Count Your Misblessings


Thanksgiving is a feel good holiday.

Comfort food, cozy sweaters, and the first lights of Christmas going up in houses everywhere. Our gratitude lists as we go around the table on Thanksgiving day are typically just as “feel good.” Just like my usual gratitude list that starts of many of my journal writing sessions:

  • Coffee

  • This warm house

  • My favorite pen

  • My favorite journal

  • Both of my boys still sleeping quietly in their beds

These same items have been at the top of my list for the last 10 years. That’s how long I’ve been waking up at 5 am every morning to write in my journal, the place I’ve come to get to know myself, to find my big dreams, and apparently to make the same exact gratitude list over and over again.

As I was pouring my cup of coffee this morning, knowing I was committed to writing this post today, I kept thinking, “What’s left to be said about Thanksgiving?”

It’s a nice, thoughtful holiday born out of some not so nice things we did to the original inhabitants of our country to help us feel better about how we took it from them. When you look at it like that, maybe Thanksgiving could give us all a chance to dig a little deeper into our own gratitude if we let ourselves?

We could start with my go-to gratitude list - nice, neat, honest and convenient - doesn’t in any way represent my struggles. And my struggles, at least as much as my blessings, have made me who I am. But I never think to give thanks to my divorce fifteen years ago or to my childhood full of dysfunction. I give thanks to the “good things.”

But I couldn’t help but wonder today, what if I could find a way to be thankful for all of it, not just picking and choosing the parts worthy of sharing in my round at the Thanksgiving table?

This week, a dear friend and brilliant coach invited me into her program for next year, and it sounds amazing. Two in person retreats, monthly training, support as well as tough love, and a community of women all gathered around on goal: creating the lives we want. She provided a list in the program description of all the things that we might fill our blanks with:

  • Travel more

  • Start a business

  • Find a loving relationship

  • Have a baby

  • Buying a house

There were many more options, most of which I’ve wanted desperately at different times in my life. Many of which I help women work toward and achieve as a coach. But for some reason as I looked at the list, nothing reached out and grabbed me. Not one thing on the list whispered “let’s play.”

Maybe I can attribute it to the old saying you’ll probably hear in your mom’s voice as you read it: “Be thankful for what you DO have, dear.”

Or maybe, for the last 48 hours or so, I’ve felt free of the near constant striving to create more, do better, be more, make a bigger difference, share more, shine brighter, earn more, and love like the movies tell you to.

Maybe, just maybe, for a few days this Thanksgiving week I’ll trade in my surface level gratitude list to share with a close friend how much the things that have been incredibly hard in my life have made me who I am. And now, I’m able this year - perhaps for the first time - to open my heart and say “welcome, come in, sit down, and rest” to the misblessings I’ve been keeping at arm’s length; the parts of myself that don’t fit neatly into a round of shout-outs at the Thanksgiving table.

Maybe this year, I’m learning for the first time how to hold the life I still long to create in one arm and the one I’ve been given in the other while loving them both at the same time, knowing that all the mess that’s contributed to who I’ve become is exactly what is necessary for who I’ve yet to become.

All of this leaves me wondering, can you think of one messy bit of your life that you can be thankful for this week? Would you be willing to share it? If not at the Thanksgiving table, perhaps with a close friend?

The Whats

What I’m reading: James Clear’s Atomic Habits. It is rocking my world! If you are ready to stop making excuses for yourself and live into who you truly are, this is the book for you. We’re discussing it next week in for book club in our online community. Want to join in? Click here.

What I’m listening to: Origins, with James Andrew Miller. Season 5 features interviews and stories behind the creation of Sex and the City. Right after my divorce, I dove into this show every night for two episodes back-to-back on HBO. This was way before you could binge an entire season via Netflix! My kids were tucked in and instructed not to get out of bed so that I could hang out with my friends Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha. But what I’m getting out of this podcast series, beyond the nostalgia, is a behind-the-scenes look into the creative instincts and process for creating anything original.

What I’m creating: The Course Retreat. Earlier this month, I invited three amazing women to join me to create their six-figure courses at a five-star hotel in Charleston, SC. After three days of hard work, delicious seafood, and plenty of belly laughs, they are on track to profitability. I’ve decided to host three of these retreats next year because we all agreed it was a wonderful experience that I can’t wait to extend to 12 more women in 2019. Between now and the end of November, I’m securing dates and locations. I’ll be taking applications starting December 1st. If you want to be at the top of the list, email me and I’ll make sure you’re the first to know.

And one more thing…

Just a quick note: My favorite posts start in my morning journal, and I’ve decided not to edit out the preamble anymore. This way, I’m able to share with you my most authentic voice straight from the page (well, screen). If you are interested in starting a journal practice, Julia Cameron taught me how in her brilliant book, The Artist’s Way. This practice has truly been the greatest gift I could have ever given to myself.

One more VERY IMPORTANT note: I hope your Thanksgiving is full of messy and beautiful magic! I am deep down grateful for each time to pick up your phone or open your laptop and choose to spend a few moments with me.

Jeannie SullivanComment