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Gratitude for Even What We Don’t Have

In this season of Thanksgiving – one of gratitude for abundance – how come I find my mind drifting to the dearth – digging in the dirt of things I’m lacking?

A tall, straight, sinuous pain-free spine, for one, versus this old, stiff, curved and twisted scoli structure that tries so hard to hold me up – and along with the physical pain comes all the things I can’t do – go for an appetite boost run, for example, or simply stand at the kitchen counter without the ceaseless current of nerve pain shooting down my legs.

Yikes. See what I mean?

The most acute missing, at this holiday time, is something that’s hard to admit: the human connection, family. With my parents gone, my siblings distant, my friends back in hometown DC as I as I bounce around living this nifty nomad life – I feel alone.

I realize I'm not alone in my aloneness. Isolation and loneliness are epidemics in our busy, swirling, socially-distant culture. I can’t and won’t dismiss that reality away.

But I do have an antidote to this icky not-enoughness that may be helpful for you, dear friends.

It’s a little trick I learned in studying yoga – the Yamas and Niyamas – the moral code of the yoga life.

Cultivate gratitude for even the things you DON’T have.

I had a hard time wrapping my head around this tidbit of wisdom when I first heard it from my yoga teacher. It goes way beyond the tired old admonishing tune, Count your blessings.

Cultivate gratitude for even the things you DON’T have.

It’s not a wish for things to be different. It’s a transformation.

Like this…

I’m thankful for my elegant, curvaceous spine, I’ve named Caroline, for all she does to hold me tall and upright – for her strength and flexibility and adaptability.

It starts to sound like truth.

She’s put-up with the punishment of my athletic endeavors over a lifetime – road races and triathlons and mountain climbs and dance marathons. She faces the pain courageously and opens herself to challenging new alignment therapies I force upon her every day.

It IS the truth.

As for my family…

I’m thankful for my parents for bringing me into this amazing world, for caring for me, educating me and cheering me on in my many life endeavors. I’m grateful that, in their spirit states, they watch over me, always, sending divine prayers for my happiness.

And my siblings – I’m grateful I had them as youthful companions and, later in life, as teachers on this path of loving and healing.

And the friends? They are everywhere – at home and on the road, wherever I travel. In a yoga class, in a bar, on a hiking trail. I make new connections – old friends appear – they know me, I know them – we never missed a beat. We reminisce and joke and laugh and marvel. We make plans to rendezvous, to make meals and climb mountains together.

It’s pure truth.

I’m thankful for my friend who’s invited me to join her family celebration in South Carolina – to feast at their table and enjoy their company and share my own offerings and energy.

Late afternoon on this Thanksgiving eve, as the mottled sky darkens out my window and the mountain range turns eggplant purple in the distance, it’s time to get moving. I’ve got cooking to do!

I thank Caroline for her effort before we even begin, entering the kitchen and pulling out my knife and cutting board. We have Asian fusion strings beans to make, and a cranberry sauce with orange zest, one of Mom’s old go-to recipes.

“Honey, it’s so easy and tasty,” I hear her voice in my head. Mom’s with me. I'm not alone.

Happy Thanksgiving, dear friends and readers.


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