Hello sweet family! Your resident fat girl from the kitchen is back from hiatus. First let me say, I've missed you all! You guys don't leave lots of comments, but I see the views and feel the love. I've even heard that a few of you look for these blog updates, and I can't begin to tell you how deeply that touches my heart. It is so beautiful to know that this blog, that Kortney and I debated on whether we should even start, brings a bright spot to your day.
My time away is a result of the worst couple of months ever, and my first instinct was to do a whole blog post about that. If you aren't aware I lost my mother in September and my stepfather in October. As I have only just turned 40, their loss was extremely unexpected and devastating.
I could spend eons writing about how much I love and miss them. But, Kortney and I have decided to focus this blog (and a few to follow) on gratitude. Its a pretty common Facebook theme to spend the month of November posting something you're grateful for each day, and I'd like to do something of that nature, but extend it to the new year. Things get so nuts around the holidays its easy to forget, but the sentiment of a deep breath and a good dose of gratitude from the heart is hitting me hard this year (for obvious reasons). Since this is where I share my thoughts, and you are all part of my hive, we get to do it together.
There's a Broadway play based on the book "The Color Purple" where the song "I'm Here" is performed (you can watch the amazing Cynthia Erivo perform it live here). Celie (the main character) has spent her life being used and abused, and she's finally found her power and self worth - both because of and despite the things that should have broken her. She sings the lyrics:
Got my house, it still keeps the cold out,
Got my chair, when my body can't hold out,
Got my hands, doing good like they're supposed to,
Showing my heart to the folks that I'm close to.
Got my eyes, though they don't see as far now,
They see more, 'bout how things really are now.
A few verses later she sings the lines:
I'm thankful for every day that I'm given,
both the easy and hard ones I'm livin'.
But most of all....
I'm thankful for....
loving who I really am...
I. Am. Beautiful.
and I'm here.
I'm one of those people who - until recently - hasn't experienced massive tragedy, even if my life wasn't always a walk in the park. But I've also had reason after reason to pick myself up by my boot straps, to be strong, to be resilient. And sometimes I feel really tired of bouncing back. It seems much easier to break, and cry, and quit, and let someone else take the reigns....but it's not in my nature. And this song reminds me that there's still strength despite fractures, there is beauty among the damage, and there is wisdom in a lifetime of lessons learned. Today's blog is about honoring and being grateful for hard times, about finding strength and beauty in them. It's about honoring how those hard times can take us from fear and weakness to powerfulness and capability, creating an inimitable legacy to leave behind.
That being said, I'd like to kick off this gratitude series with a highlight of someone very special to me. Someone I am deeply and irrevocably thankful for ...if she'll let me.
Quite often, Kortney and I have conversations where one of us is required to talk the other down from a cliff we're prepared to fling ourselves from. It never ceases to amaze me when this incredibly intelligent, caring, considerate, beautiful woman feels like she's doing everything wrong, and if I had to guess she might feel some version of that when it's her turn to listen. I think in our world today, there are so many expectations of perfection (whether about performance or the cards we are dealt and how we deal with them), we lose track of the power within each of us.
A little back story...in the Early 2000's my amazing cousin Kortney found out she was going to be a mother. With a truck load of determination, she became a new mom and bartended her way through school, earning her Masters degree in Psychology. She provided therapy to children in her local area for a time, but when our grandfather decided to retire (again, lol), she left that career to become part of the family business. Thomas Honey wouldn't be exactly the same as it had been for decades. Both because the logistics of doing business were changing, and because Kortney had a vision of what Thomas Honey could evolve into.
Normal transition issues like learning on the job, training with Grandpa, and initiatives like fill your own jar, jar take back coupons, and introducing a variety of boutique honeys (all gently nudged into existence so as not to poke the bear) - made for a daunting couple of years all on their own. In the midst of those challenges we went into pandemic lockdown, there was a shortage on bottles and packaging, we started a new website, Kortney's husband expanded his own business, her oldest became a middle schooler, and their adorable family welcomed the cutest little imp this side of heaven. The difficulties that kept coming understandably brought about the occasional thought that it might be easier to let someone else take the reigns... to give up. But despite all of the roadblocks that came her way, Kortney kept her head down and pushed to make her visions a reality. No matter how small, or how delayed, one by one they've come to fruition.
This past year, she has been my sounding board, my semi-therapist, my dearest friend, my favorite cousin (legit... this is a three way tie lol), and someone who both dazzles me and makes me proud to be a member of this family. Someone who reminds me of the power and beauty in sorting out the mess. While this probably sounds like some crazy love letter (which I guess it kind of is), it's meant more to express gratitude for a beautiful soul who is also an expert in resilience. The kind of person who doesn't really realize how deeply they touch the lives of others. The kind of person who will read what I wrote, might cry a little, and will still think of reasons to tell me she doesn't deserve my words. I, however, will remind her that we made an agreement when we started this new website venture to always say how we really feel, so no lies have been told here today.
The bottom line is this: we all have really hard things in our lives. Things that rock us to our very core. And when you find yourself broken, whether its from devastating loss or hits that keep coming, we pray you have someone to help you see the power and the beauty that lives deep within you. The gratitude we feel for one another is only a testament to the caliber of the individuals that make up this family, biological and otherwise.
Thank you for your kindness honey family! Thank you for staying with us, for making us part of your lives. Thank you for loving us during the good times and the bad. And from my heart to yours... beyond measure and past words... I am grateful to you for helping us make our dreams become realities!
All my love,