Grateful by Christina Knowles

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by jawahunter003

It’s that time of year, hopefully not the only time of year, when we take stock of all the good things in our lives and express our gratitude. Well, this year has been a difficult one, and it would probably be a lot easier to list all of the things that went wrong, but that makes engaging in this type of positive reflection even more important. Realizing how good I really have it is most critical when it seems like everything is going wrong. So here are a few things for which I’m very thankful.

  1. My husband. I am lucky to have married a kind and gentle man, who is genuinely a good and ethical person.Randy and me He’s compassionate and sincere. My husband is a true artist, a musician, who feels deeply, sees deeply, and thinks deeply. He also makes me laugh every day. When I feel lost and alone, he’s there to let me know that he’s always on my side. He’s loyal and understanding, and he never expects me to be anything other than what I am. He doesn’t need to be in charge or have everything his way. He respects my independence with no macho bullshit, and his easy-going personality makes our home a peaceful refuge from the harsh world.
  2. Family. My brothers and sisters are very close.

    We don’t agree on everything, but we always love each other. They are the kind of people you can always count on to drop everything and be there when you need them. My sisters and I get together often for movie nights and scrapbooking days. We are so different from one another, but it never matters when we are laughing and talking, sharing stories from our individual lives.

  3. Health and well-being of those I love.morganfamily I am thankful that my children are healthy and are passionately pursuing things they love. ValerieI’m thankful for the medical science that has given my grandson the opportunity for a vibrant and happy life, and I’m thankful that my other grandson is full of joy and enthusiasm for life.

4. Home. I appreciate my cozy home. ChristmasWith all of its needed repairs and upkeep, my home is a beautiful refuge for me, and I love coming home to it every day. I love spending time with my husband and dog in front of a cozy fire on a cold day and planting flowers in our jungle of a yard in the summer. I love puttering around in my art studio, writing on my computer, or curling up in our family-room-converted-to-library, reading a book. It’s pure peace and relaxation.

5. Friends. I am thankful for my close friends, old and new. FriendsSome I see all the time, and some I see a few times a year, but I love them all. I am grateful that my friends do not engage in typical “friend drama.” They are mature and above that nonsense. Old friendsThey are trustworthy. I can tell my friends anything and everything, and I do. My secrets are safe with them. I am safe with them. I can be myself without any pretense, and I am still loved and accepted. They make me laugh and think. They are silly, bold, caring, intellectual, and fun. I am lucky to have them.

6. Employment. This has been a good year at work, at all of my jobs. English DepartmentTeaching high school is wonderful if you do it right. This year I’ve set boundaries with how much work I will do at home. I work my butt off all day, stay late if necessary, and barely touch it when I go home. My students are sweet, smart, and amazing, and they make it rewarding. I have a great team this year in the English department too. We really enjoy each other, and the wide-range of personalities has made lunch and meetings a lot of fun. My administration is the best I’ve ever had. They respect us and are reasonable, and they’re just good, real people.

Moonlighting at the college, teaching writing has been really fun. I enjoy the diverse interaction, the freedom, and the academic atmosphere. The extra money is good too. Of course, writing is my passion, and I am thankful for this blog, where I am free to express myself. Writing my blog is so fulfilling and freeing. Writing makes me understand myself and the world better. This year I’ve written tons of poetry and am working on a new suspense thriller as well. I have also enjoyed creating the cover for my new book. Signs of Life jpegThis is the first time I have ever taken a design from concept to completion all by myself. It was challenging and fun. I can’t wait to do it again.

7. Dog. I am grateful that I come home each day to a sweet little guy named Chacho.IMG_1456 He fits in with us so well. He’s laid-back and gentle. His personality is quite human. Chacho is sensitive and gets his feelings hurt easily if he is slighted in some way, but he forgives easily as well. He is independent and doesn’t need a lot, but he does need love, some cuddling, yummy food, walks around the neighborhood, and trips to the dog park. Chacho deserves all this and more. He is so easy to take care of—he never chews up our things, he doesn’t have accidents in the house, he makes us laugh and smile, and he loves us.

8. Colorado. GogI am so thankful that I get to live in one of the most beautiful and pristine places in the world. Colorado has so much of what I love—great weather, snow, snow, snow, but it’s hardly ever bitterly cold. We get wonderful fluffy snowstorms, and then the snow melts, and we have mild temperatures again. It never gets too hot in the summer. Colorado has gorgeous mountains and clear, clean air. Colorado Springs is in the foothills of Pikes Peak, and we are surrounded by forests, jutting red rocks, crystal clear lakes, and snow-covered mountains. Garden of the godsThere’s a reason why so many Christmas movies are set in Colorado. We have bike trails, dog parks, river-rafting, skiing, and the cozy little tourist towns everyone loves—the kind that seem like they came right out of a Hallmark movie. We have hippies, hipsters, and cowboys, and we usually get along together. I love my Colorado.

9. Community groups. I am grateful for community groups like the Pikes Peak Atheists and Freethinkers of Colorado Springs. These groups organize charity work, fundraisers, toy and clothing drives, and generally are there to help people who need it in our community without any ulterior motives. They are humanists who desire to create a better world, to increase the well-being of humans (and often animals). They are also a fun and intellectual group. We have lots of get-togethers and social activities as well. They are a wonderful support group for non-believers who live in a very religious city.PPA I am really thankful I found them and that they’ve been so kind to me.

10. Progress. I am thankful that even though the world seems like a crazy and dangerous place oftentimes, we are making progress in so many ways. As a people, we are becoming more open-minded, critically thinking, and accepting of diversity and human rights than ever before. We have made wonderful advances scientifically, morally, and intellectually. Perhaps, this contrast between progressive ideals and religious dogma is one reason why some of these tensions are escalating. Some people don’t want to see progress, but progress will win, and for that, I am thankful.

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So, as I suspected, reflecting on the things for which I am grateful has made me realize that things are not so bad. Sure, life is difficult, and bad things happen. Sometimes just getting through the day is hard. The world is filled with tragedy and unexpected hardships. Surviving it takes a lot of energy, but there is a reason we keep at it. There are always things that make it all worthwhile. Things that make it more than bearable. Things that are downright beautiful.—Christina Knowles

“On a Cold November Day” by Christina Knowles

cozy autumn fireplace

 

On a cold November day, the family’s all at home

The young, the old, the in-between

Gathered ‘round the table where the love we feel is known

 

Elbow to elbow, at the table we’ve outgrown

We pass the traditional cuisine

On a cold November day with the family all at home

 

The clattering of the dishes, the warm chaotic tone

It’s always the same beautiful routine

Gathered ‘round the table where the love we feel is shown

 

The smell of sage and cinnamon, satiety we bemoan

Still we pass the dishes, endless fare it seems

On a cold November day when the family’s all at home

 

Napping on the sofa, Grandpa snores and groans

While a Christmas movie plays on the TV screen

We’ve gathered ‘round the fire where the love we feel is known

 

The bantering and the laughing, the joyful overtone

Grouping for a photo, capturing the scene

On a cold November day with the family all at home

Gathered ‘round the fire where the love is always known—Christina Knowles (2014)

Photo snagged from hdwallpapers

 

 

 

 

 

 

Home, Sweet Home, or The Most Pathetic Bucket List Ever by Christina Knowles

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 I am a homebody, not a recluse by any means. I would just rather be home than anywhere else. Home is my sanctuary. All day at work, I can’t wait to get back home, and when I do, I am not disappointed.

Home is where my dog lives, and although he goes places sometimes, he never goes without me. His name is Chacho, and he greets me with tail wagging, and then makes me play chase with him and give him a treat before he will go outside to take of care of business.

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Home is where all the things I love to do are located in one convenient place. I have piles of books to read, a computer to write down my thoughts, delicious food to cook, canvases to paint, photos to scrapbook, movies to watch, gardens of flowers to enjoy, and music to hear. I could do some of these things other places, but it just wouldn’t be the same. My husband gets slightly annoyed with me on vacations because I usually start talking about going home on the second day. It’s not that I don’t like hotels and new locations. But I’d rather be home, surrounded by things I love to do. Inevitably, on vacation, I want to read something I don’t have, use something I didn’t bring, or listen to music I left at home. And don’t even get me started on the bed. I need my own pillow and bed to sleep well. But mainly it’s that feeling I get at home, like it’s where I belong, the only place where I am perfectly comfortable and content.

 Most importantly, home is where I get to spend time with my husband, Randy, without anyone else around. We work opposite hours, so we both spend a lot of time at home alone (well, Chacho is there), which makes the time we get together that much more precious. Being with Randy is like being home. I can be myself completely, and I have everything I need. As long we’re at home, that is.

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Maybe it’s because there is so much noise and conflict out there. My home is quiet, peaceful. Oh, sometimes we play the music pretty loud, but what I mean is at my house no one ever yells, no one says mean things, no one (hardly) ever criticizes or complains. I’ve gotten so used to this that I don’t even like to hear a couple on a TV sitcom arguing. Why is that considered normal? I hope most couples don’t really talk to each other that way.

Besides going to work, I go out a few times a week. I meet friends at a restaurant, go to a book club meeting, or attend a lecture. My husband and I go out to dinner and a movie sometimes. We go to an occasional play or a concert. I really am not agoraphobic or anything. It’s just that no matter how much fun we have, the best part is always coming home.IMG_0184

I have friends and family that travel all the time and love it, always on some adventure. It sounds exciting, like they’re really living, experiencing life. But I have come to accept that that just isn’t me. Once I made a bucket list and put the usual things on it–see the Greek Ruins, the Parthenon, the Louvre, Venice, Stonehenge, Michelangelo’s paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, and I do want to see all these things, but when I ask myself, What would I do if I found out I had six months to live and money was no object? I wouldn’t want to travel, at least not farther than my friends and family’s homes. I would invite all my friends and family over to my house and spend time with them.  I would have long conversations with them all. I would quit my job and spend hours talking, reading, studying, writing, and thinking. I’m sure it sounds pretty pathetic for a bucket list, but on the other hand, I am pretty lucky that I already have everything I really want waiting for me at home.–Christina Knowles

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