I have so much to be thankful for this year - a beautiful new home, a healthy, loving, and thriving family, a husband without whom I would be lost, my first novel published, a second book in the works, and, above all, what seems to be a healthy pregnancy (finally!). Yet with all the blessings in my life, I find my thoughts drift to Jane Austen. Now perhaps these are just the ramblings of an obsessive compulsive fan girl, as I certainly cannot claim that Jane made my life as beautiful as it is, but I do sincerely believe that I would not appreciate how fortunate I am without her guidance. Miss Austen has taught me to make the most of every situation I find myself in, be they positive or negative. Our first house may not be terribly large, but the Dashwood sisters proved to me that it is not the size of the abode that matters, but the people who inhabit it. While my family may at times annoy me, Emma's devotion to Mr. Woodhouse reminds me that they are to be honored regardless of their foibles, particularly their highly overprotective tendencies. Mr. Darcy showed me what kind of character is required to make a good husband, and I cannot thank him enough for letting me recognize one when he crossed my path (even if, like Elizabeth, it took me a while). When I first began writing, I tried desperately hard to produce something I considered "literary", having always been a book snob, but Mr. Tilney taught me to not be "so intolerably stupid" and freed me to pursue fan fiction, without which I would not only have never finished a novel, but would also have been deprived of the many hours of reading pleasure this genre has provided me. As for the second book, which has not poured out of me with the same ease as the first, Fanny Price serves as a source of inspiration - a ray of hope that just doing what I can, and what I feel to be right, will pay off in the end. Finally, in regards to this hard earned pregnancy, I turn to Anne Elliot, whom, when miscarriages made me despair, taught me two invaluable lessons: that one must roll with the punches life deals us, and that what is meant to be will be, but in its own time. Without her example, I'm not sure how I would have endured the disappointment, and I don't think that I would now be able to be so thankful for what, just a few months ago, felt like tragedy. For just like she finds greater happiness in her delayed union with Captain Wentworth, I feel far more joy in this pregnancy than in the previous ones, now so certain that I want this child more than anything and brave enough to face the tribulations that motherhood brings. Fear and uncertainty checkered my previous experiences; now I am free to indulge in unmitigated glee. Thank you, Miss Jane Austen, for the countless ways in which you enliven my life. Your novels are a priceless gift, and I do not know how I would survive without them.