Giving Thanks: Counting My Blessings


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  55 comments   :  15,062 Views

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays. Spending time with family and friends on this day is by far a blessing in and of itself. It is also a time to reflect on the year and give thanks for all the many blessings --big and small--that have come my way.

Finding the silver lining when one loses a job

This year my family and I have experienced its share of ups and downs, sometimes making it difficult to see the blessings behind the hardship. Last April my husband was laid off from a company he had been employed with for 20 years. While not completely unexpected, it was still a shock when the lay-offs were announced and the pink slips were handed out. The stress of not knowing if and when he would find a job was almost a daily event. Each morning my husband would hit the computer sending out countless resumes, calling for interviews, pounding the pavement, not to mention filling out the countless forms necessary for unemployment. Looking for a job became his full-time job.

Three months and over 300 job applications later, we were blessed when he was given the opportunity to work for a consulting firm. While it didn't feel like a blessing at the time he lost his job, during those long three months it allowed us to put our priorities back in order. It allowed us to find ways to cut back and still be strong for one another.

Reconnecting with old friends

One of the biggest blessings that came into my life this year was reconnecting with my high school girlfriends from 30 years ago. One Saturday a month-since May- we have a girls luncheon. We talk, laugh, and yes even share a tear of two. We talk about the challenges of growing older, fighting the middle age spread, raising our children, and the many blessings that have been bestowed on us. Some of my gal pals have even taken up running and will be participating in The White Rock Marathon Relay next month. I am so proud of them. They have all been working so hard to accomplish their own goals. I thank each one of them for making my heart a little bigger.

"Friendship is the only cement that will ever hold the world together" -Woodrow Wilson

It just isn't a job, it is fulfilling a dream

I am so blessed to work for one of the most inspiring men I have ever met. When I met Chris Downie for the first time last May at the San Diego Convention it was truly a dream come true. To meet the man who literally changed my life was a very emotional moment for me, hence earning the nickname, SP_CryBaby. Hearing the members at both conventions share their stories of struggle, only to rise above them in triumph is by far one of the best parts of my job. Funny how meeting the members in person allowed me to put a face to a username, only to discover through our many talks, we share more in common than we do in our differences no matter where we call home. I saw so many people who arrived to the conventions as total strangers only to walk away with a slew of new friendships. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a convention it will literally change your life.

Others see our blessings when we don't

Last year a dear running friend told me that being overweight was a blessing in my life--keep in mind he never knew me when I was overweight. When he told me this I must say I was not a very happy camper. He proceeded to tell me that being overweight allowed me to be where I was today. Being overweight gave me the desire and push I needed to start running. Had I not been overweight, I probably would not have joined SparkPeople to help me find the motivation and inspiration to get the weight off, however in doing so it led me to a wonderful job and the confidence to do things I only once dreamt of doing.

Finding the blessings in life's adversities has allowed me to see the blessings in the simplest of tasks. To think five years ago I would have run over 65 races, including the Chicago Marathon, that I would be working for a company whose members continue to inspire me each and every day, that I would become a certified running coach and begin the course work to become a certified personal trainer is still mind-boggling. Take life for all it is meant to be and try counting everything in your life as a blessing even if you can't quite see it as a blessing at the time.

"When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.- Alexander Graham Bell

I wish you all a BLESSED Thanksgiving and holiday season.

Have you overcome an adversity in life only to discover the true blessings behind it?

Me with my high school girlfriends last summer

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  • 55
    As always, Nancy has written another wonderful article - not just for Thanksgiving, but for everyday. I try to thank God every day for my wonderful blessings. - 12/18/2009   10:13:07 AM
  • 54
    Hi,reading your blog shows a lot of determination! I can see that there was no giving up on submitting over 300 resumes!**Wow** I'm happy to see that you all endured patience over this period of time.Thanks for sharing this" moving" story with us. Have a Blessed Christmas and Happy New Year! - 12/6/2009   11:11:54 AM
  • 53
    Love this blog, and the sentiments behind it. I agree with being thankful for our adversities that have created the people we are today. Without having been overweight,I would not appreciate being fit as much as I do, and I don't think I'd be as motivated to stick with the program.

    Great quotes too! - 12/5/2009   9:17:20 AM
  • 52
    I am going thru a rough patch right now having lost my job of 30+ years the beginning of November. I'm doing just what your husband did. Not easy.
    I also have a daughter applying for college. How will it be paid for??? Many questions..... I'm looking for the 2nd door to open! Thank you for reminding me this too shall pass!!! - 12/1/2009   12:08:09 PM
  • 51
    I had open heart surgery and my human relations department expected me to come back exactly two months later. Well, at 61 years of age I just didn't heal that fast. So I lost my job. But it had a silver lining--I was able to spend quality time with my husband for 3 months before he died. It was close one to one personal time that I would have missed if I had returned to work. And his social security replaced the salary I would have had, so I never returned to work I just do volunteer work and whatever I want to fill my time. I have watched what I eat and added exercise to my day such as walking every day and have lost some of the weight I need to lose and am much more fit and look better than I ever did when I was working. It works for me. - 12/1/2009   12:52:31 AM
  • 50
    Great Blog Nancy -
    I too am thankful for sparkpeople and the wonderful spark friends I have.
    Thanks for helping me to look at my former obesity and subsequent lifestyle change as a blessing - I have gotten so much more out of it - I've found a person that I like - me. - 11/29/2009   10:30:43 PM
    it is good to be reminded that it is out of our struggles and obsticles that we grow and learn and become stronger. when life is easy we tend to sit still and stay the way we are. (when we are happy why would we want to change.) sometimes, even though i know that i am blessed by the strength i receive and the things i learn, i just don't want to go through it anymore. i think i would like for it to be easy. so, i try to remember all the good that has come in my life because of the trials and hardships. i would not be the person i am today without those difficulties. i like who i am, and am grateful for the things i have learned as i have walked this path through my life. - 11/28/2009   9:59:08 PM
  • 48
    I have been chronically ill and injured for the last 17 years. I got my master's degree in Holistic Health education with an emphasis in Counseling in 2000 and my thesis was entitled ' ILLNESS AS A SPIRITUAL PATH, QUEST FOR WHOLENESS". I think the title tells it all, my injury and subsequent illness and disability was full of growth and changes and I love the person I have become through that experience! - 11/28/2009   1:33:24 PM
    What a great outlook - 11/27/2009   11:38:19 AM
  • 46
    I, too, am grateful for the experience of being overweight. I didn't start out this way. For the first three decades of my life, I ate whatever I wanted ~ and let me tell you, it wasn't good, healthy, nutrition-dense food, but just whatever I had a craving for at the moment. I was the proverbial string bean. But that kind of living caught up with me and coupled with eating emotionally after divorce/single parenting, I put on considerable weight over time. It hasn't been easy to turn around a lifetime of bad habits, but I am so thankful that I finally realized there was another way to live, a way that was life-giving, that wasn't going to cut short the number of years I have to live.

    Even more, though, is the fact that carrying such an amount of extra weight for so many years has taught me compassion. I'm not proud to say this, but I used to look at fat people and be thankful that wasn't me! Now I know what it feels like and how difficult a life it is, and I have truly been humbled by the experience to embrace all people who struggle with this issue, both those on the journey to recover (or discover) health and those who have yet to realize that is even possible for them. I've been both places, and it has taught me love, kindness, consideration, and gratitude in a way that nothing else could have. - 11/27/2009   10:31:46 AM
  • 45
    Great blog Nancy. I recall a comment on the Today show referencing the recession. The anchor said that from the Depression the chocolate chip cookie was invented. Desperation breeds inspiration. I suppose out of our struggles with weight, came the decision to join Spark People. Thank you for your perspective. - 11/27/2009   9:31:17 AM
    it seems to me the human race has a natural inclination towards dwelling on the negative. yet that shouldn't be natural, we are all so Blessed in so many ways. if we stopped each day and thought about how we've been Blessed just that day, we couldn't continue to be so blind to our GOD's great love for us! - 11/27/2009   4:24:25 AM
  • 43
    Funny.... I was writing a blog about my "blessings in disguise" last night when my computer locked up. I just shut it down and went to bed.... The biggest blessing in disguise was losing my eyesight.... You will have to read my blog to know why! Thanks for this blog and for Jen's yesterday! - 11/26/2009   11:20:28 PM
  • 42
    My son was laid off in June and is still looking for a full time position. He is a college graduate/engineer. He is doing some teaching at a local college. It has been very hard on his family. I thank God that his wife is employed and is paid very well. We have helped out but not too much. I know that they have much to be thankful for even with the lay off but it is hard to watch. - 11/26/2009   6:58:50 PM
    VERY encouraging! Sometimes these are the things that make us not take care of ourselves properly. We cope with over eating, not excersizing, etc... No matter what life throws at us and we are still here to live it, we have to go on in the most positive way possible for our circumstances. Your words lets alot of us know we are not alone and to keep on moving! Thanks - 11/26/2009   6:42:42 PM
  • 40
    I have thought lately that weird as it may seem I am grateful for having been overweight/obese (and I still am obese, but "recovering")...
    I definitely would not have been where I am today without it. And I wouldn't be on the way to where I am heading without those experiences. I just _know_ that this focus is for life, something (a spark?) has switched on inside me and I feel more alive than ever.
    And I am SO grateful for Spark People and for people like YOU, Nancy! You have paved the way so I can follow and I KNOW that I will be better off with each day that passes. You are such an inspiration!
    Marit - 11/26/2009   4:12:59 PM
  • 39
    Love the pic, Nancy! Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, and thanks so much for an inspiring post!

    Lisa - 11/26/2009   2:15:28 PM
  • 38
    thanks - 11/26/2009   1:15:20 PM
  • 37
    It is easier to overlook my trials than those of my children and grandchildren. - 11/26/2009   12:30:23 PM
  • 36
    Thank you for your blessings. God bless you and yours! - 11/26/2009   12:26:30 PM
    Great blog. Thanks and Happy Thanksgiving. - 11/26/2009   12:00:52 PM
  • 34
    Very inspiring and uplifting blog. It is so true, often times you lose sight of all that we have to be thankful for in times of change and turmoil. Thanks. - 11/26/2009   12:00:03 PM
    Thanks for family and friends and for sharing. - 11/26/2009   11:59:06 AM
  • 32
    Another great inspiring post Nancy, thank you so much! I too am an over comer :) Way too many things to list here! Have a blessed Thanksgiving and Christmas! - 11/26/2009   11:34:20 AM
    I'm blessed in so many ways that I didn't realize it until I read your post. Your perspective is awesome and motivating. Thanks for your insight. - 11/26/2009   11:24:35 AM
  • 30
    My son, Nathan has had TESTICULAR CANCER this year and had surgery and 4 rounds of Chemotherapy, but I certainly can't see any "blessings" from it all. Now he will have follow up for the next 10 years. - 11/26/2009   11:17:41 AM
  • 29
    If I hadn't have joined Spark people and gotten my daughter interested in it she wouldn't have joined and been interested in losing weight herself. She saw me making progress and thought wow what if I did that. She now has a personal trainer and in the last month she has lost 9 inches around her waist. Hurray for her. - 11/26/2009   11:17:09 AM
  • 28
    I really liked your blog Nancy... So much PERSPECTIVE!! I never thought about it that way... If I hadn't been overweight I wouldn't have found Spark, and wouldn't have gained this PASSION and the way its been cultivated here on SP is something that I am so so so grateful for... I can't change the fact that I was an overweight child all the way through adolescence to the beginning of 'adulthood" but I can CLAIM my life right now and live it from this moment on.... And I am SO thankful for you all here!!! *HUGS* - 11/26/2009   9:35:40 AM
  • 27
    Happy Thanksgiving, Coach Nancy and everyone reading this. Way to go on taking adversity and using it to strive on to make something positive out of it.

    I treasured meeting you at the Ohio Convention, having dinner at Arnold's, and being able to have a couple conversations with you in person. I just love your spirit and your blogs. You inspire me and I'm grateful for SP for the opportunites that come our way by being active and involved members.

    Here's to you and your families . . . SparkHugs, Cheers, and Blessings ... Deb - 11/26/2009   8:38:51 AM
    Sometimes we need to be reminded what is truly important and even then we always loose focus in a moment of frustration. I am thankful to be alive, healthy and have a wonderful family. I am thankful for SP and all the wonderful people associated with it. Happy Thanksgiving to all! - 11/26/2009   8:26:01 AM
  • MRE1956
    I lost a job and my mom over the summer so things have been painfully difficult, to say the least. Yesterday was my first b-day withough Mom to lovingly "bust my chops", so to speak. I've gone completely off track eating-wise, sad to say, but the exercise, interestingly enough, was not significantly effected. I am now in the process of taking "baby steps" to get back on track. - 11/26/2009   7:11:13 AM
  • 24
    For me it was getting not one, but two, kinds of cancer two years ago. One of the cancers I had, melanoma, is very deadly. For a while I had to deal with the facts of my mortality on a daily basis. But I came through the process stronger and more positive than I've ever been in my life. Today and every day I truly count my blessings. And Spark People has just become the icing on the cake! - 11/26/2009   6:51:51 AM
  • 23
    This has definitely happened to us. We were over spenders when we were young and probably would never have changed except for some real bad flooding problems. We realized that by being in debt we were giving away our power and control. We cleaned up our act--it took years--and eventually were able to retire--it never would have happened if we didn't have such bad problems. We now look on the experience as a blessing in disguise. We also were very sad to know so many were in such trouble because they were overextended with this latest trouble with the economy. We know from first hand how scared you can be. - 11/26/2009   6:23:37 AM
  • 22
    What a good reminder to focus on the positive result instead of the challenge. Thanks for sharing and Happy Thanksgiving. - 11/26/2009   6:07:32 AM
  • 21
    Great blog. Thankyou for your sharing. - 11/26/2009   4:25:48 AM
  • 20
    This year has brought a lot of changes. The first week of October, my husband asked for a divorce. Even though it shocked me, now that I am out of that relationship and living on my own, I realize what an unhealthy relationship it was. I know now that the put downs and all the emotional baggage kept me depressed and unable to lose weight. After I got on the other side of it, I started being there for me. Exercising, eating healthy foods, actually liking myself, all of these things were realized after that relationship. I still have a long way to go. there is 40 lbs to lose. But I know now that I can do anything! I am so thankful for this place that inspires me daily. - 11/26/2009   2:20:09 AM
  • 19
    I've definately had my ups & downs through the years. It was really tough to be living in California, when all my family was back in New Jersey. My son has some disabilities, but he has the biggest heart and capacity to love . He has taught me so much. I have a lot to be thankful including sp. It has taught me to be accountable, & given me back control. I love interacting with so many healthy, & supportive people. And I am so thankful for my husband , & 3 children. My freind Renee is a huge blessing& inspiration. Despite the fact her husband is out of work, she's working a lot raiding five kids , doing daycare for 3 others, & fighting cancer, she's taking her kids to volunteer at a soup kitchen tomorrow. This is one of her traditions. Wishing you all many blessings! Enjoy your day! - 11/25/2009   11:34:43 PM
  • 18
    Thank you for reminding us how life changes courses and how we can change with it and achieve our dreams. - 11/25/2009   11:04:11 PM
  • 17
    YES I HAVE INDEED!!!As I reflect on my past experiences, every door that closes has turned into an opportunity to re-invent, lose or tweak aspects of character that define who I am.
    The big example in the past five years is giving up my academic career 2 years after my son was born. It was a year of closing doors. I finished breastfeeding, my dad died, I quit partying, my body changed.
    I lost status, I was now defined as Daniel's mum. That was hard, I have always defined myself by my financial independence, my professional exhibiting history, peers and students respect, the non-domestic methods of measuring a persons worth!
    Not very balanced, I did not take good care of myself, I led an extremely free lifestyle.
    It's all part of the creative package baby - now I can cook creatively, grow my own foods, make things with my boy...I am diving deeper into gratitude for our precious lives.
    Next year I may find some paid employment tho (!) - 11/25/2009   10:41:05 PM
  • 16
    thank you for sharing - 11/25/2009   10:06:35 PM
  • 15
    Absolutely a huge YES to your question and I recently blogged about it in hopes of helping someone else with similar struggles. Thanks for all your encouragement in your blogs and in the spark chat rooms and even helping me find my first running bra! Happy Thanksgiving to someone I have never met but admire very much. - 11/25/2009   9:09:01 PM
  • 14
    I can only imagine how terrific it must be to work there......have a great turkey day...everyone!! - 11/25/2009   8:32:15 PM
  • 13
    I feel blessed to have found SP-I've been here nearly a year and a half now-I'm run/walking 5K races and even walked a half-marathon...I've gotten others from work inspired and now they're on their healthy throws us so many curves-some may seem like hardballs, but if we keep our 'eye on the ball' we'll hit line drives/even home runs when we have purpose-driven, healthy outlooks...thanks for the blog! - 11/25/2009   8:14:57 PM
  • 12
    Five years ago this Thanksgving I was diagnosed with kidney cancer. Last year I was diagnosed with melanoma and I am here to say thank You for life and living much more abbundantly after a brush with death. Many blessings to all the Sparkers! - 11/25/2009   8:08:58 PM
    I was out of a job for 11 months until last Friday. It did help me to reprioritize and think of things differently. It is good you see as well there is a blessing and a learning experience inherent in adversity. Great uplifting blog :) - 11/25/2009   7:59:01 PM
    What a wonderful blog, Nancy! I had a rough day, and it was such a blessing to log in today and read about how positively to approach the challenges in your life! It makes me appreciate all the things I'm grateful for, too! Thank you and happy Thanksgiving! - 11/25/2009   7:58:58 PM
  • 9
    Thank you for sharing this...another saying is a message will come at the time you need it..your 'message' is just what was needed....

    Thank You
    Glenda - 11/25/2009   7:38:58 PM
  • 8
    Beautiful and very well said. Happy Thanksgiving, Nancy! - 11/25/2009   7:16:39 PM
  • WEIGHT1109
    Have a happy and blessed Thanksgiving. Great blog - very uplifting and encouraging. - 11/25/2009   6:54:36 PM
  • 6
    my husband also was laid off from his job two years ago. He has been able to find part time work since then, enough to get unemployment. He has since went back to college. He is almost finished his first semester. I was able to get a fulltime position this summer which we are extreemly grateful for. - 11/25/2009   6:33:19 PM

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