It has been said that life has treated me harshly and sometimes I have complained in my heart because many pleasures of human experience have been withheld from me.  If much has been denied me, much, very much, has been given me.  Helen Keller (The Miracle Worker)

I’ll never forget standing on the corner of Sunset and Vine in L.A. twenty-seven years ago with Barbara, one of the first black female record producers (Black Orchid) in the country.  Not only was she stunning, but she was so sharp intellectually; self-taught-entertainment-industry savvy; treated her staff as equals, family, and a total team; studied African American history (learning something new about our phenomenal ancestry every day); and never hesitated in her conversations to give God the glory. 

“You know, Brenda . . . when I leave this side of the dirt, I’m glad I lived with a clue . . . the ultimate weapon available for us all!  It’s simply about never taking anything for granted and always giving thanks for what we have, and for the miracles too!  I’ve had plenty . . . ya’ know, the kind of blessings that take your breath away when you think it’s all over and done . . . nail in the coffin!  Gratitude for the beauty of the world and life itself . . . even for the bad stuff . . . resulted in lessons making me even more thankful.  That’s it!!”  My youngest daughter was 12 at the time.  Neither of us forgot the wisdom Barbara imparted that day.

Probably in the NOW . . . more than any other time in most of our lives . . . our hearts and souls are laboring extra shifts, fighting to keep the ‘darkness’ from attacking our being and of those we love.  And like so many, we have tired of the uncertainty, realizing all too well that faith and fear cannot stand side by side in the same room.  As I write this article on November 6th when no decision of the presidency has been declared, I pace - I cry - and yes, I am in panic mode . . . so much concern for people of color . . . especially for our front line medical and voting poll workers; our children; parents; and educators.  I think my tears are more about the insane mentality of a voting citizenship who failed to remember the atrocities of the past 4 years (personally affecting their ethnicities), and what is at stake . . . if!!?  I’m praying as I finish my final edit that we might have a victory.  One could feel the late Congressman John Robert Lewis and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s spirits with us.  We did it!  It’s a good day! Compassionate, wise thinking Americans voted their hearts and saved democracy!        

A prediction came out today.  COVID19 cases (possibly along with the flu influenza) could triple by January.  My children live in L.A. where it was rumored the National Guard had just arrived.  Eric Trump has just called for war.  Every child does not have an adult to sit beside them to help to navigate on-line learning . . . not if the student’s parents want to keep a roof over their family’s heads and food on the table.  Sadly, children of color, in most cases, are getting further and further behind and may not be prepared to compete in the global marketplace.  So much support is needed for our teachers who have families and responsibilities in the ‘new normal’, as well.  Educators should be so commended, and those of us who can should want to step up and help them once it is safe to do so. 

I have been melancholy about the upcoming Thanksgiving (virtual) holiday.  So many wonderful childhood memories of fighting over the black olives, and not realizing there was another pan of Mama’s steaming, hot-buttered, homemade rolls on their way to the dinner table.  Those were years of frolicking fun . . . love, safety, intellectual enrichment and inspiration by great educators and pioneers of the Civil Rights Movement . . . while being guided by “The Green Book” if our parents (like mine) decided to travel across the country by car.   It was the time when my favorite extended family members (who died so young) broke bread together, surrounded in so much happiness and “thanksgiving”. 

This year, it is indeed imperative not to be selfish and jeopardize the health and well-being of those we care about . . . those who could leave the gathering and carry the virus to others.  BUT, what we can do is to remember that Thanksgiving is a special day set aside to recognize our blessings . . . those we understand and those that might not be apparent until later down the road.  We can certainly make Thanksgiving a little more meaningful even if it’s looking at the screen of our computers by Zoom.  One of my childhood friend’s family just finished Part I of a family reunion of over 40 family members, some not knowing others existed.  This was so important for the future generations of their lineage and sounded like so much fun.  A safe family gathering as they begin to plan for Part II after the holidays.

Allow me to share a few of my simple gratitude clues . . .  the kind of special gifts having no dollar sign attached, but so invaluable, especially in the “Age of Corona” and increasing racial divide.

  • Every day we are given should be a day of thanksgiving . . . finding joy in gratitude . . . appreciation amid uncertainty . . . tapping into that power within.  And if it is ‘truly true’, then I believe there will come a time where the divided country will know how close we came to ‘hell on earth’.  (I hear tell we might have a ‘victory’!!)  9:37 A.M. – 11/07/2020  Thank you, God!! The grateful mind is always an open mind . . . amenable to the new . . . to change . . . always finding strength when it hurts . . . when we’re in so much pain we can hardly breathe.  But somehow, we find hope!
  • The true attitude of mind is to be content with things as they are now . . . while simultaneously reaching out constantly for greater things . . . for circumstances to improve . . . to emanate an ambiance of superiority to all that is imperfect.
  • Gratitude is giving thanks every time we can rev up our senses and know we have been so blessed to see, smell, and listen to the wonders of our even more imperfect world today.  It encompasses all that we are and ask for . . . the highest and best we can envision and aspire to be.
  • Gratitude is an expression within our lives and with others blossoming into the realization that we are whole and complete within ourselves – one of Oprah Winfrey’s many mantras – seek to be whole . . . not perfect.
  • Gratitude enriches and deepens the colorful fabric of our lives by allowing us to see more.  It is impossible to feel worry, anger, depression, or a negative emotion of any kind in the presence of thankfulness.  In the face of adversity and distress, practicing gratitude requires us to give up our own ideas about what we think is happening to us.  As is often said, “life isn’t about surviving the storm.  It’s about learning how to dance in the rain.”

Resource: “Ba’al Perazim:  The Breakthrough by Jetta Dya Jones

The majority of those who have earned the accolades have been great thinkers throughout their lives.  They were awestruck by the plethora of fascinating phenomena of the universe that made them feel a welcomed serenity.  They were so grateful for it all.  So am I.  It is believed if we are brave enough to seek what appears to be impossible, it is a place where fear meets faith and in our sometime victories, we can see the face of God.  When we live with grateful hearts, fear cannot enter, guilt is dissolved, and there is only love and contentment.  As long as giving “thanks” is possible and acted upon, joy will most certainly follow.

Dark clouds lighten their load of much needed moisture for the once parched earth.  Not long afterward, they rise above the mountain peaks.  I stand in the crisp, cold temperatures of the morning, and as always, in awe and in thanksgiving.  My heart and spirit have been broken and my future uncertain, but I find a piece of pleasantness watching the chipmunks appear and disappear into the holes they have dug through the icy wetness of the forest grounds.  At first, I thought I was seeing things until I zoomed in on a larger animal with my camera lens.  Who would have thought it?  A bear cub roaming the woods not far from town and the patio door of the guest house where I was staying.  I surmised it was in search of its mother.  “For your grace, Lord, I am truly grateful.    

I thank you, God, for this most amazing day; for the leaping greenly spirits of trees and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes.  e e cummings

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