Last November was challenging to say the least. Professionally I was mired in a hole that would continue to deepen for several more weeks, though at the time I was unaware of it. Naturally the pressure of business creeps into other areas of our life. As the calendar pages turned deeper into the year my emotions and concerns followed. Deeper and deeper I sank.
Looking for positives I changed my focus and marketing efforts to seek new business. Looked at the check book and credit card statements to discover what we could, needed, to cut out of our budget. Challenged myself to daily find where I could push myself and my business to keep going and make it through another week and month.
Stress was redefined for me. As the end of November crept up I began to experience fear for the first time in my life, not for myself and my physical well being; but rather for my family and also for my mental and emotional well being. How long, how much work and effort, how many days, until we would start to see positive traction in business? When would the fall stop and the leveling out begin? What level would be level?
Thanksgiving has long been my favorite holiday. As I age and hopefully gain more wisdom I appreciate more and more that with which I am blessed. To have a day specifically set aside for thanksgiving, for reflection on what we do have in our lives rather than what we do not, to not only reflect on our fortunes but also to give thanks to those which bring those riches to our lives, to not just give thanks to others but gratitude to God for placing our lives together. I appreciate more today the American tradition of Thanksgiving arising from early settlers of our nation who despite being surrounded by illness and death, starvation and fear, sat down to give Thanks to God, to share what bounty they had with others who taught them how to survive, how to succeed in the new land where they found themselves. I am in awe of a small group of people casting off from their native land to venture to an unknown land so that they may establish their own community, one where they are free to worship as they choose and not as someone chooses for them. Today more than ever I am more understanding of their gratitude on so many levels as they sat down with their neighbors, saviors, for a meal the purpose of which was to give thanks. Despite all the hardship, the loss, the fear and likelihood that many would not survive the coming months of harsh winter, fear that while the native Indians they have come to know have helped them others wish to bring them harm, uncertainty of so much unknown, despite all of this they gave thanks for what they had--they were still alive and they were still able and active in their Worship.
What happens when your worship seems to be failing, or if not failing at least not showing any signs of stopping continued failure? Where does one go when this is what you feel is happening? This is something the Pilgrims must have faced, and what many Americans face today. This is what I was facing last year as Thanksgiving and then Christmas neared and appeared. Daily I would pray and meditate and set to my affirmations. For myself that I am healthy and complete as God intended and strong emotionally and physically to provide for myself and my family. For my business that I am a successful and prosperous mortgage broker with an abundance of clients who I am able to assist in obtaining home ownership and their financial goals. For my wife that she is healthy and happy, daily finding fulfillment and gratification in her efforts and endeavors. For my daughters that they are healthy and happy learning each day as they express and receive love, kindness and respect.
It is hard to be grateful when there is lack and scarcity. It is difficult to look at the prospects ahead when mired in the now of fear. It is challenging to continue to have Faith and Commitment when the path thus far has led into a darker forest.
No matter the numbers I am cooking as if we have a houseful. I love making the Thanksgiving meal, obviously turkey--grilled; cornbread sausage stuffing, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, big rolls, vegetables, gravy (and apple barbecue sauce), pumpkin cheesecake and apple pie. I start looking forward to and thinking about making Thanksgiving dinner right after Halloween. I love it.
Last year we had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Just the four of us. Looking at my daughters in their pretty dresses and the lovely smile on Leslie's face all negative thoughts and concerns were pushed back. After dinner we played "I am thankful for...." and went around the table with each of us saying one thing and not allowed to repeat what someone else has said. We went around and around. Listening I laughed as I heard how the young are thankful for so many things that would seem trivial to us. But their is no trivial when giving thanks. That is what the lesson of gratitude really is, there is nothing trivial if you are thankful.
As I look back on the past year and the slow growth in business activity and the slow leveling off of the hole digging and the very slow filling back in of the hole. As I look back on where I was emotionally and spiritually a year ago to where I am today I see a year of lessons and much for which to be grateful.
I am so grateful I kept my course with my communication with God. Grateful for Reverend Peggy's messages delivered to a congregation but seemingly addressing me. Grateful so much for Leslie's quiet understanding and encouragement to me to keep up my spiritual work and effort. Grateful that when it would have been easiest to say, "enough this is bunk, look where I am and where I am going" I said instead, "I have faith and trust in God, but I need to continue to do my part to manifest what His plan is for me." That rather than blaming others and looking for reasons not to succeed in turning around my anxiety, fear and feeling of scarcity and lack, I turned inward and looked at where I am successful, where I have abundance and for that which I am grateful.
This Thanksgiving will be different than last. We will be grateful to be sharing our table with Leslie's mother and her sister and family. Our small family will recognize our part in a bigger family. This Thanksgiving while reflecting on what I have to be thankful for this past year I will be offering tremendous gratitude to those who have believed in me, supported me, lifted me and inspired me to continue my course and maintain my commitment to my beliefs and spirituality.
Our faith and gratitude are never tested when success and abundance are easy and readily at hand. I am thankful for the lessons of the past few years that have shown me what gratitude truly is. My fear today is where I would be had I given up that faith and failed to be grateful for what I do have rather than complain about what I do not.
I am grateful, thank you God.