Do What You Can

As Thanksgiving draws near here in the US, the joy of that holiday is dampened by continued surges of covid cases and deaths, by court cases and events that seem to elevate darkness and violence and an assault on our rights. I know I’m not alone in having to take a break from the news to focus my energies on more positive things.

photo: anncapictures, pixabay

I’m writing (not very fast) the third Little Sister Island book, tentatively titled The New Shore. I’m learning to enjoy the freedom of being retired – though my wife laughs at my tendency to make lists for myself of the things I want to get done daily. And I’m trying to take better care of my grumpy back.

Unlike last Thanksgiving when we could only zoom and FaceTime, we’ll be going to my sister’s house to share that meal with family, including my brother-in-law’s mother, who is here from Belgium.

We’ve been able to continue supporting our local food bank and Feeding Pets of the Homeless, both charities I used to donate to with spring and fall fundraisers back when the world was a friendlier, or at least a more predictable, place.

I long for that sense of what used to be predictable and normal, but I don’t know if that will ever come back. At times, it seems we’re headed for days of greater darkness, more threats to our rights and our freedoms – things we have long taken for granted. I don’t think we’ll ever take those things for granted again.

When the world feels like too much, when bad things are happening that are beyond our control, all we can do is do what we can.

Wishing you all a safe, healthy holiday with your loved ones.



Course Corrections

Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the US. It’s not hard to find reasons to be thankful. My spouse and I are both healthy. We have good jobs and health insurance and retirement we can plan on. We have a beautiful house in a nice neighborhood, surrounded by like-minded people in this current political climate. We have two spoiled dogs we love. Our families are likewise safe, healthy and near enough to spend holidays with. Our lives are overflowing with so many blessings.

But today, the Friday after Thanksgiving, is also a day that marks the anniversary of a major course correction in my life. Nine years ago, on this Friday, I made a last-minute decision to visit a former student and subsequently made the decision to close my physical therapy practice and apply for a job with the VA.

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It was almost as monumental a shift in my life’s direction as the day I decided to apply to PT school because someone dared me, telling me it was too competitive and I’d never get in. Or the day I decided to invite someone at work to join me for lunch, and that invitation led to my meeting my future spouse.

Looking back, there are so many instances that seemed accidental at the time, no big deal. But in hindsight, they triggered major shifts in the directions my life took from what I had planned.

It often leads me to wonder about those choices I didn’t make, the roads not taken. Totally aside from wondering where those other roads might have led me, it’s fertile ground for more novels!

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Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
                          – Robert Frost


What about you? Are there serendipitous things in your life that changed the direction of your life?