Updated: May 13
November has arrived. When I walked my dog this morning (my annoyingly lovable Berna-doodle Samantha) I noticed frost on the ground for the first time. Unlike many people in Northern Ohio, I don’t dread the snow or the winter. On the contrary, I love the crisp, chill air of a winter morning-I look forward to (meaning I CANNOT WAIT) going sledding with my three sons-and although I’ve only been a handful of times, I find skiing to be a beautiful and exhilarating experience.
With all of that in mind, as I began to plan my November yoga classes, Gratitude was the first and only theme that sounded right. Let me say that again. It sounded right. But for some reason, it didn’t feel right. It’s not that I’m sad that winter is coming. I have a beautiful family and a safe home. I chose the path that I’m on, and I am free and independent in deciding where I want to live, who I want to marry, and what career I want to follow. There are many human beings on this Earth who do not enjoy those same liberties.
So why don’t I feel a sense of gratitude ?
I am a Yoga Teacher, a nurse, a substitute school teacher, a mother, a wife, a life long learner, and at my core, I am a nurturer. I want to take care of people, and when they’re hurting, I want to make them feel better. I have read and studied about gratitude in many capacities. And I am generally a very optimistic person. Again, why on Earth could I not teach a yoga class on the subject of Gratitude, without feeling like a complete and total fraud?
The first glimmer of an answer came this morning as I continued to research the concept of “Gratitude”. How to create an “Attitude of Gratitude”, online vendors for pretty gratitude journals, how to “Embrace Imperfection”. There is so much information on the internet, but so little of it rings true. It is repetitive, positive to the point of being toxic, and in many ways, can serve to make you feel even worse .
And yet…I finally found a blog post that did inspire a feeling of gratitude . The difference was that this post involved taking action. Visualizing myself creating gratitude sparked the hope I needed. The author listed tangible demonstrations of gratitude, to share with others and to display for the world to enjoy. The projects are so simple, but they made me smile for the first time in days. I’m currently deciding which project I want to take on-A Thankful Wall, A Gratitude Wreath, or A Blessings Jar. These may sound silly, but I am a strong believer that actions speak louder then words. I wish that by simply speaking out loud the areas in my life that I am grateful for, that I could snap out of my state of negativity. I tried, but was unsuccessful.
(For those who are curious, The blog post that inspired me can be found here https://cultivatewhatmatters.com/blogs/cwm/seven-easy-ways-to-cultivate-a-heart-of-gratitude)
As I dug deeper into the intricacies of creating these projects, two themes started to stand out to me . Two very distinct lessons , that until I master them, God and the Universe will likely continue to throw at me with increasing intensity. This is not about being ungrateful. This is also not about finding fall projects on Pinterest (although that sounds super fun!).
This is about , once again, for the millionth time, not being present with myself. Not knowing myself well enough to be able to assign a term to how I feel. It makes me SO SAD that this is still happening. It's a struggle to even put into words. When my children cry, become frustrated, or just seem out of sync, I can usually identify the source of the problem within 10 minutes. They didn't get enough sleep the night prior. They are lonely and could use a playdate. They ate WAY too much Halloween candy and are subsequently heading into a sugar crash. Little things, simple things, and yet I know them so well. My mind and my heart are laser focused on being tuned into their moods, their precious little souls, and the physical needs of their bodies.
I cannot say the same for myself. It has taken me three days to pinpoint what I need. I need to express myself openly and creatively , with paint, and clothespins, and pretty metallic markers. I also need to grow. I already know how to keep a gratitude journal, and I already express thankfulness on a regular basis for my breath, for the movement of my body, for my children, my husband, and my home. My soul is craving more. I need to go deeper, to learn, and to challenge myself in new ways (that last sentence prompted me to go back and add “lifelong learner” to my list of who I am…how could I forget that ?).
It is bitter sweet to open my heart , deeper then I have before, to being grateful. It is HARD to admit that at 37, I am still getting to know myself. And to realize that when life gets busy, I am one of the first people that I forget about. When I was first contemplating opening Tranquil Lake, around May 2020, I made a list of the qualities I desired in my “Dream Career”. Two of those qualities were the capacity to be deeply creative, and the opportunity to learn and grow. I already knew this about myself. I knew I needed these things in order to be my best self.
I just forgot.
BUT..I am grateful for the chance to try again. I am grateful for the gift of my children, and to know that they are teaching me what real love looks and feels like, even if I can’t extend that love to myself (I will get there someday). I am SO grateful that even when I do feel sad, or lonely, or depressed, that I have the strength to keep going. To keep looking in the world for ways to be inspired, knowing that each project I find will eventually send me exactly where I need to be- right back to my own heart and soul.
I hope that this blog will inspire you to take the time to get to know yourself again . When you feel sad, or angry, or let down-don’t give up on yourself. You’re experiencing those feelings because you are not honoring yourself in one or more areas in your life. Maybe you need to take yourself on a date-eat at your favorite restaurant, watch your favorite childhood movie, or find your favorite Yoga video on YouTube, and do it every morning until you feel comforted and safe again.
You deserve time, attention , and the space to love and honor yourself.
Please remember that until we get this right, we will have to repeat this lesson again and again. That’s the entire point of life. To master the difficult lessons, and then master the next , and the next. It’s worth the time . YOU are worth the time.
May you be well, may you move with joy, and may you find a heart of Gratitude.
*We would love to hear about your feelings, your struggles, your projects, and your own self care practices as we all move towards the Thanksgiving Holiday. Please feel free to share your thoughts, and as always, thank you for taking time from your own day to grow and practice with Tranquil Lake