Giving Thanks

22 Nov

I’ve never done one of those “Post this if you….” things on facebook before, but on November 2 I saw someone post a “post this if you are thankfull…yada yada yada”  note and it intrigued me.  It was so early in the month I wondered if the intent was to do it daily. ~Idea~ Could I do it daily? Could I find something other than the obvious “I’m thankful for my family?” Could I find something to be thankful for even on bad days. So I set out to try to post daily.

I failed.

But I managed more than half, and here on my last day in the office before Thanksgiving I filled in my list and am sharing it here.  I’m sure there are many more things I’m thankful for, some tiny ones on a daily basis, some big things (like my mother) that were just too hard to figure out how to talk about here. For those see number 22…I punted.  Anyone I missed, I’m sorry. Anything I missed, well, screw you, you’re inanimate, you have no power here.


1.  I’m thankful that my son Tyler England has a wicked sense of humor, often highly inappropriate, but always able to make me laugh. I’m also oddly thankful that he inherited the family propensity to stubbornly argue a point past redemption.


2. Today I’m thankful that Riley Belden-England is a rule follower, that she feels a moral obligation to keep her promises and that she is able to adjust her expectations and attitude to enjoy almost any situation.

3. I am grateful I grew up a sports atheist, so that when I discovered the JOY of Football, it was as a Steeler fan. Otherwise I might have been an Eagles fan.

4. I am grateful that aging brings benefits, like self-confidence, competency, wisdom, and the ability to embrace and enjoy life.


5. I am grateful that I am turning into my father. Sometimes he frustrates me, but he gets the job done, he takes care of his family, and he does the right thing, as he perceives it to be, no matter what. I definitely got my sense of duty and justice from him.


6. I am extraordinarily grateful to have found a vocation, not once but TWICE in this life, that feeds my soul, challenges my intellect and makes me happy to get up and go to work every day. I am happiest when there is a holistic logic and purpose to my life, and both graduate school and Pink Coat Communications have provided that.


7. Today I’m thankful for the right to vote. My grandmothers were born in a world where they were not allowed to vote, my parents were born into a world where the color of your skin could preclude you from voting. It’s a right I do not take lightly!

8. I am thankful, incredibly thankful, that I have the ability to DO something to create solutions to problems in my community. When I heard there were girls that didn’t have access to menstrual products I was able to partner with Desiree VanTassel and start On the Spot. We are not powerless. Join me Friday and you can do something too!

9. Today I am thankful for my quirky intellect, and persistent Pollyanna optimism. I may not be what you think of when you imagine powerful, but it works for me.

10. Today I’m thankful that even though at 43 I still sometimes have days fraught with detached anxiety, feelings of “not good enough” and the inability to find my optimism that I recognize this is a fleeting trick of brain chemistry and I refuse, REFUSE to let it slow me down or side track me. Onward we go…

11. Today I’m thankful that I have health insurance for the first time in a decade. I fully recognize that thus far I have skirted disaster and managed to not lose. I’m hopeful that Health Care Reform will continue to move forward and eventually we can get back to a system where people, not profits, dictate our health care system. In the meantime, I’m thankful that I can go to the doctors for essential screenings like mammograms, take my kids to get vaccinated,  and call the doctor when something is wrong with out the crushing panic of no insurance and a checking account with approximately $42 promised dollars.

12. Today I’m thankful for all the amazing women in my life-starting with my mother and Grandmother, Jackie Dolan Winderman, who was an amazing woman in my life before she was even a woman (!), Tracey Belden through thick and thin and several decades, to the incredibly resilient and unswerving Desiree VanTassel and the future amazing woman Riley Belden-England. These women (and the rest of you-you know who you are) are my rock. I am thankful for the wise council, the compassionate support, the strength exemplified, and maybe most of all I’m thankful for shared laughs even at life’s bleakest moments.

I need to add Megan Block, Joanna Bouldin, Rachel Canning, Angel Gober, and Maryellen Deckard along with most of the incredible women I have the privileged of working with and knowing every day. Thank you all!

13. Today I’m thankful that I was provided the opportunity for a top notch education, from High School, through College, and onto graduate school. It has made my life so much easier. Even in the most difficult times I’ve always been secure that between my education and my native intelligence I’d be able to work my way out of any hole.  And that has proven true.  In fact, though I struggled as a single mother working a crappy temp job, I knew that I had the skills and the paper to find a job that would provide a secure life for myself and my kids. I have never taken for granted how lucky I am.

14. I’m thankful for the difficulties I’ve experienced, the lessons imparted, and the person I’ve become through the process.

15. I’m thankful for the many incredible opportunities I’ve had in life.  I’ve been to Cuba for the World Youth Conference, Chicago for the Hip Hop Political Conference, Sonoma for a grant retreat and plenty of other cool places for awesome events. I’ve met many people I admire, including Barack Obama, Ron Reagan Jr., Franco Harris, Immortal Technique, Howard Zinn, Christopher Hitchens and more. I’ve had the chance to do so many amazing things and even better, often it has been doing something I feel good about. Advocating for change, learning, doing.

16. I am thankful to be alive and doing what I do at this moment in history. I think this moment has the potential to show up in the history books as a pivotal moment. Regardless of which way history goes, I’ll know that I was here fighting to shape the world towards sustainability for the majority over luxury for the few.

17. I’m thankful for friendships that have lasted a lifetime (Jackie Dolan), those that have been long but relegated to one “phase of my life” (Antonio Lodico) and everything in between. I’m thankful that as I pass out of one phase of life and into another I’ve always been lucky to find truly amazing people to call my friends. Becky Ballentine, Dave Renz, Becky Troutman, Jamie Sanders, Marguerite Brown, Lynn Sanborne, Desiree VanTassel, Lou Tackas, and new friends even now, that I look forward to knowing for years to come.

18. Totally, completely, head over heels thankful for my sense of taste and smell.  I can smell the different spices in a curry powder. I can taste the ingredients in sauce. And most importantly both give me some of the purest pleasure to be found. I feel bad for people who don’t experience the vast subtleties of flavor that make eating one of my most favorite adventures.

19. I am thankful that I’ve gotten to the point in my life where I take my commitments seriously regardless of to whom the commitment was made, and regardless of whether anyone other than me will ever know I kept it.

20. I’m thankful for the fact that my family has always included extras, people that weren’t born to my immediate family but are part of it anyway, or stayed part of my family, even after all legal obligation to do so. Penney and Megan, Peter and Tracey, Jackie, and Tony come to mind, but over the years there have been others, and there will be more. As an only child, I’m so grateful to have had individuals who were part of my family by circumstance rather than birth.

21.  I am thankful to be done this list, which I didn’t manage to keep up on a daily basis. The level of self reflection and analysis required (by myself) to finish the end of this list in one sitting were more than I wanted to do as I get ready to close up the office for a few days off! –the last three I already had in reserve for the last three…

22.  I am thankful for a few things that are just too complicated, personal and difficult to share in a few sentences. This is also my nod to those people who know they are important to me but defy easy categorization. I am indeed thankful for your presence in my life.

23. Everyday since I started this I’ve known one of the “things” I’m most thankful for would also be the hardest to write about. I’m thankful for Roger and Kathy Belden, two of the most remarkable people I’ve known. Anachronistic and quirky, I would never have guessed in 1989 how much I would grow to love and respect them. Roger was a stalwart and methodical man, who managed to have a sparkling sense of humor and the most generous heart I’ve ever known. Kathy was a quiet, steady woman whose tiny stature and mild demeanor masked tremendous strength. My relationship with them, under the circumstances and because of the circumstances, will always be one of the most precious relationships I will have in my lifetime. I miss them daily.

24. I am perhaps most thankful for Robert Bucsko in our lives. We like to think that we have been good for him, but really, he came into our family and became what each of us needed most; a son, a brother, a friend…family.  I don’t know how we would have survived the rough times without his support and help. Therefore I’m grateful for his presence in our lives because it has been critical not only to me, but to the people most important to me.


2 Responses to “Giving Thanks”

  1. Jamie November 30, 2011 at 5:40 am #

    Hey, I just say your comment on friendship! You are such a great friend, but especially were such a great friend when we were living in Pittsburgh and I really needed a close friend through some (what at the time) seemed like very tough days.

    As another friend used to say, Un abrazo fraternal.

    • Jennifer England November 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      Thanks Jamie. I remember those times fondly. It’s always nice to see a blog reader from Logan Utah, I always know it’s you (or Jennifer). Nice to see (increasingly) old friends.

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