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

Transformed by Christina Knowles

Sun peaking through cloudsSleeping through the everyday

Unconsciously conformed

Never noticing my malaise

When brewing there a storm

Dark skies block the rays

Clouds twist and deform

It’s hard to find my way

Asleep, but in the form

Pain penetrates the gray

In loss I am reformed

In presence I appraise

The life I’ve lived and ways

Ways, my anguish informs

And in the balance weighs

Surviving pain transforms

Illuminated, consciously ablaze

Awake and knowing I will mourn

But joy I hold in yesterday

And love today is warm

—Christina Knowles (2015)

Photo snagged from shutterstock.com

Being Thankful Is Pure Joy by Christina Knowles

This year, as well as last, I participated in the 30 Days of Thankfulness Challenge on Facebook.  This is where each day of November you post what you are thankful for. I did it last year and really enjoyed it, but this year I really took the time to think about what I felt particularly thankful for each day. I learned a lot by being grateful every day. I learned that when I am thankful and take the time to really sit in that feeling, I am so much more content. I think it made me happier and those around me as well. I wish this challenge wasn’t just a once-a-year thing. I plan on doing this at least once a week on my own just so I don’t slide back into self-pity and discontentment. Here’s what I was thankful for this month:

Day 1: I am thankful for Randy Knowles. I love you, Randy. You are the music of my life and my soul mate. 4842_1117002859404_765152_n

Day 2: I am thankful for my mom. I love her sooo much it hurts. See my blog: “How Could Someone Like Me Come from Someone Like Her?” I needed a whole blog for this one.

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Day 3: I am thankful for my beautiful daughter, Valerie, and the relationship we have. I could not be more proud of her. I love her more than words can express. I would gladly give my life for her. I ache for her when I don’t see her for a while, and I cry myself to sleep when we fight. I am beyond thankful that she is my daughter.

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Day 4: Today I am thankful for Lee Fullbright’s friendship and encouragement. She is an award-winning author of a fabulous book called, The Angry Woman Suite. I read it in my book club, loved it, and reviewed it on Goodreads. She liked my review and contacted me personally. She started following my reviews because she found them “insightful.” After emailing back and forth several times, I got up the nerve to tell her I was planning on publishing The Ezekiel Project. I asked if she would read it and give me an unbiased review. She loved it! Since then she has given me so much advice, given me reviews, answered my questions, and has offered to help me promote my book. She even gave me a quote to use for the back cover. I feel like I have gotten to know her over the course of these online conversations. She is a generous, kind, and beautiful person. I feel so lucky to have met her.

Day 5: Today I am thankful for cold evenings in front of warm fires with my husband and my dog. I am thankful for fall and winter–the cuddling under blankets, snow days, sipping hot chocolate and watching old movies, sweaters and boots, frost covered windows, electric blankets, fuzzy slippers, Thanksgiving with family, Christmas and all that entails–love, hope, peace on earth, family, sappy Lifetime Christmas movies, Richard Paul Evans’ Christmas books, Christmas shopping, baking Christmas cookies with Valerie, decorating, tromping through little shops in Old Colorado City, candlelight church services, Christmas dinner at my sister’s, and seeing our kids and grandson.

Day 6: Today I am thankful for my eclectic group of friends. I appreciate them for all their differences and for what we have in common. I can share everything going on in my life, and I know I’ll get honesty, sympathy, and even a kick in the butt if I need it. Most of all they accept me no matter what, and I can count on them if I need them. We also have crazy good times together.

Day 7: Today I have a splitting headache and have had a terrible day with student behavior, so I am thankful for Excedrin . . .and daisies, just because I like daisies.

Day 8: Today I am thankful for my science fiction class. I love, love, love those kids. Fourth period is the highlight of my day. I look forward to our amazing discussions of social and political topics. We talk about everything imaginable in there, and they are all respectful and open-minded with each other. They treat me like a queen, they all rush in excited to learn, they pay rapt attention, they share all kinds of interesting things with me, I learn from them every day, they say the nicest things to me, and today they even gave me a round of applause when I gave them a speech about education being so important.

Day 9: Today I am thankful for Christmas music. I’ve been listening to it even though it’s a long way from Christmas because Christmas music always makes me nostalgic, and I like that feeling.

Day 10: I am thankful for my sister and brothers and all my extended family. I feel truly blessed that I have good, loving, compassionate people in my family. I am close to my sister. We are always there for each other, we hang out, and we talk about all kinds of things even though we are completely different from each other. I have always been close to my brothers too even though they are more than ten years older than me. They’ve always been the proud and protective type. Unlike some families, my siblings were always nice to me and never picked on me. I love my sisters-in-law just like they were my blood siblings as well. I have tons of nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces and grand-nephews as well. They are all wonderful. In my family, I always feel loved.

Day 11: Today I am thankful for veterans. I’m not a super pro-military girl, but I am not naive. I know we need a standing army to protect ourselves, freedom, and the oppressed and helpless who cannot protect themselves. I appreciate the fact that soldiers are willing to do this and to put their lives on the line for our country and the people in it. I also realize that soldiers don’t choose the wars we fight, but do their duty.

Day 12: Today I am thankful for people who speak the truth and aren’t afraid of being blunt. Sometimes it’s a kindness.

Day 13: Today I am thankful for my home. My home is my sanctuary. It’s where I can’t wait to get back to whenever I leave. It’s where I cuddle up with my husband and dog after a day out in the cold, harsh world, and I’m completely loved and accepted. It’s where kindness, peace, and love are the rule, not the exception. I’d rather be at home than anywhere else.

Day 14: I just got back from my book club, so right now I am very thankful for books. Reading is my favorite past-time, and I love reading almost any genre. Many people read for entertainment, and although I find it entertaining, I read to learn. Reading teaches me about other people and about myself. Reading allows me to live endless lives and experience things I would never be able to in real life. It also makes me think about things in new ways, examining things with a different perspective. Books make me smarter. Smarter is good.

Day 15: I am thankful for my son Daniel. He is a sweet, compassionate, generous, and loving man. He is a good husband and father. I am so proud of him.

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Day 16: There’s a lot to be thankful for today. Obviously today I am thankful that my grandson Levi was successfully delivered and was able to breathe and even cry yesterday afternoon. He is so precious, beautiful, and amazing. I am thankful for modern medical advances. I am thankful for waking up to life again, knowing it’s okay to hope and feel and love even if I can be hurt because sometimes things work out, and these joys keeps us from being destroyed by the things that don’t.

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Day 17: Today I am thankful I have a job where I get to talk about what I love–reading and writing! I am also thankful that I get 14 weeks a year off, plus snow days! I am thankful that I get to work with teenagers. I love my students.

Day 18: Today I am thankful for all the selfless, loyal, and loving dogs I have had the pleasure of loving in my life, and who loved me unconditionally. I don’t think I can live without a dog in my life. When one passes on, I feel a hole inside that can be filled by nothing else. I am so thankful for Inky, my first dog, who taught me unconditional love and true loyalty, and also was the subject of my first fiction writing! I will always love you, Inky. Clancy, I loved you too even though you weren’t in my life very long. You made me feel special because you would only listen to me. My beloved Mulder dog, I still grieve over losing you, my friend and constant companion for 13 years. You were with me in good times and bad, and all you cared about was being with me. And now my sweet baby, Chacho. He’s more precious to me every day. I love you, Chacho. You are the most unique dog I’ve had, you moody little person dog.

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Day 19: It may sound petty after my earlier choices for being thankful, but today I am thankful for technology. Medical technology which enabled doctors to operate on my grandson while he was still in the womb, technology that saves lives every day. But I am also thankful for the internet and the devices that seem, on one hand, to dehumanize us; however, they provide us with so many previously unrealized opportunities. Because of the internet, we can expose so many things to the public that we have a right to know, we can have even more of an impact with our freedom of speech, and it is much more difficult to hide things from the American people or any people. We can keep in touch with those we would normally never have a chance to speak to, and as a writer, I have a platform with which I may share ideas through blogging, publishing poetry, stories, novels, or even status updates on Facebook. We also have a world’s worth of information at our fingertips. It might sound odd coming from a product of the 60s, but I love technology.

Day 20: I am thankful for the earth. What an amazingly beautiful place to live. I love the changing seasons, especially when the snow starts to fly. I love the mountains, forests, oceans, and jungles. Trees, grass, flowers, butterflies, stones, and even dirt are all beautiful and nature grounds us, balances us, and brings serenity and life.

Day 21: Today I am thankful for art. Impressionism, Expressionism, Cubism, Modern Abstract, and Surrealism are my favorites, but I love it all. I love oils, acrylic, pencil, pastel, charcoal, watercolor, and collage. I love sculpture and pottery. Architecture styles such as Byzantine, Gothic, Tudor, Roman, and Tuscan are fabulous as well. I love everything artistic, including crafty art such as scrapbooking, candle-making, etc. I am thankful for the creative impulse in humanity.

Day 22: Today I am thankful for delayed starts and snow days. They are like waking up and finding out it is Christmas when you didn’t even know it was coming.

Day 23: I am thankful for the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the revolutionaries who fought for it. Without it, I’d probably be in jail right now. I tend to speak my mind, so I’m thankful for freedom of speech in particular.

Day 24: Today I am thankful for the holiday season. I love Thanksgiving and Christmas. I’ve always loved the Christmas season because I love the feeling that overcomes most people this time of year, peace on earth, good will toward men. That’s why cheesy Hallmark and Lifetime movies play non-stop at my house from now until December 31st. I love how normally indifferent people seem to care about their fellow “travelers to the grave,” as Dickens put it. I love being thankful for all the wonderful people in my life and the things I enjoy. I love that people wake up and want to help others. I wish this concern would last all year. I know it does for some, but it doesn’t pervade the masses like it does this time of year. I intend to celebrate every minute of the Christmas season this year.

Day 25: Today I am thankful for second chances. I am a big fan of them. People always say, “Everyone deserves a second chance.” That may be generally true, but not in every case. We may need one, but do we really deserve one? Sometimes it takes many chances for a person to get it right. I’ve needed a few in my life.

Day 26: Today I am thankful for life and health. Humans are both astoundingly resilient and terribly fragile at the same time. One sudden accident or a burst blood vessel and we could be gone, just like that. But we can also withstand devastating conditions and completely recover. The fragility of life makes us appreciate each day more and live more fully. The complexity and healing abilities of the body are mind-boggling. We are truly amazing creatures.

Day 27: Today I am thankful for my grandchildren. They are sweet and beautiful, and I love them so much. I wish I was retired, so I could knit them sweaters and make cookies for them and just see them more often.

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Day 28: Today I am thankful for everything, really everything.

Day 29: Today I am thankful that I live in Colorado. Colorado is a wonderful place to be. I love the weather, the mountains, the forests, and the waterfalls. I love deep snows without the bitter cold. I love that it doesn’t get too hot in the summer. I especially love Christmas in Colorado.

Day 30: I am thankful for thankfulness. Being grateful has taught me how I should live and what my focus should be. This has been the best month I can remember in so long, so today I am just thankful for being thankful.

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