Last week, I began a three-part series on self care. I spoke about how self-care can entail hard work at times. This week, I wanted to talk about thanksgiving as self-care (how could I NOT?).
Which is why is it SO IMPORTANT for us to practice self-care during this time!
One of my most favorite words is the word, "Intentional". Intentional is defined as: done on purpose; deliberate. Some synonyms are: conscious, intended, planned, willing, and purposeful. Practicing self-care through thanksgiving is, in my opinion, most often an intentional activity. Now, there are the times when we experience something so beautiful or wonderful, that we can't help but respond with gratitude. However, MOST of the time, I believe it takes a conscious effort - "I will find things to be thankful for - even in the middle of this pit I am in!"
The reason I see this as a powerful tool of self-care is that we can affect our own state of mind. Thought patterns can be spiral - they can spiral downward, or they can spiral upward. Thankfulness is a very potent way to stop the downward spiral, and change the trajectory of our thoughts, and therefore our emotions. So even though we may or may not "feel like" being thankful, if we WILLINGLY choose to focus our thoughts on things we can be thankful for, our attitudes and feelings will fall in line with our will. It may not change the circumstances happening in our lives, but it very well may change the way we perceive the entirety of our lives.
Hear me, dear ones. I'm not saying we should be thankful for the dark things in our lives - whatever they may be. Nor am I saying we should dismiss or ignore the problems. What I AM saying is that IF we can intentionally choose to shift our focus from the dark things, to the things we can be thankful for, we can dramatically effect how we feel about our life.
Sometimes, all we can do is start with the small things: I'm thankful for a working central heater in my house when it's 35 degrees outside. It wasn't that long ago that I took my family into the hills of Tecate, Mexico, and met families huddles together inside their house - A house with no electricity and no heat. If that's where you are, and all you can find to be thankful for is hot water for your shower - then start there. It's spiral. Soon you'll be finding more and more things to be thankful for. And soon, though there are dark things in life, the darkness will not seem so all-consuming.
So, this Thanksgiving, though this will be my first Thanksgiving in 16 years without my husband; though I miss my family in CA terribly, I have MUCH to be thankful for. I share with you today a few of them. May my sharing inspire your own thankfulness.
- I am thankful for my faith. It has been the rock that I've been able to stand on when everything else seemed to fall apart.
- I am thankful for my kids. There are more days that I can count that they were the reason I got out of bed and found the strength to face another day.
- I am thankful for my son. He is my unexpected gift; my joy and the apple of my eye.
- I am thankful for my daughter. She is my special miracle; my delight and inspiration.
- I am thankful for my parents. They have been a fount of support without which I do not know how I would've made it these past few years.
- I am thankful that my mom is also one of my best friends.
- I am thankful for the quiet, yet seemingly unshakable strength of my dad; I know I am loved by him.
- I am thankful for my sister-in-law that lives close to me. The love and laughter that she has brought into my life has both surprised and delighted me. She has become one of my dearest friends.
- I am thankful for in-laws that are loving, kind, and supportive. I am FULLY aware of how amazing they are, and how much of a gift it is to have the relationship with them that I do.
- I am thankful for a job that allows me to be home with my kids in the evenings, and do things like go to my daughter's volleyball games.
- I am thankful for a job that allows me to turn my greatest pain into my greatest passion and purpose.
- I am thankful for life-long friends; no matter how far away they may be, they are never far from my heart or thoughts.
- I am thankful for new friends. Spending time building friendships is my most favorite thing - ever.
- I am thankful for music. It moves me, inspires me, refreshes me, empowers me, and connects me to my higher power.
- I am thankful for exercise. I love the feeling I have after a good workout!
- I am thankful for good food and wine. These things, paired well, can turn a meal into an experience!
I could go on and on. Thankfulness is an aspect of self-care that my mother instilled in me, and one that I intentionally engage in EVERY day (and have taught my kids the same). It's not always easy, but eventually, it always brings me out of my dark places.
What about you? How are you doing with Thanksgiving just a few days away? Sad? Depressed? Excited? Happy? Are you able to express thanks today? What are some things you are thankful for?
From the bottom of my heart, sisters, I truly hope you are able to enjoy Thanksgiving. And may thankfulness become a powerful way you take care of yourself.