“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!”

L’eggo my EGO!

BigHeadEgo

Hey you! With the big head!  L’eggo my ego already, will ya?

In the U.S., it’s Thanksgiving soon. You will read a lot about gratitude, but today, let’s talk about ego. It’s that voice in your head that says:

“I’m right. You’re wrong.”

“What about me?”

“That’s not fair!”

I’ve had the most excellent honor of glimpsing the other side of grief and it comes with a lot of clarity. Clarity about who I want in my life and how. Sometimes when we decide who can be allowed in our inner circle, or be a member of our personal board of directors, our ego and its fantastic soap operaesque conversations come into play in our mind or live with other people. The inimitable Jonathan Fields of The Good Life Project got me thinking about this when he wrote, “What, you don’t need me?” post yesterday.

Step back for a moment, as you glide into yet another [possibly emotion-stirring-giant-food-coma-inducing] family meal this Thanksgiving, ask yourself what you want it to look like.

Maybe you don’t want Uncle Marty to be drunk.

Maybe you don’t want to hear your mother criticize your clothing, your spouse, your sexual orientation.

What if, you let Uncle Marty and your mom, do them.

What if you just did you.  Create a force field of love around you. What if those comments bounce back and when the most excellent rerun of the soap opera starts again in your head, you shut it off and tune in on your Lotus Flower Heart Channel. Or your I’m a Rock Star in this show. I’ve been incessantly listening to Stevie Wonder over the last week and have found that man to emanate so much love in his songs that even my neighbor at the office said that she likes hearing me sing. And it’s not because I have a great singing voice.  It’s because I am happy.  I am trying my best to let that big head full of thoughts float out through my ears and be replaced by Stevie singing, “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing.”