I declared November my month of living with gratitude and connection and have been happily pursuing these all month. This week, Thanksgiving week, I'm dedicating to "Being". Since I am a pretty aggressive Do-er, I felt I deserved to especially focus my time and attention on reflection, relaxation, time out and being with others in the truest sense of the word. What better way to focus on my gratitude and connection, right?
My month of connection and gratitude included a public (via facebook) invitation for others to connect with me over tea or lunch, which resulted in some fantastic meet ups with dear friends I have not seen in literally years. What a treat! It also afforded me the opportunity to play a Pay it Forward game, (again, something I picked up on facebook). In January of this year, a friend posted the game in which the first 4 people to respond would receive a special note from her and a box of goodies, the 'catch' being you had to do the same. So I signed up and I made the same offer to others. The 4 boxes pictured above are my goodie boxes which were just mailed off to the 4 folks who played my game. What a fun way to experience connection and gratitude. Each friend received a letter I wrote just for them plus assorted little goodies I put together. I painted each box to fit each participant -- a quilter; a woman who lives in the mountains; a woman with a huge smiling heart and my sister who loves sparkles and pink and red. I loved this practice of creativity and connecting.
My Sweetie and I will be celebrating several Thanksgivings, which began this past Sunday with a celebration at my mom's with all 5 of us siblings.
The 5 of us have not celebrated a holiday together in a very, very long time and it meant a lot to us to gather, for ourselves, but also for our mom, who never stopped smiling all day long. Sitting down to break bread together with lots of laughter and of course good food, it felt freshly inspiring and meaningful to share around the table how each of us was feeling grateful.
This week we will celebrate with gratitude and connection on several occasions, including a quiet celebration with dear friends, and possibly 3 more celebrations with family. Sweetie's mom and her partner of the past 50 years are experiencing physical challenges and at this point it's unknown whether we'll be graced with their company come next Thanksgiving. Depending on their ability to travel, we may be traveling to each of them (who now live in separate places) to share food and stories and hugs. And we'll celebrate with my daughter, son-in-law and grandson, along with my sister and her family. One can never have too many chances to celebrate Thanksgiving!
As I find myself in this quiet period at the end of 2013, what I'm noticing is the sacredness of each moment and the fragility of life. Having just performed a memorial service for a 29 year old woman who died suddenly in an accident, this was made all the more loud and clear to me. There is no time like the present to mend fences, forgive, and spend that quality time acknowledging and getting to know those folks in your life. We may soon be saying goodbye to some of our family members. Being able to be with them, love them, appreciate them and hear their stories feels like the greatest gift one could give or receive.
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
These pictures were taken Sunday when we went hiking before our Thanksgiving meal. It wasn't a long hike but we got to be together, to walk and talk and enjoy the simple beauty of Mt. Konocti, Clear Lake and the vineyards you see here. These are simple acts of connection I will hold dear until the next time we all gather.
Something near and dear to my heart that I have been working towards, is hosting something called a Death Cafe, which is a place where folks can gather to talk openly and honestly about their feelings about death and dying. There is a Death Cafe movement which you can learn more about here and I feel strongly about the value of such events. When I think about my own eventual death, I feel inspired to live my best life right now. Thinking about the eventual death of my loved ones makes me want all the more to connect with them, to feel gratitiude for my time with them and to want to love them all the more fully. Sharing feelings about death is healing and comforting. And to honor those who have passed on by continuing to share their story is life affirming. As Thornton Wilder said, “The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”
Please comment below or send me an email if you would like more information about this exciting monthly event.
I am grateful for all my many family units and the opportunities I have to gather with them all, to connect and to keep their stories alive. How about you? What moments of gratitude and connection have you experienced this month? What ways can you express and live it with those you love?
"To love someone fiercely, to believe in something with your whole heart, to celebrate a fleeting moment in time, to fully engage in a life that doesn't come with guarantees -- these are risks that involve vulnerability and often pain. But I'm learning that recognizing and leaning into the discomfort of vulnerability teaches us how to live with joy, gratitude and grace." ~ Brené Brown
Happy Thanksgiving to All!