#364–Much to be thankful for . . .

When I listen to the news, which is mostly bad––mass killings, war in Ukraine, poverty and hunger in much of the world, and climate change manifesting itself more and more––it’s really depressing. This beautiful blue ball making its way in the universe is not such a great place to live for many of its inhabitants. It makes me thankful for all that I have.

Thankful for family

My brother, Harry, and his wife Jayne, me, and my sister, Edna, last summer at the old homestead where we scattered our parents’ ashes.

I am in contact with my brother, sister, and nephews. Until Covid, I made three trips a year to California to see everyone. And my sister, brother and his wife, and I all had a wonderful trip together last summer. I plan to go to California in December to see everyone again––first time since Covid. I’m glad we all get along–many families do not.

Thankful for friends far and near

I tend to keep my closest friends even when we live far apart. I have friends that go back to seventh grade and college roommates. Whenever I go to California, I try to see two or three of them on each trip besides my family. And with one of my California friends, we usually take a three- or four-day trip that is always fun. There is nothing like friends you’ve known a long time. They are like family––family you choose. And we all need friends that are part of our everyday lives. Besides making life more enjoyable, they come in handy during crises. And that goes both ways.

My friend, Theresa Baer and I at the ghost town of Calico, outside of Barstow, California, on one of my trips to California back in 2018.

Thankful for roof overhead and money to pay bills

As an elderly widow with minimal income (yuck, sounds awful when I put it that way), I’m thankful for my own home and enough money to pay my bills. Years ago, I went against well-meaning advice and risked buying a townhouse right after a divorce. I borrowed and lived frugally to afford it and used hand-me-down furniture the first couple years until I could afford my own stuff. Ten years later, I sold that place at three times what I paid for it. With that money in 1984, I bought a new car and the house I live in now, which is worth seven or eight times what I paid for it. And I have enough money coming in to pay my bills and take an occasional trip, if I budget wisely.

Thankful that I’ve enjoyed my careers

So many people are in thankless jobs and not doing what they want to do. I almost always enjoyed what I was doing. When I went to college, I earned a teaching degree and thought I would teach until I retired. I loved teaching first grade. But after 22 years, I was ready to move on. I remarried and moved to Oregon.

I loved teaching first graders.

I would’ve had to go back to school and take classes towards a teaching credential to teach or even substitute teach in Oregon, and I didn’t want to have to travel to the UofO in Eugene to do that. So, I ended up taking a class in creative writing at the local community college, sending out stories, and getting rejections––until Oregon Coast magazine wanted one of my stories and then more and then asked me to work for them as an editor. I truly learned on the job about being an editor and how to write. I no longer had summers off, but after the first few years, I traveled all over the Northwest on assignment and up and down the Oregon coast doing stories for the magazines. I loved that. During the 21 years I worked there, we published five magazines. At times, it was hectic, but it was always a thrill to see each new issue and to see my stories in print.

Thankful that I still feel I have purpose even in retirement

Here is Debbie Boyle, President, Karen Gassaway, Vice President, and me, Secretary, of Backstreet Gallery at one of the receptions this past spring.

The secret to a purposeful retirement is being involved––as a volunteer or part owner in a business or in creating something. It gives you a reason to get up each morning and gives you something to think about besides yourself. I’m a volunteer at the Siuslaw Pioneer Museum and have been for 20 years. It could not function without its volunteers, so I’m needed there. I’m a part owner at Backstreet Gallery, a member-owned co-op. I sell my books there at minimal cost to me, but every Working Member has responsibilities. I am Hospitality Chair every other month, edit the newsletter and all press releases and posters, and am the secretary. And every week, I write about some topic for my blog. I have a need to write and that fulfills that need.

Thankful for my books

I never planned to be an author. Back in 1991, I put together a book of my parents’ remembrances of the interesting years of their lives. I recorded them, transcribed the recordings, and spent many hours tweaking, factchecking, gathering photos, getting it published, and 100 copies printed. So much work. Vowed I’d never do that again . . . until I met Dick Smith.

My books on display at Backstreet Gallery.

It took two years of bugging me, but he finally convinced me to put his research into a book. That’s how Crossings, McCullough’s Coastal Bridges came to be. And if I hadn’t written that one, I would never have written the other five. So, I blame Dick. Who knew I’d grow to love writing my own books and to also love marketing them. I’m so thankful that my books sell.

Thankful for my energy and overall health

Most people my age, 81, don’t have the energy to do what I do. So, I’m thankful every day that I can do what is on my “to-do” list for that day. I am learning to have my yard man do more of the yard work and to pay for jobs I used to do myself. And I even have been known to ask for help.

I had the energy to be a witch at Halloween during the Old Town trick-or-treating where some of us from Backstreet Gallery dressed in costume and passed out candy.

This year, it seemed like I was always going to Eugene or Springfield for medical appointments and procedures. I’m thankful that I’ve finally finished having the ablation and sclerotherapy surgeries on the varicose veins in my legs and that I had an easy time of cataract surgery.

Bottom Line: I have lots to be thankful for this Thanksgiving.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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