Gratitude and My Camera Roll

Inspired by the many Thanksgiving posts out there, I decided to make my own A – Z Gratitude List (of sorts). To do this, I went through my recent camera roll. Here’s what I found:

Books & Book Clubs

I am a member of two book clubs. The group featured above met yesterday for a year-end ‘Book Club at the Bar.’  If you are in a book club, I highly recommend this format — at least occasionally. Here are the books that were chosen for the year ahead. Let me know if any of your favourites are on the list. The Huntress (Kate Quinn), Boys in the Boat (Daniel James Brown), The Great Alone (Kristin Hannah), Educated (Tara Westover), The Stone Diaries (Carol Shields), Catch and Kill (Ronan Farrow), Becoming (Michelle Obama), The English Passengers (Matthew Kneale) and Where I Live Now (Sharon Butala). I will update you with the books from my other book group shortly (that group will also be having Book Club at the Bar–it’s quite catchy)!

Family

Okay, so I cheated here — just a little. Both photos are from previous Christmases. But they were recent Christmases, and it’s hard to get this big clan into just one pic. The first photo includes our four sons, DILs, two of our three grandchildren, our granddog, my parents, plus Richard and me. The second photo is of my niece. I cannot begin to express my gratitude for these amazing people.

Grandchildren

Holiday Celebrations

Holiday celebrations (done right) can make even the grinchiest of Grinches smile. Our small town is currently abuzz with festivities. Yesterday I had breakfast with Santa. Today was Dip and Donate (see below). Tomorrow is Ladies’ Christmas Lunch. Add in all of the concerts, choirs, craft fairs, Christmas tree light-ups, plus gathering with friends, and there is never a lack of things to do!

Mahjong

Remember when I told you that I signed up for a gazillion courses through our area’s Elder College program? Mahjong is one of the classes that I joined. I have always wanted to play. I am loving every minute of it and have met some awesome people as well. Now if I can only remember to play COUNTER-CLOCKWISE. That messes me up almost every time!

Retirement

Four years and four months ago, I took a leap of faith, held hands with my husband and together we jumped off the ‘retirement bridge.’ I had no clear idea of what was in store for us on the other side. Without question, retirement is even more than I had dared hope for.  I wake up each day overwhelmed with gratitude.

Sons

A picture can speak volumes…but sometimes there is no substitute for words. Our four sons are a constant source of pride, joy, laughter…and incredible stories.  Case in point, here is a recent FB post from son #4. (Blogged with his permission). Yes, truth is stranger than fiction!

“So this morning in Doncaster, I was awoken by a guy barging into my hotel room at just before 8 am and peeing on the floor. I got up, told him to leave, and instead, he got into my bed and made himself comfortable. I called the front desk to ask them to remove him, and he asked, “are you talking about me?!” To which I replied, “yes, who else would I be talking about?!” Then he promptly fell asleep before being removed. Turns out my door hadn’t shut properly that night. Only in Yorkshire.”

What I am most looking forward to this holiday, is more tales and laughter from each of our four sons. They are all great story-tellers, and they each repeatedly have remarkable experiences!

This Amazing Man

Every single day my husband, Richard, inspires me, challenges me and helps me to be a better person. (It is seriously a huge task!)  Oh, about the outfit? Today was ‘Dip and Donate.’ For a $20 donation to the food bank, our nearby spa gives use of their mineral pools and hot tub. Coffee, tea and fresh fruit are included, as our these comfy robes. Cameras and phones are strictly forbidden. Shhhh, don’t tell!

Vancouver Island

I took this shot last week on an early morning ferry ride. When I say that we live in paradise, it is not an exaggeration.

Walking Groups

Each Thursday, Richard and I join the Mutley Crew for an hour’s walk amidst stunning scenery. It’s a wonderful group of beings (both 2 and 4 legged) with stimulating conversation.

You

Several years ago, a close friend casually announced that she knew the meaning of life. I took the bait and asked her to share her wisdom. Her reply was simply ‘relationships.’ I wholeheartedly agree that it is our connections with others that shape our lives and give us meaning and purpose. If I’ve failed to tell you recently, your support and friendship mean more to me than I can ever express. Thus, I end this Thanksgiving post with YOU.
Wishing a very happy Thanksgiving to you and your loved ones, and a wonderful year ahead.

Feature Photo: Unsplash.

 

87 Replies to “Gratitude and My Camera Roll”

  1. This is so sweet Donna and made me smile over my morning cuppa while watching the sun rise here in the northern hemisphere, while also messaging my daughters back in Aus and looking forward to another day of Dottie cuddles with my eldest daughter.

    Your son’s story was incredible!

    I love how your family and lifestyle is one big source of joy for you – as it should be! Happy Thanksgiving to you. I also LOVE your big smile 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Debbie – I saw your comment first thing this morning and mistakenly read it to say “while also massaging my daughter’s back”. My first thought was “what a lucky daughter”. After reading properly, my second thought was “what a wonderful family”!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Donna – I loved that so much of what you’re grateful for revolves around family and friends. I totally agree that relationships are a huge key to happiness, connection, and a reason to put up with the not-so-great stuff.
    Enjoy the lead up to Christmas and time with your “boys” and I’ll be thinking of you in the snow while we’re basking in Summer sunshine. xx

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  3. Relationships a good point whether family, friends or your beloved dog, if you took them all away what sort of life would you have. Fifteen years ago, when we moved down here, Cyberspouse had to go back up to work week days for a few weeks till he was due to leave that job. So on the first Monday morning it was weird. In the space of a few days I had gone from five of us in the house and working at Heathrow Airport to being alone in a place I didn’t know anyone. I wondered if I only really existed in relation to other people!

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    1. Going from five people in the house, and a career in a bustling airport, to suddenly being alone in your home would be very difficult to get used to indeed. Although I love my alone time, I hope to only have it only in moderation (and, of course, when I choose). 😀

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  4. Beautiful heartfelt post, Donna! I so enjoyed it. Brought back warm memories of being treated by my fam to the Dip and Dine experience at that same spa at Thanksgiving (the Canadian one!). I just glow at the memories you sparked, and also at looking forward to being able to share In some of the same blessings as I create my new life next year. Yes to retirement, book clubs, classes, walking in the woods – yes to Vancouver Island!

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If this post didn’t have your attached, I would have known it was written by you, Donna. You have a beautiful way of expressing your gratitude and love for your family. You are blessed! Thank you for sharing your heart. ❤

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  6. What a great post. I love that you didn’t feel tied to making every letter in the alphabet and went with the flow of the camera role. I’m so inspired I think I’m going to use this idea for tomorrow’s post.
    Take care.
    Bernie

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    1. Hi, BernieLynne – Thank you for your very kind feedback. Early on in this post, I decided not to hit every letter of the alphabet. 1) That would be way too long of a post for me. 2) I didn’t want to have to make things up for Q, X and Z! I look forward to reading your next post!

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      1. I did it — minus the X (which is weird as often I do have x-ray pics on my phone). More pictures, less words and just challenged people to think about what they were seeing and how it worked in my life and the alphabet

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  7. You do live in paradise!! That is a gorgeous picture. Loved your son’s story about Yorkshire too. As for the books lined up for next year, there are some great ones. I especially loved The Stone Diaries by Carol Sheilds and Michelle Obama´s Becoming is outstanding. I hope you let us know what you think of the books after you have read and discussed them. There is so much to be thankful for.

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    1. Hi, Darlene – I agree that there are some great books on our Book Club list. I have already read (back-to-back) ‘The Great Alone’ and ‘Educated.’ They are perfect books to read together as they both involve extremist “off-the-grid’ families — especially the fathers. I am currently in the middle of reading Michelle Obama’s ‘Becoming’. During the first 60ish pages, I had some doubts about this book. Now, at page 200, no doubts at all – I can’t put it down!

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  8. Donna, I love this post on so many levels! “Book club at the bar” is definitely catchy and sets the fun tone for the group. I think I have ready everything Carol Shields. Always a great read. I think she lived in Victoria for part of her life. Beautiful family photos! I am intrigued about the caption on the shirts?

    Great picture of Richard and funny on his book. I will pencil in “Dip and Donate” for next year. Looks like fun. Your son gets best non-fiction story of the year.🙂

    A wonderful, positive way to begin my morning. 💕 I can feel the love and gratitude for the people in your life and life in general. Your energy creates a ripple effect, Donna. I look forward to making and sharing memories in the upcoming year. xx

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Mike! I believe that my grandchildren are a similar age to your children.
      I discovered my clubs by different means. My two book clubs are both an off-shoot of Parksville Newcomers that I joined when I first moved here. The Ladies’ Lunch that I attended today is also a Newcomer’s offshoot. A few years back, a neighbour recommended that I join MidIsland Walkers. From that group, Muttley Crew was born for all who live with (or simply love) dogs. The Elder College Courses are for 55+. A flyer for these courses is regularly sent to my home. The remaining events I discovered through https://www.visitparksvillequalicumbeach.com/events.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! It sounds like one led to another and you generally kept your eyes open to opportunities. (I ask because my parents aren’t, to my knowledge, really in any clubs like that but it sounds like it would be good for them.)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi, Mike – Have your parents lived in the same area for more than 5 years? If not, I would highly recommend joining their local Newcomers’ Association. It’s a great way to meet people around you and to find those with similar interests. If they have been here for more than 5 years, I’d have them check out associations like Elder College (55+) or POGOSA (also 55+). Hope this helps.

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  9. Good Morning Donna! What a GREAT gratitude post filled with your smile and everything that helps that to happen. Your life is clearly filled with meaning, love and joy…that is probably why you can’t help but spread it around to everyone you touch. And I loved that you attached photos to your list….I might do that myself next time I do a gratitude list. May the coming “season” continue to be bright! ~Kathy

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      1. I have tried to strike up conversations on the bus Hornby style. I get looks ‘ she must be loosing her mind, poor soul’ … but once in a while someone engages in a conversation. Maybe I have made someone’s else’s trip a little less tedious.

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  10. Wonderful pics and choices, Donna. Good on Richard for allowing that shot. 😉

    I’ll be curious on your impressions of “Catch and Kill” by Ronan Farrow. I read the (somewhat) related “She Said” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey, and I thought I had my fill of that particular topic. But Farrow’s covers a slightly more personal angle, so I am tempted to read it. – Marty

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    1. Thanks, Marty – I haven’t read Farrow’s or Kantor and Twohey’s books yet. My understanding is that there is some overlap but that they are generally complementary. Both books cover the Weinstein story. Kantor and Twohey also cover the Brett Kavanaugh hearing, and Farrow covers Matt Lauer and the operations of the Black Cube investigators. I’ll let you know what I think when finished.
      BTW – Was I supposed to get Richard’s pre-approval to post his shot? I missed that memo. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Love the book that Richard is reading- do lawyers have wit and wisdom??? Love the fact that you have 4 generations all together at the holiday (even better if everyone gets along)! RE: books, Educated was a real page-turner; what she had to fight through to get where she is now, we should all have that fortitude

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  12. Donna, I’m smiling at all the good things in your life. It sounds a bit familiar. Mahjong has been my Monday afternoon obsession for years. It is a fun game that will keep your mind active. You know you’ve mastered it when you can carry on a conversation and still know which hand you are playing!

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    1. Thanks, Suzanne – I’ve just started playing Mahjong and already love it. This past spring a friend asked me to sub for someone in her American Mahjong group. She gave me a very quick crash lesson and somehow I managed to play without anyone yelling at me or throwing me out. This month, I signed up for lessons in Western Mahjong (as that was what was available). After lesson #2, I bravely put on my big girl pants and joined a drop-in session for Chinese Mahjong at our local Lawnbowling Centre. During that first drop-in session, other players not only conversed as they played, they also asked me numerous questions. It was a true trial-by-fire way to learn and definitely no time for snoozing!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. I love it, a great way to sum up the year. I have not read any of the books on your list but I did listen to becoming when it was our book at bedtime on the radio.

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    1. Thanks, Anne – Other than my family photo, this was actually more of a summary of my current week (and a partial summary at best). When my husband read my post this morning, he reminded me of the many things I left out. I definitely need to take more photos.

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  14. How did you get that photo of me and my feet out of the car window, Donna! 🙂 What a lovely post and very creative. Did you get to celebrate two Thanksgivings this year as well? Thank you for being my friend and blogging pal. I am grateful for you as well and all the beauty, wisdom, gratitude, and happiness you exude.

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    1. Hi, Liesbet – I love that photo of you. It captures your spirit and playfulness! 😀 😀 Richard and I did celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving with friends in October. We didn’t exactly celebrate American Thanksgiving yesterday, but we did go out with friends for dinner — and I was very inspired by the many Thanksgiving posts that were shared.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Hi Donna – This is such a beautiful list and photos to express your gratitude. From you list of books mentioned, I read and enjoyed Becoming. I agree you live in paradise. I still think about the trails and sights seen while I was on Vancouver Island. You and Richard are both amazing IRL. I’m grateful to have met you both. Have a wonderful weekend and festive December!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Jo-Anne – Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I greatly appreciate it. You are absolutely right – we are blessed. Do you think that you and I could have remotely imagined our current lives when we first met over 47 years ago??!!
      I hope that all is well with you. Sending warm thoughts your way.

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  16. Love this post! You have so much to be grateful for… and your friends and family are grateful for you. Book clubs are the best! Thanks for your list (any favorites?). I’ve read a few of them but will look at the others… I am always looking for good books. I love that picture of Richard… it’s so him! I am grateful for your friendship and look forward to creating more memories with you next year too!

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    1. Hi, Janis – So far, I’ve only read two of the books on our current book club list. I’ll let you know how the rest of them go. During the first 4/5ths of ‘The Great Alone’, I could not put the book down and was ready to declare ‘Best Friends Forever’ status with Kristen Hannah. Sadly, the ending was a true disappointment — rushed, unrealistic and sappy. I liked (but did not love) “Educated’ but I know many others who have rated this book highly. My favourite book club books this past year were ‘Brooklyn’ by Colm Toibin (fiction) and ‘They Left Us Everything’ by Plum Johnson (non-fiction). I believe that you would enjoy them both.
      I am also looking forward to seeing you again in 2020. Don’t forget that Paul assigned Richard and me homework for our next meet-up, so I’ll need to get on that! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Stunning pictures, Donna. Vancouver Island and the Walking Group especially, such amazing colour.

    “Counter-clockwise” made me laugh. I haven’t played Maj in a while now, but I was always getting lost at that part. Never did make any sense to me 🙂

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  18. Hi Donna – great fun to read and enjoy the photos … your son’s story is ‘horrific’ – glad you didn’t have 4 daughters instead! I only played mahjong with a schoolfriend and her two sisters … I’m afraid we called circles ‘balls’ and giggled forever: we were of that age – never played since!!

    re books – I’d highly recommend Invisible Women by Caroline Criado Perez … while I’ve yet to read Becoming by Michelle Obama – a friend is going to lend it to me … it’ll appear soon! I’ve noted your others …

    Cheers and enjoy all those events and interest groups … Richard looks in his element … Lawyer’s Wit and Wisdom looks to be an interesting read … Vancouver Island how I remember thee!! All the best Hilary

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    1. Hi, Hilary – ‘Lawyer’s Wit and Wisdom’ was mostly a series of quips and quotations from notables ranging from Kenneth Starr and Martin Luther to Woody Allen. An okay book to glance through while relaxing over a coffee. I’m not sure that I’d want to spend more time on it than that. Thank you for your recommendation on Invisible Women. I have added it to my list!

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  19. What a wonderful uplifting post, Donna. Not only full of gratitude but love and wisdom, too. It’s so pleasing to see Richard and you living such a full life because so many people waste their retirement years and then complain about it.
    I’ve always wondered how to play Mahjong. The nearest I get to play any games is when I try getting Lara Croft through her dangerous journeys while hunting down the bad guys. She’s addictive, but the puzzles she has to solve keep me occupied for hours.

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  20. This is so lovely to read Donna thanks for sharing with us! I’ll come back to the comments later – they’re always such a pleasure to read as well. I’ve missed out on your more recent posts which I also look forward to reading! Hope you’re having a wonderful weekend in Paradise 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Susan – I agree with you about the comments. They are always my favourite part of my posts. I stayed in my PJs all day putting up Christmas decorations, and organizing cupboards and drawers as I went. So sadly, I didn’t get a chance to check on Paradise! 😀

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  21. What a lovely idea for a post! Re books – I enjoyed Michelle Obama’s autobiography. I haven’t read Stone Diaries, but I recently read my first (and second) Carol Shields – Happenstance. It’s tete-beche, ie you read the wife’s story from one end, then turn the book over and read the husband’s story from the other. Or vice versa! I enjoyed them too.

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  22. Hello, Donna,
    One aspect of your blog that I have always admired is your zest for life and how well you have used your “Golden Years” to make and foster new relationships and experience new things. This post is a great example.
    The only book on your list that I have read is “The Boys in the Boat.” I enjoyed it very much. After you read it, I hope you will get a chance to view the television documentary on the “Boys.” I think that PBS produced it, but Google would be a better source. Joe

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  23. I enjoyed reading every word and loved the photos – all of which reflected warmth, love, family, relationships, friendships, love, devotion and gratitude. I never tire of reading what one is grateful for because it’s such a good reminder to not take anything for granted.

    I was thinking of possibly taking duplicate bridge lessons and my friend said, why not try instead “Mahjong” so that gave me something to think about. It might be easier, too, to learn vs bridge, but perhaps I’m living in a fantasy, ha ha.

    I always love reading about your adventures and zest for life and learning new things!

    Susan Grace

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    1. Hi, Susan – I never (ever) tire of your very kind comments. I love your positive energy — it’s highly contagious.
      I’ve not played bridge before. My current understanding is that Mahjong is easier to learn (at least at the beginning stages). A couple of friends and I have signed up for beginner bridge lessons for this coming Spring. I don’t expect that I will do much with it (I truly am more interested in Mahjong). But I thought it would be good to have a basic understanding of the game. And you know…peer pressure! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

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