Giving Thanks: Gratitude and Grace

The Thanksgiving spirit is all around me.    The leaves have turned, the weather has cooled, the nights grow longer.    After six years of living in the southern hemisphere where we’d be in the throws of Springtime gardening frenzy, I now find myself in the midst of the Fall season and the kickoff for the American holidays.

Thanksgiving – a time to reflect and be grateful for everything around us, both good and bad.  Every experience we encounter offers us opportunities — to learn about ourselves, to grow, to express the full range of emotions that is our unique capacity as human beings.

It is now three months since dad passed away.  On the one hand, it still seems so new; on the other, it feels like an eternity.    So much has happened in these three short months.

I’ve said goodbye to Florida and to all the relationships I cultivated there:  my mom, my mom’s friends (Dorothy, Alyce, Dolores, Vinnie, Kirsten), and my new friends (Diana, Mona, Nadine, Barbara, and Father Gabriel).     My last few days were bittersweet as I wrapped up my time.  There were farewell dinners and several coffee dates.    I am so grateful to have all these people in my life and to have shared many touching and special moments with them during my journey.  I am comforted by the knowledge that my mom has a wonderful circle of friends to call upon and whom will watch out for her.  There is no need for me to worry from afar.

I left Florida and went to Peru for 18 days and then flew across the country, met my friend and flew further across the seas to Maui for a week (both blogposts still to come). A little over a week ago, I landed back in the Bay Area where I’ll be through December 16th.  I’m here to immerse myself in being “auntie” to my niece Sienna and to live with my sister and brother-in-law while anxiously awaiting the birth of niece number two.   How lucky am I?

In the last ten days, I’ve done so much!   I enrolled in a 25 day yoga program for $25 (what a gift!) and have been going to class at least three times a week;  I was surprised with an early Thanksgiving dinner with my ‘old’ friends and we enjoyed a lovely evening with the kids;  I spent a few days with my sister-in-law, a former flat-mate, and other long-standing friends.   It’s been easy to re-connect with people that I’m not in regular contact with and get into the thick of many stimulating conversations!

I’m very grateful to my husband Bruce who has been so gracious and accepting of my need to go on ‘walkabout’.    He has held down the two homesteads in New Zealand and patiently cared for little Nina while tackling mundane house projects and continuing to follow his own personal pursuits.   I will have been gone for almost five months by the time I arrive home – we’ve discovered through lots of conversations that this is far too long to be apart, but we also realize what a gift it is for us to be available to our families in times of need.

I thought long and hard about what I wanted to do on Thanksgiving.   With no ‘ties’ per se, I actually felt free to follow my heart’s desire.    First up tomorrow morning will be a two hour yoga workshop that focuses on gratitude and kirtan chanting.   I’m really looking forward to attending.   It promises to be a beautiful autumn day, so I’ll hopefully get outside in the afternoon for a hike with a friend.  And then I shall return home and enjoy some ‘me’ time.

My niece is learning grace and gratitude in her Montessori school where they recite the “eating words” before their lunch meals and now we’ve adopted it as an evening meal practice:

 Thank you for this delicious and healthy food,

We are grateful for all the food that comes from the earth,

Bon Appetit, Now We Can Eat!

She particularly likes the last line.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.  Squawk, squawk, gobble, gobble!   Enjoy your day!