Gratitude changes everything

Every so often I like to look back at my writing to ‘see’ where I have been. The piece below this introduction is from four years ago. I focus a lot on the ‘light’ in my life and my writing. Recently, I’ve done more exploration of ‘darkness.’ Don’t worry, this is a ‘holiday piece’ so I won’t dwell on it, but I will stop and pause at its doorstep because it is part of our world and part of this holiday for many.

What I have learned over time is that ‘light’ and ‘dark’ are inexorably linked. There is much for me to learn from darkness. It not only helps me to learn more about me, but it helps me to learn more about the human condition. Its juxtaposition is essential to understand the value of the light. It helps serve ‘feed’ gratitude.

I wished I understood that in my 20’s and 30’s. During most of those years I wanted to avoid the dark. I was concerned that if people could see my darkness they wouldn’t like me, just as I didn’t like those parts of me. What I learned is that those close to me already knew of my darkness, and chose to stay.

When I’m ‘exploring’ something, it often means that I am “sitting with” whatever. I like the term “sit with’ as an adjective for being present for as long as I need to, whether those moments are positive or not. In those moments I can listen, learn and be present for others in their moments of darkness, or I can sit in solitude with my own dark moments, even if that darkness is deeper and lasts longer. My recent moments with darkness are about friends who are dealing with illness – people who I have experienced as having great light in their lives who are facing the darkness that facing death can bring.

During the times that I sit with darkness for some time, I know that it will end, that there is hope for the future. That light is just on the other side. It is important for me to know this understanding, lest I should end up in a downword spiral of dispair.  I get the fact that this time of year is full of a great deal of darkness for many, and a great deal of hope (light) for others. It is the paradox of the season, and the paradox that is our lives (light and dark).

I end this prelude to my 2015 piece with this. Christmas, whether that is the label we use, is a time for great hope, and encouragement for the future. It is a time of tradition, sharing and the expression of love – however you experience those. My encouragement for you this season is to celebrate the light in your life,  but don’t be afraid of the darkness that shows up from time to time. May this season be full of joy and love, and may you renew your gratitude for who and what is in your life.

Tis the season…the Power of Gratitude and Encouragement

Published 12/21/2015

It has been a 15-hour day.  There have been a number of long days lately.  These days are a by-product of ‘success.’  No complaints.  In this moment I am taking time to pause…pausing to look at this year and this past week.  It has been an extraordinary year in many ways.  Extraordinary in the sense of some very positive things happening in my business life and my personal life, and extraordinary in the amount of change and shift I have encountered.  It is this moment that I feel blessed and highly favored (thank you Craig).  Blessed by my 94 year-old father’s continued presence in my life.  Blessed by my granddaughter’s presence.  Blessed to have a life mate who is extraordinary in her own right/light.  Blessed by an extraordinary family and friends.  Blessed by God’s love.  This is a time of gratitude.  Out of a heart of gratitude comes the ability to experience ‘light’ in our life and understand in some intimate way what being alive really means.

Gratitude is what informs our attitude and allows us a sense of hope and the ability to appreciate where we have been, where we are going, but most of all, where we are.  In this moment, what can you see that is going well?  Are you able to see life, your life, as a special place to be?  Sometimes that is hard.  I am sad to know that in this season of ‘wonder’ and ‘hope’ there are more suicides than at any time of the year.  This means that in the midst of our gratitude there are others experiencing despair.

My response to despair is to encourage others to find, to see, to experience, the piece of their life that that has light, hope, something to say ‘thank you’ for.  I have spent a lot of time around the aged, and others who, when you look at the surface would seem to have great difficulty finding that ‘light’ and being able to be thankful.  Yet, when I engage them in conversation, I find that many can smile, can remember, can find the energy that gives them some light and some hope.  Then there are others who on the surface seem to have great ‘abundance,’ yet struggle to find the gratitude that would allow them to experience life as it was meant to be – full of love, opportunity, and the presence and encouragement of others.

So what does this holiday season look like for you?  Is it full of energy, light and a sense of gratitude for what you have been given, experienced, and the people in your life?  Or is there darkness that requires some encouragement to shed?

My very best moments are because of gratitude and out of that gratitude to meet others where they are and encourage them to find their ‘light,’ their ‘purpose.’  My faith tradition is about ‘birth’ and ‘hope’ this time of year.  My wish for you is that your holiday and your new year will be full of blessings, and that you will share your ‘light’ with the world.  We need it!

To a better you…