Counting Our Blessings by Karen Shughart

Sometimes life sends us lemons, lots of them, maybe more than a bumper crop. We can make lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon sorbet… but still, sometimes there are too many bitter lemons to use them all up.

Without going into a ton of detail, this past year has been a tough one for me and my family. We’ve had several non-Covid-related deaths; some serious, life-threatening illnesses; surgeries; and other family challenges that at times seem unending. It’s been exhausting, emotionally draining and downright frightening. Then there’s been the pandemic, the terrifying weather events, and the general unrest on so many levels in our society and the world. I expect we are not alone.

How does one survive? Lately, when the stressful occurrences seem to be relentless, it’s been hard to think that any of it will get better. At times over the past many months, I’ll admit I’ve been depressed and angry and more than a little sad.

But then I take a couple big breaths, close my eyes, and remember to count my blessings. It’s a platitude, I know, but I tell myself we’ll get through it; we have the strength.

Photo by Jill Wellington on

I am married to a loving, caring man. We have wonderful children. We enjoy an incredible support system of family members and family of the heart, dear friends who’ve also been there to cheer us up as we’ve needed it. We live in a stunningly beautiful maritime village where we have a roof over our heads, our home is warm in winter and cool in summer. It’s a safe place to live, too, where we’re not scared to walk freely for fear of violence.  It could be so much worse.

 We have plenty of food, transportation to get us where we want to go and medical care. We may not be rich, but we have an abundance of what we need.  So many people don’t. Sometimes it’s easy to lose sight of that.

We adopted a Beagle during the earlier days of the pandemic. She had multiple health issues. With excellent medical care and lots of love, she’s fine now; a happy and healthy little dog who makes us laugh and gives us an immeasurable amount of joy. That’s too, is a blessing.

So, during the month when we are supposed to give thanks, I will. Sometimes it’s easy to lose perspective and dwell on all that’s going wrong, all that’s contriving to decenter us. I’m making a concerted effort to remember what I have and how much worse my life could be. We actually do have enough lemons to make tasty drinks and desserts and even enough to share with others during the darkest days.