The aroma of roasting acorn squash is filling my kitchen.

The aroma of roasting acorn squash is filling my kitchen. Outside my window the clouds are shapeshifting across the sky, intermittently allowing for spaces of blue to peak through and a golden light to shine from behind them. It sends a ray across my floor that’s playing tricks on my eyes. Partially bare trees are dancing in the wind and dropping their leaves to the green earth below. It’s in moments like this where I have an almost overwhelming experience of gratitude and understanding. The deep beauty in this simplicity is potent and grounding, drawing me into an inspiring sense of presence.

I’m still learning how to express gratitude in each moment. I acknowledge the moving potential of blessings in disguise, yet still struggle at times to grasp deep appreciation for moments in time whether deemed positive or negative. A huge part of that lesson has been understanding the nature of acceptance and how to apply it in every situation, even if I don’t really approve of it. Gratitude is truly a grounding practice that offers an eye opening opportunity to become present. As grounding as it can be, it can also be kind of earth shaking in a breathtaking way. I suppose that a good relationship with transience lets you ground into presence and acceptance when you’re facing those reckless tides of change.

There are big changes happening before my eyes, like the clouds rolling around the sky outside my window right now. Decisions and opportunities that will have a huge impact on my life trajectory. I’ve always been excited by new prospects, though easily daunted by the expectation of their new beginnings or arrival. This morning I had a moment of recognizing how fortunate I am to be able to move through these changes with such a relaxed approach, choosing whatever I want to. I have so much space in my life to make mistakes, to fall down and pick myself up again. I have great privilege in what’s available and accessible to me. Is this a matter of perspective? Is it a mindset? Often I see myself in a particular cycle of my life wherein I’m more capable of fearlessly approaching change with courage and a daring devotion. At times, I find myself amidst the crashing waves feeling overwhelmed and fighting to stay afloat. Those are the times I need to remember to practice gratitude the most. It’s like counting to ten and feeling calm wash over you, except the heart opening and grounding sensation is really unparalleled. That awe-some awareness allows for a deep experience of reality and in that present moment seeing truth as it is can change your perspective in an instant. That dramatic insight opens the mind and also the heart. The opening of the heart inevitably shines a light on aspects of ourselves that may have been lurking in the dark. Liberation and revolution are often uncomfortable to say the least.

In the last few moments there’s been a greater opening through the clouds and the sunlight that breaks through and shimmers on what leaves remain on the trees. The scene is saturated with beauty and I am filled with an uplifting sensation that reinforces these words I’m writing perfectly. Moments like this is what’s meant when people talk about creating their reality. The shift in perspective that instills the grounding gratitude and reverence for presence is a profound decision, a choice, for peace. It is the yogic principle of ahimsa — non-harming. I often think of this when I’m lacking compassion or gratitude, either for myself or another person or situation.  A perception supported by love and heart centred awareness rather than one guided or biased by fear, will lead to visions of beauty. It’s seeing things as they truly are, outside their colourings and the ideas we cling to of what’s wrong or right, ugly or beautiful.

On a day where my mood is dull and outlook dim, I may not find the sight before my eyes as incredible. I may see it as a dark and gloomy day. That grasping takes me away from gratitude, further from presence. At that point, I’ve made the decision to live in that gloom rather than the peace of presence. Don’t get me wrong, I totally think that light must be countered by the dark, however as a practice for myself I’ve been trying to seek out acceptance in all situations as a practice of compassion and action toward peace. That doesn’t mean ignoring pain and suffering and replacing it with senseless positivity, rather it means facing it with equanimity in efforts to move through it and to transform. In my practice, this resolve is meant to inspire me to move through my own suffering into spaces of acceptance instead of rather than getting caught up in owning sad or painful experiences. It’s these breakthrough moments that fill me up with so much wonder and magic, that I really tune into my potential. When I see myself drift toward painful experiences that obstruct my vision, I have to whisper to myself gratitude.  I don’t always remember, and can’t always muster the courage to face my darkness, but I do more frequently and clear the pathway to peace more all the time. May those clouds that obscure my inner skies be viewed as something as beautiful as the great blue beyond their coverage.

“We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorns have roses.” 

― Alphonse Karr

5 Things I’m Grateful For Today

1. Dennis — the furnace repair man who proceeded to call the other companies we had asked for quotes “fucking crooks” after determining there was no issue with the furnace at all. He then charged us half of the cost for a service call, gave us a lesson on finances, and jovially left. I love small towns.

2. Meditation, which has given me such deep understanding of the shapeshifting nature of reality and the choice to be optimistic, patient, and accepting in the face of danger.

3. Local foods that I can buy at the farm around the corner of my house in substantial amounts to feed myself and my family. The abundance of healthy food in my life is so amazing.

4. The propensity I have for growth and the patience and understanding I’m learning to exercise in situations that are less than satisfactory.

5. Living with five amazing cats who keep me feeling like a creature. Their free spirits keep me feeling a sense of my own wild. Watching them in their instinctual innocence is humbling. 

What are you grateful for today? What brings you into presencE?

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