I woke up in 2003

Before Thanksgiving Day 2003 I had been asleep, going through the rise and fall of daily life like waves on an ocean. I believed the key was to make my children’s lives better than my own and to create the fairy tale, the one with the white picket fence, big house, and happy family. Back then I had three major goals: Have a house that my children could call their childhood home, stress education so my kids would go to college, and educate myself and have a career so I wouldn’t be dependent on anyone. I finished my degree, we built the house and my husband, and I set high expectations for our children’s academics. We fell into the rhythm of early mornings, school, after-school activities, bed, and repeat.

Then on Thanksgiving Day 2003 while in a hotel room in Mexico I heard my father’s voice from Orlando. “There’s been an accident. We’re worried about Arielle.” In that moment I thought my daughter was dying. I thought my father was telling me she wasn’t going to make it. Time stopped. I just remember breathing. In, out, in, out, the news so shocking it numbed my thoughts. My father continued, “She has a bruise on her spinal cord. We’re waiting for her to move her legs.” Relief. My daughter wasn’t dying.

That moment changed me. It opened my eyes to gratitude like I’d never felt before—gratitude for life. Although I didn’t realize it at the time, it also was the seed that eventually led me on a path following teachers of spirituality: Sue Monk Kidd, Deepak Chopra, Eckart Tolle, and Oprah.

“Why do you stay in prison when the door is wide open?” Rumi

The moment when my thoughts stopped, and I was left with only my breath was like a doorway to my soul or who I really was—the observer, not the thoughts. Suddenly I could see how my thoughts affected my feelings which affected my behavior and how I had been caught up in countless storylines I’d been telling myself since childhood. With this realization came freedom!

Fourteen years later as I try to have more conscious (present) days than unconscious (not present). Here’s what I’ve learned: The importance of daily gratitude, daily practice, and the importance of letting go.

  1. Gratitude: Sitting in silence and writing down what I’m grateful for sets my mind on a path to being grateful throughout the day.
  2. Practice: I’ve learned that even though I’ve read many books, meditated, practiced gratefulness, watched countless episodes of Super Soul Sunday and even went to a Deepak Chopra retreat it doesn’t mean I can sit back and not practice what I’ve learned. I’m human. I’m passionate. I make mistakes. When I begin my day with gratefulness and meditation and end my day listening to Snatum Kauer as I fall asleep—those are my best days!
  3. Letting go: Trust is difficult for me. I want to work hard toward something and achieve it. When things don’t go the way, I think ( my thoughts getting in the way again) they should I get angry and then sad. I want to reel up against it and fight and work harder when really what I need to do is let go and ask myself why whatever it is I want to achieve is so important to me. When I get to the why it usually leads to a feeling of not being enough. I know that when I feel like I’m enough, letting go of outcomes is easy. Something is, or it isn’t, and I’m peaceful either way.

Thanksgiving Day 2003 was the day I learned to cherish life.

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