My first thoughts on creating a blog post on Thanksgiving are, meh, trite…one more thing to add to the slew of same-ol’ same-ol’ posts that are bound to cross through your social media feed today. Why perpetuate the mentality that one day is reserved for thanks-giving, when every day brings the possibility of reflecting and expressing gratitude?
But as my coworkers and friends, Christie Kruisenga and Jenny Bork, spent Wednesday talking gratitude in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I got past that. As you see the slew of cute kids and happy families on Facebook today, we encourage you to go even deeper in your own reflection of thanks-giving.
Christie: My initial resistance to talk gratitude comes from hearing people say “But I should be thankful for X, Y, Z” or “I’m thankful I have my health.”
When things are tough, some people make a gratitude list, but never come back to the tough parts. In my experience, gratitude can often serve as a crutch, a Band-aid or a distraction. Sometimes when you’re in a negative mood, gratitude can help you gain perspective, but if the negative mood is yet again a response to the same old trigger or pattern, then gratitude is simply a distraction from the underlying problem.
Jenny: Before I decided to venture down a path of healing, I just didn’t get it. Why would I want to change? Why would I want to deal with hard feelings or situations? Why would I want to revisit the past? What does any of that have to do with my physical symptoms? I get it now. On this path of healing, often there is struggle, and as I work through deep wounds it’s hard to feel gratitude when you are in pain and hurting emotionally or physically. As I look back on all that I’ve worked through, all the ways I’ve grown, and how much I’ve moved closer to living from my own deepest truth, I am so grateful I keep showing up for myself, I keep holding space for myself, and I continue to ask others to hold space for me. I am grateful that I ask myself the hard questions and even more grateful I’m willing to answer them. I am grateful I am now able to see challenges as opportunities. I am grateful I have had the courage to let go of layer after layer. Most of all, as each layer is shed and my truest being continues to be revealed, I am grateful that I feel love and peace for who it is I am reconnecting with: myself.
Kara: I am thankful for myself. As I reflect back on old thought patterns, I feel a deep sense of contentment in being able to express to the world that I love myself amidst a societal structure that conditions us toward shame, the belief that we are not enough, that self-love is egotistical. Despite the habits I have that I could do without…that inner critic, the recurring fears, a tendency to compare…I can accept them, recognize the hindrance or opportunity they offer, and I can see beyond them. I can say whole-heartedly, I am good, I am enough, I am me, and I love me. And by living from a center of this belief, I am able to more deeply love those around me.
Jenny: I am grateful I can call the people I work with not only coworkers, colleagues and friends, but also family. We’ve laughed together, cried together and learned together and from one another. They know me for who I am, in some of my deepest parts and continue to not only love those parts but encourage me to live more truthfully and freely from that place. They have been an integral part of my personal transformation and helped to shape who I am as a practitioner.
It is not often we have safe places where others want to see and hear us for who we are on a soul level — especially in a society where it is more likely to encounter someone waiting to respond rather than one who is fully listening. On another level, this experience with my community has enabled me to transform the way that I do my work as a massage therapist. I am deeply grateful for how the lessons in this community have shown up in my interactions with clients and to be present in a deeper, more authentic way.
Kara: And here’s what I say to what Jenny said: Yes! I 100 percent agree. To have a tribe of people who are like-minded in their pursuit of self-development and healing is one of the things that I am grateful for every single time I show up to the Wellness Collective, share a dinner or a lunch, a conversation, a text message or a car ride with these friends. The relationships I have here are rich with all that vulnerability brings. They see me, they hear me, and a few know some of the deepest parts of me…the things that plague me, the things that fulfill me, the scary places I never thought I’d venture…and they hold that space without trying to solve my problems for me, without judgment, meanwhile encouraging me to continue to explore my own truths, sometimes without even a word. And that freedom to show up as me is one I’m deeply thankful for.
Kara: I have spent 15 years of my life employed. It wasn’t until I began my work as a naturopath, though, that I wake up each day and go to sleep each night with a deep sense of gratitude for the work I am doing. I am honored to sit across from every single person who enters my office, to hold space for the suffering that this being experiences, whether it’s physical or emotional. I see the beauty and strength in each one of these humans, whether they’re four-months old or 60 years old.
The tightly interwoven physical, emotional and spiritual design of the human being never ceases to amaze me. I am thankful to my clients for reminding me of this, for allowing me to help them figure out what their body is trying to say and to be present as they dive into the hard spaces—the pain, the trauma, the shame—to uncover the beautiful spaces. Throughout all this, each one has been a teacher to me, and it’s an incredible thing.
Christie: Recently, I was talking with a co-worker about whether this is the work I’m supposed to do for the rest of my life—the one on ones with clients. I don’t think that I am, though I have immense gratitude for each of my clients, the opportunity to work with them in this way, and the lessons they show me along the way. Where I will be later in life, I don’t know, but this work I’m doing is my purpose right now, and, without a doubt, contributes to my own healing.
On another note, I’m thankful for the ability to express this without fear of repercussion from my co-workers or boss, as that hasn’t always been the case in past careers. I’m grateful that I can accept the impermanence of this work, and that it is ok to follow a path and purpose as it unfolds and evolves for me over time, whenever that may be.
Kara: When I discovered a more natural way of living, I learned a lot. When I started naturopathy school, my world was blown apart. I am grateful for this experience and how it’s propelled me deeper into seeking the truth, asking more questions and examining many perspectives. When I dig a little deeper, whether that’s into systems of healthcare, government or media or experiencing spirituality or nature, the pursuit is revealing. Those discoveries resonate deeply; they’re liberating. They fuel me to continue learning. For the teachers I’ve had and those to come, I am thankful.