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Gratitude by Tamara Hogan

Thanksgiving is, of course, the time of year where the concept of thankfulness is visibly front and center. Here is where I must admit that, by personality and profession, I'm a problem-solver, more immediately attuned to recognizing and then correcting exceptions, deviations and negatives.

Sometimes I need a reminder to break out of problem-solving mode, and consciously acknowledge the things I'm thankful for. Thanksgiving gives me that reminder.

In no particular order:

Good health:  For those of us living with chronic illness, the concept of good health is a relative, sometimes day to day, thing, but all things considered, 2011 was a pretty great year health-wise. My metric? I barely met my insurance deductible!

Modern medicine:  Every time I grumble about how many sticks it takes for me to have blood taken, I try to remember that had I been born even a decade earlier than I was, I likely would have died during my teen years. I'm thankful for butterfly syringes, with their small needles!

Employment:  In this economic climate, I feel so fortunate to have a job that challenges me, and a regular paycheck when so many capable people don't.  

Family and Friends: They may not always understand me, but they always have my back.

Democracy:  I feel so fortunate to have been born to parents who live in a democratic society, where, within the scope of the laws of the land, I can say anything, do anything, be anything. As someone who lives life outside some the prevailing cultural norms, this is not a thing I take lightly.

Last but not least...

Creativity:  Four years ago, writing the first halting words of my debut, Taste Me, in a spiral notebook, with a pen in one hand and Deb Dixon's Goal, Motivation and Conflict in the other, I never would have dreamed that I'd publish one book, much less be copy editing a second and drafting a third. Thank you to everyone at Sourcebooks who helped make my dream a reality! 

Chronic illness has provided me with some unexpected gifts. Is there anything in your life you're thankful for that people may find surprising or difficult to understand?  


  1. Tamara, I'm grateful for those butterflies, too. Not that I get blood drawn as often as you but convincing my stingy veins to give it up is a chore.
    I read a quote this week that says: Every struggle in your life has shaped you into the person you are today. Be thankful for the hard times; they can only make you stronger.
    I'm not sure that I'm as thankful as I should be for those hard times but I am grateful that they make me stronger.

  2. Single parenting was my surprising big gift. You learn things loving a child that you don't learn loving a mate--precious, important things. Then too, I have gone through life with an unprepossessing appearance. This is far more a blessing than a burden, particularly for somebody who likes to observe much more than she wants to be observed.

    I do not agree with the "strong at the broken places" thinking propounded by many, but I do think "strong at the thoughtful, loving places," holds true for me.

    Good post, Tamara, and may you have abundant health in the ways that matter to you.

  3. Modern medicine is a big one for me. I love writing about historical times but if I actually lived back then I would have died (like so many women) in childbirth. So I'm grateful to be living now where I can visit the medieval times through my imagination within living the comforts of the 21st century.

  4. Hi Carolyn - I'm a firm believer in "That which does not kill you makes you stronger." I had a great blood draw day yesterday - only two sticks!

  5. Grace, interesting comment you make about appreciating an unprepossessing appearance. I've noticed a similar phenomenon as I age. Being a massive introvert, I must admit that I rather like it that way.

  6. Amanda, yes - YAY for modern medicine! I feel so fortunate to live wheen and where I do.

    I read a heartbreaking article the other day about maternal death rates in third world countries, where childbirth is still the leading cause of death among young women.

    It's all so relative, too. I'm old enough to remember school life before Title IX was introduced, and remember being bitterly disappointed that I couldn't play Little League baseball solely because I didn't have a penis. That's a tiny little first world problem compared to being made to marry, at age of first menstruation, a man 4 times my age and being expected to sleep with him and bear him a child - and having absolutely no choice in the matter.

  7. Tamara, thanks for the great reminder. I left home at a pretty early age. Everything I've attained, I did so with my own sweat and tears. Although I didn't enjoy learning all those life lessons the hard way, I'm extraordinarily grateful today.

  8. I can't really say I'm thankful I had a miscarriage before my daughter was born. I would have loved to have had that baby, but I think it made me appreciate the baby I did have and the fragility of life even more.

  9. Tracey - in hindsight, there's great satisfaction in knowing you accomplished what you have because of your own strengths and talents, isn't there? This realization can be so very empowering.

  10. Shana, lessons about life's fragility come about so painfully, don't they? For some reason, quite a few people in my family tree have significant chronic health problems. Without really being aware of it, I grew up with the recognition that tomorrow was promised to no one, and internalized it. I didn't know anything different. I am admittedly a bit too...accepting? my reaction to hearing about health issues, including my own. I'm kinda like, "OK. We have a diagnosis. What do I have to do next?" I hop to problem-solving immediately, having had an opportunity to work through the "Why me?"/"Well, why NOT me?" thing a long time ago. I feel fortunate to have learned this early on.


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