As I have done now for several Thanksgivings, I start it off with a run. I run without direction and without any type of mileage in mind, but only the goal of reflecting on everything that I have been blessed with and the things that I am thankful for. Once I feel that I have reflected on everything, my run is over. I have also added in meditation by a beautiful lake that I can run to and not be around anyone. With every step, I have the opportunity to reflect over how much gratitude I have. When I get the opportunity to sit by the lake and enjoy the solitude and the ability to exist in the moment with my spirituality, it is truly amazing. Its like every year I get the opportunity for an awakening. I take my iPod with me and make a point to only listen to uplifting and positive songs. Songs that make me reflect over where I’ve been, where I exist, and where I want to be. This is my New Year’s Day. I get the opportunity to express my gratitude, even though it is through thought alone, to all the people and experiences that have touched my life. In no particular order, here are some opportunities for gratitude that I meditated on today. I am eternally grateful for my current state of health. Its not perfect, but I wake up daily and have the opportunity to run and experience the love of fitness. I do not have daily aches and pains or debilitating injuries that prevent me from performing daily tasks. I recognize that this is but only a privilege and not a right. As a friend once told me, “you are only temporarily abled…all it takes is a solitary second for your life to be changed forever.” I cherish these moments that I get to push my body to its limits and appreciate the gift of health and wellness. I am eternally grateful for all the soldiers and civilians that I worked with. I am thankful that some of them trusted me enough to confide in me and allow me and others to help them through experiences that no other person will ever be able to comprehend or understand. I am grateful for the gift of reaching out to others and being able to lift them up in times of need. The ability for me to help someone fall asleep on their own for the first time in years…even if it is during the meditation phase of my yoga class and they are snoring J. I am also grateful for the soldiers that I encountered that taught me humility, respect, honor, and selfless service. I am thankful for my family. There have been so many twists and turns…loved ones leaving and earning new extended family. There are some that I don’t go a day without thinking about, and others that I’m just building relationships with. I firmly believe that people come into and out of your life exactly when they are supposed to, and this has been the case with my family. Regardless of the mistakes and bad decisions I have made, they are always there to help me understand where I took the wrong turn and be supportive of me when I take the right turns. I am thankful for the animals that have shown me unconditional love. I am thankful for my spirituality. I am forever grateful that I can share my love of food and cooking with others. I am thankful that I have friends around me that would do anything for me, as I would in turn for them. I am so glad that I have people surrounding me that accept me as I am and not judge me for the shortcomings that everyone experiences and has. I am grateful for all the people that have challenged me and pushed me to go further. Even if everyone that has entered my life has not been there with good intentions, there is not one situation that didn’t teach me a lesson, provide me with lifelong friendships, or show me a path. For many of those situations, I could not see the forest for the trees, but that is what this reflection is for. Reflection = healing. I’m thankful for the opportunities to cry and experience my emotions and not harbor any ill will. I am grateful for being able to quiet my mind and deal with the build-up of things in my head. I am grateful for the ability to go back to school and pursue a career that will allow me to always work towards the betterment of others. I am so fortunate to experience so many different places and cultures. I am grateful for all those that opened their homes to me and allowed me to cry, laugh, and experience life with them. I am grateful for a full pantry, a big heart, and a home of my own. I am also thankful that I can recognize that all of these opportunities for thankfulness are privileges and not something that everyone gets to experience.
If you have made it this far, you should understand that this only scratches the surface of my level of gratitude. One song that I always listen to as I meditate on my run is “Less Like Scars” by Sara Groves. My favorite lyrics include “Its been a hard year but I’m climbing out of the rubble. These lessons are hard, healing changes are subtle. But every day it’s…less like tearing, more like building; less like captive, more like willing; less like breakdown, more like surrender; less like haunting, more like remember…the pain and hurt looks less like scars and more like character.”
I also want to close this by stating that while I am thankful for all this and more, this does not in any way mean that I feel that I am better than someone or someone that doesn’t experience this sort of thankfulness is less of a person. Everyone experiences gratitude in different ways and this should not be judged. I encourage everyone to perform this sort of reflection as often as possible. It can only do good things for you, and I have found that it makes me appreciate things much more. It makes me a nicer person and by looking at the utter chaos that I experience in my life, I can also acknowledge that others are experiencing the same if not worse chaos than me. This encourages me to continue to treat people with respect and be kinder in my interactions with complete strangers.
So whether its on Thanksgiving day, or any other day, reflect on your gratitude.
Namaste/1 Corinthians 15:10