Gypsy Thanksgiving

Gypsy ThanksgivingThis is the first time in a long time that I am home for Thanksgiving. My home, the home I grew up in, with my blood relatives all around (making a lot of racket at the moment). I’ve missed this. And I’m grateful for it.

But I would be remiss to overlook my Thanksgivings past. There was the South Carolina Thanksgiving where my cousin and I woke up to Kahlua cake. This was the prototype for a wedding cake that his mother was making, and in our favor, this first cake didn’t turn out. We sat on the floor and feasted on cake that had been tossed into a cardboard box. The second cake turned out and we were not allowed to touch it.

And in all my years of working in restaurants, in five different states no less, only one, Söntés in Minnesota, offered itself as a gathering place for Thanksgiving for its far-from-home staff and for any regular guests who wanted to enjoy a gourmet potluck. It was not a work day; the doors remained locked. But a wave at the window got everyone in to warmth, food, and laughter.

In the last few years, I have been privy to dinner at the house of some very good friends. Four generations, including in-law relatives and those of us not related, would gather around the table and enjoy traditional (local and foreign) foods and camaraderie as one, big, crazy family. After dinner, we all did the dishes together, which to me, is the mark of true family inclusion. Guests get waited on, and are treated to the spotless areas of the house. Family tells stories in the messy kitchen and snacks on leftovers straight from the pan.

I have so much gratitude, not just today, but every day for my home and family, and for all of my second families who’ve welcomed me in over these wandering, writing, gypsy years. May I pay this love forward, with my every step.

Happy Thanksgiving, to you and all of “yours”!

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see

The Tossing of Powerful Words

The Tossing of Powerful WordsEveryone has their pet peeves, and writers are certainly no exception. We get grumpy about poor word choice, shortcuts in spelling, and especially about grammar mishaps. We put so much time and attention into these things that we forget that others don’t. But with all these gorgeous words around us, why choose to say something that’s been so over-used that it ceases to mean anything at all?

Case in point, my pet peeve: Love to death, as in, “My best friend Sally? Oh, I just love her to death…”

Yes, I get that you love Sally, and yes, I get that you’re not trying to be literal. But then, why say it? You just wasted an opportunity to say something real by grasping at a melodramatic phrase instead. If it came down to it, in the truest setting, would you lay down your life for hers?

If you have to think twice about that, then stop saying it. Let’s get rid of the dramatic death love, and just love. Words have power, and tossing them around like a salad dilutes their meaning. If, on the other hand, you’d trade your life for Sally’s in a heartbeat, then by all means, say it. And say it like you mean it so that anyone listening feels it.

Another concept that’s quickly losing its meaning is gratitude. True, undiluted gratitude, it seems, needs to follow a pattern:

  1. Feel grateful for something
  2. Realize that what you’re feeling is gratitude
  3. Full of feeling, say, “Thank you”

I think these steps get skipped a bit. Most times it’s just a quick “thanks” that we toss around to one another, which is certainly better than nothing. But the other steps are so very important: feeling gratitude and realizing that you feel it. I’m convinced that the immersion into this feeling is what opens the door for more good to come. And if there’s no feeling behind it, “thanks” becomes just another word. Don’t let that happen to thanks. Put the emotion back into it. Open the floodgate.

On this eve of Thanksgiving, put your heart back into what you say, and reclaim the strength of your words.

Jody Brown is the author of Upside Down Kingdom, and is a multi-blogger, poet, and traveler. To learn more about her current writing projects, or for ways to donate toward their completion, see

Daisy Images

Daisy ImagesThis morning I hopped online to start my day and found last night’s Google search for daisy images still on my screen (the great daisy vs. chrysanthemum debate late yesterday needed to be solved with visual aids).

First thing this morning those little flower faces, all sunshiny and silly, and staring at me, caught my sleepy self off guard. On second glance, I saw that some seemed to be ogling the camera in clusters, vying for attention, and others looked as if they were doing bobble dances wind and I had a great and hearty laugh and a moment of gratitude for nonstop imagination before getting down to business.

I’m telling you, jumpstart the happy in your day by leaving yourself daisy images.

Start the day’s work by handing the keys over to imagination, seeing where it takes you, and thanking it for the ride. Wake up to your next great journey.

~My first book, Upside Down Kingdom, is available on Amazon. I’m working on the second.

A Second Look at Thank You

I can’t really speak for the real world, because I don’t spend a lot of time in it. But I get the impression that Thank Yous are becoming harder and harder to get, not just in writing, which takes time, but the verbal “Thank Yous” as well.

I’m just as guilty of it as everyone else. I blame it on being busy and running out of time. As a writer, I feel that thank you cards from me should be heartfelt and written through tears of gratitude. (I realize this is extreme, but it’s honestly how I write them.) As for verbal thank yous, I can fall into the habit that the other person “knows” I’m appreciative without my having to say it.

But is that really good enough?

Let me tell you, I do spend time in Restaurantland where Thank You cards are a way of life. I wouldn’t say it’s commonplace to receive these cards at the restaurant, but it is often. (Yesterday we received a thank you via text.)photo-2

When a card comes in, the owner passes it along to the staff. Cards don’t get left in the office or put in the safe. The kitchen has a designated place they post their cards so that the entire kitchen staff can read them, and the servers have a board in our station where we hang ours. (We keep a collection.) When a new one appears, we all gather around to make sure we read it, and we comment on who did what to get mention in the card. These cards remind us why we do what we do. These are stories of people, their lives, and moments that mean something to them (and to us!). We have a hand in that. And here’s the heart of it all: On stressful days, you’ll find somebody taking a moment to re-read a card and even sharing it again with the rest of us.

These words keep us going, keep us believing, keep us striving, even through the muck. That’s powerful.

Say it. Write it. Just get it out there, and often. Thank you for reading me today.


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