Meditating On Gratitude (Episode 278)
It's the day before Thanksgiving. We don't spend much time focusing on the traditional perspective of Thanksgiving - the story is complex and full of sadness, and isn't quite the sugar-coated view of happy connection between peoples.
That being said, we, like many others, can choose to focus on the positivity we can create moving forward, regardless of the past. This is a great summary of what we want to see in "thanksgiving" as well:
...The idea of giving thanks is central to Native heritage and culture, and in this way, Thanksgiving is simply a chance to appreciate the good things of life like family, community, and the riches of the land. Long before settlers arrived, Native tribes were celebrating the autumn harvest and the gift of Mother Earth’s abundance. Native American spirituality, both traditionally and today, emphasizes gratitude for creation, care for the environment, and recognition of the human need for communion with nature and others.
Thanksgiving as a holiday originates from the Native American philosophy of giving without expecting anything in return. In the first celebration of this holiday, the Wampanoag tribe not only provided the food for the feast, but also the teachings of agriculture and hunting (corn, beans, wild rice, and turkey are some specific examples of foods introduced by Native Americans).
Now, regardless of the origin of the day, many Native Americans will gather with friends and family and use the day to eat good food (many of the classic Thanksgiving dishes are inspired by indigenous foods) and give thanks.
Steven Peters, a Wampanoag Tribe spokesman, was asked about his views on Thanksgiving and the fact that most people still gather to eat turkey and give thanks. Here's what he had to say:
"I think it's great. My ancestors had 4 harvest festivals throughout the year. Gathering with family, enjoying our company, sharing our blessings, and giving thanks for all that we have is a good thing. I say have more thanksgiving events throughout the year. I also ask that you take a moment in that day to remember what happened to my people and the history as it was recorded and not the narrative that we had been given in the history books."
Taken from "What Does Thanksgiving Mean to Native Americans" on NativeHope.org
Focusing on Gratitude
As this is a common theme in our daily lives, we asked the family to join us to share what we're all grateful for in this present moment...and here are our responses.
Nathan - Good Health
Nathan was grateful for good health. And boy does he have reason to be grateful! We've shared recently on the podcast about how critical the mind/body/soul connection is, and 12 Tenets of Wellness we believe in. And Nathan shared a bit about his own journey with a tickborne-illness that resulted in facial paralysis, along with other issues.
Walking through recovery - of tickborne illnesses, broken bones, severed tendons and more, we're so, so grateful for good health and how well he's bounced back. Every time we've been sidelined by health, it's been a reminder for a reset in our own self-care and it's set us out to an even more healthy future. And we're so, so grateful for that.
Juliette, age 10 - Adventures!
Jules was grateful for the amazing experiences we've enjoyed on all of our adventures - and this year we had some pretty epic ones! She shared about our involvement with the hawksbill turtles - we were so thrilled to be a part of this experience!
This is "KickinItUnschool" at it's finest - being a part of such an incredible experience taught us so much about conservation, respect, biology, stewardship, natural life cycles, and more.
Clara, age 15 - Seasons
Clara shared her gratitude for the seasons - the shifts in seasons both with our weather and in the ocean. Being down here in the Keys over the past three months, we've witnessed the change, even if we're not experiencing falling leaves and snow. We see it with the shift on the beach - from sea beans floating up to a surge in jellyfish and stingrays as the water temperatures get cooler. We see the shifts in people as we move from fall break vacationers to snowbird travelers. We experience the shift in our own bodies as we go through seasons of change/transition, stillness and introspection, or growth and discovery.
Elle, age 13 - Food!
Elle loves food. Honestly, we all do! Yep, we're foodies and have a deep appreciation for good, quality, real food. And we happen to have an amazing chef in our midst - Nathan makes some incredible dishes!
As we're moving into the winter months (yeah, yeah, it takes a while to get there in Florida), we're adding more of those beautiful "comfort foods" we love - the hearty soups, paella, and more. We've shared a bit about our food decisions here on this post.
Ashley - Growth
We've really looked a lot at our own impact this year - not just in our relationships - looking at our relationship to this planet and how we can be a good steward of it. Here are just a few biggies:
- We got The Carbon Almanac and it unleashed all kinds of great insight and inspiration. Check out all the free resources on the website (including a free download of The Carbon Almanac for Kids)!
- We signed up for The Daily Difference and are learning about all kinds of ways to make a difference.
- We switched our search engine from an ads/profit-focused google to Ecosia, which uses the revenue to plant a tree with every search.
- We've switched to EarthHero to order many of our basics, like cotton swabs, feminine products, doggie bags and toiletries...and we're looking forward to getting more from here.
- Both Elle and Clara have RedBubble shops, and it's the most eco-friendly/ethical company we've found for print-on-demand customization for their art.
- I have consistently woken up to a gratitude reminder - it's the only thing I want to look at on my phone first thing - Gratefulness.me gives me a place to journal my gratitude as well as sharing positive quotes - which is about the only thing I'm sharing on insta-stories.
- We've been living a plant-based diet since the beginning, and we're more conscious of the ethical practices and packaging of food we purchase.
These are just a few ways we're working on our impact, and we have more to go. Clara is excited about creating her amazing dragons with sustainable products, we're using reusable bags as often as we can, we've switched to a lower impact laundry sheet vs. the big plastic jugs...the little things do matter.
At the beginning of this year, Jules wanted to add some mindfulness and meditations to what I was offering people. The first one I asked her to do was this one on gratitude. We added it into the podcast above, and encourage you to gather your family and check it out above.
And, if you're feeling especially grateful, you may want to share it with a friend...and we'd love to hear from you as well!
Pay attention to the little things during the holiday. Not the stressors or obligations. Not the just the stereotypical things you're supposed to be grateful for, like friends and family.
Pay attention to the tiny, everyday miracles around you. Your breath. Access to fresh water. The ability to take the time to read this post.
Pay attention to the breeze in the air, the warmth of a fireplace, and the sound of true laughter through meaningful play.
And hold tight to your loved ones. Share with them what you appreciate in them. Thank them for simply being in your life. The uniqueness in each of us strengthens all of us. Namaste.