What’s There To Be Thankful For Anyway?

What’s There To Be Thankful For Anyway?

Some days I struggle with that sign.

The one that hangs on the wall just inside our front door.

“In Everything Give Thanks” it reads, painted on a simple wood plank.

My friend, Dana, gave me that sign about six years ago, a reminder of a time when things weren’t feeling so thank-y around here.

A reminder of a time when something that seemed bad at first, turned out to be rather awesome, something indeed to be thankful for.

I don’t know about you, Dear Reader. Maybe you came out of the womb wise and grateful, but I’ve had to do a lot of learning on my end.

There was that time in my 20’s when a long-term boyfriend dumped me for another girl.

My friend’s mom, Lee, piped in with “Won’t it be interesting to see how this all turns out?”


How dare she minimize my pain?

How dare she root for any outcome besides the one I decided was best?

Alas, the end of that relationship gave me the courage and energy to propel my career forward, which is what took me to CNN.

And if you really want to fast-forward, to my husband and kids.

Score one for now 83-year-old, Lee. Turns out the way that chapter worked out was indeed interesting, to say the least. Something to be very thankful for.

And score one for the sign.

“In Everything Give Thanks.”

Not that it’s not taking a lifetime of lessons for a simple truth to sink in.

I walked in the house the other day and looked up at the sign.

Less you think I’m a complete, zen being, I will tell you this—I cursed that sign.

My challenge this Thanksgiving season is not to be thankful for the easy stuff—husband, kids, home, pets, good health.

I got that one down.

It’s the hard stuff.

Thank you for the book agent who told me this week he hated my first novel so much he didn’t even offer up any suggestions or revisions?

I’m working on that “Thank you” note.

Even bigger—thank you for the test results that seem to show my mom will be facing some big health challenges?

Honestly, the gratitude for that news is stuck in my throat.

I can tell you this–I’m thankful for you, Dear Reader.

You, who will give thanks for your easy blessings this week.

You, who are also trying to make sense of news and outcomes you would’ve never picked.

You who in your own way are trying to grow into the sign.

“In Everything Give Thanks.”

I know because of the email you send to me each week sharing your own challenges and triumphs.

The way you let me share my life on this page each week.

For each and every one of you, I do indeed give thanks.

Find more uplifting stories on my website, DarynKagan.com

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.

Here’s My Absence Slip

Here’s My Absence Slip

“So, where have you been, young lady?”

No matter how old we get, there still is some splainin’ to do when you’ve been gone for awhile.

I’ve shared before how my husband has this crazy hobby of collecting millions of frequent flyer miles without traveling.  Most days of the year, it drives us crazy because he refuses to let us ever use cash. But it does allow us to go on some pretty remarkable trips.  We’re just back from taking our teenagers to Paris and London.  Who knew that the most important sites to see in these great cities were the H&M and Forever 21 stores that we have in our own malls here at home?

So, we survived and somehow managed to fit in a few of the lesser sites like Notre Dame,The Louvre, The London Eye, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey. Here we are as we approach the Eiffel Tower. Certainly, not a mecca for teenaged girl shopping, but as one of the most impressive structures to see in your lifetime, it will do.

eiffel tower pic

Time to get back to collecting more miles, piles of laundry, and of course, blogging, writing, and sharing uplifting stories with you.

A bit late, but here is one of my latest newspaper columns inspired by Thanksgiving.

Please catch my newspaper column each week in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, the Dayton Daily News and other newspapers across Ohio.  Here’s this week’s column:

Serving Up A Gratitude Buffet

    Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pies.

Welcome to Thanksgiving, the tastiest holiday of all.

Beyond all the delicious food, I find some years the biggest challenge is to cook up is a big helping of what the holiday is supposed to be all about: Being thankful.

I’ve been known to struggle with gratitude as much as the next guy. Life gets hard with jobs, families, health challenges. Some days it can be gratitude-schamtitude.

So, with a little help from my family and friends, I’m setting a Thanksgiving buffet that helps me get there.

-ABC Alphabet Gratitude Soup: My friend, Tricia, introduced me to this simple game. “I go through the alphabet thinking of something I’m grateful for starting with each letter,” she explained to me. “A for my abs which are looking so much better all the crunches I’ve done this year. B Bella my wonderful dog, is for C courage, the courage to do the hard things I know I’m facing.”

I’ve tried the ABC Gratitude Game. Never fails, 26 letters later, I’ve forgotten whatever has gotten me down and am overwhelmed by my abundance.

-Eyes on Your Own Plate: This could also be known as, “Keep Eyes Off Facebook. I had to figure this one out soon after graduating college and getting alumni magazine with the updates in the back. It was overwhelming to realize I was a total failure that I wasn’t sailing around the world, birthing 5 children and running a major international corporation. It took me some time to realize that the person who is sailing around the world isn’t birthing children and the person who is birthing multiple children is not sailing around the world and the person running the international corporation might not even be happy. I need to keep my eyes on the delights on my own plate.

-The Leftover Bag: Let’s face it, even when you’re grateful you can still have problems and challenges. “Hang onto them,” my mother would say.

“Huh?” Would be confused response.     My mother has always said, you might not like your problems, but given a choice, if you threw your problems along with all the problems of other people you know you would pull your own back out. Get ready to laugh at yourself when you realize, generally, that’s true.

Which leads me to Dana’s Pancakes:

When times get hard, and they invariably do, my friend, Dana, makes pancakes.

This from a woman who has faced some doozies the last few years including her townhouse burning down, a large tree falling through her new house and being diagnosed with a serious disease.

“I’ve come to realize,” she told me just the other day that every awful, scary, terrible situation I’ve been through has led me to a new and better chapter. The fire got us out of our townhouse and forced us to get rid of so much stuff we didn’t really need. The tree falling on the house got insurance to pay for a new roof, which the new house really needed. And getting sick forced me to slow down and work again on realizing how little I control in my life.

Now, when things are hard, I ‘make pancakes.’ I flip that challenge over and ask myself what’s the flip side of this? How might this be good?”

With friends and family like these, what’s not to be grateful for.

And let me take this opportunity, Dear Reader, to say how thankful I am that you sit down at this table with me each week as I share making my way through the challenges of life.

For you, I am truly grateful.