Today is Thanksgiving. A day off for most, an opportunity for many to be close to friends, family, and loved ones, and a day where eating heartily and drinking merrily are strongly encouraged. And as it would imply, a day of giving thanks and celebrating the blessings of life. I don't know if it's just me, but browsing through Facebook and Twitter this morning, I see more posts, status updates, and check-ins relating to the things that people are grateful for than I've ever seen. It makes me smile, reading about the things that make people happy, and what makes them close their eyes and hold their heart in the spirit of gratitude. And it also makes me smile seeing how many people are viewing today as much more than a chance to sleep in and amass justifications for their New Year's resolutions.
And it also made me think: What am I grateful for?
When I meditated with that question, I was amazed at the number of answers that immediately came to mind. And through the diversity of things that I am thankful for, what stood out to me was the common link between most of them. They were things I did not have.
- I am thankful that I no longer feel the urge to run away from parties after eating.
- I am thankful that I no longer feel prevented from dancing and moving due to joint pain and fatigue.
- I am thankful that I no longer feel disconnected from others.
- I am thankful that I no longer see each day as a burden, but as a true gift.
- I am thankful that I no longer worry about my bank account when paying for a friend's meal.
- I am thankful that I no longer live a life ruled by fear of pain, ridicule, and failure.
And thinking even more on the question and seeing how thankful I was for things I no longer had, it illuminated the root of my gratitude. What I am truly grateful for are the things that have challenged me, stood in my way, and all people who have said "You can't/won't/shouldn't" and "No" and how I implicitly agreed. It's all the things that have tested me and pushed me to discover what was beyond my self-imposed limitations. The knee injury that derailed my dreams of being a dancer on Broadway. The psychiatrists who sentenced me to a life-long need for prescriptions to regulate my psychological health. The dysfunctional relationship with food that made me afraid and ashamed of eating. Loved ones moving to the other side of the world. For most of my life, I embraced so much anger, resentment, and ugliness within me. Poison. But it was through that, and owning it rather than burying it away, that I can now appreciate what's on the other side of the coin - Endless everyday beauty that can soothe the soul, warm the heart, and inspire laughter and smiles that are genuine and real.
And what I am truly grateful for is finally being able to see that I am a part of that beauty. I can say that I am beautiful and I don't have to feel like I'm lying or putting on a show. Words cannot do justice to how much that means to me.
I am grateful that I tried eating gluten-free on a whim in the midst of my first Saturn Return. That a tumultuous life of uncertainty and instability switched to a life that is relatively tranquil and centered. That I have the opportunity to share that bliss of knowing and celebrating both sides - the Light and the Dark. And I am grateful that nothing stays the same. That each day is a new day to learn, to love, and to cherish.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone. Thank you for reading and allowing me to share my journey with you. May today, and each day to come, remind you of how blessed you are - both with things you do have and things that you do not.