thoughts of thanksgiving

it’s been a number of quiet days in cuenca, ecuador.

quiet in that i haven’t written a word and have spent hours beating myself up about what i can’t and won’t do, how i’m made, how i’m getting older, what i’m not living up to.

you may know the drill.

if you’ve known me for any length of time you know i wrestle with inner demons on a somewhat regular basis.  and yes, i know the Holy verses that promise victory over the battles of life.  and i know the self-talk the gurus speak of.  and i’m well aware of the benefits of exercise to transform depression into gladness. and i take the meds that keep the synapsis charging at the right level and endorphins or whatever to keep flowing.

but sometimes the dark night comes and the waves grow and the battle gets fierce and i just shut down.

me thinks that is what has happened in the past week and a half or so.

not a crying nonstop kind of depression.  but tears right behind the eyes that spill out for the oddest things.  and the inability to do anything productive for any length of time.  and the resistance to spend time on activities that matter: meditating, reading, reflecting, listening, laughing.

i’ve met a new friend in Cuenca. her name is Joss. the minute i heard her speak at the writers conference i attended here in March, i wanted to meet her.  she exuded strength, wisdom, and confidence.  i respected her comments. i admired the presence she exuded. we connected and had lunch one day. and we laughed.

i love people with whom i can laugh.

well this fine woman has agreed to be a mentor.  and one of her first suggestions was to journal every morning and night.  i agreed, but being who i am, i’ve resisted and managed to journal only three times this week.

but i have journaled three times.

and i have realized something once again.  my life is full beyond measure. and that the act of sitting and listening and writing out my thoughts brings such healing. the Bible talks about the meditations of the heart…and i see again how important an examined life is. the healing it can bring.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.  Ps. 19:14

so as an encouragement to the part of me that will continue to resist to take time and reflect on the comings and goings of my life, the longings of my heart, observations of the day and celebration of all that has been entrusted to me, i share this list of thanksgiving.

Hear ye, hear ye, today I am most grateful for:

Katherine Marida Vander Plaats.  Never have I enjoyed a person more–seeing her grow and become her own amazing person with a strong will, amazing talent, crazy sense of humor and tender heart.  She flew into my life and has kept me on dancing from day one.

David R. Vander Plaats.  A man of few words who cares not one whit what anyone thinks of him…an excellent balance for a woman who is often controlled by thoughts of wondering what other people think of her. He’s logical, level-headed, strong-willed and quiet.  I find great strength in him.  I could not parent without him. I would not be here without him. He’s my Mr. Spock.

This beautiful place called Cuenca, Ecuador.  Almost in the clouds and as old as the hills. Beautiful blue skies at least once a day. Weather that keeps me cool (most of the time) makes me happy. Everyday a new experience.

Friends with whom I can laugh until I cry.  Oh my what a gift.

Sisters.  Lovely aging sisters who laugh so hard they wheeze and who have made my life about as rich as possible through their kindness, generosity, support and example.  My heart breaks with love everytime (almost) I think about them.

Color and words. Canvases and paper. Paint pens, markers and acrylics. The freedom to express and create and fill walls and books with ideas, passion, craziness and design.

For Bernie Sanders and progressives who push for something different, something better, something more hope-filled for the millions of people who find life gets harder and harder with each passing year.

And indeed, my Republican friends and families with whom I disagree politically yet I love because of their hearts and kindness to others and the interesting things you add to my life.

For Christians like Brennan Manning, T.S. Eliot, Doug Pagett, Don Miller, Annie Dillard, Brian McLaren and many other women and men writers that open my eyes and heart to a wider, more grace-filled faith and who often voice so eloquently my own thoughts of what a life of faith can be.

For a lovely landlady who loves flowers and plants and covers our home with living, breathing greenery. For her tender heart and love for Katherine and her willingness to share so much of her home with us.

For a growing number of new friends here in Cuenca. Such amazing people who have chosen to move far from home and set up a new life. Judith and Jackie are already feeling like family.

A spanish teacher who creates an environment where students feel free to make mistakes without embarrassment…who make it easier for older brains to learn new tricks.

So much to be thankful for. Flowers, hummingbirds, old cathedrals and new. For constant celebrations and holidays. For crazy taxi and bus drivers who usually make an adventure of getting me where I’m going.

No junk mail. No telemarketing calls. No strangers knocking on doors to sell, promote or ask for something.

For healthier foods and lower prices. For an organic farmers market where veggies and fruit for a week cost less than $15.

For being welcomed into a new culture with such kindness.

And there’s more.

Friends and family at home whom I miss…and look forward to having them visit.

For the life I’ve been given and the many experiences that have come into my ife…the good and bad.

See?  When I start the thanksgiving, I can’t stop.  Lesson learned.

It’s a great Sunday in Cuenca. God is good as usual. Life goes on and each day a new opportunity to choose to smile.

I’m smiling.




16 thoughts on “thoughts of thanksgiving

  1. So glad to hear from you again. Your post reminded me of the “glad game” Pollyanna used to play. Do you know my daughter’s niece is called Pollyanna? She is the youngest of three sisters and will have to be a sunny person with a name like that.

    I hope your wonderful daughter is happier at school. Your life seems to be surrounded by strong supportive people. I love the sound of your “Mr Spock”. I think you need not worry about the “me” aspect of your writing. It enables your readers to feel what you are feeling and to me that is what writing is all about.


    • there you are! i have missed hearing from you. but that’s my fault because i haven’t been writing 🙂 pollyanna–what a great name for a girl. haven’t heard it for years. hope her name helps carry her along in this world. Mr Spock is A-ok. a bit frustrating at times…but i can’t imagine what i am to him! he’s a great guy and I’m lucky. thanks for your encouragement. trust you are doing well in the Curry Apple Orchard!


  2. You’ve journaled three times this week! That’s an accomplishment! I too know how that darkness can creep in…even when there is SO much to be thankful for, so many blessings. And how all those blessings make the darkness that much more frustrating. Sending hugs and friendship! The longer I am here the less darkness there is. I hope it works that way for you too.


    • Thanks…I realize all of us have those times. Need to remember that when I’m in those times and won’t feel so alone and out there! I look forward to bright days ahead. Let’s do coffee soon!


  3. we’ve all got our form of darkness – it probably doesn’t look the same from person to person. Looking forward to visiting..Miss you all. Left Tallahassee and had to come north…not northeast to ATL area….


    • drive safe. yes, darkness takes all form and luckily for all of us it doesn’t last forever! the exercise helped me break through. must remember it. count your many blessings name them one by one! makes me think of mom. safe driving. hope all your visits are fun. the alone time at marcia’s sounds good after the many stops. come when you can. we’ll be here! love you


  4. While you’re laughing, I’m crying. Your such a good expressive writer and I feel your pain, your joy, your experiences through that writing. I love your growth and what you have to say about it. Keep that faith. It’s a wonder how it works for you. Peace and joy be yours, Nancy.


  5. Ah, Nancy, that ugly monster depression gets the best of us sometimes, doesn’t it? Gratitude, always a healer-reviver. Your life there sounds idyllic. May the goodness far outweigh the suffering, your heart find all the healing it needs and your good fortune continue unabated. One more thing, totally on another bent: Organic produce for a whole week for only $15? What would that be like?


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