When I was growing up, Thanksgiving Day had little to do with being grateful and everything with food. We took a mere two minutes to mention the Pilgrims and ate. Most of the foods were richly laden with fat, carbohydrates and sugar.
My siblings and I would spend hours looking through the big name catalogs and initialed what we wanted for Christmas. Thanksgiving was the start of the holiday season culminating with Christmas. I do not ever recall the word grateful being mentioned.
Once married and having a child of our own, my husband and I were determined our daughter would grow up knowing the real meaning of Thanksgiving. We mentioned the Pilgrims and the American Indians and how they peacefully ate dinner together. I do not recall a discussion on gratitude. Yes, a prayer was lifted and our home adorned with decorations.
Our daughter grew up and married into a family of gourmet cooks. We hit the jackpot! We were invited to her in-laws for Thanksgiving dinner. We brought wine and a couple of casseroles and life was good. Prayer was always lifted before each meal. We had a good time in fellowship.
Several years ago, the in-laws moved to Illinois. Oh no, what would become of Thanksgiving dinner? Fortunately, our daughter and her husband stepped in and helped. Dinner was good but not quite the same. All this preparation was work — 99% of which my loving husband did. My contribution was clean up. Did I mention in 40-years of marriage I have never owned a dishwasher. We shared good food with good company but crashed when our guests left.
Last year my life changed. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in July. By the time Thanksgiving came around, I was back at work exhausted and angry. In early December, our 15-year old nephew died unexpectedly. Three weeks later, his father (my brother) died. We were not close but I was furious that my family was under such an attack. My anger and exhaustion grew.
Somewhere in the beginning of this year, I found my voice. “She listened to her heart above all the other voices.” –Kobi Yamada. I took this anger and I put it to work. I stood up for myself at the cancer center. I tackled service issues with the CEO.
In March, I decided to leave a position I had held for 12-years. I was exhausted, burned-out and angry. I did not want to feel like this anymore. I had learned life was too precious to spend it an environment where our goals were not congruent.
All of sudden, I realized I had stepped outside of my comfort zone and traded anger for fear. What was I going to do? I started blogging about my experiences. Interestingly, I had received favorable responses from readers who became followers.
I went on the Breast Cancer Wellness Thrivers Cruise in April. I was blessed to have connected with Beverly Vote. She encouraged me to keep writing and we became good friends. As I started connecting the dots, I realized it was breast cancer that brought us together.
Around the same time, the founder of “A Woman’s Journey” approached me and asked me to be a contributing writer for her site. Debra had been drawn to my posts and blogs about my breast cancer experience. Another dot was connected. She encouraged me to write from my gut, my heart and to keep it real. For months I did that but kept it safe. Tonight I wrote about digging deeper and writing from an uncomfortable place.
The dots do not stop there. I became actively involved in breast cancer wellness and advocacy. I have made new connections and new friends, many of whom are involved in breast cancer work. We all agree that it is time to eradicate this insidious disease. I also realized our goals are congruent.
When we are faced with a life-changing event we need to look at the energy stream alignment. Love = the true self, the higher soul. Fear = the energy of our lower self, the ego. Believe me, no one is going to jump up and down and say, “I have breast cancer! I am so happy.” If we can step out of the fear and leave our ego behind, we can move forward in love. It is possible to find breast cancer a rewarding yet terrifying experience.
Am I grateful for this qualifying event? You bet. For without it, I would have continued my life of mediocrity. This year, Thanksgiving has new meaning as I truly understand what it means to be grateful from the inside out.