A Chain of Gratitude
November 2015
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Start a Chain of Gratitude This Thanksgiving

airplane seatsWhen the person in front of you on a plane reclines their seat to the max, there are a few ways you can respond.
You can accept it.
You can get angry about it.
You can politely ask the person to move their seat forward a bit.
I think a lot of us are a little afraid of that last option – fearful of an angry reaction, perhaps, or being seen as a complainer, or just “not wanting to get into it” (whatever “it” might mean).
Yet that’s just what I did on a recent flight between San Francisco and New York. The guy had pushed his seat back so far, so fast towards my 5’ 9” frame that my laptop wedged between my ribs and the seatback in front of me. Ouch! Instead of letting irritation take over, though, I tapped him on the shoulder and asked if he’d move forward – which he did, and nicely so.
It reminded me of how people are truly much kinder than we often assume…  

Coming Together in a Time of Anger, Fear, and Grief

Witnessing the courage and fortitude of the French people following the recent terror attacks is heartbreaking and inspiring. It seems the entire world is in a precarious, delicate place - and civilized people everywhere are struggling to maintain equilibrium.
As we’ve noted before, difficult times and situations have the possibility of bringing us closer together and of fostering community. Connecting with others, particularly in times of crisis, is healing. 

That’s just one of the reasons I was so taken with this recent poem by Oriah House, which speaks to recent events in the City of Light:

For Paris

Today, may we let ordinary things show us
How to make room for heartache and hope
Baking bread
Letting soup simmer all day
Paying attention to the taste of hot sweet tea
Letting the scent of cinnamon slow us down
Let’s make love to this day
In the way we linger and listen to each other
Finding a way to be still for three breaths
Letting our hands come to rest on the table
Sitting in the centre of Debussy’s “Claire de Lune”
Softening to the sadness
There is a way to be with anger and fear and grief
A way to hold them with so much tenderness
That terror cannot take root
Let us make a light of that tenderness
Leaning into each other, feeding each other
Creating together a heart that can hold it all

grateful hug

Accepting Gratitude

On the blog this month, we look at mindfully giving thanks to others, but let’s not forget the flip side of giving: the ability to receive with grace and sincerity.
For many of us, this isn't easy to do.
Sometimes we may feel embarrassed or dismissive of the appreciation. In fact, it may be such a long-ingrained habit that we’re not even aware of our behavior.
Nevertheless, the effect of a dismissive response – or no response at all - breaks the circuit of giving and receiving that can only be realized by conscious participation.
This holiday season, I encourage you to not only practice gratitude but to also make a concerted effort to accept the gratitude that is extended towards you by others.
Receiving is its own gift. Perhaps that’s why sometimes we reflexively say “thank you” in response to those who thank us.  We’re grateful that our actions mattered. 
So take in the appreciation, truly, heartfully. And reply accordingly – even if you believe that what you gave or did wasn’t a big deal.

Image by Ängsbacka, via Flickr
Statue of Liberty holding Eiffel Tower

Slow Cook Veggie Soup

slow cooker
As the days grow colder and darker, we’re naturally drawn to warming foods and the comfort they provide. One of my new favorites is this super easy soup.

It requires nothing more than filling a crockpot with chopped veggies and spices, then setting it to cook on low for 10 hours or on high for 4 hours.

4 garlic cloves, minced
1 medium onion, chopped
2 small zucchini, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, chopped
28 oz. can* tomatoes, drained
2 14 oz. cans* red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
4 c. chicken or vegetable broth
2 tsp. basil
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. pepper
1-2 drops hot sauce
* To find brands that use BPA-free packaging, see EWG’s latest guide to BPA in canned food.

Image by Doug, via Flickr

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Images by Brian Maleszyk and Arlane Hunter, via Flickr
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