A Thanksgiving Toast to My Blessings and My Struggles

Next week we will be celebrating Thanksgiving: gratitude, the giving of thanks. I have many blessings: my 25+ year marriage with a man who still loves me; two healthy, loving, and interesting kids. We have lived in lovely parts of the country and been able to travel to many wonderful places. The fruits of our labor and the luck of the draw have been good to us.

I also have gratitude for the parts of my life that are a struggle for me—not just the blessings.  Some yoga teachers remind their students to give thanks to the poses that we cannot do, even when those poses are difficult and stressful. Just as I learn to be grateful for the poses I can’t do in class, I chose gratitude for the issues in my life that bring me stress.  I see how they reveal my potential. I chose to embrace my struggles. A fellow blogger posted this 1 minute video about stress on her blog and it hit home for me:

Here some of the things that I am currently mulling over in my head — next week they could be different. I am grateful to these issues as well as all my nachas.

1)      I struggle to live a creative life. I still hear the words of a grade school art teacher telling me I didn’t have a creative bone in my body. Unfortunately that man’s voice was in my head for years. Even after writing a best-selling book, Fortune is in the Follow-Up®, I struggle to express myself creatively. This blog is one of several current creative endeavors of mine. I love this quote from the historical novel, Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan about Fanny van de Grift Osbourne, the wife of Robert Louis Stevenson, who also struggled to live express herself creatively:

“She really was an artist, but her art was not something that would be viewed in a museum or contained between the covers of a book. Fanny’s art was in how she lived her own extraordinary life. She was her best creation.”

2)      I struggle to be the wife I want to be: less critical and more easygoing. I hope I am less Olive Kitteridge (another book I highly recommend) and more Camille Braverman from the TV show Parenthood. I have yelled over ‘split milk,’ made mountains over mole hills that were a complete waste of time and energy, and I have spent money that should have been saved. I want to be patient and loving to the man who is my life partner. Yoga and counting to ten helps, but this is a work in progress!

3)      I struggle to be the daughter I want to be with my mother. The good news is that since her Alzheimer’s diagnosis 18 months ago we have been on a positive trajectory that pleases us both. But the bad news is that we live across the country and short visits every few months are not ideal. I feel pulled to her in ways that are new and surprising to me. Still trying to figure out how to solve this one.

4)      I struggle to find a community of women with whom I can share my joys and sorrows. I had such a community years ago when we lived in the Bay Area from 1993 to 1999. After moving back in 2008, I expected that I would be able to find and/or create one again, but it has not quite happened. I have made friends through my different interests: yoga classes, stitching guilds, book club and a few other activities that keep me out of trouble. One friend called these micro tribes. But it feels segmented and I yearn for a more communal feeling from my circle of friends. Look for more posts on this one!

None of these are life shattering. I appreciate that my struggles are all first world and that I am a work in progress. I claim these struggles and the issues I work on that both stress and interest me. What are you struggling with in your life? Can you relate?

As a blogger, I enjoy sharing my ideas and thoughts with people, and I get a special thrill when someone leaves a comment. When you share my posts on social media sites, I jump up and down doing a happy dance. So thank you!

11 thoughts on “A Thanksgiving Toast to My Blessings and My Struggles

  1. Kim Acedo

    I love what he says in the video: “Times of stress are opportunities to grow.” Absolutely. It reminds me of how one gets physical stronger. You have to place a stress or an overload on the body. The body will then adapt to the stress and become stronger. If there’s never a stress on the body, the body feels as if it doesn’t need to change. I believe that as much as our bodies are adaptable to stress in this case, our minds and hearts are as well. By the way, every time I read one of your posts, I just want to have a cup of coffee and sit on the couch and talk 🙂 Your heart is so earnest and your words are so true. You have a rich blog. Thank you for the openness you choose to share on your beautiful journey.

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Interesting to read about how the body works and how similar it is to our minds and our hearts–thanks for educating me. Thank you also for your kinds words on my writing. When I am crafting my posts I think about having a ‘conversation’ with my readers, as if we were sitting together having coffee talking about our lives. So thanks for noticing!

  2. Dawn

    From one lobster to another… just keep stretching, keep growing. I can totally relate to so much of what you’ve said here, Heidi. Having a tribe is SO important to me. I’m grateful, every day, that I live in a place I love and I have people who nourish me. Even then, my shell never feels completely comfortable. Hmm… Love what Kim ^^ said, at the end of her comment. What a wonderful tribute to you. 🙂

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      Thanks Dawn for the comments. Nice to know that we have the need for a tribe in common. I certainly have people in my life who nourish me, some locally, some not. Reading other women’s blogs, like yours, helps me feel less alone in my constant search for a larger shell!

  3. Melisa

    Amazing how a comment from someone like your art teacher can stick with us for decades. It’s always nice when, instead of making you want to withdraw, it makes you want to push harder to prove them wrong!

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      It is amazing how one person can affect our whole perspective. I listened to that teach for decades before deciding to see myself as a creative person. Wish I had “woken” up sooner, but I guess as long as I did it at some point that counts, right?

  4. Snyeska

    I totally get you on #4. Its a tough one, and I have similar struggles. But I came to conclusion that we as people have tendency to overate past, we remember only good things and forget about struggles that we had while we look for same friendships in new areas instantly. With two big moves and bunch of small once I have tendency to keep thinking that life back home (Europe and CA) was so much better but in reality I have great life here in WA too. I am building new relationships and getting to know new and interesting people. My grandma said long, long time ago “it takes 3 pounds of salt to be eaten to get to know person”. Someone else told me it takes 3 years to get to know person and have her as a friend.
    We are impatient and we wanna instant results. Sometimes today friend just gets out of your life but then many years later it appears in your life and you wonder why haven’t you keep in touch. And sometimes good friend comes out of personal struggles and you never thought that two of you would have things to connect.
    Keep looking, socializing, being yourself. There are many great people out there and life is just full of struggles, happiness and opportunities.

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      You may be right, that I am over romanticizing my past. I know that I did not love living in the midwest nor Vienne or even the east coast in American, so I know that I am not wearing rose colored glasses about all the places in which we have lived. I do worry that perhaps I wont ever allow myself to at home where we are living and sometimes wonder why I can’t click my heels to remind myself that there is not place like home! I also believe that home is where the heart is–as so that means where my husband and kids live is where I am going to feel most at home. But as I get older, and they now need me less, I feel my need for my “tribe” of women friends strongly again. By the way, your grandma sounded a lot like one of the friends I made in Vienna who accused American’s of calling everyone a friend, long before a real relationship was actually established. One thing I have committed to since returning to the states from Australia is to make more time to socialize. I now make lunch and coffee dates with “friends” and not schedule other appointments right afterwards so that I may linger and enjoy their company, without thinking about rushing to the next thing in my calendar. Thanks for reading and thanks for your comments–thought provoking for sure!

  5. Susan Macaulay (@AmazingSusan)

    On creativity:

    “She really was an artist, but her art was not something that would be viewed in a museum or contained between the covers of a book. Fanny’s art was in how she lived her own extraordinary life. She was her best creation.”

    Sums it up beautifully. I think people view creativity too narrowly by thinking it belongs only to the arts. Creativity is at the very core of being human and I truly believe that most people are far more creative than they think they are. Living creatively is as valuable as being a painter or a sculptor or a writer, perhaps even more so.

    I write well. You write well. But writing is a craft. Yes, there is creativity in the execution of the craft, but I think generating the ideas about which to write is more richly creative than the writing itself.

    I see myself as being a well-spring of creativity. I have not doubt you are too. I suspect you may not be identifying the multitude of ways in which you are creative because you are defining creativity narrowly rather than widely. Maybe. Just a thought 🙂

    1. Heidi BK Sloss Post author

      I absolutely agree and consider my blog pieces a big part of my creative expression these days! It is funny that you think generating the idea is more creative than the actual writing itself. I have a ton of ideas, and crafting a well written blog post that is under 800 words feels much more creative to me. I think I have a lot of creativity, but that doesn’t mean that I am expressing it in ways that feel as satisfying or ‘creative!’ One days when I finish rewriting a blog post I feel as creative as I do after I finish making some sort of stitching (these days I am madly making all sorts of XMAS ornaments.

  6. Susan Macaulay (@AmazingSusan)

    Perhaps to say one thing is “more” creative than another is mistaken. I’m having a hard time articulating what I mean.

    I believe many human activities and endeavours are creative and provide ways to express our innate creativity. E.g: cooking, making ornaments, knitting, building a fire, the way we dress, the way we talk, writing, parenting, problem solving, building something, repairing something, singing, the list is endless really.

    Some “silly” examples: http://amazingwomenrock.com/23-i

    I think the human “default” mode is to be curious and creative, but those aspects of ourselves are often crushed by flawed education, parenting, and societal constraints though to be honest less so now than before.

    To help me, I re-watched this:


    and extracted this:

    “The brain isn’t divided into compartments. In fact, creativity — which I define as the process of having original ideas that have value — more often than not comes about through the interaction of different disciplinary ways of seeing things.”

    Oh, there is a fantastic book on creativity that speaks to exactly that point of the intersection of disciplines or of cross-disciplinary pollination as being the richest source of innovation and now I shall have to re-discover it too if I can find it!


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