Grappling with gratitude.

Dear friends,

I’ve been away for a few days.

Not away from home, but certainly away from my senses. From what I hold dear, including gratitude.

You see, Mr. Mom and I got some bad news earlier this week. As you might guess, it’s related to our mountain dispute. We’ve been trying to get our heads around this latest development, to understand our options — if there even are any — and what comes next. Frankly, though, we feel like we’ve been sucker punched and it’s hard to think straight when you’ve had the wind knocked out of you. The judge’s latest ruling unleashed a tsunami of heartache and regret and frustration and grief — and we’re standing dazed and battered on the shore while the remnants of our dream drift out to sea.

I’m not trying to be dramatic and I’m certainly not trying to foreshadow the conclusion to my weekly story — if I even get that far. Right now, I just feel silly and stupid and embarrassed about the whole thing. When I started telling the story in installments, I thought it would be cathartic. And, honestly, we thought we saw a light at the end of the tunnel and we believed the story would have a happy ending. (I foolishly thought I had a “keep your chin up, folks” story to tell. And how perfect is that for a gratitude blog?)  As things have unfolded in recent weeks, however, it’s hard to believe in the happy ending and it’s doubly difficult to keep writing a narrative that looks as if it’s about to break our hearts.

So the last few days I’ve swallowed hard and thought a lot about gratitude. I said at the outset of this blog that I aspired to cultivate gratitude in my life — to reflect on it and savor it and spread it. And in a way, I feel like I’m cutting and running on my promise to myself and to my readers if I can’t muster the courage or the fortitude to finish the story and to unearth something, anything from this experience to be grateful for.

Here’s the truth as I know it today: If you ever think you know what’s next in your life, you’re delusional. And if you ever think you have any control over it, you’re certifiably insane.  The business guru Peter Drucker said “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” I think Peter Drucker is full of BS. Life happens, and sometimes life sucks and sometimes it breaks your heart and sometimes it flattens you.

It seems to me the real test is — can you get back up? Can you walk through the rest of your days without a 10-pound stone of sorrow and regret in your pocket? Can you uncover something positive to dwell on, can you heal your heart, can you redeem your faith in this life?

That’s what I’m focused on right now. I’ll let you know how it goes.

With gratitude {for a partner whose admirable composure and stability has made a very difficult week bearable},


PS: I have a few more installments of our story already written. I’ll continue to publish them on Mondays until I run out of installments or run out of words.  In the mean time, I’m taking a little blogging break. Kate and I are headed out for New York City and I can think of no more restorative activity than mother-daughter bonding in the Big Apple. However, at a time when I’m grappling with gratitude, I can say without reservation that you, dear readers, are a source of support and encouragement and friendship for which I’m immensely thankful.



  1. Please know your voice here is deeply appreciated. I am so grateful for your honesty, your courage, and your perseverance in sharing this story that may not have the happy ending so desired by your many friends and fans. Frankly, while early on in struggles with our own family’s ongoing version of a tragedy, the many platitudes meant to encourage folks through rough times mainly made me want to punch somebody in the face.

    I hope your trip to NYC is absolutely the best, that your time with Kate is filled with moments of unexpected delight, and that you are filled with whatever recharges your resilience batteries. Bon voyage gals!

  2. Maridel says:

    Hello Joan-Marie. Your willingness to share your life (good and bad) is a blessing to your readers. Thank you for that, and have a fabulous time in New York City. (Don’t forget the Hungarian Pastry Shop across the street from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine at 112th and Amsterdam — also the Prada-Schiaparelli exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum!!!!).

  3. I hear that it sucks right now and I know it’s been a loooooong road, but there is something to be said for fighting for what you know is fair and what you know is right – despite the outcome. It’s noble to stand up for yourself. Really. I’m sorry it’s messy and seems fruitless right now.

    I wish you an awesome, fun, safe trip to NYC. If you see my kiddo, give her a quick squeeze from me.

  4. Just wished I had a magic wand. So much heartache in so many places. Life just really sucks sometimes. I think what makes a situation like this feel so horrible, is that you know that an injustice has been done. To know that what is right doesn’t always win out in the end? That is what kills me.

  5. I’m sorry there is more bad news. I hope the trip with Kate is restorative. xo

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