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Thanksgiving or Gratitude?

We all know the meaning of Thanksgiving. We don’t need to hear it again, and yet, if we were to stretch our minds we might get curious about this concept of gratitude itself. It’s suggested that we all feel it on November 25th and many of us will indeed be grateful for that painstakingly prepared, delicious meal and the opportunity to gather with loved ones. But are we so bereft of gratitude and thanks giving that we need to set aside a day on November 25th to remember it?

Consider the concept of prayer, the asking and the thanking God for the gift He, She or It, depending upon your perspective, bestows upon us. It seems to me these rituals create yet another sense of separation and foster a lack of gratitude rather than empower it. In this sense, gratitude usually becomes the thing we feel after we have asked for and gotten a prayer answered – now and then.

Isn’t real gratitude something you feel all the time? And if it is, how can one best express gratitude for this life and all that it provides for us? It seems to me, the words gratitude and grace are synonymous. Albert Schweitzer said. “You must learn to understand the secret of gratitude. It is more than just so-called virtue. It is revealed to you as a mysterious law of existence.” In other words, it’s how you live your life.

Brother David Steindl Rast says, “We grow in love when we grow in gratefulness. And we grow in gratefulness when we grow in love. Here is the link between the two: thanksgiving pivots on our willingness to go beyond our independence and to accept the give-and-take between giver and thanks giver. But the “yes” which acknowledges our interdependence is the very “yes” to belonging, the “yes” of love. Every time we say a simple “thank you,” and mean it, we practice that inner gesture of “yes.” And the more we practice it the easier it becomes. “ Feeling gratitude and thanksgiving are in essence the act of saying YES to life.

Yes, to loving fully and without limit. Yes, to having a grace-filled life of comfort serenity. Yes, to spiritual growth, personal responsibility and waking up. Yes, to acknowledging the value and right of every human being to exist in safety and peace. Yes, to the equality of every individual. Yes to joy and abundance. Yes to aliveness and all things that support us on our path to enlightenment. Yes to life itself.

This Thanksgiving, consider the level of your yes-ness to life. Are you letting life in, embracing it fully and giving at least as much back as you are getting? As Rabbi Harold Kushner says “Can you see the holiness in those things you take for granted–a paved road or a washing machine? If you concentrate on finding what is good in every situation, you will discover that your life will suddenly be filled with gratitude, a feeling that nurtures the soul. “

Or, are you holding life and love back at an arms length, waiting to enjoy it until you have accumulated enough, found the right life mate, look good enough, have accomplished enough, worked hard enough or something-else-enough?

Now is the opportune time to fall in love with your life and the priceless blessings in it. Now is the time to embrace your friends, your partner and your family and remind them how precious they are to you. Now is the time to watch a sunset, smell a flower and remember that your next breath is a gift – an incredible opportunity to experience aliveness. Don’t miss the whole reason for this journey. Don’t miss the gift while waiting for its arrival. We wish you an incredible day of yes-ness.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.

Thanks Giving

It’s that time of year for offering a bit of thanks on Thanksgiving and that for some of us is enough. We do it because this is the month when families are supposed to get together, give thanks and eat too much. But, is there an art to giving thanks and being appreciative, or are those two little words here and there throughout the year enough? I don’t think so. Gratitude is like enlightenment. It’s a fire in the soul that moves us to being a certain way in life. It’s an action, a feeling we embody and a delicate state of mind that is a prayer. It moves us to having a reverence for life and the people with whom we share this journey. When we are truly grateful we experience a joy and wonder at the blessedness of life.

Living in a state of thankfulness is about being willing to recognize all of the good that is in our lives. It’s about recognizing the gift of choice and free will. It’s about feeling blessed by the breeze on your face or the radiance in a sunset. It’s about feeling filled with gratitude that you know what you know and have sorted out the ways in which you may have tripped yourself up or tricked yourself with a lack of awareness in the past. It’s about accepting ourselves with compassion for every mistake and error that taught us a new way of being.

Thanks giving is about affirming our ability to create the quality of life we desire by acknowledging the power of who we are. As you experience gratitude for every relationship, every resource and every experience that has acted as a master teacher in your life, you become safer and more spiritually directed. A sense of grace arrives when let go and acknowledge that there is, has been, a divine plan in everything that you have experienced.

We wake up in every morning in this country in a time of unbelievable comfort. We live in luxury that is the envy of most other countries. We listen to the magic of music from the minds of genius’s. We read any book written on every imaginable topic. We have access to entertainment and media any where in the world. We can instantly communicate across vast distances by phone and internet. There is no place on the planet that is inaccessible.

We are truly blessed in so many ways. Gratitude is something we need to instill into our character. This awe and gratefulness needs to permeate the core of our being, so that it guides our decision making processes and our life.

When you are grateful for your partner, a deeper level of love and a certain respect and honor follows. When you are grateful for your job or career a certain diligence and sense of personal responsibility follows. When you are grateful for your children, a level of protection and awe arrives and you can acknowledge them as your teachers. When you are grateful for your family a certain commitment to be the best that you can be follows. When you are grateful for your life a certain reverence follows, one that provides purpose and joy. Gratitude brings with it humility, civility and compassion for others. A life filled with gratitude is light, freeing and purposeful.

Take a minute this holiday to make a gratitude list and share it with those you love. Pull it out and read it again the next time you are feeling depressed. Get up in the morning with a heart filled with thanks and rest in the same as your last thought at night. No matter what your choices have been in the past you can feel grateful because you have tomorrow and the right to make new choices. You are alive, you are awake and in the next minute you have the right and the choice to be grateful.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.

Thank You

This is the time of year when we gather around tables graced with perfectly browned Thanksgiving turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and we give thanks. We give thanks for our health and our families. We give thanks for the partner who has arrived or is in route. We give thanks for the abundance we have amassed or the opportunities that have presented themselves to us. We give thanks for each other. And, there is so much more for which I feel grateful.

Now don’t get me wrong; perhaps even at one level higher in priority than that of my next breath, are my children and grandchildren. But, when I think of all I am grateful for, some things different, harder to see, bring tears to my eyes and catch my breath. Perhaps it is a matter of age- perhaps a matter of awakening – perhaps it just is.

I am thankful for the reality that even though I have been single for quite some time, I fall often into the arms of my beloved. I often rest in the knowing that some energy, powerful and compassionate, is caring for me in ways I am not even able to understand at times. Growing up with an alcoholic mother and an abusive father makes me so grateful that this Presence is always covering my back, standing on my side, taking care of me with generosity of spirit, compassion and understanding. I am thankful that It is so much a part of me that I am nearly unable to distinguish much of a separation any longer. I am grateful that I have the most sacred relationship with God, the Universe, All That Is – (what ever you want to call it) that at times feels as if I could reach out and stroke the cheek of my Beloved with the same tenderness with which It holds me. We talk. We love. We accept each other in sheer delight.

I am so grateful for having choices – for the choices I have made. With whom shall I dance? What do I want the quality of my life to be? Who do I want to be when I grow up? In the most precious places of not knowing, I get to choose. And, because I am awake I get to choose only that which befits me, makes me more and challenge the fiber of my character and the strength of my spirit. I alone am designing my life, either consciously or unconsciously and that is, as well, yet another choice for which I am grateful. I am so thankful that my choices no longer comes from need but rather from a place of having so much in my life that I cannot hold it all and want to share. Free will is an immense blessing that we often take for granted.

I am grateful that I have stopped taking detours away from my own power – that I no longer need to pretend that I don’t have the answers. I am grateful that an unimaginably wise energy designed me is such a way that I could find myself and discover the truth of who I am through my own choices rather than ones inflicted on me.

I am grateful that I have learned to listen when the Universe speaks. I have discovered the immeasurable value of good friends and spiritual family, people who speak truth, love generously and are making every effort to live authentically. I am delighted that I am no longer willing to leave myself to be what someone else needs me to be. I am thankful that I leave places and people who are invested in chaos and drama and I no longer have a need or longing to stay.

I am grateful that I have come to a place in my life where I am aware that I am part of a grand intelligence in the universe and that every contribution I make that is loving is of value. I am grateful for the chance to sit here writing words on a page that some of you will hear with your heart and which will unite us with out ever having met face to face.

I am grateful for every moment of this life, every breath I take, every challenge I create and every opportunity I am given to love someone. I wish you a moment this Thanksgiving to reflect on your own unseen blessings. I hope they cause a smile to gently appear on your face and a warm and honest moment of love to fill your heart.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.

Thanks

Funny, as I write this column I am aware of such uncertainty in the world that I wonder if what I write will even be valid by the time the paper comes out? Will there be another major event that shakes us to the core and rattles our sense of safety? Will there be another tragic loss of life and yet one more reason to accelerate a sense of separation and hatred for others? What if that does happen between now and the time these words find their way to a printed page? Would I be any less grateful during this month of thanks giving for the things I am filled up with at this moment? I hope not, and therefore, here’s my gratitude list with the desire that you will create one of your own with great expectations for what the future brings.

I am grateful that I can sit at my window and have eyes with which to see the brilliant peach in the rose bloom only a foot away and in the lining of the clouds bathed by a Phoenix sunset. I am grateful for the mutual understanding and acknowledgement embraced in a precious card sent by a friend that said, “Loving you is a prayer.” I am grateful that I understand the power of that statement and feel it in my soul in every silent, miraculous connection in my life.

I am grateful for the courage and dedication expressed by my clients as they travel the road of their own healing knowing every step they take is a gift to the world. I am grateful that I have taken my own steps of healing and can now be fully present, fully aware and fully spiritually in love with all of them, my friends and families of birth and choice.

I am grateful for chocolate, especially Carmello, and having the ability to buy it, taste it, and when feeling particularly lonely, hold it in my mouth just a tiny a bit longer than usual. I am also grateful for non-fat frozen yogurt swirls that come out of the machines and land like pillows of pleasure awaiting strawberry blessings. I am also grateful that I don’t visit them or the chocolate on a regular basis because I am also determined to stay grateful that the Universe is sending my precious partner – any day now.

I am grateful that I have finally learned before I left this planet, that life is for living, enjoying and expressing. I am delighted that I have worn my best clothes for everyday, I have given up three inch heels and I have insisted on remaining an un-girdled woman. I am glad that I understand a car is not a badge of honor, a title does not make me worth while and what I have, or don’t have, in the bank has nothing to do with my value. I am delighted that I understand that the only thing I will leave this planet with is my integrity and character and the blessings of those who loved me.

I am grateful that I don’t give myself or my truth up to make others comfortable and even more grateful that others do the same for me. I am grateful for all the horses patoots who have been my best teachers about who I don’t want to be and every splendid, evolved soul who held me in a space of love so I could discover what love acted and looked like. I am incredibly grateful for my spiritual family who let me practice on them until I could get it right. And, I am so grateful for every challenge and formidable task that tested my strength of spirit and fired my soul work. I am grateful for every mistake that I have made and every person who danced with me so that I could make them.

I am grateful for each of you, who through all these years has given me a place to share my feelings, express my truths and fulfil one more part of my purpose. Thank you. And, no matter what tomorrow brings, today, right now, take a minute to be very grateful that we live in a world where despite opposition, you and I can love the person of our choice, the God of our choice and a journey that is priceless. Many Thanksgiving blessings to you all.

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner

Away from the cooling fall air, a fire crackles in the fireplace and the table is set with candles and neatly folded napkins. The fragrant scent of turkey and dressing wafts through the room enticing all those who have passed up lunch to wait for its arrival. The announcement is proudly made from the kitchen and only after an appropriate number of kudos and ahs does everyone gather at the table to give thanks on this special holiday. We give thanks for the program, our host and host and the fine table set before us. Some offer thanks for their successes and the challenges all of which provided new opportunities for growth. Yet, we can miss giving thanks for the greatest blessing of all – the gift of each other.

There is infinite wisdom in your conscious and unconscious choice of those with whom you create both partnerships and friendships. They are each individually a mirror and reflection of your soul. Just as there are colorful, creative and intricate dishes set upon the table, there are also colorful, creative and intricate choices in our friendships and mates. They reflect back to us both who we are and who we are becoming. After you have taken in the scents and visually enjoyed the culinary delights set upon the table, perhaps you can take a moment to reflect on the diversity and beauty in your choices of life partners and friends seated at the table. Let me share what my picture looks like on Thanksgiving.

Somewhat removed from the flurry of dishes being passed I can usually sit back and first notice my son J.D. He is the part of me that still thinks all things are possible, sort of an “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” kind of guy whose commitment got him through earthquakes and rain storms to make sure I was OK. We both know no matter what the obstacle, we would be there for each other when necessary.

Across the table my friend Jan scoops potatoes on to her plate and I think of how her childlike antics put me more in touch with the child inside of me who never learned how to play. My inner child was too busy dealing with an alcoholic mother and an abusive father until Jan came into my life and gave my inner child permission to come out. Before Jan, she was hidden and hesitant, too fearful to play with anyone.

At the end of the table sits Elaine, talking a bit too loud and acting a bit too self-assured. She is the part of me that was still afraid she is not quite enough and over compensates for her uneasiness in groups. Beside her sits Randy. Randy reflects back to me the spiritual side of myself. He reflects my Higher Self, that knowing part of me that is connected beyond words and explanations to the Divine.

At the other end of the table, my friend Lauren carries on an in-depth philosophical conversation with David. Lauren reflects the part of me that spirals with intellectual exploration and thrives on unanswered questions. David! Ah David, the part of me that still carries unresolved anger about what I didn’t have as a child. Then there are my other two children Lauren and Mia. Lauren is the creative part of me that loves making things and being artistic. Mia, is the part of me who is profoundly on the path to Spirit and loves the challenge of learning. At one end of the table, you may have a mate. That’s the beloved person in your life who constantly reflects back to you the parts of you that are seen as beautiful, lovable and worthy of being cherished.

This incredible group of people, even as it changes, always reflects back to me my own soul’s growth in living color. There sitting at my table was the perfect picture of all the ways I had chosen to grow and not grow. Each person at that table was my teacher, my guide and I was grateful for their courage and willingness to be part of my life lesson. Each one had made the decision to enter the process of relationship with me. Each was willing to look at the ways in which he or she closed down, defended against and opened again to all we might share. Thanks to their courage and mine, we were all learning a great deal about ourselves. I have often said that I know I could go to sit on a mountain and achieve enlightenment. In doing so, I would not be helping the world a wit, nor would I have any inkling of how my own human soul was evolving. Until I enter into relationship with each of these precious people, I have no way of knowing about my judgments, my invulnerability’s, my fear, my need for sameness, my openness or my courage.

I am constantly amazed at how once we become conscious and aware, life speaks to us so clearly. There are no coincidences, no accidents. There is only life, trying repeatedly through each relationship to teach us more about ourselves. Perhaps this Thanksgiving, you too can begin to see with a more conscious vision as you sit at your holiday table. Perhaps, you will quietly accept that each person before you is an integral part, a perfect reflection of who you are. Perhaps you too will silently give thanks. Better yet, say it to them out loud and have a great Thanksgiving!

© Dr. Dina Bachelor Evan 2013

All rights reserved. No part of the intellectual property of Dr. Dina Evan may be reproduced, placed on mechanical retrieval system, transmitted in any form by electronic, video, laser, mechanical photocopy, recording means or otherwise in part or in whole, without written permission of the author. Contents are fully copyrighted and may not be owned by any other individual or organization.