This has been a hard year for many, many people.
There’s a war in Ukraine; more than 600 mass shootings have occurred in the U.S. so far this year; natural disasters – fires, hurricanes, tornadoes – have ravaged communities far and wide; political grandstanding still stymies much resembling even basic progress in our country; and women lost the basic right to make their own healthcare decisions. That’s all just the headlines I can remember off the cuff as I write this. Oh, and let’s not forget we’re still not out of the woods with COVID. Tack on a little RSV and flu for good measure.
Optimists like me have to fight every day to not be constantly discouraged and disappointed. We look for the good things that are happening around us. We try to find beauty where we can, even in things that are “ugly.” And we try to find the good in people, but some folks make it very difficult. (She/He has nice ears! has become a constant fallback when I’m looking for something nice to say.)
But optimists are stubborn! That’s why I’m still always looking for silver linings and trying to let a smile be my umbrella. Some of y’all might call it “toxic positivity.” I call it “survival.”
And I’ve survived this year all the way up to Thanksgiving! So I’m going to “bright side” it right up until the gravy clumps and the turkey catches on fire. So, it true blogger fashion, here are ten things I’m thankful for this year:
- I’m thankful that my family and I are all reasonably healthy despite a few scares and illnesses this year.
- I’m thankful to have a home I love, but I’m also thankful to have been able to leave it and take some trips this year to Savannah, Chicago, and Perdido Beach.
- I am thankful that I’ve been able to walk for at least 30 minutes every single day for 691 days in a row. Today’s walk will make 692. I’m also thankful that y’all put up with all my pictures of trash, elevation markers, underwear, and other weird things that I find along the way. (If you don’t already, follow me @audreyoutloud on Instagram or friend me on Facebook to keep up with #audreywalks365.)
- I’m thankful I was able to leave my “day job” of nearly 11 years when I needed to. I know it’s a privilege, and I don’t take that for granted. And I’m also thankful for all my friends and family members who have supported me through this transition, and I’m thankful that I have, in turn, been able to mentor others on their professional journeys.
- I’m thankful for the publications that hire me to write for them ( folks like It’s a Southern Thing and Mobile Bay Magazine), the media groups who ask me to voice their videos (Red Clay Media), and all the people who have hired me to write for their organizations, help them with their grants, and coach them on how to better their professional communication skills.
- I’m thankful for the people who still ask me to be on the radio with them from time to time – folks like Will Lochamy at Birmingham Mountain Radio and Gareth Jones and Craig Ceravelo with Sleep In Cinema on Substrate Radio. Shout out to Jason Hamric, the evil genius behind Substrate too!
- I’m thankful for all the people who take my creative writing classes – both through UAB’s ArtPlay and privately – the stories they’ve written, the ideas we’ve shared, and the friendships we’ve forged. And I’m so thankful for their willingness to stretch out and trust me to try some crazy, creative expression exercises.
- I’m thankful for a new, bright studio space of my very own where I can go to work, teach, and make some art. And I’m thankful for a good friend who first shared her studio space with me and made teaching on my own a real possibility.
- I’m thankful for my sense of humor, and I’m thankful for all the groups who have invited me to speak to them this past year who laughed at my jokes and stories. Laughter really is the best medicine. That’s why I’m so thankful for the ability to laugh – and make others laugh – even when times get tough.
- And I’m thankful I don’t have to do all the cooking this year! I made a few little dishes because I wanted to, but not because I had to. Now I can watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and see Santa without worrying about what’s on the stove or how I’m going to get it all on the table at the same time.
There you have it – a heaping helping of gratitude with a side of toxic positivity. And I hope you and yours have a safe and happy Thanksgiving and that you have more than just a few blessings to count today.
Just a few more quick things:
Did you know the South didn’t always celebrate Thanksgiving? Find out why in this story I wrote for Mobile Bay Magazine.
And here’s the story of a football Saturday in the South that was also in MBM!
I’ve had a theory for a while now that no matter where you live, some foods always make you feel like you’re back at home in the South. That’s why I wrote about these 15 soups that will give you the warm and fuzzies for It’s a Southern Thing.