A recipe worth the work: cooking up gratitude

What’s Possible

Turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes and pies.

Welcome to Thanksgiving, the tastiest holiday of all.

Beyond all the delicious food, I find some years the biggest challenge is to cook up is a big helping of what the holiday is supposed to be all about: being thankful.

I’ve been known to struggle with gratitude as much as the next guy. Life gets hard with jobs, families, health challenges. Some days it can be gratitude-schamtitude.

So, with a little help from my family and friends, I’m setting a Thanksgiving buffet that helps me get there.

ABC Alphabet Gratitude Soup: My friend, Tricia, introduced me to this simple game. “I go through the alphabet thinking of something I’m grateful for starting with each letter,” she explained to me. “A for my abs, which are looking so much better all the crunches I’ve done this year. B, Bella my wonderful dog, C is for courage, the courage to do the hard things I know I’m facing.”

I’ve tried the ABC Gratitude Game. Never fails, 26 letters later, I’ve forgotten whatever has gotten me down and am overwhelmed by my abundance.

Eyes On Your Own Plate: This could also be known as, “Keep Eyes Off Facebook.” I had to figure this one out soon after graduating college and getting an alumni magazine with the updates in the back. It was overwhelming to realize I was a total failure that I wasn’t sailing around the world, birthing five children and running a major international corporation. It took me some time to realize that the person who is sailing around the world isn’t birthing children and the person who is birthing multiple children is not sailing around the world and the person running the international corporation might not even be happy. I need to keep my eyes on the delights on my own plate.

The Leftover Bag: Let’s face it, even when you’re grateful you can still have problems and challenges. “Hang onto them,” my mother would say.

“Huh?” Would be confused response. My mother has always said, you might not like your problems, but given a choice, if you threw your problems in along with all the problems of other people you know, you would pull your own back out. Get ready to laugh at yourself when you realize, generally, that’s true.

Which leads me to Dana’s Pancakes: When times get hard, and they invariably do, my friend, Dana, makes pancakes.

This from a woman who has faced some doozies the last few years including her townhouse burning down, a large tree falling through her new house and being diagnosed with a serious disease.

“I’ve come to realize,” she told me just the other day that every awful, scary, terrible situation I’ve been through has led me to a new and better chapter. The fire got us out of our townhouse and forced us to get rid of so much stuff we didn’t really need. The tree falling on the house got insurance to pay for a new roof, which the new house really needed. And getting sick forced me to slow down and work again on realizing how little I control in my life.

Now, when things are hard, I “make pancakes.” I flip that challenge over and ask myself what’s the flip side of this? How might this be good?”

With friends and family like these, what’s not to be grateful for.

And let me take this opportunity, Dear Reader, to say how thankful I am that you sit down at this table with me each week as I share making my way through the challenges of life.

For you, I am truly grateful.

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