Gratitude: Its Sustainable

gratitude and joy

Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, and not just because of the abundant feast that comes with it (though that’s a big part of it). I love the idea of taking some time to consider our good fortune, blessings, gifts, and opportunities. I enjoy reflecting on the generosity I’ve experienced over the past year. And I’m truly grateful for the joy I’ve shared with friends and family.

I’m always grateful for the good things in my life, even if I haven’t sat down to write about them each year. This Thanksgiving is unique, though, as I’ve got some really basic things for which to be thankful: mostly, being here to share the holiday with family and friends, and to write this post. Exactly a month ago, I was admitted to the hospital: a shunt I’d had placed in my brain as a child was in the process of failing. Within 24 hours of admission, I was off to surgery. I spent six days in the hospital, and have been in recovery mode ever since (which, by the way, is going really well).

I’m writing this post not to share my own story, though, but to express my deep gratitude for the people in my life that saw me through the initial emergency and the recovery period. It’s easy to say “I couldn’t have done it without you,” but, in this case, I really can’t think of a better observation. Not only do I have my health, but also two blogs that aren’t dead.I owe a deep debt of gratitude to many people; those listed below are likely only the tip of the iceberg.

  • My wife, Jan McIntire-Strasburg, has to be first on the list: not only did she get me to the hospital, and stayed by my side through the worst of it, but she’s also dealt gracefully with having her world turned upside down. In addition to the normal stress a spouse experiences, she was also my boss for the semester as I was teaching two writing courses at Saint Louis University (which she’s now taken over). She’s been my rock through all of this… I can’t begin to express fully the thankfulness I feel.
  • Other family members, from my parents Jo and Otto Strasburg (who came up to St. Louis for a week to help out), to my sister Karen (who did a fantastic job of keeping the news flowing on Facebook), to my stepkids Katie, Matt, and Beth, to my in-laws (got a bunch of ’em!), each contributed their own time and talents… and I’m grateful for all of them.
  • I’ve been equally fortunate in my work life: my old friend David Anderson (the guy in charge of Important Media) jumped right in to get editorial arrangements made for sustainablog as soon as he got the word of my illness. Zach Shahan and Becky Striepe have kept the blog plugging along beautifully: we’ve even seen an uptick in traffic! The regular team of writers – Ziggy and Talancia – kept at it, and were aided by others from within the network (particularly Chris Keenan andΒ Beth Buczynski) who took the time to contribute. I’m thankful for all of you and the efforts you’ve made to keep sustainablog humming along.
  • At SUNfiltered, editor Perrin Drumm has been the model of supervisory kindness and understanding. She kept my spot in the line-up open for me, and is allowing me to begin contributing again at a pace that works with my recovery schedule. It was two posts this week; will probably be the same next. But I plan to get back to the four posts I was contributing, and I’m truly grateful to Perrin and the other folks in the Sundance Channel digital media team for working with me during this difficult period.
  • I’m thankful for all of the notes of kindness I received through various social media channels – more people sent words, thoughts, and prayers than I can possibly name here. I also thank you for you patience: I haven’t been able to respond to everything, but please know that I got your message, and valued it. Good buddy Joe Mohr, however, deserves a special shout-out: I’ve never been included in a cartoon before (and I’m grateful!).
  • Finally, I’m very thankful to those of you who’ve continued to visit sustainablog over the past month… even if you didn’t know what was going on with me. I’m so happy with the path the blog’s taken since we joined IM, and being able to keep traffic growth on pace even as I had to step away for weeks (I’m still not fully back yet) has been a great gift. We’ll try to repay it by keeping an eye on the data, and giving you more of the kind of content you obviously value.

I hope you all enjoy your feast today (if you haven’t already), the time you get to spend with family and friends, and the opportunities you have to reflect upon the things for which you’re thankful. Happy Thanksgiving!

Image credit: rick at Flickr under a Creative Commons license

  1. Zachary Shahan

    Thank You so much, Jeff. This was a beautiful, touching post, and it gives me one (or several) more thanks to feel thankful for today. I’ve always really enjoyed and appreciated working with you, as I think I can safely say hundreds or even thousands of people would echo.

    You got a ton of support for a number of reason, I’m sure, but I think the biggest one is just that you are a Totally awesome guy and we all love you πŸ˜€

    I’m so happy to see you rolling back into things well. You are a unique person who we have all learned from (and I can say without a doubt that I’ve learned a TON from you and am thankful to have met you many, many days throughout the year).

    Happy Thanksgiving!

    1. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      You’re very kind, Zach… and Becky and you have done a fantastic job with sustainablog (even as you balanced it with several others that each of you edit). I’m very grateful for the kind words… and hope you know that the learning experience has gone both ways (you figured all of this stuff out much more quickly than I ever did!). Happy Thanksgiving to you, also (though I guess its now the day after Thanksgiving in your part of the world).

  2. Joe Mohr

    You’re the best, Jeff.
    As you know, I am always thankful for your kindness and support. I’d not be cartooning if it weren’t for you!
    Get better so we can get a beer. I hear beer has a shunt-stabilizing effect πŸ™‚
    Continue getting well!

    1. Jeff McIntire-Strasburg

      Sounds like a plan, Joe… and even if beer isn’t shunt-stabilizing, doesn’t matter any more: the surgery they did was essentially a “re-plumbing” of my brain so the shunt’s no longer needed. They were high-tech back when I was a kid; at some point, they figured out that the damn things don’t last, though…

      But had a glass of wine on Thanksgiving, and no ill effects… so I’m down. Let me know what works for you…

  3. Becky Striepe

    Aw, shucks, Jeff! Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m always happy to help out, and I’m so glad that you’re feeling better and have such a supportive network of family and friends.

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