with thanks

A friend said recently that I'm writing my posts as if no one was reading. In a way, it feels like that, especially today: if you are in American, you're probably not. You're either cooking, or trying to get out of work in time to get on the road, on a train, to the airport, in time for dinner, in the middle of the afternoon.

And here in London, you'd never know Thanksgiving existed. I bought up one of the six cans of Libby's tinned pumpkin last week: any ex-pats now in the area - and there are many - are basically screwed.

I think of the flip side that Jonathan Adler was talking about, the flip to his bling side: the craftsman in his soul. The potter. Jonathan was a 'production potter' for five years. I asked what that meant and he said 'I produced pots, by hand. Night and day.' He said he was basically unhire-able: he just made pots. I asked if he knew the St. Ives school of potters, and he, too, had been there. To Bernard Leach's (as shown here). That's what I was dreaming of last night: his studio. His pots.

That's what my husband and I want this year: not more shoes. We want to find a pottery studio in London, to take a course. We have been collecting pottery for years: now it's time to get our hands dirty.

Last night I kept waking and having images: of these shots I took with my husband, a few years ago in St. Ives, or of Georgie and my lovely friend Estelle (Serendipity2307), in Regent's park. That's me, in the black swimsuit, years ago, shot with my dad's Pentax on timer. I was thinking of something a friend wrote yesterday, about 'doing service.' How he'll hold a door open for people, and they won't say thank you, but he'll thank them, for allowing him to 'do service'.

Each morning, I try to think of the things I am grateful for each day, because I believe that that attitude of gratitude is the core of what makes me a happy person. The attitude of want, envy, jealousy, competitiveness, backstabbing, bitchiness, and all the things that can become exploited through the fashion blogging world - that 'I need those shoes' 'I'm jealous of your legs' mentality - that idea that our blogs are like the X Factor, and there is only one winner.. it is all so toxic, and so poisonous.

So Thanksgiving, for me, besides being a sacred holiday for my family - it felt like we OWNED Thanksgiving, growing up - it was our special time, and also my father's birthday - Thanksgiving is for me the sacred time to look back, to reflect, to look forward.

This year, I am grateful for all the things I don't ever want to take for granted: my life, my health, the life and the health of all the people I love - and who love me. And there are so many, so very many, in varying degrees.

I am grateful that I can still move around, and dance, and swim, and relish in nature, free from pain, free from danger.

But I am also grateful to my enemies: the people who once pretended to be my friend. Who I helped, did service for - people at magazines, large companies, who had wanted me to work for free - and the ambitious bloggers, whose photos I shot, whose 'profiles' I helped raise, even at times doing someone's logo, masthead.. I even spent a day, home in bed with the flu, designing magazine layouts for a girl who wanted to be an intern, and instead of thanking me, she wanted more: changes, and contact names, and then when I saw her at fashion week and asked her if she had anything to say to me, she just looked at me in surprise and said 'I already said you did a good job.'

All those hours, thousands of emails and cupcake get togethers and photos, photos and photos, for people who now want to harm me, who want me banned from fashion week, who want to turn people against me, and all I ever did was finally step away.. I am grateful to you all. Because you have helped me realise, this year, that I am stronger than I thought I was. That I have a voice, and that voice will not be shut down.

I'm grateful, too, to the two girls at Spanish Elle, for ElleGate: it was just a year ago, come to think of it. They might not have ever said a proper apology, or come thru with any financial compensation for me or Roz, but hey- they brought the most wonderful friend, a Spanish lawyer, into my life, and they showed me how much support there was from people like you. Out there, around the world. The love I received far outweighed the pain. Living well, I always feel, is the best revenge.

I love this quote: "Forgiveness is NOT excusing what the other person did. Its refusing to be defined by what they did."

I was thinking about when I studied karate, in NY, a lifetime ago, with my then boyfriend. How we'd say 'please teach me,' then have a nice little punch up, and then say 'thank you for the lesson.'

I am grateful to my enemies: you have helped me define who I am, and who I don't want to be. And what, in the end, really matters.

I am grateful for all my experiences, good and bad, happy or sad. They all have helped me to grow, and, I hope, to better be able to serve my fellow man.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone: today I shall roast a free range chicken, and make all my favourite dishes, stuffing and pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce, a mini Thanksgiving for my grateful husband and very grateful cat (he loves chicken), and I will think of you all, my lovely friends, with gratitude, and wishes of health and happiness.


Pearl Westwood said...

Happy Thanksgiving, we always have to remember the things to be thankful for and not dwell on those that really don't matter x

LeahB said...

JILL! AGAIN, thank you for such a lovely post. This has been a difficult year for me in that I've finally come to realize that some people are really nothing more than takers in life. Sadly, people can disappoint in such audacious and jaw-dropping ways. I read on the internet somewhere that some people come into our lives to serve as difficult life lessons. Someone we assume to be a lifelong "bestie" may in fact be nothing more than a tool for an oh-so-challenging test in self-esteem, self-awareness, and strength.

But you are right... we have to be thankful for such people who help keep us on our toes and make us wiser and tougher.

And now I must shower and travel and eat turkey and pie with those I trust and love the most in this world.

Happy Thanksgiving Jill! You are like a pilgrim on the opposite side of the pond today!

Emily said...

Happy Thanksgiving, Jill.

Love the quote about forgiveness. I think it sums up how I try to live my life. I don't let others or their actions define me, no matter what happens.

Hope you have a lovely day, xx

PS pottery sounds like fun - did you see when Deidre and Ken took up pottery in Corrie (V sad that I watch that!! Haha!!)

lauren siegel eisen said...

love your blog. you sound like you're in a good place and i admire your style, your wisdom and that sweet charm you always are brimming with.
i wish you and kevin a happy & delicious thanksgiving and hope you enjoy whatever you made with the tinned pumpkin you scored!
much love to you!

Jessie in Fashion Limbo said...

Happy Thanksgiving Jill, cannot wait to move to London and finally meet you, you uber talented woman!
Loved the quote about forgiveness... I must plaster that thought somewhere in front of me so I can see it every day.

Gosh how I long for a roasted ThanksGiving meal... anyways, I am grateful for coming across your blog, and your words of inspiration, and our supportive email exchanges. And I'm also thankful because I'm not alone. I've got so much love from so many people this year, unexpected, uncompromised love, and it feels like HEAVEN.
And just right now, I'm grateful for the curled up mini dog I have lying next to me, nudging me with his nose now and then so I quit the computer work and give him some cuddles, and that's what I'm going to do right now.

Much love Jill xxxx

Matthew Spade said...

really powerful and thought provoking post. you have come out the other side and like you said, without the downs you might not have realised the person who you are today and who you will still grow in to being. i'm at a stage in my life where i think nothing good will happen, i'm not down just it's hard this job game but i know what type of person i am, hardworking, persistent and genuine. thinks will get better.

thanks for the comment, again! glad you are liking what i post and my attitude, it's just me really. i couldn't just post about fashion/style because that's only the surface for me. glad you have got some of the old photos out, hopefully get some more on the go.

Sara said...

Blessings, Jill. And happy Thanksgiving from me to you.

Anonymous said...

Jill, I've realised that I pop over here not only to be cheered up and to enjoy your amazing shots and personal writing but also for your pearls of wisdom - and today you have imparted many. All of what you say is so true - about learning to realise what matters in life and giving thanks for it. I absolutely couldn't agree more. Your view of how all the harm that has been done to you has made you a stronger person is one we should all adopt. It's kind of an offshoot of that idea of "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" which I try to live by myself.

I wish you a truly happy Thanksgiving, and I want to thank you for always brightening up my day with your posts and thoughts - last night I uploaded my first shots from my new canon 600d, shots from a fashion show I attended last week, and I took inspiration from you and made a shoe photo montage. If you get chance to take a look I'd love to know what you think - I am all ears for any photography tips being a rookie!

Have a lovely weekend, Alexandra xx

SymbioticLife said...

It's a wonderful way to look at life. When you can say "thank you" to people who've meant you so much harm but you realise that you've grown and become more than you were before they introduced that into your life, you really have gotten the best revenge. I will try and keep that in mind.

This is my first Thanksgiving outside of the states. It's been odd and it's funny the things you miss about it once you're no longer in the thick of it.

I hope you have a brilliant finish to your Thanksgiving day!

O D Y S S E Y said...

I have subconsciously been waiting for this post. It longed to be written, all these wise and poignant words. Right here on your blog.

It's a wise person who can look at life this way, Jill - to come to a place where one can thank one's enemies. Too bad you can't name them, but as "they" say: They know who they are, and public ID'ing doesn't quite matter. :)

Take that pottery class! You will surely find one close by. I love these photos- the wabi-sabi pottery. And indeed there is something quite zen about all your photos here.


adrielleroyale said...

So much to be thankful for indeed! Truly each person and situation were brought into our lives to add something or take something away, to teach us a lesson of importance if we will just look at it and glean all we can from it. May 2012 have more to be thankful for than 2011 and may you relish every minute of it. :)


Unknown said...

Love your honesty and the fact that you are true to yourself.