The Thankful Writer

As I write this, I’m sitting in the living room of my aunts and mother’s home. It’s mid-afternoon and we’re all waiting for Thanksgiving Dinner. My sister’s family and I piled into their van early in the morning to travel to Illinois where our aunt and mother live. It’s a rather short trip, just under three hours, and we were fortunate not to experience any kind of traffic. We stopped for gasoline once and I was able to refuel my caffeine tank while my brother-in-law filled the van’s. The dinner we had consisted of turkey, ham, potato casserole, cheesy broccoli, and some type of cranberry concoction. It was delicious. When we finished and washed the dishes, we had dessert. As tradition dictates, that dessert was pumpkin pie with whipped cream. While we devoured the pie, the Disney Plus movie “Noelle” played. That too was pretty good. Sure, it had a lot of product placement and a predictable ending, but the casting was great and the humor was flawless.

Overall it was a rather perfect day free of any kind of drama.

To say that I have a lot to be thankful for is an understatement. The first thing that I’m thankful for is my family. My family has supported me and has had my back even at my darkest, lowest moments. I count myself blessed to be apart of this family. Another thing I’m thankful for is my job. As an author, it’s difficult to find a job that grants the flexibility needed to actually get some book writing done. It’s also very fulfilling and entertaining. Covering the news, you will always get something different coming across your desk. Being able to help get the word out on various topics, organizations, and causes is something that I take pride in. I’ve also made many friends and acquaintances in my four and a half years as a news writer.

My faith is something that I don’t touch on very often during these times together. That’s something I could talk about later on, but for now let me just say that without God, I might’ve succumbed to the devastating depression that followed my separation and divorce. I’m so thankful for all the things that God has done for me, even if some of those things weren’t all that great.

One of the final things that I’m thankful for is… you. The reader. You’re the one that reads my weekly rants, my articles, and (hopefully) my books. Without you guys, I might not be here every week ranting about one thing or another. I’d most likely be working at a gas station on third shift. As a side note, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I had worked third shift at a gas station in South Bend and I despised it. Working nights at a gas station in the south edge of a minor city in Northern Indiana was boring and soul-crushing. However, I did meet a lot of interesting individuals during those nights. An example was this one guy that was walking to Kokomo from Michigan because he was kicked out of the state.

There’s always one person on my Facebook feed that likes to remind their friends that this holiday was based on White people taking advantage of the natives. Whether that was the case or not, it really doesn’t matter much because the past is the past.

What does matter is that on Thanksgiving, we acknowledge the blessings that we have been given. We need to remember that not everyone has been blessed as we have. For me, I know that things could have gone a very different route if it hadn’t been for my family, my God, my job, and readers like you.

So, what I guess what I’m trying to say is… thanks.

Being Thankful (revised)

You might be wondering what I meant in the title when I said revised in parenthesis. I started writing this rant with the purpose of discussing what I’m thankful for due to it being so close to Thanksgiving. By the way, I call all of my weekly columns “rants.” If you regularly read them over the years you’ll know why. When I wrote the title, I had an odd feeling of deja vu. So I went through my archives and found the same title from last year around the same time. You won’t find it on this website. Back then, I was writing these rants for the newspaper I work for. I still write them for that paper, but I also put them on here. It’s really interesting rereading some of these older rants.

Here are the things I was thankful for last year:

• The ability to write for a living.

• The never ending support from my friends and family.

• The fact that my publisher, Burning Willow Press, took a chance on me and published my books.

• The failures I’ve suffered and the lessons I’ve learned from them.

While all of that is still true, there’s something I missed out about mentioning. It’s something that’s been in the background of my life and I’ve never really made any efforts to cultivate it or even acknowledge it. This factor is really the entire reason behind everything I’d previously listed.

It’s that I’m thankful for my faith in God and for His love for me. God has given me the gift of writing. That never ending support from my friends and family? That’s also a gift from God. Because of the writing gift, it’s led to my books being published. Those many failures were because I placed my pride and stubbornness higher on my priority list than I did my faith. God’s granted me the patience, wisdom, and endurance to suffer through those failures and learn from them.

Now, you’re probably wondering why I didn’t mention it the first time. Well, there were a few reasons. Without being too convoluted about it, I should simply state that I didn’t have the courage. I’d grown up tight lipped and never really talked about my feelings or expressed my thoughts and opinions. That’ll sometimes happen when your parents go through a nasty divorce. Because of that divorce, I’m not that fond of arguing with others, especially when those people are concrete in their thinking. The conversation doesn’t really lead anywhere and both sides only entrench themselves deeper in their beliefs. That’s also why I don’t often discuss politics either. 

So what happened? Why am I being so open about this revelation of mine (pun intended)?

It’s because my own marriage imploded. A few years ago my wife and I suffered what the courts call “irreconcilable differences.” The funny thing was that those differences were reconcilable had we both sacrificed our pride and ego to solve them. Except we didn’t. We opted for divorce. 

Do you ever ask people “How are you doing?”  and that person responds “I’m fine.” That was my response and it was always a lie. After my divorce, I fell into a depression.I didn’t take care of myself and I didn’t do any writing on my books. I delved too deeply into video games and fast food. I didn’t care for much during that time. It was bad.

Eventually though, and I’ll get to my main point in a second, things got better. I decided to write a book about a character similar to myself that suffered many of the same things that I went through. A fellow writing friend was my only confidant in this book’s creation. She was the person I workshopped ideas with and she never once judged me for what I was doing to that poor soul, my main character. I poured all of my pain, sorrow, and other elements of depression into those pages. I punished him just as hard as I thought God was punishing me. What can I say? Writing is very therapeutic. 

Except I was wrong. God wasn’t punishing me. I was being tested. By writing that novel, I was given a view of what would happen if I followed along that dark path filled with depression and sorrow. So I took another path. I began taking better care of myself both physically and spiritually. Little by little, things are getting better. As time ticks away, I’m learning from my failures and hope I don’t repeat them.

So while I am thankful for the four things at the beginning of this rant, I have to acknowledge the source behind those things. I am most thankful for God and all the wonderful gifts I am blessed with.

It’s normal for people to ponder what they’re thankful for during the tail end of November. The challenge is cherishing and carrying that feeling with you throughout the rest of the year.

By the way, don’t expect that book to come out anytime soon. That novel will likely never see the light of day because I’d have to go through it and relive it. That’s something I’d rather not do for a very long time.