15 November 2010

Giving Thanks

Every Thanksgiving before sitting down to eat, my friends and I gather in a circle, hold hands, and say what we’re grateful for in that moment. I know, it’s kinda New Age dorky, but I like the ritual. I also give thanks before my daily meals – thanking “everybody and everything that has given of its life energy so that I may have this abundance before me”* – and at night after I’ve nestled under the covers. And, of course, I do my best to express my gratitude throughout the day when people are helpful and kind.

We appreciate being appreciated. And we feel better about ourselves when we are appreciative. Conveying our gratitude makes the world a better place. It is one aspect of Tikkun Olam (Repair of the World).

Gratitude works wonders on many levels. Not only does it make us feel better about ourselves, it helps move us out of scarcity thinking (the belief that there isn’t enough, which can lead to cluttering out lives with objects “just in case”). It can shift us from feeling whoa-is-me funky to a sense of, if not joy, at least contentment. It can also help to create the life we want. I’m not sure how this works, whether it’s because of a magnetic energy responding to the increased energy of gratitude (like finding like), or because we are more likely to see and respond to that which we are focused on, or some other reason. But years ago I heard someone rephrase the Serenity Prayer from “Grant me the Serenity” to “Thank you for the Serenity,” and I realized how right this change was. I didn’t need to ask for serenity, it was already in me. I only had to recognize it, which I could do through gratitude.

Before embarking on my journey in search of home, I wrote to a friend about what I was looking for, what I wanted my life to look like. The description began with “I want.” Once I landed in Humboldt County, I looked at that list and remembered the Serenity Prayer lesson. I rewrote it from a place of gratitude, understanding that all these things already existed, I just may not have caught up with them yet. This Thank You vision is posted on my fridge where I read it most days. And you know what? Just about everything on that list is an active part of my life these days. I know I will meet up with the rest in due time. Here is my vision:

• Thank you for my perfect country cottage with organic flowers, herbs, veggies, and fruit trees, chickens, and cats.
• Thank you for a home in which to cook and arrange flowers.
• Thank you for the ability to see stars at night and to hear running water.
• Thank you for green valleys surrounded by trees.
• Thank you for community and family, for wonderful neighbors and friends and joyous gatherings with them.
• Thank you for the ability to live my life in synch with the earth and her seasons in a life-nurturing way.
• Thank you for the opportunity to do Tikkun Olam.
• Thank you for daily walks outdoors and senses with which to delight in Creation’s beauty.
• Thank you for dancing and laughter and love making, for passion and play.
• Thank you for a husband who is conscious, affectionate, honest, dependable, kind, prosperous, grounded, joyous, monogamous, healthy, physically attractive, playful, communicative, wise, gentle and strong, who sees me truly, finds me beautiful and loves me deeply, and is committed to spending his life with me.
• Thank you for a life rooted in love and faith, knowing we’re all one and there’s nothing to fear on this path of compassion, joy, and kindness.
• Thank you.

How do you practice gratitude, and what are you grateful for?

Tip of the Month
This month, make a practice of saying “Thank you” to someone every day. If you’d like, keep a list of whom you thanked and why.

Quotes of the Month
“Take full account of the excellencies which you possess, and in gratitude remember how you would hanker after them, if you had them not.” Marcus Aurelius

"Appreciation can make a day, even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that is necessary." Margaret Cousins

“Instead of looking for love, give it; constantly renew it in yourself and you will always feel its presence within you. It will always be there smiling at you, gazing on you kindly.” Omraam Mikhael Aivanhov

Recipe of the Month

Pumpkin-Cranberry-Pecan Bread
1 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar (or 1/3 cup honey)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon cloves

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add:
1 egg
1/2 cup oil (or ½ cup melted butter)
1 cup puréed pumpkin

Mix quickly to combine wet and dry ingredients.

Fold in:
1 cup chopped cranberries
¼ cup raisins
¼ cup chopped pecans

Pour into bread pan or muffin tins.

Bake at 350° for about an hour. (I use the top-is-cracked-and-browned cue to determine doneness. Inserting a toothpick and having it come out clean works, too.)

*The grace continues: “May I use this energy to do good, and may we all be blessed. So mote it be.”