Giving Thanks in My Stories and My Life
by Dari LaRoche
November 24, 2022
I could spend hours talking about all the many things I am thankful for and that bring me joy, not just in this season of Thanksgiving, but all year long. My list covers the gamut of country, family, writing and music and other creative endeavors, nature and its beauty, socializing and talking with friends, both old and new, and travel—always travel. Thankfulness for my life and the people and good things I experience along the way brings me happiness on a daily basis. I can always find something in any given day to make special note of in my Gratitude Journal that I have kept for years.
First and foremost, I am privileged to live in America
Does our country have its problems? Certainly. Do I wish it wasn’t so? Absolutely. But all in all, I have lived and worked all over the world in the course of my career and I prefer America as my home base. We briefly considered retiring overseas and, after much research, decided America was where we wanted to settle.
Our taxes here pay for roads and services and firemen and police. Yes, there are situations in recent years that have received a lot of negative press and I won’t get into any of that. But our first responders always deserve our respect and our thanks. They show up and they help, and they save lots of lives. Medical personnel and ambulances come when called as well. In many countries overseas, not so much.
In America, we have traffic laws. It is not a free-for-all with all the drivers living by a mantra of “If you think you can make it, go for it.” I have been in places like that and I’m here to tell you, it’s downright scary. I don’t like traffic tickets any more than the next person, and have only had a couple in my life, but I am thankful for traffic lights and the rules of the road and the police who enforce them.
Where I live and why
I love the Pacific Northwest which is where I live now. I was raised here, and I am happy living close to family. Not too close, mind you, since we all need our space, but the majority of my family is within a drivable distance. Most every sport you could ever want is close enough to drive as well. The winters are mild where I am and the summers not overly hot. I love four seasons. I spent most of my working life living with only two seasons—wet and dry. I love the fall colors and the new growth in spring. Going to nurseries and finding new plants to put in my garden brings me joy. Tromping around nature preserves and in public gardens and on beaches on the Oregon and Washington coast is a never-ending source of pleasure.
Food, clean water, a roof over my head, heat in the winter and cool in the summer
So much of the world’s population does not have adequate life necessities—water, shelter, food, and clothing. I am not climbing on a soapbox here, but I have seen a lot of it first-hand. I have walked through the rubble and destruction in war torn areas like Yemen. We were trailed by children begging for pens and pencils and paper—small things that made them happy and gave them something to do. The villages in Pakistan are humbling and will need help for years to come, particularly now after all the flooding. I have never been involved in humanitarian efforts on the ground, but I admire the workers on the front lines who are committed to help and support them through donations. I am grateful to them for all that they do.
There have been times in my life when I did not have gloves or a scarf or an adequately warm coat. Warm boots in the winter were hard to come by as well. In my early twenties, I could not afford to replace my glasses I lost. Straining to see over a period of a couple years until I was in a position to have my eyes checked strengthened my eyes to the point that I don’t need glasses now except for the smallest print in dim light or when I am dealing with numbers, so something good did come out of it. But I don’t advise anyone to try it. I got lucky. Someone else may not.
So, I appreciate what I consider the necessities of life and do my best to pay it forward when I can.
Exposure to Art, Music, and Literature when Young
Growing up in a big family with no money, we spent a lot of time reading for entertainment. The library was our friend. We even read under the covers by flashlight after it was technically lights out at home. I am sure our parents knew but they loved reading as much as we all did. It is my favorite hobby to this day. I am a voracious reader who appreciates all kinds of stories.
Our home was always filled with art and music as well. My mother was an artist and she taught all of us, who wanted to learn, to paint. I took advantage of that over the years and learned to work with ink, watercolor, and acrylics. I dabbled in oil, but I loved watercolors so much that my efforts at oils were thinned to the point that they ran down my canvas propped on my easel—and not in an artistic way. I have kept that canvas for more than twenty-five years now to have yet another laugh and remind myself that oils are so not my thing.
We had a piano at home and most of us took lessons. In a big family, someone was always practicing, so it was rarely quiet. I took piano lessons through my first year of college. After I started working, I didn’t do much with music except fiddle around with guitar at a couple points over the years. Now that I am retired, I am back on piano and guitar. At this point, I am doing it for me, and I am happy with however much I advance each week. When I think I am not making any progress, I look back at how little I could do three years ago when I picked up the guitar again. It’s all good, as far as I am concerned, and it helps keep my brain active and healthy. I am sure I will be more and more thankful for that as the years pass.
Benefits of Friendships within the Writing Community
When I first moved back to the Pacific Northwest from Florida, my writer friends told me I was so lucky to be moving to one of the largest hotbeds of creative writers in the United States. I don’t know if that is technically true or not, but what I will say is that I have found it to be the case for me. I searched out and found groups I found comfortable and where I could learn and the rest is history. One of the most helpful groups I have found is Wordcrafters. They offer so many useful classes and the leadership is very helpful. Check them out. In this world of ZOOM, many classes are available virtually.
How Giving Thanks Affects My Writing
Living with positivity and appreciation cannot help but show up and affect every aspect of our lives, including and many times especially in our books and short stories. Writing brings me joy. Whether I sell my stories or not, I am happy when creating them. My mind soaks up information like a sieve and my imagination runs rampant. I have enough writing prompts and ideas stashed away to write well into my nineties and beyond.
Will I? I hope so. It will certainly keep me young in mind and in heart. And I must admit, I will definitely be thankful if I manage to sell some of them along the way.
Dari LaRoche writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense that will keep you reading long after the witching hour has passed. Her everyday heroes face challenges requiring strength of character, perseverance, and an ever ready dose of laughter to find their way to love and happiness. Her Rescue Series takes place in the Pacific Northwest and the Caribbean, settings inspired by LaRoche’s love for travel and passion for safeguarding the natural environment. To learn. more about Dari, visit her website.