Grateful

What are you thankful for?

I practice being grateful daily. Not because I have to, but because I learned a long time ago I have a lot to be thankful for and when I acknowledge it, even in the littlest of moments, it makes me feel better.

I have worked to instill this practice in my sons. I point out the beauty around us, comment on our blessings (food on the table, warm beds to sleep in), and have taught them to give thanks for all the things in our lives at meals — it’s common for my boys to give thanks for what’s top-of-mind: they’ve given thanks for Lego, candy, napkins and anything in eyesight that catches their attention. It’s one of my favorite parts of the day.

We love Thanksgiving in our house, but thankfully it’s not the single time of year we pause to give thanks. I recently found an old art project one of my sons — a turkey’s body made by the shape of his hand. He colored the turkey, put a pilgrim hat on it and wrote the turkey saying, “Happy Thanksgiving!” (ironic, eh?). 🙂 I’m thankful I still have this piece of artwork, and the memories that come with it.

There is much to be grateful for.

What are you grateful for?

I will be off to celebrate the holidays with family and will return in December. Happy Thanksgiving!

The Turkey

What are you most thankful for this holiday season? Health, safety, love and friendship or something else?

It seems that each year, throughout the year, I’m reminded by my children what they are thankful for (which in turns reminds me what I am thankful for) in unexpected ways.

My youngest son came home last year with an art project in hand. It was a Thanksgiving turkey made out of a paper bowl used for the body, a toilet paper roll decorated as the neck and head, construction paper (cut in the shape of his traced hand) for the turkey’s feet, and pieces of colored paper for the tail. It was easy, at a glance, to think the tail was filled simply with colorful feathers. Upon closer inspection, you could see that my son had written all the things he was thankful for on each tail feather. His tail feathers read:

  • Cats
  • Food
  • School
  • Hats
  • Water
  • TV
  • Games
  • People
  • Giving
  • Math

The simplicity and honesty of this list is what caught my attention. It really simplified what my son was thankful for, and reminded me once again what I am thankful for. My son inspired me to create my own list this year. There are big and important things I am thankful for daily: the health of my children and family, the roof over my head, my friends and family, my job, my readers, the city I live in and much more. My son inspired me to create a more simplistic and honest list above and beyond this.

In addition to the above, I am thankful for:

  • Ellen DeGeneres – Ellen, I know everyone loves you and I’m right there with them. I really, really needed your show the Wednesday following the election and you came through even though I could tell you were experiencing the same feelings so many of us were. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
  • Mountains – Seeing a mountain when the sun rising or setting with its white-capped majesty is something special. Living where I do, I get to see this virtually every day. I do not take it for granted.
  • Date Nights and Babysitters – Oh, I love the nights where my husband and I get to reconnect as a couple. Thank you to the wonderful babysitters we’ve found that let us know our kids are in good hands while we’re away.
  • Other Parents and Support Communities – I’ll never be able to properly express my thanks for supportive parents, and supportive communities such as PEPS (Program for Early Parenthood Support).
  • People who fight/advocate for what’s right – there are so many good causes. I am inspired and motivated to engage by those willing to fight for others. Thank you!
  • Teachers, coaches and caregivers – You give so much to my children and family. You sacrifice your time to share your passion and genuinely care about my children’s success. I’ll never be able to properly express how grateful I am for each of you.
  • A Good Tea Room – The Royal Tea Room in Tampa, FL will always be my favorite, but give me a good tea room in any city and I’m one happy and thankful person. The food is divine, and the company I’m sharing the tea with even better.
  • And many more (these may seem frivolous, but I’m thankful for them none-the-less): College Game Day (thanks for sharing your love of college football with the fans), Melissa McCarthy (I can watch Spy an unlimited amount of times and laugh — you are a gift to all of us), Bravo TV (thank you for being there when I just need to check-out and not think about anything), Oprah and O Magazine (you are still connecting with fans even though we don’t ‘see’ you on TV everyday), Sun (sunny, warm days our something I crave. Nothing beats then!) and Cats (just like my son, I love these furry creatures. They have provided me much love and comfort as pets over the years — thank you!).

I will be taking next week off to celebrate the holiday with my family. How will you be celebrating with yours?

What are you thankful for this year (frivolous or not)? Who or what reminds you of the simple things you are thankful for?

 

 

 

 

So Very Thankful

As Thanksgiving day arrives, and you reflect on the good things in your life, what comes to mind?

We have a practice in our home where at dinner, we say grace. It mainly consists of saying what we’re thankful for. It’s a daily tradition we all enjoy. For my boys, it’s an opportunity for them to share with us what’s top of mind (sometimes they are most thankful for what is in their field of vision — a napkin on the table, a food on their plate they are grateful is being served for dinner, or a toy or book left on the table. Other times its memories from the day — things like doing well on a math test, playing well in a game or playing with a friend), or what’s in their heart (sometimes they surprise us with the most amazing comments — thankful for people in their lives, or for nature, or acts of kindness they witnessed from others). For my husband and I, it’s an opportunity for us to share what we’re grateful for, and keeps what we consider blessings–healthy kids, our own health, good friends and family who care about us, jobs and a safe, warm place to rest our heads each night–front and center.  There is much to be thankful for, and it feels really good acknowledging it every day.

Thanksgiving isn’t the only time of year we remember what we are thankful for. It’s a day with friends and family, where you appreciate all the good things in your life. It’s special and I’m thankful for it.

What practices of gratitude do you and your family practice? What makes your Thanksgiving special?

I’ll be spending time with family and will return in December. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thankful with a side of Gratitude

Each Thanksgiving before the meal we say a prayer of thanks, sometimes going around the circle and having each person share something they are grateful for. While we make a point to do this on Thanksgiving, we also work to carry on the tradition throughout the year. Being grateful for what we have, the people in our lives, the joys and beauties we are allowed to experience, and addressing it in the moment, just feels good.

I was asked to write a letter for a girlfriend’s daughter for a retreat she is attending. I have known this young woman since she was born and have watched her grow into an amazing teen. In the letter I was asked to include memories, thoughts and feelings. It was an easy letter to write. When my friend’s daughter was young I joined her family for dinner. Her mom and dad were there, along with me. We started by saying grace. At the end of the prayer, she added what she was thankful for. She said, “Ms. Tricia, I love you.” It melted my heart. It was so precious. She looked earnestly at her mom and said, “Mom, I love you.” Then looked at her dad and said, “Dad, I love you.” She had us all in the palm of her hand. She took a deep breath, turned back to some candles that were on the table, and said, “Candles, I love you.” She then looked at her plate and continued, “Chicken nuggets, I love you.” My friend, her husband and I burst into tears laughing. Being put into the same category as candles and chicken nuggets was humbling, and hilarious.  What I remember most from that experience was the innocence of my friend’s daughter. She believed in what she was saying. She was truly grateful for the things before her…people, candles and all. It reminded me that we can find gratitude in anything and everything around us, and there is no point in putting gratitude off when it’s starring you in the face.

How do you give thanks? How do you show gratitude? Happy Thanksgiving.

I’ll be enjoying some time off with family and will be back in early December.

What a Turkey

Thanksgiving reminds me of holidays past. Memories come flooding back: the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade airing on TV, the smell of turkey and Thanksgiving goodies coming from the kitchen and the warmth of being surrounded by friends and family. These memories give me comfort and great joy remembering each day.

When I was on my own for the first time as an adult I wondered how I would handle Thanksgiving. I’d never cooked a turkey all by myself and stressed about the idea of doing one. I couldn’t recall ever hearing anyone share how they’d aced the turkey the first time they done it. I did my research: how big a turkey to get and how to best prepare it and then I made a decision…I’d get one precooked. Yes, I admit it. Precooked. Now, you may be thinking where’s the fun in that? But I was not looking to have fun, I wanted a turkey I wouldn’t have to stress out about. The precooked turkey delivered.

On that first Thanksgiving I got rave reviews. “Your turkey is so moist, how did you make it?” and “Wow, this is delicious” were comments I didn’t see coming, but happily received though with a tinge of guilt. I felt though I had given them a delicious bird I had somehow cheated my guests out of a “honest-to-goodness start-to-finish cooked” turkey (the kind where you wake up at 4 a.m. to get the bird going in the oven after you’ve thawed it for 48 hours. The kind where you pull out the innards and stuff it with dressing. The kind that you stress out about and spend all day trying to get right for the meal), and I felt I had to confess. “I’m glad you like the turkey, but I have to admit, there was really nothing to it. I got it precooked from the store. I just had to heat it up in the oven for two hours.” The truth was out and boy, did I feel better. The funny thing is sharing this information seemed to make my guests love the turkey even more, “What a great idea!” one guest shared. “I didn’t even think about stores offering precooked turkey, I’ll have to try that next year. This is really good,” said another.

As I reflected on that first Thanksgiving, I realized while I hoped to avoid the stress of cooking a turkey, I’d still stressed about not cooking the turkey all-by-myself. It was silly really. I’ve never really thought twice about how any other Thanksgiving was impacted by the taste of the turkey. It was usually a non-event, and I made the commitment after coming to this realization that I wouldn’t waste my time stressing over a Thanksgiving turkey again.

As we sit at the table this year, I look forward to delicious food, the smells, the parade, making memories with my kids and having great conversations with friends and family. I couldn’t be more thankful for having this kind of Thanksgiving, precooked turkey and all.

How are you preparing for Thanksgiving? How do you avoid the stress of the holidays?

Happy Thanksgiving.

Much to be Grateful For

With the outcome of the election known, it has been much easier for me to resume my life.  No more anxiety around who is going to be in charge next, no more animosity from certain factions on the opposing side, and no more negativity, at least not at the levels it was.  I never enjoy an election when the country feels so divided. I’ve been on both sides—elated my candidate won and devastated when they didn’t. When Obama was re-elected it felt anti-climatic, and almost silly that I put so much energy worrying about the outcome (darn those pundits for getting me all worked up!), when people in our own country are just trying to get back to their lives in a more basic way.

I was able to reconnect with a friend who lives in the Northeast this week over the phone. We talked about Hurricane Sandy and the effects it has had on her own home and that of her neighbors. There was much devastation in her area, and while she and her family had fared the storm well enough, several neighbors weren’t as fortunate. Homes needed to be emptied and gutted because they had sustained so much damage. People were displaced and had to find temporary housing until they can get back into their homes. Gas shortages along with power lines that are still down make it difficult to get around and get basic needs met.  Sandy is an event that reminds us all about our priorities: family, friends, life, taking care of one another…all of things that really matter, not what we get caught up in everyday—work importance, politics, and individual needs.

HBO is currently airing a documentary series called Witness, which follows photographers who are capturing life in countries experiencing their own wars: Mexico, Libya, South Sudan, Uganda, and Brazil. The series highlights what life is like for people in the country today and everyday. One photographer mentions that he was drawn to this, because he felt the world needed to know what was really happening in these countries, not just what can be crammed into a 60 second piece on the nightly news.  In watching the episodes, while the countries and situations are different, my reaction was the same for its citizens—fear, anxiety, and an incomprehensive of how people can survive in such scary situations.

Can you imagine having to be concerned you could get caught in the crossfire of a gunfight at any time of day? Can you imagine not having access to electricity or water or not knowing where money or food would come from, and not because you don’t have the money, which is frightening enough, but because no one has electricity, water or food? People who can provide these services are too scared to go to work or it is simply too dangerous.  Can you imagine trying to raise children in such an environment?

We may disagree in this country on a lot of things, but I take great comfort in our democracy, our desire to live in relative peace with one another, and help our fellow citizens when we are able. We are not perfect and have many problems to solve, but I am thankful, so thankful that I live in a land where I don’t fear for my family and children’s safety on a daily, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour basis.  I am grateful that while we may disagree, it doesn’t result in us raising arms against one another.  I am thankful that when we experience destruction like Hurricane Sandy we come together to help each other.

I am thankful, I am thankful, I am thankful.