It has not escaped my notice that the emails in my inbox are about 70/30 in the sales/gratitude ratio. Yep, that means that there are more messages about buying things (and big sales, of course) than gratitude. Being that I posted a message that falls in the buying category yesterday, I think it's only fair that I balance it out with some gratitude. I am so very grateful for the amazing life that I have and for the amazing people that are in it. I am loved. I am safe. I am happy. I truly am blessed. I'm excited about the holiday season and am already clearing my calendar so that I can fully savor it in the way that I most enjoy.
I also realize that not everyone feels so blessed and joyous around the holidays. Just yesterday I was having a conversation with someone in which this very topic came up. For some, holidays are stressful, lonely, and/or a time of deep sadness. I've had my share of all of those in the past. I've spent holidays alone, I've spent holidays with people who love me unconditionally, and I've spent holidays with people with the title of family yet who didn't seem all that interested in knowing me. I've been on both sides of the fence, so to speak. And here's what I've learned...
You are born into a family, a socio-economic stratum, a belief system, a circumstance. Perhaps you grow up taking all that on as an identity, as irrevocable truth. You didn't choose those things/people/circumstances, but they became you. All of it becomes your story. Maybe it's an ironic comedy or a romance or a tragedy or a drama. And boy, do you enjoy telling it to anyone who will listen, reinforcing it in your mind. Around the holidays, your story can become more apparent as opposed to daily living where it can reside just underneath the surface.
A teacher of mine used to always remind me of the Taoist concept of things only having the meaning that you give them. The same is true for the story. That story you've been telling yourself -- you can drop it and tell a new one. Yes, perhaps you've got a parent who doesn't accept you or a sibling who fights with you about everything, or an ex who spites you, or kids who are indifferent or an uncle who's abused you in the past -- none of this things feel good, none of these things are "right" or "fair." The perpetrator doesn't get a free pass in regards to hurting you. But it's not really about the other person -- it's about you. Are you going to let this story define you?
No, you can't get yourself another mother or brother or sister or grandmother or grandfather or aunt or uncle or whatever. You can't trade a relative (believe me, there was a time when I wanted a full refund or exchange for some of my family members) in for someone who loves, respects, cares. Here's what you can do, though -- you can create something else. You can turn your friends into family. You can choose connection over being alone. You can't change the past but you have full control over what happens here and now.
What's your story? Are you going to let it define your life?
The point is that you have a choice. And that is something to be grateful for, even when you can't be grateful for certain people or circumstances in your life.
Recently, a friend of mine had something wonderful happen in her life. She's traveled quite a road and has been in some dark, scary places. Yet here she is, thriving. She is a living example of not letting the story of her past define her. She's created a new story in the here and now.
I am so grateful for her happiness. I am so grateful that I, too, have the power to change my story. I'm grateful that I can create my life rather than let what has come before decide what happens now. I'm grateful for love, my freedom, the amazing people in my life, my health, this blog and the people who read it.
I wish for you what has happened for my friend. I wish wonderful things for you. I wish for you to step into your power and decide how you want your life to be. I wish for you to give things the meaning that serves you the most. I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.