This memory from a few years ago brings a smile to my face. I still have those cute boots I snagged at a secondhand store in Portland, Oregon because they are so awesome! Nostalgia aside, centering into this moment — today, looks a little different for me than what I see in this sweet photo of a mom enjoying the elementary school years of my children.
What else has changed?
I now look up to my daughter, both spiritually and physically. I look my son in the eye. We are all getting older, but they keep getting taller! Yay for my partner’s tall genes.
I appreciate my body and appearance more. I have better self care than I did during this time when I looked forward to “wine o’clock” at dinner. I am now a yoga teacher and health coach and spend a great deal of time working on my self so I can be a great teacher. It’s a wonderful shift from feeling like an insecure mom.
During this time, I was concerned about what was next. How I would shift from restaurant work to something that would enable me to enjoy my life with my family. I am sure there are plenty of chefs out there who have found balance and connection with a family lifestyle and food. However, after trying to do this, I couldn’t find balance in the way that I wanted to co-exist and be an active participant in my family. It just didn’t work for me in our home of San Francisco, California.
What are the biggest changes?
The biggest changes since this photo was taken six years ago seems to be in those around me.
My dad passed away three years ago. Losing a parent is loss like no other. Period.
I have multiple friends who are now survivors of breast cancer. I am so grateful for their resilience and their sharing of this experience with me.
A close friend (also a breast cancer survivor) now has colon cancer. Again, I am disheartened by what really doesn’t seem right for me sweet friend.
My niece graduated from college. Another continues in her studies.
My daughter has college on the brain and strives for straight As.
My son is now studying dance and creates music with passion.
We said goodbye to our pet dog, Luna, of 15 years. She would love the “pandemic puppy” that we didn’t anticipate getting right away, but felt the void long enough to fill it with the energy of a beautiful new kind of beast.
We continue to press on in the face of a global pandemic with new adaptations and strides in medical response.
What hasn’t changed?
My nephews are doing well in their endeavors.
My mother continues to live independently and this has been a wonderful mark of vitality as I see her maintain acres of land and her home with aptitude and grace. She never complains about this task and I she has shared she is grateful for this opportunity.
My partner continues to be a leader in his field and elevates the lives of everyone around him.
We continue to nurture our home and develop our family relationships with love and courage.
Our neighbors are kind and helpful.
Our community continues to develop and thrive despite social and pandemic challenges. We love San Francisco!
Avocado toast is still on all of the cafe menus.
Why it matters to center in gratitude.
As the years press forward and people and places develop and fall, the center of our focus can be that of continuation or change, too. Centering and holding space for ourselves in gratitude helps us to enjoy the days that may seem complex. Being grateful for the moments, the treasures, and the loved ones help us to mark time with depth.
Time continues and change is continuous. I left some things out in my lists above. Some things that I haven’t fully accepted or planned for yet. When these kinds of changes come forward (and they just might), our axis of gratitude is with us. We can fall into memories of the good times to ease the discomfort of what lies ahead. As a woman in my 50’s (gulp), I am getting on-the-job-training for the fine balance of roles as a daughter, daughter-in-law, partner, mother, sister, and friend that is part of this decade of the 50s — middle age.
During the 50s, we not only face our own personal problems, flaws, and concerns — but we are also facilitators of others’ grief, needs, and exciting changes and achievements, too. A seeming flood of ups and downs continue for those of us with social and family circles. It can feel like a lot.
Gratitude in these moments can be so helpful. We may find the simplest gratitude in the human experience of: good health, being debt free, having access to clean water and fresh food, and being surrounded by people who love us. Post-Thanksgiving, I am finding a centering of gratitude to be so helpful as I am also supporting others who find the holidays to be an uneasy time for them.
Moving toward gratitude during difficult times helps us to center and ground into our simplest, uncomplicated beings. When we do this, we are usually better friends and partners. Feeling our simplest selves may help us to be able to simply be with others and be free of striving, competition, and over-consumption. This may give way to deeper connections and empathy. This can offer depth in the relationship and you will have created a space for both of you that will enable support in times when we need one another most.