I saw beauty and magnificence today, with a side of inspiration. As I walked through my neighborhood, I smelled grass, trees, and flowers. I felt peace, gratitude, and, most significantly, awe. I got an energy infusion from the warm spring sun and air. I heard children laughing and windchimes playing harmonies across backyard fences. I felt God’s presence and my own. My mind slowed long enough for the rest of me to catch up.
During my walk, the usual static was replaced with the quiet certainty of knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. I was happy without trying to be happy. I felt joy without praying to be joyful or undertaking a self-improvement checklist that promised joy upon completion.
We strive to be rational. We plan our futures. We plan to be happy tomorrow. But, happiness is only possible in what Richard Rohr calls The Naked Now. Buddhists call it the present moment and mindfulness.
We spend so much time trying to get God to love us! But, if we show up for ourselves just for this moment, we can forget trying to be perfect, productive, and accomplished long enough to let God love us and really feel it. That’s a game changer!
Gratitude slaps fear in the face of fear and subdues it. For that reason alone, we must return Thanksgiving Day and Thanksgiving Week to their glory days as full-throated holidays. Not at all coincidentally, thought and conversation about the traditions of Thanksgiving and the reasons for it keep family discussions away from the rolling political disasters and crises that turn discussions into hyper- heated detours from which no one returns alive.
We all need a freaking break. And turning Black Friday into Death Race 2018 isn’t taking a break. Let’s pause long enough to actually remember we like our relatives, so long as we’re not playing Hot Topics truth or dare. Gratitude and inspiration breed hope, and fear takes them away. So, here’s a little dose of hope for the holidays.
2.In light of the California Camp fires and the Paradise Fire, we can be grateful that the relatives sitting around our Thanksgiving Table or celebrating with us from afar are still in our lives, still breathing air, annoying us, challenging us, inspiring us, and lifting us when we fall. To a large extent, they have formed us.
There’s always another source of inspiration just around the corner. The world is full of unsung heroes quietly living their lives, forming a protective circle around us. Of course, we’re so thankful for the first responders in the news today, who keep us safe in ways of which we are only marginally aware. The fact that these people exist in the world, who’ve run into the fire, the flood, the dissolving buildings, is nothing short of a miracle. But, each of our lives is also populated with people who help us and give us the love and courage to be exactly who we are. For every image that inspires fear, there are many more people that inspire faith, courage, and admiration.
4.If we have a roof over our heads, a warm bed to sleep in, a fridge full of food, clean water to bathe with and drink, and clean air to breathe, we’re not only better off than two thirds of the world, we’re better offthan cities and counties of the United States of America.This one gets cited often during the holidays, because every day proves its truth.
5.And then there’s holiday fatigue. We can be thankful that we have the right and the means to veg out and take a break, when we need to. There is nothing wrong with a well-timed retreat, if it provides an escape from the sad, abandoned pets on TV, the ubiquitous Michael Buble’ Christmas CD, the Will Mariah or won’t Mariahhave a New Year’s Eve Meltdown? quandary, the frantic trip to the frantic mall with the frantic minions spraying frantic fragrance in our frantic faces, as we frantically check items off our frantic Christmas lists, and prepare to fight with other frantic shoppers in the parking lot!
Art, music, movies, painting, poetry, travel, and each other can all be the difference in a life. A movie, a song, a sonnet, a book, or a trip can live in us like a joyful virus for weeks and months, keeping us strong, and then we get to pass it on! We pass it on by inviting others to enjoy what we enjoy, through groups, retreats, clubs, blogs, videos. Or we can create these inspirational art forms ourselves, if we’re so inclined. We can join with other creatives like ourselves and collaborate. These things and so many others ignite the spark of joy within us. We get to be the neurotransmitters of joy!What could be better than that? These joy- starters are always there, as long as we can see, hear, and move.
We can be thankful for the struggle, for it’s only the struggle that teaches courage, perseverance, when to shut up and listen, when to speak up, and the common sense to know we don’t know enough yet or that more action is required. This year, the struggle has made us bulletproof and bionic.
A late bloomer still blooms. All we need is a pause and a reboot.
Finally, I’m grateful for the fact that God brought each of you into my life, as a continual source of inspiration.
Oh, and coffee!
Without the wonderful aroma, the beautiful-bitter taste and the sizable jolt it provides, we’d never make it out of bed to ponder the imponderables, journey towards purpose, or write or communicate anything intelligible to anyone. Happy Thanksgiving, and thanks to each and every one of you for everything you add to my life.
Hello again, dear friends! I’ve missed you. I’ve been locked in a room for several months chained to my computer, finishing my second book, which it took me 14 years to write and one year to edit. I finally looked up and saw Thanksgiving on the horizon. It’s time to return to the world of humanity.
For me, gratitude is not a Thanksgiving cliché, now replaced with Black Thursday, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It is the essential remedy of the fear, frustration and confusion living in today’s world can cause on a daily basis. Gratitude and inspiration breed hope and courage; fear takes them away. So, here is a little dose of hope for the holidays.
1) I’m grateful for the French people– even in the wake of the latest round of devastating attacks on Paris– beautiful, proud, un- cowed.
The French response to the fact that one of the terrorists may have pretended to be a Syrian refugee? They not only upheld their commitment to said Syrian refugees, but also deepened that commitment.
The Parisian response to all- out brutality and hatred was not to hide in their homes, but to continue to enjoy the pleasures of their great city, and to live as only the French can. This people have always known exactly whom they are, and what they were made for, and fear will not change that. Their art, culture and joie de vivre have always inspired and served as a model for capturing the best of every moment. Now their strength, resolve and courage do so.
2) I ‘m grateful that there is always another source of inspiration just around the corner. The world is full of unsung heroes quietly living their lives.
Life is bewildering, frustrating, dangerous, and exhausting. Sometimes it makes me simultaneously frightened to death and of the frame of mind, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore!
But, each of our lives is populated with people who help us and give us the love and courage to be exactly who we are. For every image that inspires fear, there are many more people that inspire faith, courage and admiration.
3) I’m thankful that I am still capable of being inspired by people.
4) I ‘m thankful for the movie, Field Of Dreams, and others like it dealing with faith in the unseen, in one’s self, and the Hero’s Journey. I ‘m thankful for that old Big Daddy Weave song called What I was Made For, which I play frequently when I’m in a funk, and the reminder it provides that I, like each and every one of us, was made by my creator for a specific purpose, and the spiritual journey I must make is finding what that purpose is, sometimes daily.
5) I am so fortunate and grateful that something like a movie, song, or book can live in me like a joyful virus for weeks and months, keeping me strong, and that there are others like me, discussing, forming book clubs, film clubs, artist groups and retreats and other homes away from home.
I get to catch inspiration, use it as fuel to create something from nothing, and hopefully once in a while, pass that inspiration on.
6) I ‘m grateful that there still are books and poetry in the world and that people still read them and love them passionately.
7) I’m doubly grateful that, after so many different directions, careers and mistakes, I am fairly certain my purpose is to create. This certainty stems from these wrong turns and course corrections, all of them essential to the process. It also arises from the fact that, at this point in my life, I can’t refrain or abstain from creating.
More people are writing books now, than there are people who still read. So what? I do this because it is what I was made for. A late bloomer still flowers:)
8) I’m thankful I have a dream. Bringing this dream into being usually makes me spring out of bed every day with excitement and optimism. At times, it prompts me to spring out of bed with cursing and wailing, but I am thankful that it will, in fact, be born in a few months, and the creative process never ends. It provides me with joy and strength and restores my faith and youth, when the world has worn me out.
9) I am thankful for the struggle. If it was easy, I would have no need for courage, perseverance, help, or the common sense to know I don’t know enough.
10) Mostly I’m grateful for the fact that God brought each of you into my life, as a continual source of inspiration.That makes me feel like the most fortunate person in the world.You are the unsung heroes I refer to in paragraph 2.
11) Oh, and coffee; I can’t forget coffee!
Without the wonderful aroma, the beautiful-bitter taste and the sizable jolt it provides, I’d never make it out of bed to ponder the imponderables, journey towards my purpose, or write or communicate anything intelligible to anyone. Happy Thanksgiving and thanks to each and every one of you!