I love November. But this year, I’m kind of grumpy. I know you’re thinking, “What does she have to be grumpy about?” That’s because I love to share all the good things that happen in my life—visits with children and grandchildren, hopeful inquiries from literary agents, interesting travels—on Facebook and here in my blog. But if you follow my blog, you know that I also write about my dark side, and my dark nights of the soul, especially in my Mental Health Mondays posts.
So why am I grumpy? Because I’m not at the beach. I spent the past two Novembers at personal writing retreats at Seagrove Beach, Florida. Alone. Just a girl and her words. And the most beautiful beach in the world. I miss the sound of the ocean crashing just outside my door as I greeted each morning, and all throughout the day as I worked on my novel, just steps from the water. And those long walks every morning and again at sunset. And although I’m a people person, I never got lonely.
Sure, I’d go into Seaside a couple of times a week and hang out at my favorite bar and visit with folks. And I met a couple of new friends at the neighborhood bookstores, and even enjoyed having lunch with them once or twice. And my friend Laura Behr, from the Seaside Writers Workshop back in 2009, always comes and hangs out with me one afternoon during my retreat each year. So I wasn’t really alone for the whole month.
And yes, I’ve got lots of fun things going on this month. Another book reading and signing for Circling Faith on November 10, this time at WordsWorth Books in Little Rock, with Jennifer Horne and Wendy Reed. And I’ll be headed down to Lemuria Books in Jackson for a couple of signings by my friends, Kristen Iversen and Neil White. Oh, and I’m going to my friend, David Twombly’s CD release party at Farmhouse Studio in Moscow (Tennessee) on November 17. And at the end of the month I’ll be driving over to Athens, Georgia, for another Circling Faith event, this time at Avid Books, with Barbara Brown Taylor and Wendy Reed, on December 1.
As I write this and think about all of those events, I can feel the grumpies lifting from my soul. And then I have to chase away the guilties who are telling me what an ungrateful wrench I am. Gratefulness. Thankfulness. Those are popular concepts during November. I just discovered a whole movement called “30 Days of Thanksgiving” that I didn’t know existed. There’s even a website with that name. And this site shows how to make a “Be Thankful” board for your children. But I tend to shy away from some of this thankfulness stuff. I have a hard time discerning what is real and what is superficial. Since I’m a people-pleaser by nature, it’s taken me years to begin to be real about this stuff. (Remember my post, “Permission to Not Be Happy”?)
So, when my friend (a gifted writer) Shari Smith started doing the 30 days thing on Facebook, I sat up and listened. Because Shari doesn’t blow smoke up your ass. She’s genuine. (Check out her blog, “Gunpowder, Cowboy Boots and Mascara.”) Here are her first two posts:
Day 1: I’m grateful for and respectful of the power of words, their ability to heal and to hurt. I’m grateful for and to them who use words well, who say it pretty, who say it so pretty in book and song and everyday conversation.
Day 2: I’m grateful for bein’ wrong. I’m grateful for the reminder that there’s a reason to look or listen just one more time, to ask the question, “you s’pose it’s me?”, to find a goodness in a soul that was hiding so down deep I almost missed it. I’m grateful for bein’ wrong.
Shari’s words inspire me to try this whole 30 days of thanksgiving thing. But I’m not going to write about it (surprised?). Too much pressure. What if I have a day when I’m not thankful? Would I fake it and put on a smile for all of the social media world to see? I think thankfulness, like humility, is an acquired taste. Something I might have to spend a lifetime on. Instead, I’m going to try a private version. Just me and God. And maybe every now and then I’ll share more of Shari’s thanksgivings with you. If I was going to write one today, it would be this: “I’m grateful for Shari.”