Grateful in the Great Wide Open

Not so very long ago, I railed regularly against the happenings in my life. I thought if I could just use that Midwestern gumption I was raised with, I could corral life into the direction I had planned.

Life, it turns out, cannot be corralled. If anything, it corrals us again and again—only releasing us as we learn each lesson mapped out for us.

And so, while far from a sage, I end 2017 thankful. Odd, because there are still plenty of messy bits in my life. But after spending far too much time in the corral entitled, “Until You Can Accept It, Here You’ll Stay,” I have finally galloped toward the Great Wide Open.

I had breakfast with a friend recently who was embarrassed by the events in her life. They weren’t even her events—they were her ex-husband’s. But, she felt if the people in our town knew the truth, she would be ostracized.

I couldn’t lie. “You will be, by some,” I said. “But I’d rather take those lumps and count on the basic goodness of some people than use up all my energy living a charade.”

Out to dinner with another friend recently, she said, “You’re really authentic. I want to be authentic but I just have so many filters.”

2018, here we come. All of us. The filtered and the authentic, the brazen and the shamed. We are so damn imperfect that it’s sometimes beautiful.

So here I go again, into an uncertain year. You too? Good. I could use compadres. And for those of you who think you’re going into a certain year, I’ve got news for you. Even soothsayers miss things. Don’t hold too tightly, lest life take a sharp turn.

So, thankful. Yes, that. Thankful that I have a son who shares my love of all things bookish and another who gives me white hair and has some lessons in love to learn. He is learning them. At a snail’s pace—one step forward, two steps back—but evolution comes even to the most resistant of us.

Thankful for the work that has come my way, the kind souls who have brought it to me, the ability to (finally) watch my youngest graduate from a school I’ve worked far too many hours to keep him in.

Thankful for the laughter my eldest brings to us—and yes, even the pain. It baptizes me in a way I chafe against, but it also softens me the way rushing water smooths river stone. My hard edges wear down with each passing year.

Thankful for the watchful eyes of my parents. My mother’s younger brother was killed at 26 by a drunk driver. An avid cross-county motorcycle rider, it is ironic he was killed just a few miles from home by someone who’d had one too many at happy hour. When my eldest son snuck his father’s motorcycle out of his garage this year—a motorcycle I had forbidden him to ride—all it took was a bit of gravel to down his fellow rider. As his bike spun out and hit my son’s, I was completely unaware. I’m sure I was home reading a book or watching a movie with a friend. But my mother—oh my mother—she hated motorcycles with a passion after her brother was killed. I see her hand in the fact that a female paramedic just happened to be in a car behind my son when the accident happened. The EMTs were there within minutes—and thankfully, my son escaped with just a nasty gash in his leg. In my oh-so-human mother role, I couldn’t protect my son from what I didn’t see or know—but Mom took care of business for me. I am sure of it. I took it from there, doing what only an in-the-flesh mother can do—grounding him from here until Kingdom Come. On days I feel I cannot do it alone, I am reminded I do not do it alone. Even if my help comes from places I cannot see.

Thankful for my friends. I watch them go through such change—marriage, divorce, moves, health issues—and through it all, they learn grace. Not gracefully, of course. The journey can be a little ugly sometimes. But I applaud their hard-won wisdom.

Thankful for all of you. In your comments, your blogs, your sharing and your kind words, I learn. I have realized that despite this community being as far-flung as it is, our humanity unites us. On the days I wonder if the world is going to hell in a handbasket, I remember all of you. And I realize it cannot—there’s too much good in all of us for that to happen.

I applaud your bravery, your kindness, your wisdom, your sharing. I end 2017 so very thankful for what it is—even the not-so-pretty bits.

As we welcome 2018, my word is “Know.” As in “Be still and Know that I am God.” I Know who I am. I Know my good is here. I Know I am a tiny droplet of a much Higher Power.

My youngest said his word for the year is “believe.” A great word—and one that tempted me—but I realize I have gone beyond belief. In a year of uncertainty, I Know.

Join me. And may you embrace all of the blessings headed your way in 2018.

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50 Comments Add yours

  1. Thankful for reminding me to be thankful!!! 🌛🙏💖🌟🌞🙏🌜

  2. lisakunk says:

    Where have you been all my life? I’ve been blogging for quite awhile and am just now finding your site. So far, I think it’s lovely and the comments from your readers are a wonderful testament to your ability to touch people and speak wisely. Grateful might be a good word of the year. I’m looking at it in your title. hmmm I’m excited to read more from you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! Those are some very kind words:). I’ve just been here, in my little corner of the Universe. So glad we’ve connected. My readers are the best–and I truly mean that. Just love this community.

  3. I think you are closer to a sage than you realise! Great word for the year. May you know how amazing you are and how precious each moment is 🌈💕

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! I’d take sage status:). Even if only in increasing moments. Happy New Year!

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    I loved every word of this post, Kay, for the way they made me feel positive, strong and worthy. Thank you.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, you can’t begin to guess how happy that makes me:). What a good way to start the new year . . . thanks, as always, for your kind words.

  5. What a wonderfully positive way to end the year with thankfulness and to be sure of yourself going forward, even if you can’t be sure what the year will throw at you 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      Right?! It may be a year of uncertain events but I can Know all is for greater good.

  6. Such a lovely post to finish the year .. thank you! Wishing you and your family a wonderful NY ..

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for reading and commenting:). Here’s to a blessed 2018 for all of us!

  7. I find I am not as reflective or philosophical right now as I would like to be at the end of the year. So thankful that as I make my way through this dearth of deep thinking, I can muse and meditate on your thoughts. Yes, to understanding the value of accepting imperfection. Let’s revel in that. And yes to being thankful, even during uncertainty. Love the mother perspectives. They are so real to me, the mother of a brilliant 21-year-old who frustrated me by leaving college but impressed me with his dedication to his work as a lifeguard instructor, CPR instructor and volunteer firefighter now completing EMT training. I found myself wondering if there is a symbiotic relationship to your embrace of the Great Wide Open and your son being grounded until Kingdom Come. I’m looking forward to sharing ideas with you in 2018. Cheers!

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, let’s just revel in it all. What the hell:). I feel like you and I are such deep thinkers, we’ve earned a little rivalry in 2018. Thank you for always being such a thoughtful commentator and making me dig deeper even on my own thoughts. Happy New Year, Kathy! 🎆

  8. Beautiful, dear girl. You are wiser than you know.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Cynthia. Much love to you and yours in the new year!

  9. Amy says:

    Another thoughtful post from you, my friend. Thank you for the gift of your beautiful, thoughtful writing. Most of all, thank you for your friendship. Much love and many blessings to you and yours in the New Year! xoxo

    1. candidkay says:

      And thank you for all the beauty you have brought to us through your thoughtful post-and all the beauty bring to the world through just being you. 💕

  10. Michele Coppess says:

    Wow! This was such a fantastic read! I’m happy your son had angels watching over him . I absolutely love your writing and often share blogs with family and friends. Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift! Wishing you health, peace and joy in 2018.

    1. candidkay says:

      First, thank you so much for reading and for the kind words. And second, I can’t thank you enough for sharing my blog with family and friends. It’s that kind of sharing that has grown me from just a couple of readers to 14,000+. And I love doing it we can have a global conversation about all that unites us. Wishing you and your family a wonderful 2018!

  11. Dearest Kristine
    This post met me on so many levels. I yearned so deeply to connect with you it was palpable. I thought God I wish I could have a chat with this lady. I need to find someone to talk to who really understands. I need a wise woman who shares my philosophy on life. Who’s really lived and experienced things. I don’t want a counselor who is twenty or thirty something. I’m not saying I don’t learn from these people. One of my sons is twenty something. But I yearn for a wise woman in the village whom I could sit with and spill it all out to. Thank you. You were that wise woman for me today the first day of the New Year. I look forward to more connections.

  12. Dearest Kristine
    This post met me on so many levels. I yearned so deeply to connect with you it was palpable. I thought God I wish I could have a chat with this lady. I need to find someone to talk to who really understands. I need a wise woman who shares my philosophy on life. Who’s really lived and experienced things. I don’t want a counselor who is twenty or thirty something. I’m not saying I don’t learn from these people. One of my sons is twenty something. But I yearn for a wise woman in the village whom I could sit with and spill it all out to. Thank you. You were that wise woman for me today the first day of the New Year.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, that warms my heart. Truly it does. Despite the miles and possibly oceans between us, I’m glad that we were able to have a virtual chat of sorts. Even if it was rather one sided. You’re welcome to spell it virtually whenever you need to. I am here and listening. Wishing you a new year filled with a host of blessings.

      1. Thank you Kristine. From my house to yours – wishing all the blessings possible for this year.xxx

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for the reblog! Happy New Year!

  13. Michele Bower Coppess says:

    Wow! This was such a fantastic read! I’m happy your son had angels watching over him . I absolutely love your writing and often share blogs with family and friends. Thank you for sharing your beautiful gift! Wishing you health, peace and joy in 2018.

    1. candidkay says:

      That means a lot! Thank you so much first for reading and commenting and second, for sharing. It’s amazing that I’ve been able to build up 14,000+ followers pretty much through word-of-mouth. And it’s people like you made it possible and I thank you so much. I hope life is being good to you and your family. Wishing you a blessed 2018!

  14. “I realize I have gone beyond belief. In a year of uncertainty, I Know.” Yes! Yes! Yes!

    So grateful your son wasn’t badly hurt. He must have been watched over, for sure. Here’s to a new year. I think we’ve all squeezed the juice out of 2017.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m so glad he was ok also. Could have been far worse. And yes—the knowing. My wisest self does:). I’m betting you do too!

  15. I wish a great year to you too !

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). You’re closer to 2018 than I am—so happy new year!🎆

  16. Judy says:

    “one step forward, two steps back” is a cha cha. 😉 Happy New Year.

  17. Shivangi says:

    I am thankful to have read this blog. Thank you!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you for visiting!

  18. ustome says:

    A great post. Best wishes to you and your family for 2018.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you! And to yours also.

  19. mihrank says:

    wow – this is so classical, amazing and beautiful story…May you have an abundant and amazing New Year ahead of you and may all your dreams come true. Have a fantastic New Year!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you:). Wishing you the same!

  20. A beautiful story Kristine, and a very loving one as well. One cannot ‘know’ their journey until one ‘knows’ it, from the many hard bumps to the beautiful roses in our lives, each guiding us ever closer to understanding ourselves, that self love that guides us ever onward. I’m glad to have been a part of your journey, and thank you for sharing it. ❤
    May your 2018 be full of that discovery young lady, and the belief that it brings. Namaste ❤

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks for being part of the journey! Here’s to yours being an adventure in 2018.

      1. Let’s see if I can keep off the streets and out of trouble this year Kristine 😀 ❤

  21. suemclaren24 says:

    I’m with your Mom and you on the motorcycle “thing”. My step-brother lost half his leg in a motorcycle accident, which is less, by far, than your uncle but still noticeable. Another step-brother was killed by a drunk driver. I’m totally with you on the lessons; if we don’t “get it” the first time, it’ll show up again. A word that occurred to me for next year belongs to a friend of whom I asked, “what did you come into this lifetime to learn?” and he answered, “courage”. That’s true for most of us. Thank you for sharing so much with us.

    1. candidkay says:

      Courage is a great word for 2018!

      1. lisakunk says:

        I have wracked my brain trying to come up with a word for this year. We were talking about it in my writing class this morning. Our teacher/editor chose “true” while a classmate chose “sheepdog” because she like to gather people. Perfect for her. I find myself choosing words that are more goal oriented like choose and focus. I’m hoping something will pop up and I’ll know it’s right. I keep thinking I want to be more aware of wasted time with technology and how much writing I used to do before Facebook. Instagram. Blogging. I love reading other people’s blogs and could do so all day easily. But when does that leave time to write my own. Dilemma is a fitting word. I’d love any thoughts you “word” people might have.

      2. candidkay says:

        This is a great “word” group! Come on gang, let’s help Lisa out:). Based on what you’re saying, maybe “clarity”? The clarity to know what deserves your time, among other things:). I think the word really has to come to you–can’t be forced!

      3. lisakunk says:

        Oooooo. I like clarity. Bring on the choices.

  22. This is a beautiful post Kay. Once again, you’ve courageously shared your vulnerable and wise self with us. Kudos on all the wisdom you’ve gleaned from your messy (real) life. I’m working on very similar lessons. May we learn to trust and know. Many blessings for the new year!

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, as always, for the kind words. Here’s to acing our lessons in the new year!

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