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Gifts, granted

This morning I drove my son to school for the last day of 5th grade. He was wearing Xmas pj’s and rolled his eyes when I took his pic as he was getting out of the car - it was a late morning, like many, so I didn’t get to do a proper end-of-fifth-grade-photo like all those organized moms. (Ha!)

While driving on the New York State Thruway on the way to school, I looked up at the sky and for the first time in a few days there was blue and actual clouds with puffy parts - not the orange haze that has been lingering, falling, surrounding us - “run-off” smoke from the fires in Canada.

“Wow, it makes you not take anything for granted,” I said.

“What’s ‘for granted’?” My son asked.

“It’s like when you assume that everything you have you should have without question, you don’t even think about it. Like clean air to breathe, clean (ish) water to drink, food to eat, clothes to wear, a roof over our head…” I paused, wanting to keep my son’s attention and relate my answer to this very moment. I leaned forward over my steering wheel to peer at the blue patch again, pointing up to it, and continued. “Or that the sky is blue.”


That was the end of our conversation, but it got me thinking about gratitude and all the things I take for granted. Like my talents…the things I love to do and am good at. Like writing.

It made me wonder if other people take their creativity for granted, their ability to make art, in whatever form.

Unless you are famous, being an artist is not as valued in the US as it is in other places, like Europe. That's one reason I am super excited to go see amazing art in Italy during my Tuscan Writing Retreat. Another is because I’m excited to create art in a place it is valued deeply - in ALL forms, including writing.

“What are you?” I have been asked a million times when meeting someone new in the US. Hesitant to share what always comes to my mind, I am human, I usually give the standard answer.

“I am a writer.”

“Oh, and what do you do for a living?” UGH. (Unfortunately I have more than one job aside from my writing - so, they have a point.)

When I was living in Europe, I met many new people. They, too, would ask: “What are you?”

“A writer.”

“Oh, that’s great!” End of conversation, unless they wanted to know what types of things I write.

When I moved back to the states, I had to hussle again to make a living and my own writing slipped to the backburner, over and over again. This is another reason I created my Tuscan Writing Retreat. I wanted to make the time and take the space to write - and I wanted to give that gift to others.

If we don’t value something, it can slip away. It is only when we no longer have that thing, talent, home, person, opportunity, that we begin to miss it, that we wish we could go back in time to value it - them - us, more.

I challenge myself and you - to pause for a moment, look around and feel the places in your life that are filled with wealth - not monetary wealth, but with other types of abundance.

There is a responsibility that comes with any kind of wealth - and a capacity. Can you hold the good or does it slip away, through your very fingers like sand?

Today, I am going to keep the focus on what I have been granted. The gifts that surround me, and inhabit me - the very air I breathe.

What are you taking for granted? How are you going to honor your gifts and talents today?

Time does slip away, people and opportunities, too - even ideas, memories - unless we find a way to hold them.

Writing is a way to create capacity.

Writing is a way to become present to life.

Writing is a way to connect with your innermost self.

Writing is a way to connect with all that surrounds us.

Writing is a way to delve into fantasy, imagination, reality.

Writing is a way to take our experiences, thoughts, beliefs, emotions - and alchemize them into healing for the world.

Is there something you want to write? Honor it - for you have been granted the gift of being its maker.

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