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This is not a Thanksgiving post

November 23, 2012

This is not a Thanksgiving post but, in the end, it may end up being a post about (among many other schmaltzy things, like loving yourself) giving thanks.

This blog has been on my mind a lot recently, because I wasn’t writing and kept asking myself why (Have I lost my touch? Does working life not lend itself to blogging? Am I just really boring?), but also because this week was the first week of term. The first time I teach a group of students, I generally announce that I blog under my real name. I don’t do this so students will go look for this place (though they’re very welcome to), but because I’ve found that otherwise students google me, find this blog, and think it’s some big secret. Because I taught 8 new groups of students this week alone, obviously I talked about (and thought about) my blog quite a bit.

Earlier tonight, I had some time to really ponder what my next post should be about. I’d done some Sinterklaas shopping in a nearby neighborhood after work and was walking the last few kilometers home while happily munching on a small bag of salt and malt vinegar crisps and looking forward to dinner (steak and onion pie, mushy peas, and a bottle of Bulmer’s cider to wash it all down, oh heck yes!). While looking at the shop windows (Indian take-out, Indonesian take-out, Surinamese take-out, spare-ribs, bakery, organic cafe, illegal Thai brothel), I considered a line from a blog post I’d read this morning. It’s a private blog, so I can’t link to it, but the writer wrote one of those posts (so familiar to me and regulars on this blog) in which she reassured herself she’s actually doing quite well at kicking life’s ass. One of the things she said, about finding out a past love had gotten engaged and having some feelings about that, was that it’s okay to feel a  little sad over having a lot of love and support to give and not being able to give that to anyone but herself.

And I thought, wow. When it comes right down to it, what other person on this planet could be more worthy of your love and unconditional support than yourself? Obviously loving and supporting others, whether they be lovers, family, friends, even passing strangers, is tremendously important. But if you don’t love and support yourself with as much, if not more, passion than you love and support others, how will you ever be able to get through an expected 80 years (if you’re lucky) of life in one piece? Rather than it being “okay” to just love yourself, why don’t exclaim how excited we are for this opportunity? Why not write, “HOLY SHIT, I LOVE MYSELF! I AM WONDERFUL! I AM SO HAPPY I GET TO GUIDE MYSELF THROUGH THIS PERIOD OF MY LIFE!”? The answer, probably, is because we’re not always excited about this. Sometimes we get tired and wish we had a partner to rely on (loving and supporting another person implies receiving the same from that person when necessary, even though that’s not always  the case). Sometimes loving ourselves is a sheer impossibility as a result of depression, low self-esteem, or abuse. There’s a lot of practical stuff that gets in the way of this positive, “I am worthy of my own love and support” attitude. That’s not to say we shouldn’t try, though.

So as I was walking home, I thought about how lucky I am – or really, how thankful I am – that I’m able to support myself through nearly anything. I also have loving parents, sisters and friends who help a lot, but I can get myself quite a bit of the way. I thought about how thankful I am that I was raised to be, and grew up to be, a person who understands that she is important and worthy of her own appreciations. And I thought about how thankful I am to be looking forward to the weekend that is kicking off right now. A great Friday night dinner, Florence + The Machine with my friends on Saturday, and a MASSIVE Thanksgiving spread which I’ll be preparing for and cooking all weekend on Sunday.

My thankfulness caved in a bit as my walk home progressed. I was in killer heels which I’d also worn while teaching all day and my feet were having none of my fashionista silliness. They were aching like nothing else. All I wanted to do was go home and put my feet up. Then I realized that having a comfortable home where you can safely and warmly put your feet up is a reason to be thankful as well. Just yesterday I read another friend’s account of how just a year, she was jobless and unable to collect unemployment benefits. She and her mother spent their Thanksgiving and Christmas at a local charity which dished up a great feast. In her post, she expressed her thankfulness for where she is now (working at a great place) but also for what she had then: a good place to have a small celebration and a safe and heated home to return to at the end of the day. In this economy, even if things in The Netherlands aren’t quite as dire as in the U.S. for many people, these sometimes everyday, unacknowledged comforts are worth their weight in gold.

Lest I end on a too sentimental, upbeat note, I’d like you all to know that as I was writing this I lost track of time and my steak and onion pie burnt beyond belief in the oven. So… There’s still room for improvement, life. Get on that!

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