I usually write a blog post on Thanksgiving as I take stock of my life and the things, big and small, for which I’m grateful. These things are almost always the same: the laughter and antics of my daughters; Donny and our marriage; our families; our health; our friends; a warm and cozy home; this blog and you, my readers; jobs that we like and that pay the bills.

This Thanksgiving, I took time to reflect and give thanks, as always, but instead of doing so as I sat around a dinner table laden with turkey and gravy, I sat on a balcony overlooking the Caribbean, where Stella and Zoë swam and laughed with their cousin and Donny and my brother-in-law, who threw them up in the air again and again.

My older sister and her husband had generously rented a lodge for our whole family for a week on Isla Carnero, Bocas del Toro, Panama. It was a lovely week full of swimming and snorkeling, piña coladas, and lots of laughter. And even though the weather did not cooperate—the dark clouds and rain muted the turquoise water, made boat rides to neighboring islands wet and chilly, and filled our shoes with mud—it was still a wonderful vacation. A real vacation. I did not take my computer. I did not write a blog post. I did not edit or teach or think about the next book. I read. I played in the water. We saw dolphins surfacing in the aptly named Dolphin Bay, and we floated on the choppy water in Crawl Cay, faces to the water, mesmerized by the brilliance of fluorescent fish.

It was a lovely vacation, and like always, I am happy to be home. This morning I caught up on emails, did load after load of laundry, picked up Aguita, who was being taken car of by our wonderful neighbors. Then I went for a long walk with the dog. The freezing Minnesota air and the sun in my face made me feel alive and ready to dive back into my work, but not in that frantic way I was working before our trip. I know that I need to build more self-care into my days—walking, running, swimming. The work will get done, as it always does, even if I slow down.

So today I am grateful for my time away, and I am grateful to be back, more relaxed than I have been in a long time.

I hope you all had a lovely holiday. I would love to hear about the things for which you are grateful.


  1. Kate–sounds like a wonderful break and vacation. It’s so hard as working moms to take time for ourselves. Glad you got such a great recharge and thanks for reminding the rest of us to sneak mini vacations into our lives!

    • Thank you, Andrea! It IS so hard to build it into our daily lives. This week we finally joined the Y near our house, and I’m hoping that pilates and walking and swimming will help!

  2. Real vacations are so amazing—and so rare in our so easily connected world.

    I’m thankful I finally got to take Motherhood and Words this fall—and thankful for the energy and excitement that writing again has brought to many parts of my life.

    I’m thankful for my girls. Thankful too that they are entertaining themselves often these days.

    I’m thankful for our warm home and full freezers (and full cookie jar too).

    I’m thankful for my little family here and the supportive, loving, fun family I grew up in.

    I could go on . . .

    • I love this list, Sara. And I, too, and so thankful that you finally took Motherhood & Words! It was such a pleasure to have you in class and have the opportunity to read more of your powerful story. xoxo

  3. Pina Coladas and no computer. Sounds heavenly! Today, I had my first real “sick day” in years. I came down with a cold and before I knew it, my husband was whipping up a plan with the babysitter (which involved her taking my car, since it’s big enough to haul a boatload of kids). I slept most of the day. Now, I’m showered, pumped full of cold meds and waiting for the circus to bust through the door. I feel refreshed, and like you, I’m trying to teach myself how to incorporate more self care into my routine. I’ve been so run down lately, and I know it’s critical.

    • I’m so sorry you’re sick, Angie, but I’m glad you took the time to really take care of yourself. (And I hope the circus wasn’t too wild that night!) Feel better!

  4. Yum. What a place to spend Thanksgiving. Happy for you. As I get ready to teach my next writing class, I am so glad to have Use Your Words in my cache of tools. xo

  5. I spent the holiday for the first time in many without my writing, and it was good. There was no room in my luggage for a laptop or other device with a keyboard — forced unplugged-ness! Amazing how letting the words just be, waiting for me when I got back, refreshed my desire to wrestle with them.

    Glad your vacation was wonderful 🙂

  6. That sounds wonderful, Kate! I usually have intentions of writing on vacations but then the sand, surf, and a great book usually lure me away from the pen and paper. The only thing I end up writing is in my journal.

    And for what I’m thankful for…that would have to be the health of my family. We recently had some dear friends receive news that their youngest (a son who is 8) has leukemia. The kind he has a 90% cure rate but still. Their fear and worry will never go away probably for the rest of their lives. It is a parent’s worst nightmare and I just feel such heartbreak for them.

    I hope you and yours are happy and healthy this holiday season and for many, many years to come.

    • Oh, Hallie, I’m so sorry about your friends’ son. I’m so glad the prognosis is good, but still, it’s heartbreaking. I’m thinking of them and you!! And wishing you lots of love and good health in the year to come.


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