“How to Practice the Art of Thanksgiving”

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I know that when the leaves start to fall, the days get shorter,  and the air gets a bit cooler, we tend to spend more time indoors…the smells from the kitchen can draw us in….bubbling stews or soups, baking bread, anything apple & cinnamon baking in the oven.  This is the time of year I LOVE the most, no matter where Mr. D and I have lived, fall is our favorite.  Maybe because we met and fell in love in October & November, or because this colorful change of seasons reminds us that everything in life changes, has a season, moves on.

As each year and season passes by, never to be seen again, I remind myself that there are blessings everywhere in every life. Sometimes we are wrapped up in our day-to-day struggles and “busyness” to really take note of them.  I get it, I understand that the weight of “making a living” sometimes takes front seat in the process of “making a life”.  Years ago I realized that there are MANY things of which I have no control over, except for my THINKING.  The sun will rise tomorrow, and things will happen, but it’s up to ME to decide if I’m going to TRY to make this a “good day” or a “bad day”.  I’m not belittling our life struggles, I’m sharing a way of daily gratitude, time made each day for our own “thanksgiving”.

To be thankful, is to be grateful, to be appreciative, to show gratitude and acknowledgment.  If we practice “thanksgiving”, carefully, and constantly, we can develop a DEEP joy in living, even when life is full of all manner of difficulty and suffering.  I know PERSONALLY that this kind of daily thinking is POWERFUL…this constant “attitude of gratitude”.  Sometimes it’s not easy, but starting to change our attitudes is a good place to start.  I’ve found that if we practice thanksgiving, joy and satisfaction will fill our days, and will contribute to the happiness of all those who touch our lives.  WOW! Couldn’t all of us use a bit more HAPPINESS in our lives?!?!

With a bit of practice, we can find lots to be thankful for.  What works for me is taking a few minutes each morning with that first cup of coffee to think of five things I’m grateful for.  I know, I know, it’s early usually when we’re drinking that first cup of Joe, but if it’s too early for thought, then carve out a few minutes before bed time to think.  Thinking is good.  Make it a habit. DAILY.  Do it when you brush your teeth, shampoo your hair, shave, or are stuck in traffic, JUST DO IT.  Your day will be sooooo much better for taking the time.  NOW.  Sometimes, when it’s a bit harder for me to find the “good day” in THIS day, I think of others who have greatly helped me in my life, not materially, but with genuine concern, kindness, and love… and ask myself if I have ever really thanked them.  Each of us has our own list…maybe our parents, family, friends who helped us through troubles, a favorite teacher, nurse, doctor, neighbor….it doesn’t take me too long to shift my focus from my problems to an “attitude of gratitude” for the people in my life.  Learn to be thankful.

Like October 2016… Hurricane Matthew was forecasted to hit the Charleston, SC area, and the TV images looked scary.  We’ve prepared for hurricanes before, but in the nearly 10 years we’ve lived here, none, thankfully, did any more than rain with a bit of wind.  Hurricane Matthew looked like it would be a direct hit, and many of our friends and neighbors had already evacuated inland, where the authorities were urging us to go to.  Mr. D felt quite prepared…hurricane boards were on all our house windows, generator was filled and ready, water and food was stock-piled.  I, on the other hand, was ready to go early in the week, and now it was Friday with less than 12 hours for landfall of the hurricane.  Soon, very soon, it would be too late to leave Charleston, and our home.  My dearest girl friend Sherley and her family had already left and made their way inland to the home of good friends.  Sherley was keeping in constant contact with me and was also frightened by the images…she and her family had been through a hurricane when they lived in Mississippi, and the memories were seared into her mind.  Convincing Mr. D to leave wasn’t easy, but Sherley assured me that when we made it to where she and her family were, we would have a place to stay and ride out the storm.  So we left, taking 3 hours to travel what’s usually 1.5 hours trip, through rain, wind, and ominous skies.  We were wet and exhausted from our trip, the worries of the “what ifs”, and the fear of the unknown looming in front of us.  Sherley’s good friends Anna & Kurt opened their home to us temporarily, with a delicious hot breakfast for dinner (we LOVE that!), while a good friend of theirs readied her home for our stay.

This is the POINT…a good friend of a good friend of a good friend opened their home to complete strangers, us, providing comfort, kindness, love, and friendship unconditionally.  Thankfully, we could return to our home, with minor damage.  Many were not as fortunate.  Coastal North Carolina took a beating from Hurricane Matthew, and many lost homes and more.  We certainly had many things to be thankful for during this time, and many reasons to worry….meditating on times like these, where we can feel “love your neighbor as yourself” truly strengthens us and makes us grateful.  Hug those you’re grateful for, both of you feel better for it!

Take the time to PRACTICE the art of thanksgiving…write a quick note and mail it, make the call you’ve been putting off, tell your spouse “thank you” for even the little things, make your “gratitude” list and learn to be thankful everyday!  Life will only get better with your “attitude of gratitude”!