This gratitude episode in honor of Thanksgiving weekend is a diversion from for the holiday.
Ten years ago I enjoyed Thanksgiving, without my family, with 1500 new acquaintances at an all-inclusive buffet in Cozumel. That trip was the beginning of something very different for me. Changing the environment gives you a unique perspective that you may never have had time or ability to see otherwise. For me, it was revisiting something I’d considered doing much earlier but pushed elsewhere in the hectic and safe space of being busy day-to-day. It was 6 weeks later when I followed through on following my own dreams instead of talking about them.
A year later, I was at the table with my family physically and not at all mentally. My son was home from his first semester of college for the week and we were with the usual suspects at a wonderful dinner. But I was getting scared. I’d already talked to a realtor about potentially listing my house.
You see after that Ironman in Cozumel that weekend I took a couple days to dream and think about what I really wanted and how I really wanted to spend that huge chunk of time at what we call work.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved every job I’ve had. I didn’t love all things about each one but from lecturing at a university I loved teaching college students about fitness, movement, and behavior change, to managing personal training department, hosting radio shows, writing articles and speaking on all kinds of stages about wellness and the impact on business, families, and lives… it’s been a dream to do it all.
I just felt like I was meant for more. I found myself criticizing parts of our fitness industry. What’s the answer when you can see the problem? I think, it’s to do something about it. In National Treasurer, Nicholas Cage’s character says, and I believe he was quoting but I don’t know who, Those who see the opportunity to make something better, have the responsibility to make it better.
So, nine years ago on this holiday I was scared. As scared maybe as I’ve ever been.
At this point, I’d gone to a couple therapy sessions over the complete hornet’s nest of stress the past 11 months had been. From quitting my job, to starting my own business – or at least going all into one I’d pretended to be a business prior to that.
My first two hours of therapy were also my last. Since I went to my second session and she said, there’s something I didn’t ask you at the first session that I need to… (I waited), Have you considered hurting yourself?
On the way home, I laughed so hard I cried about the fact that that was kind of a big omission huh? We were done.
I’d already pawned jewelry sadly to pay for Facebook ads at the time, which I’m certain I had no idea what I was doing.
Recent Thanksgiving Past
Many of my recent past Thanksgivings were different. I was the aunt at the table in Colorado, while my son celebrated with his dad in Iowa.
Once I was in Arizona, and my son was out of school, he began celebrating here with me. So this is our third Thanksgiving here and we’ll be golfing both Thursday and Friday. It’s yet to be determined whether the golf or the Thanksgiving meal will redeem me for the other. But it’s a pretty sure thing one or the other will happen. I’ve already forgotten the rolls from the store and I’m not thrilled about grocery shopping the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. I may need to ask forgiveness for this one.
This year, I have two families. Last week, through no intention or fault of ours, I lost access to Google accounts. And to 10 years of files, contacts, and of course my emails and calendar for last week.
It was a tense four days.
Perspective Gives Gratitude
But it wasn’t… losing a dream I’d had for my life, a home, friends, and a community I loved.
It wasn’t three years later being in the right place when my niece’s world fell apart; when real tragedy, not an inconvenience struck.
My work family had me. And it worked out thanks to them.
We mark holidays like the markings on a timeline. More than birthdays we have this entire collection of certain holiday memories that we pull out serving as the evidence of change in our lives.
I do remember the elaborate and abundant spread my mother used to make. Once her mother had passed and our Thanksgivings were no longer over the river or at least two hours in a car to grandma’s, she began creating these amazing holiday meals. It began then in about 1988 and continued until about 2015. [Do we wonder how our relationship with food is so complicated then? Every memory of family – good or bad – often revolves around it!]
But collectively, with holidays its more the benchmarks and the pictures of people who now have left an empty chair, and the growing need for more chairs at the table as families expand and change.
Falling Apart and…