in front of the camera. The questions appear on the screen. I stumble and hesitate over some of my words. I’m not quite as eloquent as I’d like to be but I get the gist of what I want to express across.

State your name, graduation year and what you’re doing now.

“My name is Kira. I graduated in 2003. Now I’m tutoring English and blogging.”

What staff and students do you remember and why?

“I remember everyone. I remember the main staff, the teachers, Ms. Madigan and Mr. Giarelli and the therapist, Delilah. I remember them because they’re wonderful.”

If I went in to all the reasons why they were wonderful I’d be there all day. I think of Mr. Giarelli and his corny jokes that you couldn’t help but laugh at. I think that it somehow seems fitting that Ms. Madigan needed surgery for an enlarged heart because she has the biggest heart of anyone I know. I think of the Tuesday afternoons I would spend with Delilah, of her belief that she’s not warm and fuzzy and how I beg to differ.

“As for the students, I remember Vanessa and Zara. I’m still friends with them today. I remember Ariel, who was in the same graduating class as me and Vanessa. The staff called us The Three Witches of Eastwick. I remember Laila, who I had a love-hate relationship with. I remember Peter and Annie, who I rode the bus with.  I remember Evan and Toby and Jason and so many more.”

What was the best part about being in The Academy?

“The best part about being in The Academy was the sense of belonging it gave me. When I was in middle school I was fortunate enough to have teachers who took care of me and looked out for me. My freshman year of high school I didn’t have that so much. I felt lost and developed emotional problems. In The Academy I found my place. I learned so much, laughed so much and had so much fun.”

What would you have changed about The Academy? 

“I would have changed the behavior modification system with the rewards and the punishments and the purple sheets. It felt juvenile and condescending and it didn’t help me. I really wouldn’t have changed much about The Academy though.”

I can think of a bunch of little things that bothered me about The Academy when I was in high school but in the grand scheme of all that it gave me they seem insignificant and not worth mentioning.

What advice would you give to Academy students? 

“I would tell them to be grateful for everything everyone in The Academy is doing for them. I’d tell them to realize that even if they’re doing something they don’t like, they may have their best interests at heart. I would tell them not to think that once they graduate, they’re out of sight, out of mind.  The staff say ‘Once you’re ours, you’re ours forever’ and they mean it. If you haven’t talked to them in several years you can pick up right where you left off. They’ll still care about you and they’ll still help you. It happened with me.”

I walk back to the other side of the room. I say to Mr. Giarelli “One of the questions was ‘Who from The Academy do you remember?’ I’m sure you know I remember everyone.”

“Oh yeah. I’ll never forget that day we all played the name game where we went around the circle saying each others’ names. You knew everyone’s first name, middle name, last name, birthday, probably their social security numbers too.”

“She knows my kids’ birthdays!” Ms. Madigan says.

“You know, Kira, through you and  some other students, I learned not just to accept others’ differences but to appreciate them” Mr. Giarelli says.

I remember how in The Academy my pacing, my messy handwriting, my bluntness and my dark sense of humor were appreciated-things many other people just found annoying and inappropriate.

“So Kira… have you found some measure of happiness?’ Mr. Giarelli continues.

“Yes, I have.”

“What are some things that make you happy?”

“My dog,my cat, my writing, living by the pond.”

“Remember when we would take field trips to the pond?”

“Of course I remember!”

The clock strikes 11, the time when the Alumni reunion is supposed to end.

“Hey, do you want to get a picture of everyone before they leave?” I ask Ms. Madigan.

“Oh yes, thanks for reminding me. Everyone gather together for a picture.”

I squeeze in between Zara and Ms, Madigan and smile. Then I request that a picture be taken with my camera too.

At 11:15 Delilah walks in carrying art supplies in one hand and a sign with a motivational quote in the other hand. It says ‘It is what it is.’

“Hey Kira! It’s good to see you!” I kiss her on the forehead. Then I call my mother and tell her not to worry about picking me up. I’ll walk back home whenever I’m done.

When I turn around Delilah is saying something about being warm and fuzzy. Then she’s consulting an alumni who’s studying to be a psychologist about an issue she’s having in her own clinical practice.

Finally at around noon I head out of the classroom, Delilah and Ms. Madigan by my sides, struggling to hold on to all the things they have to carry.

“I can’t believe I actually thought the kids would all be gone by 11. Maybe next year you should have the event on a full day instead of a half day” Delilah says as we walk down the hallways.

“Then they’d stay all day” Ms. Madigan points out.

We walk out of the building and in to the parking lot.  I say goodbye. I hug them both and tell them I love them. They tell me they love me too.

As I head towards the route by the pond that will take me home I can feel the crisp November air on my face and a mix of emotions swirling within me but there’s one emotion I feel more prominently than all the others, an emotion that permeates my whole being. Gratitude.

 

A Week of Gratitude

A few years ago there was something called the gratitude challenge that was trendy on Facebook around Thanksgiving.  I wasn’t active on Facebook then so I didn’t participate in it. I found it rather twee and nauseating anyway. In 2016 it doesn’t seem to be much of a thing anymore. This year I thought about it on the Saturday before Thanksgiving though. I had recently begun actively participating in Facebook and I now had several things in my life I was really grateful for so the gratitude challenge seemed like something I should consider doing. Well, a modified version of it anyway. Posting three things I was grateful for each day for a month would have been rather overwhelming for me but surely I could manage one thing a day for a 6 day week of gratitude.  You know how I am, joining Facebook in 2016, using a flip phone for most of 2016 until I upgraded to a Blackberry, writing blog posts about events that happened weeks, months or years ago. It only seemed appropriate that I participate in a Facebook trend that went out of style circa 2014.

Sharing the things I was grateful for ended up being a rewarding experience for me and my Facebook friends seemed to appreciate it as well. Hopefully the people who read my blog will appreciate it just as much. Each of the things I’m grateful for could be a blog entry of its own and eventually it will be but for now here’s a roundup of the things that fill my heart with gratitude.

On Saturday I was grateful for my lovely mother. Anyone who has read the biography of my mother that I published on this blog knows that she is an amazing woman who would move heaven and earth for me. I really did get very lucky in the mother department.

The previous day I’d gone to the doctor because since the election I’d been in a Trump slump and I was having trouble sleeping. In the waiting room I read Time Magazine’s coverage of Trump’s election win and I really enjoyed it, at least as much as it’s possible for me to enjoy reading about Trump winning the election. I was called in to the examining room before I could finish reading it and I told my mother I would like to obtain a copy of it later. I also told her that a massage would be a good way to relieve the stress I was feeling. A lot of people on the autism spectrum are hypersensitive and can’t stand being touched, especially not by strangers but I’m one of the hyposensitive ones who’s constantly craving sensation and stimulation. The doctors kept asking me if I was okay with getting shots and having my blood drawn. I wasn’t just okay with it, I enjoyed it. (I think I should become a blood donor.)

That night I found a copy of Time Magazine on my bed and I knew it was courtesy of my lovely mother. I also found a gift certificate for a massage on my bed and I assumed that was courtesy of my lovely mother as well. When I thanked her for the magazine she said “You’re welcome” but when I thanked her for the massage gift certificate a baffled expression came across her face. She had not put any massage gift certificate on my bed that day. We figured out that earlier that day when I was scrambling for a pen and paper, I had grabbed the envelope I found in my drawer and dumped its contents on to my bed. So in addition to being grateful for my mother I was grateful that I stumbled across a gift certificate for a massage.

On Sunday I was grateful for Facebook because it has allowed me to reconnect with so many awesome people that I would not have reconnected with otherwise and I was grateful for all the awesome people I’d reconnected with.

When I decided to re-emerge from years of self imposed isolation and reach out to people from my past, Facebook was the tool I used to do that. There’s no way I could have connected with so many people to the extent that I did without Facebook. When I started making friend requests I was nervous about it and at first I only sent friend requests to a select few people but as time went on I became less and less discriminating about the people I friend requested. These days if I know someone either in real life or online and they’re not an asshole, I’m eager and willing to be their Facebook friend.

Some people have rejected my friend requests and some people have insinuated that I was being creepy or trying to stir up trouble with the friend requests I sent. That stung a bit but I realized that their reasons for rejecting my friend request may have more to do with them than with me and that it’s their loss, not mine because I’m pretty damn awesome on Facebook if I do say so myself. The joy I’ve experienced as a result of my accepted friend requests far outweighs any emotional pain I’ve experienced as a result of my rejected friend requests and I know that through Facebook I’ve made other people just as happy as they’ve made me.

On Monday I was grateful for my dog Lily, who is a sweet adorable puddle of cuddles and love. My heart was broken when my last dog Dakota died and I was afraid no dog would ever be able to fill my heart with so much love but Lily won my heart the moment I saw her at her foster home. At the time I wrote that status my brother was home for a visit so I was chopped liver to her but now that he’s gone back to Texas she’s showering me with affection again.

I adore that dog, even when she’s being obnoxious. I enjoy the feeling of her snuggled up against me in bed so much that I’m willing to forgive the occasional farting in my general direction and middle of the night barking. The leaning her whole body in to yours when you’re trying to do something, the pawing at your face and the french kissing can be a bit overwhelming at times but it’s nice to be so loved. No love compares to the love of a dog, especially the love of a dog like Lily.

On Tuesday I was grateful for all the wonderful teachers and therapists I’ve had. I got really lucky in that department too. I’ve also had some bad teachers and therapists but the good ones more than make up for it. I then went on to express my gratitude for three specific teachers/therapists who are amazing at what they do and who have gone well above and beyond the call of duty. I’ve learned so many valuable lessons from them both in and out of the classroom. They have laughed with me and cried with me, they have been major sources of support, encouragement and comfort. I wouldn’t have gotten through middle school or high school without them and they’ve also greatly enriched my life in adulthood.

Their personal relationship with me did not end when our professional relationship ended because they decided that once I was theirs I was theirs forever. They aren’t just great teachers and therapists, they’re  great friends. They were the first three people I contacted when I decided to stop being a recluse. They reminded me just how loved and appreciated I am. They gave me the courage to reach out to other people and they’ve helped me find my place in this world.

On Wednesday I was grateful for my invisible internet friends. I never thought I would feel such a connection to people I’d never met. I thanked them for making me laugh, for commiserating with me about Donald Trump and for defending me against my invisible internet enemies. I told one of my internet friends that she has truly earned the title of best troll ever.

My invisible internet enemies cyber bullied me for a long time and  I don’t know how I would have coped with it without my invisible internet friends, especially my friend that the cyber bullies deemed a troll. They also accused me of being a troll. The nasty things the cyber bullies said about me hurt a lot and I couldn’t help but wonder if they might be right about me. Luckily I had my invisible internet friends to stick up for me and to assure me that the cyber bullies were wrong about me.

Some of the things the cyber bullies said about me were that I refused to learn appropriate social behavior, that the only common feature of all my dissatisfying relationships was me and that I did not interact effectively with human beings. I have had some dissatisfying relationships but these days I have quite a few satisfying relationships and I’m also the common factor in those so maybe I do know a thing or two about appropriate social behavior and interacting effectively with human beings.

Earlier I’d expressed my gratitude to one of my invisible internet friends by telling her that it was nice that she was willing to be my friend despite all the horrible things people said about me. She replied that the things those people said about me were a reflection on them, not a reflection on me. She acknowledged that I’d gotten belligerent with those people but that anyone would get belligerent if they were being picked apart the way I was. She said that it wasn’t that she was “willing to be my friend”, she just considered me to be a friend.

On Thursday my status read ” I am grateful for blessings in disguise and I’m grateful that the risks I took paid off. I’m grateful that I’m happier today than I would have thought possible six months ago. I’m also grateful for sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.”

For the past decade or so my life has been pretty hard and miserable. I’ve dealt with mental illness, loss of loved ones, loss of hopes and dreams and people being cruel to me.  A year and a half ago my mother and I moved to Illinois in an effort to improve our lives. I was devastated when my dog Dakota died shortly after we moved and when we ended up coming back to New Jersey. These days I’m very glad the move to Illinois didn’t work out though. It just wasn’t a good place for us and if we’d stayed there I wouldn’t have been able to get together with the friends in or from this area I’ve reconnected with.

At the time I moved to Illinois I was not in touch with any of my real life friends. My mental illness had wreaked havoc on my life. It had made me too ashamed to reach out to people I knew in real life or to socialize with them.  I became dependent on an internet forum for socialization. As I spent more and more time on that forum, my interactions with some people there became increasingly warm and friendly but with others they became increasingly negative and hostile. A friend of mine on that forum said that at one point I was being treated so badly there she worried I would be driven to suicide.

I had never attempted suicide nor had I ever formulated any suicide plans but I certainly thought and talked about wanting to be dead a lot. My life felt so empty and hopeless. I did not think it was possible for me to ever be happy or even content again. I struggled with very low self esteem so of course being criticized, attacked and insulted in real life and on the internet did not help matters.

The cyber bullying came to a head around Thanksgiving of last year. I became the center of a cyber shit storm. I was dogpiled by dozens of people who trashed my communication style, my personality, my life circumstances and my mental abilities. Dozens of people told me how annoying and disliked I was. Dozens of people tried to get me kicked out of the only social group I had outside of my family at the time. Thanksgiving 2015 was not a very pleasant holiday for me because I could not stop thinking about all the hurtful comments my cyber enemies had made or worrying about the trouble I’d caused for myself and my cyber friends.

I knew there was a good chance my cyber enemies would eventually succeed in getting me banned from the forum just like I’d known there was a good chance we’d end up returning to New Jersey but when a few months later I was banned because I “didn’t have a healthy relationship with the board” I was still devastated. I was even more devastated when as a result of the drama surrounding my banning I lost some of my cyber friends. My tiny social circle was dwindling even further. I worried that eventually all my cyber friends would ditch me and I’d be left with no one. It seemed like my options were either reach out to my real life friends or be completely alone.

For a while I seriously thought that being completely alone might be the better option but eventually I decided to take the plunge and reach out to people. I worried that my friends had forgotten me, that they’d stopped caring about me, that there was too much distance between us, that too much time had passed since we’d last spoken for us to have a relationship now. There was no need for me to worry. While I couldn’t expect any of my friends to remember all the details I remember, they remember all the important things. I was pleasantly surprised to discover just how much people still care about me and just how little time or distance matter. If someone is a true friend, it does not matter one bit. You can see them for the first time in 10 years and pick up exactly where you left off. You’ll feel so comfortable around them and have so much fun with them, that you’ll find it hard to believe it’s been so long since you’ve seen or talked to them. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

I don’t know that I ever would have reached out to all those people if I had not been banned from that forum. I’m so glad I got kicked out of a place that had become toxic to me and surrounded myself with a group of people who are good for me. Talking to people who tell me how amazing and awesome I am as opposed to people who tell me how annoying and awful I am has done wonders for my self esteem.

I took another risk last week when I decided to attend an alumni event at my high school. I wanted to go but I was so nervous about it. I knew I would inevitably be asked the question of “What are you doing these days?” and I didn’t know how to answer it. I’ve been attacked by cyber bullies and by real life bullies for not having a job. While I knew that no one at the alumni reunion would attack me for not having a job, being asked about it would be awkward and would bring up my feelings of inferiority. I brainstormed possible answers to that question with both my current wonderful therapist and my previous wonderful  therapist/forever friend but when I was asked that question, I didn’t even need to answer because my wonderful former teacher/forever friend answered for me. “She’s just hanging out, being Kira Badeera” she replied.

I had a great time at the alumni reunion and the next day I had a great Thanksgiving at my sister’s house. There were sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie. I don’t think my gratitude for those things requires any further explanation. While we eating our meal, my sister told me how glad she was that I started a blog and how much she enjoyed reading it. She said I was a really good writer and I’d really found my voice. I only ended up doing 6 days of gratitude on Facebook but if I were to make it a full week the seventh thing I’m grateful for is the opportunity WordPress has given me to express myself through my blog, to read the blogs of other people and to be a part of the blogging community.

One of the people who cyber bullied me once said that I was a spoiled, ungrateful brat. I may be spoiled and I am definitely a brat. In fact brat is the affectionate nickname my wonderful former therapist/forever friend gave to me. In the picture she posted of me from the alumni reunion she used the hashtag ‘original brat.’

However, I am most certainly not ungrateful. I think I’ve shown just how grateful I am for all the blessings I have in my life.