Every year at Thanksgiving I remind myself how grateful I am to have life, health and family. As we gather around the dinner table filled with all kinds of savory goodness, the list of things to be thankful for rolls off all our tongues with butter soft ease. Laughter and word games predictably and hilariously usually follow. This year, the order of events will be no different but the items on the list will.
A challenging year, by all accounts, forces one to dig deep to find reasons to give thanks. Yet it is in that depth that the wellspring of true gratitude resides.
While reading the December issue of O Magazine I saw that Dress for Success, one of my favorite non profit organizations was mentioned as "one of the best ways to give this holiday season." Having volunteered at DFS alternately as a personal shopper and seminar presenter, I am familiar with their mission "to promote the economic independence of disadvantaged women by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools . . . "
Since I had been meaning to donate a few pieces of work-appropriate attire to my local DFS affiliate, I used the opportunity of a dreary, rainy day to follow the magazine's suggestion.
It came as no surprise that in my closet were unworn clothes with tags still attached. The big discovery was how many there were and what little use I had for them. The joy I felt folding and packaging the suits and separates for women who would appreciate them was palpable. I remembered the experience of suiting my first client and the excitement she felt when she saw herself attired for her first job interview.
This time the excitement was mine. I was instantly reminded that no matter what state you find yourself in, there is always something that you can do to uplift another. This Thanksgiving I am grateful for the opportunity to give to someone else a chance to be her best self. The receiver of the gift this year is me. For that I give thanks.
Laughter may be the best medicine but smiling from within is a balm to the soul.
A few things that make me smile:
Couples in love
Senior citizens holding hands
An old familiar song that I know the lyrics to
People singing and dancing in their car oblivious to onlookers
Connecting with someone through the written word regardless of distance
An old Chinese proverb says, "It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness."
Have you ever felt engulfed by darkness: the darkness of discouragement, dejection, debt and drear? It would be so easy to give in to the disillusionment that accompanies such difficulties.
It is no wonder that some fall prey to the lure of alcohol and drugs, which only intensifies the despair.
Excepting those who need medical intervention to deal with their disease, the rest of us can at least aid our cause. Even before the darkness dissipates we can choose, as the proverb suggests, to shed a little light on the situation.
We can opt to light a candle: a candle of daring decisions, delight and perhaps dance. Yes, decidedly DANCE! It is not a problem solver but definitely a mood lifter.
So, with that said, "put on your red shoes and dance with me." Your red shoes---not to be confused with your ruby slippers. But then again, some of us may do well to dust off the old rubies and trip the light fantastic. We'll probably realize that the light was in us all along.
"Every human being on this planet has their pain and their heartache and it's up to all of us to find our way back to light."
These words were proudly and bravely pronounced by champion swimmer Diana Nyad in a TV interview after she finally realized her dream of swimming from Cuba to Florida (without a shark cage) on her fifth attempt. This sentiment certainly rings true for everyone who has ever endured a season or two or three in darkness.
"Finding our way back to light" at times sounds like an odd phrase to me. I am used to the old tried and true illustration: "turn on a light switch and the darkness immediately disappears." I have discovered, over time, that darkness occurs in degrees as does light. Making one's way back is absolutely the appropriate process; and, a process it is.
In my own life, I find that another famous quote is apropos. "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. through his personal experiences was more than qualified to utter this piece of wisdom. Now when I find myself in a dark place, face to face with obstacles, mountains and closed doors, like Diana I am learning to "find a way," like Dr. King, I endeavor to summon the light to drive out the darkness. The trick, I am finding, is to love from within and draw on the light on the inside. For as within, so without.
EXTRA! EXTRA! Read all about it!
I've always known in my head and in my heart and later, by experience, that anything but ordinary comes at a hefty price. I chalked it up to the old cliché, "you win some, you lose some." But then the saying started to feel well, clichéd. It got old fast. Once I started to relearn it by experience yet AGAIN, the fact that I needed to put more w's in the win column than l's in the loss column was the next thought. But the scoring system then came under scrutiny. I eventually realized that when you lose, you win, if you learn the lesson.
Lesson: The road to success is always paid in full and paid in advance.
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goals." Henry Ford
No explanation necessary.
Are you committed or are you just interested? That question was posed by a speaker at a seminar I attended some time ago. His definition of commitment is the best I've heard to date. Commitment, according to him, means "doing what you said you would do long after the mood in which you made the promise has passed."
Are we committed to our goals or merely interested? The question sounds simple enough and the answer seems obvious. But what happens after time has passed, money has run out and motivation is low? SIGH!!!!! You just get up, buck up and show up. Show up for your dreams. Show up for your goals. Show up for your destiny.
Doors! Doors! Doors!
Open doors. Closed doors. Doors that lead nowhere. Doors that swing in. Doors that open outward. Hidden doors. Locked doors. Some you simply have to open. Some you may have to kick in while others you may have to hew out yourself.
Doors of opportunity are everywhere. But you’d never know what lies behind any given door unless you put aside your misgivings and open it. Often it may resemble a challenge simply waiting to be overcome.
At the next opportunity, when face to face with a door, try it. Open it, kick it in or simply use your key. Never be left wondering what if or what is behind Door No. (x). It may just be the treasure you’ve always desired.
"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls." Joseph Campbell
Jennifer Lavern is a keen observer of the issues that affect how women view themselves and how they interact with their world.