Gratitude

I’m off to spend quality time with family for the Thanksgiving Holiday. Every 2 years my cousin flies from Germany for the Turkey Feast.

This year we’ll have a slumber party in mom’s new apartment and just spend time contemplating our lives. Each family member present is experiencing a re-set of some sort, and I definitely have a sense of new beginnings for everyone.

Life is full of flux, but we tend to try to control things with careerpathing and goal setting. Ironically, I feel more secure living this unpredictable solopreneurial life than I did in my corporate jobs. Even though the pay was regular and significant, the constant interpersonal strife made for difficult work. Opportunities for promotion were in other people’s hands and sometimes determined in non-quantifiable ways. Now I need to hustle harder to earn my keep, but I know that it is up to me to create income and to figure out how to grow my business. I don’t feel super-successful at it, but I do value the work I put into it and don’t feel like anyone is negating my efforts.

This year I am grateful for a sense of peace and contentment. Life isn’t perfect, but it is wonderful and full of opportunity.

I am grateful for the health and safety of my family. We’ve had quite a few scares this past year, so knowing that everyone is working on their mental, physical and emotional well-being is a good place to be. I also know that despite cultural messaging to the contrary, my body is healthy and flexible and in good shape. I have the resources and means to keep it healthy, and the opportunity to adorn it as I please.

I am grateful for the material gifts I have. The Abundance Mindset is still a work in progress, but I am well-aware that I am fortunate with what I have worked hard for and my financial management is sound. Feeling safe and at peace in one’s home is significant, as is being content with where one lives instead of looking for the next thing to acquire or upgrade to.

I am grateful for business growth. Each year has been better than the last for Maike’s Marvels. While generating life-supporting income will require an exponential burst through some side hustles, I am grateful for the organic growth that has occurred through the abundance of consignment opportunities and art fairs available to me in Chicagoland.

I am grateful for professional connections. Knowing that my skills are valued gives me the peace of mind that opportunities will continue to appear for me, and helps me feel secure as freelance gigs ebb and flow.

I am grateful for my community. It has taken a decade to feel at home in Evanston, but now I feel like I truly have neighbors and am pleasantly surprised to bump into people who know me by name as I stroll around town.

I am grateful for true friends. It is hard to maintain friendships when life is so busy and people are in different phases. Social media has both helped maintain connections but also a trap of superficiality. It is important to spend quality one-on-one time with people and also pick up the phone for a real conversation rather than rely on text messaging alone.

I am grateful for hope and joy and faith and love. This year has been so draining with so many disasters, the pandora’s box of awareness spilling over, and the call for activism for so many important causes. It’s been hard to play Pollyanna’s “glad game” at times, and even harder to hold on to sparks of joy during so much overwhelm-ment. But ultimately love still prevails, and if we can brighten someone’s day one smile or one act of kindness at a time, we can still change the world and make it a better place. 

I hope that you too are filled with gratitude this Thanksgiving, and wish you a sense of contentment and peace as life continues on this holiday season.

Thanksgiving Reflections

10 things I am grateful for this year:

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1. The deepening of relationships and appreciating each person in my life for their unique qualities

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2. Embracing opportunities instead of shying away from them

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3. Seeing myself through other people’s eyes and liking their reflection of me

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4. Being encouraged to challenge myself and enjoying the growth it brings

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5. Joining small communities and savoring the spirit of acceptance and camaraderie

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6. Living in this day and age, and learning from all the inspirational ladies present and past

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7. Being an empath in spite of the emotional challenges that brings

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8. Resilience in spite of the disappointment, sadness and loss that comes with living life to the fullest

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9. Living in a beautiful world that holds so many wonders and joys every day

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10. The knowledge that love is always around me and within me, which makes all things possible

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thankfulness

Gratitude makes sense of our past,
brings peace for today, and
creates a vision for tomorrow.

~ Melody Beattie

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving, and it always is a nice time to reflect on gratitude.

I started my professional life as a rookie reporter which meant I began the day with the police report and obituaries before dawn. Not the most optimistic news to wake up to. The responses of two funeral directors have stuck with me for life.

One would greet me with: “Any day above ground is a good one.” Another, upon being asked how he felt that morning, said: “I got up and someone else didn’t.”

“The highest tribute to the dead is not grief but gratitude.”
Thornton Wilder

So I am grateful to wake up to a new day each day. Life is a precious gift, and waking up healthy is a blessing we often take for granted.

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
Thích Nhất Hạnh, (Peace Is Every Step)

I will always be grateful for the people in my life. Some are lifelong companions, and others were only meant to be around me for a chapter or a season. But those seasonal people taught me something, whether in a good way or as an example of how not to be.

“Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy;
they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
~ Marcel Proust

After the “Tornado Outbreak”  we had on a recent Sunday, I considered all my possessions a lot. What would I take with me in case of evacuation, what did I want to protect from the elements? Seeing the aftermath of the tornadoes’ paths made me realize that shoving things in closets wouldn’t really matter. Still, I have spent the past decades gathering things that bring me joy and inspiration, and weeding out what doesn’t, and I am grateful for my possessions.

“Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not;
remember that what you now have
was once among the things you only hoped for.”

~ Epicurus

My home is my sanctuary and my workplace, and I treasure what is in it, replaceable or not. These material things don’t define who I am, but I appreciate the idea of them being a reflection of me. Yes, sometimes it feels like I might have too much clutter, but it is all meaningful in some way beyond the ‘stuff’ part of it.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity.
It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home,
a stranger into a friend.”
~ Melody Beattie

I am grateful to live where I live at this time. In spite of all the human rights work still to be done, as a woman it is better to be alive now than centuries ago. I have choices and opportunities, even if some of those involve choosing not to go somewhere at certain times.

Mostly I am grateful for spirit. We are all connected, and love and compassion prevails over ideologies. In moments of complete powerlessness that spirit of resilience and generosity and helpfulness has buoyed me and kept me from losing faith in the world as it is right now.

“In the end, though, maybe
we must all give up trying to pay back the people
in this world who sustain our lives.

In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender
before the miraculous scope of human generosity and
to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely,
for as long as we have voices.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, (Eat, Pray, Love)

Gratitude is powerful. Gratitude is grace.

May you be filled with love and joy and peace this Thanksgiving feast, whether you celebrate it surrounded by loved ones or in solitude.

“Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel
to say your nightly prayer.
And let faith be the bridge you build
to overcome evil and welcome good.”

Maya Angelou, (Celebrations)

Days of Gratitude

Happy Thanksgiving!

This year it has really snuck up on me. It feels surreal that everyone will be gathered around Turkey and trimmings tomorrow. After the Halloween push it seems the stores are skipping straight ahead to Christmas. One distressed little girl asked her mom if they were skipping Thanksgiving this year: “Why does the [Joann’s] store not have Thanksgiving? It only has Christmas.” Her mom assured her Thanksgiving was still going to be celebrated.

Turkey display at the Field Museum

Turkey display at The Field Museum’s Nature Walk, installed in 1910

Having been on holiday all year has made me less eager to count down to each celebration. It does not really mark time off for me this year, nor will I be traveling. In spite of my intentions to write some Thanksgiving cards that has not happened either. In that regard I will be skipping to Christmas myself!

Turkey display at the Field Museum

Turkey display at The Field Museum’s Nature Walk, installed in 1910

Top ten things I am grateful for this year:

  1. Having the guts to claim this fabulous year of reflection, journeying and exploration for myself
  2. The ever-present support of family and a core group of very important friends
  3. Being offered opportunities and encouragement ‘out of the blue’ that affirm my decisions and keep me motivated
  4. Learning from some challenges that have helped me establish a more authentic self
  5. Taking a fantastic trip to Greece that inspired, educated and invigorated me
  6. Slowly building more community in person, which is stepping out of my introverted comfort zone
  7. Discovering more educational, inspirational and beautiful gems my home town has to offer
  8. The (sometimes overwhelming) abundance of resources available to help me establish my own authentic business
  9. Becoming more flexible and optimistic in my approach to life (= less of a worrying control-freak)
  10. The faith that I am where I need to be and that I will have the means to keep on moving toward success

Turkey cookie from the All Chocolate Kitchen

Chocolate Turkeys from Chef Brody’s All Chocolate Kitchen

I look forward to picking up or baking a pie, selecting a DVD marathon, and reading and reflecting in my cozy home.

May you be surrounded by love, joy, warmth and the aromas of good eating on your Thanksgiving day.