It is hard to be thankful when you are not living your truth.
It has taking me a long time to figure this out... and then some more time to do something about it.
Being grateful; living in gratitude; being thankful; living in thanksgiving, are not concepts that come naturally. It seems to me even when taught to us, many of us struggle with allowing these core values to become part of our being, rather than lofty goals that only others may achieve as we focus on our own personal stories and challenges. Perhaps we may admire those who can live in gratitude, but for some reason we may not be fully inspired enough so that we will also do this. At least that was part of my journey.
It has taken some time to pay attention to those teachers out in the world who have inspired me. I was so resistant for such a long time. I made believe that I had my life together, and fooled a lot of people. Most of all, I now understand how much I was fooling myself.
I used to hear the words, made famous by Joseph Campbell, "Follow your Bliss." It took me a while to really understand what he meant by this. You can listen here.
I found another clip of him when he was pressed to define bliss once again, and he clearly stated that your bliss is your authenticity. Once I heard that, it totally made sense, and this student was ready. Yes, I was scared, but I began to understand it was the only answer for me.
Back in 2002-2003 I did a lot of personal growth work. I was newly single once again. I was struggling with my identity and identities, and still not at peace with my dysphoria, and searching for some answers and direction. One of the teachers/facilitators I met kept repeating a message that also took me some time to let it sink in. She advised all the participants that: "The pit stop in hell is optional."
Wow! We actually have a choice on this. We can live in the past or live with the old stories and beliefs -- or not! It also took me time to get this message and start to live with it too, I think I am almost there... not sure if I will ever get fully there but I do now know it is my choice, and being a victim of the universe is not something I choose to be.
I realize that throughout my life there have been many teachers available to me. Some did not even know they were teaching me something, and from many I did not even know I was being taught. Every now and again, a memory lights up a corner of my brain and I catch a glimpse of some lesson that has been stored away for me to find -- to remember -- and with fresh eyes, I see it with both astonishment and now a willingness to acknowledge the lesson it is and has been, as it patiently waited for me to come along for it.
This is how I have finally learned about gratitude, and thanksgiving as more than just words but as a feeling that touches all of my mind, body and spirit. I am glad that I have now reached that point in my life. I have no regrets that It took so long. After all, isn't dwelling in regret just spending time in that pit stop I mentioned earlier?
For many people, reaching the age of 64 means a time to relax, a time to retire. For me it was the time to start living as my true self. That was four short years ago, and my life is so very different now. I know I am one of the very lucky one's who has lost no one as I took this journey to live my truth. There is not a single day that I do not appreciate this. I am in gratitude and full of thanksgiving each day. I regret nothing and look forward to all the lessons that still may be trapped inside of me, and the new ones being offered everywhere I turn. I am so grateful to have this life I am having -- each and every minute of it. To me, every day is one of thanksgiving.
A few years ago I found this video and I would like to share it with you for this week of Thanksgiving. It is called Grateful: Love Song to the World
I'll leave you here, and wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving, and perhaps you may be still signing the chorus...
All that I am
All that I see
All that I've been
And all that I'll ever be.......
Grace Stevens is a transgender woman who transitioned at the age of 64 and holds a Masters Degree in Counseling Psychology. She is a father of three, grandparent of two, athlete, advocate and author of No! Maybe? Yes! Living My Truth, an intimate memoir of her personal struggle to transition and live her true life authentically as a woman. Grace is available for speaking about authentic living with Living on-TRACK, and Gender Variance Education and Training. Visit her website at: http://www.graceannestevens.com/. Follow Grace on Twitter: www.twitter.com/graceonboard .