Thursday, November 24, 2005


It’s such a cliché to write about Thanksgiving. Everyone does. We all talk about giving thanks for the good things in our lives and feeling a connection to others. These things do matter and I believe in them profoundly. I smile at the thought of everyone who spent today with family or friends and I’m so glad you had that kind of day!

I want to write, though, for and about all those of us who spent today alone. I thought about going to a restaurant and then decided to create instead a holiday for myself that would celebrate my new house. I realized I could slice and freeze turkey breast and stuffing and have it over the next few weeks.

In other words, this is about being alone but not lonely. I think of a friend I talked with this morning who was also alone, just a few weeks after the death of a dear one she had been taking care of. We laughed together and shared the bond of friendship over the phone line and our plans for today. We talked about how we both know we are on path for what we are meant to do with our lives.

The thing is that with this as with everything else, we have a choice. We can focus on what isn’t in our lives or we can celebrate what is. If we focus on what isn’t in our lives we can either rail against fate or we can focus on what we could do to change things. If we are alone, we can huddle in our loneliness or we can reach out and connect with people. We always have choices.

I’m not saying it’s always easy. Sometimes we start to get caught up in the “what ifs?” Or “Maybe I should haves.” That’s when it matters most that we trust in ourselves. That’s when it matters most that no matter what anyone else says or thinks we should do, we hold onto who we are and what WE know is right for us.

Anthony Robbins says that what we focus on becomes our reality and I believe that’s true. One friend I spoke with today had had a shock last night. Something that threw her into flashbacks to very difficult times in her life. But as we talked, she was able to focus on who she is and how very strong she has become. She could focus on the people in her life who believe in her and what she knows she is going to do. She could move beyond the hurts of the past to know that again, as Anthony Robbins says, the past does NOT equal the future! She could see the choices in her life and not feel trapped any longer.

We always have choices. It isn’t always easy to realize that. It isn’t always easy to see that being alone—especially on holidays like Thanksgiving—doesn’t have to mean being lonely. But life isn’t going to change to accommodate hurts we may have from our past—or even our present. Unfair as it can feel, if we want to be happy, we need to decide that we will be. We need to decide that we will focus on the things that move us toward that goal. Life will demand what it demands.

I say all this as someone who for much of my life didn’t know how to see the sunlight and look for the good instead of clinging to the hurt. I say this because I want others to know that we don’t have to stay that way. At any point in our lives, at any age, we can choose to change how we see life.

We cannot always control what happens to us or to those we love. I cannot make my son not have Down syndrome. My friend could not stop her dear one from dying. No one has the power to stop natural disasters. I would suggest that it is at times like this that we most need to find ways to smile each day, to bring joy into our lives—even if it’s just for a moment or two at a time. When we do so, we build our resilience and increase the odds that we will be able to see a solution to our situation or at least a way to cope. It is not a luxury to find a way to smile at times like this—it is a necessity.

I smile, truly smile, as I think of everyone I know who spent today with loved ones and friends. I write today’s post, however, for those who didn’t. I write it to encourage you, if you did not do so already, to find a way to smile about something that happened today, to look for something that was good, something that was right. And if you cannot think of anything, then RIGHT NOW do something nice or good for yourself. Right now be kind to yourself in a way that makes you smile.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone.