Mindfulness, and Thanksgiving

I’m one of those people for whom every day is Thanksgiving. It’s not that I don’t complain, though I’m learning there are much better things I can do with my creativity (and improving the world is an important aspect of karma yoga). It’s that I’ve noticed my natural tendency to appreciate the community around me, my level of physical comfort, and the privileges I have.

My desk in Blue Studio, a place devoted to creativity, pleasure and bookkeeping. Photo by Eric. Yellow coffee cup is Dominick's -- I have cup borrowing privileges so we save paper.

I mean, simple things. I can afford to take the runaway cat who’s come to live on my porch to the vet. I can afford to eat any food that I want. My business does well enough that I can afford to have a lot of help, and I’m grateful to be able to offer that help back to you as this place of refuge. I am grateful that all of us, the family of people around me, who offer our work to you do it for some reason other than getting paid. (It’s fabulous to get paid, but there are better and more fulfilling ways to motivate ourselves.)

I’m grateful every time I throw the bolt lock on my front door and set a little boundary between me and the world. I’m grateful when I feel so exposed to the universe that it’s like my apartment has no ceiling. I’m grateful that I have a conscience and that I use it every time I make a decision. I am grateful to have a natural respect for the truth, and the gift to allow that to be the only thing that matters.

I don’t have to ‘make myself’ think about these things; it’s a matter of being mindful, and understanding what nourishes and sustains me. And I’m grateful that I’m not somebody who has to ‘do good’ but rather someone who understands that my existence is a benefit to the world (a fact I learned in therapy), which is a great purpose to embrace: it’s a useful kind of self-esteem. I understand that in any situation I find myself, I am the person who has the power to be helpful; embracing that purpose as a conscious act, I don’t have to worry so much about who I might hurt, because that’s not my role. I am grateful that I know my limits and that I don’t have to do everything.

I love things like clean clothes and computers that work; I love lenses that are the product of a century of craftsmanship that help me create the photo I see in my mind, which I can then share with you. I am grateful for everyone who shows up in my studio, takes off their clothes, invites me to take pictures — and has a natural experience of life, of playing, of freedom.

I am grateful for Marshall McLuhan, who told me when I was a kid that all you need is a typewriter and a copy machine and you’re a publisher.

I am grateful to my parents who despite everything gave me the basic tools that I need to stand up in the world, and to the world. I am grateful to every therapist and practitioner and author and artist who helped me get past the damage of my childhood and be a full-grown adult, capable of spontaneous love, creativity and community. Every time I share my knowledge with you, I remember my teachers, and I am grateful to be tossing another pebble into the lake of dharma, letting the ripples reach out to every shore.

This stuff is simple.

Happy Thanksgiving!

9 thoughts on “Mindfulness, and Thanksgiving”

  1. Thanks Eric. One can never be reminded enough of such things. You, Len and the staff at PW are one of the things I’m so grateful for.
    Happy Thanksgiving to you all.
    Liz xxx

  2. I am a tad envious of your Thanksgiving Day and that makes me feel very thankful. We could use one of those down under.

  3. Expressive as always, Eric. I especially like this part, “… I am the person who has the power to be helpful; embracing that purpose as a conscious act, I don’t have to worry so much about who I might hurt, because that’s not my role. I am grateful that I know my limits and that I don’t have to do everything.” Thank you for writing today and everyday and for doing what you do so lovingly.

    I am thankful that I have such a fantastic family (my husband and kids…that family).

    I am thankful for the people in my life who handle me gently when I am emotionally squishy, vulnerable, and struggling to understand my self and my changing feelings.

    I am thankful that I can write my feelings and express them so they don’t get all bottled up.

    I am thankful for the tons of therapy I had with excellent people who knew exactly where to point me so I could zing into a better way of thinking and being.

    I am thankful for my husband who is wise, understanding, not jealous, and not insecure about my love for him (even though I worry that he is, he really isn’t). I am thankful that he is patient, gentle, and caring, even when I am honest about my feelings; feelings that many husbands would feel threatened about. I am thankful that he is honest with me and that he loves me without reservation. I am thankful that he is a really sensual, slow, intuitive lover, too. I am thankful that when I really need him, he is always there for me like I am for him.

    I am thankful for my life in Flagstaff; the only place this Trans-culture Kid feels at home after living and growing up all over the world.

    I am thankful that though I haven’t had friends much in my life, (see the above reference about my trans-culture life of constant moving), this past year people have come into my life who seem to offer me the hand of either friendship or at least caring. They have no idea how much their gestures have helped me learn about friendship or relationships and about myself.

    I am thankful that my four children, two of whom have now turned 18, are all healthy, smart, caring, and aware individuals; they truly want to make the world a better place. They have blessed my life.

    I am thankful that after so many years of struggling, we are still able to have a roof over our heads and food on the table and though we are not out of the woods financially yet; we are at least not going hungry of homeless.

    I am thankful that I finally know what my body needs and as a result, I have lost 112 lbs since May; the first time ever in my life that I have been able to do that without experiencing illness or trauma. I am thankful for the tons of energy I seem to have at my age.

    I am thankful that I feel safe enough to write and talk about my sexuality in as open and honest a way as I know how; even though I still have baggage that makes me afraid of my own feelings and desires sometimes. I am thankful to Eric, Len and everyone at Planet Waves for encouraging me to do so.

    I am thankful for Planet Waves and everyone who makes it possible because from the start, reading and learning here have helped me grow. Writing (both in e-mails and in comments here) has given me a way to express myself. I don’t write or know as much about Astrology but I do know about psychology, child development, sexuality, spirituality, and feelings. I am thankful that I have a good intuition and a desire to help others and that sometimes, I actually touch someone through my words. I have learned so much here from all of you.

    Most of all, I am thankful that in all my life, I have been deeply in touch with the living, breathing universe…the rain on my face, the wind in my hair, the caress of my lover’s hands, the warmth of my children in my arms, the coolness of water on my toes, the warm earth on my back, the bright clouds in an intense, wide, blue sky.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

  4. i am grateful that i work with such eloquent people, i can’t think of much else to add. or maybe that’s just the sinus headache getting in the way? 🙂

    in truth, i am grateful for the opportunities PW, eric and the community we have here present to me. this ‘life’ thing keeps getting curiouser and curiouser; thank you for sharing the journey with me.

    for a while last year i had a sign above my bed with the question, “what am i grateful for today?” so i could see it first thing upon awakening. it occurred to me recently it might be a good idea to put it back up. i have a tremendous number of things to be thankful for, when i let myself remember it, and some days that can feel difficult.

    so: i am grateful for the ability to notice that, and grateful for the power to choose to do something about it — something the ‘tribe’ here reinforces gently, persistently and lovingly. thank you!

    with love,

  5. I am thankful for being alive, still performing, writing, and being a sisterly and maternal support to my community of women and children. I love that I am passing on the importance of pleasure in everyday things onto the young people in my life: cooking beautifully-prepared and tasty food that makes you want to linger at the table for hours.

    I am grateful I still have the capacity to love, to feel with few regrets, and the curiosity to learn more. I am grateful for music, for the makers of it and for the inspiration that it is. I am especially grateful that I can still dance, dance well, and look forward to dancing well into my 90s.

    I am grateful for Planet Waves, for being such a mainstay of sanity in this crazy world.

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