“Olé!” Preparing Your Heart for Thanksgiving

Loves, this is not another gratitude post. This is a how to live in the now and not let thoughts, feelings and relatives (alive or dead) drive you insane post. 

The video above is proof of bloodlines. My son is not just another kid dancing flamenco on bubble wrap. This is the spirit of my grandmother, Mama Chelo, who passed away last year just shy of her 106th birthday. She and I used to dance flamenco together in her living room.

In the U.S. lots of families and friends are gathering tomorrow to inhale large amounts of food, hold hands and express gratitude. There may also be some grief for the empty seats around the table.

Their Spirits Run Through You

One of my greatest teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, has taught me so much about love, grief, anger and staying present. When it comes to grief, he reminds us that the blood of our ancestors runs through us. I think my son’s dancing is empirical evidence of that fact given that he only met Mama Chelo once. (See the photo below.) I’d take that theory even further and assert that amazing people who have influenced our lives, and may not be blood relatives, also run through us. Sit in the knowledge that some part of the way we interact with the world is credited to the people who came before us.

#grandparents #grief #thanksgiving

Take the Car Keys from the Crazy-Makers

I imagine several of you may also be rehearsing conversations in your heads with certain family members. You may be anticipating conflict or a nice serving of guilt ladled out with the gravy. Or maybe you’re spending it alone and mourning disappointments for a lost childhood.

If you’ve ever thought, “He drives me crazy,” here’s a suggestion: don’t hand him (or her) the car keys. And that goes for your thoughts and feelings too. You are the only licensed driver of your heart and head. Why hand the keys over to someone who’s had too much chardonnay?

Here’s one solution for you. It’s a short RAIN meditation recently gifted to me:

R-recognize (just notice what’s in your mind)

A-awareness (be aware of any feeling associated with what’s in your mind at the time of meditation)

I-investigate (investigate in your body from the neck down where you feel it)

N-natural observation (do you have evidence in your natural surroundings to support or refute your feelings or thoughts)

Keep in mind RAIN is just observing and feeling–nothing more. No analyzing or judging. It doesn’t even need to make sense. To learn more about this meditation, click here.

Finally, if you need extra help, check out this article “Let it Go” from Psychology today, which details steps to help you do just that.

And if all else fails: find some bubble wrap, start dancing and shout, “Olé!”

Miracle at Monroe

In the middle of this week, my mind was so cluttered with lists, receipts, obligations, excitement, creativity and confusion, I felt as if I couldn’t see straight. I had a [self-imposed] deadline for an article at work, expense reports, family commitments and plain old life stuff. That morning, I sat in quiet and asked for help. I realized that I craved music and planned to listen to flamenco at work. Those sounds always stir my soul and creativity. I began an archeological dig, starting with my purse. I found expense report receipts along with a wider glimpse of mental clarity. I packed a backpack with my wallet, lunch and tossed in a stray dollar at the last minute. I took the “L” to Monroe station. Upon arrival, Christopher Pinot greeted me with his acoustic guitar. Smiling, I told myself to listen intently on the way out. Then I remembered that dollar and decided it was meant for him. So I walked away from the stairs and back to the music. And then I found rapture. Miracle. Belief that what I asked for came to me, live.

Listen and watch, for two minutes and twenty-nine seconds how Christopher brings light. His mastery, not only of the music, but of his environment is astounding. Like an athlete, his has a deft agility in reacting to his surroundings. His sweet, sweet music stirs your soul ’til you’re lifted into the whirl of his dervish.

I thanked him for sharing his immense talent and for choosing to show up in the world the way he does.

I thank YOU for sharing this moment with me.

Ask every day, my friend. Unclutter your thoughts. Make your lists. Open your eyes to the signs. The loose dollar. The quiet contentment. The 2:29 spurts. This is your life. You can find art and peace everywhere. You can make them with every breath.