The Holiday Season - Gratitude and Challenge

We made it. As the holiday season steadily gets smaller in our rear-view mirror, I often think about the challenges I've faced and the gratitude I've experienced along the way. I am fortunate enough to have a group of friends and loved ones around me to help me pause and appreciate the moments in the blur that always is the holiday season. Two such friends consistently offer a moment to look back at the holidays, find gratitude, process the challenges, and look to the new year with cheer. They host a gathering each year called, "Apre le Duex" or "After the Two" signifying a time to get together as a larger group of community to share with one another the year we have just come through. I have been reflecting on what I might say to those who I haven't seen in a while. Here's what I have come up with so far:

2015 was full of challenges for me personally and for the local and national communities. Transition: from graduate student to practicing professional (and small business owner), New job(s)...yes, 3 in the past 4 months, and more parenting time while my partner took on a second role in her workplace. There have been so many new things, and while we are privileged to have them, they have been a scheduling challenge to find time to spend with others. Grief: The miscarriage-it continues to be a process of working through it and I stay in it because there is still so much there to work on each day. Polarization: Gun violence both locally and nationally has created a swift divide in the community between those who want to possess a highly lethal weapon and those who think they should all be confiscated and melted down. Human brothers and sisters leaving war-torn and increasingly oppressive states, yearning for hope and a better life in the countries with the most opportunity, finding themselves rolling the dice landing in a foreign land not knowing if they will be recognized for their humanity or for their capacity to take away from others afraid to share it. The fabric of our collective humanity has experienced a great rip, and it will take all of us to mend it back together.

It's sometimes harder to see the gratitude of the year, but having attempted to look deeper, I have found:

Love: More time with family has shored up the rocky and loose confidence that life tends to erode away. Watching my son grow and listening to his stories. His imagination has lifted my spirits to imagine again and I am always inspired by him. Taking time away with family always brings me back to my center. True and deep friendships always pushing me to find a deeper sense of self show me that the capacity for growth is always there and I sometimes need help to discover a new cave of depth to my soul. Grace: The ability to forgive self and others instills in me the patience, respect, and understanding for others and their own moments. Hope: The future is always uncertain and while that is often times scary and uncontrollable, it can be a blessing to stay right here, right now and extract as much as we possibly can from this moment. That is the kind of control we all have and what a time to try and be more aware of that than now.

The party is tomorrow. I'll raise a glass, look friends in the eyes, tell them I love them and am so grateful for their love and support. I'll raise a glass to you and me, and our desire to come together, repair the rips in our seams, and take as much as we can from this moment. Cheers!