In Gratitude

I give thanks for arriving
Safely in a new dawn,
For the gift of eyes
To see the world,
The gift of mind
To feel at home
In my life.
The waves of possibility
Breaking on the shore of dawn,
The harvest of the past
That awaits my hunger,
And all the furtherings
This new day will bring.

John O’Dohonue
To Bless the Space Between Us

Hello everyone,

Here we are, it’s November already and less than two weeks shy of Thanksgiving. Yesterday’s date…Friday, November 13th and I was reminded that the last Friday the 13th was in March. It was the day the lockdown began because of Covid-19.

It was also three days after I launched my new website, the day my husband had to pack his classroom and bring it home so he could teach remotely, and the day the girls found out that their perspective offices were closing and they would have to work from home. The girls moved in with us so we could all stay together. Neal never saw his classroom again.

It is eight months later to the day. We’re still in the grip of the pandemic and the tsunami of change has not receded. We’re entering the dark time of the year. It’s getting colder and we’re gathering again. We’ve all been affected deeply. It is up to each of us to assess the effects these changes have had on our lives.

I felt compelled to contemplate and write about Gratitude today because, even in the face of the pandemic and the aftermath of a crazy election cycle where people can’t seem to be able to get out of their own way, there’s much to be grateful about, beginning with my ability to breathe in the crisp morning air.

Reflecting back on the last eight months, I see how the seasons continued to unfold… slowly…deliberately. I’ve been zooming in to minute details that I may have missed other years. I’m grateful for having been present and able to participate in the seasonal celebration of endings and new beginnings.

Whether hiking in the familiar Nature Reserves and parks or strolling in my own backyard, I’ve been able to witness and document the seasons making their rounds around the sun in all their glory. I am extremely grateful for that.

Nature has always been a sanctuary for me. Being in nature soothes me and keeps my perspective in check. Nothing ever stays the same, no matter how glorious or challenging it is. I’m consistently reminded that I’m here to observe and enjoy as a grateful participant of a much larger and sacred process than I can comprehend.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to have had our family together again under one roof. I dubbed this time the “high school years do-over,” albeit adult style.

Every morning, one by one, the girls and Neal would stroll in the kitchen well after I had woken up. “Is coffee ready?” they’d ask. We’d sit down for a few minutes, hot cup of coffee in hand and chat. Eventually, everyone would claim a space and go to work. It wasn’t always smooth. “Mom, do something, the internet isn’t working and I’m going into a meeting.” Neal would frantically run by, laptop in hand, his Zoom session having been interrupted.

There was frustration and occasional temper tantrums and then there was laughter. At the end of the day, we’d gather around the dining room table and talk about our day. Often we’d take trips down memory lane and I think that’s what has stayed with me the most, the flood of memories and the fleshing out of narratives.

I had to revert to being the mother of a tribe again, keeping the home running smoothly and making sure breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served. It’s been different though. The girls are adults with lives of their own. Once again, I had to rethink my role as their mother. There were times that I had to adjust my attitude, step back, give them the credit they deserve, and watch them do their thing. The time when we realize how much respect we have for who our children are becoming is a gift. I’m grateful to have been given this gift.

Even though I had to put my “launch” in the back burner, I found that I could still accomplish a lot by making adjustments to my schedule and expectations. As a result, I’ve been able to clarify many aspects of my coaching practice, fine tune my offerings, and connect with people. My writing has deepened. I facilitated a successful retreat in October and I’m getting ready to facilitate another one on Monday. Every step I take I feel affirmed and supported. Although the pandemic is still dictating the how, I’m loving the who and what.

These days I try to focus on what I can do in the present moment instead of getting frustrated with my limitations. I appreciate even more the gifts of ordinary moments. Taking time to be alone and quiet has never been more important. I’m grateful for my meditation practice and all that it has taught me and continues to teach me.

I don’t know how the next few months are going to unfold. Do we ever know what each day will bring? As Pema Chodron writes in her book “Comfortable with Uncertainty:”

The question always remains: To what are we really committed? Is it to playing it safe and manipulating our life and the rest of the world so that it will give us security and confirmation? Or is our commitment to exploring deeper and deeper levels of letting go?

The last eight months have challenged our false sense of security. Now, we’re faced with the choice of how to answer the challenge.

As we’re approaching Thanksgiving week and as we’re grappling with how to celebrate in this new environment and its limitations, we may want to begin by getting in touch with gratitude for all we have, here and now.

What do you know to be true? What are you really, deeply grateful for? May the recognition of the beauty and strength that supports your life be your guide.

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