After months, MONTHS, of silence I’m back ! With Thanksgiving just a day and a half away- how can I not be? Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s not about presents! Although I am a total present Ho and have never once on a birthday said those two words “No Gifts.” It’s not about chocolate bunnies or colored eggs that you have to troll through plants to find. Or News Years Eve when you don’t have a date and feel like the loser of life.

No- it is the holiday when even the gnarly-est of us takes a moment to say thank you for something. So many of us are still reeling from the election, and will be for quite a while. And we are anxious about how it’s all going to play out. (Anxious is a polite way of saying scared shitless.) Having said that, I do believe the saving grace in all of it is gratitude. Gratitude combats the negative and shines light where there is darkness.

So, full disclosure… I’ve been silent the last few months because I had a lung transplant on September 17th. Yes I did and a beautiful young lung it is! I have written before about having Pulmonary Fibrosis, a nasty disease of the lungs for which there is no cure. Unless, you are blessed to get approved for a life saving lung transplant. I was blessed. My husband and two daughters were blessed along with me. As were my two dogs who love me madly.

Obviously, I am beyond grateful for the transplant. Beyond grateful to the young woman who donated her organs so that others could live. I got one big fat healthy lung and a 14 year old boy down the hall from me in the hospital got her heart. And yes I think of him every day.

I was in the hospital for two weeks after the surgery and am very grateful to my doctors and all of the nurses who were wonderful and patient and took such good care of me. One nurse was from Belize and we had great talks about God. One was from Long Island and said I reminded her of her mother. One didn’t talk too much but sang beautifully and when she did say something it was meaningful. The news was on TV one night when she was fixing my IV and there was a report about some charity giving plastic dolls to these kids in Africa and she stopped humming to say “why couldn’t they have given them books,”

As weird as this may sound what I am also truly, madly and deeply grateful for is the opportunity to find out first hand that every challenge we are given comes with a blessing. Sometimes you have to turn it over and look for it but its there. Those two weeks in the hospital…and let me say I hate hospitals and one of the things I was most afraid of was being in a hospital for that amount of time, seriously thought I’d either go AWOL or jump out of the window, were a gift.

My husband and 27 year old daughter took turns spending the night. Nothing, not a single thing is more intimate and vulnerable than being unable to care for yourself and depending on nurses for everything. Or, your husband and daughter. But, as I’ve learned nothing brings you to a deeper connection than that total vulnerability. And my friends. We are all so busy with our lives but when something major happens we become the community we were meant to be. We stop doing us and reach in and out with love. Friends I hadn’t head from in years who ran into someone who told them , emailed me or my husband with good wishes. I couldn’t have flowers so I got stacks of books.

The love just poured in.

hornofplentyI meditated on love and life and why I was given a second chance. What started as a physical journey turned into a spiritual journey. In a way, it was the one I’d been wanting my whole life. Some of my friends have said I was brave. I wasn’t brave at all. I was blessed. And I did what anyone with a loving husband and a 27-year-old and a 20-year -old still in collage would have done. There was no choice. So you buck up, meet the challenge head on, ask God or The Universe to be by your side and then count all of the blessings on the other side of it.

I am very Thankful this Thanksgiving not just because I can breathe on my own again without dragging the blue radiator, as I called my oxygen machine, from room to room or because my cheeks are pink again instead of sunken and grey, but because I am a better person. I say thank you every morning before I get up. I know every day is a gift.

I don’t obsess on The Donald and what he may or may not do. But, remember Elisabeth Warren’s advice to stay vigilant and volunteer for things we care about like Planned Parenthood or the environment and to feel productive. At night when I can’t sleep I stare out of my window and see shapes in the clouds and the trees like I did when I was a little girl and that makes me happy.

So that’s my story

And as for sharing and caring: please if you haven’t already, please become an organ donor,If you are looking for a cause to donate to please consider The Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation. Lung disease is the 3rd largest killer after Cancer and Heart disease and one of the least funded.

I know each of you has had or are having your own challenges. You also have your own list of what you are grateful for. That’s the list to keep your eye on.

As usual sent with love-


Thanksgiving Contest - What Are You Thankful For?






6 Responses

  1. Happy Thanksgiving my beautiful friend
    Douglas and Francoise

  2. Susie Blakely says:

    That was so beautiful Annie…just like you. Thank you. And Happy Thanksgiving!

  3. Annie
    What a powerful piece. You gave me a lot to reflect on. Thank you for giving me the direction for appreciation. I am grateful to be reminded the importance of sharing and caring.
    Oh so beautiful!

  4. joanna staudinger says:

    A breath of life filled with love is a whole lifetime of understanding.
    It is the greatest gift in our lives to really learn gratitude and thankfulness.
    We are all so blessed to live in this beautiful country and have so much freedom and choice.
    I am so thankful that you, Ms. Stein
    are back and healthy, surrounded by your
    loving family and friends.
    Truly a beautiful Thanksgiving Day!

  5. Leone Webster says:

    I am so happy for your progress and yes, challenges do have a silver lining. Sending so much love on Thanksgiving. xo

  6. Holly Palance says:

    Darling Annie
    I’m welling up….I see the writing Gods are working through you once more…and for that I’m grateful….your ‘so YOU’ voice inspires….I’m relishing you watching the shape of the clouds….OO la la, love reading you…love to you & Jeff & the girls & the community you create….
    Blessings indeed today & always

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