The holiday season has officially begun today with Thanksgiving. Salud!
Over @thekitchn, I loved how they suggested creating a Gratitude Altar for Thanksgiving where you include things that represent what you are grateful for in your life. Not only did I think this was a fabulous exercise in appreciation of your life, I thought it a wonderful holiday decoration for the house along with the tree, lights, and sparkling things because what a fantastic gift to ourselves - the gift of gratitude!
So, I am going to share my Gratitude Altar with all of you :) I'll go clockwise...
- Against the wall is the vision board I created during my trip to Coca-Cola HQ. Creating that vision board was not only the highlight of my trip, it was actually one of the highlights of my year because putting my thoughts and dreams on paper and then presenting it in front of a group of people made those dreams even more real..and made me more accountable...ye gads! Scary but good!
- I love this statue of the man and woman because it reminds me of the kind of relationship I want and why I have been waiting for the "right" guy versus the "right now" guy...and I'll be honest it's not been easy waiting for him because it does get lonely and frustrating. I love how the bodies of the man and woman are intertwined and how their upper bodies and arms create a heart shape - the two are in-sync...connected.
- 2010 has very much been about the heart for me. My New Year's theme was "Live with an open heart." In the vision board, near the camera on the top left, you'll notice a heart next to the saying, "What's been holding you back?" For me, one thing that's been holding me back in certain areas of my life has been closing my heart off not only to people but to opportunities, my dreams, and myself. Yeah, that's a whole other blog post.
- Hanging from the statue of the man & woman is a necklace of a butterfly my beautiful friend Eniko aka @AZToothFairy gave me. The butterfly is another deeply meaningful symbol to me because it represents that I finally feel like I have emerged from a 7 year cocoon stage of transformation, and now get to be that butterfly. Leaving California and moving to Arizona last year was the stage for emerging into my butterfly state. I am SO grateful for all the kind and supportive folks I have met and the new friends I have made here in Phoenix!
- On the feet of the man & woman is a picture of my family at Disneyland. We took my triplet nieces there to celebrate their 5th birthday. Those three days with them was one of the most magical memories I will cherish forever. Being with my nieces at Disneyland reminded me to continue to see the magic in life and be excited about things.
- There is a pendent of a heart one of my soul BFFs @jenmyronuk gave me for Christmas last year. Again, we have the heart theme and the unique thing about this heart is that it is in unusual shape with a rainbow of colors and was made by women in Ethiopia for The Cunningham Foundation to help raise funds and awareness to boost Ehtiopia. Jen is also someone who has had a profound affect on my life. I'm very fortunate to have a friend like her and my other soul BFF @vicequeenmaria who both really I don't know where I'd be without them.
- The book A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle is one of those books that had such a profound affect on me not only because it helped me so much personally but because I think it is a great reference to how we can grow in consciousness to help raise the vibration of the planet and create more love and peace in the world...which all starts at home with ourselves. We can't have more peace in the world if we don't have peace with ourselves first.
- Yes, that's my iPhone, at least for this photo, because really I can't begin to express my gratefulness for this device in how it's helped me grow my business and stay connected with people. It's like a third arm for me!
- The 3-legged pig is a good luck symbol according to legend in South America and looking at him makes me feel happiness. I bought that pig on New Year's day 2010 in Sedona on a day trip Jen and I took. That day was such a wonderful way to start off the new year!
- The worn out running shoes reminds me how grateful I am for my health and my body's ability to take care of me, now that I am a better partner with the bod. Everything is not perfect in our relationship like any normal relationship, but I have become more in-sync and plugged into my body which I avoided for a very long time. The last 5 years of blogging for me has been to share my own adventures and learning lessons so that I may help and support others going through the same things. I love you body and thank you for being so patient and loving to me especially when I was so brutal to you!
- The statue of the castle reminds me I am a castle builder. One day, I'll share the story of the difference between castle builders and brick layers. The castle sits very close to my vision board because I am reminded and grateful that I am to build castles because that is what I am good at...although I am having challenges with the building of those castles which relates back to, "What's holding you back?" and the heart thing.
- And last is the Tigger which has mixed feelings for me but is actually very symbolic of an important growth lesson I've been in the midst of learning. The Tigger is actually a tough thing right now to put in my altar because of the intense emotions around what this seemingly innocent toy currently represents which to share openly is filled with disconnect, hurt and even some acrimony along with some of the most incredible passion and connection I never knew existed before but got to experience. So why would I put something so polarizing in my altar? Isn't the altar supposed to be filled with only happy things?
Well, yes, but perhaps everything that happens to us is a happy thing but comes to us disguised as something painful and tragic. I know doesn't make sense does it, but hear me out for a second. My friend @josephranseth challenged me one day and said to the effect, "Everything that happens is perfect." Immediately I thought, "How could pain, hurt, disappointment, or tragedy be perfect?"
These situations are perfect in that born from them is an opportunity to experience our greatest learning lessons, our biggest opportunities to change or affect change in the world, or our biggest challenges to become a more loving human being. The only difference between being perfect and imperfect is how we choose to "see" the situation.
I think back to every hurtful, painful and tragic thing in my life, and yes I did experience some intense trauma, hurt, and pain, but those experiences all contributed to my growth, to helping me find my life purpose work, and to helping me become more loving when I'd rather close down.
I think back to when I started Back in Skinny Jeans five years ago and sharing some of my own pain of being raped by a boyfriend, having an eating disorder, being diagnosed with depression, put on pills and being put on medical leave, and becoming a millionaire and losing it all, how sharing all those experiences not only helped me heal but helped many other people in the process many of which I will never know.
With encouragement from my parents, I choose to take those tragedies in my life to use them to do some good in the world instead of allowing them to keep me down, depressed, and a bitter lonely person...all of which I could be right now.
I don't want to be a person filled with hate, regret, or remorse. I want to be a person who continues to have an open heart, who helps to make the world a better place, and is a person filled with more love than dark. I'm also learning that my dark side is actually an ally not an enemy who challenges me to see what I need to heal and work on in myself. We all have dark sides, and if we can see the teacher rather than the destroyer in those ugly parts of us, then we can become better humans. Trust me, I'm no angel, and have effed-up in some monumental ways, but that is human. What matters is what I did to grow and be accountable for.
And I have learned by becoming that butterfly, that all this happens by choice....and in many cases can and will be some of the most painful and hard choices you will make, along with making some most idiotic of choices and smartest of choices, but again in a sense it is all perfect because if we never make mistakes, fall down, or get hurt, we'll never grow, expand, or become a better version of ourselves. I'm not saying it's easy, it sure as hell isn't, but that is the process. We can choose to fight it or learn from it.
So, the Tigger situation is perfect in what it is and has taught me and rightly belongs in my altar because it has challenged my heart both open and closed....this is a gift. I hope that one day, we can come to a peaceful connection. I've experienced it before with other people in my life and believe that it is possible in this situation, maybe not right now but someday. We're just two people having our human experiences. It's all a choice. I can't control other people but I can control how I choose to experience life. And on this Thanksgiving day, in this present moment, I will choose an open heart.
And there you have my holiday gratitude altar! Why not create one of your own, and if so inclined blog about it and share with others. I'm telling you it feels wonderful!