Gratitude And Hope


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Here it is the end of November, the month when we focus on gratitude and I really haven’t.  This has been a very difficult year for me and my family.  (Do I even have to say that?)  Last year at this time I would have never have imagined that this is where I would be now.  However, here I am.  And even with the challenges that 2022 has had, I wanted to find the time to reflect on some blessings and hopes.  So…

  • This has been a stressful and challenging year, but I am grateful that I still have the time (make the time?) to sit down and write.  In 2023 I will “celebrate” 10 years of blogging and I hope to continue for many more.
  • I’m grateful for vegan bakeries and vegan options in grocery stores.  I am NOT vegan, but with my allergies, vegan cooking is a true blessing.  (Except to my waistline.)  There seem to be more and more vegan options and I hope that trend continues.  I know I will enjoy it!
  • I am grateful for choir directors.  Yes, I said directors.  As my son wraps up his senior year, he’s had some great music teachers.  The current choir director has really thrown herself into it over the past year and a half and I am amazed at what she has done.  I also sing in a church choir and we have recently welcomed a new director who brings joy and energy that has been lacking in the group for a while.  We are small (and old), but I am so grateful for his enthusiasm and I hope we are able to grow under his watch.
  • I am grateful for good storytellers.  When I have been stressed out, nothing can take me away like a good book/story.  This year I have been enveloped by some wonderful stories that took me away from the “real” world and immersed me in another place.  Old favorites like Stephen KingJodi Picoult and Elin Hilderbrand were joined by new (to me) one like Simone St. JamesBonnie Garmus and Katie Runde.  (I’m sure these names and their books will appear of my end of the year favorite books list.)  I hope they continue to carry me away for many years.
  • I am grateful for my patio; a place where I can get away from it all if only for a few moments.  I appreciate the moments of warmth, calm and relaxation that this small space as provided me and that I have been able to share with friends.  I hope to enjoy it for many years to come.
  • I am thankful that I am able to take my laptop out to work on that patio during the warmer months.  A change in scenery can make all the difference in the world.  Work is stressful, finding a calmer place to deal with it helps.  I hope to sit out there again soon (how many days till spring?)
  • I appreciate my friends who have supported me, especially during this crazy year.  I am blessed to be surrounded with many special people (both near and far) and their love and support was more evident and more needed than ever this year.  I hope that I am a good friend in turn.  (And will try to do my best to be one.)
  • Gratitude does not even begin to cover what I feel for Andy.  (He’s the only person I’m going to mention by name as opposed to letter because he’s ANDY.)  I’ve known him all my life and this humble man has taught me more than he will ever know.  If you ever need a lesson in what being a REAL Christian is (and I mean living/acting as Christ would), Andy is the person to see.  I hope I am half as kind as he is.
  • I am grateful for those healthcare workers who took care of my mom.  I am especially grateful for T, a social worker, who has become a friend.  She guided me and continues to show me her wisdom.  She makes me be a better person; I hope to be as strong and wise as she is.
  • I am grateful for the live in care that my father has.  When my mother said she wanted/needed live in assistance to help with my father last December, I wasn’t sure it was necessary. I was wrong.  Having M in the house is beyond a blessing.  And her cousin, B, who filled in for her when she had to attend to her own family crisis, was even more of one.  They are everything I have hope for and needed.
  • On the flip side, I appreciate that I was allowed myself to “disengage” from some toxic people in my life.  There is too much negativity in the world, I think I have finally achieved enough wisdom (or am working towards it) to let those who want to bring me down go.
  • I am grateful to my manager, who is smart and caring enough to have her staff work from home on days when the weather is going to be bad. (I’m talking about later today.)  I appreciate that she supports her team with thoughtfulness.
  • I am blessed with some co-workers who have become good friends.  Some of those people I have never actually met (they live in different states), but have provided a safe place to vent and laugh. How awful life would be without them.  I hope they feel the same.
  • Continuing in that vein, although I’m not a fan of the commute, I’m grateful that it’s only one day a week and hope that continues into 2023 (but I do have a sinking feeling.)  I’m thankful that I am able to take public transportation (and appreciate when it is on time) and that I can walk INSIDE to get form Penn Station to my office so that once I am in Newark, I never have to go out and face the elements.
  • If I have to be in an office, I am so grateful that I am on the same floor as K, who works in the mailroom/supply room.   His smile and his good nature make the trek worthwhile.  I always seek him out; not for supplies but just to say hello because he always brightens my day. I hope that I am or will be that person for someone else.
  • As always, I am grateful for my son’s teachers, who go above and beyond classroom education.  They KNOW my son and have taught him lifelong lessons.  I am especially appreciative of those who wrote letters of recommendation for him as he prepares for the next stage of his life.
  • Speaking of next stages, I appreciate those students and counselors at the colleges we visited who took the time to get to know my son.  The reason why the top 5 on my son’s list exist is because of the true interest they showed in my son and our family.  Now as we wait for responses, I hope (and pray) that they are positive!
  • As scary as it is, I am grateful that my son has a driver’s license.  It has made MY life much easier (although more expensive).  That he drives what once was my mother’s car is a blessing and I know he gets more and more confident as he drives it.  (We haven’t really reached highway status yet and with the GSP and Turnpike is ANYONE ever ready?)  I hope those who share the road will be patient and remember their own first experiences.
  • While the obtaining a driver’s license was an experience that I wouldn’t wish on anyone, I do have to say how grateful I am to those at the MVC in Lakewood, N.J. when I had to transfer my mother’s car to my name.  (I’m looking at your Mr. Window #5.)  Why can’t they all be like that?
  • I would not have been able to get to the MVC if it weren’t for Kelly’s Sea Bay Service Center.  They did work for me so that I didn’t have to…a true gift.  They picked up the car, inspected it, did maintenance and returned it to the house.  Yes, it was costly, but what car maintenance isn’t?  (Especially after the car really hadn’t been driven for a year.)  The convenience was worth every penny and I am glad to drive down to fill up my tank when I am at the shore.
  • Focusing more on customer service, my Fridays are always a little brighter when V is our cashier at ShopRite.  We always have friendly banter when we check out, but it doesn’t slow anything down, which makes it all the better.  Thank you V for being you.
  • My day is always brightened by the folks at the Wawa on Route 35.  (Corporate claims they are in Lavallette; they are not.)  I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone who works there who was not friendly, even when the place is crazy in the summer. (And boy can it get crazy.)  Thank you! I hope that everyone who enters your doors appreciates you as much as I do.
  • I am grateful for holiday lights and decorations.  I hate the fact that it gets so dark so early and that the mornings are dark as well.  The lights and decorations brighten the darkness and remind me of the true meaning of the season.  (It’s not all about the gifts.)
  • I am grateful for anyone and/or anything that makes me laugh.  We all need more laughter in our lives; I hope that we all can find it.
  • I’m grateful for my “happy place:” Skytop and that we were able to visit several times a year.  For me, this is a place of relaxation and rejuvenation.  There’s something about it that refreshes my soul.  I hope that everyone has or can find “that place” that truly makes them feel at peace. (A warm sunny day on the beach can also make me feel this way.)
  • I am grateful for the thrift shop where I volunteer AND shop.  I give AND receive there.  I have made new friends there.  I know that the community is helped by it and I am so proud to be a part of it.
  • I am grateful for what I have:  a roof over my head, a warm bed, etc.  I privileged to have what I need; something I too often take for granted.  I hope to focus more on what I do have in 2023 and truly appreciate all my blessings.
  • I am grateful for my husband, especially this year.  He’s been an emotional support for me and I know I haven’t let him know how much it means to me.  (Are you reading this?)  I hope I am as supportive to him when he needs it.  We all need support and help; having someone there to be that rock is essential.
  • I am grateful for my son.  (You know this was coming didn’t you?)  He has become a wonderful young man (but there’s still room for more kiddo). He tells me he loves me just about every day (you can never say it enough) and tolerates my hugs.
  • I am grateful for so many things…too many to list.  But I am especially grateful that you are reading this.  That you took time out of your day to read what I wrote.  I hope you know that it means a great deal to me to know that somewhere out there someone is reading this.  I may know you; I may not…either way THANK YOU

There’s only one more month left in 2022.  Maybe that’s something we can all be grateful for.  Or maybe we could just enjoy the next 31 days and find joy in each and every one of them.

Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona. For more than eight years, she has been chronicling life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog.

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Beth Shorten
Beth Shorten
Beth Shorten is a life-long resident of Verona from a long line of life-long Verona residents. She chronicles life here on her personal site, Bfth’s Boring Blog. 



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