Lead with gratitude
The air in your lungs, the sky above you.
Proceed from there.
– Lin-Manuel Miranda
The last two years have been clouded with so many political things, and the next two will also have much more to come, but I am grateful for the outcome of the election, the blue wave, and the thoughts that maybe we can work our way back to where the country not only should be, but where the majority of the country wants it to be. I’ve been inspired by so many new faces and listening to many intelligent voices on my new passion of podcasts that I feel cautiously optimistic that we can get through this time.
While I haven’t written that much for Nanowrimo, I have still done a lot of writing for my space here, reading my good morning journal as often as necessary, and have some other ideas and writings plotted out in the bare bones.
I went on a beautiful retreat for Thanksgiving reflection and am looking forward to another on Mary the day after my birthday.
I am grateful to be hearing better than I have in a few years. The number of times that I say “what” have gone down exponentially thanks to a pair of hearing aids. I’ve also gotten a lot of medical things taken care of with more to come in the coming weeks, including at a ridiculous early time tomorrow. I am still seeing my therapist and trying to use all the tools in my basket; my mental health is definitely stable and good. My kids are healthy and happy in school, and we have a home, heat, and food and with the snow starting early that is indeed appreciated. Whatever else we may want, our needs are well taken care of.
Looking forward to Thursday with our family and thinking about the family not there, whether too far away or no longer and especially that whether together or apart, we are still a we.
Wishing you many blessings at this holiday season, and grateful that you are all in my life.
The original of this recipe was as a pie, directly from a colleague who was born and raised in New Orleans. Sweet Potato Pie is a traditional Southern dessert, very similar to pumpkin pie, although I think a little bit sweeter. I was on a trip to Virginia a couple of years ago, and was ecstatic to find a sweet potato pie in the local McDonald’s alongside their apple pies. It was amazing! Even years later, I miss it in my northeast home.
My mother could not grasp the idea that this pie was dessert or that it is typically eaten chilled. For her, it was a side dish and that’s what it became in our house for Thanksgiving.
Over the years I’ve changed it, and sometimes when I can’t find the extra large Keebler graham cracker crust I will make it as a casserole. That is the recipe that I’m going to share with you this November.
I know that this is a fall type food, but I will eat this all year round.
Sweet Potato Casserole
This started out as a pie, but then I got a little lazy, and it became a casserole. It is still pretty awesome!
1 lg can of yams or sweet potatoes
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 bag of mini marshmallows
1. Cook the yams on the stovetop. When hot, drain and return the yams to the saucepan and mash.
2. Add the stick of butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg, and mix thoroughly either by hand or with a mixer.
3. Transfer the smooth yams to a casserole dish. Cover with the marshmallows.
4. Bake in an oven at 350° for thirty-five minutes or until marshmallows are golden brown.
5. Serve as a side dish. Yummy.
November begins with the Solemnity of All Saints and finishes with the beginning of the liturgical year and Advent. In the middle are parent-teacher conferences, Veteran’s Day, Morning of Service volunteering, church breakfasts, health insurance open enrollment, medical procedures, a court appearance for a traffic ticket, the premiere of Fantastic Beasts, and Thanksgiving.
I’m sure I’ve left things out, and I can hear all of you readers going over your lists in your heads and groaning. I know, I know. I’m sorry I brought it up.
First and foremost, November is about colors. We’ve been very slow at leaves changing colors. They seem lazy and slow to change, and they seem muted with the grey, cloudy, dreary-ish days that have started today, but they’re still beautiful, and mesmerizing as well as introspective.
Second for November, is gratitude. We need to slow down, and remember how lucky we are, and in reality, while things aren’t perfect for anyone, we are still very lucky in so many ways. Now is a good time to think on our blessings and remind ourselves of what we have and simply be grateful.
Third, November is National Novel Writing Month. I have signed on to participate again, and I’m hoping to settle into a rhythm of both updating this website and writing for Nanowrimo, and other writings and creative plans. Look for my daily, 30 Days of Nano column, offering suggestions and tips for a successful writing experience for Nanowrimo or your own writing endeavors.
My novel is not a novel, but a non-fiction multi-genre exploration. It is part memoir, part travel guide, and part spiritual journey. It will include photographs and history, both of myself and the land. I haven’t been this excited about a writing project in a long time. I’m very glad that I took up the challenge of Nanowrimo in order to jump into this book and get it started. I’ve been talking about writing this for at least two decades.
As you can see from the above graphic, I’m about 5,000 words short of where I’m supposed to be at this point.
But that’s okay.
I’m also 20,000+ words ahead of where I was on November 1st.
There were a couple of days when I wrote 0 words, but I was also writing other things, like pieces for here and my writing group. There was one day when I wrote 3,313 words.
Currently, I have 18 saved documents of varying lengths from 75 to 2,468 ranging in topics from the dreaded GPS of 2009 to Driving and Comfort Zones, two topics that don’t really go together. At all.
I had decided to simply write about what I felt like in relation to my book on my journey through Wales, and that’s what I’m doing. I’m very happy with my progress. Some of it can be repetitive, although not as much as I feared. Some subjects overlap with different years and places, and one of the hard parts is going to be gathering these writings into a cohesive form that flows but also stays true to my experiences. I’m planning on putting together an outline sometime in December as I read and edit what I will have at the end of November.
For those of you also writing for Nanowrimo, there is good news and bad news. They are both the same: we are halfway through. If you’re doing well, great; keep going. If you haven’t started or have slowed down, that’s okay; you still have time. Keep going.
November is that month.
We’re hopped up on Halloween candy, if we haven’t already, we’re about to turn on the heat, raising our utility bill that’s given us a break since we turned off the air conditioner, and we look at the calendar and see how many days off the kids have from school because of holidays, staff development days, and parent-teacher conferences and then realize that it’s fifty-five days until Christmas and there’s only a couple of paychecks left in the year to get it all done.
And Facebook post after Instagram post after writing prompt, we’re expected to be grateful and show gratitude.
Keep a gratitude journal for thirty days.
What are you grateful for? Thankful for?
Go around the Thanksgiving table and express what you’re thankful for. And then everyone looks at you.
Sunday’s prompt for The Daily Post was gratitude.
Most of us feel grateful, even when it’s not the holiday season. For some of us, expressing that in a meaningful, non-eye-rolly way is not easy. It puts us on the spot; the focus is entirely on us, and if we forget something that someone did, we offend people.
Our gratitude is not only for us, but for our kids, and knowing that we’re raising good-most-of-the-time, decent, compassionate people who won’t think twice about helping others and getting nothing in return.
Our gratitude is to let others know that we appreciate them, and through that, they feel gratitude and appreciated.
So, this year, I have a different gratitude journal in mind.
Two blurbs a week from now until December 1st. Why December 1st? Because gratefulness doesn’t end with Thanksgiving dinner.
One blurb, choose something simple. Getting to work on time all week. Sticking to your diet (if that’s your thing.) Getting to worship.
And one blurb, choose a bigger one. My husband does all of the laundry. This is a huge thing that doesn’t get acknowledged, and it should, right? Using my coping skills for my depression recovery. We all have our own things that we find important, so this second blurb will give us something to think about.
1. I actually started Nanowrimo yesterday.
2. I’m grateful for the amount of time my husband “lets” me write without the guilt of needing to do something else. I say let, but it’s not permission; it’s opportunity, and if often goes unthanked.