I’m sure that the holidays have people tired of hearing about what other people are thankful for, but that’s just too bad. These are dark times, and dark times leave me looking for the light.

There are days when somebody asks how I am doing, and the only word I can find is, “Scattered.” Maybe it’s a comment on my sense of self with half of my life and the people I love across an ocean. Maybe it’s a cute euphemism for mental illness. Really it means I’m a mess and so are my thoughts.

A few months ago I tried to remember what I was like, what I was doing, when I felt more together so I could figure out what was missing now. Part of it is that I put my photography, once a major piece of my life, on a hiatus that lasted years. So I have slowly brought it back, setting up the Photography section of this website, and finding homes for pieces that were in the dark for too long. Most recently, a photo in The Fourth River‘s “Tributaries” series. I am thankful that I am giving myself the space to be and create in multiple ways again.

Speaking of The Fourth River, I am honored to have a poem in their upcoming Juvenescense issue, which will be available at the AWP in February. So far this year I have submitted to more than one hundred publications and projects. That means I’ve been rejected an awful lot, and feel better about it every time–you only get turned down if you dare to try. It also means that I’ve had more pieces accepted, pieces I wouldn’t have allowed myself to write even a year ago. I set aside time at least twice a month to find places where I think my work and I belong, then give them all I’ve got. It’s not been empowering so much as it has reminded me of my own power. I am thankful for the opportunity to fail, and for the beautiful people in my life who are kind enough to comfort me when I succeed.

In an effort to keep pushing myself to stay focused and engaged, I have taken a position as a new Poetry Editor at 3Elements Review. If you’re not familiar with the journal, please do yourself a favor and check it out. The three words that form the prompt of each issue are a blessing to anyone fighting writer’s block, which is why I suggested it to folks that attended the Rut-Bust workshop I led for Wasted Pages. It is inspiring to read how people interpret and implement the three words in ways unlike everyone else who submits. I am thankful for the editorial team that allowed me to join them, and for the talented people who submit to us. I hope you’ll be one of them.

Please don’t think that because I’m writing a post about gratitude that I’m feeling #2blessed2bestressed. I am always stressed, and more than a little bit angry. But I have been learning to use those feelings and direct them into something good. Stay grateful, stay angry, keep moving.

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