Endings, Beginnings, and Gratitude

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions because they don’t work for me, but it’s just recently that I think I know why: They’re rooted in negativity. Think about it: I resolve to lose weight. Because I’m fat, I don’t like how I look, I’m unhealthy. I resolve to exercise more. Because I’m a lazy couch potato. I resolve to practice loving kindness. Because I’m an unpleasant person. I always found it difficult to achieve my resolved objective when the negative impressions of myself were my reminders why I should be eating less, exercising more, being kind. It became difficult to meet the resolutions because it was difficult to like myself, and usually by February I’d stopped trying.

Beginnings mean endings: The previous year had to end before we could welcome the new one, and goodness knows most of us applaud 2017’s exit. And this, wonderful women, is where gratitude enters. For example, rather than chastise myself for not losing weight and thereby reducing the stress on my arthritic hip and knee joints, I remind myself that I still have two legs and that I can still walk. With pain, yes, but I have it within my power to reduce, and perhaps eliminate, the pain. So, with gratitude, I do what I have to do to keep on truckin’! And if I lose some weight in the process…

You all know how angry I’ve been about some of the events of 2017–I’ve written about it here–and I’ll write more another time to explain how and where I found gratitude. But 2017 was more than the ugly we all wanted to put behind us. I attended my first GCLS Con in Chicago where I met Salem West and the wonderful women of Bywater Books, and Stephanie Andrea Allen, the wonderful woman of BLF Press. Warning: Some personal horn-blowing coming, riding on a huge wave of gratitude: Bywater Books will publish DEATH’S ECHOES, the new Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglione Mystery next month, and BLF Press will publish GOD’S WILL AND OTHER LIES: Short Stories of Black Women’s Lives, in the Fall. I met Andi Marquette and Jove Belle, and here I am sharing my gratitude with all of you at Women and Words. And I re-kindled friendships with Jewelle Gomez and Rachel Gold, neither of whom I’d seen in more years than I could remember. My gratitude is huge and deep.

I’m not suggesting that you hide or deny your feelilngs. I am, however, advocating a different approach. I know I need to lose weight. I also know, thanks to numerous PT sessions, that I’m lucky to have all my limbs and to be able to walk at all. Putting my focus on gratitude lightens my mental and emtional load so that I could focus on what a beautiful morning January 1, 2018 was. Perfect for a walk.



  1. Penny,
    I sincerely hope that your will fulfill the new year resolution to publish a Mimi Patterson/Gianna Maglione Mystery. I have read all of them and they are simply great books (I also liked the Phil Rodriguez mysteries – so keep writing!). When you promise yourself und your readers more good books there is only positivity involved.


  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts about gratitude, Penny. I believe it’s one of life’s most delightful experiences. I don’t know if feeling grateful comes with being older or with having survived physical/emotional challenges. I revel in having the time to really see, hear, and appreciate the smallest bits of nature, the tiniest gestures of kindness, the gentlest expressions of caring. It sounds like you value the gift of gratitude also. Again, thanks for writing this blog.

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