The holidays, while joyous, are also often full of stress. Keeping oneself balanced is not easy with all of the additional demands—be it shopping, getting together with family, parties, or the seasonal blues as we reflect on losses or loneliness that are always more apparent at this time of the year.
This year, because of an unusual intersection of our Western calendar and the Hebrew (lunar) calendar, we have two holidays occurring this week. Traditionally, we focus on gratitude and all we are thankful for during Thanksgiving and during Hanukkah we appreciate the miracles in our life or what gives us light. Gratitude appears as the common thread in both holidays.
A few years ago, sitting in an Al-Anon meeting, I heard about the practice of keeping an “attitude of gratitude.” Typically, it is all about all of the “good” stuff in our lives. So, sure enough last weekend, at the end of my Sunday morning hot yoga class, the teacher walked around and left a little note for each of her faithful yogis. Here was mine…
Be thankful that you don’t already have everything you desire.
If you did, what would there be to look forward to?
Be thankful when you don’t know something,
for it gives you the opportunity to learn.
Be thankful for the difficult times.
During those times you grow.
Be thankful for your limitations,
because they give you opportunities for improvement.
Be thankful for each new challenge,
because it will build your strength and character.
Be thankful for your mistakes.
They will teach you valuable lessons.
Be thankful when you’re tired and weary
because it means you’ve made a difference.
It’s easy to be thankful for the good things.
A life of rich fulfillment comes to those who
are also thankful for the setbacks.
Gratitude can turn a negative into a positive.
Find a way to be thankful for your troubles
and they can become your blessings.
~ Author Unknown
This Thanksgiving and Hanukkah, I am truly grateful for all of the blessings in my life (and I have so many) and all the limitations, challenges, mistakes, difficult times, and moments of disappointment. Embracing it all does feel balanced.
The same dichotomy exists here at Jewish Family Service. Every day, when I come into the office, I am reminded of the amazing work that we do as a team. We are in a uniquely human job—every day I witness our staff and volunteers going “beyond” to help a client or another member of the team.
I am saddened that life is so tough for so many individuals and families in our community. I also know that for many of our clients who are experiencing difficult times and life challenges, they will often use these moments to transform their lives.
At the same time, I am also grateful for the generosity of so many friends in our community who support us with time and resources. They are part of our team. And, together, we are doing life-changing work.
Embracing it all does feel balanced. That is why I love yoga. That is why I love what we do at Jewish Family Service. In the simplest terms, creating balance is very meaningful and fulfilling work.
This week, regardless of how many holidays you are celebrating, embrace it all. Embrace the joy, the sadness, the family members we love and the ones we can do without. Embrace the conversations that are full of laughter and easy agreement and the difficult conversations full of discord.
Embracing it all can be the real blessing.