Like most people, I try to be even more intentional about gratitude and giving thanks during this part of the holiday season. Like most people, I set good intentions for not letting the small stuff get to me, and for being voraciously joyful for the many, many wonderful things, people, and privileges I have to celebrate in my life. And, like most people, my daily gratitude rituals start to slip away, fettered by the day-to-day grind and/or the problems that loom heavy and merciless.
I have a gratitude journal by my bedside. I have written in it for about 16 days of the past month. The days I skipped were probably the days I needed this practice the most, and yet whatever happened those particular days made me reluctant to pick up my pen. Instead I filled that time with tears or stress or staying up too late obsessing about something on the computer (etc.).
For those of you who follow the blog (and for those of you who know me in real life), you know it’s been a difficult fall. It’s been an autumn of transitions and changes. An autumn of sitting with impermanence and loneliness and loss. An autumn when the death of the leaves on the trees took on new meaning.
And yet, it has also been an autumn that—both because of and in spite of those things—has led to great growth and incredible new experiences. I started a job I love. I’ve thrived even more at the yoga studio in Boston than I had in Minneapolis; I teach more classes, more formats, and got to add Yoga Sculpt to my repertoire. I have been able to re-connect with a couple very dear friends who have welcomed me to the Boston area with the kindest open arms. I’ve learned to make it in a big city on the East Coast (something I’d been daydreaming about since my 4th grade obsession with Friends! :)).
For both the hardships and the celebrations, I am truly grateful.
And then there are all the things I so easily take for granted: Almost perfect health. A cozy apartment. The ability to purchase and prepare fresh, nutritious food. A strong body that carries me through daily tasks, rigorous exercise, and a consistent yoga practice.
These are incredible gifts and although it seems near impossible to be as grateful for them as I ought to be on a daily basis, I am happy to take this opportunity to reflect on and bask in the immense fortune these things provide me.
Most importantly, despite this being such a challenging time, I am grateful for and humbled by the amount of love I have in my life. Even when distance threatens to weaken the ties I have with my family and chosen-family/friends, I am, time and again, reminded that some relationships are bigger than circumstance. I have written before about my scattered homes and communities, but to my delight, those homes and communities have found ways to show up for me when I’ve needed them the most, even if it took effort. Phone calls, letters, visits, care packages, texts—-every little thing has been a reminder that our life really is about the connections we have with other people. That my friendships are being nurtured and maintained even when the odds are stacked against us is a testament to the realness of these relationships, and for this, I am grateful beyond measure.
And today, this morning, I’m grateful to be home with family. I’m about to go watch the parade with my mom (my absolute favorite tradition!) and then after that we’ll join the rest of our family for food and conversation and love. Mom and I spent hours working on some amazing vegan dishes and I’m excited to share pictures and recipes soon!
Life is a great struggle for us all. I so look forward to this day every year because it carves out a space for so many people, all at once, to sit with feelings of joy and abundance. What a rare and special energy with which to fill our world.
I hope you are able to sit with your gratitude today. And even better if you can sit with them in the company of loved ones.
<3 <3 <3
Last but not least, (and on a very different note), I can’t talk about Thanksgiving without talking about the history of the holiday. We’ve made it a holiday about giving thanks and sharing time with family, but it began in the context of colonialism and genocide. Like Chelsea Manning says in this wonderful Thanksgiving tribute, “I’m thankful for people who….despite having been taught, often as early as five and six years old, that the “helpful natives” selflessly assisted the “poor helpless Pilgrims” and lived happily ever after, dare to ask probing, even dangerous, questions.” The truth behind these questions reveal a history that has set the scene for our world today; one in which oppression remains the status quo. I’m thankful for those who have the courage and the energy to resist injustice and fight back.
Happy Thanksgiving. Power to the People. <3