Thanksgiving for Body, Mind, and Soul

I did something shocking, unthinkable.

I put up our Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving.

It’s shameful, I know. The day after Thanksgiving has always been a sacred day, The Day We Deck The Halls And Put Up the Christmas Decorations. But it was out of necessity this year, as we are traveling for Thanksgiving and won’t be home until it’s nearly December. It would be shortening our celebration season, and I just wasn’t having that.

However, although I was eagerly looking forward to getting out the tree and hanging the stockings, something felt off. It was just weird, diving head-first into Christmas without Thanksgiving first. Which made me realize just how much I actually love the holiday itself, not just as a gateway to pass through before we kick off the most wonderful time of year. I fervently believe in the immense power of gratitude, in its ability to lift us out of darkness and give us the strength to walk a better path. Having a holiday that reminds us to reflect and be grateful is a blessing we too often pass over.

I’ll share more of my love of the power of gratitude at the end of this post, but fist, in honor of Thanksgiving I bring you a roundup of tips and inspiration to help you celebrate this oft-neglected holiday in full presence of body and mind.

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Want to be skinny? Don’t bother with the gym

Each January my social media feed blows up with health challenges, gym selfies, links to healthy recipes, and passionate vows to give up carbs or sugar or Diet Coke … followed by diatribes of self-loathing when the vows have been broken and goals quickly abandoned. It’s almost as exhausting as actually hitting the gym — which, by the way, is chock full of newcomers desperate to make good on their New Year’s Resolutions.

Yikes. I’m so glad I’m not one of them.

Don’t get me wrong, I actually really like healthy recipes, and I’m more or less off sugar and have never had more than a sip of Diet Coke (in my day I preferred the hard stuff, straight up). And, I actually really like going to the gym. Really. I’m not an endorphin junkie or training for anything in particular; there’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s for another post.

But this does bring up the one point I must make clear: I don’t go to the gym to be skinny. And neither should you. Continue reading

Who do you want to be?

I have spent a significant portion of my life being unhappy. When I say “significant,” I mean nearly a third of my existence. And when I say “unhappy,” I mean living in a sadness so profound that I felt consumed, suffocated, engulfed by black swampy waters that held me paralyzed until I could barely breathe, let alone fight back.

I am what doctors would call “mentally ill.” Or at least I was, but I’ll get to that part. I was formally diagnosed with clinical depression when I was 15, but my first bout with the illness was around age 9. I cycled in and out of depressed episodes for more than a decade until I suffered a complete nervous breakdown at age 21, just a few months before I was set to graduate from college. The collapse was so complete that it took me nearly two years to climb out of it. Continue reading