Won’t you join me Thanksgiving 2020? 

Like most everyone else’s T-Day plans, ours have been revised twice in the last 3 months based on the spread of Covid19. Typically, we would be traveling to a big family gathering in Chicago with enough food to feed a small army, mouthwatering treats and robust conversations. Two months ago, we simplified that plan to staying with my 91-year-old Aunt to celebrate a much-toned down day and give her healthcare workers the day off. Last week, we called her to share that we were not comfortable putting her (and us) at risk based on the recommendations of infectious disease doctors and the rapid rise of infections and hospitalizations in both states.  We had not missed a year since the late 70’s. Now what? For my immediate family, the Chicago gathering has always been more anticipated than Christmas because of the comradery of all the cousins, conversations and activities. This year, it is just the 2 of us. Doesn’t seem like Thanksgiving. It feels like a loss of connection with family and others. The question became: Could we create that feeling of real thanks and community that we have gotten EVERY Thanksgiving despite Covid19?  The answer is a resounding YES.  

The glue to our Thanksgiving has always been in the act of sharing, caring and getting caught up. It’s just going to look different this year with only the 2 of us.  

We have decided to share our gratitude and put it in action. I have reached out to my single and fragile clients and a couple of elderly people we know from church asking if they have family support and a prepared meal on Thanksgiving Day. My husband and I will be making a large meal that we can package up and deliver fresh and with smiles and a check in.  

This simple act is very empowering and takes the sting out of not having our traditional day. We will still have plenty of time to Skype, Facetime & call our extended family across the miles; and we will feel fulfilled in our efforts by bringing joy and hope to those outside our typical circleI also hope to put a few bags together for any homeless we might encounter on our delivery route. 

So, if your Thanksgiving isn’t going to look anything like your original plans and you are feeling depressed or out of sorts, won’t you join me in looking for those outside of your typical circle and see how you can support them with a meal, special treat or a checkin call?  Imight make all the difference to them and it could allow you to connect to your community in a new deeper way. I wish you a fulfilling Thanksgiving experience. 

Won’t you join me tonight?

I decided to share a post I wrote on the local neighborhood Nextdoor app on November 3, 2020. It has generated more positive reaction than any other post the Neighborhood Lead had ever seen. So far, 269 people have positively reacted to and it has generated 43 comments and private messages. Though the post focused on 1 night and a particular event, the universal message is that you always have the choice to do your best and then give yourself the permission and grace to let it go and move forward with a plan. This is about empowerment over the long haul. I hope it gives you a chance to pause, refresh and refocus.

Won’t you join me tonight?

I have done all I can do. For the first time ever, I put signs in my yard, I wrote to 31 senators across the USA, gave to critical campaigns across the USA, participated in town halls, did a lot of reading, volunteered to work the polls and I voted. I have no control of what happens tonight other than in my own household. It is time to reset and center.

I bought steak and fresh veggies to create a wonderful comfort meal. My husband and I will make dinner together, share a special glass of wine and listen to music that uplifts us. After that we will share our intentions for the next 4 years regardless of who is in office. We will share what we are grateful for this year and give thanks for the blessings we have been given. After 8pm, we will go out and remove all the political signs that have graced our yard these past many weeks. We will be ready to move forward, come what may because we will be stronger in each other and we will have some basic plans in place. We choose peace and forward action vs. chaos and anger.

You can do the same. Reset and center. It may be a bumpy road ahead and you will be better able to cope having taken the evening for yourself and your loved ones. This might be even more important if you are alone. Reset and center. It is a gift you can give yourself but you have to choose it.

I thought I would also share 2 responses that really resonated with me – one was a public comment and the other one was a private message: “What a beautiful reminder that we are all in control of how we approach our lives”.

“I never post publicly on this app. I’m more of a silent observer and prefer to stay anonymous. But after months of being witness to the back and forth of all sides, I was immensely stressed out, worried and fretting about the political, social, and cultural landscape of our country. So like you, I did my part.

After returning home from voting today I came across your post and it actually moved me to tears. I just had to reach out to you to say thank you for sharing something truly neutral and peaceful.

I don’t know who you are or which signs you had in your yard, but I’ve been thinking about you both and what you said all evening. So tonight I think I’ll have a glass of wine too. And I think I’ll toast to you and your husband for sharing an insight that touched me deeply.

You reminded me of something I read recently that said not to panic about things largely out of our control, our real power lies in the decisions each of us make every day. Thank you for deciding to share a way forward. In Gratitude,”

So, I hope that my sharing this post brings you hope and a deeper sense of peace and grounding. It’s one day at a time for all of us. In service, Mary

Fun Fridays During the era of Covid19

We are now in the second week of August and this spring and summer have been anything but normal. Most of us have had our typical spring and summer outings and gatherings cancelled or heavily modified. In spite of all of what my husband and I CAN’T do, we decided to create fun activities and memory makers what we CAN do. Hence “Fun Fridays”. It gives us something to look forward to and to remember back on.

We have some beautiful trails within 18 minutes of our home so some Friday mornings, we load the bikes up early and do a 20-mile ride through the farmlands and woods. We are typically done by 10 am. It’s great exercise, gets us back to nature and we enjoy pointing things out to each other along the way. This past Friday, we changed it up. We worked in the morning and then headed out to the lake with a picnic for the afternoon. We had a great walk and got lots of vitamin D. We also visited a popular waterfront resort town just to stroll, look at the boats and take in a beautiful day as we picnicked on the shoreline park grounds. Since we were outside and well distanced from others, mask wearing was minimal, and since we took our own picnic and chairs, we did not have to wait in any restaurant lines or wonder if the tables were properly sanitized. We spent an hour and a half just watching the boats and people go by as we ate and chatted. We could not have gotten a restaurant table with a better view. We watched other couples/families and small groups similarly enjoying the afternoon in the park with picnics, dogs, books and musical instruments. In this situation, it was easy to feel blessed vs. disappointed about what wasn’t happening. Life is much too precious to take for granted.

It’s understandable to be disappointed and anxious during this chaotic and unsettling time of Covid19, but I encourage you to step beyond that and find the good and create the memorable. Each day is a new story that you make up as you go.

You may not have Fridays available to ‘play’ but perhaps you can create a fun cooking night as a couple/family or Zoom a dinner party to get caught up with out of town friends. Do you have any orchards within an hour drive that you can start a new tradition of going to pick your own berries? Are you able to volunteer to help others with shopping, delivering meals, yardwork etc.? Are there any old-fashioned board games or puzzles you can work on together? Are there any local activities that you can rediscover? Can you take an outdoor yoga class or stream yoga lessons on your tablet? You may not have a full day for a mental/physical get away, but you can look for blocks of time on a consistent basis to create meaningful experiences, destress and connect with yourself, family, friends and community.

It’s up to you to create your own atmosphere to thrive no matter what else is going on in the world. This year we have all been faced with unintended interruption and loss. Most of our economies (local to global) were placed in an “induced coma” to try to slow the spread of Covid19. Though we may have little control over other’s actions or state policies, we can choose our attitude and next steps.

Embrace the opportunity or decry the unfairness of life. Being miserable robs you of the moment and valuable time that you can never get back. Instead, use this as a valuable pause to reevaluate your lifestyle, values, spends, priorities, career, the place you live. I believe, especially in the USA, that we have been afforded the opportunity to recalibrate our lives to reflect true values and focus on what is important vs. being overwhelmed, busy and distracted all the time. 2020 still has the opportunity to be a blessing if you can embrace it and streamline your lifestyle so it reflects your true values and priorities. If you reflect, and are intentional with your thoughts and actions, I believe, you will find that you are actively creating a resilient type of lasting freedom.