Gratitude is immersing ourselves in the greatness of life. It is the foundation of joy and satisfaction. Julio Olalla
express thankfulness for all the big and little things that are
good in your life at this moment. It’s no coincidence that many
cultures marked this season with rituals and feasts of
thanksgiving! This is the time to express gratitude for our inner
and outer bounty, and begin to plan what you will plant when
spring returns (more on that later at the Winter Solstice). Taking
time to cultivate a gratitude practice, whether by keeping a
gratitude journal, stopping for a moment to give thanks to
nature, or simply moving through your day with a thankful heart,
are all powerful ways to connect with the seasonal energy. This
season has two tools for enhancing well-being -the twin pillars
of thanks and giving. Expressing gratitude and engaging in
service to others have a way of shifting our perspective toward
remembering our goodness and the goodness of all beings.
I'm taking this opportunity to share gratitude and appreciation for
you, our Co-Creative community. Even though 2020 has been
difficult for many reasons, I'm aware that I have countless
blessings in my life. You are one of them. Yes, even if you don’t
read this newsletter or blog regularly, even if you don’t really
know me, even if you are considering unsubscribing… you
matter to me and my universe of energy. Thank you for
choosing to be a part of the Co-Creative Mandalas community!
Thank you for your readership, interest, and support throughout
the year. It means so much to me!
showing up in 2020 and dedicating time, energy, and resources
toward bringing more light, love, compassion, and joy to the
world. Thank you for being on this journey with me, as we seek
out ways to bring more love, compassion, and healing to
ourselves, each other, and our Earth. It is your willingness to be
present that gives me hope.
My experience is that when I show up curious, and hungry for
growth, it has the power to change my life and the lives around
me. In this time of change and uncertainty (there's always been
change and uncertainty--and both are particularly magnified this
year, right?), I will continue to share my humble offerings in the
newsletters and blog. I aim to be a resource you can count on
and find comfort in during the holiday season and beyond. I'm
grateful to be able to learn from you and offer you opportunities
to wake up to new paradigms and perspectives, expand your
consciousness, and grow!
For those of us who have been doing self-development and self-
improvement work for any length of time, we know the
importance of gratitude. Like many of you, I have a daily
gratitude practice. I read somewhere recently that the
foundation of self-love and self-care is gratitude! Practicing daily
gratitude gives us a deeper connection to ourselves, to each
other, the world around us, and to the universe.
As part of my gratitude practice, I honor all my feelings. I think it
is important not to try to force an emotion OR to pretend that I'm
not feeling what I'm feeling. Yes, even THOSE feelings. You
may know the ones I'm talking about...I'm guessing you may be
like me and in addition to feeling grateful, you are also
experiencing a full range of emotions this year.
For instance, as I'm counting my blessings I'm aware that I'm full
of sorrow this year, as I know many of you are. It's the time of
year that marks upcoming anniversaries of some of my deepest
losses, so it’s already difficult. I'm also full of gratitude, as many
of you are, and aware of all the blessings in my life. Focusing
on just the sorrow or just the gratitude doesn't work for me. I
don’t want to ignore either one. I'm trusting that they can and do
How do we find our gratitude when things may not be going the
way we want them to? Or envisioned they would be? Or you
experience outside forces not in your control? Gratitude is great
when it's all going well. But what about when you feel --(fill in
the blank)-- or you're not where you want to be in your life?
months, as have many of us. Writing this newsletter and the
blog has been a huge challenge (I had planned to publish this
on Thanksgiving day). It's not so much the writing as it is my
intention to be authentic, to be real with myself and with our
community: I'm in two minds--gratitude and sorrow. It might be
easy to focus on gratitude without mentioning the sadness. But I
know I'm experiencing both emotions. So, I've been on two
contradictory emotional tracks for a while. I've made the choice
(more than once) to hold space for and “just be” with the
sadness (and the gratitude).
During the past year, my partner's health has been deteriorating
and I'm loosing long-time friends. I'm choosing to follow the
strictest guidelines for social distancing. So, like many of us, I'm
missing hugs and all the joys in-person contact “warms my
heart” in ways that are indescribable.
I'm also aware how much other people are suffering. Their lives
are challenged in unimaginable ways, much more so than
mine. I was raised to be mindful of those who are less
fortunate. I think many people were taught those values. We
heard things like “You should be grateful,” or “If you can’t say
anything nice, don’t say anything at all,” or “It could be worse, so
don’t complain.” So, I'm feeling guilt, too. The upside that often
runs alongside these sentiments is compassion, empathy, and a
desire to care for others, to be of service.
I understand it's a choice to “be with” all emotions or not.
Sometimes a particular emotion might overwhelm you, and
then you don’t feel as if you have a choice. But you do… you
could still run from it or pretend it’s not bothering you. There are
all sorts of options besides feeling your emotions.
I'm choosing to honor the sadness AND also be with the
gratitude and appreciation. At times this may be a hard journey.
It's comforting to know that I'm not alone, that we are all in this
together. It can be mind and soul bending, but we're going to
see this through … because "the only way out of this is through
Here are mindset shifts I reach for when the sadness is present
and gratitude feels elusive...(thanks to Sage Lavine for inspiring
1. FEEL WHAT YOU'RE FEELING
In her March 2020 podcast--Comparative Suffering, the 50/50
myth, and Settling the ball Brene Brown tells us that emotions
are like tunnels, you have to go all the way through - if you get
stuck in the middle, replaying stories and hanging out in
emotional hell... you can end up exhausted and depressed. She
also invites us to give ourselves permission to be with ALL our
feelings. For me that includes sadness. Just being with what
comes up, that’s truly the way to healing and peace. If you can
own where your emotions are in each moment, even if they
argue with your positive, spiritual beliefs, this time will be much
easier to navigate. Feeling your challenging emotions will not
set you back spiritually, but it will create more space within you
for the light.
Sadness is NOT a happiness deficiency. It is how the heart adjusts to loss, and releases imagined patterns of attachment. Every time sadness arrives, the body has an emotional garage sale. It releases what is no longer needed for the journey ahead, and clears the space to welcome in what your entire life has prepared you to find. - true happiness. Matt Khan
Cry or growl or squirm around if you need to. If it helps to have
someone with you... call a friend and ask if they have 10
minutes to hold space for you to move through your stuff. Give
someone the gift of being there for you. Don't isolate.
Remember, we're all in this together!
3. REMEMBER, BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF
In my experience, I have to turn toward it and give myself full
presence and permission to be extra gentle with myself to feel it
fully. If you have high expectations of yourself, extra love is
going to be needed. Processing grief and sadness is not
selfish. It's self-care. Love on yourself.
4. SEE IF YOU CAN PERCEIVE THE SPACE ON THE OTHER
SIDE OF THE FEELING
The Universe is made of space. We're wired to consistently turn
toward the "beliefs" and "heaviness" in our awareness, but the
truth is, there is space all around us - and that space provides
room for us to expand in the face of life's challenges rather than
When I focus on moving through the feelings and into
spaciousness, I feel RELIEF. Techniques like Heart Math
and Emotional Freedom Techniques-EFT-Tapping
support shifting difficult emotions, align mind, body, and spirit,
and allow all emotional content more space to be expressed.
When you RAISE YOUR VIBRATION and get THROUGH the
hard stuff... you are creating more space to love and accept
yourself--and to feel gratitude.
Accept - then act. Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. This will miraculously transform your whole life. . Eckhart Tolle
Maybe you carve out 5, 10, or 15 minutes today to create
artwork, write a friend an "I'm grateful for you" letter or email (or
tell them), or create a social media post you're proud of. Maybe
you take the entire day off and give that gift to yourself. Maybe
you make yourself your favorite meal even if you're eating it all
Gratitude is one of the key positive energies of the holiday
season. Even when uncertainty and disruption surround you, a
simple thank you can help bring you back to center. Gratitude is
not only for the benefit of other people; it’s a critical component
to our own self-acceptance, well-being, and self-care. When we
remember to express it and focus on our countless blessings we
acknowledge the goodness in our lives and in others. In the
process, we may recognize that the source of that goodness is
both inner and outer. As a result, gratitude also helps us
connect to something larger than ourselves as individuals — to
other people, nature, and to Source, the Universe--however you
name the Presence that supports all life.
It follows that expressing gratitude opens our hearts to being of
service: Thanks+Giving: Gratitude+Service are the two tools for
shifting perspective. There are so many ways of being of
service… Maybe you’re talented in your business, you could
mentor students at your local community college or university.
Perhaps you could volunteer for a troubled youth program. For
others, maybe it’s being involved in a choir or something within
their religious community. How about joining a local organic
farm or community garden and doing some work there?
Whatever way you choose to be of service, it’s about
volunteering in a way that honors you.
What does service look like during a time like we're
experiencing now, when we may be feeling isolated or
overwhelmed? Remember, when life feels hard, we tend put our
heads down and go into survival mode. It may feel too
overwhelming to take on extra commitments. That's okay. Honor
your feelings. Take care of yourself, love yourself, and do what
feels life affirming to you.
Artist and author Lori Roberts shares wonderful prompts and
ideas for targeted giving and effecting positive change through
service in her book Choose Hope, Take Action: A Journal to
Inspire and Empower
If you'd like to be of service, remember small acts go a long way
in helping others feel better, and that includes you, too! Take a
moment each day and ask “How will I serve another today?”
This Co-Creative Mandala, "Thanks-Giving" is from photos of an
abundance of flowers and plants. It is a reminder of the
countless blessings we have and the many ways we can be of
It turns what we have into enough, and more.
It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order,
confusion to clarity.
In this simple, yet powerful exercise, I invite you to celebrate
"Thanks-Giving" and feel supported by your inner and outer
resources. Honor this powerful time of gratitude and service.
Give yourself plenty of time without interruptions to dive deeply
into this exercise. Meditate, journal, create and bless your
Make this exercise your own. Invest your time and attention.
As you sit quietly in your space, light a candle that welcomes
"Thanks-Giving". What does "Thanks-Giving" mean to you?
Close your eyes. Bring your awareness to your breath; just be
with your breath. Take a deep breath in. Breathe out. Take
another deep breath in. Breathe out. Notice the sensations as
you exhale—without judgement. Feel the body breathing. Bring
your body into stillness.
Open your eyes and bring your attention to the "Thanks-Giving"
mandala; allow the mandala energy to fill your heart; be with
whatever is there.
Invest a few minutes toward allowing the “Thanks-Giving”
energy to flow to and through your body. Imagine that energy
bursting through your crown chakra and extending far into the
Imagine the “Thanks-Giving” energy flowing through you and
down deep into the earth. Imagine it radiating from your heart
and extending out in front of you and behind you. Imagine the
“Thanks-Giving” energy is a radiant ball that encircles you.
Now, sit with this energy for a few minutes.
What about the "Thanks-Giving" mandala captures your
Notice and Wonder--Something in me is feeling...
I wonder what it wants me to know?
Relax into your body and its quietness. Be with the energy, be
Write out the following questions and answers in your journal.
1.What are you grateful for in your life? These are things that
will be renewed, replenished, and enhanced as you move
forward. What is one concrete action you can take to express
gratitude in your life? How will you honor gratitude and hold it in
your heart each and every day?
2. Who are the people you are grateful for in your life? What
would you like to say to these people? How have they
supported your growth? What are ways that you can express
your gratitude to these people?
3. What are actions you can take that are in service to others.
How can you be of service today?
My prayer is that for those whose hearts are hurting there is
comfort and peace and gratitude. For all of those who are sick,
to recover fully, and for all of those in need of resources, that
there is relief right in the nick of time.
Let’s keep praying for each other and appreciating, loving, and
serving each other. Not just today, but everyday.
Blessings of peace, joy, and abundance,