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Give thanks for blessings

By Barbara Whelehan · Bankrate.com
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
Posted: 3 pm ET

My husband and I have a favorite place in the whole wide world. It's our own backyard. On weekends, weather permitting, we sit on the porch swing, enjoying a view of natural preserve and marshland, partially obstructed by scrub palms. We observe cardinals darting in and out of the scrub brush, and listen to the cooing of doves, the rat-tat-tat of a redheaded woodpecker and the wind whispering through the stand of pine trees.

It's something we hope to do more often on weekday evenings, after we finally reached retirement.

"The birds aren't worried about retirement," I said to my husband one Saturday evening. "Heck, they're not even worried about what they're going to eat for supper."

Which brings to mind a biblical passage, Luke 12:22-34: "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap."

Maybe we obsess too much about retirement planning. Maybe if we take certain steps, things will just naturally fall into place.

Giving thanks

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece this week on the psychology of gratitude. According to scientific studies, people who are grateful "earn more money, sleep more soundly, exercise more regularly and have greater resistance to viral infections."

Weird assortment of benefits. While I can't claim to reap all of them, I do exercise every day.

I have much to be thankful for. In early October my dad, who retired 25 years ago and will be 82 in December, suffered a stroke that rendered his right leg and arm feeling leaden and useless. I'm giving you the edited version here, though there's a lot to this story.

In the seven-odd weeks since he was struck by stroke, Dad has relearned how to walk and to move his right arm so that it will service his needs. In retrospect, his recovery has been miraculous, though it seemed a like a drawn-out ordeal.

It will be awhile before he's able to saunter around the neighborhood at a fast clip, but I'm betting Dad will be able to stroll without the assistance of a walker before next year is out. I'm glad and thankful that he's being released from the rehab facility today, in time for Thanksgiving dinner at my house.

I'm also thankful my mom has weathered this difficult time with grace and resilience, and that she's in relatively good health. I'm thankful my brother was able to fly down from Chicago one long weekend and help lighten our moods with his great sense of humor during a difficult period a few weeks ago, when my dad developed a complication due to the stroke.

I'm thankful for the caring and concern shown by my husband and children during this trying time.

I'm also thankful to my boss, who let me leave the office early several times so that I could travel 75 miles north to visit my dad while he was in the acute rehab facility. Thanks to my co-workers for their support as well.

Thanks, too, to you, who read this and other blogs on Bankrate's site. I appreciate your comments and insights, your tolerance for my liberal leanings, your contrary opinions. It's a beautiful and diverse world out there, and I'm so grateful to be a part of it.

Happy Thanksgiving! What are you thankful for? Share your thoughts.

Follow me on Twitter: BWhelehan

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