Focusing on the “giving” in the thanks


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Ever feel…

like you’ve slid so routinely into a good habit or a practice that you need to change it to notice it again? It’s akin to the olfactory fail that comes after you’ve worn a scent or used your favorite soap too long. To enjoy the aroma again, you need to try a new brand.

With a most unusual Thanksgiving right around the corner, I am getting more conscious about my gratitude practice this week.

This week, in addition to the acknowledgements I try to make daily (what I am grateful for, the three emotions or more I am feeling right now and what my body is telling me) my intention is to reverse engineer my grievances.

“Ah,” you might say, “She’s talking about turning that frown upside down!” Gross. No.

In my life I have grievances. Some of them are acute, some are chronic. Not many of them are insignificant because I’m no dope about my good fortune in life. Some have stayed with me throughout my life, bobbing to the surface from time-to-time. Some have popped up in adulthood and continue to rise and fall according to my life circumstances.

I do not like grievances.

I don’t like feeling them, I don’t like thinking them. I do not like the weight of them, the confusing vortex power of them. I do not like the result of them, which is too often spiraling self-pity.

And still, I have grievances. Things that make me feel sad, dispirited, dejected, disappointed and frustrated.

Since I do not like grievances and I often turn my grievances into problems I tell myself it is my job to solve them moving forward. Then, instead of being a grievance, it is a thing I can control, work with and flog myself for not “figuring out.” Barring any creative ideas about how to address or solve said grievances, I often simply skip to the third option, which is beating myself up for my inadequacy/inability/lack of whatever would be required to solve.

On the other side of that spiral, I apply my strengths to my grievance-turned-problem-to-solve. I create a plan for it. I make a list about it. I apply my significant tenacity to. Applying my significant tenacity to things makes me feel the opposite way grievances do: powerful, ambitious, eager, happy, and competent.

But I’m not doing that this week (truth be told I did that a little this weekend, until I rethought that strategy this morning).

Instead this week, I am going to look my grievances square in their contorted face and accept them. Then, I’m going to give them grace. Room. Then, I’m going to sincerely and convincingly ask myself a question.

Is this grievance in fact another thing?

I’m going to put it to the test.

Maybe the grievance is really a sculptor of my experience. Maybe it is a dimension of my own potential I haven’t explored yet. Maybe it’s not about the grievance itself, but a deeper wound I don’t want to tend to. Maybe it is the inspiration for a thought I feel compelled to share with others. And yes, maybe it’s not a grievance at all, but a windfall.

Or maybe it is a grievance. But one that requires no list-making, problem-solving or doing on my part.

Then, I’m going to decide what it is.

To me, this feels like focusing on the “giving” in the thanks.

As in giving myself grace, giving this moment in life context, giving the grievance its moment, giving the struggles we face as a society the due they deserve in the form of attention, education and discomfort.

Even as a natural born feeler and expresser, I still struggle at times to accept the awkward, unwieldy and downcast emotions grievances bring.

But the act of giving is not about picking and choosing. It’s about offering someone something of ourselves, with hope and humility. It’s about acknowledging our common humanity.

It’s about seeing ourselves in the pain and promise, the scarcity and abundance that is present all around us, and within us.

Hello loves! This journal is home to some paradoxical perspectives I’m learning along my way. My intention with these is to soothe your soul. We all need soul-soothing. Now and always. I present them with the hope that you find something relatable or intriguing in them. If you want to receive ditties like these in your inbox, I invite you to sign up to receive my emails. (They’re being created now and will begin to be sealed and sent on Dec. 1.) In them you’ll find nourishment for your creative soul and words, ideas and art to comfort the spirit. The form to Receive Letters from Me is just down below…