rocks painted mandalas

Let go; Have gratitude; Create space to receive.

Thanksgiving, is not an easy holiday for many people.

All of the gratitude, giving thanks for family and friends and the life you have isn’t very much fun if you don’t feel like you have any.

Now, I’m the first to find gratitude in any situation so I definitely believe that there is gratitude to be found, however, I do feel the need to acknowledge that it comes easier to some than others, and that it didn’t always come easy to me.

For a lot of years Thanksgiving felt like abandonment. It felt like a yearly reminder that my parents had better things to do than to spend time with family. Likely they simply want to make the most of their recreational property and enjoy using it every long weekend and holiday that they can. As a teenager or young adult though, it can be easy to lose perspective on that.

I didn’t go to my aunt and uncle’s for whatever reason, for quite a few years, and instead I jumped around to whatever friends-family invited me to theirs. I always had a great time learning new traditions and I fully embraced all the love that I felt was lacking in my own, trying to soak up every last ounce – so much so that I likely resembled a stray dog, absolutely starving for love and affection.

This year I did it differently. I filled my weekend with so much love and kindness and connection that I even have extra to spare. I don’t feel like that empty, bony, tattered stray that suddenly feels love and never wants to let it go for fear that they may not receive it again; holding on so tightly that the insane fear and need for control end up causing it to all fall apart anyways.

I feel whole today. That’s not a feeling I’m overly familiar with but its good. I feel that I am enough, today. Exactly as I am.

And this is because I have filled my cup. I have surrounded myself with emotionally intelligent people who give and receive love so freely that you just know you’re going to be okay. My future looks brighter today, and I’m grateful for that.

I started my weekend with a girls night with my friend Jamie, she fills the cup of everyone she’s around. Her beauty and light and willingness to love is a gift that she shares with everyone she meets. We talk for hours and fill our bellies with pizza and never get bored until suddenly its late and I need to go home. I leave with a full heart and knowing that we will do it all again in a few weeks with just as much to share all over again.

Saturday I started off my day with coffee with an amazing young man, Guy. Despite the many challenges he has faced growing up in foster care, he has devoted this time in his life to advocating for other youth in the system and reminding everyone that they are enough. That they are worthy of love. That the challenges that they face right now do not have to define the lives that they live for their future. This is a man who at only 25 years old is so secure and stable within himself and his own network of friends who are family, that he is able to see the love and light in everyone. Even the adults who hurt him, it seems. And that, to me, is a feat. That is Everest, my friends.

Straight from that beautiful meeting I went to an incredible afternoon filled with silence, women, meditation, painting, intention, and love. I am not a crier, and typically at these things I don’t feel that it is my place to share, even when asked. So I shocked myself when, as I’m sharing my brief writing “there is beauty in letting go of the need to control” I start to hear my voice crack and more words coming out of my mouth, thanking all of the women who surrounded me for their motherly energy that I so needed to be enveloped in. Even as I write that I feel a lump start to form in my throat again and I don’t even know anymore if its from the sadness or the beauty of it all. Likely, both, as I’m starting to find that those two often come together.

Saturday evening I got to meet my friends new baby girl, Thalia. Oh-em-gee she is amazing! Poor mamma was so stressed, as new mothers often are. I suddenly got the call to be very intentional with my energy. Like anyone in a heightened state of stress, it is hard for new mothers to put all the fear aside and be intentional with their energy. People who love me have done this for me many times when I can’t do it for myself and this was my turn to do it for someone I love. And it was beautiful. Baby calmed down, mamma calmed down. This perfect tiny human slept on my chest for almost two movies (Pocahontas 1 & 2, so it doesn’t really get any better than that 😉 ) and I enjoyed every second of it. The light and love and innocence that babies exude is undeniable and irreplaceable. They are the best things in this world and, I believe, when loved and nurtured, can potentially be our greatest gift to the world. No matter how you end up with a child, if you can influence them to love the planet and everything on it, there is no greater gift to the future of the planet than that. I am grateful for every moment that I will get to spend in Thalia’s life and I cannot wait to see how her and her parents grow, and who she becomes.

As if my weekend has not been good enough or filled with enough love (I feel like I’ve had a years worth of love and light and healing all piled into one amazing, transformative weekend!) I am currently waiting for my brother to drop off his 7-year-old step daughter Emily so that we can spend the afternoon before Thanksgiving dinner, painting mandalas. I am going to use the video* that Tama (one of my teachers) recommended to me to teach her how, and I am looking forward to three straight hours of loving goodness from this incredible child that lights up my family’s life in so many ways. Her bravery and fearless ability to be her true self is something I can learn from.

Just when I think this weekend can’t get any better, I receive an invite from a beautiful indigenous friend, also my amazingly talented tattoo artist, to join her and her mother for a New Moon ceremony tomorrow evening. I’ve been saying a lot that the synchronicities in my life recently are unbelievable, and I cannot think of a better way to finish this long weekend than to spend it in ceremony with a mother and daughter, of our indigenous community, sharing with me their ways of ceremony and inviting me into their love, light and healing practices.

This weekend has reinforced in me the path that I am currently choosing for myself. Letting go of the past and many of the people in it is a painful process; but it is a necessary pain if I want to move forward in love and healing. Perhaps I don’t have to fight so hard to force the people that I think are supposed to be in my life, to be in my life. Perhaps, maybe if I allow it, there are a lot of incredible people who are everything I need and more, just waiting for an opening.

The video for teaching children mandala painting can be found here.

Tama and more of her workshops can be found here.

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