The Biggest Gifts in the Dreariest Packages

Calendar, Calendar on the Wall – Who’s the Dreariest of Them All?

Though November arrives in one pretty ugly package, it comes bearing some vitally important gifts.


Isn’t November just the worst? All of a sudden fall’s beautiful displays of color are gone and we’re left with an inspiring landscape of brown, a sky that shifts from gray to dark at 4pm, and to top off the deadness, is it snowing?

But ah, not enough to blanket the gray in a magical winter wonderland, just enough to taunt you into digging out the winter coat that you’ll now wear for the next six months.

If you live outside the Midwest and you’re still rocking a beautiful fall, go outside, take a deep breath, and soak in that nature-medicine for the rest of us!

But regardless of what your fall looks like right now, there is some magic to be found beneath the surface.

Though November may arrive in one pretty ugly package, it comes bearing gifts that are some of the most important to embrace.

The barren trees and leaf-speckled lawns remind us of the importance of forgiveness – the practice of letting go.

The ever-present cold and gray remind us that even in bleak and challenging situations there always exists a direct path back to joy – through the practice of gratitude.

Today I’m reminded of the poem by Rumi called “The Guest House:”

“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.
Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”

Forgiving a person or situation that has wronged us can be one of THE hardest things to do. It doesn’t feel right to forgive when something seems unforgivable. Forgiving seems like we’re saying that whatever happened is ok. Forgiving is the opposite of protecting ourselves, and it feels weak and vulnerable and scary.

And yet, it must be done. And remember, embracing our vulnerability is a great display of our strength. Nothing in our lives happens to us that we don’t have the inner capacity to endure. Even if it’s truly awful, even if it’s a very long road to recovery, even if it doesn’t turn out the way we expected it to.

When we hold on to the awfulness, we stay stuck in the situation forever. We don’t win this way, we lose.

When we forgive, we allow ourselves to move through it; we aren’t saying “it’s ok” we’re saying “I’M OK.”

Go to a window. Watch the trees drop their leaves. Some drop easily, others hang on for dear life. Eventually all must be let go. And when that happens, the tree is rewarded greatly in the spring with new life.

Don’t hold on to dead leaves. Let them go and allow yourself to be rewarded greatly with new life.

“Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.”

When we forgive and let go, we create space inside ourselves. That space is pure potential. When we create this space we are signaling to the Universe that we are ready for “some new delight.”

But it can be challenging to maintain space, and easy to fill it up with things like stress, and anxiousness, and busyness.

How do we maintain this space while we await some new delight?

We use the practice of gratitude. I’m not even sure we should think of gratitude as a singular emotion – it’s a conduit, a path, a practice.

Gratitude is our direct connection to the experience of joy.

The gray of November rolls in and reminds us of the darkness present in our own lives, in ourselves, and in the challenges we must endure. During bleak and challenging times it can feel impossible to muster up anything to be grateful for.

In times like that I remember the concept of Yin and Yang. I talk about this concept of energy from Chinese philosophy quite often, but picture the actual symbol – a circle with one half black and one half white.

These two halves that make up a whole represent all sorts of balancing forces in our world. Darkness and light don’t simply oppose each other, they complement each other, balance each other. We truly need both.

Yet inside the black half is a little circle of white, and inside the white half is a little circle of black – reminding us that nothing is ever all dark or all light.

Today and every day as you move through dark wintry days or the challenges in your life, be reminded of that little white circle inside the dark. There is always light to be found even when everything seems dark.

This reminder is our lifeline out of total darkness, our ability to muster up just a bit of gratitude for something in our lives.

And as we do this over and over, consistently conjuring up even just one small thing in our lives to be grateful for (and I highly recommend capturing those small things in a gratitude journal or gratitude jar!) we find that the mental practice of gratitude begins to give way to a deeper feeling in our hearts; we find that no matter what the circumstances, gratitude has the capacity to guide us to joy.

To again quote the poet Rumi:

“I said: what about my eyes?
He said: Keep them on the road.

I said: What about my passion?
He said: Keep it burning.

I said: What about my heart?
He said: Tell me what you hold inside it?

I said: Pain and sorrow.
He said: Stay with it. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”

This November, even amidst the dreariness and the darkness, may you also come to embrace your Light.

1. Forgive and let go, create the inner space, await “some new delight.”

2. Hold that space open with the powerful practice of gratitude, and be transported into the deep and lasting experience of true and honest joy.


A Practice for the Holidays…

With the holiday season right around the corner, we are going to be in need of practices that bring us back to the present moment, that prevent us from getting swept up in the whirlwind of busyness and added stress that is often a big part of our holiday season!

Gratitude is a practice that helps to ground us, that allows us to zoom in to the present moment and connect with the good that is happening in that very moment. Remember that gratitude isn’t reserved for one singular day of the year. Expand the practice beyond the Thanksgiving table and start that gratitude journal or gratitude jar practice you’ve been meaning to get to!

And what about other ways to embrace staying grounded?

THIS FRIDAY is my last workshop before the holidays hit and it’s purpose is exactly that: get grounded!

Come REST UP before the busyness of the holiday season with Chinese Gongfu Tea Ceremony + Restorative Yoga + Aromatherapy.

I’m teaming up with Meghan Foley of Up Yoga in South Minneapolis for this blissful, pre-holiday workshop this Friday Nov 15th @ 7-9pm. Please register in advance –

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment

Schedule a Free Consult