A Perspective on Giving Thanks

When you’ve just lost a bid on your dream home through no fault of your own (the selfish seller changed their mind after dicking us around for five long days and took the listing off the market), you might not feel that thankful. A day before Thanksgiving, it seems a little inconsiderate to give someone such heartbreaking news. That said, I realize that we have much to be thankful for. For instance, there are people all around us who have been affected by the recent Hurricane Sandy and whose homes have been damaged or even destroyed, making me realize that whilst this was a stressful and disappointing experience, we are jolly lucky to have the money to finance such a beautiful new home.

I’m also thankful for my education and the fact that I was given the opportunity to go to university because my parents cared enough to support me as much as they could. I worked bloody hard to get where I am now and I believe I have myself to thank for that in part too, but without this opportunity I may never have realized my potential for languages and may also have been unable to launch what has been a long-standing and for the most part rather lucrative freelance career.

I think there are times when we actually have to relish every little bit of good news, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. So whilst I didn’t get my dream home (hopefully we will still find one that is just perfect for us), I got another bit of good news today. You know those pesky verrucas you get when you go barefoot in spas or swimming pools (you Americans know them as plantar warts)? Well, I’ve had a couple of those little blighters on my feet for months now. I’ve been seeing a super nice podiatrist In NYC every two weeks, but it was so time-consuming and I was getting fed-up of it. Well, today I found out that they have finally gone, which should in future save me lots of time and effort.

What I’m also thankful for is the fact that whilst my health isn’t where it needs to be right now, I do have the means to see people who can potentially help me, so until the fat lady sings (and she hasn’t yet!) I don’t intend to give up hope.

Another thing we found out today is that Corey’s company will actually be financing our move (we’re hoping to move to or in the vicinity of New Hope, PA). That’s great news and I know how privileged we are because this also means that they will pay for us to hire people to do our packing and unpacking. This was a great help when we moved from Germany and will likely be equally beneficial this time round. That said, I won’t make the same mistake of getting them to unpack those boxes – trust me, it’s best for you to unpack your own stuff because once they’ve unpacked things it takes twice as much time to rearrange them how you actually wanted them in the first place.

What I’m also thankful for is my wonderful friends. Knowing how down we are about this whole house fiasco, two of them kindly mentioned me on Facebook today, suggesting that I might want to meet up for a bit of retail therapy. It really touches me that they thought enough of me to care that much. I’ll never take friends for granted because there’s been times when I have felt very alone and misunderstood, so when you find people who do understand you and do care, it’s a rare gift.

What I’m also thankful for is my husband. He loves me unconditionally. I can be frustrating and lately – because I’ve been so tired – I haven’t been pulling my weight as much as I should be at home, but he understands and supports me. He truly believes in me and encourages me to be the best I can be. It took me many years to find him, but he’s certainly a keeper!

Whilst no family is ever perfect, my family has been pretty amazing at times. They’re supportive and also love me for who I am. Sure, we have fallouts and disputes, but I try and remember the good times and know that whilst my parents don’t always understand me 100%, they do accept me. Being with my parents has taught me the valuable lesson that people give love in different ways and even if they don’t love you the way you might like, know that every way is still precious and significant.

I have previously mentioned our two kitkats Biscuit and Ember, who are also part of our family. Cleaning up their vomit does not always make me thankful, but they more than make up for it with their positive energy and empathy. Biscuit, in particular, loves to snuggle with me and keep vigil at the corner of my pillow when I’m in bed. She’s also a very wise cat and I simply don’t understand those who seem to put people before their pets. In my mind, both are equal. Indeed, I read an interesting article with some comments on this topic today about how singer Fiona Apple cancelled her South American tour to be with her pitbull Janet whom she feels does not have long to go before she crosses the Rainbow Bridge. Some people accused her of being selfish by letting down her fans and the crew who had been booked for the concerts, but they obviously failed to see the bigger picture.

What keeps going through my mind is that sometimes we are not thankful for something until much later. I’m not feeling that thankful about losing this wonderful house because the sellers refused to sell it, but I can’t help wondering whether there is a greater meaning in all of this. Whether our true destiny is for us to have another house. I don’t know what or why or how, but I do believe in destiny and that things often work out for the best when we least expect it. This is because I have seen this happen time and time again. Another example of this is the fact that I recently decided that I should seriously consider going into the healing profession. The fact that I have been ill for many years of this lifetime makes me realize that perhaps this is something I am meant to learn from in order to better help others in my current situation once I get better.

So, to conclude, I’d like to say that I believe being thankful is often about perspective. This hasn’t been the greatest year ever. I’ve been depressed and sick and we’ve been in a very cramped apartment that doesn’t feel like home and never really could. However, we have our new friends, many of whom we’ll stay in touch with when we move to PA, we have our cats and we have each other. We both have jobs and we are not starving on the street. I’ve heard it said that some of the healthiest countries are also some of the poorest ones because we in the West are always wanting more, more, more whilst many of these people are just happy with the little they have. I think sometimes you have to learn to understand the value of what you have. I always resented my parents for making us work so hard as teenagers to earn our pocket money whilst other kids seemed to get every little thing sponsored, but now that I’m all grown up I know what my parents were thinking – you see, once again it really is a question of perspective. I now appreciate the money that I earn and don’t take it for granted because I know what it’s like to have none and I know what it’s like to work my butt off to get some to enable me to fulfill my dreams.

By Sarah Downing

My name is Sarah. I was born and grew up in England and currently live in Düsseldorf, Germany, with my fiancé Corey and my cuddly cat Biscuit. I work as a translator and writer for my own company Aardwolf Text Services (www.aardwolf.de) and I love vintage clothes and music, as well as singing karaoke.


  1. Do not ever forget that some of us are very thankful for you. You never know how many lives you impact by being you.

  2. A very insightful blog. I believe everything happens for a reason, as much as you both adored the house it wasn’t meant to be. Something more wonderful is around the corner. You are definitly blessed with brains, beauty, talent a wonderful husband, friends and family.I wish you a very happy Thanksgiving.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. I also believe things happen for a reason. We just don’t always find out right away what that reason was. I certainly hope we see some good stuff on Friday. We may go househunting on Saturday too depending on how much our agent has to show us.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      I am also wishing you and your loved ones a happy Thanksgiving!



  3. I mean it, Sarah, with all my heart. You are an amazing woman and I cannot imagine I am the only person thankful to have known you.

    I hate that we all suffer, but I am thankful our suffering has brought us together.

    1. Thanks, Michelle. I’m sure you know you are pretty amazing yourself. I don’t really think of myself as amazing, but I just do what feels right. If I am able to make just a little (positive) difference in people’s lives, then I am very happy.

      I hate that we suffer too, but I also think of it as a learning experience (somebody I went to see described me as a “wounded healer” and perhaps that is right – cf. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wounded_healer).

      I’m also happy and blessed to have met all my wonderful friends through my illness. I believe at some point I will get well though and will hopefully be able to make even more of an impact in people’s lives.



  4. They say things happen for a reason. And I’m sure that the house that you thought was perfect for you wasn’t meant to be because it wasn’t perfect. You WILL find your dream home…of this I am sure. Keep the faith!

    1. Yes, I believe that too, as disappointing as this all was. Thank you for your kind words, Charlotte. Yesterday, we put an offer down on another house, got a counter-offer which we then accepted. Now, we’re just waiting for the seller to sign so that we can finalise everything.

  5. BTW: for anyone who was following this comment thread, we did in fact buy the second home we put the bid on and we couldn’t have made a better choice:-). This place has unbelievably positive energy and is full of light and life.

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