heartThanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Not for the food, the family or even the Macy’s Day parade but because the focus of the event is gratitude. I am that person at the table, annoying to some, who always asks everyone to share one thing they are grateful for.

I admit the intensity of the last two years has shaken me and finding my blessings is a bigger challenge than usual. I know many people share these feelings, friends, clients and students, and that makes it more important than ever to seek gratitude.

Let’s talk about personal choice- the choice you have about how you respond to strong negative emotions in the moment. In that spirit, I’d like to share my “work in progress” list:

I am grateful to have learned to accept the unacceptable; to recognize it and keep breathing through those difficult moments, to stay fully present and not make up a story about what will happen tomorrow.  The truth is there is only this moment. Any fears or worries are about the past or the future, not this moment. There is great serenity in living in the present.

I graciously accept the fact that fear ruins lives. The outside world sells fear like a product; we are inundated with this emotion. The current administration and the media demonstrates that fear spreads like a virus. Too many people are terrified, feeling paralyzed and helpless. While this is understandable given all the uncertainty we face, right now, at this moment in time, we are still a hopeful democracy who believe in justice. There is a difference between being aware of possibilities and living as if they have already occurred. The difference is staying in the present moment.

I am grateful to learn how to manage my fears. This is something I came face to face with after my cancer diagnosis in 2011. After the initial shockwave, I recognized I had two options, fear or hope. I chose hope; the hope that somehow, someway, I would move through this disease and thrive. This lesson returns again with the current resident of the White House. I must step away from fear and step into the power of a higher perspective. I must take action wherever and whenever I can. These are choices I can make. I must remember and trust the Universe has a plan, even when I can’t see it.

I am deeply grateful for the love and support of those around me. The last few years taught me how to ask for what I need, and I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by those who graciously met those needs, including many of you.

Finally, I am most grateful to have developed a loving, supportive relationship with me. This doesn’t mean I don’t have faults, I have many. What it means is that I have learned to be on my side no matter what and to be gentle, kind and compassionate with me each day. Struggles will come and go, but I can face them because I am no longer “a house divided against itself.”

These are the key elements of my gratitude. In the spirit of the season, I ask you to consider what are you grateful for? I would love if you would share your gratitude below so I can celebrate those moments with you.

Regardless of your struggles, remember you are a once in a lifetime creation. I want to close with this passage by Marianne Williamson,

“As you let your own unique light shine, you unconsciously give others people permission to do the same. As you’re liberated from your fear, your presence automatically liberates others.”