8 Things I Learned From a Five Day Media Fast

Due to screen time I failed to brush the dogs which led to these embarrassing “puppy cuts.”

To be honest, I can’t even remember what made me decide to take five days away from screen time.

Maybe it was the binge watching of horse rescue videos I did over the holidays or the brain fog I was experiencing that left me with nothing but opinionated political commentary on my mind (none of it worth sharing).

I’d also spent hours on ANCESTRY.COM researching my family — I come from royalty which is pretty interesting — but what a time suck. The info I need to start my next book I found maybe one hour into doing my tree so I couldn’t even use research as an excuse for hours discovering people’s parents. I also fooled myself into believing that I hardly spent any time on INSTAGRAM posting pictures and scrolling.

Anyway, I announced to my husband that I’d be fasting and picked 5 as the number of days for no real reason.  I had one last binge on horse rescues, closed the laptop and went to bed pretty confident that the fast would be easy since I used the computer and phone less than the rest of the family.

Turns out I was being a bit arrogant on this one. Here’s what I found out (probably it won’t be much of a surprise but I thought I’d document it anyway):

  1. I was blaming ticks and Lyme Disease for some symptoms that may have been more related to screen time. I don’t know if this happens to you but just looking at a screen for a little while leaves me feeling depressed. A vague sense of despair  unrelated to just watching horse rescue stories always follows screen time. It doesn’t matter what I watch or read on-screen. I think maybe it’s due to chasing the initial high of imagining that all knowledge and happiness will be discovered somewhere on the internet.
  2. I was frequently annoyed (or actually angered) by people who interrupted me when I was watching the horse videos (or news, or reading blogs or even scanning Craigslist junk sales).  I mean, please — stop talking! I’m looking at cinder blocks here! When I couldn’t watch videos or surf or look up answers to dumb questions I actually had a lot more patience with our new daughter who always wants to play checkers or, you know, bond with another human.
  3. Those quick checks of email — turns out they weren’t that quick. And even when they were, they caused me to lose 10 minutes of focus — what was I going to do again? When I realized that I couldn’t check my email before supper, I actually made better supper — or just cleaned some of the kitchen clutter which made me surprisingly happy.
  4. With no electronics I felt much less harried. I had noticed a trend in my farm work. Instead of enjoying a few quiet moments with my sheep and chickens I found that I was fretting about how much work I wasn’t getting done — mainly because my internet habit was actually taking up too much time but also because I was reading so many articles about marketing and how to better use my time and resources.  In short I was enjoying everything in my life less — and thinking (even though I know it’s false) that everyone was doing everything better than me.
  5. In five days I read 5 books without even trying. For the past year I’ve been blaming Lyme for my lack of reading too, but I was kidding myself. It was screen time.
  6. I need to get outside more! I realized that when I used to have goats I would take them out for walks and spend about an hour in the field writing books, but with the sheep (since they respect fencing) I neverreally needed to walk them. The goats kept me away from the screen since at the time I didn’t have a smart phone.
  7. SCREEN TIME ROBBED ME OF CREATIVITY! After only one day without the screen in my face I had more ideas for not only writing but also for  life in general — yeah, I do want to rescue a horse and open my farm for therapeutic visits with the animals.  Without the screen time I  had more energy to go for walks where ideas tend to flow for me. I kept the phone at home because I realized that even nature had become just something to manipulate for Instagram. For Christmas my son got me a great dip pen set (that’s how I wrote MY FIRST BOOK) and instead of rushing to the computer to tap my ideas out I returned to writing the way I had enjoyed in the past and — you guessed it — I was far more productive.
  8. On a spiritual note, the fast invigorated my interest in the divine nature of things and the pursuit of  God’s voice which had been crowded by hunting down significance online. I woke up early, read the Bible and a ton of DWIGHT L. MOODY and felt good to go.


So you may be wondering what I plan to do with this little bit of self-knowledge. I’m wondering too. I raced back to the computer to see what I had missed in five days and was disappointed that the world hadn’t changed much and that I hadn’t received any life changing reviews or emails. I missed some blogs and vlogs for sure, but I really have to see if I can have some restraint going forward.

How about you? Do you ever get sucked into the vortex? Have you ever considered a media fast? If not, how do you keep your head above water? I’d love to know in the comments!


Related reading:





Advent: A Time for Reflection

“You keep us waiting. You, the God of all time, Want us to wait. For the right time in which to discover Who we are, where we are to go, Who will be with us, and what we must do. So thank you … for the waiting time.”
John Bell, quoted in The Westminster Collection of Christian Prayers

Do you think of this time of year as a time of reflection or a time for shopping? I confess that for most of my life I’d never even thought about the weeks before Christmas as something separate from the actual holiday (which I rarely reflected upon either).

The dogs are reflecting upon how much they love blankets.

So what is there to reflect upon? For Christians advent is not about waiting to put the porcelain baby in the tiny manger on Christmas, but about waiting for the second advent when Christ returns. Non-Christians may find this a foolish notion, but I wonder if there is a person alive who doesn’t feel that humanity needs to be saved.

Social media and “the news” —  no matter the flavor — ask us to take sides in the battle to save children, animals, foreigners, neighbors and the planet because we all know in our bones that we need saving and that there is something of value to save.

This year I find myself at loose ends (the perfect time to reflect).

I wonder about blogging. I’ve made some great friends.

Yet …

I feel constrained sometimes.

Years ago at college I took a journalism course called Minorities in the Media. The professor loved my political writing, and I loved the praise. At the time, I was marching behind banners supporting terrorism in my spare time. I embraced a victim-hood that wasn’t even my own because I had an Irish last name. For a brief time the badge of victim-hood got me good grades and a seat at the university activist table. It also meant that I cared little for the people who might die for disagreeing over the issues I marched for in complete safety. In short, I was young, naive and ignorant of the complexities of human nature and history — so much so that compassion disappeared.

I remember one young man who dared question the narrative. He was Jewish and had living relatives who had survived the Holocaust. He refused victim status. The professor often stood back as the mob shouted him down. I remained quiet more out of cowardice than anything else, but that one boy’s stand against group-think made an impression on me.

In the books I’ve written I have never considered shying from controversial topics, yet more and more when I blog I find myself second-guessing writing about things I really believe in. The idea of offending someone and having to spend a day defending an off-the-cuff remark just seems so boring and useless. Politics and religion are fascinating subjects but the idea of writing about them in the present environment is so fraught with anger and hysteria I find it difficult to wade in.

With a few exceptions the internet is becoming a cultural desert for me. People are told to write how-to-blog/how-to-write posts to get more followers. People are told to stay away from religion and politics. Or to write about religion and politics to create extreme controversy and buzz.

I am guilty of it all. I’m guilty of chasing followers. I’m guilty of insincerity and of paying too much attention to the repetitive promptings of how-to-write/how-to-do-life blogs which at this point all blur into one another.

So why blog?

To build a platform? (when do we feel the satisfaction we are hunting for?)

To meet only like-minded people? (doesn’t this get so very boring?)

To trash opponents? ( I admit I  too often find reading this stuff entertaining — but such a waste of time)

To offer advice? (not always — but often — the advice is copy and paste)

To bring something of value to the world? (isn’t this what we all hope to do?)

I suppose we all value different things, but for advent I’m reflecting on Saint Paul’s admonition:

Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8

But, my friends, I’m at an impasse.

Where does opinionated fit in? Where do political rants find their proper place? How is boredom cured? How is fear of man dispelled? Have I been so tainted by the world that I can’t come up with things that are interesting and “good”?

This may all be Lyme-induced brain fog. Who knows …

Or maybe we just have to occasionally question why we do what we do.

One thing I do know is that I’m hungry for beauty, depth and inspiration. There are many blogs I really enjoy (but I want more!). Three that come to mind are:

Sharon Bonin-Pratt’s Ink Flare


A.M. Pine – Hearth Ridge Reflections


I would love to know what blogs you follow for your fix of positivity. Please leave your recommendations in the comments!





Do You Have Lunch With A Crazy Person?

How is your mental health?

I don’t usually come up against moral dilemmas when out with my daughters thrift shopping. The shop has changed hands and no longer can I depend fully on the place to outfit me. I suppose it’s not a terrible thing to buy new clothes from real stores, but still.

We left a little disappointed and with empty hands and walked up the street toward our car. I had noticed an older lady outside of an empty storefront with what looked like a small rummage sale of framed paintings and other trinkets at her feet as we had driven into town but hadn’t thought much of it. In Upstate New York many storefronts are empty and people often have junk sales.

As we approached the lady who was pulling weeds from between the cracks of the sidewalk she engaged us in small talk about the town’s inability to compete with Saratoga Springs because the local government refused to learn about historical zoning and markers. She told us how she had lovingly restored seven houses in the area to their period correct beauty.

She hooked me on many levels–old houses, inept government, nineteenth century period-correctness. She was also beautiful with wavy mid-length silver hair and large and bright hazel eyes. Within a few moments she told us she was in her late seventies.

Claire bragged about the way her ass looked in the black leggings she wore quite well. She said it was due to genetics and keeping active and interested in life. With a dramatic wave of the arm she pointed to the paintings on the sidewalk and the photographs taped to the window of the storefront.

The Grieving Process

“Henry died this year,” she told us as she pointed to an obituary cut from the newspaper.

I scanned it. Henry loved dancing, old cars and the local Catholic church. The pictures showed a very handsome older man — the kind of man who possibly loved too many women at once.

Claire started stories about her time as a frumpy teacher. Stories about raising daughters alone after her second husband ran off with her best friend. About her first husband’s death in Vietnam. About her opinions on politics.

I mentioned that we didn’t have much in common politically. We both agreed that this was not a problem and that mature adults should be able to discuss ideas without having the ideas poison relationships. Since this attitude pleased us both we agreed to be friends and possibly to go to lunch and have margaritas.

“I was a frump until I met Henry,” she said wistfully. “He made me beautiful.” She pointed to one picture where she did look a bit frumpy and then another of her and Henry at some sort of garden party. In this photo she wore a form-fitting red dress and a confident expression of being loved on her face. Henry looked proud and happy too.

“So after your horrible second marriage you finally found happiness,” I said.

Her eyes clouded for a second. “No, it wasn’t always happy.” Claire looked as if lost for a moment but recovered. “So when do you want to do lunch?”

Just then the owner of the thrift store called to me from down the road. “Adrienne, you left something in here!”

I knew I hadn’t bought anything. My daughters looked equally confused. A different lady from the store came out now and called me again. Claire turned her attention to my daughters, asking them about school and such. I strolled down the street to retrieve whatever it was that I’d left behind.

“She’s crazy,” the shop-owner said. “We all loved and knew Henry, but since his death Claire has been terrible. She accosts anyone who walks by the building she and Henry own. Henry left her underwater financially. She tells everyone she’s going to run for mayor. He had her put away a few times. We knew you and the girls would be too nice to step away, but she’ll keep you for hours if you let her.”

I had noticed that her stories trailed off and circled back, but she was colorful and interesting. I thought lonely and grieving. I called to the girls, waved a good-bye to Claire as she kissed the girls as if she’d known them for years and we drove off.

I checked the time and we had indeed been talking to her for almost an hour. I’d actually enjoyed the idea of Mexican food and drink with her. I loved that she was open to discussing politics although we were diametrically opposed on most issues. But she was crazy — or so it was said and I had run off to escape it — partially to please the shop-keepers.

How can you tell if someone is mentally ill?

Okay. So she did seem a little scattered. She did consume most of the air-time in conversation but … maybe she was terribly lonely … and grieving. Maybe she was crazy and needed to be checked into a mental health facility …

I live with a girl who has been checked into mental health facilities. Should I have run from her. We jokingly say yes on some days.

What if good old Henry wasn’t perfect? What if Claire had been hurt enough times that she became unhinged every so often? What if Claire is actually right that the town doesn’t know how to manage its affairs?

Why does this lonely, creative and possibly crazy woman haunt me?


So here’s what I’m wondering:

Would you have lunch with someone who is mentally ill?

Do you chance it?

Do you take the shopkeeper’s warning to clear out as fast as you can?

Who is responsible for befriending a woman like this?

How crazy is too crazy to hang out with?


Further reading:









How Has Reading Fiction Changed Your Life for The Better?

Non-Fiction vs. Fiction

Just a simple question for today. For a long time I only read non-fiction to “better” myself and to build up knowledge about specific subjects. I enjoyed novels but saw them as a frivolous thing. Secretly I envied the authors and sometimes even the characters so I avoided them (I was the same with romantic comedy movies).

Do you have mixed feelings about fiction? Now that I’ve realized that my life mission is actually writing fiction I’m more curious than ever  about what fiction does for readers.

Are you a reader or writer of books? Do you enjoy fiction or non-fiction? How have fictional stories and characters impacted your life?

I’d love to know what you all think.

For further reading:

5 Reasons Why We Like Fiction

Why Bother Reading Fiction?

Fiction vs. Non-Fiction: Which Do You Prefer?

all books cover-page0001
The Tenafly Road Series

6 Great Quotes About Censorship

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak just because a baby can’t chew it.” Mark Twain

“My own opinion is enough for me, and I claim the right to have it defended against any consensus, any majority, anywhere, any place, any time. And anyone who disagrees with this can pick a number, get in line, and kiss my ass.” Christopher Hitchens

“The fact is that censorship always defeats its own purpose, for it creates, in the end, the kind of society that is incapable of exercising real discretion. In the long run it will create a generation incapable of appreciating the difference between independence of thought and subservience.” Henry Steele Commager

“If all printers were determined not to print anything till they were sure it would offend nobody, there would be very little printed.” ― Benjamin Franklin

“This is slavery, not to speak one’s thought.” Euripides

“You have not converted a man because you have silenced him.” John Morley

 How about you? Any feelings on censoring books, people or the internet? Should thought ever be punished?

Featured Image: The Travelling Companions by Augustus Leopold Egg – 1862

Are You Self-made?

America has gained this reputation as the land of opportunity. It has done so by trying to destroy any and all hereditary obstacles to advancement. Instead, in America the idea is that individual initiative alone could create social mobility. A self-made man would owe his advancement to things like self discipline, loneliness, sobriety, the avoidance of debt, an excessive workload, relentless effort, disregard for his likability, self denial, and self abuse. A self-made man would live for the future and reject any self indulgences like a holiday or even a day off. Instead, under constant pressure, he would focus on grueling accumulation, one penny at a time. I’m a self-made man. Vincent Gallo

Is the above list of requirements a useful motivational tool?

Do self-made people need motivational tools written by actors (or anyone else)? There certainly isn’t anything sweet about Gallo’s description of a successful person, but I think most of what he says is true.

I’m having trouble staying on vacation from writing, plotting, and self-abuse (all mental). Work keeps me believing I am sane (others may disagree).

The only thing Gallo leaves out is the joy of being driven, the reckless disregard for food and shelter, the adrenaline rush of being productive.

This thing called self-made is like any medicine. Read the label. Too much and you overdose on self, too little and you never make anything.

BALANCE … I’m not sure it’s possible with the self-made man. Balance is an elusive nirvana, a fiction for the coasters in life. This is what my self-driving brain says in a loop.

Walk in the field. Do yoga. Call a friend. A few days of such behavior and I’m worried I’ll never produce things again. My husband told me he was proud of how I was handling suddenly taking care of his two elderly parents in our home. The loop in my head says production is all that matters. Care-giving is just what you do when you’re not intensely involved in your self-made habit.  His compliment fell on deaf ears.

Like any addict I have moments of clarity. Life can’t only be about joyfully serving your ego and amassing material accomplishments. I am a Christian after all and believe (mostly on an intellectual level) that serving others and appreciating God’s creation outside my window are good, important things, yet  I struggle to put any of it joyfully into action when there’s work to be done.

I seriously believe God is cool with me obsessively thinking about writing … well if you knock off the obsessive part. Vincent Gallo’s quote paints a picture I admire and am troubled by. America has always been a place where most people have a chance to rise above perceived castes. I think obsessing about victimhood is more deadly than obsessing about success, but addiction (and aren’t we a nation of addicts in one way or another?) is getting things out-of-order. We fill that part of ourselves meant for God with something less than God. And then we wonder where God is.

Tell me what you think about working too hard. Is there such a thing? How does your work affect how you relate to the divine?


“The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do.” Aldous Huxley

One of the astonishing things I’ve learned raising our foster daughter is that abuse often makes its victims incredibly unlovable.

Long before we took in our foster daughter I had become obsessed with the ways in which childhood abuse not only affected my character Buck Crenshaw but also his siblings. Christians are called to love the unloved — and the unlovable. Many times it turns out that the unloved and the unlovable are the same person. Of course I know Buck’s heart and all that he’s been through so as a writer I love him. Yet some readers have expressed frustration at all of his wrong turns and bad behaviors.

As a  foster parent I’m given the benefit of the doubt. Everyone in the system understands unlovable behavior — a child who eats goat shit, a child who wants to have sex with your dog, a child who struggles with murderous thoughts. As a novelist the problem lies in the fact that readers want to love the characters they read about despite their flaws. But what is a writer to do with prickly characters who shoot quills and make one bad decision after another?

People tell us that our foster daughter is a changed girl but that change continues to take place at a glacially slow pace and even with the changes we must work each day to soften our hearts enough to love her — or even like her. Just like my fictional CRENSHAW siblings, our foster daughter always finds new ways to go left, not right. She finds new ways to annoy and instigate trouble — almost on an hourly basis.

The truth about foster care and abuse: Some kids are over medicated, some never receive the mental health care they need. Some seem fine but carry burdens into adulthood marked by drive, alcohol abuse or an inability to accept love.

As the god of my fictional universe it hurts when a reader doesn’t love a character who really needs to be loved. Writing about them is like being one of those photographers who takes portraits of troubled, desperate foster kids dressed in their best smiles and outfits. Yet the troubled, desperate character still remains.

Writing about unloved and unlovable people comes with heartache and risk. Maybe no one buys the book. In real life maybe the unloved child becomes a menace to society. Maybe he kills people.

I think about the creator of the universe sending souls into the world. What happens when no one loves the unlovable?


How many generations does it take to rid a family of behaviors and problems of the heart that sometimes lead to acts of evil? On the other hand, can there be enough human love devoted to someone to truly set them straight?

The recent shooting in Florida, the ramming of vans into pedestrians, the flying of planes into towers, the modern slave trade that dwarfs the slavery of the past, and the simple, daily, often secret abuse of children (so many cases around the globe that they hardly ever discussed) in homes that from the outside seem quite respectable — these things — these evils are problems of the heart.

We seek easy fixes. I’ve done it myself. Gluten is what makes my foster daughter think of stabbing me in the night with kitchen knives. Alarms on her door will cure her PTSD. All meds are evil. All meds are good.

The reality is that we are under a curse. Town Hall meetings, virtue signalling, talk of burning  NRA spokespeople — these things –are just frosting on the poison cake of life.

If there is no God and there is no truth then murder and abuse have no meaning. Fatherless boys and molested girls are just play things in a culture that regards pleasure and irresponsibility as its god.  If every human feeling is just a social construct and every human desire is equal then why do we even care who lives or dies?

We are flawed. That almost sounds trite. We are murderers, deceivers, neglectful parents. We are selfish and stupid much of the time. We are driven by pride. Gunshots fly all around us and we go on with our day until one shooting is deemed more important than others. We show how deep we are by posting pictures on Instagram  or write posts like this with no answers except one that makes no sense.

LOVE THE IMPOSSIBLE ONES TO LOVE. This act is so uncommon and revolutionary that it seems ridiculous.

It’s easy in fiction writing but I have a long way to go in the real world.

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have a meaning; and consequently assumed that it had none, and was able without any difficulty to find satisfying reasons for this assumption. The philosopher who finds no meaning in the world is not concerned exclusively with a problem in pure metaphysics. He is also concerned to prove that there is no valid reason why he personally should not do as he wants to do. For myself, as no doubt for most of my friends, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom. The supporters of this system claimed that it embodied the meaning – the Christian meaning, they insisted – of the world. There was one admirably simple method of confuting these people and justifying ourselves in our erotic revolt: we would deny that the world had any meaning whatever.” Aldous Huxley

“If you want to send a message, use Western Union.” Sam Goldwyn

I’m not responsible for your salvation.

I’m sure you consider that a good thing. As a writer, I’m responsible for my characters’ salvation but even that can get sticky. How many of us like message films and books? I’m not talking about self-help books or how-to videos. I’m talking about entertainment that aims to convince us of something.

Heaven exists because a cute little boy says so. Or God doesn’t exist at all because an unhappy scientist says so.

Women are better kick boxers than men. (Every super hero movie with Scarlett Johannson — she does wear the Spandex well)

People have no control over their sexual desires — and why should they? (Most movies about men and women)

All violence throughout history was caused by white men. (Dances with Wolves and a host of others — I loved Dances anyway because of the soundtrack)

People with low IQ’s are better parents than white women. ( I Am Sam — worst movie ever made, but totally worth watching as a dark comedy)

Great art always conveys a message but the art that rises to the top does it with subtlety. The artistic outcome satisfies on a deeper level that taps into our common humanity.

Art that has at its center a desire to convince and cajole is limiting, propagandizing and not satisfying for those of us interested in something more than just gluing ourselves to a movement or, to be more blunt, a cult.

As a Christian, I very rarely read “Christian” fiction in the modern sense based on its reputation for being fluffy. Even the colors of the Amish romances don’t appeal to me (though some may be quite good). I just don’t want to read about people who don’t cuss sometimes (yes, I’m being unfair since I’ve never gotten past the covers).

I don’t want to be protected from the world. Jesus didn’t play that way, so why should I?

The reason I admire a movie like GLORY, for instance, (if you haven’t seen it you should) over a movie like 12 Years a Slave is that the characters in GLORY grapple with big ideas, big prejudices and big emotions yet each and every character invites us in and asks us who we are and how we would react in similar situations. The acting, cinematography and soundtrack elevate this movie to art. We leave with questions, not easy answers.

Readers here know I’m still getting over reading WAR AND PEACE. Tolstoy may have been trying to convince me that great leaders have no free will or many other things, but he left me with more questions than answers. He left me feeling I’d lived an alternative life in the shoes of others.

I try to write, in my humble way, not to convince the reader of my novels to become a Christian or to become an activist or to become anything at all. My goal is first to entertain and then perhaps to lead the reader to see in another person the chance to question assumptions and exercise compassion for those people who are valued just as much as you and I by our maker, but who may not be members of the same groups as we are.

Experiencing or producing great art (or even lesser art that leaves us with questions to explore) and living on this earth offer far more questions than easy answers.

Caravaggio isn’t forcing us to follow  in The Calling of St Matthew

A curiosity seeker who wanted to catch Jesus in his words asked him, “Who is my neighbor?” when told that he should love his neighbors as himself.

Neighbors and characters ask more questions. They don’t pelt us with their answers. They may offer opinions. They may debate. They may cause us to question our own assumptions.

How many times have I won an argument or convinced someone to change by yelling at them or  by wearing a pin that announces my strident desire to be change (translation: to control others)?

“God acts in history and in your and my brief histories, not as the puppeteer who … works the strings but rather as the great director who no matter what role fate casts us in conveys to us … how we can play those roles in a way to enrich and ennoble and hallow the whole vast drama of things.” CHRISTIANITY AND LITERATURE

*** Featured Image: Detail from Conversion on the Way to Damascus by Caravaggio

Do you disagree? Do you enjoy message art? I’d love to know your thoughts.



***Thanks to Nadine at: CHRISTIAN VICTORIAN LITERATURE for the above quote from a thought-provoking article she linked to on her blog.

“All thinking that is imbued with wonder is graceful and gracious thinking… And thought, if it’s not open to wonder, can be limiting, destructive and very, very dangerous.”

“One of the sad things today is that so many people are frightened by the wonder of their own presence. They are dying to tie themselves into a system, a role, or to an image, or to a predetermined identity that other people have actually settled on for them. This identity may be totally at variance with the wild energies that are rising inside in their souls. Many of us get very afraid and we eventually compromise. We settle for something that is safe, rather than engaging the danger and the wildness that is in our own hearts.” READ MORE:

A Gentle Corrective for the Epidemic of Identity Politics Turning Us on Each Other and on Ourselves

Featured image: A Willing Captive by Frederick Stuart Church

5 Horrible Things I’m Grateful For

What are you really grateful for? No. I don’t mean the usual things we all say when asked on Thanksgiving Day. Family. Friends. Health. We used to just eat on Thanksgiving, but somewhere along the way a family member introduced a toast and the awkward asking everyone to come up with something they were grateful for.

When family eyes turned to me I’d say I was grateful for family or health or friends. It was the same for everyone at the table. Anything beyond those three words opened a person up to shame-laden teasing. I think we all imagined baring our souls but in the end couldn’t.

Here are a few things I’m grateful for:

TICKS. Well, not really. Ticks are gross. They carry disease. I have the disease–in fact I have THREE tick diseases. Health wake-up calls are good things. With my NEW DIET and Chinese herbal cures I feel better than I’ve felt in years! Yay, ticks!

PTSD. Again, not really a fun thing. The foster kid has it so we thought a therapy dog might help. Elizabeth the GOLDEN RETRIEVER arrived. Can anyone say anything bad about a golden retriever? No.

BAD BOOK REVIEWS. They’re mood killers, for sure, BUT they’re also reminders that you had the guts to publish. They motivate us to finally get proper editing done.

ABANDONED ANIMALS. This one is truly awful, but, for those of us who enjoy rescuing them, these animals are a blessing.

008WINTER. Some people hate the cold. And the dark. And the cold. Enter wood stoves and lounging dogs in front of wood stoves.

***Just thought of another one: Messy childhoods are great for writers! I’m really grateful for mine!

How about you? What unusual things are you grateful for this year?